Artful Bohemian Mindfuck Flip Tornado

That pretty much sums up the past few weeks. So…I now have a boyfriend, who lives with me. Love at first sight, which I didn’t believe in once upon a time. He’s a gypsy, he’s a singer and musician, a painter, a writer, and he’s a synesthete, like me.  Only we have different types of synesthesia. 

His little sister (who’s also a synesthetic artist) is visiting for the weekend from Fort Worth.  She’s 15, and amazing. I kind of wish the two of us could finish raising her.  She plays the ukelele and has a beautiful singing voice. She’s a feminist, a writer, and an artist. She’s in love with Paul McCartney, and the Beatles. 

It’s 66 degrees out right now – on January 26th. THIS is the beautiful part about living in the Sunbelt, and on the edges of the Southwest, in North Texas. Despite the patio-grill like heat we get about half the year, the “winter” here is mild and mostly uneventful. It’s supposed to be like, 48 tomorrow. #freakout

The windows are open. I bought a lot of groceries earlier. They’re put away now, and I can hear Lionhearted Girl (LG), as I’ll refer to my bf’s sister, in the kitchen making food for us. Dr. Halloween (DH), as I’ll refer to my boyfriend, is at work, making that paper that will help us make our dreams a reality. 

I’m in my room, writing and listening to the sounds of the breeze floating through the windows, disturbing my curtains and Erin Go Bragh flag from their dormancy. I feel like a nap…

Quintessential Sunday afternoon…

This is bliss. At least for now…

I also find myself thinking about the Identity Disturbance that I struggle with. I don’t know if it’s a manifestation of my Anxiety Disorder, or something separate, but it’s a bitch. But I’m dealing. Most of the time, it’s all fine. Once in a while, it’s not.

All in all, excellent day. More to come…

 

Our Society Hates Introverts

Okay, hyperbolic title, you say.  Maybe.  Sorta.  True?  Somewhat.

Okay, hate is a strong word. Perhaps I should say, our society tends to favor extroverted traits. Hell, I’ll let Susan Cain say it better than I can:

I like that she points out up front that introversion is not the same as shyness. I grew up shy, and I do have social anxiety, which may contribute to my natural introversion to some degree.  That said, my introversion may also be informed by the fact that I grew up an only child, in a rural area, and thus, had to entertain myself and develop interests which I could fully immerse myself in, such as writing, drawing, etc.  These are generally solitary pursuits, which I cultivated in hours spent alone in my bedroom.

Being a child of the 80s, there were no cell phones, no internet or social media. There were long summer days spent reading, and long winter nights spent drawing.

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Yup. I’m an introvert, who just happens to have social anxiety issues which cause me to be relatively shy with most people, until a pretty visceral level of comfort develops, if it ever does. I don’t “hate” people, I just dislike being forced to interact with others unless I choose to do so. I prefer my own thoughts, company, etc. generally speaking. As Susan Cain points out, introverts are at our most creative and “switched on” when we’re in the environment that is best suited to fostering those aspects of our selves.

I also happen to be a leader in my workplace, newly appointed to supervise my team. Whoa boy. I feel perfectly capable doing the job, and I do feel like I can be a good motivator and leader for the group. True to form, for me it’s more about developing a relationship with my team through my personal interactions with each member of the team. I much prefer one-on-one interaction to group settings.

For some reason, society deems it better to be outgoing, talkative, assertive, and so forth, than to be inward, quiet, and calm. Perhaps people don’t quite know what to make of someone who keeps to himself and doesn’t feel the need to blather on and boast all the time.  Blah, small talk – don’t even get me started on that one.

For me, a great evening would be a quiet night in by myself, or maybe with a really good friend (at most, two really good friends) with a movie, maybe some wine, some good food.  Just chilling.  I’m a total homebody.  Sure, I did more than mine-and-your-mother’s fair share of partying when I was in my 20s.  But I simply prefer a good Netflix show or a book to a night at the club.  And, here’s the takeaway, readers – that’s perfectly okay.

Sometimes I feel bad for “not getting out more” or some other such nonsense. Introverts shouldn’t shame ourselves, or be shamed by others who may not understand why we enjoy our quiet activities. We should work to foster understanding, by explaining our interests to others, and also by listening to our extrovert friends and loved ones, and trying to understand their interests. And most of all, we shouldn’t really worry about it, or let ourselves be pressured into activities that we aren’t attracted to. Sure, in life, we all have to make compromises sometimes – such as my job role, or going to a friend’s birthday party at a crowded restaurant when we’d really rather be at home with our cat watching Downton Abbey or painting our hallways – whatever. You get the point.

So, if I decline an invite, don’t feel bad.  it’s not you, it’s me.  No, really.

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BEAR Is a Four-Letter-Word

…but not a dirty one. Not anymore, for me, anyway.  
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In case you’re unfamiliar with the LGBT lexicon, (per Wikipedia) In gay culture, a Bear is a large, hairy man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. As a rising subculture in the gay and bisexual male communities, Bears are one of many LGBT communities with events, codes, and a culture-specific identity.

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“Large” is a fairly contentious term, if well-intentioned. Basically, in same-sex parlance, a bear is a non-skinny, generally hairy dude who generally exhibits typical traits associated with masculinity. 

I used to be afraid of this term. I used to deny and run from it. When I was younger, in my twenties, I idolized my thin male friends, and wanted to be one of them. Alas, it was not meant to be. I was furry, and bigger than they were, and I hated it. At the time, I identified as gay, and in the “gay community” there is a visceral idolization of the thin, the tanned, the perfected, the artificial.  I wanted to fit in, I just wasn’t built to do so.

I associated bear with ‘fat guy’. No offense to men who identify as bears and relish the identity. This was really more about my own insecurities with my physical self. I didn’t think of self-identified bears as ‘fat guys’. I just didn’t want anyone to think of me as such. 

Flash forward to my early 30s, and I had gained a great deal of weight, becoming the ‘fat guy’ I so feared being. I’m still a stocky guy, but I have also lost over 100 lbs this year. Funny thing is, I now feel ‘stocky’ to be an accurate descriptor of my physical presence, rather than the ridiculously inappropriate descriptor it was – you’re not really “stocky” when you’re over 350 lbs and have associated health problems. 

Anyway, I digress. Truth is, though, by the standards of the lgbt term “bear”, that’s exactly what I am. I don’t identify with the “bear community” though, per se. I mean, I don’t attend bear pride events or sport the bear flag. Did you know bears have their (our?) own flag?

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Yay bears.  Anyway, so yeah, but one can be something (if one prefers labels, which I generally do not) without being part of said community of something. But I don’t run from or fear the term bear being applied to me. Now, I kind of relish it, actually. I don’t usually refer to myself as one, but I associate the term positively with masculinity, confidence and self-assurance. So yeah, I wouldn’t mind being called a bear.

I think it has to do with a combination of losing weight, and still being a bigger man, but one who is much, much happier with his body than he used to be, and with the wisdom and self-confidence that often comes with age and time. I’ll be 35 on Tuesday, and I’m totally still navigating this crazy world I inhabit, and finding my place within it. 

And that’s okay.

Oh, and GRRRR, Woof, and whatever.

Album Review: ‘The Make Up’ by Dan Paul

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The Make Up, the newest album by Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Dan Paul, is a brooding affair from the Texas native and rising pop star.  That’s not to say it’s all dark and maudlin – far from it. But there is a constant thread of quiet self-reflection. Themes on the album cover familiar territory of love and introspection – lost love, new love, new self-awareness, etc.

On ‘Come Clean’, the lead-off track and recent single, Dan Paul shed’s some skin to a slinking percussive line, setting the tone for this sonic rebirth. The ten songs effectively meld sadness and redemption, without ever feeling mopey. The songs read like entries from a journal that Dan Paul has allowed us to read.

In the title track, he sings “It’s the make-up, not the markers, that make up all of man”, playing with entendre (Dan Paul is an out and proud gay man, and has been known to perform in rock n roll drag) with regard to masks, as well as all the parts of our history from which we’re composed.

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Dan Paul has made a beautiful, simmering pop record that gets better with each listen. The musicianship is subtle yet masterful, never overpowering the message or the vocals. Several tracks, such as the album’s standout cuts “You and Me Right Now” and “A Subtle Casting”, are particularly gorgeous. The latter is stark and sleepy affair that haunts long after the album’s quiet finish.

Standout Tracks: Come Clean, All My Life, Etta James, You and Me Right Now, City Romance, A Subtle Casting

DOWNLOAD the album on iTunes or find it now on Spotify.

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To learn more about Dan Paul, visit him online at:

danpaul.tumblr.com
itunes.com/danpaul
facebook.com/singingmyheartout
lulu.com/spotlight/danpaulroberts
youtube.com/user/SirDanPaul

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2 Week Photo Challenge

So, I decided to do a 14 day photo challenge.  Why not, right?  I am an avid Instagram-er, so I’m always snapping something anyway.

Here’s the whole list, in case you’d like to participate too!

1                   Self-portrait
2                   What I wore today
3                   Clouds/sky
4                   Something green
5                   High angle photo
6                   Low angle photo
7                   Fruit
8                   Bad habit
9                   Someone you love
10                 One of your favorite foods
11                 A picture of your city
12                 Nature
13                 Your favorite shoes
14                 What you’re currently reading

Happy shooting!