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June 21st, 2018

Brokenness Requiring Surgery

Facebook gives me memories. On This Date. Yes. It was seven years ago. The torn rotor cuff. Recovering from surgery you said. Insurance wasn’t paying for all of it. Two months going on three out of work with no long term disability. I was so worried. But by October you were back to work, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, slugging liter mugs of beer around like it was old hat. Your therapist did a good job.

That evening we talked…passing a ski lift ticket I’d found on the floor back and forth like a talking stick. I saw the surgical scars. They were disturbing.

Seven years ago…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Brokenness Requiring Surgery

May 8th, 2018

Sex and Love

You said, When you’re on your death bed it won’t be the times you had sex you’ll be remembering, but all the people you loved.  As if those were necessarily two separate and unrelated things.

Doesn’t that say it all?

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

June 10th, 2016

Ah…Memories…Now Where’s That Eternal Sunshine When You Need It??

Facebook sends me little daily invitations to see my “Facebook Memories” for that particular day. And I usually dive in to see what I was up to one, two, three, as many years back as I have posts for that day. Some go back as far as the year I joined. This morning, this post from exactly one year ago came up…

1_year_later

I remember this. It was one of those times I didn’t actually say to him I was coming down. Whenever I just appeared and it hadn’t been previously discussed in email, he would be delighted to see me and we’d chat for over an hour after the restaurant closed. But when I said I was coming I always got the cold shoulder. It wasn’t hard to figure out why. And I began to feel suffocated. When you have to self censor everything you say just to hold a superficial conversation for the privilege of being held at arm’s length except when it was safe to actually treat me as a friend and classmate, it’s time to move on. So I pressed the nuclear button. Because sometimes nuclear war can be a beautiful thing.  Just ask General Sherman…

 

sherman_goes_nuclear

And it was. Fuckinn’ Beautiful. However my target wasn’t Dallas. I have no beef with Dallas, other than it takes forever to drive past it.

Thank you for the memory Facebook. Now I can remember all of it and not wonder if I was just imagining things. He said I was creeping him out. And I fired back with nearly ten years of letters, emails and the memories of all those hours long phone conversations we had back when phone conversations were allowed, and every time that I stood at his threshold and he smiled into my eyes, and all the times we spent together, back in high school, and then thirty three years later, and it seemed like only yesterday, to throw back into the fireball, laughing, laughing breathlessly.

I said things we’d spoken of Many Times before, back when our conversations were private. But now they weren’t and that was a line I was told not to cross. So I did. Almost ten years we would chat by email, and for a brief while by letter and phone, and I would come visit now and then, and he could have sent me away at any time if it was creeping him out and he didn’t. He was the one who insisted I come down there. We were chatting on the phone and I said I was taking a road trip and he asked me why I wasn’t visiting that part of America because it was my heritage and all that. So I did. And we met in person for the first time in thirty three years and that was after we’d been chatting by letter and phone and then email about everything he said creeped him out. And all the times he asked me to stay a little while longer.

And then it’s I creep him out is it?

bender_laugh

Always laugh when you press the nuclear button. Total annihilation of a relationship can be Fuckinn’ Beautiful if you do it right.

Sherman Goes Nuclear
Everything burns…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ah…Memories…Now Where’s That Eternal Sunshine When You Need It??

March 8th, 2016

Home Again…Peace And Quiet…

Back home just now after my excellent Disney World Adventure. I’m going around waking up the house now from its slumber. Water turned back on, hot water heater lit, Internet connectivity re-established, car unpacked…

Peace and quiet. You get it by making an authentic life for yourself, realizing that those moments of actual peace and quiet that come your way, like most things in life, the good and the bad, will come and go in their own good time.

So you deal with the drama as best you can, which you can because you have lived an authentic life, and you have learned how to cope, not how to act like you’re coping. And likewise you navigate the hardships, the pain, the disappointments. And you relish the good things, and all the joys life brings to you, large and small trivial and sublime. And you enjoy the peace and quiet when it comes, while it is there.

But if you go looking Specifically for peace and quiet you’re not making a life, you’re building a cocoon. And pretty soon the cocoon is a prison. And then…a coffin, from which only the dust that could have been a person emerges.

Word of advice das Submissive

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Home Again…Peace And Quiet…

March 6th, 2016

Peace And Quiet

It was after you sent those last photos of your wunderbar vacation that I felt something had changed inside me. Skiing isn’t exactly a risk free sport and I’ve fretted often about your safety on the slopes. This time it was different. For one thing, you sent me those photos right after I’d suggested I might be coming down to your neck of the woods for a short vacation, which I needed desperately. You’d been so quiet and then all of a sudden it’s Look At My Lovely Ski Photos With My Honey.

Yes, yes… It wasn’t hard to figure you sent me those to keep me away. I’m on vacation now Bruce, so don’t bother coming down. But you weren’t. I made a bet with myself that you’d be there after all. And you were. For all I know those shots were from some other trip you took years ago.

But that was just the first flew flakes that started the avalanche. All there is after that is a hopeless longing for something that’s dead and that’s how people fall into abusive relationships. And I had already started to be afraid that was what this had become. Right from the start your teasing had an element of belittlement to it. The gay kid who accepted himself and went on to live in the world for better or worse as the person he was just couldn’t be allowed to stand taller than the one who fled into the closet. I had to be taken down a few notches to stand in your presence.

It was getting old. Another kid from our school, ironically another youngest brother in another family of Germans who came to this country, used to like doing that to me too. He did it all through school and like you, vanished from my life without a trace, only to come back into it decades later with a big chip on his shoulder for working on the space program and driving a Mercedes-Benz, while he was living in a shack in the attic of a decayed theater in Pennsylvania, and working off some sort of community service at a Mennonite kitchen. As if the kid who was raised by a single working mother and went to school in second hand clothes would ever hold someone’s economic status against them. I had to tell him to go away. Thank you for not making me do that to you.

Freedom! Thank you for not being a possessive narcissistic dick and letting me go. I was worried right up to the end that you would try some manipulative thing and smack me down while keeping me on the hook. Yes, I pushed it. It was deliberate. Because I needed closure. I’m too old now for this shit.

I spent 33 years searching for you. And all that time I thought you’d be the braver one. The stronger one. And you weren’t. You made your allegiances as you told me a few months ago, and all they asked in return was that you let them put a knife in your heart. And you did. Last November the last thing I heard as I left was you complaining that you’d let yourself get trapped in a life you didn’t want. I did it to myself… you kept saying as I left. I would have liked to have talked it out with you but that was on the other side of the fence you’d put up so I kept my mouth shut. And anyway, where else was the guy going who told me a few years earlier that he couldn’t tell sometimes who it was he was looking at in a mirror? My last blog post creeped you out did it? Let me guess where…

But teasing is only fun when there is a bedrock of honesty between friends and you don’t want me that close.

Honesty. That’s what they try to kill in us gay kids first. We have to hate ourselves. That means we have to lie to ourselves. And once you start that, it’s hard to know when you’re telling the truth to anyone else, let alone yourself. You told me once that when I’m on my deathbed it won’t be all the times I had sex I’d be thinking about. Well that would depend on how much I’d loved them I suppose wouldn’t it. Yes, actually thinking back to those times I spent in the arms of someone I was deeply in love with would be a lovely way to go out. I can tell you this though: when I’m on my deathbed what I won’t be thinking about is all the people I could never let see the real me.

What I realize now is I spent 33 years searching for you, and I found myself. When I found you again I was desperate to prove to you that I wasn’t the awkward little dweeb you saw back in school. So I babbled on and on about the work I did for the space program, about the stuff I did fighting for gay equality, until you told me not to talk about any of that in case your wife heard it. I gave you things from work, beautiful Hubble photos of the stars and galaxies, and mission patches. I showed you my artwork and my photography. I was trying to prove myself worthy. And all that time it never dawned on me that I’d Actually Done All That.

Falling in love with you back in high school made me believe in the honor and the dignity and the righteousness of gay love and romance. I could have ended up like so many of our generation, hating myself, living hand to mouth in a cocoon of self loathing, believing such as me did not deserve any better. I have seen so much of that…so terribly much of that. I escaped it thanks to loving you. Or rather, loving the brave, intelligent, noble heart I thought was you. So now you close the door tightly shut on me and I honestly have to say Thank You again, for showing me that I wasn’t the one who had anything to prove after all. And maybe I wasn’t such a little dweeb back then either. Back then it was hard to believe someone like you would even notice me.

I had to scramble all through young adulthood to find work because whenever the boss detected Teh Gay in me I was shown the door. But I kept walking forward. And now I’m a system software engineer working on the James Webb Space Telescope, and a published editorial cartoonist, and a recognized photographer who still gets the occasional newspaper or wedding photography job. I designed and wrote the code for this web site, all but the WordPress blog you are reading now, and even there I’ve tweaked the code a tad where I needed it to do something it wouldn’t out of the box. I might not have accomplished everything I set out to do, but I’ve accomplished a lot, and in some instances way more than I ever dreamed, and I’m not the one bellyaching about the life I’m leading now.

I’ve been living as an out gay man nearly all my life. I came out to myself when I was 17 years old, accepted myself for what I am, two years before the shrinks decided homosexuals weren’t mentally ill after all. Yes, I kept it low key for most of the 70s but I never once dodged a direct question and never lied to anyone about it, back in a time when I could be, and was, multiple times, fired for being a homosexual. I can still remember the day when I was a teenage boy and I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and said to my reflection I Am A Homosexual after I’d read some crackpot that said admitting it was the worst thing a man could do. On that day forty-seven states still had sodomy laws on their books. I used to dig up every failure of nerve I ever had when I came to visit you. What I should have done was remember all those times I was blind-sided by The Question and I had to make a sudden snap decision about being closeted or not. Yeah I was afraid. But I never held back. Because by then I could see something with frightful clarity.

The closet is not a safe space.

It is not a comfort zone. It will not protect you. It only protects bigotry and hate. Our silence, gives them permission to suck all the joy and exuberance out of our lives. Our silence gives them permission to make their stepping stones to heaven out of our hopes and dreams.

I wasn’t about to go there. Yes, it was a struggle. Some days I thought I had no viable future ahead of me. But I persevered. And I’ll tell you what…even in the depths of poverty, living hand to mouth in a friend’s basement, I never once considered going back into the closet as a solution. I just couldn’t see myself lying to myself, let alone to others. Because I knew down to the bone there was nothing wrong with being gay. I always had falling in love with you to look back on, and remind myself that life is good after all. 

Then I found you again. And for a while it was wonderful. But in these last few years you put toning it down as the price for your company. Something happened to you. Something changed. And you let them put a leash on you. And that meant I had to wear it too if I wanted to stick around. And I acquiesced because every time I stood before you I turned back into that awkward little teenage dweeb, all shy and amazed that you would even talk to me. Slowly but surely you nudged me into a closet I once swore I’d never live in. It was becoming corrosive. I had to push it. Because I Am Not That Anymore.

Truth be told, I saw this coming years ago. I just didn’t want to believe the guy I fell so madly in love with once upon a time wasn’t the brave, strong, noble heart I thought he was. I wish I could go back in time and show the kid I was then the adult you turned into. Yes, you’re married. Lots of gay men of our generation are. And many of them love their wives dearly. And it is not in my heart to judge any of them, or you, for it. We live the hand we’re dealt. All you can do is try to make it a better world for the next generation. I was perfectly fine with ours being a long distance friendship and nothing more. It would have been a dream come true. I live in Baltimore. I have the best job in the world and a little house of my own. You live here and have the life you have. We’re nearly a thousand miles apart. It seemed to me that it was for the best. Distance would keep either one of us from causing any trouble to each others lives. We might never be as close again as we were back in school, but life goes on. It could have been wonderful, even so. But you were afraid of even that little contact between us if it had to be honest, and when it came to my having to closet myself just to be your acquaintance then I had to make a choice between self respect and honesty. And that’s a choice I have a Lot of experience making by now. It’s Easy. You choose honesty because there is no other way. Except you didn’t at some point long ago. And now you’re stuck.

Well I’m not getting stuck with you. Not even with you. You should have expected this. I should have expected this.We needed to both open our eyes to each other’s reality.

Different metals behave differently in the fire. You want peace and quiet. I want a life. We went our separate ways long ago. They say men don’t change, they reveal themselves. I wish I’d never seen it, but on the other hand it’s better that I have. When I was seventeen shy little awkward dweeb that I was I deserved better than you. I’m 62 and I’ve lived a lot of life and seen a lot of things and struggled to achieve a lot of things and crashed and burned a bunch of times and soared among the stars other times and I sure as shit deserve better than you now.

And the really achingly sad thing is that you deserve better too. But…we make our own beds.

Your peace and quiet begins now does it? No.

Mine does.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Peace And Quiet


Message In A Bottle

To Whomever German It May Concern…

Did you get pissed off last night because I spent all that time talking to that other guy? Really? No…Really??

You told me he was going on a road trip. Road trips are a big deal with me. I didn’t spend 60k for a car they say you can put 100 thousand miles on and it’s only just broken in because I wanted a status symbol. I Love Road Tripping!  But…you know that. That’s probably why you told me he was going on one.

He showed me his plan and I showed him the tons of road trip photos I have on my smartphone and my Facebook page and we talked road trip stuff and then he mentioned backpacking and I showed him that photo of me back when I was 30 with my pack on and we talked backpacking stuff.

Then he spent practically the rest of the night trying to find where you went because he knew we were friends (as opposed to acquaintances) and that I wanted to spend some time with you before it was time to go. And you’d bugged out.

You do that sort of thing. Like you suddenly get pissed off at me because of something I didn’t see coming and I would have avoided if I had seen it. And then it’s months before you talk to me again.

Love how you tease me every time we meet. You can launch yourself into a tea party tirade about how Obama has wreaked the economy with a perfectly straight face and if I didn’t know any better I’d swear you meant it. Of course, when I suggested with my own straight face that Trump was a good alternative the look on yours my dear German was priceless. Yes, I can tease back.

But teasing is only fun when there is a bedrock of honesty between friends and you don’t want me that close. For some reason. After I joked about Trump you said I was hard to read sometimes. No I’m not, and neither are you. And that’s really the problem all along isn’t it. We’re birds of a feather on the same wavelength every time we meet and you still can’t handle that. So you keep me at arm’s length. And then misjudgements happen.

Did you really get jealous? I swear…sometimes it’s like you forget I spent 33 years searching for you.  By now…don’t you know?

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Message In A Bottle

January 22nd, 2016

To Whom It May Concern…

I guess the thing that really surprised me is I always thought you’d be the braver one. I never considered myself brave, just stubborn.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on To Whom It May Concern…

December 25th, 2015

I’m Missing A Christmas Card This Year…

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve

She didn’t recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged

Went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

She said she’d married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn’t like to lie

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn’t sure if I
Saw doubt or gratitude

She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly
But the traveling was hell

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another ‘auld lang syne’

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away

Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain

-Dan Fogelberg, “Same Old Lang Syne”

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I’m Missing A Christmas Card This Year…

October 26th, 2015

Message In A Bottle…

From my Facebook stream…

the prison of other peoples approval

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Message In A Bottle…

September 24th, 2015

To Whom It May Concern…

Message in a bottle…

“Maybe the journey isn’t about becoming anything.
Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you,
so you can be what you were meant to be in the first place.”

 

I hear them use the phrase “born again” as if it’s a single point, one extraordinary moment in a lifetime. But that’s a soul stillborn. This is why I dislike that sort of religion. He who isn’t busy being born is busy dying.  You hear them talk about the end of the world as if it’s a thing that will happen someday. The world ends every day. And every morning a new world begins.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on To Whom It May Concern…

June 1st, 2015

Yes It’s Madness…But There’s A Method To It… (Message In A Bottle…)

Cracked Magazine, which is getting more known for it’s online lists of things (5 Classic Board Games With Disturbing Origins…4 Overlooked Consequences Of Spiderman Joining The Avengers….) just published 5 Things I Learned At A ‘Pray Away The Gay’ Camp.  Here’s one of the line items…

#4. They Physically Torture You For Being Gay

“My hands were tied down and ice was placed on them while I was shown pictures of men. Later sessions would include copper heating coils, needles in my fingers, and electric shocks,” all while Sam was shown gay porn.

Then they’d take the coils away and show … men and women holding hands.

“I was never shown heterosexual sex, just heterosexual attraction,” Sam says. “I was just supposed to associate the touch of a man with pain.”

But a gay man is sexually drawn to other men. And in adults, those feelings of desire mature and evolve into deeper feelings of love and intimate trust and companionship. There’s no neat and tidy way to disconnect desire from human intimacy in adults. After decades of doing this to gay men, and witnessing for themselves the results of it, you might think they’d understand the damage they’re doing.

And you’d be right…

Obviously, despite the old saying, you can’t “heating-coil the gay away.” The torture didn’t make Sam straighter; it just made him terrified of sex, intimacy, and general human closeness.

The scapegoat has to hate themselves. They have to accept their lot in life is one of misery and pain and that they deserve it. And more importantly, they must be taught to fear anything that might lift them out of the pit of loneliness and despair:  They must fear being loved.

“By the end, even hugging my father brought back flashbacks,” Sam said.

Sam isn’t alone — according to literally every scientific study, that’s exactly what happens to people who go through this kind of thing. Sex and physical intimacy are positive things that human beings seek out because they feel good, and you can’t trick the human brain into thinking something feels good by zapping it or burning it with hot copper coils. It only makes the feelings negative.

It’s not a bug…it’s a feature…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Yes It’s Madness…But There’s A Method To It… (Message In A Bottle…)

April 27th, 2015

Expectations (Message In A Bottle)

I was at the NOM March for Marriage rally on the Mall last Saturday, and I should post some of my thoughts here rather than my Facebook page, along with the photos I will eventually upload to the photo gallery here, because that sort of thing is what I created this website for. Which I will do later this week.  But there is another rally tomorrow (Tuesday) at the Supreme Court I will also be documenting so that’ll have to wait a bit. For now I’ll just say this about NOM: You simply cannot overstate the level of religious extremism and outright kookery that was on display at that rally. As I wandered the crowd with my camera I kept wishing H. L. Mencken was still alive to file a report on it for the Sun.  Strange as The Hills of Zion were, they’re stranger still when transplanted to a patch of Mall directly in front of the U.S. Capital.

In the meantime…this came across my Facebook stream just now and I’m rolling it up and putting it into another bottle to toss into the sea for a certain someone to find eventually…maybe…

expectations

 

I did that to myself too, once upon a time. The bars were made of the low expectations placed on a kid being raised by a divorced single working mother. Family gave me those bars.  And teachers. And well meaning members of the churches mom took me to. But I put them in place myself. I’m 61 years old now, and just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the launching of the Hubble Space Telescope with my co-workers here at The Space Telescope Science Institute…we got a group photo taken of ourselves and I’m there at the front with my camera and some of the astronauts and Matt Mountain who handed me a special service award last year…and I’m still trying to pry some of those bars down and free myself.

No matter I didn’t let them put me in the closet like other gay kids back in the day. That’s just one of many prisons people let themselves get talked into. There are all kinds of ways a kid can get talked out of believing in themselves.  But ultimately we are the wardens of our own internal jails.

We have to learn how to let ourselves go, so we can become the people we were always meant to be. It’s a struggle…but a noble one…because you can’t be the best you can be for others, until you can be all that you can be.

hubble gang

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Expectations (Message In A Bottle)

April 6th, 2015

(Message In A Bottle) So This Was Why You Warned Me Not To Send You Any Of Those!

Just now on Facebook…

nsa dicks

Relax. They probably have your colonoscopy photos on file too.

[Update…]  I’m queer…I can’t stop myself…

moby

…I’m so ashamed…

hard boiled

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on (Message In A Bottle) So This Was Why You Warned Me Not To Send You Any Of Those!

April 5th, 2015

Driving In The Nails For Easter (Message In A Bottle…)

This came across my Facebook stream tonight…

catholic_vote_ad

This is actually pretty typical. If you are shocked by this I assure you I am not. The imagery here comes from a right wing Catholic group but don’t be paying much attention to that because the sentiment isn’t specific to any one religion or religion in particular and it’s not about how they see us so much as how they want us to be seen. This is the real thing. Most of your gay and lesbian neighbors, except the very lucky maybe, have felt this breathing down our necks all our adult lives.

When other kids start having their first crushes and start discovering love and desire, this is what the gay ones find themselves facing. This is what haunts what should have been one of this life’s most magical times. It cuts you deep. Some people never manage to love wholeheartedly their entire lives because of it.

And others search endlessly for one who can. I was looking at my Facebook stream just a moment ago and this graphic flashed on my screen and for an instant I saw certain someone’s face and relived the conversation I had with him just one week ago…

I need to stay in my comfort zone…

I know. And I’m so sorry…so very sorry. It is what it is. You stayed inside because you had to and I got the hell out because I had to but we are all damaged by it in one way or another. Easter they say is when Jesus of Nazareth died for their sins. So why did we have to die for their sins too?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Driving In The Nails For Easter (Message In A Bottle…)

March 26th, 2015

Message In A Bottle

Yes, you got an F-Bomb out of me.  It was that “you think I deserve all this” crap.  I was so flustered I couldn’t muster the words I needed just then. Well it made you smile anyway.

Firstly, you have a pretty good job, considering what might otherwise be. Ask someone who works at some other chain restaurant how good they’ve got it. You work for a big company that gets lots of traffic into its eateries and if cheerful friendly hard working and handsome you isn’t getting way better than average tips I’m surprised.

And as for what I think you deserve…damn you…you know how I feel. You saw the look on my face. Don’t you Know?  I’ve always wished you the best, and all the happiness and contentment life could provide. Regardless of anything you could ever give back to me. It isn’t a transaction.

If you told me to go away I would still wish you that. Always.

…and I’d just keep tossing these little messages in a bottle out here, like I did for decades before I found you again. Except now you’ll know they’re here. It isn’t a transaction.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

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    This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

    This blog is powered by WordPress and is hosted at MomoWeb. Some custom design was done by Winters Web Works. Some embedded content was created with the help of Adobe Photoshop for MacOS and/or The Gimp. I proof with Firefox on either Windows, Linux or MacOS depending on which machine I happen to be running at the time.