Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Delicious Vanity...Thy Name is Rob

It is SO EASY to tear yourself down. It’s almost effortless these days to pick yourself apart and put yourself into piles of worthless, horrid and horrible crap. The messages the media are selling us, that you have to be thin enough, but not too thin…fit enough, but not too fit…pretty enough…handsome enough…smart enough…but not too smart. Be perfect, but not too perfect. Be what society tells you to be…but be yourself, and be unique but not too unique to stand out and be a freak. But don’t be too self confident because then you’re arrogant and cocky, and no one will ever love you because you’re unattainable, frigid, vain, or simply just a bitch.

But here’s a thought.

How ‘bout not?

I issued a challenge to myself the other day. Look in a mirror and count to five. In those five seconds my challenge was to identify a few things I not only liked about myself, but loved. My challenge was to be utterly, completely and totally vain. But I gave myself a further challenge. I had to justify, or at least explain why I loved what I saw. Justified vanity, even if I’m the only person who could see it in myself. Nothing like throwing it back in society’s face, that I refuse to be put down, or put myself down just so THEY (whoever THEY are) don’t feel threatened by me.

So. For your viewing pleasure, this is my way of meeting my challenge.

1. Eyes

Looking in the mirror, I have a very unique eye colour. I’ve never actually seen this shade of green on another living being, without them being coloured contact lenses. But, these are the ones I was born with, and they’ve drawn a few compliments about how unique they are. But further than that, with these eyes, I see the world around me. When it looks like I’m not paying attention, I see everything. I look beyond the surface, and see what’s at the heart of the matter. It’s these skills in observation that I’ve come to rely on, to keep myself sane, and to provide insight to my friends when they need (and ask) for it.

It’s said that the eyes are the window to the soul, and I can somewhat understand that. Over the years I’ve worked at keeping my face utterly blank if I’m in an extreme emotional state. I’ve met with some degrees of success. But one look in my eyes, and you can see if I’m sad, or angry or deliriously happy. There is something reassuring that I can, in some ways, be so totally hidden and not allow my face to betray what I’m thinking. But in others, my unique eyes can show in a flash exactly how I’m feeling. Giddy or defiant, happy or sad, my eyes see and allow me to be seen. How could I not love them?

2. Nose

Neither large nor small, it sits there in the centre of my face not really doing anything aside from smelling my environment and assisting in that rather vital function of breathing. I’m really quite fond of breathing. Means I’m something slightly other than dead.

Scent memory would also play into this. I have a very vivid memory to begin with. Couple it with scents, and I can close my eyes and remember…just…remember. For example. I don’t have very many memories of my Grandfather Dakin. Due to geography, I did not see him too frequently before he passed away. But, the smell of tobacco smoke from a pipe, and I can remember him…just glimpses…just memories…but I can remember my “Poppa” and his laugh. I don’t remember his voice. But I can remember his laugh, all because of pipe tobacco smoke.

Cinnamon buns remind me of Gramma Manning. Spice cake reminds me of Granny Dakin. Burning wood and wood stoves remind me of winters growing up in Fort Frances, or cool rainy days out at the cabin at Twin Lakes Manitoba. I love my nose, because it helps me remember simpler times, with people who love me and who I love.

3. Mouth

If I consider my eyes to be highly expressive, then I’d have to say my mouth takes a close second. I have never been, nor will I ever be and excessively smiley person. But in recent years I’ve at least developed a quirk in the corner of my lips to indicate at the very least a tiny grin. I have very nice lips, I like to think. When I smile, it’s always broad, and it’s always genuine. I am not afraid to split out in a full laugh, or when the need arises, to twist it and curse invective at the situation that needs it.

I have never been afraid of voicing my opinion, and when it isn’t a written opinion piece, my mouth is the mode of delivery. People tend to underestimate me. What I have going on in my head is quite different from the fa├žade I choose to portray. People don’t give me the credit they would give if I weren’t such a ham or a joker, but I am an exercise in “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I joke. I poke fun. I’m quick witted, and I’m observant. All these come out in my word choice, and I am very deliberate in my word choices. I can be quiet at times, or seem reserved, but in those moments when I choose to speak, I make myself heard. I make myself understood. I can say more in a handful of sentences, than others can say in entire speeches. My mouth…my simple, expressive mouth, can make all eyes on me, and I will be heard.

4. Wrinkles in the corners of my eyes.

There is no doubt that they are starting to form. Right now, they are only easily seen if I’ve been smiling or laughing. A lot. They are an inevitable fact of life unless you botox them away. Contrary to any jokes I may make, I would never get rid of them for all the money in the world. The wrinkles are a sign that I’ve been around. I’ve seen and done things that, in this case, have made me smile, and made me laugh. No greater testament to a live well lived than a few lines of imperfection borne from laughing too much, and smiling until your cheeks hurt. Some people see wrinkles. I see trophies.

I have some scars on my skin. Catching a Frisbee just under the eye when I was working at camp is one of them. Scars on my forehead are others. While not gouged or pitted, my skin is normal. I don’t look like I’m made of porcelain. I’m approachable. I’m real. I’m flawed and I’m human.

And more’s the point…I am wonderfully vain. At least, that’s what others would have me believe. I like to think I’m self confident. Self assured. I don’t need external validation of what I already know. This makes me a bit odd in a world where we’re expected to depend on other people’s opinions of ourselves.

What can I say. I’m an odd duck.

Monday, April 11, 2011


And as I said it to the person giving me attitude today, I think I’ll start off this post very much the same way.

“Bitch. I’m so damn fabulous, I practically shit glitter.”

Okay. I will admit. No matter what the circumstances are I could have definitely handled it better, and I’m aware of that. But I’m sorry. There are just those moments when my attitude shows it’s less tactful side and whatever it is that goes through my mind, ends up coming flying out of my mouth. And apparently today I chose to regurgitate the most stereotypical gay thing I could possibly think of. Not something I make a habit of, but uncensoring myself from time to time is good for the soul.

Anyway. Having re-read my last post, I realized that it was kind of a downer post, which is something I do habitually make a habit of trying to avoid. There are ups and downs in everyone’s life, and I’m no different, and sometimes it’s a good idea to give a voice to it so it can’t eat away from within. And such was the case with the last posting I did. Let it out so I can breathe, and boy oh boy did it feel good.

So good in fact that the last couple days have been FANTASTIC! Yes, it helps I also had the last couple days off, but still. I’ve had some days off that were absolutely horrid. Those kinds where you stand back and say, “Huh. I would rather have been at work getting screamed at by ignorant backwater rejects than have a day off like today.” These last two? Definitely NOT those sorts of days.

Yesterday I was able to veg out on the couch, read with Ally curled up beside me, and Rocky curled under my feet, watch TV and munch on a cucumber. I watched a little TV, tossed in a couple movies and laughed until I had to rewind some of the movie because I missed some pieces, which in turn made me almost pee myself. I ordered pizza and went totally random with the toppings. It had crispy crust, light on the cheese, barbeque sauce (instead of marinara) and grilled chicken. Let me tell you…it was delicious. Coupled by a beer and some relaxing music, I was in my own little corner of personal heaven. While I could go on and on saying, “Oh I wish Matt was here…” and so on and so forth, I maintain that as glorious as being in a relationship is, and as happy as he makes me, if you can’t make time for you, and love yourself (mind out of the gutter pervs), then it doesn’t matter who loves you, because you’ll never be happy. If you aren’t happy with yourself, then there is nothing that can change it. And right now…I’m very happy with myself and where I am in my life. Would it have been nice to have Matt here? Yes. No doubt. Did I enjoy myself just as well on my own? Yes. Again, I say, no doubt.

I crawled into bed early, grabbed a book, and read while I listened to the rumble of the thunder. I opened my blinds and watched the flashes of lightning when it started, content to have my book in my lap, and think about everything and nothing all at the same time. I just let myself Be. I allowed myself to be as stressed or relaxed as my body dictated. It seems to have defaulted to relaxed. I was quite glad of that. It’s been far too long.

Today, my day started out with a very cuddly puppy curled up in the small of my back, making it decisively difficult to wake up. Though a mention of “food” and “outside” was enough to get her up and moving, for which I was quite grateful. Feeding the dogs, letting them out, and getting myself up and going to head over to Liz and Mark’s after a Timmie’s run. Mark, bless him, offered to change my tires from winter to my all seasons. This did lead to the mention that I should probably replace the tires (I had a feeling, but it’s good to have it confirmed), but that’s okay. Fast forward an hour, and he had told me which ones to go for (I don’t know the first thing about them) and fast forward another 15 minutes and I was down paying for them (which again, Mark was able to work out something for me pricewise. I owe that guy a case of beer I’m thinking. LOL. And yes Mark, if you read this, you ARE getting a case, and I know what you drink.). Come Wednesday they will be installed, and I won’t have to worry about my summer tires. I blew off the cleaning I really didn’t want to do (nothing critical), and I went to get my ear re-pierced. In there I also got gas for the car, and a carwash. Interesting when the power goes out at that car wash AFTER the tricoloured foam was applied. Luckily it started back up…but only AFTER I had to drive out, dripping foam, and getting a replacement wash ticket. Could I have been annoyed? Sure. I could have been. Or I could have laughed at the fact it looked like multicoloured marshmallow peeps blew up on my car and chuckle at the absurdity of my green car looking like a massacre of Easter candy happened.

Oh boy did I laugh.

So eventually I made it home, and parked it at my computer and threw on a soundtrack, and a few other songs in the mix. I have chatted with a really good friend on MSN in ways we haven’t done for far too long. I am chair dancing along to some good tunes and I have both cats curled up on my desk, and the dogs on either side of me looking at me as though I’ve lost my ever loving mind. Maybe I have…but I’m having fun so the hell with it.

Life comes in balance, I think it’s important to note. Saturday was a shit day for me. Work was okay, but when I got home it was a bit of a shit day. Sunday was the start of things turning around. Today was fantastic. Tomorrow? Who knows. All I know is that with the shit comes the sun. If tomorrow is bad, then I know that there will be a good day following shortly there after. If tomorrow is good, then that’s great. I won’t focus on if/when the next shitty day strikes. I take the good and the bad in stride, because as bad as things can sometimes feel, I have strength in knowing that I’m so much better than the bad days.

Which probably is where my uncouth statement of, “I’m so fabulous, I practically shit glitter,” came from today.

But hey. Uncouth though it may have been, honestly…am I wrong?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I want...

I am going to try a different sort of entry tonight. I envision it will be rather short. A form of free writing I guess…if you can describe the writing style like that. I have a lot of pressure in my mind right now, and beyond the obvious, I don’t understand why. There’s a bottle neck of words between my mind and my hands, and the competing thoughts are at war, each seeking domination and expression. I can’t focus on one or the other, so I’m going to step back and focus on all of them and none of them at the same time.

I want…

…my friends to be happy.
…my friends to know they are loved.
…my family to know that not a day goes by where I don’t think of them.
…my family to know that I talk about them with pride.
…my sister to know that she is and has always been my best friend.
…my sister to know that I am proud of her.
…my husband to know that he has inspired me to be a better person.
…my husband home to sit with me while I write this.
…a hug.
…to cry.
…to laugh.
…to be in Winnipeg at the Toad in the Hole with my theatre friends again.
…to have the discipline to write a novel, and have it published.
…to publish anything.
…to own a piano and play again.
…to learn another musical instrument because it’s there.
…to not feel so damn alone all the time right now.
…to sing.
…another tattoo.
…to get my ears pierced again.
…to square away my debt.
…to go back to school.
…to be an uncle
…to be a father.
…to expand my library.
…to learn how to paint.
…to develop an art skill beyond writing and music.
…to stop crying.
…to explain to people, well, how important they are to me.
…to be strong more often than not.
…to understand “why?”
…to build a DVD shelf for my GLBT movies.
…to finish my collection of said movies. (14 and counting.)

I don’t really know what else to add, believe it or not. Sometimes I guess there is truth to the saying, “less is more.” Writer’s block is a bitch, and tonight it seems to reign supreme.

Tomorrow’s another day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Somewhere...some one...

Somewhere, someone is missing you, and they may not even realize it.

It’s a bit of a mood that hits me from time to time, whether I’m alone in the house or not. I look back over the last few years of my life, and after 18 years of standing still in one town, I find myself 10 years later, three towns since. Well. Technically three cities, but that would ruin the scene I’m trying for. 18 years in a town where my parents left me wanting for nothing. I never wanted for books, or for the knowledge they were more than happy to give. I was, by no means spoiled, let me make that very clear. Not spoiled in the traditional sense. But when it came to time and attention and parental investment? I was the envy of many and I will not doubt that for a moment. The only thing I ever wanted for were things that were not available in my hometown.

Like pretty much anything cultural at all. There wasn’t that much in Fort Frances, though I do have to give them credit for a very well appointed library. A good majority of the time, if it was a book I was interested in, it wasn’t an issue to find it.


I grew up. I moved out. I moved on. I moved to Winnipeg and began my own life, and started netting my own experiences. I grew my friendships, and grew into my own skin. I became more comfortable in myself and grew my personality. Well…let me just say my personality CONTINUED to grow. (I’m sure my parents and sister can/will confirm I’ve always had a very vocal personality). I forged friendships with people I didn’t know growing up, and with little more common ground than we were taking a few of the same courses, or that fate and a computer program put us together on the same floor in residence. These people became my foundation and my family away from home. Always quick to back me up when I needed it, and not afraid to smack me upside the head when I needed that too. I developed the confidence to truly be myself. No half truths. No evasions. Me. Just me. A me that I was honest with myself about, but a me that I shrouded in mystery to protect from those who would hate me just because I was different.

And so I became an activist. Gay marriage rally? Yes I was there. Peaceful protestor at an anti-gay marriage rally? Yes. I was there. Gay rights? Gay equality? Gay equity? I was there. I made friends who had ideals I agreed with and found a new voice in myself, to call to attention for those who wouldn’t or couldn’t. I worked to become a voice for the marginalized, the fringes, to pull them closer to centre and do what I could to give them a chance and a choice.

And so I became involved. I reached out, beyond the protests, and chose from that moment on to live my life in such a way that even if I were ignored by the majority, I would live as an example to others. I, the unassuming young man from small town Ontario, spread my own message of inclusion and understanding. Not by overt actions or loud yellings to draw attention to myself. I spoke softly. I developed friendships. I was simply me. I started turning minds, and helped them branch out. Together, we reached beyond where they thought they could grasp.

And together we moved forward. I surrounded myself with the best of the best. Intellects, and friends. Having grown to that point, I made the conscious decision. If you were going to be one of my friends, you would be the best of the best. I’m not saying only what society considers the best. I mean what I consider the best. People who were honest and true. Who I was comfortable enough around that I could laugh or cry or scream or collapse with and not be thought less of a person. I grew beyond “Rob the Gay Man” and simply became “Rob the Man.” In delight, with my elite friends I proceeded into the next chapter of my life. One I’d honestly forgotten about until it hit me square between the eyes.

I fell in love.

The man I fell in love with supports me in all things. As much now as he did back then. He attended a rally with me, and we held hands on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature, joining our voices with so many others calling for a reform to an antiquated system. He stood at my side in silence as I raged against the province and my university, and as I watched a potential future die in my eyes while I had a cigarette in a rain storm. He stood by my side as I worked to carve out a place for myself in the new world I was thrust into, and he stood by in silence as I wrestled with the decision that ultimately, more than anything, changed my life.

And so I moved to Alberta. I moved to Alberta and restarted the whole thing almost all over again. New place. New job. New chapter. New everything. And thank god for my friends and family. In the (nearly) three years we lived there, I learned more about myself, and my inner well of personal strength than I thought possible. While the people I spent my time with were wonderful, outside of that shell of people, we found ourselves in a living hell. Ignorance and bigotry, many times worse than anything I’d seen outside of a movie. Having to plumb the depths of my Self, to dredge up the ability to be the support that my husband needed, while carrying myself forward with each rickety step.

And so I saw the power of love. You can mock me all you want for that. But it’s true. What we learned and dealt with would test the foundations of any stable relationship. We grew closer to each other, because there were times when all we felt we had was each other. Of course our families were only a phone call away…but for practical purposes, we were all we had out there. From our relationship came a new development. Partnership.

And so we moved back to Ontario, and tried again. New home. New life. Old wounds and old scars healing, but still there if you know where to look. And so, here I am. And there he is. Opposite sides of the world, bound together in love. And somewhere, he misses me as much as I miss him.

But it isn’t just him that I miss. There are so many others who entered my life, and far too many to name. But a quote comes to mind, that brings a tear to my eye from time to time. I’ve used it before. I’ll use it again.

“Some I've seen, some never again, but there isn't a day my heart doesn't find them.”

So for those, who worry that they aren’t with that One Love they want to spend the rest of their lives with, the words I say, were words I told myself.

Somewhere, some one is missing you. And they may not realize it yet.

But, at the very least. I miss you. And maybe, for right now, for some…that is just enough.

My love always, in all ways.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Short Post...Small Thoughts.

People always say, “Write what you know. In order to make your reader believe and feel what you’re writing, start with what you know.” So how about I give it shot. Write what I know and what I feel, and let you be the judge. No. Not judge. No one can judge me, except me. Witness. I will write what I know and I invite you to sit as a witness, and a participant.

I am sitting the basement of my house, enjoying a Bitburger beer in a beer glass acquired in Memphis Tennessee. These two things were given to me by my husband. He brought the glass back from training, and he introduced me to the beer when we were in Frankfurt. Music is playing from my speakers, a somewhat discordant mess, due in large part to me not being focussed on the music, rather I am intent on the words appearing before me on the screen. The music soothes me, at times, and evokes emotions in me that make my throat tight and eyes prickle. With the exception of one song, this is a soundtrack to a movie I had just recently watched. “Shelter,” it was hard to find the DVD, but I did it eventually. Nearly a year I had been searching for it, and I was finally able to order it online. The music is haunting at times. Bright and airy at others. The movie made me miss Matt something fierce.

I was misty the first time I watched it.

I cried the second time I watched it.

It was a coming of age romantic comedy movie. Searching in one’s self to find his truth, while balancing things like life, family and obligation. A journey to stop denying who he was and to stand up for himself, and finally take from life what he wanted for himself, rather than handing over his life to all the people who wanted to take every aspect of his life from him. While I can’t relate to everything, the underlying message of weighing your life, and making the choice to be with someone who could (and ended up being) the love of their life…I know that feeling. The feeling of terror when making the decision that would echo throughout the rest of your life, and the reassuring grip in your hand, knowing you have their support, and that you’re making the right decision. At the end, not for them…but making the right decision for yourself. Yes. That feeling I know very well.

It’s not easy making decisions of that magnitude. It doesn’t matter what your orientation is. The decision to commit, and to be with that person, and to let that person past all your defences, is not an easy one to make. In this day, with disposable cell phones, disposable computers, and disposable friendships, offering one’s body up to the flavour of the night isn’t a difficult decision to make…the struggle comes with offering up your heart in the hope and faith that they will not abuse your trust in them. Sometimes the fairytale comes true, and they trust you with the same. Sometimes the nightmare rears its ugly head, and you find yourself picking up the pieces of your broken heart.

So you pick up. Dust off, and make the decision. To keep going. Or to give up.

Evidently I kept going, and I found my story unfolding accompanied by friend and partner to walk through the pages of life with.

It hasn’t always been easy. There have been times when we’ve been pushed around, bullied, and all but physically beaten down. But I’ve already told that story. And part of living is looking to the future, and not dwelling on the pain of the past, instead looking to the future with a hope and optimism that’s usually found in the movies.

But oh…to love and be loved in return. Nothing better in the world.

Maybe this didn’t quite end where I intended…but you know what. That’s okay. Thank you, for being my witness to this. Thoughts and comments are as always appreciated. My love to you all.

Current Soundtrack

Running Up That Hill – Placebo
Lie to Me – Shane Mack
Goin’ Home – Bill Ferguson
I Like That – Shane Mack
Take the Long Way Home – Shane Mack
More Than This – Shane Mack
Reflections – Todd Hannigan