249. obstreperous

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BaR_twitterSorry about the gap in posting. Grad school started up again in September, and on top of working full-time, doing music for Sunday Assembly, and serving as secretary for the campus archivists group, I’m also taking two fairly demanding courses, both in cataloging.

So time is extremely limited.

Of course, because I’m apparently a masochist, they’re both in the same subject area—cataloging—except that one is a beginning-level organization of knowledge course, and the other in advanced cataloging. Because I’m ridiculous.

But I’ve also discovered that really enjoy cataloging, which I wasn’t expecting. Homework (which usually consists of actual cataloging activities, such as identifying Library of Congress subject headings, looking up RDA rules for classification, or consulting LC authority files) is thoroughly enjoyable.

I could seriously spend hours doing this. It’s so relaxing.

So there’s that.


Had a mini grieving moment on Saturday, following by a minor meltdown in the evening.

I came across some recordings that I did in 2007 of music written for a play and performed with friends of mine. It’s music that I’m actually quite proud of, some of my best work, and overall that was a nice time in my life. It was the year before I came out, so it was actually a pretty turbulent time emotionally and psychologically, but working and creating made for a refreshing oasis in the midst of what was otherwise dark chaos.

It hit me while putting the tracks together that I really don’t write music anymore, and currently have no inclination to do so. Maybe I will again, someday, but for now that seems to be done. Wrote about that a few months ago when the Source Song Festival came around again, but it finally sunk in, like the awful significance of the death of someone close to you hitting home all of a sudden, that that part of my identity, the composer and classical musician, is gone.

It’s a striking absence considering how many years and how much effort I put into becoming a musician and composer. Hours spent practicing and writing, working on projects with friends, struggling to get my work out there for it to be (hopefully) discovered, and then finally accepting the inevitable conclusion that this wasn’t

This came up in the most recent meeting with my therapist, on Monday. The past few months I’ve been gradually stripping away the final vestiges, exorcising the remaining ghosts, of that now-defunct period of my life. It was an identity designed to please my father, the people in my life who I looked up to and respected, who all said that music was my divine calling (or however they phrased it—not quite so dramatic as “divine calling,” for sure).

I started writing music around age fourteen or fifteen, began a bachelor’s in music composition at seventeen, tried for years to make a career as a composer, failed, and finally wrote my last “serious” composition last year for a wedding.

Music formed the core of my identity for over fifteen years, and now it’s gone.

So it just hit me how much much time and effort passed investing in that identity, and how much of both was wasted when I could’ve been putting that into pursuing authenticity instead.

And, of course, that thinking shifted over into my personal life and into looking at the wasteland my romantic prospects are at the moment, how everyone else seems to be settling down or moving forward to getting what they want while I’m looking more every day like a tiny rowboat that’s drifting out, alone, into open water.


I’ve also been more aware recently of a sense of discomfort around intimacy, of both the physical and emotional kind. There are times when I can fake it in social settings and am able to pretend for some reason or another.

Fundamentally, I believe that this discomfort is rooted in a fear of disappointment, of hurt, or both, and not wanting to get involved with a guy when it’s unclear where his intentions are. Because frankly, I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with bullshit of that kind.

And there’s the lack of trust that I have in my own judgment around the kind of guys I typically fall for. The last couple of guys I’ve been interested in or merely attracted to (and we’re talking about four or five over the last two and a half years) have either been emotionally unavailable, already taken, or hetero.

The conflict is in the reality that I seem to be surrounded by gay guys who have no qualms about having a fuck buddy, or just fucking someone who they’re into, seemingly without hangups or interest in where it goes. They just go after what they want.

It’s not guilt or anything that holds me back.

It’s fear of getting hurt.

So I can’t do fuck buddies.

Five years ago I was able to, in the months after breaking up with Aaron and then the debacle with Seth. And maybe that’s part of it—that I’ve done the sex-for-sex-sake thing and have no desire to revisit the emptiness that it became for me. Maybe it works fine for other people. For me, it was a lonely experience, especially when being with other guy’s boyfriends.

Yes, I was the “other guy” for a time.

Plus, there are new anxieties about getting older as a gay man, about the slowing-down of my body as I get into my thirties, how I’m no longer the supple young thing that guys were into. I don’t have time (or money) to spend at the gym, and I’m worried that not taking care of myself exercise-wise will eventually come back to bite me later, both in the sense of my health and in attracting romantic partners when I’m finally able and ready to pursue that.

Just a lot of anxieties overall.

I need to step back from this for now and pursue things that bring me joy and happiness.

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8 thoughts on “249. obstreperous

  1. Have you considered the possibility of non-conformity, even within a relationship? In my natural state (as most covert-schizoids) I prefer having my own space. I have a relationship with someone who can function within my needs. At great pains I eventually discovered it was okay for me to lay out what I wanted as well; I didn’t just have to fit into what other people wanted. But to do that you have to first accept you’re bringing something of value to the table, even if it’s different from what other people bring.

    • David

      Mind if I ask how you learned to accept that you had something of value to bring to the table? For me, it feels like the negative aspects (insecurities, fear of abandonment/rejection, growing up with anger as my relational model, etc) far outweigh the positives that I know are there.

      A number of my friends have recently posted to social media a quote attributed to Marilyn Monroe: “I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

      It’s been my experience that most guys can’t handle “the worst.”

      • It wasn’t easy. The problem with insecurity is that even without knowing it we’re creating a dynamic which becomes a cycle. Relationships develop based on cues. Have you ever had a dog? I’ve had many over the years and they’re a good straightforward example. Dogs are always pushing and testing limits with humans and other dogs- not because they’re bad, but because it’s part of the social animal’s nature. Can I get on the sofa? Can I jump on that person? Can I make them give me food when I want it?
        Understanding that I realized I had to be much more rational than I had been in my early days when I just sort of stumbled into and out of relationships as events took over. I started being much more honest; not being honest is, I think, one of the biggest problems in human relations. But to do that you have to be very sure of what you want, otherwise you become the liar in the equation (even if you were also lying to yourself.) It’s an interesting process. I used to think I wanted to be with someone in a high powered position, then I’d be angry if they didn’t have time for me. I had to accept that I had to choose between the two things. Realizations of that variety happened again and again. Most of what I really wanted in a lifestyle sense was completely incompatible with the types of people I had been pursuing. That meant I was at fault for my own dissatisfaction.
        Now back to the rational bit. I began with an in-depth analysis of what people could and could not expect from me. I realized I should change certain things, work on others and then the negotiations began 🙂
        I actually came up with a clear message back then which I gently introduced into conversation and was designed to clearly identify the people with who a relationship might be a possibility and those with whom it was a bad idea. When your possible partner’s profile genuinely suits what you want from life, then the process becomes much easier.

  2. This is depressing. That awkward battle between ‘don’t let your fears control you life’ and ‘don’t be stupid and get hurt’. No idea which one is the better advise to abide by, perhaps time will tell 😓Although your interest in music is amazing, I’d love to hear some pieces you’ve composed 😁😁😁😁

  3. Paul Douglas

    Have missed your posting!
    A lot of men are extremely creative or productive when they are under the kind of stress/ chaos you experienced prior to coming out (and a lot of us get paralyzed too). It may very well sneak back into your life down the road when you have done with the priority things you need to do (and are doing now). That talent is just taking a nap.
    “It’s a striking absence considering how many years and how much effort I put into becoming a musician and composer.” rings so true to me, as well. When I look back on my christianist days, it is striking to me how much energy I put into prayer, meditation, hosting our “spiritual” community and performing active listening with troubled people on a merry-go-round they had no intention of ever doing anything about to get off. Many years! And yet it was a part of my journey to authenticity about myself and rationality about life. Now I look back not so much with regret as marveling at how I could have been so caught up in something so irrational as christianism.
    I love your comments about cataloging! I am an RN who has been doing patient care for decades. A new manager at my old job drove me and most of the old staff out: I serendipitously found a job in front of a computer for 8 hours a day, auditing charts for charges, and I love it! There are Medicare rules and guidelines (similar to your RDA rules for classification) and then the ferreting out nuggets of documentation that allow or disallow charges. The things that we discover about ourselves as we grow older.
    You know, it does get better. Guys really like low to no-drama men in their lives and nothing is more attractive that someone who knows who they are and is on a journey to somewhere. Men like someone who is extremely comfortable in their own skin. I’ve been out for over 40 years and it hasn’t been until the last few that I’ve really felt like I was in my own element, but the freedom it brings is breathtaking. And the quality of men that I have stumbled upon in the last few years has increased remarkably as well. Maybe because I am healthier now, I can attract healthier people, hmmmm?. Anyway, you are clearly doing some very important work, so be patient with yourself. Look how far you’ve come!
    My only suggestion (as a health care provider and an older gay man) is get some regular exercise and stick with it! I incorporated bike commuting into my work schedule in the 1980’s and have done it almost exclusively since. It’s really paid off because you are right, when your body ages it rebounds less well from periods of inactivity. Use it or lose it isn’t just a cliche. Find something that works for you and do it!

    • David

      Thanks, Paul! I’m honestly never sure if anyone even notices if I don’t post in a while, so it’s good to know that at least one person enjoys when I do. 🙂

      To the music writing, maybe the desire to write again will return when my identity has finished being rebuilt and has settled enough for creative expression to take place again. It’ll take some time to figure out if the new “me” is someone who writes music or not. If not, that’s okay! In the meantime, I have Sunday Assembly to fill that musical outlet. It’s actually been challenging to discover my folk-pop voice and learn how to use it in performance. It’s a different style, more emotive and less formal, and overall a good exercise in learning to let go in a song.

      And yes, cataloging (and cataloging rules) are incredibly fun to work with!! It’s a creative job, a little like a game of determining if a certain subject heading applies to a given document, and how all the subject headings and descriptive terms work together to create a record that will allow anyone to find it easily enough.

      Does pacing count as an exercise activity? I do plenty of that. 😉

  4. I can relate in some ways, David. The remorse over spending so much time in energy in doing what you thought you were supposed to do instead of trusting your instinct and doing what makes you happy.

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