Words, pictures, blogging, the hats we wear and the stories we tell…


I’ve been thinking…

The_Thinker_Musee_Rodin smallHey it has to happen every once in a while!

Seriously, I’ve been having this kind of firestorm going on in the back of my head when I eat, watch TV, fiddle on the net, exercise, plan for my return to the world of dance, sleep, tinkle…

Uhmmm was that TMI?  It has been going on for about two or three weeks now and it came to a head (kinda sorta) in yesterday’s blog post.

There is lots of debris flying around in that thought typhoon: stress about my finances, the challenges that lie ahead, the reality that the road is going to be tough, that my life is about to change yet again, uncertainty, angst.  Now toss in a new found political awareness and activism, frustration that the system, the environment, and so many factors seems rigged against people trying to better themselves.

A huge chunk of that inner thought tornado is the difficulty in conveying why when “I went to the grocery store and to my storage unit today” should be received by the listener with the same respect as someone saying “I just ran a marathon in record time.”  — more on that in a later post. For now, please accept it as one tiny line of paint to be included in a much larger painting.  A thread in a larger tapestry.

However, there is a center.  A “core” to that whirling maelstrom inside my brain.

In every case, somehow it all comes back around to WORDS!.

And how inadequate they sometimes are.  How easily they can be misunderstood and the meaning behind the words lost when they come from me to another person.

Words and the inadequacy of “words.” How they can either soar and convey with perfect clarity emotions and thoughts or they can plumment horribly and thud into the ground, like bricks falling from a workman’s scaffold, creating the most awful mess!

Arrrrrrrgggghhhhh!!!!!!!

Here, on this blog, on any blog, the words are both the solution and the problem.  How to use them?  Which ones to use? Do I write about this or that?  Share this bit or that bit?  If writing about that bit then “how?” In what way? Get the idea?

Let’s break it down a little; use those words to illustrate:

Here I am in Dallas, sitting in my room (which needs desperately to be neatened, dusted, and cleaned up).  Over in one corner is a shirt and a pair of pants that need to be thrown into the laundry hamper which is itself overflowing. On my futon are my pillows from last night, and the sheets from last night which really should have been neatly folded and put into the closet for the day, but weren’t.  The futon is still in it’s “inclined” night-time sleeping position instead of being moved to it’s upright “day-time” couch position.

Right next to my desk I have a stack of three boxes and a stack of two boxes.  These boxes are detritus from my storage unit which I’m slowly working through: sorting, selling on CraigsList, tossing in the trash OR giving away the enclosed “junk” and “stuff” to the local resale shop which benefits the LGBT community called “Out of the Closet.”  Watch for the return of my “online garage sale” as I work my way through that pile and the much larger pile-o-clutter that I need to get OUT of my house!

I have a half finished diet soda on my desk (which I really swore I would not be drinking any more of… …I should be switching to green tea instead).  My desk is as cluttered as my mind.  Lots of stuff left in mid project, bits of this and bits of that.

Yer basic slice-o-Tony’s Life in fifty words or less…

About those words…

You are wherever you are, sitting wearing whatever it is that you are wearing.  You might be at home on your Mac, or swearing at “Windows 10,” or in a coffee shop using a laptop or looking at my blog on your brand new iPhone version whatever-it-is-now.

The point is that between me and thee are words. Lots and lots of words. Nothing but ASCII characters that I type using my keyboard and I “publish” then lots of techno wizardry happens and TAH-DAH!  You read them.  And from those words, images form in your brain.

When you were reading, what you just read, you formed this sort of an “analog” of me, my room, my desk.  A mental construct that is both kinda-sorta me and kinda-sorta-mostly-NOT version of me that will never come close to capturing the 100% “real” me.  NOT EVEN CLOSE.

Some of my closest friends would be quick to assure you that is a good thing!  Pay no attention to them.  🙂

We live in our heads…

I’m not the first person in the history of “writing” and “fee-los-fo-fee” to discuss this concept.

I certainly will not be the last human since humans started wondering about this kind of stuff, who has come to the realization that we never ever really know another human being!

We can empathize, we can sympathize, we can interact but at the end of the day, you are alone inside your own skull and the impressions, the sights, the sounds, the ideas that help you form opinions and create this “mental picture” of another person’s world is just that: a construct, an image of the real thing that only partially captures the essence of the actual thing or person.

And sometimes the construct rests entirely on oh so fragile “words” — 26 letters in the English alphabet arranged in small groups to represent the totality of a person’s experiences and thoughts.  Or, more likely to represent just a teeny FRACTION of the totality of a person.

We will not EVEN begin to discuss other languages at the moment.  This whole chain of thought is messy enough as it is keeping to my native English.

Yes, this is going someplace; I promise. This is not the “usual” randomness of Tony, being Tony.

I know.  It is strange to encounter a “serious – thinking – deep -stuff” sort of Tony.  Don’t freak out or anything.  The weird and wacky Tony is around here somewhere.  He’ll be back.

For now though, I beg your indulgence while I lead you down the twisted pathways that I envision in my own mind.

Let me attempt to weave together the diverse threads of my thoughts into a tapestry which hopefully will make you go “Oh!” or “Ah-ha!” or perhaps even “ho-hum.”

I’ll even take a “at least I had something to read while the dye in my hair finished setting.”

We wear many hats…

I am gay.  I am male.  I am of Western European descent (with a whole bunch of who knows what mixed in there) which most of the world refers to as “Caucasian” or “white.”

I know…  Hmmm… “Know” is a bit much.  Let’s say that I…  Hmmmm….  theorize with good probability for it to be true, that there is a mix of genes and heritage in me because when I scar I do so like a dark skinned person, not a typical Caucasian of probably Irish descent.  I had this really nice nurse explained it to one time.  She was a very dark skinned lady and I have no reason to doubt what she said.  🙂  I asked her with great concern in a follow up visit to the doctors office about the scaring from a wrist operation which was quite noticeable.  She said “Well the scarring is healthy but it is a bit unusual.”

“Unusual?” I gasped.

She said that “Well usually we do not see this kind of scaring in White Fo… – uhmm – in Caucasians.  It is typical of Africans, especially those who descended from Northern Africa.”  I laughed and said “Gurl! You can say ‘white folks’ I don’t mind!”  Then we both laughed.

So that is how I learned that somewhere in my family tree I picked up the “scarring gene” that you see in dark skinned peoples.  Given that my skin tone is on the bright white end of the spectrum, given that the thought of exposure to sunlight causes me to get a sunburn, and given I have some the genes for red-ish hair, well I’m quite the mongrel!

As a quick aside…. do you know HOW HARD it is to stay on track when writing?  That tidbit about scarring absolutely was a tangent!  OMG!  Here is Tony’s Brain:

Yes, at times I really do believe that is how my mind works.  Ask any friend who has EVER tried to talk to me while there was a video screen of any kind near me.  I. just. can. not. not. watch.  Squirrel!

So, where was I?  Oh, yes...

Hats – we humans present different “faces” or “selves” to each other all the time…

Here are just the ones that pop to the forefront when I consider the many “sub-selves” that you could encounter:

  • I am a dancer.  Well I was a dancer and I’m trying very hard to be one again.
  • I am an only son.  I also have two brothers and a sister. — story for another time.  Buy me a beer.
  • I am retired, a pensioner, a guy living on a pension – a VERY small pension.
  • I was a librarian.
  • I am a Bernie Sanders supporter.
  • I have brownish red hair, some would call it auburn, that depending on the light looks really red or really brown and depending on how recently I’ve touched up the grey, might look, uhmmm, well gray-ish.  I spell “grey” as “gray” sometimes and I don’t really care which way I do it. — neither does the spell check.
  • I am really envious of any naturally occurring ginger.  *sigh*
  • I am a science fiction fan.
  • I am a liberal.  I am proud of that.  Liberal is NOT a dirty word, no matter what the folks on the conservative end of the spectrum would have you believe.  Some of the very best ideas in the history of mankind have been “invented” by liberals.
  • I have voted for Democratic candidates in every election since I turned 18 and could get my voter’s registration card.  Except one time.  I voted for Regan the first time he ran.  As much as I love President Carter as a human being, that job was killing him. He was too kind a man to be in that office; it was tearing him to shreds.  I just could not vote to put him back into that fighting pit.
  • I vote for Democratic Candidates because after examining the issues they generally match up with my own opinions.  I don’t think they are saints or anything.  They can mess up just like any other human; and sometimes I disagree.  I would really REALLY prefer some other choices than just the two main parties, but when it comes time to pull the lever, well the Dems get my vote.
  • When there is no Democratic candidate running for an office, if there is a Green Party candidate running I’ll vote for them; if no Green party, I’ll even vote for a Libertarian if that’s my only choice other than Republican.  If a Republican is running unopposed, I’ll not even cast a vote in that race, just so they don’t get 100% of the vote.  Why?  Republicans have almost consistently voiced opinions and advocated policies expressly designed to invalidate something which is as intrinsic to me as my hair color.  I am gay.  While I know and respect some friends who vote Republican for very valid reasons, I can not in good conscious vote for the candidate for a party who has consistently said that I am an abomination.
  • I am a drama queen.  I love being the center of attention.
  • I am a performer.  A good one.  An entertainer.  That’s what happens when a drama queen gets training.
  • I am chronically late — but never to the “you have got to be there on time because this is friggin’ important stuff” only to the “if I’m late the world isn’t going to blow up stuff” which means that most of  the time I’m late.  Because face it, most of the things in our lives fall into the second category.  I’m adult to recognize and regret that I’m built that way.  I recognize and I regret the inconvenience that this trait of mine causes other people and I work hard to mitigate it and make it up to folks. I wish it were differently but after 53 years of living, and fighting the good fight, trying to change this trait, I now recognize that it is a lost battle.  Actually many lost battles.  Folks, the war is lost.  I surrender and embrace it.
  • I’m a writer; a self-taught one, but a writer nonetheless.  Many different folks at different times have told me that I’m a good one — better than average, any way.
  • I am an eight time World Champion Dancer in Country Western Dance.  Something which, given the smallest conversational opportunity, I will find a way to mention.  Yeppers I’m kinda proud of that.  How many people do you know who can honestly say they are “World Champions” in something?
  • I am fat.  I was fatter. I’m getting less fat.
  • My overall health was poor.  It is now Fair.  It will be good then fantastic, but I’ll be happy if everything stabilizes at “good.”
  • I am a diabetic. — Still a fairly new diabetic who is still learning the ropes and trying very hard to do the things his doctor is telling him so that one day I will not be a diabetic.  I have Type 2.  I’ve been told and I’ve read that this is possible.
  • I live on a tiny pension of $812 a month.  I supplement that pension with a few odd jobs here, taking online surveys, and selling my graphic designs at TxCowboyDancer Designs and by doing this and that and that over yonder too — basically I live on $1,000 a month on average right now.
  • I used to teach Line Dance as a professional Line Dance Instructor.  Which meant that I lived on $1200 a month which while still not a lot was much better than $1000 a month.  Then my health went to shit and I could barely stand, let alone dance.  So that stopped.  Do you know how awful it feels to be in such bad shape and in such poor health that to fix a sandwich or to do laundry become major ordeals which cause pain and cause you to have to “recovery sleep” because of the effort you expended?  No?  I hope you never do know what it is like. — I have every expectation that not only will I be able to soon, before the end of the year, teach line dance again, but that I will “turn full pro” by the 1st of the year, and start teaching couples dance as well: Waltz, Two-Step, Texas Two-step/3 step, Night Club Two Step, Cha-Cha, Polka (if I have to *sigh*, East Coast Swing and West Coast Swing.   Yay!
  • I have brown eyes, which my Dad always said was because I was full of bullshit.  Miss ya Dad!
  • I cry at movies.
  • I yell dirty words at the TV and the computer screen when I see people like Kim Davis behaving badly.  Arrrrrgggghhhh!!!!  Grrrrrrrr!!!!
  • I can not say “no” to chocolate.
  • I lost my job at the height of the great recession, looked for work in my field, looked for other work in other fields, eventually got discouraged after months and months of trying.  I eventually gave up (I’m not the only one – I hear about others in the news all the time). I decided that I was going to attempt to become self employed, and be my own boss, even if that meant living on a tiny-way-below-the-poverty-level amount of income.
  • I’m losing weight.  I’m trying to get healthy and succeeding, tiny bit by tiny bit.
  • I have battled with depression.  I was on medication.  I got better.  I am better now.  But it is this constant shadow, like a hawk flying high above waiting to swoop in at the slightest quiver of a questing mouse.
  • I want to eventually write a book about my fall, my time at rock bottom, and my eventual come back.  In idle moments I have daydreams of me being interviewed on Ellen, or by Oprah or whoever is big on the talk shows when all this happens.  I can easily picture myself in a room with a projector and lots of people being inspired by my story who all paid $49.95 to hear me talk for 3-4 hours  (I’m much more entertaining in person… LOL)

You get the idea?  We are all like that. Every single person on the planet could come up with a “who am I?” list that is just as mixed up mess as mine.

We are a mish-mash of tiny little “selves” with each self assuming temporary “control” of that larger central core that insists on calling itself “I”  It becomes even more complex when you toss “beliefs” into the mix.  It has been proven that people, human beings, can believe two entirely opposing ideas at the same friggin’ time!

I recommend you read a book called Earth / by David Brin It is one of my very favorite books.  I have a worn out copy of it which I’ve now read at least a dozen times.

This idea of the human mind being made up of lots of tiny selves is recurring theme in the book.  It is a wonderfully written science fiction story that takes trends present in our existing world and projects those social and technological trends forward in time. Brin then tosses in a huge “what if” from out of left field that makes any SciFi fan just swoon with enjoyment, setting them aquiver with excitement about the possibilities.

Regular readers of novels will still find Earth enjoyable, because the “fiction” part of the “science” is all based in real possibilities.  So it can be read just as a cool action novel with interesting characters. Buy it, read it.  You will enjoy it.

So, back to those “tiny sub-selves” — depending on which one of those tiny “selves” is front and center at the moment, which “me” is in the driver’s seat, well you’re going to form different impressions, perhaps coming away with a vastly distorted image of who is “Tony.”

All of us humans are built this way.  When you see one of my “sub-selves,” you are going to do what all of us do, which is make judgements and assessments based on what you see, or in the case of this blog.  What you read.

So, which “hat” do I present to you, …?

…my dear readers?  Well the ones you see most are the:

  • I’m fat, diabetic and trying to lose weight” persona.
  • You also get quite a bit of the dancer persona.
  • There is always a dash of the performer / drama queen persona.
  • A few blog posts ago, and briefly in this one, you got a teeny tiny glimpse of my political persona.  Heads up, because of my new political awareness you might see a bit more of that one going forward – not a lot, but more than in the past.
  • In passing, very briefly, and with very little emphasis, you sometimes get a glance at my gay persona.  For the record, you’re getting more of my gay persona in this one post than from any of my previous posts.

And so on and so on and so on.

The theme of this blog and the determing factor in how much of me you get to see can be summed up in the very name:

 “5-6-7-8: Dancing my Way to a Healthier Me!”

Tah-Dah!  That theme kinda dictates which “me” takes the microphone and for how long.

All those sub-selves only come out of the closet, if I may borrow a turn of phrase, wink wink when one of those “sub-selves” intersect in some way with the main theme, the central “I” of  getting healthy and losing weight and/or dancing.

It is an important question that can NOT be understated!

This is not just a literary exercise.  This question has much broader implications.

On the literary front: one of the things which is important in writing is to “move the story along.”  In each piece there is an introduction, development, and eventual conclusion.

And since this blog’s central topic is “me” and this is a personal story, there is no avoiding the fact that a large chunk of my life will be on display here.

There are some topics that we won’t discuss.  It is a mostly PG rated blog that occasionally brushes up against PG13, so what goes on under the bed sheets is a no-go!  No way, no how.  I ain’t gonna go there!  So some topics are verboten.  As is discussion of certainly icky bodily functions that all humans (and I’m told, on occasions an occasional bear in the woods) does.  I think you get the idea.  This blog is not becoming a “free for all talk about whatever” zone.

BUT…

I have..

I am…

…and I will be talking about my life.  And that has real world impact.  I do not “disappear” when the computer gets turned off and I finish up a blog post.  This is a question that any writer, any actor, any person who steps onto the “public” stage faces at some point.  The question of “What parts of my life do I say are “private” and refuse to discuss them.

I am not the first “public” figure to have to deal with this.  And yes, I’m fully aware that my “public” is very very tiny.  But the basic question is still valid.  Just how “public” do I want to make my life?

The Obama’s, when President Obama, then candidate Obama, started his bid for the White House, made it one THOUSAND percent clear that his daughters were “off limits” to the press.  That other than the occasional family photo or polite human interest piece, that he would not tolerate the press making a spectacle of them.  He went into full out Rambo “protective father mode!” And the press has for the most part have respected his wishes to give those young ladies space and to let them have as normal a life as possible given that their Dad is the President of the friggin’ United States!

So just how much do I share?  And what will that mean when those pesky words and the miles of cables that separate us now are suddenly GONE!

What happens when it comes time for us to interact in the rest of the “real world” rather than on the “Inter-webz”?

When we meet in the flesh, as something other than blogger and blog reader?  How will what I write and say here affect how we interact when we meet.  Will something I say here cause me to loose money when I start teaching again?  Will it cause a judge at a dance competition to grade me just a tenth of a point lower at a critical moment?  Will someone get so ticked off at me that they don’t even say anything but walk up to me and punch me in the face?

Kinda scary when you start to think about it…  …it is my hope that we can act as adults and share experiences and enjoy common interests and leave it at that.  We don’t have to agree on everything.  We just have to agree on some things.  Or a single thing.

Hold on to this idea too…  It is another of those tapestry threads.  It will all come together here soon.  We’re in the home stretch.

But sometime, there’s a revolution and the “I” gets hijacked…

Yesterday.  I crossed the line.  In the back of my head tiny muted alarm bells were going off.  I ignored them.  But they kept getting louder.  And eventually I acted on those alarm bells.

All of us have sides and bits and parts which we shove under the bed and into the metaphorical back bedroom when “company” comes to visit.  In the real world, we hide the dirty dishes under the sink and shove the dirty laundry into the back of the closet until the company leaves.

In interpersonal relationships, we always try to “put our best foot forward” (if you’ll forgive me for using a cliche for the sake of clarity).  We all have those not-so-nice bits.  We wish those bits of ourselves would just stay hidden.  Fortunately, for most of us, they rarely figure out how to pick the lock and drive off with the bus.  But they are always a part of us.

Well, yesterday in my blog post the inmates had the run of the place.  In the midst of writing the post I got side tracked which is pretty normal and part of what I think makes you folks keep coming back and reading, just to see what kind of weird and wacky connections I make in my posts.

But I went on a tirade.  Worse, I went on a BADLY WRITTEN tirade.

I typed it, then I proofed it.  I considered deleting it.  I edited it.  I thought about deleting it. I posted it.  I almost didn’t publish it, but went ahead.  Then I slept on it.  I changed my mind.  And I deleted a huge chunk of it — making the tirade go away and leaving the other bits there.

Twenty people saw it, according to the stats tracker provided by WordPress which is where I host my blog (free of charge for those taking notes — it costs me $36 a year to have the http://txcowboydancer.com domain name — the web hosting is free).

To those 20 people who at least clicked on the post and who MAY have read the tirade, I meant what I said.  Every. Single. Word. So I’m not apologizing for the experience I shared and the emotions I expressed.  Those are valid.  I stand by them.

But I do apologize for mixing it into the middle of a “happy kind of post” and for it being such a rant.  That was an unwarranted kind of  “bait and switch.”  That was not nice of me.  I shouldn’t mix up topics like that.  My bad.

So.  Officially, I’m sorry for the mixing of topics and the bad writing.

Allow me to introduce another of the tiny selves is a “glass half full kind of guy.” He is a regular her on my blog.  In the midst of the maelstrom, he stepped to the plate, in the baseball game in my head.  He took my “oops” yesterday sent my brain into overdrive.  And…

I’ve been thinking some more…

You folks should know by now that this post is serious because I’ve not been putting any of my usual cute images here amongst the text.  (Is “amongst” a real word?  My spell check doesn’t like it.  I think it is a word.  If it isn’t then I plead poetic license — I like it.  I’m keeping it.

This post is all been words.  No pic-shures.  Grown up stuff!  Oh. My!

So… here is the deal.  I think that the topic I went off on yesterday was important.  I think that it is relevant to the main theme of the blog.  But I think I should have presented it better.  And that is why I eventually decided to delete from the yesterday’s post.

But it will appear again and in greater depth and with just as much anger expressed.  I will post it again, cleaned up and written better and using a better selection of those darn pesky words!

And THEN…

I realized that the appearance of that topic marks something REALLY BIG AND IMPORTANT…

My blog is evolving.  GASP

I realized that IF I really do want to tell my story, then I am obligated to include the not-so-nice bits.  I am obligated to express my opinions about the state of the world in which we live.  Because if I don’t do that, then I’m not telling a story which people can believe and to which they can relate.

But some of those bits and sub-selves may not sit well with everyone that reads my posts.

Hold onto that idea.  I’ll get back to it in a moment.  Yeppers, another thread in the tapestry.

Why does someone blog?

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is “why am I doing this?”  Why am I taking the time to share quite frankly some icky details about my life with potentially the whole wide world!

My blog doesn’t get THAT much exposure, but my online presence is growing and will continue to grow.

One of my blog posts caused me to be featured in Diabetes Health Magazine:

Diabetes Health Magazine - 2015-09-18_12-11-35

I have been recently contacted by a film maker working for the Department of Health and Human Services.  He interviewed me to see if I would be a good choice to be included in a short video for publication on YouTube about “Affordable Care Act Success Stories.”  At the end of the interview, he said that the screening process takes several months but he thinks that I would be a good subject and he passed my name and his notes along to his supervisor.

So, that future book and talk show circuit and speaking engagements are not completely pie in the sky daydreams!

Just like mind has lots of tiny inner selves, our external actions are also multi-layered.  No one has a single reason for anything they do.

There are always multiple reasons for doing something.  One or two might be “primary” but there are also a multitude of associated reasons and rationales for acting and speaking, and well, uhmmm… blogging.

Here are some of mine and if you take note, and perhaps compare them to the mental construct you’ve formed of me from this post you’ll see my reasons for blogging line up with a lot of my little “sub-selves”

I actually enjoy writing.

I enjoy using a blog as a way to stay in contact and share bits of my life with far flung friends.  Thanks to dance and the Internet, I literally have friends on every continent except Antarctica.

I enjoy the “spotlight,”  the imagined podium.

Sharing my story helps me keep on track and working toward my goals.

One of those goals is that I want to get healthy again.

Writing helps me focus my thoughts.

A very BIG part of why I’m doing this is very serious and very personal.

I want to share my story because my journey through life, though not unusual, has been rough.  At times, I have been in some horrible places mentally.

If my tale can make a single person out there feel better or feel a bit of hope or at the very least, feel like they are not alone, then it is worth every second of the time I spend on this blog.

Corny? Perhaps, but genuine.

Somewhere recently, I read some snippet of text. — I wish I could remember where I read it because I’d like to credit the author.  He said that the person he was interviewing “viewed his life as a movie.”

Do I think of my life as a “movie?”  No, not really, but it is an interesting concept to play around with.

I do like to be the center of attention.  I like to perform.  I often joke that I’ll “put on a show for an audience of one.”  It is probably one of the reasons I am a good teacher either in a computer class or teaching a line dance. Because while teaching is rewarding in and of itself, I also really really enjoy the performance  which is integral to the act of teaching.  That aspect rrewards the “drama queen” sub-self.

Note: you shouldn’t take any of this too literally.  (Pardon the pun) I am making wild stabs in the dark, trying to use different phrases and images to define for you something that isn’t even too clear in my own head.  See?  We haven’t gone too far astray.  We are back to talking about those darn wonderful and frustrating words!

So, if I had to sum up “Why am I blogging?” in a single sentence I would put it this way:

This blog is a way to help, to entertain, and to perhaps educate other people while talking about my favorite topic:  “Moí”

Which friends, neighbors, my Mom (who occasionally reads this blog), my dance friends, and friends who are actually only “friends” of one of the single tiny inner sub-selves with whom they ONLY interact, well welcome to my blog where a lot of different bits of “Moí” will occasionally surface.

Now I’ve got the REST of you curious about what the hell I deleted from yesterday’s post.  Right?  LOL

Ok, I will NOT go into it in detail.  But I will bring the naughty bad “inner selves” to the front for a moment and name them.  They’ll have their chance to say their piece later at great length.  Have no doubt about that! But here’s the short version:

  • I am a food stamp recipient.  I get a total of $16 per month from the State of Texas.  Only sixteen dollars.
  • I find myself indescribably angry that when I finally reached a point in life where I asked for help from the “state” that the “state” in it’s infinite (yes heavy sarcasm being used here) saw fit to give me $16.
  • I am a liberal and I wish my country was more like those in Western Europe that routinely rank at the top of “citizen happiness” charts.
  • I firmly believe that this country can be a better place than it is.
  • I live in Texas.  I’m a tiny bit of blue in an ocean of red.
  • I am a redhead.  I have a temper.  And boy can it go off sometimes.  Oh. My.  Just ask either of my two “husbands!”  We were not actually married.  It was illegal then. But for all practical purposes, we were married in everything but the actual name.  If we had been of opposite genders, we would have been considered “common law married.”
  • And I believe the social safety net in this country stinks.  Sixteen dollars! per month! (deep breath…  Take deep breaths… good air in… let it go…  I will NOT get sidetracked)

Yes, folks, I went on a tirade — a full throttled rage against the system anger based scream fest.

I went on and on at great and colorful length covering the same ground as what is presented here as simple declarative statements.

— Well mostly simple declarative statements.

And I did it in the middle of a “gee isn’t the world wonderful and full of rainbows and fluffy clouds” post about my improving health and fitness.

And that wasn’t nice of me.

Telling my story…

If my “story” were to be actually to be made into a movie, it would have a pretty straight forward plot:

Man who experienced poverty as a child works hard using his talents to educate himself out of the “Big Thicket” of East Texas, learn skills, hone them and eventually gets a Masters Degree, becoming a professional with a good reputation who on the side finds time to dance his way to eight World Championship Titles.

That would be the first ten minutes.  Then disaster strikes.  He falls.  As far as falling can take you. In health, both physical and mental, in finances, in career.  Boom!  All gone!  You can see his angst and the depths of his despair, but what was a hobby offers a way out… …dance pulls him back.  A brush with a life threatening disease is his wake up call and he uses dance to…”

Well the story isn’t finished yet.  Stay tuned.  But if you’ve seen “Southpaw” you have pretty good idea of how I hope the the plot of my own much less cinematic tale turns out.

When I eventually decided to delete the “tirade” from the middle of the “gee good things are happening to me” post, I almost just left it at that.  After all, only 20 people saw it and I have no idea how many of those folks actually read the lengthy post to get to the middle where the tirade was buried.

Then I thought something rather profound.

Hey, it can happen.  Even to me.  I actually thought “Wow!  That was deep” when I had the “profound” thought.

Stay with me folks, this is a cognitive leap, which for me, because of my personal experiences in life and because of who I am, is an easy and natural connection in my brain, but for you fine folks, I need to lay some ground work to enable you, my stalwart readers, to make the leap with me.

My story, all of my story, even, and perhaps, especially the parts that cause me and my readers discomfort is relevant.  Why?

Because I’m gay.

Huh?  What?

Yeah, I hear everyone going “huh” even through the streaming electrons between thee and me.  I can almost literally feel the scrunched up foreheads among my readers.

Allow me to explain:

A cognitive leap…

Harvey Milk, way back in the day, back when the idea of an “openly elected gay city official” was unheard of, said “Come out!”

At first one or two, then dozens, then thousands, then tens of thousands of gay men and women heeded his call.  Harvey Milk was not only out, but was militantly out and ran for public office and WON a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors which is what San Francisco calls its City Council.  He was out at a time when being openly gay invited abuse both verbal, and physical.  Indeed your life was literally at risk to be an “openly gay man.”

This is why Harvey Milk is considered to be a hero to many LGBT folks.

He had this simple idea: human beings are afraid of the unknown.  And gay people by staying hidden from view out of fear, were scaring the crap out of straight people. Because they didn’t know that they already KNEW gay people!

The boogeyman goes away when the lights come on and you realize that it is just a shirt hanging over the back of the chair, not a huge monster about to eat you.

It can be argued that the reason Gay Marriage is now the law of the land is because of millions of STRAIGHT PEOPLE now have gay friends.  They always had gay friends but until the GAY FRIENDS said “hey, by the way, you know I’m gay right?” those straight people didn’t KNOW they had gay friends.  Once they realized that we shop the same grocery stores, have the same worries about bills and complaints about speed limits and yadda yadda yadda.. Well, once straight people got to realize just how friggin NORMAL and boring gay people are in most areas of our life, well we were not boogeymen any more.  We were neighbors.  We were not monsters.  We are human.

I’m gay.  I’m out.  Part of the reason I was able to come out was because folks like Harvey Milk paved the way.  Someday young gay and lesbian men and women will not have to “come out” because they were never “in.”

So, I have a history behind me which has created this core belief in me:

…that one’s story is kept private, then no one else can benefit from your experiences.

However if a story is shared, it can help other people who may be experiencing similar events in their lives.  And when enough people share their stories and then take those stories and take action, your story combines with other stories it can change the world.

It feels melodramatic when you say it out loud like that, but most core beliefs do when said aloud.

So that’s why I’m telling my story…

Basically, I’ve been through some serious crap in my life, to put it bluntly.  Not as serious as some folks out there but more crap than average.  And I have this knack for writing which, the more I write, well the better that skill becomes.

Some of that “crap” is recent.  Some of it still going on.  And in the deepest corner of all that awfulness, sometimes hearing a single kind word has made, does make all the difference.  Sometimes just knowing that there was/is another person out there who was/is going through what I went through was/is enough to make it bearable.

If my story makes it easier for someone else to deal with hard times then it is worth sharing.  If a single solitary soul out there reads one of my posts and feels a little better in their life then, it is worth it.  If I entertain or amuse or befuddle, well that’s cool.

If it inspires then so much better.

That is what Harvey Milk did.

“Coming Out” as a metaphor

Hopefully you get the connection.

So, because I know how important “baring it all” or “coming out” can be because I’ve done it as a gay man, I fell strongly that “baring it all” in regards to my “story back to fitness and health” is important too because the shared human experience has the power to help and heal.

Even if the bits that get shown are not the shiny bits that you would bring out for company.

So… at some point in the future, I’ll present here on this blog a better written post on the topic of my tirade from yesterday: the story of my encounter with the whole process of getting food stamps because that is part of my story IS about getting healthy again.

And it will be political and opinionated and so on and so on.  But I can promise that it will be better written.  — I just didn’t do a good job of it yesterday.

So, again, to the 20 people that read the badly written tirade yesterday in the middle of the “feel good” piece, well I’m sorry for some sloppy writing.

My blog it is a changin’

The cool thing from my perspective — and hopefully this will tie everything together for you, my patient readers, is that this made me realize:

“My blog is changing” because “I am changing.”

There it is: the completed tapestry.  Hope you’re not too disappointed!  🙂

Back when I first started writing, I would have NEVER considered writing the kind of post I am at this very moment writing. I would have never posted the piece on Bernie Sanders that I did a couple weeks ago.  I would have kept it light and fluffy.

I still plan to do that mostly, keep things light and fluffy, because face it, light and fluffy is way more FUN.  But, I realize that there is a time and a place, even here on my blog where it is OK, even necessary to get a bit serious and to rail at the system and the injustice of it all.

This blog is my personal story of clawing my way out of a very deep hole.  And as I change, well the blog will change right along with me.  I hope that you folks stay with me as the story unfolds.

Will it be…

Entertaining?  Certainly.  Educational?  Perhaps. Not what you get any where else?  Ab-so-friggin-lutely!

So, if you’ve made it down here to the bottom of my blog, I offer a video treat.  I would like to misquote, in grand tradition of misquotes:

” ‘Fasten your seatbelts it’s going to be a bumpy….’  [blog]”

See ya on the dance floor!

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About TxCowboyDancer

Eight time Country Dance World Champion. I love to dance. In the middle of a journey, transforming myself from "unemployed and out-of-shape" to "in-shape and full time dance instructor, writer and graphic artist."

Posted on Thu, Sep 17, 2015, in Dance, Getting Fit, Getting Healthy, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It was during my 4th year as a college student (I did not graduate until my 5th year) that I applied for food stamps, and was almost chewed up by “the system” on the day that I was scheduled to meet with a social worker for an intake appointment. I was scheduled to meet a case worker at 3pm, arrived at 2:30, and was told at 4pm that they would not be able to see me (and about 20 other people), and that I was welcomed to try rescheduling for another time & day. And that they did NOT take walk-ins!

    Needless to say, after my publicly boisterous demand that I meet with a supervisor, and my offer to walk a few blocks to file a formal written complaint with the County Commissioner’s Office, I was able to get approved for $50 of food stamps per month, for which I had to pay $13. That was the same semester that both of my brothers (who were also living off campus at their respective colleges) also applied for & received food stamps.

    Embarrassed by what my relatives might say, the 3 siblings were all totally shocked by my paternal grandpa’s response. . .

    “At least I now know where my taxes are going this year”

    Grandpa knew that food stamps are only a temporary assistance program, and I did receive a job offer that would start about the same time that my food stamp eligibility would lapse. So all was good in the end, since I became a wage earner & tax payer!

    TONY, you are making some big changes in your life, and I have known you for quite a while (back in the days when I lived in Ohio) so I am confident that your need for that $16 per month in food stamps will only be temporary.

    I have been answering surveys for NFO / Carol Adams / MySurvey.com continuously since the mid 1980s, and I have never earned $100 per month for all of my time I spent responding to surveys.

    So hat’s off to you for having the fortitude to keep filling out surveys, and managing to earn more than a few trinkets or entries in lotteries that never yield a winning ticket.

    GARY KLEIN
    “not your average tethered leathered librarian in Salem, Oregon”

    Like

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