Monday, August 3, 2015

Raring to go

,
Guess who? Good morning! And HAPPY MONDAY!

Here we are again. Monday morning. Yippie! I'm writing this first part shortly after waking up one morning this past week, and prior to taking my Brain Vitamin (aka ADHD meds). So, buckle your seat belt! Haha!

I seem to go through a series of personality transformations throughout the day. I'm definitely a Morning Person. All the way. Sometimes I automatically wake up as early as 4:30 a.m., and I'm raring to go!
raring:adjective rar·ing \ˈrer-ən,  -iŋ\
 1. Full of enthusiasm or eagerness <ready and raring to go>

My mind and body are wide awake and I'm raring to get the show on the road! Like right now. I'm writing this part at 4:45 a.m. I'm making so many typing mistakes it's not funny. But it is funny in a way. Haha. At least for me!! Maybe it's an inside ADHD joke. Makes total sense to me!

But first things first, right? After I wake up, I always check to see if Brad is awake (rarely). Then do some serious cuddling to see if he might (accidentally) wake up (HA HA). Whatever happens or doesn't happen, I then...

...jump outta bed. 

Then begin the search to find my underwear, which can be quite the challenge! Sometimes I forget to look for my underwear, in which case Matty, Jr. (or Woody, Sr.) and The Boys lead the way to the bathroom. LOL

Pee. Splash some water on my face. Brush my teeth. Head to the kitchen. Check emails that came in overnight. Go on Facebook, see what's happening there. Have a few laughs at the funny things people are posting. I get in such a good mood doing this, even though I'm already in a GREAT mood. Haha. Send a few people a Good Morning message.

Return to bedroom. Peek in. See if Brad is stirring and wants to say Good Morning to Matty, Jr. (or Woody, Sr.) and The Boys. I always hate it when a cough... (accidentally...) escapes from my mouth and causes him to stir. Heehee.

After some stirring, I make the coffee, set the table, get my daily Brain Vitamin (aka ADHD med) and put it within sight and reach, and then I help Brad's brain wake up by telling him about any dreams I had, and then go over my schedule for the day.

At this point, he's awake enough to speak in three to five word sentences. And I LOVE seeing his beautiful morning hair! And regardless of what he says, the sound of his morning voice makes me so happy! Truly. There's nothing sweeter than the sound of his morning voice! Melts me on the spot.

We both know there's not going to be any deep conversation happening during breakfast, so it works for us. I'm just needing to rattle off some excess mental energy, and he's happy to make an attempt at conversation in that sexy morning voice of his. He nods a few times. Throws in a "Mm-hm" or an "Uh-huh" here and there, grins at me when it registers I've chuckled, and I know he's taken in anything essential that might have accidentally escaped outta my mouth. LOL.

I'm now writing this part shortly after taking my Brain Vitamin.  Once it kicks in, I can better organize my thoughts... and can actually locate all my essentials... my underwear, my truck keys, my wallet, my socks, the tools I'm gonna need for work, my comb, my shirt, my work schedule for the day, my jeans, my baseball cap, my belt, my heavy boots, and after kissing Brad, can get out the door in one piece, ready and raring for the next phase of the day.

Even though I'm not as hyper as I was in the first phase upon awakening and during breakfast, I never lose my "raring-to-go" spirit during the day. I just feel much more in the driver's seat. I pride myself for being on top of my game at work.

And I'm still raring to go after I get home. But even with my Brain Vitamin starting to wear off, my evening routines keep my raring energy in check. After showering to get my work sweat off, I'll plan dinner, eat, do my second or third grounding meditation of the day, check Facebook to see what I've missed while at work, send some "Hello" messages to friends, and settle in for the evening.

Then I go into my third phase as I'm raring to await Brad's arrival. Those grounding meditations I do? I learned those in my counseling for PTSD. I also think they help the ADHD and settle me down for the evening. I'm totally committed to those meditations. I always do three, sometimes four, a day. Pretty proud of myself for that, if I do say so!

I'm not completely sure what my main point was for this post. I suppose to maybe give you a tiny glimpse into how I manage and embrace some of what it's like to just be me. Just Matt being Matt. Or Matty being Matt. Or vice versa. Haha!

Well anyway. HAPPY MONDAY!!!! That's all for now! 

WOW. This was a long post. Sorry!! Haha. Talk to you later! 

Oh wait. Now scroll back to the beginning of the post and imagine both Calvin and Hobbes channeling my spirit. Or, me channeling their spirit. Or something like that! Haha.

Now I need to go locate my underwear!! Haha. I am definitely raring to go now!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Inside my heart

Hi every one. It's me, Sam-I-Am. I'm sorta in a mood today and just need to write out my feelings. I decided to use my post today instead of my journal, which is where I would usually write about stuff like this. If I get to the end and see that it is too personal for the blog, I will just move it over there and write another blog post.

I had a dream last night about me and my Grandma. [She died close to two years ago and I wrote about her in this post. It might make more sense if you read this first: Post about my Grandma]

In the dream I got to introduce RICK to her. I was extremely nervous in the dream but I do not remember whether RICK was nervous or not. But I was. She died before I even got the chance to come out to her.

Grandma asked me who was the boy I was with and I told her his name is RICK and he is my boyfriend. She got one of the biggest smiles I ever saw and then she gave RICK a big hug.

That part made me very happy and relieved but then she told both of us to sit down. And then she had a very Serious look on her face and looked straight at RICK and started asking all kinds of questions. I don't remember a single question from the dream but it was all about getting to know him better. I remember they were not scary questions but she wanted to know a lot of things about him.

In the dream, RICK was happy to answer all her questions. I just kept looking back and forth from Grandma to him, and boy did he charm her! He was honest in his answers so it wasn't like he was trying to deceive her. And Grandma looked so happy after she finished asking him every thing.

And then she looked at me and said, "Sammy, sweetheart, I'm so glad you're happy. I like your boyfriend." And then she said this to both of us: "I want both you boys to promise me you will take care of each other."

We both promised her and then me and Rick were both crying because we were so happy. Then Grandma put both of her hands on my face and looked straight inside me and said, "You will always be My Special Boy. And you deserve to have the best Life possible. Always remember that, okay, sweetheart?"

I said, "I will, Grandma. I promise. I love you." And she said, "I will always love you, too."

And then Grandma started to go but turned around and looked at me and had the Sweetest smile you will ever see in your life. "Sammy, remember to always eat your green eggs and ham. That's what makes you My Sam-I-Am." I smiled and said, "I will, Grandma."

And then Grandma gave both of us a very tight hug. And then my Grandma said, "I have to go now. But I will always be in your Heart." And I said, "And you will always be in my Heart, Grandma."

When I woke up from the dream, I had a hundred million feelings. Going all the way from Sad to Happy. And I still have those feelings even now. But the biggest feeling I have is Joy that I finally got to come out to my Grandma, and she was Happy for me, and that she got to meet Rick.
I like knowing she will always be inside my Heart.Emoji

Friday, July 31, 2015

Happy weekend

Most of you probably know I LOVE penguins. When I see a documentary or nature show, I adore watching them walk -- or waddle -- or do their little penguin dance. I get so happy inside and can get glued to watching them "do their thang."

So today I'm doing a little Penguin Weekend Dance in anticipation of the upcoming weekend. 

We don't have a lot planned, which is perfect for us. Brad is working late tonight, but has Saturday and Sunday FREE!! YAY!!

I'm getting a haircut tomorrow, and boy do I need one. I'm going to be working a lot more outside in the next couple weeks, and with the heat and humidity, I need something a little shorter. Bradley is going in the opposite direction. He's been wearing his hair longer, and his sister is coming over Sunday to give him a little trim and shape things up.

I'll be putting the finishing touches on some "fix-up" projects around the house, and Brad is planning his menu for a little get together with some neighbors. But other than that, we're basically playing it by ear. 

So have a GREAT weekend. What do you guys have planned?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

About ready to fly

Take More Chances. 

That's something I've been thinking about a whole lot lately. I told you guys a while back that the counseling I've been in for so long is going into another phase now.

I've always taken my counseling seriously. But there were times I seriously didn't want to keep an appointment because my mood was so down I had a hard time motivating myself. Or I  would come out of some sessions so tired all I wanted to do was go to sleep. 

Sometimes it felt like it wasn't doing me any good. Sometimes I felt like it was making me worse. But I have a really good counselor who never criticized me or called me a "complainer" or saw me as weak. Or gave up on me.

He always has a way of staying open to what I say and wants to hear more about why I feel the way I do. Not like he's challenging me or wants to argue with me, but more like he wants to hear more because he always seems genuinely interested in what is going on with me. 

And I gradually learned that if he was genuinely interested in what was going on with me, then maybe I should start paying closer attention to what was going on inside me.

I've worked really hard, too. I have to give myself credit on that account. But there were times I wanted to tell him, "You know what? This is too hard. I don't want to do this anymore." I guess he got to know me pretty well, because somehow he knew when that was going through my head. 

So when he would ask me if that's what I was thinking, I couldn't lie, so I owned up to it and he would either say, "Is that a feeling that goes back to you and your dad?" or, "Do you feel like I'm pushing you too hard? Is this something between you and I?"

And lots of times I would remember things he said to me during the week, and I'd find myself thinking about it and it started opening up new trains of thought that helped me understand myself better.

Take More Chances. 

One major thing that's come out of my counseling is that I'm taking more chances now. I use to be a heck of a lot more passive in lots of things. Woe is me kind of thing. 


+ Woe is me that my dad doesn't like me. 
+ Woe is me that I'll probably always be a restaurant server my whole life.

+ Woe is me that Matty is going to find out he made a big mistake in picking me to spend his life with.

And now?

My counselor has helped me understand the reasons I use to think all those things. And he started challenging me (in a very helpful way) to "think it all the way through" instead of just accepting things at face value.

So I don't have that Woe is me attitude any more.

I eventually took a chance (a BIG chance) in reaching out to my dad in a real way to see if he wanted to be in my life in a meaningful way. Otherwise, I was moving on.

I eventually took a chance in pushing myself to follow my dream to be a Chef. Nothing wrong with being a Server, but my Heart said Chef.

+ I gradually opened my eyes to the real truth of who I am, and now feel more than worthy of being in Matty's life, and him being worthy of being in my life.

Take More Chances. 

That's what I'm doing more of lately. And I like what I've been discovering as I risk taking more chances. Not in a reckless way, but with a lot of thought and intention and determination.

I'm just seeing my counselor once a month now. We've started talking about how we'll know when I want to either take an extended break or stop going altogether.

I feel like a little bird in the nest. I know I'm about ready to leave, but I just need some more time to get my wings a little bit stronger. 
I'm scared and excited. And somehow I think that's a good sign.Emoji

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Being alone and making it count

I came across this while looking for quotes about being alone. Been thinking about how I'm going to occupy my time while Brad is away on his chef's weekend.

But jeez. Most of the quotes I came across have these deep philosophical and existential meanings, or were about getting on with your life after a relationship breakup. I was just looking for something I could use for my post today, and I decided to keep this one because of the phrase, "I think it's very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone..." That phrase spoke to me.

I think Wilde is trying to make a more comprehensive point than I have in mind right now. I mean, I agree with his broad point... that it's important to first of all learn who you are, then accept and be comfortable with yourself so you don't assume another person's identity as your own.

I don't think I am "...defined by another person." Sure, I'm not the same person I was when I first met Brad. Sure, I've been influenced and shaped by the relationship we've both worked to create. But I think we both still have our own individuality.

But this opportunity Brad has now, got me to thinking about what it's going to be like without him. Sure, it's just a weekend, but this will be the first time we've been apart in our 5 ¹/2 years together. Like I said the other day, I'm so use to all our routines and how we've settled into the "flow" of our relationship.

I'm so thrilled Brad has this opportunity to spend a whole weekend at a chef's retreat. Like I said in a recent post, it's a huge honor that he was invited, and such a major opportunity for him. He's so excited about going and I'm incredibly proud of him.

It's an opportunity for him to be part of a Master Class to share and learn new ideas, skills, and techniques in his chosen profession. And to get a taste (pardon the pun) of what's probably a professional "fraternity" of sorts. 

So here's where I am now. I'm already thinking about how I want to spend my time so the weekend is an opportunity for me also. An opportunity to see what goes on inside me without Brad's presence, and also without the "spirit" of his presence. 

I don't want to just fill my time with mindless busy work to keep from missing him. I want this time to mean something for me also. To see it as an opportunity. Just as Brad is seeing this as an opportunity for him.

I know enough about my ADHD to know that I thrive with structure. But I also know I thrive on spontaneity. So maybe the key is to find a balance between those two things.

I'm not even sure how to flesh out what I just said. I hope I'm not over thinking this, but it feels important to me. I really want to figure out a way to see this as an opportunity for me.

Maybe I'll spend some time journaling about it. Maybe I'll talk to my counselor about it. Do you guys have any thoughts? Does this make much sense?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Oh no

I'm gradually beginning to think and talk like Matty. They say this is common after you've lived with someone for a period of time. I think it's finally gotten to the point where I'm channeling his thoughts.

We were on one of the interstate highways around here and as we were passing one of the rest areas, that sign you see up there was on the ramp leading from the rest area onto the highway. It's apparently a reminder to the drivers of those 18-wheeler trucks.

I looked over at Matty and he saw it the same time I did. We both grinned and I could tell he was about to comment on it. And in a split second I heard his thoughts in my head. 

"We should get that for our bedroom," I said.

"Except change..." he began.

"...'lock' to 'unlock," I finished.

"And drop..." he continued.

"...'gate'," I finished.

He laughed, realizing what was happening. 

"Oh my God. I've created..." he began.

"...a mini-Matt," I finished.

We both laughed.Emoji

Monday, July 27, 2015

Moving forward

It's been so much fun watching Brad's excitement grow as he gets ready for his weekend away next month. Being invited by his Chef to join him and four or five other chefs for a weekend retreat is a huge honor that speaks volumes about the talent and potential he sees in Brad.

I was extremely excited when I heard about this invitation -- but in a way not too surprised because I know his culinary passion is real. I get to see it all the time. This is not a hobby... or something he only gets interested in when there's some holiday cooking to be done.

One thing we do every evening when we're both home from work, is share with each other what our day has been like. Sometimes it's a debriefing from the stress we might have had. Other times it's sharing something interesting or exciting that happened.

I especially love those days when Brad says something like, "Chef's reworking a section of the menu and asked me what I thought. He liked my ideas, but on the way home I came up with some other ideas. Give me a minute while I jot some things down."

Even though he's been on his feet all day and probably needs to relax and unwind, his creativity is still alive and active. That's why I say his passion is real. I love watching how alive he is.

He's been studying some of his cookbooks, reviewing files where he keeps track of menus, and works like a "man on a mission"  in this notebook of new ideas he comes up with.

All this has got me thinking about "passion." Watching and listening to him makes me think about that spark that grabs hold of us, or maybe it's more what's been there all along and we finally see it and decide to work with it.


We've been together now for 5+ years. A lot of what happens with us is probably pretty typical of many relationships. We have our routines. We settle into our patterns, like our nightly debriefing after a busy day. A good portion of our interactions with each other is somewhat predictable. 

But then on a whimsy, we'll shake things up. Or maybe some free spirit takes over and spontaneity reigns. Or some random silliness in my thinking process sneaks out and before we know it, we're both laughing so hard it hurts. 

And other times we find ourselves in awe of something major and important. Like the realization that maybe we're moving from one phase of life to another. Not discarding what we have, but building on it.

I guess this has been a long roundabout way of saying that this chef retreat Brad will be a part of feels like one of those major and important things. And makes me want to say to him -- like the quote up there -- Take pride in how far you've come. And have faith in how far you can go."

All my love.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Just being me

Hi every one! It's You-Know-Who!
So I wanted to tell you guys about the dinner at Tony and Beth's last weekend!
Tony is Matty's older brother and Beth is his wife (not Matty's wife, but Tony's!)
So now that I got that cleared up (LOL!!), I can go on with what I wanted to tell you!

So if you remember, Tony and Beth asked me and RICK (my B.O.Y.F.R.I.E.N.D.) to be Official Ushers in their wedding recently. And then after they got back from their honeymoon, they invited us (along with Brad and Matty) to come over to their home for dinner. And if you remember from last week, I was getting very anxious about what to wear.

Well, of course I talked to RICK and Brad and Matty to see what they were going to wear. And once I had all that information, I decided I would dress in a similar way. So I wore dark grey khaki pants and a light blue dress shirt and a black belt and light grey socks and some dressy tennis shoes that are a combination of grey and white.

Well, since I was so nervous and excited at the same time about how I was going to look, I went out and bought all new clothes! And when I was doing my research online about all this, guess what I came across? I remembered Deedles saying in her comment: "I wish that I can stop imagining you showing up in a hat, bowtie, and a smile. I suppose that's the Cat in the Hat thing." Well, I found THIS on one of my research sites:
Isn't that the cutest thing you ever saw in your whole life? HAHAHA!! Well, I am not brave enough (yet) to wear some thing like that, but I thought it was a cute idea!

On the way over to their house, I was a bundle of nerves. I kept bugging RICK about how my hair looked and did he think my shoes looked okay and and did he think my belt matched every thing and did he think it was too much that I was wearing all new clothes and then Oh My God did they smell like new clothes? 

Oh man. I was glad he was driving because I would have run us off the road. But he was smiling at all my questions and would look over at me when I had one of my questions and he would say, "It looks nice" every time.

So when we got to their house, I am happy to say that after about 15 minutes I totally relaxed. When we walked in Beth looked so happy to see us! Like we were long lost friends or some thing! She had the BIGGEST smile on her face and asked if we had any trouble finding their house, and I almost said, "No, but we almost ran off the road about a hundred times because, see, I am wearing all new clothes and I kept bugging RICK about whether every thing looked okay." But I didn't say all that because RICK answered Beth and said, "No. We found it just fine." 

And then I didn't know if we were suppose to shake hands or did we just act all casual and come on into the house like we had been there a hundred times before, but that was quickly taken care of because Beth was still smiling and said, "Great. Well, come on in. You guys look good." and then she gave both of us a kiss! JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIES! You know how in some movies the women and men give each other a little kiss on the cheek when they greet each other? It was just like that! So I figured if she was comfortable enough giving us a Welcome Kiss, then I should just relax, so that is what happened!

And then Tony came into the room and he had a big smile on his face and said all casual, "Hey guys! How you doing?" and then he came over to where we were standing and gave both of us a Welcome Hug and said, "Glad you're here. Let me show you around. The regular tours begin in 15 minutes, but I'll give you guys a private tour." And he had a big smile on his face, too. And Oh My God it was almost exactly like some thing Matty would say, except Matty would probably add, "I'll even give you a discount on the price." LOL!!! They have similar kinds of humor, except Matty is lightening-fast in his, so that helped me relax even more.

Then after The Tour, Brad and Matty arrived and when they came in, I got totally relaxed. It was so fun to watch Beth give both of them a Welcome Hug and Kiss, and then I almost broke down crying with so much Happiness when Tony came over and gave both of them a Hug and a KISS! 

It was one of the most beautiful things I have even seen! And it made me remember how at the wedding, Tony hugged and kissed both Matty and Brad at the reception. And it also made me remember how Tony came over and asked Matty to dance with him! I have NEVER seen so much LOVE expressed like this before. And it made me a little dizzy because it all seemed like so natural.

So Tony was in charge of cooking the steaks out on their deck in the back, and he went back outside to get that started and then Beth said she heard I was in landscaping and when I said Yes (Oh My God, I ALMOST said, "Yes, Ma'am." LOL!!), she wanted to know if she could show me some thing in their yard and get my opinion! So I said, "Sure." and then she led me outside. 

Well, this started to make my nervousness go back up a little bit because it was just me and Beth. But then she showed me some things in a flower bed and then some shrubbery and then asked me about drainage for this little area that is a little lower than the other areas. 

Want to know why I got a little nervous about this? I mean, it is some thing I am very familiar with and do all the time, but when I am at work, I am told what needs to be done and then I go and do that. But this was different because it was like Beth put me in charge. She said she really did not know any thing about things like this, and when I started explaining a few things, she would ask questions that were pretty easy for me to explain and answer. 

And get this: Every time I would explain my idea, it seemed to make her happy! Wow! She really got into it and seemed to be enjoying herself. And so one question would lead to another, which made me give her one answer after another, and before long she was catching on to my style! 

And then she said, "What if I grouped these plants in front of these plants? Would that work?" And I was so proud of her for catching on! And before I knew what my voice was saying, I told her, "You have a natural talent for this." 

Oh My God! She laughed at that little joke, and then it seemed to make her so happy, like she loved being told she had a natural talent! But it was the honest truth. So that actually made her even more excited about changing things around in her yard!

So when we went back inside she couldn't wait to tell every one about what she learned. And then Matty joined in and said, "Beth, I hope you don't go into the landscaping business because he might lose his job!" And Brad said I had helped them with their landscaping and had helped them rearrange some things in their yard. And RICK said his parents had also changed some things around in their yard. I started getting a little self conscious because I am not use to this kind of thing. But it made me so happy that Beth was happy, and made me feel more confident in my self.

Well, dinner was SO good. The steaks and potatoes were perfect and we had some kind of delicious cold vegetable salad with just the right amount of flavoring. And then we had the BEST cheery cheesecake in the world!

Wow. I can't believe I have gone on and on about all this. I did not expect to write so much, but I guess I am remembering how much I enjoyed this time. 

At the end of the day when RICK and I were going home, I said I had such a wonderful time, and I can not believe I had so much nervousness at the beginning. Know what he said? "It was nice seeing you just be you. Every body felt relaxed around you because you were just being you. Maybe that's why you had such a wonderful time?"

So I thought about that and figured he was right. And that made me feel warm in my Heart. 

Then I asked him a question. I guess I was feeling so good inside because I realized being around Tony and Matty must have rubbed off on me. I asked him, "But do you think Beth might go into landscaping? Because I don't want the competition."

At first RICK thought I was being serious, but I suppose he could see my little grin. And with out thinking too much, he smiled and said, "I'd watch my back if I was you!"

We both got a good laugh at that. So the lesson I learned that day was every time I relax and "just be my self," it makes my Heart warm inside. I like that warm feeling because it means I am a good person inside and there is nothing wrong with letting every one see that.
Have a great week, every one. See you next Sunday!Emoji

Friday, July 24, 2015

Finally. . . Almost there

The weekend is almost here!! 

This has been a tough week at work because I've had to stay on top (metaphorically speaking) of a few guys who basically come to work looking for ways to make minimal effort on their projects without being noticed. This is one time (out of other examples) when my ADHD actually works to my advantage.

I think these guys see me as somewhat scattered and easily distracted, but what they're learning is my brain is like an advanced radar system. I know pretty much what's going on around me at all times. I might not zero in and focus on every single detail, but rest assured I'm aware and sizing things up non-stop.

My mom is like this, too. When I was a little kid, I swear she had eyes in the back of her head. She didn't miss a thing.

Brad and I have decided to have a low-key weekend. We're planning to have some friends over for a BBQ and I'm looking forward to that. I recently put another coat of sealer on the deck, so it looks really nice. Brad is not sure yet what's on the menu, but I'm looking forward to whatever he comes up with.

My brother Nick and one of his buddies is coming by in the morning and we're going to the park to see if we can get some pickup basketball going. And later in the afternoon, Brad and I plan to go bike riding on some trails not too far from here.

Might actually get some reading time, too. I usually just get short blocks of time for reading, but it would be so nice to sit down and do some solid reading for at least an uninterrupted hour. I'm currently enjoying some N.R. Walker. Recently finished Cronin's Key (loved it), and now I'm on the second in her four-part series, Red Dirt Heart (exceptional). I think I'm going to start (finally) The Long Fall of Night by AJ Rose before returning to volume 3 of Red Dirt Heart.

What about you guys? What are you doing and/or reading?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wonders never cease

OMG! I got a call from my dad and he asked me if I had any luggage for my weekend Chef trip in August. I told him I didn't, but was just planning on using one of Matty's gym bags.

There was a long pause on his part, and then he said, "Matty's gym bag?" 

With the word "gym" being drawn out. I didn't know it could be stretched out that far.

And I wasn't sure if it was a question or a statement.
But I could virtually picture the face he was probably making:Emoji
Or maybe this kind of face:Emoji
Then he said, "The gym bag he had with him last week when you guys were over here?"

I said, "Uh. Yeah. I think it'll hold enough clothes and stuff for the weekend."

Another long pause.

Then he said, "That's the bag he puts his sweaty things in after a workout?"

(My dad likes to joke around with Matt about his smelly gym bag. You should hear the two of them when they get going. LOL)

Again I wasn't sure if it was a question or a statement.

I said, "Uh. Yeah. It's all I've got though."

Another long pause.

Then he said, "I didn't realize you didn't have any... uh... *real* luggage."

Long story short, he said he wanted to buy me a nice piece of luggage that would be big enough for a weekend's worth of clothes!!

I told him I really appreciated that, but he didn't need to go to the expense. I could maybe just wash Matty's gym bag [he made an audible intake-of-breath *gasp* here] and that would be all I'd need.

"Brad?"

"Yes."

"I'd really like to get you a nice piece of luggage for that weekend. I don't think the Chefs will be bringing their clothes in a... gym bag. Would you let me do this for you? I'd really like to."

"Well. Thank you. I don't know what to say. That's really nice of you."

"Just say 'Yes'."

"Okay. Yes. And thank you. That means a lot."

AND THEN I HEARD HIM SAY THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE. 

AND IT ACTUALLY MADE ME GO SPEECHLESS:

"And I've been looking at a small accessory bag for your personal items... your toothbrush, deodorant, shaving supplies, makeup, shampoo, and things like that."

I started crying. I couldn't help it. Did he really include "makeup" in that list?

He asked me if I was okay.

I said, "Thank you. That means a lot. Did you just say 'makeup' in that list?"

He said, "Well. Or maybe there'd be enough room in the luggage for that? I really don't know how to shop for things like this. Your mom has a separate bag for her makeup, but I didn't know how much you're taking."

"Dad?"

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to put you on the spot."

"Dad. It's fine. Really. I haven't decided what makeup items I'll be taking. Probably not a lot since we'll be cooking most of the time. I don't think I'll need a separate bag. But Dad? Thank you. That really means a lot."

"Sure. I wanted to do this for you. I'll send you some links of what I have in mind and you can pick out what you'd like."

"Thank you."

"That way, if Matty wants to go to the gym while you're gone, he'll still have his gym bag."
[Translation: "Gym bags: sweaty boys. Proper luggage: Student Chefs"]Emoji
It really means a lot that my dad is doing this for me. More than you might know.
And Matty will still have his favorite gym bag while I'm gone.Emoji

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Are you clean?

The majority of books I read for pleasure are in the M/M romance/erotic genre. And though I don't come across this frequently, when I do I go into a rage.

"Are you clean?"

I just read a book published in 2014 where one character asks this question every time prior to having sex with a new partner.

I don't run across this question in the vast majority of M/M books I read. You would think in this day and age, those few authors who continue to have their characters ask that question -- or want to include some mention of how the characters are assessing their risk of exposure to infection -- would take the time to familiarize themselves with the implications of that question.

AND while I'm ranting, let me also include some gay men in real life. Please stop and think about the implications of asking a potential sex partner that question.

My brother was telling me about a seminar at school he recently participated in. He said two guys who were HIV-positive made a presentation about some of their experiences with guys who are HIV-negative. 

So here's my beef for today:

My brother said those two guys from his seminar discussed how stigmatizing that shorthand question is. As in Negative = Clean, and Positive = Dirty

Also... some (notice I said "some") gay men think if they ask a potential sex partner, "Are you clean?", it's perfectly innocent and useful shorthand for, "Are you HIV-positive?" and/or "Do you have any sexually transmitted diseases/infections?" 

But even if you change the words in the question to something that doesn't stigmatize, it's not necessarily a useful question in assessing your risk for possible infection.

If you get tested for HIV infection, it's not going to tell you whether you've been infected if you're still in the "window period" before antibodies are produced. The test measures the antibodies. And the body doesn't produce antibodies immediately after exposure. The antibodies come some period of time after exposure.

And if you get a negative result after the "window period," all you can reliably say is, "On X date I tested negative." After that date, if you engaged in a risky behavior with someone who is HIV-positive, the test you had on that date doesn't cover that.

In my opinion, it's perfectly legitimate to ask someone if they know they are HIV-positive. And it's perfectly legitimate for the person who is HIV-positive to volunteer that information. 

But please, can we all be more thoughtful in these conversations and questions? Both in fiction and real life? I don't expect a fictional story to be a technical information guide. But if you deliberately decide to include characters who reference how they're assessing their risk, please don't perpetuate any stigmas. Stigmas involve shaming. And for a community that has been shamed for too long, this needs to stop.

==========

Resources for further reading:

The Stupid Question: Are You Clean?

Realizing Why it's Problematic Using 'Clean' to Describe HIV-Negative Status

Centers for Disease Control: HIV Infection Risk Factors

Centers for Disease Control: HIV Testing

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What I've learned about love

To My Brad,

I've learned that though you're physically beautiful, and that's what caught my eye when I first saw you 5+ years ago, that's not what captured my heart. What captured my heart was you trusting me enough to slowly reveal your True Heart to me.

I've learned that our flaws, shortcomings, imperfections -- whatever you want to call them -- are also part of what make us human. And those things don't negate love, but make us real and challenge us to understand each other on levels deeper than we ever imagined in the beginning.

I've learned that love is both fragile and strong. Fragile in the sense that nothing is guaranteed. Strong because it's fragility and vulnerability require nurturing all that make it worthwhile and essential.

I've learned that it's more important to be real than right. That stubbornness and pettiness move us into a small world where love can't flourish because it's hard to breathe and impossible to grow.

I've learned that the advice "don't go to bed angry" just doesn't work for us. I can't think or process my feelings late at night. But the few times we've gone to bed miffed, I love that we always kiss each other good night, because I know that kiss is a promise. A promise that we will work things out the next day.

I've learned that love is more than a concept to be understood intellectually and emotionally, but the thing that adds a vital spark to make life worth living.

I've learned that love is what gives me hope. And joy.

Love, from Your Matt.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Telling my family

Last Thursday I wrote this post about Chef inviting me to join him and some of his fellow Chefs for a weekend of cooking and sharing ideas. It's still almost unbelievable that Chef would invite me. Notice I said "almost." It's starting to sink in that he sees something in me -- some potential -- and genuinely wants to encourage me along. It's very humbling and also means a lot to me.

Several of you mentioned something I hadn't even thought about. It's not only going to be a time for me to learn from them (I'm sure I'll be asking tons of questions), but maybe I can also share some of my own ideas. That's a little intimidating, but like others of you said, they also started out like me and I'm sure they appreciated someone more experienced giving them guidance in the beginning. 

I'm still not sure how to approach sharing any ideas I might have. Maybe when I ask questions, I can say something like, "What would happen if you added some spice like cumin?" Knowing that my idea would be to try that, but not coming across in a presumptive way.

When Chef invited me, I couldn't wait to tell my family about it. I didn't want to do it by email or a phone call because it seemed like the kind of news I wanted to do in person. Getting that face-to-face reaction was something I thought was important.

So yesterday afternoon (I'm writing this late Sunday night), I went over there and told everyone. I was so happy they were happy for me! My mom and sister gave me big hugs, and my dad said, "Wow! That's quite an honor." He had a big smile on his face, but he's not much of a hugger. So I decided to just keep being myself and walked over to him and said, "You gonna hug your son?"

He smiled and said, "This deserves a hug." While he embraced me, he quietly whispered, "I'm very proud of you." And even though I asked for the hug, he could have given one of those brief "attempt-at-a-hug" hugs, but it was the real thing. And it meant a lot to me.

And when I mentioned the names of the restaurants where the chefs are from, he said he and mom have been to the French restaurant where one of them works. He didn't know the chef there, but I could tell he was impressed.

I told everyone this was like getting a head start on culinary school. My dad smiled and replied, "Sounds to me like you're getting your own private weekend culinary school, son." I got choked up at that and might have gotten a little teary.

I'm still on cloud nine about all of this. What an honor to be invited by these chefs. And what gift that my family -- and especially my dad -- are proud of me. I was telling Matt about my dad's reaction, especially the part about how I walked over to him and said, "You gonna hug your son?" Matt said, "That's so cool. It's kinda like you're showing him how to be a father." 

I hadn't thought of that, but I guess he's right. All I wanted at the moment was a hug. I would have avoided that in the past, but I'm trying to just let myself be natural around him. I don't want to impose myself on him because he's not a big hugger. But I wanted a hug, asked for one, and he was free to decline or give me one. I was prepared for either.

These are big things. The chef weekend... The dad/son work.  Once I get over my nervousness about the chef weekend, maybe I can let it sink in and relax some. 

The dad/son work is more than just a weekend. I'm in it for the long haul. And I'm already looking forward to maybe some more hugs. He and I both deserve them.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Holding on and letting go

Hello every one! It's Sunday again. Time for Sam-I-Am! Hope you are having a good day!

I wanted to take today and thank every one for being in my life. Yeah, I know this is online and I haven't met any of you except through here, but the main thing that matters to me is what I feel inside. And I feel happy every one of you are in my life. I always look forward to seeing what every one has to say. I am truly grateful for all of your support and encouragement.

As you know from my post last Sunday, Tony and Beth invited RICK (my BOYFRIEND) and I, along with Brad and Matty, to their house for dinner on Saturday night (last night by the time you are reading this). Well, I am writing this post today on Saturday morning, so the dinner has not actually happened yet. I am really looking forward to going.

If you remember, I was getting all anxious about what to wear, but I decided to take Mary's advice. In the comment she left last Sunday, she said: "Just wear a smile. Oh jeez, clothes too lol! ((Hugs))"  HA HA HA!! Thanks for that excellent advice, Mary! I can give every one all kinds of assurances that I AM wearing clothes!! HA HA HA!!

But for today I wanted to share the quote up there. I really love what it has to say. Because to me, it means there are some things in life worth holding on to, and some things worth letting go of. I like quotes like this because they make me think.

I am in the habit of making lists in my Journal because my counselor is real big on writing things out. I told him I was going to get writer's cramp if he didn't stop make all these assignments he gives me. And I am talking about writing things out in long hand and not typing them in a document.

He said writing things in long hand slows you down and makes you look at each and every word. And he said what you then see on the page is some thing YOU actually created, instead of every single letter and word looking exactly the same. He said it is more personal than typing, and I think that makes a lot of sense.

Well, I used that quote up there to help guide me in making a list of things I want to let go of, and things I want to hold on to. Here is what I came up with:

LET GO OF:

1. Those things inside my head that say I will never amount to any thing.

2. I am not smart enough for college.

3. Feeling ashamed of being gay.

4. Feeling extremely depressed.

5. Doubting my own opinion of things.


HOLD ON TO:

1. I am smart enough to do any thing I set my mind to.

2. (Trying to believe this:) That I have a good sense of humor.

3. I deserve to have a happy life.

4. Being a loyal friend and helping my friends to the best of my ability.

5. Memories of my Grandma who taught me that I am a good person and saw me as special.

Well, I think this is a good start. I want to keep working on these lists because it helps me think and see things in a clear way.

I can not wait to tell you guys how dinner went at Tony and Beth's house. See? That sentence I just typed means I am expecting it to go good.
That's pretty cool, huh?Emoji
I guess I need to decide what I am wearing for dinner tonight. I know I'll be wearing a smile.
I just need to select my clothes. I can't let Mary down.Emoji

That is all for this week. Hope every one has a good day and a good week!
Love and Hugs, Sam-I-AmEmoji

Friday, July 17, 2015

Matty the Daddy

Matt and I have written about having children. I feel so much joy inside when I think about starting a family. But there's also anxiety when I think about the awesome responsibility involved.

I know I'll be taking tons of pictures and won't miss a single opportunity to show them to everybody.

And you should see Matty's face light up every time we talk about having little kids run around the house! He literally has a glow on his face!

I also see Matty taking pictures, too. I can picture him installing a dash cam in my car and his truck so we don't miss a single moment. 

I'm already worrying about calling him to see how everything's going while he and Junior are out for a drive
I just hope I don't get a picture like the one you see up there!Emoji
Yep. The joys and anxieties of having having kids -- both big and small ones!Emoji