Blast from the past: My first ever post


A4A Clipping

There are 107,000 gay guys online at this very moment. But somehow, on a Saturday night, in one of the gayest cities in America, I can’t get a single person to keep meKirk Photo company. Not even a single person to chat online with me. Here’s a picture of me, for the record:

I would certainly date me, to be frank. I’m good looking, good in bed and good to people in general. But I know where my past has caught up to me, and I want to take this moment to bare my soul and let you, whom I don’t even know, get a glimpse into my life and history and see why I’m now inside on a beautiful San Franciscco Saturday night writing a blog, struggling for any meaningful interaction with other people.

I am going to quote another blog article that resonated with me.

Being beautiful is a burden. People look at a beautiful person and have a wealth of stereotypes at their fingertips. Those who are beautiful try in vain to compensate for the connotations attached to their appearance. In the back of their heads, however, there is always one lingering thought, an oft-spoken phrase: you’re nothing but a pretty face.

Beauty creates a strong sense of expectations – attractive people must live attractive lifestyles. But the pressure to constantly perform breaks us down much faster than the aging process. By my late teenage years, I was actively suicidal. I couldn’t perform at the level that people expected of me based on my looks, and it took a strong emotional toll. Why didn’t I have more friends? Why couldn’t I be Funny Quotemore active in the social circuit? Why wasn’t I popular at school? Perhaps, in retrospect, I’m the only one that asked these questions, but they were relevant nonetheless. The more desperately I tried, the more miserably I failed.

It was finally in my early 20s that an opportunity for a real breakthough came about. I was accepted on a full ride scholarship to law school in San Francisco (I lived in Seattle at the time), and I enthusiastically took the school up on that offer. While my undergraduate experience at the University of Washington had certainly been a step in the right direction, socially, nothing prepared me for the whirlwind of activity that was the San Francisco social scene. School, first of all and most importantly, carried the largest social burden, but as a gay male I also felt the need to represent myself in theCastro Flag Castro area. I have to say, I succeeded well, in all areas. I was elected by my entering class of roughly 250 students to represent them in the student body as a second year law student, to coordinate all their social activities. I had grand plans and the support to carry them out. Nothing stood in my way.

Except one thing. I hadn’t been in a serious relationship since age 16, if that one could even be considered serious, because of my abandonment issues. Abandonment = isolation = loneliness = ugly = worthless. Is that how the equation goes? I certainly had no doubt at the time. Nevertheless, I quite riskily embarked on a relationship with a boy around my age, mid twenties, in business school at the same university. We dated for perhaps three months. After that I left for a study abroad program sponsored by the school. We intended to maintain our relationship while I was temporarily abroad, but several weeks in, he called to break up with me while I was stranded in a foreign country. And I simply could not handle the stress. I immediately overdosed, was rushed to the ER, and then medically evacuated back to the US for further psychiatric evaluation. Over the following 24 months, I had no less then 14 additional overdose (OD) attempts. At first, they were related to this incident. Then, if I went out the bars and didn’t get hit on “enough,” I would go home and OD. The standard for what my life was worth dropped exponentially with each passing day, and my doctors were desperate for a solution. So desperate, in fact, that the State of California, on my 14th OD, refused to provide any additional care until I went back home to my parents’ in Seattle and completed mental health treatment there.

Green FairyWhen you’ve already been through the wringer, tried every medication and therapy approach there is to try, by age 26, you start to feel either that you’re invincible for having survived it or that nothing really matters anymore anyways. So when I was offered drugs in exchange for sex, for the first time ever in my life (no, not even weed or cigarettes), I unhesitatingly jumped. Now, two years later, full-blown drug-induced psychosis having taken what was left of my sanity (at least temporarily), rehab having sent me back to the psychiatric ward and The City struggling to help me struggle to make ends meet, I sit at home alone on a Saturday night, wondering how to start over in the process of making friends and getting a new life.

Kirk Rehn
rehn.kirk@gmail.com · 415.799.6248
www.facebook.com/rehn.kirk
· Twitter @sfboy1983

Currently playing in my iTunes:
A State of Trance 2011 CD1 (On the Beach) – Armin van Buuren – A State Of Trance 2011 (mixed by Armin van Buuren)
http://www.last.fm/music/Armin+van+Buuren

Related posts by me or from around the web:

http://thoughtcatalog.com/2011/eye-candy-the-burden-of-beauty/

tweetmeme_url = ‘https://sfboy1983.wordpress.com/?p=19’; tweetmeme_source = ‘artbychancesf’; tweetmeme_service = ‘bit.ly’; tweetmeme_hashtags = ‘abstractart,sf’;

Gone boy


Hello, are you there?
Cause I see in your eyes that you don’t care
All I’m asking is that you treat me fair
Do you dare?

Because,
I came to you in my hour of need
Looking, longing for a love between
I had to have you, don’t you see?
Abandoned, I threw myself at your mercy, made it your choice to take me or leave me
But I couldn’t just let myself be
There was no choice, no other way
I needed you that day

But – I see this now – there was something you needed too
There was something that you needed me to do
You needed a warm body by your side
You needed a person to put yourself inside
You needed to own me, even if I would die
Even better if you could make me cry
You knew I wasn’t strong enough to say goodbye

So when I asked for your love, you said yes
Let me guess
Was it because you knew all along? Did you need to make yourself feel strong?
What was it that you felt, in those days long gone?
What did you want from me, to sing you a fucking lullaby song?
Or just be a body that you could piss on

My beating heart I gave to you
My body I gave up for you
But you cursed it all
You saw me as nothing but a rag doll, while I was curled up into a ball, for you to give your all, please just let me fall, so I can heed the call, break down the wall, walk that long hall to heaven, or am I now doomed to hell?
My loving heart, you mangled
My virgin soul, you strangled
I felt betrayed, my innocence destroyed
Because while I lay there crying, lay there dying, you were with some other boy
To you I was nothing but a toy, molded by your hands into a puppet with which you could play
That was my bleeding heart you mangled that day
This toy is a real boy, but you’ll never care, you’ll never dare, to see me as a man, as an equal, oh that’s rich
You just see me as your bitch
You’d rather see me dead, hitched to a hearse that drags me into a ditch

I’ve cried all my tears
You’ve ruined so many years
Never to be lived again
Why did you beat me?
Why did you need me?
You needed a priest, to confess all your sins
All that evil you held within
Even an exorcism couldn’t rob you of the devil you possessed
You were a monster, to me and all the rest
So many souls wounded, scattered to the dark, far corners of the earth, not that it matters
No one left to show them mercy
No one left to show them love
Like me, the only solace can come from above
Where there is no God
The battle between good and evil is done, so it was said
It must have been, because you left me for dead
All those nights that I shared your bed
All for naught, just when I thought that we would be wed
Oh you played vicious games with my head

I was such a fool, late to come around
You let me down
In a high stakes game of risk
All you wanted was my dick
But I gave to you my all
My mind, my soul, my body, those things you treated like a doll
Barren, battered and abused
Because of you I was completely subdued

And I was dead inside
You lacked the decency to even bury me alive, wide eyed, watching the world pass me by
I was dying, didn’t you see?
You fucked with my head, kept me chained to that bed
Words of contempt were all I was fed
I loved you, but I couldn’t get through to you,
I was a stranger to you
You, who fucked around with so many men,
You, who beat me nightly, calling me the whore
Oh, no more
I gave you my all
I’ve paid my damn fee
Just let me be

I wasn’t the whore you said I was
No it was you who was the whore, renting me out like a pimp does
to the girls he sees as flesh, not human, just a name upon which he could claim his fame (and his fee)
As long as the clients came
As long as his girls came (oh honey, they could play that game)
He would mark his name
On each breast, sealing his ownership
Of those pieces of filth upon which he exists
Worse than him, though, you weren’t content until I was writhing in pain
Suffering the agony of the cross in silence, my body being maimed
Fuck you, oh so righteous
Putting me in my place
Throwing salt on my wounds and in my face
Cutting me open, just to see my blood
Just to enjoy that agony, just to release those black doves
To know that you made me, you saved me, you loved me, you cursed me
Oh couldn’t you see?
I just wanted to live a life that was ours
Carefree, having fun, making love under the moon and the light of the stars

I let you fuck me anytime
Because I thought you were mine
I didn’t know you had so many others
I didn’t know you’d whore me out, just like you did your mother
All the times that I felt pain
All the blood and tears shed in my name
All the times I cried out for help, just a little whelp
Suffering
Suffocating
You said I’d be fine
You used me like a whore at a five-and-dime
But, oh God, even if I could take back time, I’d still make you mine, I’d still like to dine, enjoy fine wine, pretend that our love still exists, just for a bit

But now I’m not fine, no, I’m not
But fuck it, I’m all that I’ve got
I know you don’t care whether I make it or not
But I survived without you, so go to hell
I clawed my way out from under your spell
My dignity had long ago died
But my spirit always survived
I knew I could, and I knew I would, escape you somehow, someday, some way
Your brutal fists, even in the light of day
Your cruel words, tossed out like you were pitching hay
What were you thinking,
All those times that we fought?
What were you doing with that flesh that you got?
But you couldn’t put out the fire on my heart, it burns red hot
Burning me, burning you, burning the mirage of an image that we’re not
We’re not a model couple, God help me if we are
You’re nothing but a drunk, stumbling home from the bar
This time, you’ve gone too far

How could love be so cruel?, I want to know
How come black ravens ravished the garden where red roses were supposed to grow?
You never wanted me, no, you needed me
Like a sock puppet you could play with at will
Like a whore you could abuse without regret, never paying the bill
You became a monster, not the man that I met
Back in the day, when our lives were gay, and I had my heart set

And so I gave myself
And now I’m running to save myself
Life goes on, they say, even when you’re gone
Oh I hope you’re gone
There’s room in that ditch for you too
Now you know what it’s like to kill yourself, don’t you
I hope you enjoy being six feet under, I’m not jealous of the view
See you in the life hereafter, my boo

So I will go on
And I will be strong
I don’t know if life is worth living
But I wasn’t going to die for you
I’ll find out for myself what life is all about, of that I have no doubt
I’ll think of you, but I won’t pray for you
In my heart, you’re already gone

City by the Bay


Put on my game face, say hello to another day
Plaster on a smile, say hey
To the man on the street, pissing his life away
Wait, that’s me, I’ve fallen a long way
All I’ve got to say
Is
Just make it another day, in the City by the Bay

Cause I’m not ok, no
Forlorn and alone
Supplicate myself to the one who knows
Cause on the other side, the grass grows
Greener
So I’ve been told

Am I too old?

Life passed me by, a train in the dark
Fuck that, I live my life on a lark
On pins and needles, dodging dogs that bark
But the one thing hurting is my heart

Where is the kid I once was?
Covered in blood

What happened to my youth?
Taken away, in a coup
My darkness overtaking my life
Dooming me to nothing but a life of strife
Of bloodshed, of dying, yeah, that’s right

I am greater than death, so it seems
To my body, I’m nothing but mean
Reflecting the world, reckless in greed
And bloodlust
Ravaging my soul, digging a hole
To throw my body in
Just another day on the dole

Death, please take me! I pray in suffering
But vengeful Death wants more suffering
Throwing myself on the floor, outside his door, supplicating
Please, end the suffering!

I’ve seen too much
Seen the secrets of death and such
Is not meant to be known to mere mortals,
I’ve seen the darkness of hell
Right where I fell
Comatose, at the place I dwell

What can I say? It’s just another fucking day
Plaster on my smile, say hey
To myself, on the streets, pissing my life away
No one left to inveigh for a better today
No one to care at all
So I fall
Drifting down to hell, I whisper the secrets that I’m not meant to tell

The grass is greener on the other side

Come with me, throw all your cares away
Far, far away
Jump, leap, dash, run, hurry the hole to hell is closing up
Don’t be a sitting duck
We are the survivors of this mortal earth
Take us down into the dirt
And cover us with green, green grass

Cause I’m not ok, no
But no one’s left to care
No one gives a damn to dare
To wish on a young boy, let his life be shared
Let his life be saved
So that you may
Count him among your blessings
One saved, today

Sweet hell
Here I come
Riding the crystal fairy down the abyss
There’s not a thing that I’ll miss
Forgive me dear world,
But you’ve done this to me
Depression, drugs, now death
What’s left?
Have you no pity, no sorrow, no fear or knowledge of what’s best?
Condemn me while waltzing away to the door
That smile plastered on my face, covering up a sophisticated whore
Dance with me
Just once more

#mylifematters Part VIII


Three little words changed my life, forever. You’d think that, just coming off a suicide spree, as I’ve affectionately named the preceding portion of my life, one would naturally turn to larger questions: What is life? What is the meaning of life? Why have I been chosen to live life, instead of succumbing to death? Any of these questions would be perfectly rational. Prisoners have converted for lesser sins. But I’m a proud atheist. Decoding that, actually, was the first moment of freedom I’d ever felt in my entire life. I was no longer in bondage, no longer a slave, no longer subordinate, no longer living in fear, no longer praying so many unanswered prayers, no more religion, with all its trappings that just cover up what it’s all about: profiting off fear, easing the masses, making social policy the role of the church, not the government. All of these churches have successfully done for millenia. The Catholic Church, especially, so enduring an institution, one wonders at times if they should be Catholic just to see what the fuss was about. Fuss is an appropriate word for catholicism. I was raised in a simple church with simple beliefs, closer to Quakers than Catholicism. Our church wasn’t even called a church, it was known as a “meeting hall.” This, supposedly, ensured that there was no single preacher to dominate the congregation, but rather that each member would contribute their share to enrich the general welfare, the general spirit, the general knowledge. It worked, to an extent, like one would expect any focus group to work. And, undoubtedly, the award of salvation is a strong motivation to exert oneself and exhort oneself to praising God. If that wasn’t sufficient, the punitive measures taken against congregation members who stepped out of line effectively beat us into submission. We saw that earlier with my mother. No, we were far removed from catholicism, with its Idol worship, its trapping, its preaching, its exhortations against sin, its removal of the gospel from the trust of the laity into the hands of an omniscient priest. That last part, particularly, stuck in the craw of my church. We had such a heavily footnoted Bible that it seemed like it was our duty to interpret and understand the Word of God. That was no matter to be left to be interpreted for us. No matter that the footnotes and copious extraneous works were, in fact, our Gospel, treated with more respect and reverence than the Bible itself. We were blindfolded, tricked into believing that we held the power of knowledge, but really, we were powerless. We could be talked into anything so long as there was a de minimus justification. I can’t stress enough the power of brainwashing. The catholics had tried it, during the dark ages, but we’re ultimately unsuccessful. Ironic, really, that our church praised Luther and Guttenberg for bringing the Word to the masses, when, ultimately, we took over the interpretation, so that access to the text was a prerequisite for understanding but not sufficient for understanding. In fact, it was heretical to make up our own interpretation of verse. Those matters were done for us. I love to relate the story, not that I know much detail, about how a young couple entered the flock, as it were, and were so surrounded with doctrine and preaching and worship and lifestyles that they, smartly, fled, and in the process, sued the church for brainwashing. I envy them. They saw, so much earlier than I, what a fraud the church was, what a fraud the concept of God was, what an abomination that hierarchical structures could breed such dependence and obedience, in the name of enlightenment! Well, anyways, the church quite handily had a fund available to settle such lawsuits, and the matter was dropped. I have no idea how many other people were paid off to keep quiet. How revolting. So, yes, the day I realized that God didn’t exist was a moment of true freedom, and would profoundly affect my life by allowing the choice and power to determine my own values and standards, with great deference to philosophical giants, to the power of Logic, but, ultimately, it was my choice and my decision alone. There are, I strongly believe, certain Hobbesian rules and principles that no man can run afoul of, such as murdered, without bring society back into a stats of nature, which was so “nasty, brutish and short” that no man could desire it, in fact, that every effort would be made to maintain a society in order to avoid devolution into the state of nature. Religion, for many, handily played the role of organizing mankind and providing a common enemy, the devil, which is always effective for holding disparate groups together. Like a nation losing its grip on its populace, the mere invocation of an enemy that would destroy us all gives rise to a sudden, strong sense of nationality, of civic pride. Hitler knew this, and the Nazis were one of the finest examples of how any group of people can be held together by banding them against other groups: Jews, gays, communists. Simply declare those an abomination, and you suddenly held the power to take over the world. Anyways, religion, as it were, is simply the opiate of the masses, the drug we’re fed to keep us subservient. I’m not a radical,  not recommending overthrow of government, in fact, I love government. Strong government is the best antidote to religion, by providing a sense of belonging and community without invoking unnatural spirits and ghostly beings. Government is truly an atheist institution; it is the refutation of this principle that causes so much strife and warfare. Our own forefathers saw this, that there must be separation of church and state. But we never learn, and those who don’t learn are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past. So it is.

Rambling as that may have sounded, I intended it to highlight how important this next event was, so important that even God had no power to intervene.

It started so simply. I was up in Seattle, after my parents had hauled me home, and was living with a friend, Frank, in a wooden boat moored at Lake Union. It wasn’t a houseboat, those were sneered upon, nor one of those flimsy plastic shells people so love to revere, but rather an original wooden boat, two cabins, two bath, galley, living room and dining area, all below deck, and a large and spacious upper deck that proved quite sufficient to hold even the largest parties. Frank was, frankly, conservative and religious, but the  topics of homosexuality and religion never came up, so we were able to forge a relationship anyways. So it was that I was up in Seattle, having hauled my laundry by bike from the dock to the laundromat a mile away, and I was just sitting there in the lobby waiting for my laundry to buzz. It was a beautiful summer day in Seattle, the kind of warm, sunny day, with rays of light glistening and sparkling in the water, with green, soft grass and just a hint of a breeze, the kind of day that makes Seattle worth living in the rest of the dreary, rainy, gray year. I was, like I said, doing my laundry, playing on my phone, killing time. Well, not “playing” exactly, more like cruising. I was on the mobile version of Adam4Adam, which I think I mentioned before as being the new gay.com, although that still existed. This new site allowed you to choose individual pictures of guys in the same neighborhood as you, and strike up a conversation. Their profile would already list their age, height, weight, body build, hair color, and, conveniently, sexual preferences, including whether they wore protection. Despite all the trappings of providing a “social forum” for gay men, it was, in all respects, a sec site, a hook up site, a site where sex was the first and last thing on every mind of every guy in every profile picture. This predated Grindr, which took the same concept but made it location based by GPS. Phones capable of that weren’t ubiquitous back in the day (Oh how I’m dating myself), so the best we had was what the person listed as their neighborhood. This worked until everyone realized you could only seen other members in the same neighborhood; it wasn’t long before every profile listed “Capital Hill,” the gay part of town, whether that person lived within striking range or not. So it wasn’t always easy to find someone that was literally in the same neighborhood. I suppose that’s asking a lot, to have a cute guy in the same neighborhood, online at the same time as you, looking for all the things you’re looking for and having all the qualities that you find attractive and, conveniently, lived right next door. Straight people don’t expect so much. In fact, there’s a comic expression of “s/he was the One for me,” as if the location didn’t matter. So convenient that most people found their “One” often within the same area code, and looking a lot like them (racially, at least). I find myself sidetracked again. Because the point of this was to say that I was cruising for sex online, on my phone, while I was waiting for the mundane task of laundry to finish so I could go have some fun and enjoy this very pleasant day.

Generally, I was fairly successful online, meaning that I usually was able to find a guy I liked, nearby, that liked me too and wanted to meet. Well, fuck, actually, but once in a while there was coffee involved. So, at this time, there was  certain guy I was talking to, trading innuendos back and forth, hunting without saying that we found each other attractive. Finally, it came right down to it. He invited me over. I said yes. Now, here come the three little, innocuous, innocent even, words that changed my life forever. His next message: “do u party?” Aside from the glaring observation that he couldn’t be bothered to type out the word “you” was the equally glaring observation that this wasn’t a well formed sentence of the English language. “Party” was being used as a verb, not an adverb or pronoun, not a “party” like an event that people attend, not a “party” like being a “party boy” that lived for the gay clubs. Not, just the word “party,” as an action in itself. It didn’t actually catch my attention as much as I just made it seem; there was just enough unusual about it, though, that I followed up with something like “I like parties.” It’s true, I did love a good party. His response: “do you know what party means?” Well, let’s not drag it out here, just tell me! My response: “obviously not in the same sense as you’re using,” or something to that extent. The response came a few minutes later, as if he was formulating just the right definition, just the right choice of words, to explain his intentions. Finally, the reply came back: “it means Tina.”

Let break for a second to process. Some of you may be street savvy and quite familiar with this term. Others, like me, had never heard it before. I mean, I knew Tina Turner, and Christina Aguilera, if you wanted to stretch the usage of the word, but I’d never heard of something called “Tina,” as an object, a thing, maybe even an event but certainly not referring to a person or place. Vaguely, truthfully I knew what was up. I knew, without knowing, that he was offering me the chance, for the first time, to experience drugs. There, I said it. He wanted to do drugs with me. I didn’t know what “tina” was, but I understood what he was proposing.

Let’s back up another step. I was a good kid, followed all the rules, made good friends, made smart choices, excelled at academics, yes, even we to church, for a while at least. I wore khakis, not jeans, polos and button-downs, not t-shirts, parted my hair to the side, not up in a Mohawk or messed up in a bowl cut, both of which were popular. No, I defied style and expectations and dressed my own way. Actually, I dressed the way the church wanted me to dress. And if I didn’t dress that way, not only would my parents find out, but one of various “monitors” might discover and report me. You see, the church kept certain people at certain schools and provided oversight to those students by strategically placed members of the congregation. In fact, there was very little you could do that was not under the watchful eye of the church. One guy, young adult I suppose, had an affair in Mexico, and the church found out and disciplined or expelled him. How they discovered that information  is completely beyond me, but it did mean that I’d better watch my back around town. So, I was a good kid. Even when I left the flock, so it was called, I still performed well academically and socially, proof enough, for me, that religion wasn’t  necessary to the proper function of every day life. Even down in San Francisco, although my morals tipped a little, I was still a good kid, at least in comparison to the lifestyles I encountered. So, when  a good kid is offered drugs, by a stranger, that good kid should be mindful of his upbringing and resist the offer, maybe even calling the police in the process to arrest this drug dealer. That’s what  good kid should have done. That’s not what I did.

Remember, I was fresh off my suicide spree. I still wasn’t happy in life. I had tried, at this point, potentially every single combination of antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety agents and God knows what else. Point is, I’d tried it, and it failed me. Why do I say that? Well, someone who is not depressed does not attempt, thirteen times, to kill themselves. Obviously, I was not happy, and the medication wasn’t helping. So here I was, in pain, depressed, anxious, unhappy and miserable, not knowing what to do or where to go to find relief. I just knew that salvation did not lie at the bottom of a bottle of pills. I’d tried that. So where did it lie? Well, I was being given an opportunity to find out, at least rule out drugs, and I was going to seize the chance. Nothing could possibly make my life any worse, so there was no harm, no foul. And if things improved for me, praise be Jesus, or drugs, as it were. So, I said yes, I’d come party. I finished my laundry, hopped on my bike, huffed and puffed up the backside of Capital Hill, and made my way to his place. You know, I can’t remember his name. What I do remember was what happened.

pop more pills
feel the chill
live the rush
die 
just a crush

an addiction, all my own; a lifestyle, one I chose
may I get another? 
life, I mean
this one doesn’t go down easy

a flicker, flame, beacon in the dark
a spoon, a pipe, doing it on a lark
who hurts when I fall? 
not I
not I at all

a bottle in front of me
a decision to be made
do I take the medicine? 
or swallow the poison pill? 
isn’t that really what I’ve been doing all along?

alice
see through the looking glass
can you still fit through that door? 
has life become just a chore?

drink the potion, my sweet
lie down beneath these sheets
when it’s over it’ll all be over
when it’s done your time has come

hanging on, not letting go
I want to feel the thrill
again
of life
beyond the pipe

I want to feel the rush
of waking, flush
with life

it cuts like a knife

slit your wrists
smoke a bowl
live or die, who’s to care?
who’s to hurt? 
not you, not I

alice fits through the door again
I am ready to embrace this sin
falling out, falling in
sodomy between me
and my pipe
outrage
pathetic

poetic

like a pill about to crush
like the damned who live for the rush
I take my pills
and live the thrill

and
I die
alone
needle in my arm
pills strewn around
who’s to care? who’s to know?
I just wanted to go
through the looking glass, again

-Alice Falls, personal writings, 2014

In this part we see, aside from my deep antipathy towards the church and religion, the first moments, indeed, the critical moment, when I said yes to drugs. I’ll flesh that out in the next chapter. This is getting harder to write as the memories become fresher yet more cloudy. Pun intended. You’ll see.

Before we go forward, I want to be absolutely clear. This is an essay on my life, which includes drug addiction. I neither condemn nor condone drug use. These are individual choices. I won’t sugarcoat the truth, but neither will I pretend that some of the highs, as well as lows, didn’t exist. Love, they say, is a many splendored thing. I aim to show, in a brutally honest fashion, why I made the choice to continue to use, what the effects were – physically, mentally and socially – and what it did to my life, and, for some of you, your lives. Some of you had no idea I was high, there was just something not quite right. Others of you knew, and judged, and ostracized. I’m not upset about that. Drugs are scary and sometimes the only proper reaction is to place some distance between yourself and the situation. What I hope to get across, though, is that I changed, I let the drug change me, but maybe, just maybe, there’s some recognizable part of me left inside this machinery of death. I want to know whether that’s true. I don’t have any answers. I’m going to let you read and see what happened and reach your own conclusions. I’m not looking for sympathy, though I’m certainly not hoping for antipathy; I want, to the extent that one who has never done drugs can, go give insight and provide a platform for understanding. No one lightly chooses drugs, especially, most particularly, not this one. There’s a reason, a good reason, why I chose to subject myself to hell. You see, there’s a little slice of heaven inside hell, and sometimes, sometimes you’re lucky enough to see it, touch it, feel it, caress it, before it’s all taken away again, leaving you in an abyss of emptiness, but never giving up hope that you’ll one day, once again find that slice of heaven. 

#mylifematters Part VIII


Three little words changed my life, forever. You’d think that, just coming off a suicide spree, as I’ve affectionately named the preceding portion of my life, one would naturally turn to larger questions: What is life? What is the meaning of life? Why have I been chosen to live life, instead of succumbing to death? Any of these questions would be perfectly rational. Prisoners have converted for lesser sins. But I’m a proud atheist. Decoding that, actually, was the first moment of freedom I’d ever felt in my entire life. I was no longer in bondage, no longer a slave, no longer subordinate, no longer living in fear, no longer praying so many unanswered prayers, no more religion, with all its trappings that just cover up what it’s all about: profiting off fear, easing the masses, making social policy the role of the church, not the government. All of these churches have successfully done for millenia. The Catholic Church, especially, so enduring an institution, one wonders at times if they should be Catholic just to see what the fuss was about. Fuss is an appropriate word for catholicism. I was raised in a simple church with simple beliefs, closer to Quakers than Catholicism. Our church wasn’t even called a church, it was known as a “meeting hall.” This, supposedly, ensured that there was no single preacher to dominate the congregation, but rather that each member would contribute their share to enrich the general welfare, the general spirit, the general knowledge. It worked, to an extent, like one would expect any focus group to work. And, undoubtedly, the award of salvation is a strong motivation to exert oneself and exhort oneself to praising God. If that wasn’t sufficient, the punitive measures taken against congregation members who stepped out of line effectively beat us into submission. We saw that earlier with my mother. No, we were far removed from catholicism, with its Idol worship, its trapping, its preaching, its exhortations against sin, its removal of the gospel from the trust of the laity into the hands of an omniscient priest. That last part, particularly, stuck in the craw of my church. We had such a heavily footnoted Bible that it seemed like it was our duty to interpret and understand the Word of God. That was no matter to be left to be interpreted for us. No matter that the footnotes and copious extraneous works were, in fact, our Gospel, treated with more respect and reverence than the Bible itself. We were blindfolded, tricked into believing that we held the power of knowledge, but really, we were powerless. We could be talked into anything so long as there was a de minimus justification. I can’t stress enough the power of brainwashing. The catholics had tried it, during the dark ages, but we’re ultimately unsuccessful. Ironic, really, that our church praised Luther and Guttenberg for bringing the Word to the masses, when, ultimately, we took over the interpretation, so that access to the text was a prerequisite for understanding but not sufficient for understanding. In fact, it was heretical to make up our own interpretation of verse. Those matters were done for us. I love to relate the story, not that I know much detail, about how a young couple entered the flock, as it were, and were so surrounded with doctrine and preaching and worship and lifestyles that they, smartly, fled, and in the process, sued the church for brainwashing. I envy them. They saw, so much earlier than I, what a fraud the church was, what a fraud the concept of God was, what an abomination that hierarchical structures could breed such dependence and obedience, in the name of enlightenment! Well, anyways, the church quite handily had a fund available to settle such lawsuits, and the matter was dropped. I have no idea how many other people were paid off to keep quiet. How revolting. So, yes, the day I realized that God didn’t exist was a moment of true freedom, and would profoundly affect my life by allowing the choice and power to determine my own values and standards, with great deference to philosophical giants, to the power of Logic, but, ultimately, it was my choice and my decision alone. There are, I strongly believe, certain Hobbesian rules and principles that no man can run afoul of, such as murdered, without bring society back into a stats of nature, which was so “nasty, brutish and short” that no man could desire it, in fact, that every effort would be made to maintain a society in order to avoid devolution into the state of nature. Religion, for many, handily played the role of organizing mankind and providing a common enemy, the devil, which is always effective for holding disparate groups together. Like a nation losing its grip on its populace, the mere invocation of an enemy that would destroy us all gives rise to a sudden, strong sense of nationality, of civic pride. Hitler knew this, and the Nazis were one of the finest examples of how any group of people can be held together by banding them against other groups: Jews, gays, communists. Simply declare those an abomination, and you suddenly held the power to take over the world. Anyways, religion, as it were, is simply the opiate of the masses, the drug we’re fed to keep us subservient. I’m not a radical,  not recommending overthrow of government, in fact, I love government. Strong government is the best antidote to religion, by providing a sense of belonging and community without invoking unnatural spirits and ghostly beings. Government is truly an atheist institution; it is the refutation of this principle that causes so much strife and warfare. Our own forefathers saw this, that there must be separation of church and state. But we never learn, and those who don’t learn are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past. So it is.

Rambling as that may have sounded, I intended it to highlight how important this next event was, so important that even God had no power to intervene.

It started so simply. I was up in Seattle, after my parents had hauled me home, and was living with a friend, Frank, in a wooden boat moored at Lake Union. It wasn’t a houseboat, those were sneered upon, nor one of those flimsy plastic shells people so love to revere, but rather an original wooden boat, two cabins, two bath, galley, living room and dining area, all below deck, and a large and spacious upper deck that proved quite sufficient to hold even the largest parties. Frank was, frankly, conservative and religious, but the  topics of homosexuality and religion never came up, so we were able to forge a relationship anyways. So it was that I was up in Seattle, having hauled my laundry by bike from the dock to the laundromat a mile away, and I was just sitting there in the lobby waiting for my laundry to buzz. It was a beautiful summer day in Seattle, the kind of warm, sunny day, with rays of light glistening and sparkling in the water, with green, soft grass and just a hint of a breeze, the kind of day that makes Seattle worth living in the rest of the dreary, rainy, gray year. I was, like I said, doing my laundry, playing on my phone, killing time. Well, not “playing” exactly, more like cruising. I was on the mobile version of Adam4Adam, which I think I mentioned before as being the new gay.com, although that still existed. This new site allowed you to choose individual pictures of guys in the same neighborhood as you, and strike up a conversation. Their profile would already list their age, height, weight, body build, hair color, and, conveniently, sexual preferences, including whether they wore protection. Despite all the trappings of providing a “social forum” for gay men, it was, in all respects, a sec site, a hook up site, a site where sex was the first and last thing on every mind of every guy in every profile picture. This predated Grindr, which took the same concept but made it location based by GPS. Phones capable of that weren’t ubiquitous back in the day (Oh how I’m dating myself), so the best we had was what the person listed as their neighborhood. This worked until everyone realized you could only seen other members in the same neighborhood; it wasn’t long before every profile listed “Capital Hill,” the gay part of town, whether that person lived within striking range or not. So it wasn’t always easy to find someone that was literally in the same neighborhood. I suppose that’s asking a lot, to have a cute guy in the same neighborhood, online at the same time as you, looking for all the things you’re looking for and having all the qualities that you find attractive and, conveniently, lived right next door. Straight people don’t expect so much. In fact, there’s a comic expression of “s/he was the One for me,” as if the location didn’t matter. So convenient that most people found their “One” often within the same area code, and looking a lot like them (racially, at least). I find myself sidetracked again. Because the point of this was to say that I was cruising for sex online, on my phone, while I was waiting for the mundane task of laundry to finish so I could go have some fun and enjoy this very pleasant day.

Generally, I was fairly successful online, meaning that I usually was able to find a guy I liked, nearby, that liked me too and wanted to meet. Well, fuck, actually, but once in a while there was coffee involved. So, at this time, there was  certain guy I was talking to, trading innuendos back and forth, hunting without saying that we found each other attractive. Finally, it came right down to it. He invited me over. I said yes. Now, here come the three little, innocuous, innocent even, words that changed my life forever. His next message: “do u party?” Aside from the glaring observation that he couldn’t be bothered to type out the word “you” was the equally glaring observation that this wasn’t a well formed sentence of the English language. “Party” was being used as a verb, not an adverb or pronoun, not a “party” like an event that people attend, not a “party” like being a “party boy” that lived for the gay clubs. Not, just the word “party,” as an action in itself. It didn’t actually catch my attention as much as I just made it seem; there was just enough unusual about it, though, that I followed up with something like “I like parties.” It’s true, I did love a good party. His response: “do you know what party means?” Well, let’s not drag it out here, just tell me! My response: “obviously not in the same sense as you’re using,” or something to that extent. The response came a few minutes later, as if he was formulating just the right definition, just the right choice of words, to explain his intentions. Finally, the reply came back: “it means Tina.”

Let break for a second to process. Some of you may be street savvy and quite familiar with this term. Others, like me, had never heard it before. I mean, I knew Tina Turner, and Christina Aguilera, if you wanted to stretch the usage of the word, but I’d never heard of something called “Tina,” as an object, a thing, maybe even an event but certainly not referring to a person or place. Vaguely, truthfully I knew what was up. I knew, without knowing, that he was offering me the chance, for the first time, to experience drugs. There, I said it. He wanted to do drugs with me. I didn’t know what “tina” was, but I understood what he was proposing.

Let’s back up another step. I was a good kid, followed all the rules, made good friends, made smart choices, excelled at academics, yes, even we to church, for a while at least. I wore khakis, not jeans, polos and button-downs, not t-shirts, parted my hair to the side, not up in a Mohawk or messed up in a bowl cut, both of which were popular. No, I defied style and expectations and dressed my own way. Actually, I dressed the way the church wanted me to dress. And if I didn’t dress that way, not only would my parents find out, but one of various “monitors” might discover and report me. You see, the church kept certain people at certain schools and provided oversight to those students by strategically placed members of the congregation. In fact, there was very little you could do that was not under the watchful eye of the church. One guy, young adult I suppose, had an affair in Mexico, and the church found out and disciplined or expelled him. How they discovered that information  is completely beyond me, but it did mean that I’d better watch my back around town. So, I was a good kid. Even when I left the flock, so it was called, I still performed well academically and socially, proof enough, for me, that religion wasn’t  necessary to the proper function of every day life. Even down in San Francisco, although my morals tipped a little, I was still a good kid, at least in comparison to the lifestyles I encountered. So, when  a good kid is offered drugs, by a stranger, that good kid should be mindful of his upbringing and resist the offer, maybe even calling the police in the process to arrest this drug dealer. That’s what  good kid should have done. That’s not what I did.

Remember, I was fresh off my suicide spree. I still wasn’t happy in life. I had tried, at this point, potentially every single combination of antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety agents and God knows what else. Point is, I’d tried it, and it failed me. Why do I say that? Well, someone who is not depressed does not attempt, thirteen times, to kill themselves. Obviously, I was not happy, and the medication wasn’t helping. So here I was, in pain, depressed, anxious, unhappy and miserable, not knowing what to do or where to go to find relief. I just knew that salvation did not lie at the bottom of a bottle of pills. I’d tried that. So where did it lie? Well, I was being given an opportunity to find out, at least rule out drugs, and I was going to seize the chance. Nothing could possibly make my life any worse, so there was no harm, no foul. And if things improved for me, praise be Jesus, or drugs, as it were. So, I said yes, I’d come party. I finished my laundry, hopped on my bike, huffed and puffed up the backside of Capital Hill, and made my way to his place. You know, I can’t remember his name. What I do remember was what happened.

pop more pills
feel the chill
live the rush
die 
just a crush

an addiction, all my own; a lifestyle, one I chose
may I get another? 
life, I mean
this one doesn’t go down easy

a flicker, flame, beacon in the dark
a spoon, a pipe, doing it on a lark
who hurts when I fall? 
not I
not I at all

a bottle in front of me
a decision to be made
do I take the medicine? 
or swallow the poison pill? 
isn’t that really what I’ve been doing all along?

alice
see through the looking glass
can you still fit through that door? 
has life become just a chore?

drink the potion, my sweet
lie down beneath these sheets
when it’s over it’ll all be over
when it’s done your time has come

hanging on, not letting go
I want to feel the thrill
again
of life
beyond the pipe

I want to feel the rush
of waking, flush
with life

it cuts like a knife

slit your wrists
smoke a bowl
live or die, who’s to care?
who’s to hurt? 
not you, not I

alice fits through the door again
I am ready to embrace this sin
falling out, falling in
sodomy between me
and my pipe
outrage
pathetic

poetic

like a pill about to crush
like the damned who live for the rush
I take my pills
and live the thrill

and
I die
alone
needle in my arm
pills strewn around
who’s to care? who’s to know?
I just wanted to go
through the looking glass, again

-Alice Falls, personal writings, 2014

In this part we see, aside from my deep antipathy towards the church and religion, the first moments, indeed, the critical moment, when I said yes to drugs. I’ll flesh that out in the next chapter. This is getting harder to write as the memories become fresher yet more cloudy. Pun intended. You’ll see.

Before we go forward, I want to be absolutely clear. This is an essay on my life, which includes drug addiction. I neither condemn nor condone drug use. These are individual choices. I won’t sugarcoat the truth, but neither will I pretend that some of the highs, as well as lows, didn’t exist. Love, they say, is a many splendored thing. I aim to show, in a brutally honest fashion, why I made the choice to continue to use, what the effects were – physically, mentally and socially – and what it did to my life, and, for some of you, your lives. Some of you had no idea I was high, there was just something not quite right. Others of you knew, and judged, and ostracized. I’m not upset about that. Drugs are scary and sometimes the only proper reaction is to place some distance between yourself and the situation. What I hope to get across, though, is that I changed, I let the drug change me, but maybe, just maybe, there’s some recognizable part of me left inside this machinery of death. I want to know whether that’s true. I don’t have any answers. I’m going to let you read and see what happened and reach your own conclusions. I’m not looking for sympathy, though I’m certainly not hoping for antipathy; I want, to the extent that one who has never done drugs can, go give insight and provide a platform for understanding. No one lightly chooses drugs, especially, most particularly, not this one. There’s a reason, a good reason, why I chose to subject myself to hell. You see, there’s a little slice of heaven inside hell, and sometimes, sometimes you’re lucky enough to see it, touch it, feel it, caress it, before it’s all taken away again, leaving you in an abyss of emptiness, but never giving up hope that you’ll one day, once again find that slice of heaven. 

#mylifematters Part VII


There’s something romantic about suicide. Maybe it’s the idea of killing yourself over a lover, that death may unite you. Maybe it’s the tragic helplessness of it all, seeing a life fall out of control, but taking control in the end by taking your life. That, you see, is the ultimate power. No one can take that away from you. It’s not God that has power over life and death, it’s you, and you alone. When all else is going wrong, when life spins out of control, when you can’t stand to face another day, when all hope is gone, you can seize control, take the power away from others and back in your own hands, and take you life, on your own terms, on your own schedule, in your own way. Depression leaves you feeling powerless and helpless. I had found the answer to that despair.

I can’t actually remember how it happened. I can’t remember how most of them happened. I remember taking the pills, I remember losing consciousness, sometimes I remember calling for help, sometimes help found me, at the last minute. I remember waking up in cold, sterile hospital beds, tubes shoved down my throat, IV lines draped every which way, pumping me with life-sustaining nutrients, masks place over my mouth, connected to machines that do the breathing for you, a plastic bag connected to me so I could urinate freely, all manner of equipment, all beeping and showing graphs and charts and flashing numbers and all of them looked so foreign, yet, after a while, they began to look comfortably similar. The machinery of life. This must be what we look like, on the inside, machines whirring about, constantly, going through the motions with no regard to anything but their own duties, all meshing together into one sustaining whole, breathing, pumping blood, taking in nutrients, all the things that humans do, except here the machines did it for me. And so many nurses and doctors, all asking me how I was doing, how good to see you finally waking up, do you remember how it happened, oh my poor dear, endless streams of questions by people I’d never seen, randomly rushing in to adjust some machine or other, refilling IV lines, checking vitals, cluck cluck clucking over some numbers a machine was spitting out, doctors running through, shoving yet more tubes into me, I don’t know even know where, it was all so foggy, I was drifting in and out of consciousness, not feeling pain, not feeling at all. This was my life. It became rote and routine after a while. Different hospitals, different doctors, different machines, but always the same damn color-coded tubes, the same IV lines, the same catheter, the same puke all over myself, can’t the clean that up?, it all just became familiar, comforting, like returning home after a long day.

There were a few memorable ones. I’m talking, of course, about suicide attempts. Oh, sure, some were more serious than others, sometimes I just wanted to numb the pain, other times I wanted it all to end. I always did it the same way: overdosing on my medication. I had a doctor at UCSF now, a resident, completing his doctorate in psychiatry, a brilliant man, a researcher at heart, but up to date on all the new medicines and treatment modalities, proficient in both medication and talk therapy, a one-stop-shop for all that ails your head. I saw him twice a week. He never showed desperation, he always appeared calm and confident, but I knew he didn’t want me to be his first death, his first lost patient. Not that any physician does want their patient to die, but I’m sure it would have looked particularly horrible when he was up for the medical boards. Anyways, he kept me heavily medicated, as much at my request as his. It was ironic, of course, since it was those same life-saving meds that I used at lethal doses. It was too risky to pull me off medication, but too risky to give me any tool I could use to end my life. So he monitored me closely, changing meds every time I overdosed on one, a slap on the wrist, as it were, for taking advantage of his prescriptions. I don’t know how I first got hooked up with him. I had him before the attempts started in serious, but not for long. No matter. He was my sole physician, and he was good. Looking back, I realize I had the best treatment, world class treatment, from a future clinical researcher, a doctor at the best psychiatric hospital in the nation, access to every treatment that could be thought up, no expense was too great, no idea too outrageous, it was all tried and done where any other doctor would have thrown up his hands long ago. He stuck by my side, and I stuck by his. As much as I wanted to die, I also didn’t want to lose him, so there was always some safety measure built into my attempts. I wanted him to know how much I hurt, the lengths I was willing to go to to numb the pain, but I didn’t want to lose him, the one person who stuck up for me, the one person to comfort me, the one person that cared. He’ll never know the difference he made in my life. I was the most unappreciative patient at the time. Resentful of every intervention, angry at being brought back to life, determined that the next time would be the art, that would show him, but of course, the next time wasn’t the last, nor the one after that.

At first, the attempts were because of Jason. I couldn’t get over the breakup. It was, literally, destroying me, eating me up. I felt invalidated, unloved, unlovable, a waste of humanity, a joke, sub-human, I felt all these things and I just wanted to end the feelings, numb the pain, switch off the racing thoughts, just get some peace for once. The nurses at UCSF Langley Porter, the psych hospital where I was most often hospitalized, grew sick of hearing about Jason. One nurse finally gave up and started yelling at me, saying I was stupid to let this one event control my life, that people break up all the time but, you know, they move on, they find someone else, they don’t kill themselves over every rejection. No one intervened while she lectured me. I doubt the doctors ever found out. I needed it, anyways, someone to finally hold me accountable for my actions. See, the hospital environment was so comfortable and cozy, nurses attending to your every need, three delicious hot meals a day, snacks all day long, hot coffee, as much TV as you wanted and, yes, therapy dogs. Oh I loved when the therapy dogs would come. I’d put down my crayons, I was trying to color some color-by-number, or make something out of origami, or anything else that involved a minimum amount of  creativity, I would drop all this and run to be the first one to meet the dogs, be the first object of their affection, be able to squeeze every last second out of their visit. Other than dogs and arts and crafts there were groups, oh so many groups, we had calendars on every wall so you know which room to go to, and when, and which group you were with, and so many other things that I just gave up and waited for someone to come find me and tell me where I was supposed to be going. It was a small hospital at Langley Porter. No more than 20 beds. And never full. This was a teaching hospital, first and foremost, and they only took the most challenging patients, patients that other hospitals didn’t have the skills to treat, patients that presented an interesting or novel challenge for the residents. I was one of those patients, not just once, but almost every time I was hospitalized. I didn’t realize how lucky I was. UCSF took pains to make the environment as comfortable as possible, after all we were research subjects as much as patients, and researchers always want the numbers to come out in their favor, so no expense was spared to keep us happy and occupied so they looked good on their reports. I was happy to comply. Except for one group: AA. Technically we weren’t required to attend, but nearly everyone did. Drug addiction and overdose was one of the primary paths to the hospital. But not for me. I confounded all the doctors. They ran test after test for any possible trace of drugs, no matter how uncommon or unlikely. But I had never even touched a cigarette, let alone a pipe or needle. I didn’t even know, literally, what those were, or looked like, or how they worked. I couldn’t come up with the name of a single drug, when pressed, it just wasn’t the route I was taking. So I was an interesting case, someone who never tried drugs as a coping mechanism, or an escape from reality, or just on a lark, but who would eagerly accept every pharmaceutical medication that existed, clamoring for more, then overdosing on them. What was I truing to prove?

There was a reason behind the madness, and a method, as we’ve see, just not one that was strictly rational. I was a club kid at the time, for what passes as a club in San Francisco, and, like I said, I at one point lived in the Castro, so it was only fair that I spent my time in Castro. I’ve noticed, by the way, that every neighborhood does the same; no one leaves their zone to venture out. On the one hand, self-sustainability is good, on the other, being insular is not. But that’s what San Franciscans are known for, living in a bubble. Castro was fun and quickly became my new “normal.” This marks the beginning of when I started to lose my friends; Castro boys are, by definition, only acceptable in the Castro. Sure, I didn’t parade around in my underwear down the street (not always, anyways), I didn’t go over the top with my makeup (although I wore plenty), but, ultimately, my heart was no longer in law school. I endured Kirk Bar Nights, often skipping out early on my own party. Over time, I threw fewer and fewer parties, and people started not showing up, so it worked itself out. My most crushing moment was when I invited everyone to a laid-back bar in Castro, a video bar, hoping to show my friends some of my new friends and have them see how I spent my days. I think that’s what scared them off, seeing more people like me, or maybe the whole idea was just too gay, like I was trying to force my lifestyle on them. Anyway, a small handful of people showed up, and most found an excuse to leave early, so it was that Justin and Abby and I headed across the street to go dancing. I don’t know how we talked Justin into it, everyone was trying to hit on him, but I swore I’d protect him, so off we went. It was just as well that it was only the three of us. We had fun, a lot of fun actually, and I acquired us all several free shots from my bartender, but, wouldn’t you know it, the “usual” happened.

Let me break it down. Every time was the same, with maybe a minor variation, but it started and ended the same way. See, I didn’t have a lot of self esteem back then (not much has changed on that front), so I relied heavily on others to like me so I could like me. I needed that validation to know I was wanted. That explains a lot of my outgoing behaviors at school; there, I wasn’t trying to meet dating partners, so the self esteem issue translated simply into outgoing, sometimes obnoxious, behavior, that attracted attention. I thrived on that attention. But, in Castro, it didn’t work out the same. There, I was trying to meet dating partners. Well, sex partners at least, but one of my issues was difficulty distinguishing between sex and love, or sex and attraction, as it were. When you put yourself at the mercy of wolves, you’re going to get chewed up, every time. I thought I was young enough and cute enough (I actually was) to be at the center of the dance floor. At least desirable enough to be a regular the bars, like at school, someone everyone knew and liked. But I was hyper sensitive to even the least amount of rejection. I felt like a fraud, at times, putting on these tight jeans, showing off my abs, painting my face; I worried that they, too, might see right through me, see me for the fraud I was. It never crossed mind that maybe they would see me as the person I was, instead of the fraud I was, and that they might actually like what was underneath. But what I spent so much time and effort to cover up was covered so deeply that no one, even myself, could make it resurface. The most flattering compliment from the hottest guy at the bar wasn’t enough. In fact, that’s where the problem comes to the forefront. I didn’t believe I was good enough to be there, let alone attractive enough to find a hot guy, so, one of two things would regularly occur. Either a hot guy did talk to me, and I felt like he was just taking pity on me, or talking down to me, or making fun of me, or just killing time while he waited for someone actually worth talking with; or, a hot guy didn’t talk to me, and I felt outcast, worthless, less-than, ugly, hideous. You couldn’t win for trying. No matter what, I would end up feeling rejected, and that’s when the problems occurred. Rejection took many forms: outright, real rejection; walking by without saying anything or looking at me; going on the dance floor with me but flirting with another guy. Then it got desperate. Rejection was as simple as not looking at me, or looking but not talking, or talking but not meaning it, or meaning it but… what? It didn’t matter what you said, my self esteem was so low that, instead of soaking up the attention, I negated the attention, I convinced myself that they were taking pity on me or making fun of me, after all, who would want to talk to me? And if you did, you probably weren’t anyone I was interested in, because only people in my lower league would cost me up, certainly not someone out of my league, and I was striving for Ivy League or bust.

So I would leave the bar or club, feeling depressed. I’d walk down the street, seeing all the guys with their hook-ups, their dates for the night, walking on by, looking, maybe laughing, probably at an inside joke but it sure felt like they were laughing at me. How come they always hooked up, found dates, had fun? Why not me? And the more  thought about it, the more the the thoughts raced through my head, the more depressed I became, the more worthless I felt, the more of a fraud I felt, the more of a waste of space I felt, the more embarrassed and mortified I felt. The more I had to kill myself. If no one liked me, who was I living for? Not for me, I hated myself. I needed someone to love me, love me enough that I wouldn’t have to love me, there would just be enough love. I needed someone to love me enough for the both of us. Without love, there was no life. Love, it turned out, could take many forms. But the most damaging form it took was that of sex. I couldn’t separate the two. Maybe it was my Christian upbringing. Maybe it was old-fashioned morality. Maybe it was desperation. Whatever it was, it devastated me. There were nights where I would find a guy, someone I liked, someone I thought was hot and witty and nice and sexy, someone I thought I was lucky to be with. I’d go home with him, or take him to my place, we’d fuck, usually, and then, every time, he’d say goodbye and leave, or make me leave. Was I not good enough to spend the night?

This next part gets graphic. I’m sorry. See, not only I could not separate sex from love, I couldn’t separate sex from politics. In sex, one person is the object, the other, the subject. Objects are passive and acquiescent. Subjects take advantage of the objects, treat them as if they really were objects, and discard them when the subject felt done, whether or not the object was done, or even enjoying himself. I’m taking about tops and bottoms, the inevitable gay question. Sure, when I first started having sex, I enjoyed both, I didn’t let it define me, in fact, I rarely thought about it. But something happened along the way. You and both know, at this point, that what happened was Scott. He made me feel like an object (bottom) , and made me feel that objects were dirty, but simultaneously made me feel that subjects (tops) were, well, rapists. I had no other word. And, going forward, I didn’t want to be a rapist, so, therefore, I must be the one who is raped. If there’s only two sides to a coin, I had to pick one or the other. Now, a person cannot be raped if they are not in a situation allowing for rape, namely, a sexual position. But that’s precisely the position I would put myself in, I would set myself up for, a situation where sex was expected and necessary. Because sex was love. And love was enough to keep me going, one more day. But, almost universally, when I had sex, I played the part of the object. I didn’t see myself as strong enough, outgoing enough, man enough, to be a subject. So I must be an object. I took on this identity, made it a part of my self, made it how I defined myself. I wasn’t Kirk the law student, I was Kirk the bottom. I thought everyone knew that and saw that in me. And the more I thought they saw it, the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself, the more I needed validation. The more I needed validation, the more I sought out sex. The more sex I had, the more powerless I felt, the more inadequate, the more objectified. The more objectified I felt, the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself, the more I needed validation…..  You see the problem. It was a self sustaining cycle, feeding on negative energy, placing me, always, at the end of the one who gets raped, not the one who gets to rape. Sure, you can tell by now that most, not all, of the situations were largely consensual. I needed the sex, so I would instigate the sexual exchange in the first place. But, inevitably, at some point in the exchange, when I began to feel like an object, my consent was withdrawn. But you can’t very well withdraw consent halfway through the encounter. Legally, I suppose you could, but it would leave me with such a reputation that I may never get laid again. Word spreads quickly in the gay community. I couldn’t risk that, so I tightened up, resisted but endured the pain, crying silently to myself, let the subject do whatever he wanted to my body, let him prove his manliness vis a vis my limp body, held up by his strength and virility. Oh, how much I hated him, any one of them, those subjects. And how much I wanted to be one. And hated most for that. And, occasionally, tried my hand at it, which was not common, and, wouldn’t you know but I felt like a fraud. I had so deeply convinced myself that, by being a bottom in a given sexual encounter, I must be the object in all sexual encounters, I must be seen as worthless by society (much like the subject found me worthless), I must actually be worthless. I was, after all, a reflection of what people say in me. So when I got the chance to be subject, I would choke, imagining myself to be a rapist, never, not even once, acknowledging that sex was a free choice between consenting men, that was pleasurable and fun. No, sex wasn’t something you did for fun. It was something you did for survival. Without that validation, I couldn’t survive. With that validation, I hated myself and wanted to die. There was no way out.

I sometimes had the presence of mind, as I stumbled out of the clubs, to call someone, usually psychiatrist, leaving long, drunken, rambling messages that I’m sure made no sense, but sometimes calling a friend or calling my mom. My poor mother. She couldn’t sleep at night, knowing, waiting, for that fateful phone call where all that came between me and a bottle of pills was her voice, on a scratchy telephone line. How weak she must have felt, how powerless! I was so convinced I was an object, powerless and revolting, that I gave the ultimate power, the power of life and death, to someone else! I couldn’t even claim that for myself. So, except for a rare occasion, I would proceed, like clockwork, to get home, rush to the pill cabinet, swallow every sleeping and anxiety medication, have a few more glasses of alcohol, then wait…  Sometimes I was in such a rush to get home and take the pills that I would take a cab instead of the 10 minute bus ride. The need to overdose was intense, visceral, all-consuming. I couldn’t be satisfied until I had swallowed the last pill. Then, finally, a reprieve. I could relax then, knowing that soon I would slip into a warm, cozy coma, that would slowly, but surely, slow down my breathing, stop my heart, and allow me to die in peace, feeling nothing at all. That’s how I seized back my power, by taking control of my life. My death, actually.

There were 13 suicide attempts. About one each month, for a year. I generally called for help before I slipped away entirely, sometimes placing responsibility on my roommate to find me in time, sometimes calling the crisis line and somehow babbling enough that they could pick up my name and address, sometimes calling a friend, forcing them to take care of the messy details themselves, sometimes actually calling the cops on myself. The ambulance drivers got to know me, after a period of time. This made everything so much easier. I could overdose in peace, knowing who was coming to get me, how they would treat me, where they would take, and what they would do to me. They never pumped my stomach. It was always too late once I called. I was forced to gag on a large quantity of charcoal on more than one occasion, in an attempt to inactivate whatever poison had not yet been processed, but most times it was just a breathing mask and a shock to the heart. Actually, most times I don’t remember, just a fuzzy blue of flashing lights, panicked voices, questions being shouted, being strapped down and rushed into a waiting ambulance, and oh the noise, the noise, pounding inside my head, seeping through to my consciousness, sometimes enough for me to yell out the name of the hospital I wanted to go to, or the name of my doctor, other times I just let the ambulance driver take me to wherever he deemed most appropriate. Like I said, UCSF had throat advanced critical care, aside from General, and I had good insurance, so they usually took me there, or, in at least one  case, stabilized me at  different ER then transported me to UCSF for psychiatric hospitalization.

If you’re adding up the times and costs of treatment, good for you. I never did. Actually, I take that back. I had elaborate charts and graphs and spreadsheets detailing my expenses, computing how much my insurance would cover, how much I had to pay, in deductibles, co-pay and co-insurance, for each step of the process (ER, ICU, standard hospital bed, psychiatric stay), how much my medication would cost for the month, and how much I projected I might need to spend on other medical expenses. I took these charts and graphs to financial aid, and was able to get all my expenses covered, since cost of living can be adjusted for medical expenses. By the end, I had racked up $250k in student loans, in one year, and I still owed the hospital almost $750k more. I was responsible for 30% of costs, and 100% of medication costs, and between the two, plus ambulances, ER doctor fees, followup care, etc., I had a total bill of several million dollars. I was lucky to only owe about a million. Just shy of a million, actually. Thankfully, and thank god for this, the financial aid advisor met with the dean, and they decided, a little late in the game but before it was too late, that I needed to drop out of school and try to get on state or federal aid to cover my medical treatment. Oh, and, by the way, as I noted earlier, there was also the time involved. Each hospitalization took 1-3 days in the ICU, sometimes up to a week, then 3-7 days of involuntary hospitalization in the psych ward. That was a total of up to or more than two weeks. Every month. While I was in school. I was barely in school, really. Molly and Christie, bless them, took notes for me, and I caught up on the readings myself, and every once in a while I was actually prepared for class. No one knew this about me, even Molly and Christie, though I dropped enough clues that they may have guessed. On more than one occasion, I was released in the morning from the hospital, wearing whatever I was wearing when admitted, having not shaved for days, my hair greasy and messy, my hospital ID bracelet still in my wrist, and I would go straight to class. With hospital ID still attached! I was determined to get through school, but ultimately that decision was made for me.

Second semester, 2L year, my doctor agreed to write another note allowing to go back to school. I had officially, thought not willingly, dropped out of first semester, and the school waived all charges, under the circumstances. Unfortunately, second semester proved no better in terms of my health and attendance, and I was forced to drop out, take a leave of absence, but this time they didn’t drop the tuition expenses since I had, against advice, knowing and willingly taken in the risk of attendance. So it was that my tuition expenses, the money that the federal government gave me through loan programs, totaled almost $350k by the end of my 2L year. I didn’t even have a degree yet.

The last chapter in my hospitalization came shortly after, when UCSF refused to release from the psych ward unless I went back home to my parents, in Washington. I suppose I could have appealed that decision, there was a judge that are a weekly visit to the hospital, but I think I knew, deep down, that it was the right choice. Besides, I was behind on rent and about to be evicted, so the timing was perfect. My parents drove down, I picked up a sunlit case of clothes, left a note for Joe to take care of my cat, and walked out of that life, leaving behind all my furniture and worldly possessions. I never would reclaim them.

all the lights are off 
its cold inside 
the power has been cut off 
roommate is gone, off to work 
i’m left here 
its dark 
its lonely 
its agonizing

its irresistable

had i just had a bad day? week? 
or was it just that i could do it now? 
the pills were all too accessible 
lithium, thorazine, trazodone, ambien, risperidone, clonazepam 
    (to name just a few) 
i knew it was a toxic combination 
i knew i wouldn’t feel a thing

so i did it 
for whatever reason 
or none at all 
i just wanted to 
    why not 
    what’s left to lose?

counted and sorted the pills, 20 of each, very precise 
laid down, my mattress on the floor 
    moving out of the house soon 
    everything else packed up, broken down 
        just like me 
i shivered and trembled in the cold darkness 
    alone

and i dreamt my thorazine dreams 
    fuzzy and sticky and sweet 
    calm and peaceful and encouraging 
whispering to me: 
    everything will work out now 
    this time 
    just rest, don’t fight it 
i felt myself slipping away 
waited for the glorious light

posted online, “goodbye world” 
shortly after, the cops come running 
fuck 
my roommate had seen my posting at work, he knew what i was doing 
    he himself had taken his life once, only to be brought back 
    so he valued life 
        while i just wanted it all to end 
        now 
        here, in this sordid room

the rest is all the same 
pumped full of charcoal, IV fluids running, quick trip through the ER to the ICU 
you know this story 
at least, i know this story 
some things never change

and i’m left to wonder 
why did i do it? 
was it just a bad day? 
i miss my thorazine dreams

-Thorazine Dreams, personal writings, 2012

I think I’ve sufficiently explained my suicide spree. I hope, if you were there during my 2L year, that this helps to explain what happened to me, even if it’s lot entirely explainable. This chapter saw me go from student to patient to psychiatric patient, as a result of multiple suicide attempts, over multiple months, eventually culminating in taking an extended leave of absence and moving back home with my parents. Next chapter, we’ll see how I found a new solution to my problems, and just where that solution would eventually take me. Let’s just say, there’s no free lunch.

#mylifematters Part VI


It would seem that the last part of this story should be the last, that I woke up and realized what I was doing to myself and swore to never harm myself again, especially not in the name of love. That’s what a rational being would do. But I was far from rational. The incident had unglued, unstuck, something in my mind that was now coming out, gathering strength and speed like  snowball rolling downhill. At some point, you can’t stop the snowball anymore, no matter what you place in its’ path. It’s just too powerful and has too much momentum. I felt like that snowball, careening from cliff to cliff, sliding down icy patches, falling into every abyss, constantly go go going, with no end in sight. But as I rolled along, I was picking up new patches of snow, and shedding some of the old, and so the ball eventually became entirely disconnected from it’s beginning, much like the shedding of human skim cells. Constant regeneration continually reshapes our bodies, until we are composed of entirely new cells, and then the process starts again. I suppose my fate could have been foreseen, then, anticipated, if I had used that analogy earlier. Because what happened was a continual “reboot” of the process, independently of any other factors, just continuously growing and lurching forward and gathering fresh snow, until it was so big that it self-imploded, into a hundred separate balls, in a single horrifying second where the ball rolled over a cliff, but, being just a ball of snow, it carried in as if nothing had happened, started rolling again, not seeing another cliff up ahead, but this time there were dozens of hundreds of smaller balls all rolling downhill, some colliding with each other to make bigger balls, others branching out entirely and discovering new paths and, inevitably, new cliffs. With every death came a reinvention, a fresh start, but indelibly linked to the past, with a little bit of old snow left from the implosion, now surrounded by new snow, but continuing on in that same trajectory. Enough about snow, now. I’m really talking about me. Let me explain.

As I said, I met the Dean at the airport upon arrival. I knew he cared and was worried, but it suddenly struck me that there was a modicum of risk management in play. He confirmed my suspicions when I was driven back to school, to a meeting of the deans of student affairs and of academic affairs, along with an in-house counsel. This was an intervention. They did their best to explain to me, without judging me, that I was too large of a risk to the school as things stood right then. A suicidal law student looks bad in the rankings, and a successful suicide attempt would become the news, indelibly linked to the school. “USF student found dead,” “another student at USF bites the dust,” “USF failed in the care of its most vulnerable students,” etc. For a Jesuit school, founded on compassion, as well as academics, it was, ironically, too risky to have me in school, because there compassion would become their liability. They gave me one option: get a doctor to sign off on me returning to school. They provided a letter to be given to the doctor, outlining their concerns and restating their position, notifying the doctor that it was his decision, alone, whether I was medically cleared for school. Like a soldier suffering from PTSD, I was given a full battery of tests to ascertain my ability to return to the war front, or whether I was damaged goods and needed an honorable discharge. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how deep the damage went, I thought that the events of the past few days were somehow surreal, but not in a scary way, like how did I ever  do that?, but rather in a third-person type way, where those events were simply observed, not played out. I had front row seats to a morbid opera, but I was merely a patron of the arts, not an actor myself. Or so it seemed in my mind. What could otherwise possibly explain a literal costume change, from a high achieving, high functioning student, to becoming suicidal? An instantaneous change, one that any performer who has to change outfits in the middle of a play, or concert, would make them jealous. How did he do it?, the audience gasps and applauds with delight. I was the star of the show, playing every character, in quick succession, like Mrs. Doubtfire, only without the luxury of a place to change outfits. It was more like Houdini, where did I go? Sawed in half, yet walking fine. Turned into a dove, yet striding across the stage. Strapped into a straitjacket, yet carousing around the stage. Unlike Houdini, though, my transformations were not expected, no one foresaw the caterpillar becoming a butterfly in the blink of an eye, the audience wasn’t restless in anticipation of the final trick. No, no one even knew they were supposed to be watching, waiting, scanning a wary eye across the stage, sitting at the edge of their seats, anticipating what would happen next, what plot line would be revealed, what character was coming next. No one knew, because this opera was shooting without a script.

So it was that the Dean decided to place me on a medical leave of absence. I was distraught. First, that meant that I wouldn’t get my financial aid payout, how was I going to afford rent? Second, where could I find a doctor to sign the form? Third, was I really that incapacitated, or were they just avoiding the slightest whiff of liability, cutting me loose rather than risk the negative publicity. Now what? At the very least, how was I going to kill time? Pun intended. At this point, Chris and I had moved out of the flat and I was Irving alone in a studio apartment in Alamo Square, a beautiful neighborhood, sandwiched in between “the projects” on each side. But the vagrants never crossed the line, literally, the street, that divided the neighborhoods. So I was in a good spot. It was even on a direct bus line to school, not more than a 20 minute ride (to cover at most a 1.5 mile stretch, it was often faster to walk). I can’t believe I scored that apartment. I had (and still have) abysmal credit, and no corporate landlord would so much as loom in my direction. So I had to find someone that would trust what I said over a strong history pointing in a different direction. I found that person, I don’t know if I was just walking the streets, or responding to an ad, but he was perfect. He was an older man, Klaus, that owned a bed and breakfast in the neighborhood, and made some extra change by owning and managing a rental property just down the street. It was a rather dilapidated four unit building, with my apartment on the ground level, roughly 400 sq ft to call my own. And he only wanted $1100 for the unit. This was back when San Francisco was still affordable. Today, that same unit would cost at least $3000. How I wish I had been able to hang on the apartment, but events dictated otherwise.

Actually, it’s funny, the “event” happened on the bus one night, late in the evening, on my way home from a long day of studying. Actually, I was just going home to change, so I could go out for 80s night at one of the bars. I had to wear heavy black eyeshadow and liner, rouge, glossy lipstick, do up my hair in a series of spikes, all the steps necessary go transform into a punk kid, one of those New Wave kids, listening to Bowie and Depeche Mode and all the British bands making their way into America. I loved transformations. I don’t know how well I pulled it off, but it didn’t really matter, I enjoyed doing makeup so I had my fun even before going out. The black glitter eyeshadow was my favorite, with glitter lashes spilling down to the cheekbone, highlighting a defined, high cheek, dusted with bronzer, smoothed over with creamy foundation, set in place with a powder brush, and a few extra punches of glitter on my lips, enough to leave a mark on whoever I kissed. I’m not a cross dresser or anything like that, I just wanted to have a good time. Anyways, I looked up across the bus to the other wheelchair/disabled/senior seats at the front of the bus, I always sat there to piss off the Chinese women with their impossibly big carts and fat women who needed the exercise of standing up, Lord knows they sit around often enough as it was, and my eye caught, rested upon a boy, a boy my age, brown hair, casual clothing, but fitted, ice blue eyes that cut straight through me, perfectly manicured brow line, but in a masculine kind of way. I never knew what my “type” was, but surely he fit the bill. Stereotypically the Midwestern look, though he was from the East Coast, which was exotic to me, foreign, much like they must think of California. We were reaching Divisadero when he pulled the bell for the next stop, and he glanced up as he did. I was staring, awestruck, unable to tear my eyes away, when I saw his eyes meeting mine. In that second we telepathically communicated lust and desire and sexuality. I only had that moment, because, without a word, he stepped off the bus at his stop. I looked back as we pulled away, watching him watching me. My heart was pounding. Not since Jason had I had such a crush, though admittedly I was in love with with a straight friend, Justin. So in love that a mutual friend of ours, a gorgeous girl, asked me for my permission to ask Justin on a date. I sadly said yes, with my blessings, just take goodness of him. Her name was Abby. They were destined to end up together, and eventually, recently actually, chose to marry each other. I wish I had been there for that wedding. Anyways, I had a crush, this time on someone who could reciprocate love (or lust).

I stayed late on campus the next night, taking the same  bus home, hoping to accidentally-on-purpose run into h again but really it was several days, maybe several weeks, before I saw him again. This time we didn’t waste the few moments we had together. We exchanged names, his name was Joe, numbers, and, to hell with it, I’ll just ask if he wants to come back to my place right now. He did. We were electric in our connection, diving in with passion and lust, ravaging each other’s bodies, kissing like the world was about to end, I couldn’t let go of his mouth. It was wild, beautiful sex. Afterwards, he said he had to get back home, turning down my invite to stay the night, saying his partner would get suspicious if he came home late. Partner? That’s the type of thing you should disclose up front. But, you know, I didn’t care. In fact, I wanted him even more. He was obviously dissatisfied with his relationship. I could be the perfect opportunity for him to finally break it off with his boyfriend. I wish I could remember his name,  but I can’t. It’s not important. What was important was that, eventually, yes, in a matter of weeks rather than months, I successfully ruined their relationship, and Joe was all mine. Unfortunately, he didn’t want to be all mine. He wanted to be all for a lot of people. I could have foreseen that, I suppose. He had classic good looks and was a smooth talker, he always got what he wanted. When he focused on me, I was flattered. When he kissed another guy, I was heartbroken. I see sawed back and forth, ambivalent about what I should do, when he proposed an offer to me (not that kind of proposed). Did I want to move in together with him? He had a down payment from his ex, who essentially paid him to get out of their place, but kindly spared no expense, and there was plenty for apartment hunting. We didn’t have to look far. In Castro, at 17th and Sanchez, sat Casa Sanchez, an imaginatively named small complex, we found a two-bed, two-bath unit, with patio, dishwasher, laundry across the hall, private bathrooms, a sizable living room and dining area, combined, and bedrooms that were just barely smaller than my current studio. All for only $2200/mth. Split, that was exactly what I was paying now. True, paying less would have been ideal, but at least I wasn’t paying more. Plus now I had the companionship of a roommate, who was also an excellent cook, and, soon, two cats, yes, call me a cat lady,  but he brought his car with him, and I thought she looked bored, so I got her a playmate. They actually got along very well, I was a little jealous of their instant camaraderie since that meant some nights they curled up with each other instead of coming on my bed.

There’s a few other characters in this scene, they were important then but, no offense, didn’t have a lasting impact, at least not one that tangibly changed my course in life. There was Kimalah, a beautiful black girl from USF, who i spent many happy hours with, even, especially, after she left school to take up other interests. She had  tiny studio in the Tenderloin, and I wasn’t a accustomed to the streets yet, so I enjoyed meeting her and braving the neighborhood to go to a gay/drag bar down the street. For all their bark, most of the Tenderloin actually has a soft bite. Polk Street, running up the outer edge of the 42 sq blk neighborhood, used to be the  “Castro” of San Francisco, before Castro turned into the gay scene. Castro had all the twinks, the cute, young blonde boys who had never lived through the AIDS crisis and just thought being gay was all fun and games, and dancing and drinking. Then there were the Polk Street guys, now the Mission/SoMa guys, who were older, larger, more bear-ish, attractive only in the dark, “real” me overcompensating for their sexuality with over the top machismo. I didn’t care for them. Not that it mattered, as you’ll see, they would use me anyways, in fact, probably because I was a young, cute gay, not in spite of the fact. These were the guys who had lived through Stonewall, the gay rights movement, the AIDS crisis, guys who themselves were infected or knew someone who had died already from HIV complications. Being gay was no laughing matter, it was something they had literally fought for, and they banded together. Eventually, with the help of Harvey Milk, an enduring gay icon, San Francisco started to become the mecca for gay rights. Other civil liberties too; this was the period of the Beats, women’s rights, racial integration, all happening at once, and San Francisco, unlike many other cities, was progressive enough to embrace the differences, welcome the differences, become a place where different was safe.

Mariah was another friend, also from law school, who also took a permanent sabbatical. Ultimately, I think, San Francisco just wasn’t the same as the Deep South, and she never fully embraced the change. All of students didn’t, especially those from New York, who left at the end of the first semester so they would be able to transfer to an East Coast school. Mariah was my dancing partner, my going-out friend, someone I could always count on to be there when the party was ready. She wasn’t a party girl herself, but gay clubs bring out a side in people, like a freak in the sheets, that usually doesn’t show in general public. I did go to Mission bars with her, on occasion, it was on fair that she got to find a boy too, but we often ended back up in Castro, with or without a straight boy, when the dirtiness of the Mission became overwhelming. With her, I met a good friend, Keith, a middle aged man, who loved to dance and could always be counted on to come out with Mariah and I. He had a thing for young boys, me for a while, but it didn’t disturb me. He wasn’t your classic pedophile, just an ordinary  man reaching above his given potential to occasionally snag a boy who was either desperate enough or drunk enough to take home. Like I said, I was that boy for a while. I was waiting for the bus, late at night, around 3am, having finally left the club and some after party, it was dark and cold and I was alone on silent, dead streets. A car drove by, I saw the guys inside looking at me, my heart raced a little, then suddenly the car stopped, spinned it’s wheels into reverse, and stopped right in front of me. There were three guys in the car. Keith was the driver and Rob was a passenger, along with someone in the back seat whom I can’t remember. We all went back to Keith’ place, just up the street, in Castro, went inside, had some drinks (but of course), then Keith took us out back, and what would you know but he had a hot tub! There is something inherently sexual about hot tubs. We knew that, because we all immediately stripped, ran through the grass and bushes, and jumped into the tub. We had fun that night. The sex wore off after a month or two, and I became just a friend, not a fuck buddy, but he would still go out with us and sometimes even share a boy with me. I didn’t complain.

I’ve already introduced Joe, my roommate, and Justin, my straight crush. There was also Billy, with whom I was best friends, always out at (straight) bars together, slamming back pitcher after pitcher of IPAs, holding down a table til everyone else could join. Our favorite bar was Pig & Whistle, an English pub. Apparently Whistle comes from Wassail, but I forget what that means, anyways, there was apparently a story behind the name. They had dart boards, pinball machines, pool tables, and, most importantly, trivia nights every Wednesday. That happened to be Kirk’s Bar Night as well, so the bar was generally stuffed to the gills when all of us arrived. I sucked at trivia, I think I successfully helped with maybe two questions over the course of a year,  but I was there for the camaraderie, not the prize. We did win a few times. The rest of the pub crowd hated us, another gaggle of USF students taking over their neighborhood bar, and when we would occasionally win at trivia the discontent was palpable. But we played fair, so no one could complain. The rest of that inner circle of friends, some of whom I’m sure I’m forgetting, we’re Justin, Michael, Mike, and  few others. On the girl’s side, I was close friends with Christy, Molly, Abby and Katie. Abby, Justin’ future wife, would often go to the clubs with me and we would dance til dawn. After they started dating, Abby managed to drag Justin along too on at least one occasion. Christy, Molly and I were serious students. We would study long into the night, sneaking Chinese take-out into the library so we didn’t have to take a dinner break. I think we all ended up in the same general GPA range, we were smart but not brilliant, but I didn’t like the brilliant ones, they had a way of rubbing in their superiority that just rubbed me the wrong way. If that’s how lawyers act, I was not prepared for the practice of Law. I could only hope that they were outliers. Oh, and Stefani. Another dancing partner. Often too busy to join, but when she did, she always brought cute boys and we rocked the town. Mystic was an odd friend. I managed to convince her, and myself, that I might be bisexual or bi-curious, and, to an extent, I was. She was gorgeous. Not in a classical sense, but classics aren’t ways what matter. She was thin and pale, a bit shorter than me, long flowing black hair, a smile that drew you in and just enough flirting to make you want more, gay or straight. The closest we ever got was a pants-off dance-off, a party at her place. She did take a few of us, all close friends, down to visit San Diego, a visit I’ll never forget. The town was beautiful, sunny, warm, beaches everywhere, hot, tanned, ripped shirtless surfer boys. It was like a slice of heaven. We stayed at her parents’ house overnight while they were gone, and she introduced us to real Mexican food. She also introduced us to a rooftop bar, with reflecting pool, in an unmarked bar on top of unmarked building. I was nervous to go in. Oh, and Donovan was there on that trip. He had a way of making you comfortable, making you feel like part of the inner circle, just by his gregarious mannerisms. He was cute, to boot, but so many of my straight friends were. You are who you surround yourself with, and I chose only attractive friends. There was also Shoshana, an SF native, painfully awkward at times, but always near me, hovering, trying to get into my circle. She succeeded, I couldn’t not be nice to someone, and she clearly needed to learn social skills, so I took her under my wing. I actually attended Thanksgiving at her place with her parents, so you could say we became close. There’s so many others, my section of class had 100 people, all of whom I knew well, plus most of section 2, another group of 100. The only ones I didn’t know we were night students, and I think they preferred it that way. School was just a side job for them, they didn’t want to get wrapped up in the politics.

i sit 
my legs pleasantly crossed, my tie tucked in, my briefcase at my side

i wait 
my mind focused on the tasks ahead

i wonder 
where is my ride?

i wonder 
did life pass me by?

i confess 
i’ve always wanted this to end

i pray 
take me from this earth

i pray 
let this time be the last time

i pray 
give me an ending, save me from my life

but

i discover 
i can’t die

i resurrect 
death refuses to take me yet

i return 
to where it all began

i wonder 
where is my ride?

i wonder 
did life pass me by?

-Wonder, personal writings, 2012

Well, I’ve rambled completely off course. You see, I was supposed to tell you about the snowball effect, me careening down cliffs, hitting every ledge along the way, what caused that and what, exactly, did happen. And you deserve to know. Like I said, you were there. You may have noticed something slightly amiss, but couldn’t place your finger on it, just something a little off. I was more than just a little off, though. I had gone off the deep end. What you saw was my body acting independently of me, something inside me doing damage control, trying to retain my humanity when there was no human left in me. You saw all this, but never pried, never questioned, never judged, and that’s how I wanted it to happen. I kept tight control of the things I could, while everything else in my life was falling, ripping apart, until finally, there was nothing of me left, the emperor had no clothes. And that’s what this next part is about. In this chapter we saw the joyous moments of my life, met some of my friends, saw the activities in which I engaged, and generally saw a good impression of me. Now, I’m going to go over that exact same time period, but this time from my inner perspective, from my vantage point, recalling, as much as possible, the events that transpired and how I kept myself together for so long. I’ll take a break now, the next chapter will be emotional for me to write, hopefully emotional to read, if I’m a decent writer, but necessary for me to explain and recover. Go ahead, look into the details. I’m not who you think I am.

#mylifematters Part V


—–

Part V

—–

Dear friend, this is the point at which you enter the story, the point at which we met, the point that we experienced together. A series of points, really, of good times, of bad times, of highs and lows, of friendships lost and gained. I didn’t know what to do with my life at age 25, so I applied to a few law schools and took my LSAT. Studying gave me something to do. I had finished college, obtained my BA, dual majoring in philosophy and political science. Not the kind of combination for which the money just rolls right in. So I did what every other jaded political science major does, and applied to grad school. I couldn’t stand blood and guts, so I couldn’t be a doctor. Teachers were worked too much and paid too little. So I guess law school was the only other option. It would (did) make my parents proud. If only they had known what would happen to me. Anyways, my friend had told me about USF, University of San Francisco. I had already applied to Seattle University, a Jesuit college, some school in New York, Berkeley and now USF. I didn’t much consider it. You have to write some school codes in those boxes at the LSAT, so why not these codes? It’s not like it’s your only opportunity. For me, though, it was. I showed up late to the game. Berkeley had already closed their admissions process. I did get a letter of acceptance from the school in New York, but now I was second guessing that decision, whether I could endure a New York winter, or whether I could manage the city at all. So I waited to respond. Then a wonderful thing happened. Seattle U wrote back, offering me a full ride scholarship, expenses included. I had never dreamt of such a possibility. I knew I was a good student, not quite a 4.0 but a 3.89, without rounding. My LSAT score was 165, out of 180. That placed me in the top percentile at Seattle U, and they were courting me aggressively. So it was that I almost responded yes. All expenses paid? Yes. The day of my decision, I received one more letter in the mail. This one was a letter from USF, a thin letter, not the overstuffed generic letters with brochures, but a single, lightweight envelope bearing the USF logo, and handwritten on the front was my name. I nervously brought the letter inside, to the dinner table, calling for my mom and dad. I don’t know what I so nervous about. Two schools had already accepted me, one with a full ride scholarship. So I didn’t need this one. Maybe I should just throw it out. No sense tempting the fates. But, fate was, I opened that envelope. Just a letter inside, neatly typed, as if by one of the Mad Men typists. But that show didn’t exist yet. I read the letter, forcing myself to not skip to the end. It was a letter of acceptance, it said so right in the first paragraph. I hardly needed to read any further. Except, wait, what was this? A scholarship? A full ride scholarship? I could hardly believe my eyes. Two full ride scholarships was just too good to be true. Note, USF didn’t offer to pay expenses, but still, San Francisco, the city life, no more Seattle gray and drizzle, the chance for a new life, in California, the land of opportunity, where dreams come true. It wasn’t a fair fight. Both were Jesuit schools, which was important to me, but Seattle U, despite the generosity of their offer, didn’t hold a candle to the exotic paradise of San Francisco. I made up my mind instantly, though it was harder to convince my parents. I’d only been to the City once before, for a friend’s wedding, and wasn’t able to explore. I remember initially thinking, what a dirty city! Compared to the gleaming, mirrored skyscrapers of Seattle, these old buildings, scrawled with graffiti, surrounded by homeless people, this wasn’t what I had dreamt. I later learned that I was in the Tenderloin, and the rest of the City was truly beautiful and spectacular. I’d seen photos, so I took it on faith that, truly, the rest of the City was glamorous, with multi hued, multi level housing, parks, lights, trolleys, a mass transit system that worked, that went underground! How exciting.

So I moved down a few days before school started, with nowhere to stay. I met a guy at an orientation session meant for us to find other students needing housing, and he was there, and I was there, and we were the only two gay guys there, I think, so we did what gay guys naturally do. No, not that! We moved in together. More like lesbians, really. USF was very generous with the cost-of-living expenses, of course, it was all loans, but still, there was more than enough in the budget to afford a place near campus. Some people, those who didn’t know better, or perhaps they did know better, chose to live in other areas of the City, but Chris (my new roommate) and I stayed near campus, about 15 blocks. It was a little bit of a hike every day, but I didn’t complain. We rented a true San Francisco house, multi hued, multi leveled, an entire middle flat to ourselves, just the two of us! There was a living room with fireplace, a dining room with French doors, a kitchen with gas range, a split bathroom (what a concept!), two massive bedrooms, and a study overlooking a garden, all laid out railroad style. This was better than heaven, as far as I was concerned. I was living the City life, finally, something I had always dreamt of doing. I wasn’t a rural boy, or a suburban boy, I was a real, live, cosmopolitan, worldly, educated City boy. And not just any city. The City. These were heady times indeed.

I made friends quickly, you may remember. I’d never been outgoing in my life, but, hey, this whole experience was about change, right? So I opened up, gave a cheerful smile, a gentle touch, and soon found myself at the center of activities, day after day. In fact, I started to organize “bar nights.” The school held official bar nights on Thursdays, since the 1L schedule was light on Fridays. It was an opportunity to informally  meet our class representatives, other members of student government, 2L students who were open to being mentors, and occasionally an alumni. But Wednesdays started to be “Kirk’s bar night.” I don’t know how they became so popular. But on occasion we would have 50+ students in one bar, or club, no small accomplishment for a class of 250 students total, and an even richer accomplishment when the official bar nights only attracted a small handful, on the best of nights. Those were the nerds, anyways. Mine had all the cool, fun people. I’d never been cool and fun before, I was in awe and jealous of myself, how lucky I was. In fact, and I feel entitled to self promote here, when it came time to elect representatives for our 2L year, I ran and won the vote in the biggest landslide victory in school history. I can’t release the numbers, but the dean was impressed, as was his staff. I had made friends with one of his staff, Jillian, so I got special access, wink wink, nod nod. So I was happy, in a good mood going into the first summer. The The @@a

Well, I was only partially happy. See, my success in the social realm left me struggling a bit in the academic realm. I’m sure everyone student says they would never repeat 1L, and I can attest that is wise advice. No one knew but I often felt completely defeated, deflated, not at all like the type of student that gets a full ride scholarship. I should be able to answer every question, write the best papers, impress the teachers. None of that happened. In fact, by the end of 1L my GPA had dropped to a rock bottom of 3.0. I had never failed so miserably in all my life. This was exactly why I didn’t do new things, accept new challenges, because I might not do well. I was embarrassed to walk down the hall, couldn’t hold my head up high any longer. So it was great news about the election, since the school had just rescinded my scholarship for 2L since I had slipped beneath the requirements. I begged, I pleaded, I appealed to their Jesuit ethics, their history of tending to ları 
the weak, but to no avail. Rules were rules.

The summer was exciting. I had signed up to attend an international studies, overseas, trip. Mainly because I needed to attend class so I could get a summer living expense stipend, but I was enthralled by the opportunity to go to Dublin and Prague. I barely even got to Canada growing up, let alone crossed an entire continent and flown abroad. I still pinch myself, having not been able to get abroad since, feeling lucky and privileged at the opportunity. As 2L representative my primary responsibility, besides being a liason between the dean’s office and the student  body, was to plan, organize and attend all social events. This was something I could do, something I already excelled at, something in which I could get an A+. If only it counted towards something. Still, the joy and satisfaction was recompense enough. But that’s all skipping ahead. Time for a quick side note.

As always, I don’t remember how it happened, but I met a boy. He was attending business school at USF, on the other side of campus. I told you, earlier, that I hadn’t dated since I was 16, ten years prior. I figured it was time to let down my guard a bit, nothing that bad could happen, I already had a great social network, this was just icing on the cake. Only that icing ruined the cake, and the table it sat upon. I had no way to know what was coming. There was something different about how I pursued relationships. I didn’t dip in, didn’t test the waters, didn’t even bother to ask what the other was feeling. No, I went all in, all at once, all of me, all the love I could give, all the emotions I could spend. His name was Jason, as I mentioned earlier. We  only dated for about a month, longer if you count the on-again, off-again courting stage. I had signed up for those summer abroad classes and I only just met him a few weeks prior. So I had to leave him, with promises and assurances that he would be always on my mind, that I wouldn’t even look at other boys, that I loved him with all my heart and soul. I don’t know what he promised in return. Certainly he did not give up his heart and soul. I suppose one of us had to be reasonable. He did give me a gift, though. I had been trying to get my cell phone carrier to provide international coverage for me, but there were so many barriers that I couldn’t accomplish it in time. So Jason gave me his work phone, an international phone, with a prepaid calling plan, so I didn’t need to worry about a thing. I promised to call often, and thank you so much, and more I love you’s, then off to the  airport. I was so sad I had to leave him behind.

There was a group of maybe 20 of us, some attending only the Dublin trip, others, like me, who signed up for both Dublin and Prague. It seemed so exotic. Besides, summer courses were more about the experience than the education. This was actually a golden opportunity to quickly and easily raise my GPA, with just a modicum of effort. Besides, the company was fun, I was meeting new people and was going with some of my closest friends, there was nothing that could go wrong. Nothing.

I feel, in retrospect, a little like the Titanic. Built strong and beautiful, guaranteed quite brashly that she couldn’t sink no matter what the tempest may bring. I was like that. Thought I could survive anything, especially with a lover back at home waiting for me.

Well, briefly put, the Dublin leg of the trip was beyond fun. Even the classes were fun. And after class all of us, including the professors, would find a new bar to go to, even, once a gay bar. Everyone was having the time of their lives. I certainly was, at least. My main complaint, which I still complain about, is that shots of alcohol are pre-measured, even the bartender couldn’t override the system. I grew bored quickly with trying to make friends with the  bar backs. What was the point, if I couldn’t get a stiffer drink, free shots, anything special at all, really. But I had a good time regardless, perhaps more sober than I want to be, but still enjoying the frenzy of activities. When we weren’t busy at the bars, I would call my parents, or call Jason, or meet up for a Guiness factory tour, along other things. Yes, you do get free drinks at the tour. Unfortunately I gag on dark beers, so I gave my samples to my friends. They didn’t complain. I did get lost once, on my own, in the rain. I wasn’t even sure I was headed in the right general direction. Luckily I ran across a cute guy, exiting his hotel, who pointed me along the way, I wasn’t really that far at all. I tried my best to seduce him, I had the apartment free for a few hours, but apparently he was just being nice when he helped, he wasn’t coming on to me. I did meet up for sex once, though. It was a guy I met from Adam4Adam com, the newer version of gay com. It was internationally popular, so it didn’t take long to entice some boys out to play. I was the exotic one, from California, a bigger state than their entire economy, I was tan and cosmopolitan, sleek and suave, I was exactly the conquest they wanted. I met him at a luncheon in the botanical gardens, hosted in the greenhouse. It was an experience, looking out over the campus of Trinity College, one of the most beautiful campuses I had ever seen, with students frolicking in the grass, walking hand in hand down the cobblestone sidewalks, rushing to and fro. I sat there with my gin martini and savored the moment. I don’t remember with the guy I met. I remember introducing him to my friends, as if to legitimize what was going to happen. I must have taken him back to my apartment. I was staying in student dorms with five other guys. There were three bedrooms, two baths and a fully stocked kitchen. A far cry above America dorms, with three people squashed into a room, no kitchen or bathroom, in an old building never retrofitted for such use. Luckily I never had to stay in dorms, I always had my own apartment, near campus. I worked, so I could afford it. Anyways, I’m sure he and I had sex in my room, very forgettable, though that may just be my memory, not any failing on his part. Certainly no failing on my part.

It was about three weeks into the course, which was only three or four weeks long before heading to Prague. All the students were taking a train out into the countryside, idyllic Irish countryside, with castles and everything. I wish I had been able to go with them. Actually, I wish what happened next had never happened at all, that I could have still lived a normal life. It wasn’t in the cards. I got a call from Jason, or maybe I call him, either way, he wanted to break up with me. And he was turning off my cell phone service so I couldn’t contact him. What the fuck was happening? Did he have a new lover? Did I call too often, or not often enough? Did I not say all the right things, do all the right things, to show my love and devotion? I’ll never know. What matters to this story is my reaction. At the time of the call, I was alone in the apartment, getting ready to join the others as they waited for the train. Prof. Donovan was scheduled to oversee this trip, so she and her daughter were out on the lawn already. Excitement was in the air, like electricity, you could hear it and see it zipping back and forth. This was our first trip together, aside from getting here in the first place, and there was no homework assignment due for this visit, it was purely extra curricular. Optional, technically, though no one in their right mind would refuse the offer. While everyone else was killing around in the bright sunlight outside, it was a beautiful, cloudless, warm sunny day in Dublin, perfect for seeing the countryside, I was inside, silently breaking down, breaking apart.

Remember I said the I was too emotional, too quickly, in relationships? Remember how I said I had avoided them for ten years, scared of what might happen? Well, this is exactly what “might happen,” a textbook example, a larger than life example of what I had feared. Before, there was just a nebulous fear, I couldn’t pin down what I was afraid if or what, exactly, might happen that would be so awful. Now, I knew precisely what that fear was about, how it had protected me all these years, now surfacing, breaking through, breaking me.

I was violently shaking, convulsing, dropping to the ground. A million thoughts were flying through my mind. My vision narrowed, then went completely black. I couldn’t see. My heart was pounding through my chest, so hard and so fast that I thought it might just give out, then and there. Sounds were rushing all around me, rushing through my ears like waves crashing inside a seashell. I couldn’t breathe, something big was stepping on me, making me about to puke, only I couldn’t draw enough air for that. My eyes were bulging out, my skin clammy, no, sweaty, sweat pouring out of every pore to cool my overheated body, giving me chills. I was grasping, grabbing all around me for something to which I could hold myself, contain myself, stop myself. My brain was working in overdrive. I could literally feel the blood pumping through my body, up to my brain, whirring around, processing thought after thought in rapid succession, trying to protect me by shutting down. I didn’t want protection, though. I wanted it to end. All of it. So I reached out, under the bed, as best I could figure, where kept my medicine. You see, I’d been medicated all these years, but had never reached a point where I understood myself, never reached a point where the medicine started to give me some reprieve from life’s harshness, never felt that I could brave it alone, without the medication. There were a few strong pills, mainly sleeping meds and anxiety meds  I don’t recall how I obtained them, which doctor I saw. I think it was just the school clinic and my internal medicine doctor. I hadn’t been to a psychiatrist for a long time. Maybe once, yes, I think once, while I was in 1L, I made an appointment at UCSF. I was starting to come unglued, but didn’t know it yet. At any rate, I didn’t receive much oversight on my medicine, and certainly had no one to call in a psychiatric crisis. Anyways, I managed to grab a bag of pills and dragged them out into the open. I couldn’t see, my vision was black, I could barely feel, even, my body shutting down to protect the core, leaving the extremities without blood or oxygen. It didn’t matter. I knew what was in that  bag. The thought had never crossed my mind before, else I’m sure they wouldn’t have given me these particular meds. I’d never felt the need to take more than the prescribed dose, oh, maybe one extra here and there, but nothing unusual. So the sensation I had when I grabbed those pills was entirely foreign to me. There were voices clamoring, screaming at me, vying for my attention. I didn’t want to hear the voices. I didn’t want to feel this pain. I wanted, no, needed it to stop, using whatever means necessary. If one sleeping pill was good, a whole bottle is better. If one Xanax relieved anxiety, 20 of them would make me feel great. And popping a few extra Zoloft, well, that was pedestrian, but they were there, so I might as well. It’s not like I could see or feel to sort and count them anyways. I was in shock, in crisis mode, barely breathing, attempting to flee, not fight. I grabbed each pill bottle, reached for my water bottle, I know it’s here somewhere, just keep flailing and you’ll run into it, opened the pills, no one had bothered to give me child proof caps, and dumped bottle after bottle after bottle down my throat, finally finding the water to swallow it down. It took a second. I felt relieved, knowing that I had stopped the pain. Then I realized what I had done. My senses were coming back, I was re-entering reality, and all I could see were empty pill bottles and a strange feeling inside. I leapt up, still dizzy but determined, lurched towards the door, raced down, or maybe fell down, several flights of stairs, the outside, to the train station, where everyone was waiting. My mind was blank. All I could focus on was getting Prof. Do novel’s attention, somehow make her understand what had happened. I caught up with the group just as they were boarding. Prof. Donovan was in back of them, shepherding them forward, into the train, like little children who need instructions for the simplest matter. She had a heart of gold, but not sure she thought much of us. We were a little too carefree, this was a study abroad program after all, but she enjoyed her time as much as we did, joining us at bars, taking us out on field trips, telling us about the city, buying us rounds of beers. Beer was ubiquitous there, like coffee in Seattle. It was just unimaginable that you couldn’t like beer, the darker the better. Well, I didn’t really like beer, but it sure was a more cost-effective way of getting drunk than buying those miserable, measly shots they call a drink over on the other side of the bar. I mean, really, how do people get drunk off that? How much would you have to spend? This was no Castro 2-4-1 special, no dollar pitchers of cosmos, leaving you in a stupor, but asking for more, no, this was pre-measured shots in prepared cups, simply adding juice or soda to those glasses lined up, like McDonald’s used to do with their sandwiches, all pre-made, just waiting to be ordered by some poor fool. I wasn’t going to tip for the art of throwing soda into a cup, so I just took my very cranberry drink with a splash of vodka and joined up with the rest of the group. At least I was getting my vitamin C and antioxidants. Anyways, I found Prof. Donovan, about to board the train herself, pulled her aside making motions of urgency, and whispered to her that I needed to get to the hospital, right now. The poor lady. She never signed up to take care of suicidal students. Luckily for me, though, she remained absolutely professional, telling the group that something had come up and she would meet hem back here later, then she grabbed my arm and practically dragged me back to her on campus suite. It really was quite lovely, with two bedrooms, overstuffed chairs, a living room and dining room; this use be where they house the seniors, or student to with special status. What I wouldn’t give to have a place like that to myself.

In Ireland, you customarily call the doctor for a house visit, then he or she refers you to the ER if necessary. The doctor pulled up, wheels still spinning, in his black car, with a black suit and black briefcase. He hurried inside with Prof. Donovan, to those overstuffed living room chairs, where I was sitting at the table, slowly but surely losing consciousness. There was no point in questioning what had happened, Prof. Donovan had to fill in the gaps as I fell ever more comatose. He took my vitals, obtained a brief description of events, then placed a call to the hospital. Prof. Donovan was instructed to immediately take to the hospital, where a doctor was already waiting. I don’t know why they couldn’t call an ambulance, probably because it would have been no faster than her taking me, it was just down the street. We did get slightly lost, but still made it in record time. I went to the ER window, showed my passport, was met with knowing stares and glances, then the door to the ER opened and I was hustled in. Prof. Donovan followed.

I don’t know exactly what happened. Probably because I had lost consciousness  by that point. All I remember is walking up in a small vestibule with Prof. Donovan. I had survived. The psychiatrist was called as soon as I woke up. I knew Ireland was a Catholic country, so I stepped around the issue a bit, expressing my fear that their religion would affect my care, being gay. He had to assure me multiple times that Dublin was very open-minded, and I was receiving the  best care available. Unfortunately, the best care was inadequate. The doctor prescribed Zyprexa, a very potent, fast acting anti-psychotic. No one flat out told I was psychotic, but the choice of medication said it all. Prof. Donovan placed a call to the Dean at USF, to determine how to proceed. I wanted to pretend it never happened, and continue on to Prague. Instead, she was instructed to book me my  next flight back to San Francisco, where the Dean would meet me, and to buy me three doses of medication, enough for me to get to the States where better, more intensive care was available. So it was that I spent the night on the cold, hard floors of the airport, watching nervously as armed soldiers marched around the facilities. Air France had allowed me to reboot my flight for a small fee. Well, small in comparison to the cost of the ticket. My friend’s dad’s secretary had booked the tickets for us, and I was paying back my friend. Sean, if you’re reading this, I apologize deeply for leaving you on the hook for that expense. I hope that there is a future in which I can repay the debt. I boarded the plane the next morning, and arrived back on a non-stop flight at San Francisco 12+ hours later. I certainly took advantage of the free wine, even for coach passengers. I wasn’t going to go home sober. When we landed, and finally disembarked, I walked right into the expecting hands of the Dean.

I lost it all

One day, I woke up, and realized I couldn’t go on
One day, my lover broke up with me, while I was overseas 
One day, I overdosed, lay comatose, sprawled on the bedroom floor
One day, I wish it all would end

I was a star 
The envy of my peers
A socialite 
A student
A player, yes
But a body of the best

Yet

Something was missing 
Something felt wrong, deep inside 
Something went awry, somewhere, sometime 
And I don’t know what it was, and I don’t know why

I never let on 
No one ever knew 
If I couldn’t understand it, why should they? 
That’s my biggest regret today

And I had it all

The friends
The fun
The frolicking

The fates were on my side

So
Where did I go wrong? 
How did I stumble, how did I fall, 
Into this abyss, so deep, 
Even I can’t see the light of day?

It just happened, one day

My lover rescinded his love

And my heart broke

And I, 
Yes I,
Unknowingly, ungratefully, unexpectedly, 
I went insane

My heart beating wildly inside my chest, I was gasping for air, screaming but no one could hear, 
Watching my world turn bleak, no, turn dark, turn empty, my vision failing, my pulse pumping, 
The ocean racing through my ears, 
And I was 
Falling 
Helplessly 
I saw it happening, as if it were to another 
Crumpled on the floor, spasmodic tempo in my muscles, convulsing back and forth
I knew, 
Then, 
That I couldn’t survive, that I didn’t want to survive, that without love there is no life, without him there was no me
In that second,

I lost it all

The will to survive
The desire to see another day 
The ability to move forward

And so I reached, excruciatingly, painfully, spasmodically, to the pills under the bed, 
Ambien, klonopin, xanax, god knows what else, 
Trembling, seizing, I unscrewed the fucking child proof caps (who decided I needed those?) 
Counted out a few… 
No, fuck it, I decided, somehow conscious enough, I’m not going to slowly slip away, 
I wanted my lover to see a grotesque image of a contorted body clamoring for air, swollen, spastic, eyes bulging out, shitting my pants, grabbing violently, puking blood… 
I wanted him to feel my pain and know, deep inside, that he was the one that caused it all, that his act of betrayal had sealed my fate, that the blood I spewed was on his hands 
So
I grabbed the full bottles 
Dumped them down my throat 
Gulping the poison 
And I was happy, blissful, knowing death was near 
There’s something so good and right about seeing your end approach 
I was playing God with my own life 
Sealing my own destiny 
Not afraid 
No more questioning

And then
Some half witted fucked up spawn of Satan, with his pitchfork not yet concealed away, with his stupidity scrawled across his leering face, with evil in his eyes, 
Oh if I could only describe
He came to me in my moment of bliss, as the sun was setting on my worldly existence, as the light at the end of the tunnel grew ever near, as I prepared myself to leave my body behind and enter a new world, as I was happy, for the first and last time I could ever remember, I lay convulsing but unaware, dying in this world, eager to fly to the next, 
He came to me 
And pulled it all away

I was destined to live

Fuck him, fuck my friends, fuck the doctors, fuck the establishment, 
Fuck me

I nearly had it all

And then I lost it all

-(No) Loss, personal writings, 2014

In this chapter we finally see where the chaos began, where my life forever veered off course, and how it happened. It was, yes, simply a breakup, unfortunate and sad, but nothing to cry over, let alone die over, but my mind operated differently. That abandonment was just the start of an inexorable cycle, in which I was whipped around by the vicissitudes of life, out of control, living (and dying) anew each day. Next chapter I explain what happened my 2L year, why it seemed so strange, looking in from the outside, and how life, and death, became more complicated every day. Dublin was just the beginning. Let’s watch now how the rest of me unraveled. Take a break and have a strong stomach before reading the next section. No, it’s really not all that graphic, I can’t remember the bloody parts. I can only real events to the point where I lost consciousness, and rely on doctors and nurses and friends to relay the rest of the information to me. So, here’s my story as I know it. This is the crux of the story, so please devote your time and attention. I’ll make it as brief as possible.

#mylifematters Part IV


—–

Part IV

—–

I lied. I wasn’t quite done with Scott. I met him once more. I was back in town, possibly on break from school in San Francisco, which I’ll get to soon. I had made plans with Armando to see him and catch up on life. We met at his place, near a lovely tequila restaurant, over near the Ravenna district, if you’re familiar with Seattle. It was odd, seeing him again. I thought I was still interested, still attracted. I wasn’t. Not that I was disgusted, I just saw that I had moved in, grow up, changed styles, looked different, and he, well, he looked the same, and honestly, he was beneath my standards. I guess San Francisco did change me, this time in a positive way, learning and exploring my sexuality, discovering new things about myself, like my good looks and outgoing personality. I don’t know where those came from, they would have been useful earlier in life, but I suppose I had to grow into them,  like a good leather jacket, it takes some time. Anyways, I really had no interest when I saw him again. But I think, to him, I was now an exotic foreigner, from the land of San Francisco, which, by all rights, is a far away land, disconnected as it is from the nation physically and philosophically. So, he asked me to bed, instead of me begging, like previous times. He had a new boyfriend, someone that was with him in the Gay Men’s Choir. Armando always loved to sing, so I was happy he had met a like soul. But it made his sexual advances much more awkward. Do gay men always sleep with their exes after breaking up? After the hurt had passed? It seemed like that, like I obviously had intended for sex to happen, like the good old times, or maybe it was a duty owed. For what, I don’t know. Well, he stripped, I stripped, he waited, expectantly, I stared back at him, then I realized that he intended for me to suck him off. Resentfully, I did. No play time for me, apparently, all about him, like usual. This was actually the first time I realize that that was usual for him. He had an outsized ego, a persuasive personality and a commanding tone. It was only natural that I be subservient, because it wasn’t going to be him. His dick smelled, like he didn’t even bother to try and clean for me, or his boyfriend, for that matter. I gagged my way through the process. He came, shortly, to my relief. Didn’t even touch me, started putting on his clothes. I see. It really was a duty owed, not a sexual adventure together, not by my definition anyways. After reflecting on that for a moment, I got out of bed, hurriedly clothed myself, said my goodbyes, and oh how nice it was to see him, the place looks good, I love that statue in the corner, tell your boyfriend I said hi, actually, probably you shouldn’t do that, but take care now, best wishes, goodbye. I walked home, feeling too dirty to take the bus, wondering if I stank of dirty cock and low standards. You can smell that type of thing, like a dog sensing his prey.

It was a day or two later, now. I was at the restaurant with a cute boy, Geraldo, one of the servers. We always casually flirted, but worked different shifts and neither of us could really host (my place was cramped, his had boyfriend attached), so it remained just under the surface, just under the radar of management, which was also important. But that day, Saturday I think, some other event was taking place nearby, and nobody was coming in to dine, so I got cut. I was fine with that, I hated  being bored at work, wiping down the same tables with the same bleach cloth, again and again, buffing silverware that was already shiny, chatting with the dish boy, anything, really, to look busy. I was preparing to leave when Geraldo stopped me. He had just gotten cut, too, and was just wondering, for no reason, what my plans were. Here was our chance! I had the rest of the day free and his partner didn’t expect him home for hours. We just had to find somewhere to go. He wanted to do it in the car, but I was nervous about that had actually gotten caught once before doing that, no charges were filed but my embarrassment under his stern, watchful eye was punishment enough. My roommate was home, and I lived in a small boat at the time (not terribly small, two cabins and a galley below deck, a wooden boat, a classic, not like the cheap plastic buckets they pass off now as quality boats) so going there would have been awkward. Then I remembered, by brother was at work for the next several hours, late into the night, we could go over there! He seemed fine with it, so I went to his work and borrowed his game and apartment keys. It was dark by now, a little chill in the air, I was impatient to get inside, maybe have some fun before my brother came home. I’m not sure he had actually given permission to do that while he was gone, but he wasn’t there, who’s the wiser? We parked a block away then got out and headed to the gate.

Only we weren’t alone. There was a small gathering at the gate. Two teenagers and a middle age man. The boys looked terrified. I realized why, once I got close enough (too close). The man was carrying on, loudly, about nothing in particular, it was all menacing but not in a specific way. That is, until I looked slightly downward. His left hand was gesticulating, wildly, punching toward the boys for occasional emphasis, when the spit flying out of his mouth wasn’t sufficient to terrify them. His right arm, I traced my eyes down, to the pocket of the trench coat, where, unmistakably, he was holding a pistol. It wasn’t just a hand in the pocket amateur joke, it was a silver gun, safety off, easily to access and use whenever he was done with his tirade. I don’t know what I was thinking, why I thought I could be the hero, but I stepped in, leaving Geraldo at the edge of the group. It was quite dark now, and I couldn’t quite make out his features, but something told me there was something amiss about this situation, aside from the obvious. This was a sketchy neighborhood by all accounts, so I wasn’t surprised that there was trouble, but this, this ws different, even if the gun hadn’t been a factor. Anyways, I engaged the man, distracting him long enough for the boys to escape inside, locking me out at the gate with the man an arms length away, within his zone of spittle. He was mad, both in the sense of angry, and crazy. He smelled like liquor, reeked actually. I hadn’t noticed earlier. There was a drunk tank around the block, my guess was that he had sobered up enough to leave, but just barely sober. As I started listening to his actual words, I realized there was a theme. He wasn’t randomly rambling on, like a schizophrenic might, but rather he was, and I swear this is true, directing his conversation towards me, accusing me of being a faggot, of being rude and dishonest, of spurious behavior, and, especially, of seeing his son. That’s it! It was Scott. I finally put the pieces together. Armando must have mentioned to his father, apparently they were still close, that he had seen me, maybe even that he had sex with me. If you want to call that brief encounter “sex.” Sure. But that was all Scott need to hear. I had dared, without permission, consent or knowledge, to sneak past him and see his son, without offering my usual sacrifice to him first. He was the gatekeeper, the Guardian, or, should I say, the Guard. No one met his son without the ritualistic sacrifice, without performing services for him. Did Armando know, or intend, that his father was here? Did he so fully accept his relationship with Scott that he would “tell on me,” as it were? That would be so wrong, but then, the entire relationship, the bondage between them, the power play that was taking place, the whole of it all was so wrong, so why should I be surprised? How did Scott know where to find me? I had casually mentioned to Armando where I was going and when, just making small talk, being polite, like always. Sometimes I should just keep my mouth shut. “Scott!” I yelled, “Scott, put the gun away!” I started talking fast, knowing I only had a few moments to convince this drunken, sallow, diseased man that he didn’t need to shoot, that everything was fine, that I was truly, deeply sorry I had met with Armando (and I was definitely sorry at this point) without consulting him, that I was even in town at all without notifying him. I didn’t realize had signed up for a lifetime of bondage when I had first started dating his son. That should have been in the contract up front. No matter now. Scott was getting louder, gesticulating more wildly, staggering forward, towards me. I instinctively reached out, no, punched out, with all my might, taking aim at his right arm. The next thing I heard was a loud thud followed by a loud clattering. I saw the gun slip put of his tightly clenched hand and fall on the sidewalk, much as he did, reeling from the punch. Well, I’m not that seeing, he was probably reeling from the alcohol, but the details don’t matter right now. All I knew was that I had temporarily subdued him, but that I had to act fast before he grabbed the gun again, more bellicose than before, and certainly not listening to or trusting me anymore. So I acted. I grabbed Geraldo, who looked obviously terrified and shocked, shoved the card key in the general vicinity of the reader, and ran through the gate as soon as it buzzed. It couldn’t come soon enough. Scott was just starting to get up, but the gate closed too fast. Thank God for small miracles, or for modern security. We, Geraldo and I, sprinted across the lawn separating the gate door from the front door, and showed ourselves inside before the buzzer stopped. The door slammed firmly shut behind us. The boys were sitting there, on the bench, looking at me like I was even crazier than the man they had just encountered. They just sat there, like they had the whole time, apparently. Now this didn’t occur all that long ago in my life. Cell phones were ubiquitous. The whole apartment could be accessed by stair or elevator, had they wanted to reach someone. The fucking fire alarm handle was right behind them. I went off, screaming obscenities, why, why, why hadn’t they called the police, or pulled the alarm, or ran for help? Did the situation look normal from their vantage point, the safety of bulletproof glass and locked doors? All they said was “that was cool,” and something about how stupid I was, and how did I do it anyways? I didn’t have the patience. Geraldo and I grabbed the elevator and went up to my brother’s room. I never called the police. It didn’t seem right. I, alone, had defeated Scott, for the first, and hopefully last, time, and I savored that feeling. Not that bringing him to justice wouldn’t have felt good.  But I think he finally had gotten all he could get from me, and he wouldn’t be bothering me again. My brother came home a few hours later, I didn’t bring it up, we had a few drinks and then headed to the clubs. Just another night.

Desperate for answers 
Looking for some guidance 
The future remains out of touch

How am I supposed to move on
When failure is the only game I’ve got. 
The demons if my past
Torment me
Make me repeat my mistakes
Only fail to learn again

Fuck that 
I’ve been through hell and I’m not going back 
The future is unknown 
One day at a time is all I can take 
I’d peer into my crystal ball
If I thought it contained any answers

But fortunes are won and lost only on the battlefield 
I can’t stay low forever 
I must get back into the game
Past be cursed and future unknown 
All I can do is make the present my own

Clawing out of my hole, 
Reaching up, towards the sun
I deserve the right to be happy, demons be damned
There’s still so far to go, 
But look how far I’ve come 
I never thought I would escape my low

Press on
The future is unknown
But the demons of my past can stay in my past
I’ll take my chances on a new life
I foresee pain, loss and suffering 
But also compassion, caring and joy
Learning to live in a fucked up world
Learning it’s ok not to hate everything 
Learning there are some moments actually joyous 
And learning joy can be felt more matter what the state of the world

Learning to live again 
One step at a time
But each step further from the past than the last
Until the future becomes known to me 
And I can break the bonds of my past

-Future Tripping, personal writings, 2012

So in his chapter we saw the death-grip that Scott held over Armando and, by extension, me, and the lengths he would go to to assert his power. For the first time, I stood up to him. In fact, that may have been the first time I ever stuck up for myself, period. Times were changing. Now it’s time to take a break. Some trivial matters follow, such as getting accepted into law school, moving to San Francisco, attending classes, throwing parties, learning the club scene, learning how to attend  class with a miserable hangover and pounding headache. It was all worth it. But that concludes the happy period of my life, whatever happiness I had previously gleamed, at least it concluded my happiness and satisfaction at school and in San Francisco. In fact, I felt so happy and confident that I finally, for the first since Armando, years prior, went out on a date, then two dates, then sleepovers, then kisses exchanged in public, then became boyfriends. His name was Jason. I’ll never forget.

#mylifematters Part III


———

Part III

———-

Its ironic, but the event that changed my life, forever, exists in a timeframe I can’t even remember. It happened sometime after dating Shaun but before I was kicked out. Shaun, for the record, lasted three months. At some point after first dating we must have gotten back together to move in with each other, but I don’t remember specifics. I do know he was my first. Those things you don’t forget. My second happened shortly after breaking up with Shaun. It was another hookup from gay com. His name was Armando. Definitely Hispanic. About my age, 16 at the time. Maybe 17. He was a good kid, a good student, dedicated, responsible. He lived with his “virtual” father, although I never learned what became of his real family. By “virtual,” which were his words, I mean that the father, Scott, was legally a stranger to him. He was never formally adopted, nor given any other rights or privileges of a family member, other than a roof over his head. But the accommodations weren’t bad, and he never complained. I recall, dimly, that there was a woman there, possibly Scott’s wife, and some children, maybe two total. I assume they all lived together. I didn’t frequently visit his house, not because I didn’t want to, but circumstances rarely necessitated it. In fact, Armando frequently house-sat for friends and neighbors, and most of our time was spent in clandestine moments in random houses. He did meet my parents who, unlike with Shaun, genuinely seemed to like him and, laughably, encouraged me to spend more time with “such a good kid.” I did.

I don’t know I first heard of Scott. I think it was when we were headed to his house for the first time, and he felt the need to explain the situation. Not that he explained much, I got the vague sense that there was something a little “off” about the whole scenario, beyond it just being an unusual arrangement, but I couldn’t begin to define the feeling. I let it pass. The house was nice, though modest by Bellevue standards. Two floors, kitchen, living and dining rooms downstairs, maybe one bedroom as well. Upstairs was the master bedroom and the other rooms. I remember getting a quick tour, but there were new people, new circumstances, new house – I couldn’t process it all at once. Besides, beyond the obligatory tour no one ever really see the rest of the house anyways. We all had dinner together, that first night. The woman cooked. Spaghetti or something, nothing special. After, Scott got up and Armando followed suit, so I excused myself from the dinner table and followed them upstairs. Well, first we stopped through the living room. Scott’s passion, it turned out, was photography, and he had a full setup in that room, lights, camera, action. Backdrops, mirrors, windows, props, multiple camera angles. It was impressive. Armando did a quick pose, and I tried, but I was horribly camera shy. He probably got a few shots, but I never saw them. It was actually very interesting. He had Armando in a very suggestive pose, oddly, and he wanted the same of me. Maybe even pants unzipped, or shirt off, or something. I don’t recall, but it was at least my first clue that this was no normal household. Anyways, we retreated up to the bedroom afterwards. I think there was a single tripod camera up in the master bedroom, aimed towards the bed. Now, I wish I could tell you the exact sequence of events, I wish I could draw it out so you understood the gravity of the situation, but, in truth, to my mind, at the time, nothing was flagrantly wrong, nothing particularly stood out. It just happened. Armando took his clothes off and went to the bed, where Scott was lying nude. They encouraged me to join. I did, I was just a guest, I had to be polite. Armando and I messed around for a minute, Scott got out of bed to take some pictures, then Scott got back into bed, pulled Armando away from me, and started fucking him. It seemed so normal, the way each acted, almost routine. Scott’s real joy was with me, the new kid, his new fuck toy. And he did. I remember pain. I remember looking at Armando to help me, but he was ready to join, no one noticed that I was not enjoying the situation. I was too polite to say anything. I jus endured it. I probably even acted like I enjoyed it. And, you know, some part of me may have. There was something erotic about the situation, and it was flattering to have Scott be attracted to me, somehow validating. So, as if I had a choice, I “let” him, them, actually, finish out what they had started. Then everyone got dressed and I left to drive home. Armando stayed behind.

That is what I remember. A short period in time, a quick sex act, nothing to write home about, as it were. I didn’t know that, ordinarily, you didn’t have to sleep with the father to get to the son. It just was that way. I instinctively knew that this was only the first of many times, that Scott would frequently place himself between us, and that was just part of the bargain if I wanted to date Armando. No one told it was wrong. No one told me sex wasn’t supposed to be gratuitous, given as an exchange, painful. I don’t know when I first noticed the pain. I’m sure I enjoyed the sex with Armando. I may even have enjoyed the sex with Scott. I didn’t realize, I still have trouble comprehending, that I was being raped. I was 16, Scott was in his 40s, Armando was around my age. Scott frequently took photos of us together. His collection of child porn must have been staggering, if this was as commonplace as it seemed for him. His relations with Armando were nothing less than incestuous, even if they were legal strangers. Scott was smart like that. He was willing to risk getting caught with a stranger, Armando, but not with an adopted son. So Armando was never adopted. It was risk management at its finest. Smart, savvy, deplorable.

Armando and I eventually broke up, after three months. I’m not sure why. It certainly wasn’t my idea. Maybe it was Scott’s. I never considered that possibility. All I know is that Armando called me to meet him at a local Starbucks near his house. I think he thought that I wouldn’t put up a fight if we were in public. Almost like he’d done this before and knew the drill. He broke up with me at Starbucks. Contrary to his belief, though, I had no shame, and I fought back with all the blood, sweat and tears I could muster. I don’t know what those suburban housewives thought, those other patrons. I didn’t care. But it didn’t matter. We were done. He had already moved on, I’m not sure he even bothered to fake sympathy for me, it just was what it was and I needed to accept it, right now.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. Well, that wasn’t the end of Scott, more precisely. See, this website that I’ve referred to, gay com, well it allowed you to post, send and receive photos with other chat room members. The anonymity of it, for me, meant that I was willing to reveal a lot of information, much more than I would in person. I have no idea, looking back, how much I placed myself in jeopardy, how much I placed my family in jeopardy, just seeking to find acceptance and love. I remember talking on the phone with some guy from Hawaii that, in retrospect, was asking a lot of questions about my schedule and location. Whatever. Hey, someone wanted to talk, talk to me! I was the shy kid, the quiet kid, the nerdy kid, the one picked last in games, the one sitting in the corner while everyone else carried on, as so often happened. And now, through this website, someone wanted to talk to me? I didn’t need a second to think, I just went for it. I felt wanted, loved, needed. These other boys needed me. They liked me. They enjoyed our conversations. They would ask where I had been if I didn’t log on one night. These boys cared. Not like my parents. Cold, distant, reproachful, judging. No love lost between us. But these boys, they said “I love you,” they said “let’s meet,” they said “you’re cute.” I was on cloud nine. But the point of all this, what I needed to say, was that I needed photos to trade. This was long before the day of selfies. Before webcams were popular. Before digital photography came to the masses. So I needed someone with a camera. I needed Scott.

And it was always the same. I would get pictures taken, in a manner of dress, undress and poses. Pictures that no one should ever see, yet I eagerly shared them online. But there was a catch. I couldn’t pay Scott, at least he never asked to be paid. No, it was a trade of services. I’d give him my ass, he’d give the photos. One time I wasn’t in the mood. He turned at me and said, it didn’t matter, I couldn’t just call him up and use him and take advantage of him without offering something in return. So I learned that sex was a tool, a valuable tool, something you could trade to get things, to get services, to get attention, to become desirable. The sex was increasingly painful. But I was necessary. I needed those pictures and he needed a young boy to fuck. So ultimately we were both satisfied, I suppose.

So much happened over the next few years. I moved in with Shaun, then out on my own, went to school, started a new job, moved to a new apartment, made friends. All important milestones. In fact, it was during this post-Scott period, for we had long ceased seeing each other, that I got back into contact with my parents. I was successful and, now that I no longer needed them to provide for me, I wanted to show them what had become of me while they were looking the other way. I found an old email address that belonged to my mom, and I reached out. They had, it turned out, never moved at all. Well, not to Russia anyways. They moved a few miles south, south of Seattle, not “the South.” So we met up and slowly thawed out our relationship. “Gay” was never mentioned and we all kept it that way through some unwritten contract. They were happy, I was happy, that’s what mattered.

I never dated after Armando. I took that breakup so hard that I felt scared to go through it all again. So I focused on school and work and making friends. The next event happened while I was living and working in Seattle, at Greenlake Bar & Grill as a busboy. I loved it. All the employees were my age, loved to socialize, and they saw me as one of them, not the awkward kid I felt like, but one of the cool kids. I’ve skipped a lot in between. I started going out to clubs, meeting guys, having sex. Trading sex for status. Those were heady times. But, truth told, I don’t remember much about them. They were relatively uneventful, just a teenager growing up and conquering life as teenagers often do, so they think. The next event had nothing to do with any of that. It had to do with Scott.

Why do I do this? 
Why do I do this? 
Make believe that sex is love
Make believe that sex is more than a temporary connection 
Make believe that I like this person so much 
Despite the abuse

It starts simply enough
Desire, passion, shared between us
I can see it in his eyes in my quickening pulse 
Can you host? 
Sure baby
30 seconds til we’ve gone from strangers to fuck buddies

But I see it as more 
I see it as love, as validation, as encouragement, 
As if being desired somehow transformed me and my life into a life worth living

We arrive at his place
I play my appointed role 
Pretending to be ready for anything the night brings

But I’m not.

He wants to go all the way
Of course 
Whatever he finds desirable 
Otherwise, I’m not desirable any longer 
I’m trash, thrown to the curb 
I’m empty, gone with the wind 
I must remain desirable

I tense 
It hurts
But I can’t say that
I play my appointed role

It’s done
I run to the restroom
I need a moment
To cry
To numb the pain
To pretend it didn’t happen
It’s over and desire is gone
He got what he wanted

Did I get what I wanted?

Desirability
I had it for a second 
But the pain, the agony, the tears,

Yes, I got what I wanted for that one brief second, 
And then I got what I deserved

-Why Do We Do This?, personal writings, 2012

I’m stopping here for the night. Next we see Scott, again, and a gun, and my last memory of Seattle. This chapter saw me go from innocent (relatively) to meeting a new boyfriend, experiencing rape, and finding myself desirable, if on terms not my own and in events not under my control. Take a break now, the next chapter is short, just a little story, then we dive in for good.