Daily Life in Maine…#3

In following the theme, here are some more great shots I have taken around the area, specifically around the shoreline of southern Maine where I live.  These were previously taken shots.   Today was a beautiful pre-spring day with temperatures up in the 40’s, so the thawing has started.  Once I am more able to get out in the weather and enjoy these days I will be posting much more recent photos.

A shot from Fort Foster, that's pretty complete, lighthouse, ship coming in and leisure boats drifting around
A shot from Fort Foster, that’s pretty complete, lighthouse, ship coming in and leisure boats drifting around
Spring sunrise
Spring sunrise
A stack of lobster traps on the wharf
A stack of lobster traps on the wharf
Pilated Woodpecker Spring 2014
Pilated Woodpecker Spring 2014
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Daily Post…Things I am Snobbish About…

Lately I’ve had a touch of creative downtime, I just can’t seem to find my mojo in my writing.  I have several theories…one is fear…fear stops our creative juices from flowing, I think I fear writing something that will upset someone, thus the things just won’t flow.  So, in true writers fashion I have gone to writing prompts through WordPress’s Daily Posts and through other bloggers inspirations.

This blog is inspired by the Daily Post prompt, “What are you snobbish about?” Meaning what am I particular about in my life.  I thought this was a good prompt.  I tend to want to believe that I am not a “snob” per se, but there ARE things that I very much am “snobbish” about, and will only have my way, or not at all.  So here’s my list…

1.  My smokes.  I smoke Newport Menthol BLUES and ONLY those.  If I can’t find them I will go without.  Which, if I wanted to really quit smoking, when they stop making them I will certainly become the non-smoker that I wish to be.  It’s ridiculous.  The story goes that I was once temporarily incarcerated in DC jail for getting drunk and acting a fool near the capital…NOT a good idea…anyway, after I ran out of my Marlboro (yup a former cowboy killer smoker) cigarettes I could only get menthols, such as Newports or Kools from the other inmates.  We would play cards or dice (which I got pretty lucky at) for cigarettes.  When my lover at that time picked me up from jail she handed me a pack of Marlboro Reds, and I promptly threw them in the trash, stopped at a quick stop store and purchased myself a pack of Newports…thus I became a full time menthol smoker.  I changed to the lighter Blues, which used to be called Mediums until that was prohibited by the US Government’s FDA, several years later.  I smoke them to this day.  Quite often I can’t get them at many stores as they are not a well known choice, so I have a couple of stores locally that carry them just for me, cuz I am special.  🙂

2.  My coffee.  I am a coffee junkie.  I know it.  The world knows it.  I love good STRONG coffee; the kind that can tend to put hair on your teeth.  I like it super strong and with ONLY half and half creamer and sugar.  If I am out of half and half creamer I will NOT drink coffee.  I hate it with milk, or powdered creamer.  Yes, I will go without if I don’t have the stuff to make it to my liking.  I’m a coffee snob.

3.  Bottled Water.  I will NOT drink tap water.  Because of my compromised immune system and my fear of contaminated public drinking water, and my aversion to chlorinated drinking water I will only drink bottled water.  I can be a snob about the brand too…I prefer Dasani, but I will drink other brands if I can’t get Dasani, just no way am I consuming the tap water anywhere.  Side note:  I once drank water in Mexico…Juarez to be exact…I was sick for days….lesson learned.

4.  Writing Implements, i.e. Pens specifically.  I’m very bad about this.  I will not write or buy cheap pens.  I am addicted to fine writing instruments.  I have a small collection of very expensive pens, Cross brand being my favorite.  I love the way a fine pen feels in my hand, glides across the paper and even the way it looks if I clip it into my shirt pocket.  Pencils also have to be good ones, I don’t like cheaper pencils.  I prefer to have a nice hard #2 pencil, round preferrably, and fatter if I can get them.  And it has to have a good eraser.   I do have some mechanical pencils, but I still prefer the old fashioned wood pencils.  Ticonderoga brand is a favorite, although I haven’t found them in true round.

5.  Paper.  As with the pens, I am a snob for fine writing paper.  I like the super smooth expensive papers.  I am a big fan of the Stone Paper that I can get locally, it’s tough, smooth and just feels good to write on.  I write a lot of personal letters, cards and the such, yes…I am trying to keep the postal service and the letter writing tradition both in business still.  I have a few people (very few) who I correspond with via the mail system.   I hope I never lose my passion for hand writing to people, I just think it’s still a classy and very personal way to communicate.

6.  Socks.  Yes, socks.  I like GOOD socks.  If my socks begin to show any wear and tear into the trash they go.  I like calf high athletic socks or good name brand socks that don’t ride down my ankles, hold their elasticity and color when washed and are mostly cotton in fabric.

7.  Clothing in general.  While I am not a name-brand whore, I am particular about my personal attire.  I am a super snob about my underwear, it has to be Aeropostale boxer briefs, or it’s commando I go. And my undershirts (I wear white T-shirts under everything) have to be 100% cotton, and pure white.  If they get slightly off color they become rags in my rag b bin!  I like most anything that is well made, fits good and is 100% cotton or as close as it can get.   My clothing has to be wrinkle free when I put it on, smell fresh from the laundry, and must be comfortable.  I will not wear uncomfortable clothing.  I’ve even managed to put together enough dressier suits to be comfortable when I have to dress up a bit.  Even down to my jewelry I am particular, I will only wear sterling silver or white gold.

8.  Laundry…I am VERY particular about how my clothes are laundered.  I prefer to do my own laundry as a result.  It’s not only about how they are separated to be washed and dried, by materials and colors, but about how they are also folded and put away into my closet and dressers.  It’s something that is left over from my days in the US Army I am sure.

9.  Steak.  I am a wicked snob about my red meat choice.  I LOVE Filet Mignon (beef tenderloin) and I want it medium rare and cooked to perfection.  My second choice is Prime Rib…au jus….omg, I am making myself hungry just thinking about it.

So those are the things that come foremost to the top of my head that I can be really particular about, or even snobbish.  I cannot think of anything else…except the women I talk to…that I am super particular about…  I am very particular about the women that I will talk to or date…but that’s a whole other blog!  I think with age I’ve gotten more set in my ways about these things, and they’ve become my snobbish habits.  🙂

Peace!  ~MB

Most Prized Possession

Things we treasure is the topic of the Writing 101 assignment from The Daily Post here on WordPress.  

I’ve wracked my brain for what single item it is that is my most prized possession.  I’ve looked around my house, and thought about what if I were to have a major fire and would lose everything but what I could carry, what would it be that I would juggle out the door on that single trip?  

One answer is quite simple.  My beloved dog Nola. For obvious reasons; like she’s my daily companion, and she loves me as unconditionally as I love her.  Her support to me in times of struggle over the last 6 years that we’ve been together has been enormous.  This Butch has definitely got a very soft heart when it comes to animals! 

I have said before I thought that you could only get one “once in a lifetime” dog in your life, but I was very wrong, as I have had TWO!  Before Nola I had a dog for 17 years named Jock.  He was a Welch Corgi cross with Beagle I believe, and he was the most intelligent, loyal and affectionate dog.  His bravery and loyalty were bar-none the best in a dog I have ever seen.  There were times with him that I had that were just incredible.  At Lake Altus in Oklahoma he would swim into the middle of the lake in search of me as I was out there tubing with my friends in the 30 foot deep water.  He was left at bars, and found his way home, and he was always there for me, right to the bitter end.  I sent Jock over the Rainbow Bridge in 1999, before even my first summer on the farm.  Seventeen years after finding him in a shelter in Lawton Oklahoma when I was stationed there with the US Army.  He was the only dog who did not bark when I entered the enclosures.  That was the dog for me.  He was well groomed, nails trimmed and healthy, so someone in the military probably had to leave him at the shelter for some reason he probably did not even understand.  That first day he jumped right into my Chevy pick up truck and took up his residence next to me for the next seventeen years.  I loved that dog so very  much.  

At the end of his life he could not see or hear very well, and he tried desperately to stay very close to me for security. It was very hard making that final, kind decision to let him go and it gives me chills now to think about it.  But there was a peace in me after it was done, I knew I had done right by that dog.  I adopted him, cared for him, loved him, and fished with him endlessly.  In the end I stayed with him until he was ready to go and let me know it, then I made that hardest of all decisions that a pet owner has promised to make one day.  When you adopt a pet you vow that you will do what is always best for them, and the end decision is done with that in mind.  Yes, he’s probably still waiting on Rainbow Bridge for me along with Susie, the Westie that I had in high school who was also a very devoted dog.  

Yes, Nola is my most prized possession, although I don’t really consider her a “possession” as much as a companion, a cheerleader and a dog that just lives to make me happy.She asks nothing more from me than to be with me constantly, watching over every move that I make.  If I move from one room to another in the house, that dog follows and settles in to a new spot from which she can watch over me.  I am just so lucky to have her and to get another “once in a lifetime” companion dog.  

So, besides the dog what would I save?  I have a teddy bear that I have had since I was a baby, and he’s my most prized material object.  He’s traveled with me around the world and back (much like both my dogs!) and he’s done duty in some harsh climates in the USA and Europe.  When I was stationed in the European theater I played softball for the Army.  It was lucky and very easy duty and I loved it.  Playing ball at that time was my life.  (My shoulders are paying for it today!)  And that bear would accompany our team to every away game, and would sit the bench in the home games.  My grandmother, who I lost when I was 10 years old, had sewn silver metal button eyes on him when his assigned plastic eyes fell off from over-loving.  I drew a paint mouth on him at around the same time.  He has notches cut out of his ears from being “tagged” in recreations of episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, a game and a show that I loved as a child.  All of my stuffed animals had shaved spots for tags on their ears.  Teddy still has his.    He has a voice box at one time, but his tummy is sewn up thanks again to my Nana, and his legs are of different lengths, as are his arms from where the padding wore out.  Teddy is worn and patched; loved and cherished still today.  

Other than Nola and Teddy, I would grab the envelope of important papers out of my dresser draw, my address book and my laptop which is full of vital information and is my lifeline to my writing.  Everything else can be replaced or has no significant value.  Sure there are things like photo books and little significant items, but remember it’s a fire and I have one trip in to gather everything I can carry.  I am counting on Nola running herself out of the door as I follow with the above items.  I would make sure she was out before I would even hold on to the other things.  Sometimes in life it’s not a significant item that is your most treasured, but a significant soul.  I feel that I am responsible for Nola’s soul and because she has given me that privilege I will always protect her first.  

 

My 12th Year…Where I Was…Growin Up

From “The Daily Post” “

Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home?”

I was a rather lucky kid.  I grew up in a rather complete family; Mom, Dad and two younger brothers, and two younger sisters – 7 of us total.  We were lucky as kids, we had terrific parents and we weren’t abused or living with alcoholics -like many of my friends tell me of their childhoods.  I had a pretty typical lower middle class childhood, living in a small rural town in southern Maine that hadn’t yet reached it’s hay-day of strip malls and outlet stores.  My parents worked their asses off to support and raise us, and I thank them for the childhood they gave each of us.

At twelve, I was living on a beautiful rural road, with sparsely dispersed houses, in a very historic area of town.  We lived in a huge old house, the first floor being over 300 years old, the second floor added in the 1940’s.  At one time the place had been a large farm, complete with two large barns that each burned long before I was born.  There were the remnants of ancient apple orchards, even a pear tree and lots and lots of grape vines gone wild.  The property was up against land that had been left to the town, thus it was called the ‘town forest’ – tons of acreage of wilderness with trails, old dumps, old foundations and even a couple of very old grave yards…ooooo….that we as kids would think were haunted by the old sea captain buried in one of them.

Along one edge of the property, just over the line into the town forrest, was a swamp with a small stream that ran harder in the rainy season. We played in that swamp for hours and hours.  We built crude bridges, caught frogs, tried fishing and manhandled turtles.  My mother would buy us tall rubber boots for our excursions into the swamp land.  I recall that we had a name for the swamp, but cannot recall what it was now…but it was a beloved place to play, get dirty, find adventure and live out fantasy life as sea captains of small boats we would try to build, or as army guys crawling through the swamp grass and muck in search of the ‘enemy’ neighborhood kids.

Toward the back of the property, behind the house was a small field where there were eight or ten old apple trees.  These afforded us plenty of tree climbing to pick apples.  Mom would make pies for us out of them.  They were old Macintosh type apples.  We would have “apple wars” throwing rotten ones at one another as we scurried for cover behind the piles of old stones used to build crude stonewalls along the border of the property between us and the town forest land.  Farmers would build the old stone walls that are found throughout New England when they would clear land to plant.  They really had nothing else to do with nor other way to dispose of the rocks and stones unearthed when plowing.  So up went stonewalls to mark borders, pen cows and horses, and to keep out the villains.  Our property had stonewalls on all three sides, and was fronted by the road on the fourth.

We had one neighboring house next to us, and one kind of diagonally across the street.  Next door was the home of the two elderly people who sold my parents the home for under $8,000. back in 1972 – when I was 10 years old, and we had returned from living for a short time in New York.  These two became our adoptive grandparents as we had none of our own grandparents living at that time.  The only grandmother I had known had died when I was 10 just after we moved into that old house; the house that would be in our family for 44 years and would be the center of family activity all that time and would shelter a million memories.

Gram and Gramps were awesome as neighbors, and they especially were sweet on my youngest brother, who went there daily for homemade cookies and some hugs from Gram.  One time Gramps even got out and rode the little guy’s bike around the driveway, which was quite comical!  Old man on BMX bike, knees up to his chin…you get the picture I am sure!  He had a big wide grin on his face too!  Gram and Gramp were killed in a head-on collision on their way to camp one weekend when I was 20 and in the US Army in Germany, sadly.  I’ve always missed them.  They always said they would “go together” and by golly they did.  Bless them.

To the left side of the property, as standing in the road looking at the house head-on, we would play baseball, kickball and football in the field there.  Gramps usually kept it mowed, as his property bordered it along that side.  He loved to see us set up our baseball diamond, even though we did break his garage window once with a baseball hit foul.  I think it may still be broken today even.  It’s a downhill slope on that side and we would roll down the hill, wrestle and play for hours there.  A few years Mom and Dad tried growing vegetable gardens on that side. The deer and bunnies would come and mow down the rows nightly.  But we did succeed with some stuff once Gramps showed us how to put down dried blood around the garden to keep out the critters.  Evidently they think of death and dying when they smell dried blood and avoid the area.  It worked and we did have a nice crop of corn one year.

So, when I was 12 living there at the homestead I was just coming into my more rebellious years.  But I was generally a good kid.  I loved to read.  I would find hiding places on the property, a flat stone at the far corner along the stonewall where I would lay and read.  The lilac bush out front would get so huge that you had paths and tunnels through the center.  It was near to the road along the front left corner, and there was a rock cliff that fell off to the road below; the lilac grew right on that cliff.  I spent hours laying at the top of that cliff reading Nancy Drew mysteries, Harriet the Spy, and anything else that I could relate to.

Around this time I found a book on the roadside one day, a porn book…which piqued my interest but had to be hidden like crazy!  I had a place in the old tin garage where I hid it, a platform up in the rafters where I could climb up and be out of sight to read the really nasty stuff.  Until someone told on me and I got caught…that ended my porn reading career until I was 18 and could get it myself! 🙂  Ah, what a memory!

At 12 I had a 2 year old brother who I just adored.  I would spend a lot of time watching him for my hard working mother.  She worked right up at the end of the road at a small motel where she started as a chambermaid and wound up as the general manager.  We could ride our bikes the half a mile to Route 1 and be at her place of work should we need her for anything in an emergency.  The summer of my 12th year we had chickens, as I recall.  Mom has always loved her chickens and fresh eggs.  We would sell the eggs to locals who would drive into our broken pavement driveway looking for them. Our coops were clean and the chickens happy.  We had one that would always get beat up in the pen, so she ran loose on the property and we named her Henny Penny.  (The sky is falling….)  She was friendly.  And in the fall when the chickens all became chicken dinners (and I cried on the cliff with my cat squeezed tight in my arms) somehow Henny Penny was no where to be found on that day.  She reappeared the next morning as if nothing had changed.  Eventually Henny went to a retirement farm to live out her days.  Dad just could not do the beheading of such a sneaky chicken – after all she had survived the carnage, she must have been a blessed chicken.

Back then, 1974, you could leave your 12 year olds in charge of your other kids and they would all survive.  Sure, bloody noses and cuts from fights happened and you held the victim down until they agreed not to tell Mom and Dad that you caused the injury!  Kids fell out of tree forts, crashed their bikes without helmets, and stayed out til dark, but it was a much safer time and we didn’t have video games, colored TV or social media to occupy our brains.  We had the outdoors and our imaginations.  We had tree forts that we built with our young hands and Dad’s leftover wood and good nails.  We held each other down and made each other drink lemon juice or hot sauce, just for fun.  We had rope swings that we almost killed ourselves on at times. There were neighborhood BB gun wars, single pump only!  And the occasional lawn dart in the head did happen, but you survived. You learned to swim whether you liked it or not, Mom’s rule.  You took a bath on Sunday night, whether you needed one or not.  And Walt Disney never dreamed of showing you Myley Cyrus!  Yes, it was a different time, and much more fun in my opinion, I would not trade then for now ever!

At 12 I was also discovering who I was as a person, and knew I had secrets that I could never talk about with anybody.  I was about to go into 7th grade.  Kids were starting to have little boyfriends and girlfriends.  I was mortified by the mere thought that I would have to be some boy’s girlfriend at some point.  I never knew at that time that there was an alternative for me.  That would come years later, long after a fun childhood of skipping rocks on the local beaches, and building sandcastles with my baby brother. And that would come just a short year after I would take him to the races in my 1973 Dodge Dart, and teach him to jungle pee because I didn’t want him in the porta-potties at the race track.   I had plenty of time for my future self, I was too busy being a fun, countrified kid from Maine who loved lobsters, clams, sunrises over the Atlantic, Seapoint Beach and my awesome family.

Think About It Thursday

“This week for Think About it Thursday, I ask you to tell us what you thought you wanted to be when you grew up. Did you become what you dreamed of?”

This is a tricky question for me.  There are things you, as a child, would say you wanted to “be” when you grew up…like I wanted to be an archaeologist focusing on anthropology.  Yes, I was a brainy kid that way.  I loved to discover things about history, anything old fascinated my young brain.  Arrow heads were totems from the Gods to me!  I still have my first arrow head, found over on Manson Road in Kittery at my Aunt’s house when they were putting in a baseball diamond on her property.  It’s pretty cool and it’s still a treasure to me.  

I still love that stuff today.  I will read National Geographic magazines cover to cover.  I am deeply interested in Anthropology, or the study of human beings.  Archaeology is more the digging for the relics of old, and that is still something I love to stay up to date on as well. I never did go to college, so obviously I never became a college educated archaeologist or anthropologist.  But I think I am an amatuer at both, and I still love both fields and am interested in anything to do with them.  

The second part of that question “Did you become what you dreamed of?”  Now there is the rub in this TBT theme for me.  Yes, I became the person that I had dreamed of as a kid.  See, when I was small, and growing up, I always dreamed of loving a good woman and having a life with women romantically instead of boys or men.  I kept this a secret until I was an of-age adult to the best of my ability.  Maybe there were a few I didn’t fool, but I damned sure tried.  My self-imposed closet where I kept my secret sexuality was a place of safety, because I knew those I was growing up with would never accept or understand this part of me at that time.  It was too early in the 60’s/70’s for that kind of awareness, tolerance, and acceptance to be available to me – or really anyone!  Thus, I just had my dreams of a very different – yet kind of the same – kind of life for myself. I wanted to be in love like those straight friends and relatives of mine that I grew up around, just that I wanted it to be with someone who was female like me.  

I didn’t fully understand my sexuality as a child.  But I knew that it was definitely different, and different could not be good.  Funny how a child can comprehend when something should not be told or talked about.  Personally I kept my own secret locked away deep inside of me until I was 19 years old.  By that time I had left home, left those I knew all my life and who knew me, and was far away in the military, serving my country.  

That’s when I discovered that I was not the only “freak” who thought this way!  I met other women who desired the company and love of other women.  At first I had some serious homophobia about it.  They talked about it, they acted on it and they seemed to enjoy it, which in my well trained brain was wrong.  Like most in my era we had been brought up straight and to believe that homosexuality was wrong.  I personally never heard the “God wrong” scenario back then, but perhaps that’s because we were not overly religious in my household.  Church was something we did on holidays or when Dad got into it for a few Sundays.  I could only dream of a life of living as an out-lesbian – a word I never knew until I was about 14 years old and heard it from other kids, then looked it up in my dictionary.  I dreamed of it being normal that I would have a wife and we would live together in a little house with a picket fence and a dog. 

Today is a different era.  Today I do live as an out lesbian and without much fear.  Sure, there’s always some fear, fear that you will run into someone who hates you for just being you, because they for some reason hate LGBT people.  I think it’s more that they do not understand that LGBT people are just people with different sexual desires and practices than our straight counterparts.  Although I think most of us are doing the same basic things in the sack, just in slightly different ways! *smirk*  

I usually try to be considerate of other peoples beliefs.  I know my lifestyle doesn’t always agree with their ideals or their religious convictions.  I try to steer clear of those people and just live my life.  And I have a damned good life.  I have a loving family that accepts and supports me; that loves me as I am.  I have friends who do the same.  I keep a nice home and have a dog and I date women exclusively.  So my life IS as I dreamed it would be for the most part.  I also dreamed I would be a writer and one day write books…well, I write, but I have yet to put that book together.  One day I do hope that that part of my dream will also be a reality.  

So while I never became an archaeologist or anthropologist, I did grow up and find the dream of being true to who I am in this world.   I was lucky to learn many trades, most having to do with construction of one sort or another, thus I have a knack for building and fixing things that I am always honing.  I had military training that taught me focus, determination, and how to be a dependable, respectful person in this world.  I have a Masters Degree in street education, learning the seedier side of life during my 20’s…learning about homelessness, addiction and the challenges that people face daily in life.  I have learned about inequality in this world, seen it first hand, and have stood up to fight for equality for all people.  I’v stared death in the face and chose life.  I’ve buried friends and their dreams all because of a fierce virus that took us all by surprise in the 80’s.  By 1999 I had lost 14 friends to AIDS and was living with HIV myself.  But I chose life, I chose to live my dreams and to fight like a wildcat.  Modern medications have been my friend and have kept me alive and healthy for many years now.  I only wish they had been available earlier for my lost friends.  

So my answers to the questions of today’s Think about it Thrusday, is yes, I am living life as I dreamed it could be for the largest part.  I’m not rich or famous or some highly recognized anthropologist, but I am a good, honest, loving person who lives life every day, in the present, to it’s fullest as much as I can.  I wake up happy and warm.  I take care of business as it needs, and I tend to my relationships with other people with care and consideration.  I hope I can continue to spread the love and continue to make changes in my life and the world that are good for both!  Rock on.  

Loss

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Loss…yes losing things, people and time.  It’s a thread that runs consistently through my life.  I’ve gotten used to it, perhaps too used to it at this point. It just seems normal to me now.  I lose things daily; my keys, the tools I am working with, and lots of time.  Time is something you can’t find again, once lost it is really seriously GONE.

Over my half century of life on this planet I have experienced several major life losses.  As a child my first loss that comes to mind was moving from one school to a new school, from one state where I started school, made friends, had a life outside of school on the dirt baseball diamond on Hidley Road, ran like a banshee through the orchards, built enormous tree forts with rope swing escapes and kissed my first girl, back to my home state of Maine and it all happened very very quickly for my young brain to adapt to easily.  Not until years later, in my 20’s did I understand why we moved so quickly, packing and being picked up by my Aunt and Uncle seemingly in the middle of the night to be transported back to my Nana’s house in southern Maine.

My second huge loss was that of my Nana.  I was 10 and a few months, in the 3rd grade and we had recently made that drastic move back to Maine.  I was sleeping and heard my 8 months pregnant mother crying and screaming downstairs in our house, then the car screeching it’s tires out of our drive way. I was afraid something was wrong with her or the baby.  My uncle told me to go back to bed that everything would be ok and they just had to go somewhere fast.  I crawled back into bed, Nana came in and sat on my bed and began rubbing my back like she always did to put me to sleep. She told me things would be just fine, that my Mom was fine and the baby was going to be fine, too.  She hummed and rubbed my back until I fell asleep. That was the last time I ever saw her.  See, the screams from my mother were caused by a phone call from my Aunt telling her that her mother, my Nana, had just died at her home across town.  Evidently her spirit had to come to me that night to comfort and console me, and perhaps to just see me one more time, and to let me know that things would be fine.  I have felt the repercussions of the loss of that great woman, my Nana, through my whole life, and I still miss her today.

In high school there were a couple of losses that changed my life; tweaked it just a little.  As a freshmen I was trying out for the basket ball team.  I had practiced and I was pretty good little guard and could shoot too.  The coach didn’t care for me much, and chose another player over me – one who couldn’t even dribble the ball correctly!  That served to sour me on school team sports.  I decided if I didn’t fit with the jock or athletic crowd that I must find a way to fit in with the cool or troubled crowd.  And I did a great job at that!  Then my “cool” crowd suffered the loss of one of it’s own when my friend Jimmy was killed one night after partying across town…he was hit by a tractor trailer on the interstate.  Did he commit suicide? Or was it an accident due to disorientation?  Who knows, but seeing his lifeless body in that casket, the way they had put him “back together” was horrifying to my 16 year old brain.

During my teen years I experienced a loss of freedom, as I stayed in the closet very deep about my sexuality.  I knew I was attracted to girls and I knew that would be a problem with everyone in my life – from parents to school chums.  The cool crowd would never accept me if I came out as gay, so I hid it; buried the feelings very deep. I participated in a lot of illicit drug use to cover the pain and to reassure my “cool” status with my chosen crowd of friends.  I never drank alcohol though, it just never appealed to me much and I disliked the taste and loss of control kind of feeling it gave me.  So, I stuffed my frustrated feelings for other girls, my sexuality and my real personality so far down that no one knew.  I even moved in with my boyfriend for a short time after high school, which is when I lost my innocence.  I became a victim of domestic violence and saw a new side of life.

By this time I was used to loss and used to hiding my true self from the world.  I joined the military, where I found my people.  I found that many of the women in the Army during the early 1980’s were lesbian or bisexual.  I was able to come out, with some minor coaxing and a hilarious scene with throwing my roomies bed out the window after a fit of internalized homophobia of my own.  So just before I lost my “cover” I lost my mind for a minute there.  Was this real?  Could it be possible that there were others that felt like I did and could live like normal people – whatever “normal” is to anyone?  I could and I did.  And while living during off duty time openly, I managed to keep it under wraps during uniform time and serve out my obligated term in the service, and then some.

During the 80’s we all lost sexual freedom with the appearance and discovery of the AIDS virus, HIV.  I lost my mind for a while there in the mid-to-late 80’s and became heavily involved in IV drug use, mostly cocaine and some heroin addiction just for good measure.  After a bout in rehab, I entered some intense one-on-one counselling with a female counselor, a fellow lesbian, and someone I could open up to and relate to finally.  She taught me to use the tools in my internal tool box to cope with life without drugs.  She urged me to be tested for HIV…I was postiive.  So I lost again.  I lost the game of russian roulette in a way, as I would have to live out my life with HIV infection due to a one time share of a needle.  Of all the luck.

By the time I turned 32 I had discovered I was infected with HIV and I had been clean from the illicit drug use for about 3 years.  Then I met a woman, fell in love at first sight and spent the next 13+ years with her, building our dream home and creating our nirvana so to speak.  There were losses for us, friends dying of AIDS related illnesses in the late 80’s and early 90’s, losses of beloved pets we had had for years, the loss of my favorite Aunt to breast cancer; the losses of friends over petty disagreements, and the such.  But we remained strong together for many years and I loved her dearly, and she me.  In the end I lost that relationship over my own stupidity and a major mid-life crisis at 45.  My medications were messed up, my brain was messed up because of that, and I messed up royally.  In hind-sight this could be the biggest loss of my life to date in many ways.  I miss her still today, but know that she is happy and has moved on from the hurt and sad ending of our relationship.  Me? I’m not so sure…I may still hold a torch or two for her, probably always will to some degree.

The next loss I caused myself.  I fell madly, passionately in love with a wonderful woman and with callous words broke her heart and destroyed her trust in me.  I was running scared, I didn’t know what else to do, and I didn’t feel “good enough” at the time for the caliber of woman that she was, so I ran.  That was perhaps the stupidest loss of my life.  I wish every day still that I could turn back time and erase that one phone call of stupidity and misspoken words.  My heart will forever be entrapped by her, and that’s okay with me, it’s made me stronger inside and taught me patience and virtue.  One day perhaps she’ll allow me back in; allow me to explain and allow miracles to happen.  That is the one serious loss that I regret the most.

Yes, life is made up of gains and losses, in essence.  We gain things, and we lose things throughout our lives.  We live through these things, live through the losses and learn from the experiences. The last 7 years since I left that long term relationship I have suffered minor set backs, some losses but have gained much insight into my true self and who I really am in this world.  I am a composition of all of my experiences, my gains, my losses, and everything in between; everything that went on and led to each and every moment is part of the make up of who I am today.  And I thank my lucky stars for all of it, for without my personal experiences I would not be who I was meant to be, or do what I am meant to do in this life.  Life is about what you make of it, not what happens to you.  Loss is just part of the process of becoming your authentic self.