Monday, April 9, 2012

The Baby Hunger Games

First, let's take a moment and think about the funny ways the title of this blog can be taken. I picture:
1) Babies fighting to the death for food. Not funny. Sad.
2) People battling to the death to eat babies. Disturbing.
3) On second thought, maybe I should stop. These are getting increasingly not funny.

To the point.

I want to be a dad. Real bad. I've always wanted a happy marriage and I have that. (If we are going by commitment here, I'm married. If we're going by legal status, I'm a homo.) I've always wanted a job I could be proud of where I felt like I did good things. Have that too. I'm not even going to get started on the house because I'm starting to sound really pretentious as I read these words to myself. I'm very blessed and I hope I acknowledge that often without sounding deserving.

But something's missing. Both Ammon and I feel the same way, I'm sure. Although, out loud, we've never said the words "I want kids right now," we both know it's the next step and can hardly wait. One thing that has it on both our minds is our good friends about to have their first baby. We are so excited to meet him/her (for now we call him/her Hootoo). The kid is going to have an awesome life thanks to Hootoo's equally awesome parents. We get to bask in parenthood vicariously, while leaving the constant tiredness to Hootoo's mommy and daddy. Even being baby hungry I can admit that I'm not looking forward to that. Barf.

So in the meantime... Everything else I do to improve or advance myself kind of feels like a game - to misdirect me from the fact that I don't have what I want right now. Keep myself busy for a while until the kiddos get here, so to speak. Wanna tear the house apart? Sure! Want to volunteer? Sign me up! Want to get slightly obsessed with Yoga? Seriously, I have an addiction to stretching. Help me.

Anywho, that's where I'm at. I'm happy but anxious to get what I'm really after - a family. We have our little family now and I love it. There's just someone out there who could use us as parents and until I meet them (whether through adoption or surrogacy) sometimes everything else seems like a game. Distracting me from the people (our kids) I haven't met but somehow miss.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cycling through my goodbye to Bradford

I know there are certain steps that we cycle through when grieving the life of a friend or family member. I'm not certain of them and I'm not going to look them up. I just need, for my own sake, to catalogue how I'm feeling. I lost someone I counted as a dear friend this week, Bradford. I cycle through a series of thoughts and emotions, all of which are just awful.

Mad at 1) Bradford, 2) Myself, 3) The System: I get so mad at Bradford. I want to text you and get your quirky response back. Plan a reunion meeting in Salt Lake or Nantucket. Convince you and the kids to come and visit us here in Maine. To know how you're doing. It's at this moment that I realize I'm being a complete dick. "How can you get mad at someone who DIED?! You are just the worst kind of person," I tell myself. Then I get mad at myself. For being mad at Bradford. For not being a better friend when I had the chance. For not somehow preventing it. I then reason with myself enough that I realize I shouldn't be mad at myself either. I didn't cause his death and if I'd known it was coming I would have done anything I could. This finally leads me to blame the system. Death sucks. Life sucks. This is just all one big pile of shit and the more people try and make sense of it the more it just sinks into a big confusing pile of black gross death. (Please don't worry, I only stay in this stage for a few moments.) This leads to my second stage.

Complete and utter confusion: What the hell good does it do for me to hate the system? Hating the system doesn't bring anyone back. Hating the system doesn't explain the system. So then I just get confused. What do you mean he's just NOT HERE anymore? I get the body isn't working, but what happened to the personality? I want to believe, because him and his wife are now in the same physical state, that their personalities are in the same state too. I hope that they can be together, like they belong. But I don't KNOW where Bradford and Heather are, and it starts to make me sad...

Terrifying sinking sadness: This is where I cry. My heart aches when I think about Bradford's last moments. That they were alone and sad. I think about his wife, Heather, and him. That the world is now a much darker place without them in it. They had a kind of love that people write books about. No one that knew them would deny that the two were an absolute match and they adored each other. When Bradford lost Heather to cancer (which she fought for years), I think part of Bradford died then too. One of the last times I saw Bradford was at his wife's side. He had quit work to take care of her full time. Seeing him lean over her making sure she was comfortable was one of the most touching scenes of my life. But Bradford was not the same. His pain oozed from him, although he always had a smile and tried spreading it to others.

I'm sad Heather died so young. I'm sad Bradford died so young. But the two things I mourn the most are the loss of their relationship and the kids. Heather completed him and I assume it was the other way around too (I didn't know Heather quite as well). It is just a really tragic end to what was a beautiful story involving truly exceptional people. I ache wishing they'd been dealt a better hand. I feel bad for the kids so much it hurts. They will forever hear of the truly amazing human beings they had for parents, but never get to know them. Bradford and Heather lit up the world around them and anyone that knows the kids can tell they got their parents' fire.

There is no acceptance: After the terrifying sinking sadness has run its course, and I've cried, I go right back to anger. I don't know how many mourning steps there are (I think it's five), but I understand the last is acceptance. I think "acceptance" is just realizing that that I'm going to feel like this from now on. Slowly the cycles will come less intensely, and then fewer and farther between. Life goes on and much of it will be happy, but I think a little piece of me will always be pissed Bradford's death happened and that's it's irreversible. I will always be confused that I can't call him up the next time I'm in Utah and hang out. I will always be sad when I think about the lost love of Heather and Bradford and sad that the kids grow up without them. Acceptance does not feel good. I love you Bradford and I refuse to "accept" that all of this is ok or normal. I will always hate that you and Heather left. That's the best I can come to acceptance.

Me, Ren, Bradford, and Cami before heading to the SLC Pride Parade 2010

Monday, February 27, 2012

Remembering the gay sweatpants fight

So, I started this blog under the premise that it's somewhat difficult for a gay couple to navigate married life when there are few role models around. This is one of those instances that I was talking about. I'm sure there are stories from every couple (gay, straight, or...miscellaneous) on how they handle territory disputes. The "this is MY house or this is MY car." But I doubt there are such similar disputes as Ammon's and mine (you'll know what I mean in a minute... jeez).

When Ammon and I became a couple, I know there was one aspect of our relationship that was completely unlike any aspect of a straight couple I had yet met and, more importantly, still have not met. We wear the exact same size clothing. I'm not kidding. Pant size, shoe size, hat size, shirt size. Although some of them fit him better than me at the moment. I'm working on it. I've lost five pounds so I can keep order to my universe.

This has spawned several problems. The first of which being, what we have dubbed "tweedle dee" syndrome. Without having a clue of what the other is wearing, we often end up in almost the exact same outfit. We are then immediately embarrassed to be seen with the other one.

"Oh, God! Didn't you see me leave this morning?!"
"No! I was sleeping!"
"Well, who's going home to change?!"
"Fine. I'll go home and change."

Guess who is who in this scenario? I'll give you a hint: I'm the asshole (usually).

But the other major problem this has caused is serious territory disputes. I have no doubt that straight people have territory disputes. How could you not? Nothing prepares you for suddenly having to divy up half of your possessions on the hunch that this person isn't going to seriously screw you over? I trust Ammon with my life, and do. That's why we're married. Practically, thank you Maine...but don't worry, in 2012 it's on. But I digress. I trust him, but isn't that part of the gamble we make in couples? Giving up half our shit?

Now imagine the typical straight couple giving all that up, combined with the fact that, because of our unique size (and gender) match, I don't even have any of my own clothes anymore. All of it is shared. From the house to the underwear, folks. Naturally, being the asshole, I was the one that finally flipped out. It was my UMaine Sweatpants. They are the most comfortable and wonderful of all sweatpants. Not to mention they are UMaine, and I love anything associated with Maine.

So one day I came home, right, and had a really abysmal day of teaching. I came home expecting to crawl into my sweatpants and Ammon was in them........ It got intense. I slept on the floor in the other room. I'm not sure, I'll have to clarify with Ammon, but I'm almost positive it was our first blow-out fight. Over sweatpants. Yes. This happened. I'd had enough of suddenly having to share all the things I had earned with my own hard work.

Obviously, we got over it. We have since moved three times together and the last one was buying our home together. I have literally nothing that is just mine anymore and it feels...quite honestly, awesome. Remembering these anomalies of our relationship reminds me why I fight so hard. I don't need a religious marriage to legitimize my relationship. What I will have is a legal marriage that protects what is already legitimized. If that doesn't represent someone's values about marriage, then they should get married at a church, where I don't need to (or I guess can't) get married.

What I have is weird. Beyond the fact that I'm married to a dude, I've lost my clothes. How many other couples would honestly have to fight about who would take what pair of pants? My guess is not many. It's the weirdness that makes me realize how blessed I am and how much I will fight to protect it. Ammon is, down to the last sock, my other half. We have the same (every)things and want all the same things for our future. We're not going anywhere, and if we did, you'd be sad. Because, well, we're just nice people. Of course unless you f*** with Ammon or my sweatpants (Ammon, this includes you).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stop bugging yourself, stop bugging yourself, stop.....

My brother Jason emerged from our mother's womb with a PhD in bugging the shit out of people. And he has developed a real love for the discipline with age. Don't get me wrong, I love Jason. Everyone loves him. Even if he's pestering you, you can't help but want him around. Even if you could stop his bugging, you wouldn't want to because somehow you're enjoying yourself. Having said that, he is the master bugger. He was the sibling that would hold his finger centimeters from your face and say "what, I'm not touching you." Or the sibling that would make you forcibly slap yourself and chant "stop hitting yourself."

This is Jason with his little family. They're cute.

This is one of my nieces that Jason teased to tears.

And this is Jason.

I bring Jason up, not to harp on him, but to explain my own self-bugging. Apparently I got so used to the pestering and now do it to myself. Do you ever have those days where you think, "god, I have to make it a whole lifetime living as THIS person? Can I have someone else's personality, if even for a little bit?" Some might label this as "self-loathing" and, by the information I've given they'd probably be right. I, however, prefer to label it "my man period." I thought of coining the phrase "man menses" because I love alliteration, but let's be honest; the word menses is gross. Plus I'm describing the emotional/hormonal (ups-and-downs) equivalent of a period, not the physical equivalent of - well... let's not get into that - of a menses.

My man period begins with a day or two where I just REALLY bug the shit out of myself. Everything I say or do gets the internal mental response of "that's what you've got to say? Really? What a dumb ass." Or "Man, you really just keep on trying don't you? Like a mosquito sucking on a mummy." This is followed by a day or two of turning my annoyance to the outside world. Weep for Ammon, dear reader. He takes my man period in stride every month. Internalizing my Jason-like "stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself" is one thing, but turning it on poor unassuming Ammon is rough. Eventually I get tired of being an unmitigated asshole to everyone, and continue with another day or two of internalized "you fail at life."

After that, it's smooth sailing where I love life for about three weeks. Not to say that little things don't bug me or that I'm a master of my emotions three - four weeks out of the month (or ever for that matter). I have just noticed that if I allow myself a little time to wallow in my own self-bugging, I eventually get sick of it and return to my normal happy state. I don't know if others' man periods are as regular or pronounced as mine, but I guarantee most men have one. I won't say Ammon's schedule for the sake of marital cohesion, but trust me, he's got one. So do most of the men I know. I can get a brisk look up as an acknowledgement rather than a hello from a male co-worker and know "that guy's on his man period."

The Miner Brothers (Jacob, Jeremiah, and Jason) with Sierra at her wedding.

So Jason really has nothing to do with my "stop bugging yourself, stop bugging yourself" cycle, it's just because he is a master of his bugging craft that sometimes he's the voice I hear in my head. I am probably that voice to my two little sisters. Come to think of it, I wonder who Jason's "stop bugging yourself" voice is. I bet it's Dad.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When straights meet the boss

I had an interesting moment this week that made me think about how much people actually put themselves into other's shoes. I wondered, what an amazing world we would live in if people did that more often. This is not to say that I'm not guilty of the same, but I try and think of it more now that I'm part of a marginalized segment of our society. Well, at least SOME are trying to marginalize us...

This week Ammon got to meet my boss. She has wanted to meet him for some time which excited me because I actually quite look up to my boss. A while ago, when I confessed to her that I was gay and explained my trepidation in coming out to her, she said something to the effect of "this company accepts anyone who does their job and works hard regardless. If you ever have any problems I want to know about it." When Ammon and my boss met it was the typical "nice to meet you" "likewise" interaction that you would expect when a spouse met the boss. I was so ecstatic to be at this point in my life I could hardly stand it.

I am fortunate beyond what I thought was possible. I'm open about who I love and am building my life with, and even those that don't like it don't let it interfere with our day to day interactions. Because (and I've heard this from people that are religious and don't agree with my life), it doesn't matter to them. To quote someone who put it slightly less eloquently: "I think it's gross, but that doesn't mean it's ok to treat you differently." This all got me thinking. I thought about my life in Utah and how people make it matter to them despite the fact it really is none of their concern. Utah is certainly not alone in this. I would never have dreamed of introducing Ammon to any of my bosses. Up until recently, had I lived in Utah (or other states), it would have been legal to fire me for it.

To all the straight people who read this, do you worry about introducing the love of your life to your boss? In most cases, I would assume not. Do you worry about being told you can have no family, biological or adopted? Probably not. Do you worry every day that one day your loved one might have an accident and they would have to die alone in the hospital because people in your state voted that's how things should be? I'm going to venture a guess and again say no.

The next time you step into a voting booth or even discuss rights of LGBT people, if just for one second, think of these things. Realize that you are not just voting to say that I DON'T DESERVE marriage, you are voting that I DO DESERVE to die alone, that I DO DESERVE to lose everything Ammon and I spent a lifetime building, and that I DO DESERVE to live without a family for the rest of my life. I have nothing against conservatism or religion, I think both can be beautiful things. I understand your problem with it, because I myself struggled. But when you use your political or religious leanings to tell 10% of the world that they DESERVE a more stressful, sad, and lonely bereft life than you because of it, I wonder how you dare call yourself a Christian with a straight face.

I want the same things you want. When I was about to choose death in order to escape my sexuality I turned back because something told me "you get one life. Even if this is bad, what lives inside you, you can spend the rest of your life putting good into this world." I want to be a good husband, father, and person. I want to leave the world a better place than what I found it. If ever you're in a situation where you're in a job you love, and your wife/husband is meeting your boss for the first time and you can practically feel the joy bursting from you, please think of all the other good people in the world who can't experience the same thing. Think of how you possibly brought that upon them just because you didn't understand what it was like to be them and either voted or showed that they didn't deserve it.

God forbid, things could change and one day whatever genetics were handed to you might make people think you deserve less than them and now you're the one who DESERVES a more difficult, in some cases tragic, life. I hope you don't experience that ever and when your spouse meets your boss that the moment is as pleasant as mine was. All I'm asking (and those who stand with me) is that right now you can hope the same for a group of people you may not entirely understand.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Weekly, no wait, yearly priorities

First night! Had plenty of drinks at this point...ready for food...

All the pictures this week are from our New Year's Eve party at Hollie's. We partied hard, slept in late, and made an awesome breakfast. Great way to end a great year.

Every week at my work, my manager asks me for a "weekly priorities" email. It's a sign of how nerdy I am, that I actually enjoy this exercise. I write the three biggest accomplishments of the week and then the three biggest tasks I hope to accomplish the next week. Since it's a new year, I thought I should document the priorities I've set for myself in 2012. My hope is that by changing from a resolution, to a priority, I'll somehow manage to keep my priorities a little more than I have resolutions in the past.

Before I start my yearly priorities I want to acknowledge the things about 2011 I will not miss. Social drama; I had a lot of it at really intense levels this year and I'm glad to leave it in 2011. Uncertainty; I spent half the year worried about finding a job or finding a house - hoping that 2012 is a little more stable.

This is our friend Melissa with her dog Harley, a tibetan terrier. Love them both.

Accomplished this year:

1. Started a career. I finished graduate school, the two hardest working years of my life. I sank my teeth into graduate school and pulled hard. Generally speaking, that's how I approach everything. The rest of 2011 I focused that energy towards work, since I felt I'd gotten as far in my academic education as I'd like to go. I found an awesome job, and hated it immediately. I won't say why, but suffice it to say that I was bizarrely depressed in my first big job out of college. I refused to get used to how I was feeling so I looked for work elsewhere and found a job that I'm lucky to have. Working for Camden National has been an awesome experience and I hope to accomplish a lot next year. I look forward to work everyday and I acknowledge that blessing often.

2. Bought a house. I've wanted to own a house since I was 18. Yeah, I'm the kid that would drive around calling on cool houses for sale; pretending that I actually had a job and a life that justified having a house. I've always hated paying rent. I find it fundamentally offensive that I spend my money paying someone else's mortgage. Renting is a necessary evil and I've never viewed it as anything but. Not to offend anyone who rents...this got awkward, didn't it? Anyway, now that I have my house, I spend most of my free time and money on making it a home. Painting, building, gardening, cleaning, and stopping to admire each project as it finishes.

3. Started my family. We have been dating for a couple years, but this was the one where Ammon and I really solidified that we are a family. Some people don't understand that, but it doesn't matter. We are a family whether or not people understand it. Our goals are shared, everything from family to finances bound together. We would have been legally married this year but unfortunately the people of Maine voted that we don't deserve the same things as straight people. But like I said, that doesn't matter. We built our family as best we could AROUND marriage because we weren't allowed actual access. The time will come when we are given equal access and Ammon and I know that we'll be one of the first couples there to have the ceremony performed.

Hollie and Ammonoid. We squeezed her a lot because she'd been gone for weeks.

Next year's priorities:

1. Visit more family. A trip to Utah and a trip to Hawaii have been made priorities for 2012. We miss our Utah and Hawaii family real bad. Hopefully, I will have some of my sisters out to visit us here in Maine and Ammon has one sister that might also visit. We have our home/family and now we want family to come and share in our happiness. Of course, this priority comes with a heavy cost so we will see how much we actually get accomplished on this front.

2. Add to the family. Geneva needs a brother. Being one of those weird people that thinks of his dog like he does one of his children, it makes me sad knowing Geneva sits at home alone all day. Also, I just love dogs and would like another one. Again, a dog is an expensive priority so who knows if this will actually happen. That's the nice thing though about a priority versus a resolution. I'm not dead set on this, but I'm going to work my hardest to have a puppy with some kind of crazy Hawaiian name (there are so many vowel combinations in hawaiian the words sometimes make me laugh). I named Geneva so Ammon gets to name (anonymous) and it's a safe bet he'll pick some deep meaning hawaiian word. I'm allowed to put a syllable limit on said name though, so no worries.

3. Be more active in other areas of my life. Exercise, volunteering, politics, hobbies were all pushed to the side as I focuses on finding a job and a house. 2012 will see me more involved in life outside my work and involved in my community. The only place I've ever loved living more than here in Maine is Germany. Since I'm not moving there any time soon, I want to make the absolute most of my time here in Maine. Give back to the place that gives so much to me. 2012 has a lot of intense stuff happening; London Olympics, Presidential Election, Armageddon (if you go by the Mayan calendar anyway). I'm going to sink my teeth into 2012 and get what I can out of it, while stopping to enjoy all the other awesome stuff happening in the world this year.

This was our hangover breakfast. Blueberry Cheesecake Pancakes and bacon. Stupid good.