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Well we just missed a Friday the 13th by a day Would have been great to have one in this month. I know that some of our non North American friends don't see the hype over Halloween, but we all here do! A chance to become someone else, to come up with new and better ideas on how to scare someone, or revisit an old one. So if you are not into Halloween, why not join us and let your hair down and take in all the fun that we are having here at GA! Actually, why not comment simply your country, if you wish, and if Halloween is a big thing in your neck of the woods.
As mention last week, check out the two stories being published every Sunday for the next 3 weeks! Check later today for the discussion forums and links to the stories or sign up for the GA Weekly Newsletter.
Let's review what we learned last week
Monday, Cia presented us with a Story Review: The Web
Wednesday Cia had some fun and posted an image and wanted you to give a caption. My favourite wasSpoiler
all of them!
Friday, Cia tossed the reigns over to Comicfan for some prompt fun!
And then on Friday, Comsie had another great tip in GA Articles:
- 2019 Anthology Voting - Final Round - Due Oct 19th
- 2018 Fall Anthology: Fight Back - Due Nov 15th
- 2018 Fall Anthology: Good Intentions - Due Nov 15th
Story Critique: Open to all GA authors. Sign up here.
Ask An Author: Send your questions for your favorite authors to @Carlos Hazday (no questions = no Ask An Author)
Story Recommendations: Open to all GA authors & readers. PM your recommendation and why you recommend it to a Site Admin.
Harbinger by Cia *Premium*
Conversations With Myself by Altimexis
Adrift by Mann Ramblings
Canes by CarlHoliday
Denied by Cia
Mojo by AC Benus
So Weeps the Willow by Cole Matthews
The Dawn of Day by Dolores Esteban
Here Kitty, Kitty by Caz Pedroso
Pool Boy by Sasha
Rest in Peace - Songs for the Dead by Mikiesboy
The Cockney Canuck by Dodger
***Check out this GA Classic***
Due to their personal circumstances, Bill and Nate only had a day together. But as they get to know each other, something more than physical attraction developed. What happens when the day comes to an end?
Don't forget.... Read, Write, and REVIEW!!!
15 years with no drugs or drinking.
I remember when missing out for a day or a few days was... really uncomfortable.
When I first started writing, I got some flak about including a lot of drugs. Well, they did say write what you know. When I first really started writing, that's what I knew.
It took a while but I move on. I still dream about the... never mind.
What I find is sad is that a lot of gay people have trouble in recovery. There are a few predators out there talking recovery that just want to hook up.
Well... who doesn't? Growing up means figuring out what's appropriate.
The winners learn and the losers lose.
It's Darwinian in a way- like tempering steel. If the blade if flawed, when heated, it will break. If the steel is good, it just gets harder.
Be the blade.
Wow, I guess it's been a month or twelve.
So yeah, I actually had a minute to sit down at my PC and look over some of my old files and realized that I haven't written anything in almost a year (sigh). I guess now's as good a time as any to start moving again on my stories, since the wife and baby are out of town until Sunday.
I can't honestly say that I don't know why I haven't been writing lately, but it's the same old shit.. work, school, family.... everyone gets it. The fact of the matter is that I haven't taken the time to sit down and write because I never take time for myself anymore, and I think I've burnt myself out, so to speak.
That said, there's only one way that I know of to relax, and that's to sit down at my desk and either read or write. Preferably both, but if I had to choose right now, I think I'll write something. Not sure if it'll be good enough to post on my site here at GA, but if it is, I'll put it up.
Right, I am somewhat in a dizzy miffed off mood today.
So this one is a bit of a rant.
There is something that I really just do not get! What is it about sex with a child????
Right, sex is about giving pleasure and taking pleasure right? It is about enjoyment and climax and orgasm right?
It's about love and lust and emotions.
And you can get ANY of that from a bloody kid???
Ian Watkins today pleaded guilty to a series of depraved child sex offences, including the attempted rape of a baby!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh for heavens sakes man. Come on!
For those who don't have a clue who the hell Ian Watkins is, he is lead singer of the massive Indie Rock band The Lost Prophets.
They are a South Wales band, and as I used to live down that way, I've seen then perform at several gigs and concerts and really love their music.
The singer has always furiously denied the allegations which surfaced a few months ago in the wake of the whole Kiddy fiddling scandal that came to light when Jimmy Savile popped his cloggs.
Now ok, the allure of youth I can understand to a degree. A young man in his teens can be remarkably good looking and have curves and shapes that are not worn down by time and over indulgence.
But I am talking about a young man that's into the latter half of his teens.
In the UK the age of consent set by those that have wisdom in these things is 16. Now exactly what that is meant to mean, I am not 100% sure.
I guess, what they are trying to say is that by the age of 16, young people have some sort of understanding of what sex is and the fact that a whole load of emotions and feelings and all that other mumbo jumbo is tied up with it, even if they are not equipped or experienced to deal with it. So if they are going to get sexual, at least they are capable of some reason and sensibility.
Look, kids are going to be kids. They will want to experiment and try it out and get into mischief. Bloody hell, I did it, and I am pretty sure most of you did too.
We all did right?
But, for the most part, we did it with someone we chose, most probably with a peer or friend within our own age group, and if it was with an older person, that decision was probably made at a time when we decided we really wanted to find out what all this sex stuff could feel like when done properly, and with someone who had experience.
Am I being sensible when I say that this is normal, natural behaviour for a young person?
To suggest that a child, one that has not even entered into sexual maturity, or let alone puberty is sexually active and desires a relationship with an older person??????????
How do you get gratification for a kid that cannot even perform yet?
When I see people that I have looked up to and admired as celebrities and heroes abusing their position of trust and access, I feel really mad first and fore most, but completely disillusioned and let down. Why?
Look, this has been going on for ages, I know. It is a very dark and dirty part of our world. It is something we know about, hear about, but never really want to discuss or think about, because let us be frank, it is appalling and sickening to think that young, beautiful children are subjected to this wickedness.
So no one really says much.
But, the worms are crawling out the woodwork here in the UK recently. The police are doing a lot to sort this. About bloody time.
I just really needed to have a rant, and put my thoughts down on paper. I work in music, have always admired some of these people. How many times have I sung that song by Rolf Harris called Two Little Boys. It's even moved me to tears! Now, to find out he another of these men?
We live in a sad world. I suppose that stuff like this has always been there, but now that it comes out into the public domain so easily! It hurts.
Tell me, is there a limit to our depravity? Just let a kid be a kid for crying out loud. They have a whole life to grow up and get caught up in the shit that goes with the emotional roller coaster of sex. We all know this right? Our youth is a precious time, let the young enjoy and build treasured memories, ones like you and I have. Not stuff that they should NEVER have to be thinking about.
Meh, enough said, rant over, but just really needed to get this crap off my chest today. Thanks for listening.
Thought for today - "Virtue is bold and goodness never faithful." - William Shakespeare
Unfortunately, I’m going to have to make a new email address which is a pain, but I just had to delete over 300 emails, all from the same guy: Stalker. My whole life practically comes through my email. My paypal, my contacts, my student loans, my bill receipts! On top of that, there’s a chance he will find out my new email, because I can’t really keep it a secret from everyone or I’ll be isolating myself, and I already feel like my life is as remote as possible. I understand that he’s mentally unstable and desperately needs help, but right now I hate him. I wish he would die in a car crash.
I got a few emails from him that I was set on deleting, but I opened a few with the intentions of not replying, and he’s prepared to blackmail me by posting everything I ever confided with him about on all the sites I frequent, including GA, then he’d start telling everyone in my actual life all the same stuff. I felt like my stomach dropped to the floor because, like an idiot, I’ve told him a lot about myself. I trusted him at one point and I told him things that I have only told two other people: Chris and Jamie.
The first thing I did was reach out to most of the admins, including GA, and they’ve been very understanding and supportive which I’m deeply moved by, but Stalker is hard to track down, block, and ban. I don’t even know what username he’s using on here, but if anyone has PMed you about me at all that seems suspicious, please relay it to an admin. I also reached out to my in laws and what family I have left and warned them about Stalker’s intentions, and most of them assured me that whatever he tried to tell them, it would not matter.
But it does matter, TO ME, to the point where I’m having suicidal thoughts.
I won’t give him what he wants, but I can’t stop him from posting anything. Just don’t judge me from what he says. I suffered from my addiction for a long time, and I have a lot of problems from it, and I’m deeply ashamed.
I wrote and deleted this blog several times over the past few days, but I guess I might as well let everyone know that I’m prepared for the worst. I’d like to ask everyone to refuse to read it, but let’s be realistic. Some of it might be lies, but some of it might be truth, and that scares me most.
I’m really sorry.
Yes, it has been forever and a day since I added anything to the blog. I feel like one of those co-workers who leaves the office for a new job and promises on their mother's grave they'll stay in touch. Then you only see them when lightning strikes and you're in the same place at the same time and you swear once again you'll stay in touch, but in reality you know the demands of your job will never allow for it. That's a convoluted way of saying, sorry I've been so absent, but I've been crazy busy.
That said, I need to say thank you to GA and Caz Pedroso for nominating Chosen of Honorus for story of the month. Chosen of Honorus was the precursor to The Last Grand Master - the first book in the Champion of the Gods series that DSP Publications is publishing. It was/is the book that jump started my publishing career. I owe a big debt to GA for taking a chance on me and giving me the confidence to push out into the wide literary world.
There is a prequel to Chosen of Honorus - First Love - that is available on the DSP Publications site or you can find a link on my website. If you sign up for my monthly newsletter, there is a link in one of the welcome emails as well. If you want to sign up for my newsletter, you can use this link:
In addition, if you like Chosen of Honorus, there are now three more books in the series available from DSP Publication and the last book in the series will be released in 2018. Books 1-3 are also on sale now through the end of April. Here is a link to the sale page on my website:
Despite what I said above about being the co-worker who left, sometimes a little jolt reminds you of what you're missing. In my case, I realize how much I miss the people I met here. I think if I have time to socialize with fans on Facebook and Twitter, I can use some of that time to come here once a day too. I'm going to do my best to do that. That said, the new set up is going to take me some time to get used to so if I miss your comments, you can always email me - Andrew@andrewqgordon.com. I'm usually very good at responding to emails.
Thank you all again. It's humbling and flattering to realize people haven't forgotten you. It's a very good feeling.
PS In case you forgot what I look like or want to see a new picture of 'lil q (way more likely than wanting to see me) I'll post a few pictures in a few minutes. .
Wow, with summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are definitely seeing a drop in people online. Even I'm getting more sun.
I'm going to cut back on the number of blogs I'm doing for now and pick up again in the fall. It'll give me more time to do these silly summer homeowner things I'm suddenly stuck with. lol.
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Once upon a time… That’s how these things start, right? The line that starts the whole story. After that, nothing else even matters but getting to the happily ever after. I used to think I could see mine, out there on the horizon, but each time I think I’ve got it in my sights, something happens that shows me differently.
The settings and circumstances change, characters come and go, and there’s plenty of romance and drama to make it interesting. Even if you could predict how it ended, it’s so much fun to get there that you wouldn’t want to miss a thing, wouldn’t change a thing. And in the end, that’s what matters… that you lived and loved with your whole heart.
No matter how much or how well I plan, no matter how much I might work toward it or want it, the truth is that happiness is elusive, evolving, ever-changing. It’s conditional and comprehensive and you haven’t got a chance at actually attaining it without perspective. It’s different for each person, without justification, and the same. We’re all searching for it.
We pack up our hopes and dreams in our knapsacks, swing them over our shoulders, and head out into the great big world in search of it. Things happen on our quest, as they inevitably will, that make us change what we think will make us happy. Force us to examine our original plan or dream and decide if it’s still worth pursuing, if it’s still the thing that’s going to make us happy and whole.
So often, people hit a wall, and instead of figuring out how to get over it or around it, they just turn around and go back the way they came. We justify it to ourselves, the giving up, by telling ourselves that we were mistaken, that we didn’t really want that after all. The truth is it was too much work to learn to climb the walls. It was easier to just walk away.
That entire idea is absurd. Of course, we don’t know that then. Not only are we walking away from our dreams and our potential happiness, but we leave little pieces of ourselves behind every time we do. Living our lives as a fraction of our whole selves isn’t easy or conducive to finding the happily ever after we’ve been looking for. Worse, it’s actually more work in the long term to continually have to convince ourselves that we happily left those pieces behind.
Sometimes, actually, a lot lately, I wonder how much one person can take before they give up. It’s been said that you’re only given as much as you can handle at one time. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’ve been given an extraordinary amount. Definitely more than any one person’s fair share, then again, as I was often reminded as a child, life isn’t fair.
My life has fallen apart so many times now that I’ve lost count. Not really, but I don’t like to recount them. It’s not a contest and no one knows the rules. Does the scoring work like golf or like bowling? Does the survivor of the worst situation win, or is it the person who never had to find a way to exist in spite of the worst happening?
Being a party to the first group, having set aside my dreams repeatedly for the good of the cause, literally learning things the hard way, and learning to breathe with a broken heart makes a good case for the people in group number two. Still though, I wonder. In return for survival, I’ve earned an appreciation for making the most of each moment, for putting my whole heart and self into everything I do, being genuine, and the value of true happiness. That’s definitely got value, and it’s something the people in group number two will never have.
Without perspective, and a heap of optimism, it’s fair to say that a lot of people who have suffered some upheaval in their lives miss the things they were supposed to learn at the time. And that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Learning the lessons, learning from the experiences, growing as a human being, and finding happiness. Not that it’s easy to remember that in the moment.
Often it comes to us in flashes, tiny pieces of clarity and knowledge that we grab on to and use to pull ourselves out of the ugly hole of despair. It’s a slippery slope, and for some, it takes years and a Sherpa to find their way out. Even with a trail of breadcrumbs and trail signs, it’s one of the most difficult journeys a person will ever make. One would think the third or fourth, or even the fifth time, you’d know the way out, but it doesn’t work that way. No one ever said life was for the faint of heart.
I rummaged through one drawer in my mom’s old, cherry wood jewelry box that sat atop my dresser before moving to another until I found it. It wasn’t in great shape when I pulled it out from amongst the old watches, the matching one I’d gotten for him a month later, and the shamrock pin I wear once a year. Tarnished and so scratched from years of wear, you could barely make out my name where it had been engraved on the front.
Still, I turned it over and read the inscription on the back of the very first gift he’d ever given me. It was to celebrate my 16th birthday and our one month anniversary. An ID bracelet, simple and silver, with a message straight from a heart experiencing those first delirious moments when you fall so crazy in love for the first time.
I wanted to wear it again, to remind me of what we once had, what we could have again, if he can find his way back to me. A reminder to soothe myself with hope when I’m so scared that we’ll never get it back, and because it’s the closest I’ve been to feeling his love in weeks.
I squeezed a little toothpaste into my hand and rubbed it between my palms a second before cleaning the bracelet the best way I knew how in the absence of any silver polish and wondered if he’d even remember giving it to me, remember what it said. Eventually, I silently admitted to myself that I hoped it reminded him of what he’d promised me all those years ago.
Forever yours. Love, Rich.
Hours later, when I was serving dinner, our daughter, Annemarie, just weeks from turning sixteen herself, noticed it and asked, “What is that bracelet?”
Unsure if I was relieved that she wasn’t complaining about the peas I was putting in front of her, or suddenly nervous that Rich had taken notice now also, I vaguely answered, “It’s mine. I’ve had it a while,” and handed Rich a plate of beef stroganoff that he eyed cautiously. He doesn’t like mushrooms or sour cream, but he’d have to actually speak to me to find out if it contained either. Instead, he just ate it.
Like any typical teenage girl who is all wrapped up in her own life, she let it go, and in an effort not to let me down, went on to complain about the peas. It was a welcome piece of normalcy, something I could count on in the chaos that had become my life. Besides, I like peas and beef stroganoff.
It’s equally horrifying and comforting to know where Rich and I were in our lives at her age, and knowing that she’s so far from that place. We were so sure at sixteen that we had it all figured out, or if not, that we’d conquer the world together. We’d show them, prove them all wrong. What the hell did we know?
There are two types of people in this world. The type who crumble in the face of a crisis, who panic and act without thinking, who let their fear and their emotions control their behavior and decisions, and then there’s the other. These remaining people are the logical type. They keep their heads when times get tough, are always thinking their way through several scenarios until they find the best one, and easily separate their emotions from their thought process.
That’s not to say that these logical thinkers don’t have emotional reactions to things. They certainly do, it would be inhuman not to. They just typically don’t act on them. As it turns out, intuition and emotional responses don’t usually lead us down the smoothest or the safest path. Certainly not the smartest.
Typically, it’s the outbursts of anger, the confessions of love made with such bravado, and the feeling as if you’ve just had the wind knocked out of you leaving you with a horribly painful sadness where you would normally find oxygen that can create the biggest opportunities to make the worst moves. I would have said decisions, but to be decisive requires thought, consideration, and evaluation.
Being a logical mind can be both a phenomenal power and a crippling weakness. To know that you’ll always know what to do and how to go about getting it done, to take things literally and to be able to count on that as a constant, and to feel the comfort that logic is your default setting can be immensely comforting in a world that changes faster than many of us can keep up with. Consequently, it makes it a major difficulty to let that default setting go and find enjoyment in basic things.
Personally, I can’t make it through most cartoons. Even if I could overlook the fact that there are talking animals who can lift anvils that weigh twenty times their own body weight or drive cars along the ocean floor, what I cannot discount is that the responses those cartoon characters have to whatever circumstances they find themselves in, become moot, ridiculous, illogical.
Instead of being entertaining, it’s frustrating. Possibly as frustrating as being the person on the couch next to me watching a movie or a TV show. Perhaps it comes from my depth of life experience, or because I’m a writer and a storyteller, or because, as logical as I am, I’m more in touch with my emotions and the emotions of those around me than most people, but whatever the reason, when I can predict the ending, most people would say there’s no point in watching anymore.
I disagree, for it’s there, in that moment when we’ve connected with that character enough to know what will happen in their future, that we learn about ourselves. How would we act or feel in that situation? What would we do? What would our next move be? Little lessons and explorations that can be learned and taken without consequence. A free pass.
Logical people watch everything, analyzing, organizing, forming patterns. They are supervisory and certain about what they feel is right or wrong. These people are easily adaptable and energetic, have a keen eye for details, and typically, a logical person is the decision maker. They are realists.
I’m not sure anyone but a logical personality could understand what it feels like to be faced with a situation that is anything but logical. To be able to do nothing to make it right or organize it so it can be dealt with. To be the one not making the decisions. There are no ‘right’ answers; there are no ways to best this dragon. The only thing there is in bountiful quantities is a frightening feeling of helplessness.
After 19 years, Rich has decided he's not in love with me anymore, started sleeping with a girl he works with, and has destroyed my dreams, my marriage, broken my heart, and crushed my children's entire existence with his selfishness.
After 19 years, I've crossed more things off my 'I Never Want To Experience This' List than my bucket list. Here's one more: I'm getting divorced.
This chapter is really hard to write for Book 2 of 0's and 1's, so I will share with readers its problem:
I feel like I can't skip an important event, but if I write it, I am never going to hear the end of it.
This will mark probably the darkest chapter I have ever written, maybe one of the darkest chapters on GA. I am making sure the guidelines are followed, nothing graphic or explicit, but the implication is more than enough with a dark imagination. And to top it all off, I have to make sure people know why it's needed for the future of the story and the future of the characters. This ain't gratuitous plot point, it's a revolutionary spark, a call to arms against an injustice that transcends LGBT fiction. It's something our society and many of us are guilty as indirect participants.
I call this chapter by a nickname, "the Crucible".
If this chapter gets completed, the rest of the story can follow, but it must be done right or nothing else after it will matter.
Anyone who has any ideas, thoughts, or is just curious as to what I am doing, feel free to PM me.
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I figured I would let everyone know I'm still alive and functioning. Just been a bad year.
I have managed to get some stories done. Luckily I did them early. This has been a year of things going boom. My car died. My computer dies. I became a full blown diabetic. I lost 70 pounds. I've been really sick, but I keep going.
I do apologize for not being around. Hopefully things will get better in 2017.
Wishing everyone all the best. Just know I'm thinking of you if not here.
Part I Here Goodbye, My Love, Part I
When I wrote part one, I was at a critical juncture in my life. I had just come back a two month vacation in China and Thailand, which was very indulgent, to say the least. I was just beginning graduate school, and I was studying for a pre-licensing exam. Both doing well in grad school and passing that pre-exam were going to be my ticket to career success. I was partied out from my vacation, and determined to do as well as I could in school. A close family member was also dying, so I was traveling back home a lot of weekends. It made staying away from the scene pretty easy. I buckled down, spent hours every night after work and every Saturday and Sunday grinding away, doing work and studying for the exam. I didn't go out once in September, October, and half of November. I thought I had finally broken the grip the scene had held over my life for the totality of my post-college life. All I needed was an intense distraction that commanded my entire attention, and I had found it.
Then my pre-exam date was the next day, and even though I had been studying for two months, I was convinced I wouldn't pass. The morning of the test came, and after three and a half hours of exhausting mental gymnastics, I passed. Not only did I pass, I passed with flying colors. I was in such shocked elation that I couldn't even think. On the train ride home, I blasted music through my headphones and had the biggest smile on my face. As soon as I got back to my apartment, I went over to the Chinese takeout place and ordered enough food for three people, and ate it all. I was still riding the natural high of passing the test, and caught a train back downtown and went on a shopping spree of new clothes and shoes. I spent way too much money, but didn't care one bit. I called up some friends, and planned a little celebratory party at my apartment and then hitting the Gayborhood. We started around 5 in the afternoon and didn't stop till about 6 the next morning. It was like we were back to being the irresponsible, anything goes, who-gives-a-fuck group we were in our college days. It was all so over the top. It was as if all that pleasure I had been denying myself the last couple months came flooding out like a hurricane, and I had no desire to try and control it.
After that night and coming to my senses when the mental high of freedom wore off, I realized how dangerous what I had been doing was. Since graduating college, my identity has been built around my "gayness", and the scene in particular. Growing up, I felt completely out of place and had zero sense of identity or belonging. In college, that transitioned into a sort of half-way in/half-way out mode. I had come out to close friends and started exploring some aspects of gay life, but the vast majority of my word was still lived in the sphere of 'straightness'. I felt comfortable enough, but still not entirely there yet. Then I moved to the city, and suddenly there was this huge, well-established gay community that one could live a pretty self-enclosed life in. I realized this was my chance to finally find that belonging and acceptance that I didn't get growing up. I dove head-first in, and for better or worse, became immersed in it. Clubbing and dancing became my outlet from working in a stressful job, and a way to connect and feel a part of the gay world. It was more to me then just something to do. It represented the ending of my coming out process and the completion of a search for belonging that began as a miserably depressed, fake-faced teenager. Simply quitting cold turkey as I did stripped me of something that had been such an identity marker. I tried telling myself through all those months that I was better off without it, but truth be told I craved it in the back of my mind.
I've gotten to the point now that I realize that going to either extreme is just not a good way to live. I went from a full-time party boy to a workaholic basically overnight. Because I'm a person who tends to operate at extreme ends, I thought the best solution was to do a total 180. As the night after the pre-exam showed, I really failed to control those extremes. When 2018 rolled around, I knew I needed to try and find some kind of balance. I needed to reconnect with the part of me that needed that social outlet that going out provided, but also balance it with the massive amount of time that grad school demanded. Going out every Friday/Saturday night till 4 in the morning wasn't going to fly, but neither would working 12 hour days and every weekend either. Admittedly I'm still far from perfect in this. Whenever I do too much of one thing, I sometimes tend to chastise myself by swinging far the other way. Finding some kind of agreeable middle ground is tough, because the two things seem to be so much at odd with each other. I guess I'll keep trying until it reaches equilibrium or eats me, whichever comes first.
I like blogging. I like just sitting around and thinking or chatting about a topic. Writing out my thoughts is nice because it helps me frame them in a more concrete way. It's nice just doing it in my head, but it's more fun and more satisfying on a computer screen...not on a piece of paper, physically writing sucks. Typing is nice though. Anyway, over the years I've grown thoroughly attached to this site and its members and whatever else I'm doing in my life I still enjoy a place to just sit and thing, and type about it, so I figure it might as well be here.
A few short updates about my life since I figure that's the least I can do before I ramble about inconsequential topics. The boyfriend and I are doing well, in exactly a week it'll be two years. Work is lovely this time of year. This is our slowest time of year, and since I work from home anyway, it mostly means that I can sit around all day doing whatever I like as long as I keep one eye and ear on my work computer. Not a prob
I've been enjoying my hobbies quite a bit as well. It's very hard to avoid reading. Despite being a technophobe I opted to get an Amazon Kindle (I once started a thread on these in the Lobby when they first came out! :-P) as well as finally jumping on the Ipod wagon. So anyway, I adore the Kindle, strongly prefer it to physical books. I go through a couple of books a week, which is a lot for me given what a slow, methodical reader I tend to be. Interestingly though, I also tend to read more on the Ipod than I listen to music or do anything else. The graphics, browser, and interface are much better on the Ipod (which I think is called an Ipod Touch) than they are on the Kindle. Which is fine because I didn't want the Kindle to be flashy and distracting. I kind of want it to be only good for reading books (and buying new ones), because that's all I want to do on it. So I read the books on the Kindle, but I've found that "web reading" is so much better on the Ipod than it is on the Kindle or the computer screen. The thing I don't like about reading for hours on a laptop that you're stuck with this big, heavy, bulky thing. A tiny handheld reading device like the Kindle or Ipod (or *gasp* a real book) is way better to read on. So with its flashy browser capabilities the Ipod is ideal for handheld reading...but yeah I keep getting distracted with games, music, and the rest of the internet when I use it, so I'm glad the Kindle's there for more hardcore reading.
Anyway all this reading has, unsurprisingly resparked my desire to write so I've taken that back up again. Unfortunately I have to admit that I don't really plan to post the stuff here. I'm hoping to attempt real life publishing and as a last result might try eBook publishing. In any case I don't intend to do it for years. I'm working on a series of books and I have no intention of publishing anything, or even showing it to anyone, until I have like the first four or five completely finished. That way I can make them as complicated as I would like since I can go back and add/remove things to all the previous stuff. I find that when I post online on a chapter by chapter basis, even if I'm pretty far ahead, I end up wishing I could change something, but it's too late (or at least feels too late) since it's already "out there." I'd really want to shoot myself if I had a great idea in book four that was being precluded by something I'd written in book one. So yeah, gonna wait and work a long time on these before they see the light of day.
This winter has been surprisingly pleasant. One of the best ones I've had in years. I've been lazy and energetic, like I get every winter, but I've avoided the anhedonia and enveloping numbness this year. Granted, I haven't felt like going out and partying, but at least I've felt like staying in and reading and writing rather than being disinterested in everything and marking time till spring.
The boyfriend and I have been living together about a year and a half now. Overall it's been remarkably smooth and pleasant. The main conflict comes from the fact that I'm a really tidy, organized person. I really am the sort of person who has a place for everything. I don't own any items that I leave in random places. What's more, I don't even acquire new items unless I can mentally figure out where I'll be keeping them. I definitely like for all items to go back to their designated places at the end of every use. The boyfriend on the other hand is the sort of person who picks something up, uses it, and then just puts it down wherever he happens to be. He'll think nothing of leaving the soy sauce sitting on the coffee table or at his desk indefinitely. That really doesn't work for me. I'm also the sort of person who won't even think about going to bed until everything is put away. Him on the other hand, when he gets tired that's it. Since I have to go to bed earlier than he does for work, that means that every morning I end up cleaning and tidying. Somehow I'm still always shocked by it too. My god! he left his half full glass of tea on the table next to saran wrap from something he opened! Somehow this just shocks me more than it annoys me. I couldn't have slept knowing it was out there if I were him.
I'm also generally just a great deal more organized than he is. I got really ticked off last month because he just up and told me that we had to drop everything and go visit his mom for her birthday. I like his mom, I agree that it's important to visit family for special occasions. What annoyed me is that I had zero notice, and why? Not because he forgot to tell me (although he probably would have ), but because he forgot her birthday was coming up at all. He hadn't known at all until his dad texted him. That also meant of course that he didn't have a present, and although I tried to insist that we just go pick something up on the way, he refused because "he doesn't like to get things just to get them. It has to be something he knows the person will like" and he didn't have any ideas. Which is fine, quite thoughtful actually, but that ship had sailed and personally I would have rathered gotten something nice, but generic than shown up empty handed.
Of course I'm not trying to make him sound bad or difficult to be with; he's certainly not. He's very thoughtful and agreeable. He's also quite a lot less set his ways than I am, and in all honesty he puts up with nagging, neurotic requests far better than I could put up with similar such things from someone like me. If he were as particular as I am about how things are done and where they go then we never could have put up with each other.
Yikes, I can't believe it's been, like, 8 months since my last blog! It's amazing how quickly life passes by sometimes ...
Anyway, since my last blog post, I closed on my new house, spent about a month dealing with contractors to completely renovate the whole place (quite the undertaking -- both in terms of the stress involved and the cost!) But, I'm all settled in and love it. The commute to work is awful, but living sort of out in the country is nice -- peaceful and quiet! Moving from a 600 sq. foot apartment to a 2,400 sq. foot house required me to buy lots of furniture and spend lots of time decorating. It's not all done yet (will it ever be?), but it's probably about 80% complete.
Work is busy, busy, busy ... and more stressful than usual lately. When I get home in the evening, I just want to crash on the couch and watch television (or just pass out from exhaustion). But, it pays my mortgage, so I can't complain too much.
On to more 'important' things, though ... Yes, I have started writing again. WISYA hasn't been 'speaking' to me lately, so I'm not sure at what point I'm going to pick it up again. I've 'tentatively' started a new serial novel, called "Home By Now" (unless I change). It's a bit on the 'dark' side, but I like how it's going so far. I at least want to complete a few chapters or more before I start posting, and I really have no clue when that will be, but progress (or something like progress) is at least happening ...
Final note for the evening ... I'm now reading the 'Twilight' series for the third time, and saw 'New Moon' on opening weekend. For the longest time, I refused to read the books or see the movies, but I finally caved when I was bored one weekend, and now I'm hooked! No, Stephenie Meyer won't be winning any literary awards anytime soon, but there is something really captivating about the story ... and it doesn't hurt that Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are soooo dreamy! ;-)
Anyway, that's it for now ... Hopefully I'll be back again soon ... :-)
Gay Song Seven – “You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see”
Note: for this series of postings, the term 'Gay Song' refers to music written to/for/by or about Gay men or women. A second category also deals with music identified as Gay because it speaks to the heart of the Gay Experience.
So to make this easier, I will call them Gay in the 1st Degree (to/for/by/about), or Gay in the 2nd Degree (like Judy Garland singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow).
This classic hit is both Gay in the 1st and 2nd degrees!
By the 1930s, the popular black slang expression for having sex made its debut in songs. Alberta Hunter had a hit with My Castle’s Rockin’ (and yes, castle is slang for a part of the female anatomy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpOtXGFS4Gw), and later in 1938, Ella Fitzgerald released Rock it for Me, which cemented the sexual slang with a type of ‘swinging’ music (swing itself being another way to describe sex https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmdVTJPbdTs).
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s 1957 Jailhouse Rock is one of the most explicit pop songs to ever deal with same-sex relations. If you don’t believe me, get a copy of the dictionary The Slanguage of Sex and you will see the lyrics positively bristle with a fun-loving tribute to what can go on behind bars.
At this point we should talk about a few things. For us, men dancing has become a provocative sight. Part of that is a cultural reaction to post-Stonewall resistance where men in love did not care if they were seen dancing together. In the knee-jerk oppressive straight world, it became an act of defiance to their rule of ‘order’ and a powerful tool to spread fear that it was taking over; in their dirty minds the image of men dancing equaled the sight of two guys having sex. However, in the 1950s it was considered harmless and cute. The evidence is abundant. In 1955, the Hollywood film Blackboard Jungle, fanning adult fears that teenagers were a dangerously criminal subset and out of control, opens with an incredibly sweet moment of ‘good boys’ dancing together in the schoolyard before classes started. Another strong piece of evidence is the music video made in 1957 to promote Elvis’ single release of Jailhouse Rock on television. This is attached below, and you can see it involves the inmates cutting a rug, including a tender face-touch after the lyrics "You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see."
Secondly, how were same-sex partnerships in prisons viewed at the time? Lucky for us, we have a firsthand account. Jonathan Ned Katz conducted an interview with one of the victims of the Boise Witch Hunt of 1955; it was an incident in which Gay teenagers were rounded up and imprisoned. The young man says this about being transferred to the State Penitentiary: “The captain of the yard was an old friend of my family’s. I’d know him all my life. The first thing he said to me was, ‘Now, just go out there and find yourself a jock, and settle down, so we don’t have any trouble with you.’ I said, ‘How am I going to settle down with somebody when I’m locked up in my cell twenty-four hours a day?’ He said, ‘Well, don’t worry about that right now.’” It turns out this family friend began working behind the scenes to arrange for a suitable protector for the young victim of homophobia. “[Four days later], as I was going through the chow line, I saw this gorgeous guy handing out silverware. You wore anything – they didn’t pay attention to how you dressed – and he was wearing a shirt that was completely open, with sleeves torn out. He had been a prizefighter. […] He said, ‘You got any magazines?’ ‘No,’ I answered. […] Later he brought me a big stack of magazines and shoved them in my cell. […] Before the month was out, Larry and I had found a way to become lovers.”
So now that we know viewing men dancing was innocent at the time, and that same-sex partnerships were seen as good and stabilizing elements for prisoners, we can focus on the lyrics of Jailhouse Rock. Meant to pass as ‘straight’ to the uninitiated, it’s incredible just how many of the words are synonymous with sex among males. Here’s a small breakdown.
Intercourse: wail, swing, rock, crash-boom-bang, nix (nicks; slang for the buttocks).
Oral sex: sing, play, blowing, saxophone; trombone (references to the male member).
Purple has a well-known association with Gay men, so the song’s “Purple Gang” could simply mean the fellows dancing (having sex) with one another. In Slanguage, on page 155, appears this about another of the song’s lyrics, the word kicks: “sexual tastes; like the phrase ‘whatever turns you on.’ The meaning was immortalized in the pop song Route 66 by Chuck Berry – ‘Get your kicks on Route 66.’ The song was taken up by the Rolling Stones in the sixties and the meaning still survives. Compare with [get your] ROCKS OFF.”
So then going to page 230, the entry about getting your rocks off says: “likely derived from the U.S. black expression ‘rock and roll’ = sexual intercourse."
As for Elvis himself, he was pretty open about liking the boys, that is until his career took off and his ‘people’ tried to keep him more discreet. After documenting the singer was not interested in sex with women (“preferring to watch TV and talk to his girlfriends”) Keith Stern goes on to say this about him: “In his 2003 book, Elvis: The Hollywood Years, author David Bret documented affairs with men, including actor Nick Adams. […] Elvis’ stepmother Dee Presley also refers to these [relationships] in her unpublished manuscript The Intimate Life and Death of Elvis.”
If you wish to investigate further, I’d point you in the direction of reading about the singer’s relationship with Dennis Hopper. The actor was just starting out in Hollywood and connected the singer with lots of out guys in town at that time, like James Dean. Hopper and Elvis stayed intimate friends until the singer’s death.
Also see the released FBI file J. Edgar Hoover kept in his desk drawer on Presley. The incident when Elvis was in the Army and stationed in Germany is very telling. Namely that the soldier and his entourage had a local hairdresser coming on base and bringing young men to them for sex and other fun. The FBI was drawn in when the hairdresser began trying to blackmail the singer.
The following link has the full lyrics for Jailhouse Rock.
So, what do you think?
 The Slanguage of Sex by Brigid McConville and John Shearlaw, 1985 London.
 Gay American History, 1976 New York, ps.179-180
 Queers in History, 2009 Dallas, ps.369-370
You and I, we have a strong bond
Like brothers, like lovers;
We disgust the world with our vain perversions,
our inane attachment with the word and the seas of heresy
part at our command revealing the shells of untruths hiding
beneath the silt of social justice.
Ecstasy beyond judgement is what we share
in the binding fallacy of corporeal pain
battling to win over the spirit.
Our ascension begins at the alter of ego.
Broken down pieces of the mirror of self-hate, we tread
upon our steps to immortality. Morality, ethics, civility, higher power
are all suspended in space as dwindling starlights, reaching us
from the outer edges of cosmos.
You and I, we have a strong bond.
Like brothers, like lovers;
We step over millions of corpses to reach the quintessential truth, the poesy of nature.
When I see you talking to others I think of it as betrayal
When I see you smiling with others I question if you are loyal
When I see you moving on with life going roundabout your business
I feel I have been left out from it all in order to hide your menace
I know the wheels are turning
I know the fires are burning out
Emotions are condensing in big chunks of ice
And soon it won't suffice to tell you that I love you,
that the earth only blooms for you,
that my breath begins & ends with you
And soon you will leave me for the others who make you smile, who kiss
you behind my back, smell your hair, bend you over to the road of infidelity
And it drives me mad, mad like a ragging bull,
Like a substance user craving his previous high
I can't stand them making you smile
One of these days I will tell them of your lies
Recent EntriesLatest Entry
Does anyone else get hiccups a lot? I seem to get them a lot and I can't figure out why...I just hiccuped my way through some toast and it just makes eating seem like a lot of hard work...*sigh* back to the essay. It's so close to done, I almost just want to hand it in right now, even though it's incomplete so I can then come home and take a nap...
Also, my friend that I've not spoken to for like a year after we had an arguement and stuff should have got the package I sent her today... I hope she doesn't hate me...
In the early 70's, my family moved to Mississippi from Louisiana. I was enrolled into a military school to begin my high school years. At 14 and being a female it was quite terrifying. My first day to attend classes, I was as lost as a student during his first day on a college campus. The school I was going too also had boarding students and their dorms. It was a new world to me.
I'll never forget the first break of my first day. I sat on a bench alone pretending to be absorbed in a book. Someone plopped down beside me and said, "Hi, I'm Sandra Faye, but everyone calls me Sandi." That was the beginning of the first true friendship I ever had. We spent nights with each other during the week, all our weekends together and weeks on end during the summers between our high school years. We had our first drink together, double dated on our first date and she taught me how to smoke a cigarette.
My family moved back to Louisiana the end of the summer before my senior year. It didn't affect our friendship in the least. I still came back to Mississippi at least one weekend out of every month. We kept in contact almost daily. Even when I went away to college in North Louisiana, we still kept in touch. She was already working in a NAPA auto store. When I turned 20, I moved back to Mississippi and moved in with her. We both worked in the parts store for a year before I met my first husband and moved out from her house. My first husband and I visited with them a lot since we lived within 20 miles of her and her boyfriend, later to be jusband. My marriage only lasted 13 months..
I was her Maid of Honor in her wedding and played the piano at her sister's wedding. I even spent two Christmases with her family instead of my own because they were like a second family to me. My parents would come to their house on Christmas Day to see me. When I met my second husband, which is who I'm married to now, once again, we were apart. She and her husband moved about an hour away. We both had baby girls and kept in contact on a daily basis.
After three years of marriage, Jimmy and I separated for about six months. My daughter and I moved in with Sandi and her daughter. (She was separated from her husband also.) We were like extended family. When my husband and I worked out our differences, I moved back home and she and I kept in contact but since we both now worked time consuming jobs, we had less contact. But every year, on my birthday she called early in the morning. She never missed one. We'd meet for lunch every once in awhile when one of us was in the other's home town at the time.
Her dad died a couple of years ago and I attended the funeral. She and I found time to visit and it was as if we'd never been apart. She was the sister I chose for myself.
I could write a book here and not even tell a third of our history together. Sadness, happiness, mischief, but friendship beyond all friendship.
Sandi died of a massive heart attack yesterday. Her younger sister made sure that I got word of her death this morning. I'm shocked and heartbroken by the news. The part of me that was connected to her is shaken beyond repair at this moment. Hoping that writing this would give my heart a much needed breath of relief, I'm finding it even heavier and I know it'll stay that way for days to come. Her friendship is one that'll never be replaced. To me she'll always be that sweet little red-headed teen that plopped down beside me on that bench that day when I felt so alone and offered me the gift of her friendship.
Rest in peace my friend. An angel has been added to the heavens.
Thanks to those of you who have sent me e-mails, pms, or otherwise showed concern as to where the fuck I’ve been. To answer the first, most obvious question: I’m fine. Life has its challenges, and I have mine, but there’s nothing there that’s debilitating.
There are three major areas of my life that can impact my writing. My health/wellbeing is obviously one of those, but as I’ve said, that’s pretty good. The next one is the relative level of activity in my life, and I’ve had an awful lot to do. This looks to be a pretty active year for me. To do what Will does to JP, that means I’m busy. J The combined forces of work, home stuff, research, etc. are a bit crushing right now.
The third factor is my muse, or ability/desire to write. For some reason, that has temporarily left me. When I’m busy, but still want to write, I usually find time to do it, but my production fades. In this case, I really haven’t wanted to do much writing, so with the added pressures of real life, I’ve let my online life sort of drift unattended. And I’m finding that there’s really no fighting the relative apathy that envelopes me when I’m in this mode.
In the past, this has happened when I’m in a conundrum about a story, but I have a very clear idea of how I want to proceed with both of my series. With CAP, I have an idea of how I plan to end “Streak” and the initial parts and premise of the next story is already forming in my mind. With Bridgemont, it’s a bit more open-ended, but I have some pivotal events in store.
I’ve been feeling a bit more motivated lately, and I’ve actually done a little writing, but I’ve spent more time reading than anything, and that includes going back over my recent stories for reference. Spring Break approaches, so I hope that in the next month or so I’ll be productive again.
I really do appreciate all of you who read my stories and give me feedback, and I feel bad for leaving you in a lurch. At the same time, I know that you’ll understand life’s pressures, and how a perfect storm like this can really impact my writing.
Nine years. I've been a part of GA for just shy of a decade. I've seen it grow from only a few forums and some scattered author websites to a community of thousands of people across the world with millions of visitors every month. I was member 937 to join the site. GA is now approaching the 25,000th member. I joined this site on a random Wednesday and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. The people I've met through this site have guided me and made me who I am today and I couldn't be more thankful. Without them, who knows where I would be.
From the first core group of regular chatters, I was hooked. Viv, Snowdog, Myr, Robert, Lugh, Nate, Krista, Vic, and so many more that I can't even list. They were there to listen to me bitch about high school homework, my first crush on a boy, getting my drivers license, my first relationship and subsequent breakup, graduating college, moving across the country God knows how many times... they were there to listen to me and help me through it. They gave me advice when I needed it and told me to grow a pair and man up when I needed that too. Meeting up with them in San Francisco and Dallas was a blast, but having them guide me through some of the roughest parts of my life was more than I could ever ask for.
I will be officially stepping down in all areas across the site. I will no longer be a moderator, admin, or board member for the parent company. It's been an amazing nine years, but I can no longer hold up my end of the workload and need to part ways to allow someone else to grow with the site as much as I have. The growth this site has seen is nothing compared to what else will become of it. The teams running everything behind the scenes are dedicated to making this site the best possible place for everyone when it comes to gay fiction stories, and I have no doubt it'll continue to grow for many years to come.
Without trying to sound like I'm accepting an award of some sort, I'd just like to thank everyone on the site that has made it what it is and made me who I am. I'm truly grateful for all of the conversations and guidance you've all given me throughout the years. I'll still be around from time to time and may even take a stab at writing some more, but for the most part, this is my final goodbye to Gay Authors. It's been a great journey, but it's time for me to move on with my life and see what else awaits.
Good luck to everyone on the site. I hope you find happiness and gain as much from being a part of this community as I have.
So, I would imagine that many members here wont remember who I am. i've not been active for a while because... well, life gets in the way sometimes doesn't it?
8 Years ago last week, I started a relationship right here on GA. I met Paya right here, and our friendship blossomed into something more. I was in the UK, he was in the Czech Republic. We had a long distance relationship for 2 years, before finally moving to London together 6 years ago.
This is just a quick stop by to where it all began, to announce that yesterday - We got Married. Yes, another GA wedding.
We were lucky enough that our friends from GA, Bleu and Jian, were at our ceremony as guests - I told them they were our GA ambassadors for the day.
Now... not to rush away, but a honeymoon awaits.
All the best.
In September of last year, things in my memory get hazy quickly. Bits and pieces have come back to me over time that I now know to be accurate, but I still have to recreate what happened based on how my memory fits in with explanations from friends and family, text messages and emails, and my hospital records.
Since I was nineteen, I’ve been somewhat of a heavy drinker on and off. God knows what all the drugs I did in my younger days did to me. There were multiple times as a teen when I probably overdosed and just by sheer luck and the stamina of youth happened to pull through without any real incident. Repercussions never happened, I never paid for anything in a real way, so I never really worried about it.
At some point, though, I thought to myself that I better leave drugs alone. They’re expensive, they lead to other crime and dangerous situations, and I enjoyed my lifestyle too much to jeopardize it by getting in trouble legally. So in the interest of self-medicating, I turned to alcohol thinking that it’s relatively safe, relatively inexpensive, easy to obtain, and most important of all completely legal. The problem with this is that I never do anything in a normal fashion. No, I take it from a nice leisurely stroll to straight running a goddamn marathon overnight.
Without putting in too much work on details here, eventually I got myself into a really bad situation. I’d just broken up with my boyfriend of four and a half years, the longest relationship I’ve ever had. This is the same man to whom I considered proposing. After the breakup we attempted multiple times to remain amicable, but subconsciously I blamed him for everything. In my mind, he didn’t work hard enough, he didn’t pay me enough attention, he didn’t keep a steady job, he used up the money I worked hard to earn, he no longer surprised me, and ultimately these seemingly small failings amounted to a mountain I just wasn’t willing to climb anymore. We even lived together after the breakup, until I basically kicked him out of the apartment.
At the time I was working for a company which made me feel like I was Satan incarnate. It was finance, loans to be specific. High-risk, high-reward, predatory lending. And I was pretty okay at it, I just didn’t have the bottomless darkness in my chest where my heart should be to continue doing it. Still, we all have to make money one way or another, eh? Here I was, pretending to be a professional adult, pulling down ridiculous sums of money, but I was incredibly unhappy. To make myself forget the stress and the guilt, I started drinking more. And more. And more. A fifth and a half of good whiskey a night will let you sleep, no matter how much your conscience may protest. Time passed slowly, and I drank myself into a state of unconcern. My boss threatens to fire me for things that aren’t my fault? Drink about it. I’m having trouble finding friends in a new city? Drink about it. Feel like I’m wasting my life and potential at a job that makes me feel like a horrible person? Drink about it. Didn’t really matter what it was - drink about it.
I eventually quit in the manner I usually do when I’m sick of a job. One day I’d had enough. Sure I’d just bought a new car, signed a new lease, moved to a new town, started a whole new life, but damned if I could take it one more day. My boss asked me specifically to lie about a figure that was owed on a lawsuit we were filing and I believe my words were “I’m not going to jail for you cock waffles, fuck you, I’m out.” Or something to that effect, but it was quite clear I wasn’t stepping out for lunch and I wouldn’t be showing up the next day.
That, however, did not make things better in and of itself. Now I was broke. I was living far beyond my means. I had no doubt I could find a job immediately, but at the same income? Doubtful. There’s just not an opportunity like that around where I was living. But hey, a week later I had an interview and had a job back in cushy old customer service land, where they pay you decent money to talk to stupid people. Habits die hard, though, and now the concern was money. And what do you do when you’re worried about money? Drink about it.
About a year and a half ago, I noticed I wasn’t always feeling great. I was tired more easily, had more bouts of abdominal pain, and vomited for the first time in many, many years. I thought nothing of it at first, but it became annoying enough to go to a doctor. Thus began a terrifying series of misdiagnoses which I still can’t believe happened and would probably sue over if I still had the energy to pursue such things.
I got shaky and weak, the vomiting wouldn’t stop, and nothing helped. I was diagnosed with everything from diverticulitis to a UTI, none of which were accurate. That didn’t stop them throwing drugs at it, though. I went through CT scan after CT scan, with IV Contrast each time, and each time they missed it. I took rounds of antibiotics, downed pain pills and anti-emetics, but nope. I thought to myself that maybe it was just in my head, that stress was causing this.
Then I turned yellow. I mean full on hi-liter neon fucking you-could-see-me-glowing-from-space canary. I looked in the mirror one morning and saw it and thought “Well, fuck me, pretty sure my liver is pissed off at me.” I went to the hospital and got the reaction I expected, which was basically “Um, do you know that you’re really yellow?”
They’d previously run a liver panel and everything was fine. Only now it wasn’t. Enzymes had skyrocketed, and it wasn’t just my liver. My kidneys freaked out, too. The repeated IV Contrast, rounds of antibiotics, and the liver failure kicked their ass and I was losing kidney function. There was a lot of medical jargon, but it all amounted to this: You’re dying, there’s nothing we can do, you may want to call your family and friends to say goodbye, and we’re here if you want to discuss palliative sedation and hospice care.
I made a decision at that point. I wouldn’t call my family or friends. They didn’t need to be involved because of my poor decision making process. I had health and life insurance, and that would be enough to cover my care and cover any final expenses, which I assumed I would be able to get in line before I was no longer able to function. I didn’t realize how quickly I would deteriorate. I went home and by this time it was difficult to walk. I had swelling in my extremities that was quite painful, severe abdominal pain, and I was mildly depressed. I actually wasn’t terribly sad. I mean I’ve lived a pretty full life for my age. I’ve kissed (and done more than that) plenty of pretty boys, made mad money, lived large, had wonderful friends, and I’d long ago gotten over most of the major challenges in my life. I felt sort of ready, like this wasn’t the end really, just another thing that just happens that you roll with and see what happens.
Pretty soon the pain got too bad for just Oxycontin to handle. I was back in the hospital on massive amounts of Dilaudid and Ativan. Palliative sedation. It quickly went from relief, to being pretty high, to being mostly unconscious because with consciousness came serious pain. When I say pain, I don’t mean I-stubbed-my-toe-oh-gawd pain. Take the worst pain in your life, the worst thing you’ve ever felt, multiply that by a thousand, and that’s pain. No one tells you that dying hurts. I think they don’t want to scare you, but that’s a truth for which everyone should be prepared. Dying is not comfortable.
After a day or two, things went black. I thought I was dead. I don’t know how I thought I was dead, but I did. You’d think the act of thinking proves you to be alive, but things get really weird in your head when there’s that much ammonia in your body, when your brain is swelling that badly. Gradually, this notion faded and I started to dream.
I dreamed I was injured and in pain, hardly able to move. I was outside and there was no one around, just empty streets. Somehow I knew I had no home to go to, no one to help me, and I knew I had to either get myself safe and better, or I simply wouldn’t get better. I found a house, and it was so hard to get into the house. It wasn’t locked or anything, but getting up the steps, into the door, and looking around inside was enough to drive the breath from me and leave me crawling. There was a mattress on the floor of one of the rooms and it was all I could do to get onto it before I passed out again. I slipped in and out of consciousness in the dream (likely mirroring what was actually happening to me at the time).
Eventually I knew if I didn’t eat or drink I would die, and getting this far would count for nothing. I couldn’t move, though. I was spent. I could no longer lift my arms, my legs didn’t respond, really the only things I could still move were my eyes. A girl eventually showed up. She wasn’t remarkable in any way, really, except the look of concern on her face as she looked at me. I later found it strange that at this point I didn’t think to ask for help, or suspect she would try to help me at all. I assumed that nature would take its course and I’d eventually die, which would stop the pain, so I welcomed that idea. She had other plans, though.
It doesn’t really matter, but she explained to me that I was sick and that I was safe there, that no one would hurt me. She brought me food and water when she could get me to eat or drink it. She didn’t exactly stay by my side, but somehow it seemed like she had my best interests in mind. Obviously, this is a fever dream inspired by an actual nurse, most likely, but it was quite a profound realization in my addled state that I wanted to die, that I was tired, that I’d finally realized I’d gone too far and wouldn’t get better and that this was simply the end.
The blackness takes over again for a while from there. I’d gone to a hospital locally, expecting to die there. No one other than my roommate even had a clue how bad I was, and she didn’t know how to contact my family or anything like that, so I thought I’d just slip away quietly and everyone would move on with life. I really should’ve known better, or at least planned better. Another thing nobody tells you about dying is that people who love you will not let you die if they have any possible fucking way to keep you from doing it.
I woke up in mid-October. I was so sick. As I regained consciousness, I became aware that they were giving me different medicines, medicines I hadn’t heard of and I was too out of it to even ask what it was, what it was for, or even really talk or notice who was there. I noticed that I’d lost a lot of weight. My abdomen was distended but my arms and legs were much thinner, and I felt constantly cold.
At first they didn’t ask me questions, they didn’t do anything but administer meds and watch me closely with a sad look to them as if to say what a shame, such a waste. They made me drink lactulose, which is torture in itself. Ammonia builds up during liver failure, and lactulose helps get rid of it. I’m not going to explain how it works, because I don’t even like to think about it. Google it if you want the nightmares. I was too far gone to protest anything they did. At one point they had to set up a line directly into an artery for some reason, which I’m told is usually quite painful. I didn’t move, I couldn’t feel it, I couldn’t really feel anything past the general sensation of just PAIN EVERYWHERE.
Eventually, I regained some lucidity. They asked me where I was and I replied that I was obviously in a hospital. They asked which one, and I realized I had no idea. Then I realized my mom was there, and it looked like she’d been crying. I remember wondering how she got there, but I didn’t think to ask. Apparently, I was quite close to death while I was at the first hospital. Somehow my roommate got in touch with my mom, and she came to the rescue. After she found out what happened, she had me transferred to Oschner in New Orleans, which is a major transplant facility. When I arrived, doctors made no promises, but encouraged her to call the family together and to say what they needed to say while they still could.
When in liver failure, doctors assign a MELD (model for end-stage liver disease) score to their patients. It’s used to come up with your prognosis based on lab values. It ranges six to forty and the higher it is, the higher your chance of dying within three months. My score was thirty-five. Basically already dead.
I knew people were sad, but it was still hard to hold on to reality. I could tell I was hallucinating, that I was seeing things that weren’t actually there. It’s hard to explain, but I’ve always been able to tell if something is a hallucination versus reality, so this didn’t scare me much and I was able to make some general sense of the situation. A doctor came in and explained what happened. They’d been working on clearing the toxins out of my body enough to stabilize me and get me well enough for surgery. Surgery? Yeah, major surgery. I asked what they meant, and they said that I needed an immediate liver transplant to live.
As best they could, they got consent from me. Consent for the surgery and for substance abuse counseling afterward, as well as assurance that I would remain compliant with medications and follow-up visits and labs and all that other great stuff. I thought okay, well, maybe I get another shot. Maybe it isn’t really time. I’ll spend a couple weeks getting better and go back to normal life.
On a side note, no one tells you that if you don’t have money and you need a transplant, you’re simply going to die. I was told very bluntly that if my insurance refused to cover it for any reason, they would not proceed with the transplant. Luckily, I have amazing insurance and I work for an incredible company which paid for my insurance the entire year I was out of work.
At one point, the nurses and doctors came in excited. There was a liver, they said. It was for me, they’d found one that matched and it was time. Not long after, they came back, this time not excited. The liver was no good, they said. They’d thought it was, but when the surgeon examined it, the vessels were hardened, they couldn’t be sewn to mine. It was a bust.
A few hours later, though, a miracle (at least according to my mom, I think it was just coincidence) happened. They had another liver, another one that matched me, another one without hardened vessels, one that was perfect for transplant. And everything went dark again.
The next time I woke up, there were over a hundred staples in my stomach. The scar reaches from just under my rib cage on the left front side to halfway around my abdomen on the right side in a chevron shape. It’s truly massive, I was cut in half. I wasn’t prepared to see that, and I started to immediately regret my decision to go forward with the transplant. Then the pain hit me like a truck. The next few days are a constant cycle of drugs, sleep, pain, drugs, sleep, pain, drugs, sleep, pain. When I cleared up a little after they stopped IV pain meds, they fed me more Oxycontin like it was Skittles. My mind was slowly clearing, and there was talk of how to care for the wound, what recovery would be like, what meds I needed to take, and all kinds of other information. I had the sinking feeling that it wouldn’t be so easy. My legs had atrophied and I couldn’t stand, walk, sit upright, or really get comfortable in any way.
To this day I cannot sleep on my side or stomach. It just hurts too much. I received my transplant October 19th, 2017.
The recovery was the most grueling, horrible, unimaginable thing to ever happen in my life. At first the pain was overwhelming, but it was brought under control with powerful opiates. I struggled to move. When I stood, the tendons in the back of my knees had tightened and it was impossible to keep my balance at first. I went most places in a wheelchair. I thought this would pass quickly, but it didn’t. I was in that chair for what seems like most of a year.
The wound began to heal, but things were messy. Another side effect of liver failure, and of surgery, is the draining. Something to do with albumin and cells not keeping liquid inside them like they should and it needs to find some way out. Everywhere on me leaked. I had places in my skin that spontaneously developed what, for lack of a better explanation, seemed like a sourceless but continuous leak. It was like liquid (not sweat, but steadily dripping) was coming out of my pores. It came out of the wound, it came out of other places where I had stitches for other reasons, it wouldn’t stop.
Then the complications began. Most people who have a transplant take Prograf, or tacrolimus, which is an anti-rejection drug. They started me on it a while after the surgery as maintenance for the transplant, as per protocol. Little did they know, it caused severe neurological side effects in me. One day I was sitting with my mom and a nurse, and I was pretty lucid. Still on a lot of drugs, but now I was telling people my correct name at least, and knew how old I was and what year it was again. Somehow, I knew I was going to have a seizure. I could feel it, and if you’ve never had one then I just can’t explain how I knew. I tried to warn them. “I think I’m having a ssss-sss-ss-s-sssssss-ss-s…” and then everything goes black. As soon as the S sound escaped my lips I got stuck, kept stuttering the same consonant over and over, and then seized. What seemed like a brief nap later I came to again and they were staring at me wide-eyed. I asked what happened and they told me I had a seizure. Then I promptly had another one.
They put me on Kepra to stop the seizures and switched me to cyclosporine for anti-rejection. This caused me to essentially speak gibberish, nonsensical answers to questions, not knowing where I was or how to act appropriately to the situation. At one point I got so frustrated I started crying. I kept trying to tell them I had to go to the bathroom, all I needed was just some help getting up so I could hobble to the toilet to go pee. I kept trying and trying to tell them, I could hear what I wanted to say in my head, but it kept coming out wrong. I couldn’t make the correct words strung together to express what I needed. I cried until more nurses came and they figured out by process of elimination what I needed, and helped me to the bathroom. I was taken off the cyclosporine.
Then it was a lot of steroids to keep me from rejecting the liver. During this time, the wound began to heal wrong. It healed from the outside in, instead of inside out. So they took out all of the staples. All. One. Hundred. Seventeen. Staples. They packed the wound with foam padding, applied a wound vac, and I spent months healing slowly as scar tissue filled in the hole. As if this weren’t bad enough, my kidneys weren’t functioning, I got massive infections, and I vomited constantly every time I ate or drank. This didn’t phase the doctors much, though.
Dialysis for the better part of a year, with a perma-cath installed in my chest. Countless rounds of antibiotics to control infections. Anti-emetics didn’t work, tube feeding didn’t work (I still vomited up what they put down the tube). They installed a central line and fed me intravenously for several weeks. There were loads of painful tests, including the time they inserted a needle into my hip to sample bone marrow and the time they thought my knee was septic so they had to ram what looked like a drinking straw sized needle under my kneecap. There was the time they gave me a shot of something to make my blood counts normalize and it caused back spasms so bad that four doses of Fentanyl later I was still crying and they were administering yet another dose and kept Narcan on hand in my room just in case. Gradually, over the course of many months, I started slowly improving. It’s to be expected, they said. You almost died. It was really a miracle that you even lived long enough to get the transplant. You should, by all rights, be dead right now.
Time fades the memory, because you don’t want to remember it. Over the course of nine or so months, I was in the hospital more than I was out of it. My longest stretch in the hospital at once was just over three months. When I was finally getting close to getting out, there was a new, unexpected complication. I’d become physically dependent on the opiates they gave me for pain.
Don’t get me wrong, the pain was still intense enough to require opiates. But sometimes in life, you just have to get used to your new normal. Pain is part of life, now. Opiate withdrawal, though, is nothing to play with. That’s another thing no one really tells you or understands until they go through it. Withdrawal is itself incredibly painful. It’s like being lit on fire, and nothing you can do will make it stop except more opiates. What’s more, it’s not a quick process. Withdrawal can take weeks, if not months. That entire time you are in pain so bad that you can’t open your eyes, you can’t walk, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep.
A Godsend came in the form of a particularly cunty psychiatrist. She’s a real bitch, I don’t care for her, but she knew what she was doing. She immediately prescribed Suboxone, which worked like a charm. After weeks of withdrawal pain, it was gone. Just like that, a few minutes after I dissolved a little strip under my tongue, all the insidious, mind-crushing, all-encompassing pain melted away. I still hurt, but it wasn’t the kind of pain you can’t ignore. This I can deal with. Sure it hurts, but I can function with this pain. Before, I was a mess, I couldn’t even get up to walk.
At this point, I was on somewhere around fifteen medications a day. Anti-rejection, anti-emetic, diuretic, anti-depressant, thyroid pills, phosphate binders, pills to make my digestive system work, pills to make my kidneys try to wake back up, pills for everything imaginable. I’d actually feel full, like I’d eaten a meal, after I took my morning pills. And noon pills. And evening pills.
I went through rehab as mandated (an agreement is an agreement, and I said I’d do it if they did the transplant). I eventually learned to walk again first with a walker, then a cane, and now I walk unassisted albeit slowly. I’m down to taking one medication a day now. Sirolimus, an anti-rejection med which causes what feels like a cold that never goes away, constant low grade fever, a feeling of always being cold, and impairs your body’s ability to heal normally. I also consistently have extremely low blood counts (stemming from the kidney damage), low platelets, and some other things that are pretty annoying but not (well at least not always) life threatening. I get tired easily, am in some degree of pain at any given time, and I’m not too happy about this giant scar I have now.
I have over a year sober now, and I’ve had a lot of time to think deep thoughts and consider the past and future. I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel whole again. I don’t know if the pain will ever stop. If I had it to do over again, I’m not sure I’d agree to the transplant in the first place. I’d accepted dying, and that was easy. Accepting living as I have to live now is the hard part. My liver function is great, my kidneys are getting much better and I’m not on dialysis anymore, and sometimes I’m even hungry again. But what about next time? The average life expectancy for a male after liver transplant is eighteen years. That means I’ll likely die by the time I’m forty-six. And I don’t want to linger. I’m more tired than I care to admit, more sad than I’d like to be, more constrained by the nature of my condition than I can consent to.
I just went to Orlando by myself to see a friend (that same ex that I was talking about earlier, we have since been able to be friends and enjoy each other’s company again). The flight there made me sleep for a day, and getting back was just as bad. I work from home at a desk job, but I struggle to find the energy to talk on the phone. I miss the feeling that at any moment, something amazing could happen to me. That there could be a new adventure, a new boy, a new job, a new friend, a new hobby, new anything, just around the corner. Now it feels like I’m a slave to insurance and medication (my pills cost $1100 a month without insurance), and I don’t know how to move forward with self-confidence when I imagine taking my shirt off to a muffled gasp and “Oh my God, what happened to you?!”
I try to stay positive. I think to myself, as much as I’m an atheist and non-believer, that maybe something good can come out of this. And logically, I know that to be true. If nothing else, I serve as a wonderful cautionary tale at AA meetings. I still look pretty damn young, if I do say so myself. And when you see what looks like a twenty-three-year-old grimace slightly in pain as he lowers himself to a seat after taking the stairs carefully one at a time into an AA meeting, then announce “My name is Jamie, I’m an alcoholic, and I had a liver transplant a year ago”, then you hear his horror story, the details of pain, uncertainty, almost dying multiple times… well, you’d have to be a fucking idiot to keep trying to find happiness at the bottom of a bottle.
I guess that’s a good thing, at least. I never listened to the horror stories because they just weren’t scary. Oh, you hit your spouse? That’s not alcohol, you’re an ass, I’d never do that. You drink and drive? I never do that, ever, I call a cab, even blacked out. You lost your job? I never drink on the job. So you see, the stories weren’t quite enough for me. I had to chase the rabbit all the way down before I realized he wasn’t there and I was digging the hole myself.
At this point, I’m working to put my mind at ease, to find purpose in living a life with limitations. I’m trying to not be afraid that tomorrow I’ll get sick again, that I’ll be alone because I’m too ashamed of what happened to me. I know I can find an external purpose easily enough. I don’t mind lending support to people trying to better themselves and get away from alcohol or drugs. If anything, my resolve is now quite concrete. I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol and I don’t think I will for the foreseeable future. Or, as they say, all I know is today I'm not drinking. But finding something that drives me to want to smile and be awake and adventurous in the world? That’s proving a bit difficult.
So far I’m still recovering on several levels. Physically, pain and exhaustion are a daily battle. Financially, I’m fairly well off all things considered. Emotionally I’m pretty drained, but that’s getting better. I’ve started taking pleasure in small things again. I didn’t think I’d ever be sitting stone cold sober in my kitchen carving pumpkins with my roommate and enjoy it. I didn’t think I’d ever enjoy anything stone cold sober again.
I wouldn’t say I’m depressed. I’m sad sometimes, but I know that’s normal. I’ve made some unpopular decisions, like making sure medical intervention to keep me alive in a similar situation will never happen again and deciding that I truly don’t want a romantic relationship again any time soon. At the same time, I wonder about a lot of things. Will my life be the same a year from now? Better or worse? Will finally dying hurt as bad as I think it will? What kind of gigantic beast of a tattoo would I have to get to cover up the scar I have?
I guess I’ll end by saying this. If you or anyone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol that is affecting their health, get help. Don't expect someone to step in and help, because no one will. YOU need to get help, regardless of how that makes you feel. Fuck the job, fuck the car, fuck the house, fuck the spouse, fuck appearances, fuck everything except your life and health. You won’t know how much it was really worth to you until you’ve irrevocably lost it.