Monday Memes 17

With everything going on in my life right now, my anxiety and “weirdness” is a bit much for even my Beloved Martin to handle. I have come to rely on my close friends for additional support and “back-up” – emotional, physical and spiritual. For example, tonight I spent 90 minutes on the phone with one of our besties (Thanks, Joe!), just rambling on and on and on and on… And he listened. He was is awesome…

With that type of relationship and support in mind, I’d like to share these three memes about friendship today – these thoughts and observations regarding friendship have rung especially true with me in recent weeks. Enjoy.

friends

real friends

true-friends-quotes-13

 

Laughter Makes Life Better

Friday afternoon, at 4:45P, our besties Scott and Joe called and asked if my Sweetie and I had any “plans for the evening.” We didn’t. Fast forward one hour and ten minutes later, and the four of us are hanging out on their killer patio, just laughing and relaxing around their awesome fire pit. Scott and Joe are amazing friends – generous, thoughtful, kind and loving. And kick ass cooks, too! We are lucky to have them in our lives. No matter what we do – be it a scheduled event or an impromptu outdoor dinner – we always have a great time with them, sharing stories, just hanging out and laughing. This graphic reminds me of the value of friendship, and definitely speaks to the relationship we share. We adore those guys…

laughing

REAL Friends

I believe The Universe speaks to me.

Most times, I just don’t pay attention or I am too thick to even “see” its message but, when I do, I often receive profound advice, or a reminder of what is important and what matters…

I heard The Universe today.

I was going through a random folder on my desktop marked “THK Stuff” – you know, the folder that has all that stuff you never know what to do with, or whether you should delete it or not, like all your selfies and that Crock Pot Cashew Chicken recipe you saved off Facebook and all that other junk. So, when I opened the folder, this jumped out at me:

Friends

Weird as it sounds, I had just been thinking about two people that – I thought – had been like two of my “besties” that suddenly (and for no reason), simply vanished from my life. We three had been friends for almost two decades – we had vacationed together, done all sorts of crazy stuff and, like I said, for no reason I can determine, they simply decided not to be my friends anymore. Their “disappearance” happened more than seven years ago and I still wonder why. Anyhow, something happened today at work that reminded me of them and, for a brief moment, my heart was sad again, even after all this time.

So, it seems The Universe is speaking directly to me today through this meme, saved by me who knows when, that appears on a day I really need it. Thanks, Universe, for reminding me that it is always quality over quantity. Thanks for helping me grow up. And to my two former friends, wherever you are now, for whatever reason we are no longer friends, well, that is all on you. I plan on doing my best to remember only the good times we shared and forget about the pain you caused me when you vanished into thin air.

The thing is, I have AMAZING real friends right here, right now, that love and support me so no more energy – ever – wasted on wondering “Why?” Too bad for you two, really – I think I am a pretty great guy and I am sad for you that you no longer have me in your lives.

Thanks again, Universe, for the Pity Party “Bitch Slap” – I needed that today!

Spontaneous Friends

Martin and I like to think we are great “spontaneous friends,” meaning that we are up for most anything at a moment’s notice. This is a gift, an easygoing way of being that I think most of our circle of friends appreciate. Does that mean that we don’t have a certain Halloween party already on the calendar for October? Is there a “Holiday Happening” coming up in December that we cannot/will not miss? Of course – everybody plans for special days and events but I think too many of us try to plan too much. be spontaneousSure, maybe that philosophy sounds a little ‘fiddle-dee-dee” but today is a perfect example.

My Sweetie has been trying to get together with one of his dearest – if not best – friends all summer. That have text-ed and called and scheduled back and forth until the summer is all but over, never able to make a date. Last night, I encouraged my Beloved to text his friend, say that he was off today and ask her what time could they get together for coffee.

As it turns out, they have been together all day today (I haven’t heard a thing!) See? Spontaneous friends…

Same with tonight. My Angel and I were invited last night for an impromptu backyard dinner tonight with our two besties. No weeks-in-the-making moment – just a simple, “Hey, wanna’ come over Friday night and we’ll hang out?” kinda’ thing. It was a nice surprise and Martin and I are really looking forward to it. I think our friends are, too..

When it comes to friends and friendship, if you have to “work” to schedule times to get together, well, that makes me a little sad. It makes friendship seem like, well, work to me – schedules and plans and time slots. Our close friends are always welcome at our place – we may be in raggedy sweat pants with yuck-y hair (like I even HAVE a lot of hair) but people that you know and love, people that matter to you, well,they should always be able to stop, visit and laugh with you without an appointment. Surprise and spontaneity make life more joyful and fun.

Give it a try – pick a weekend, plan NOTHING, and challenge yourself to see how great it is. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Don’t be this person –

Spontaneous tomorrow

Martin has helped me become a lot more spontaneous, and I suggest it as a goal to everyone. You will enjoy your daily life more and “big events” will become less important. In fact, you will probably come to realize that many daily events actually ARE big events – you were always just too busy scheduling other things to notice…

of friends and friendship…

Sometimes I worry that my beloved and I don’t have enough friends. Our circle of “besties” is pretty small – I’d put it around twelve or so. But those people matter and are important in our lives. These are the men and women you can call blubbering in the middle of the night about something (and they will pause “Mob Wives” and listen to you ramble on), the friends who are spontaneous, impulsive and reckless (with them, any time is the perfect time to grab a gelato), the friends that remember your birthday (they send real, snail mail cards, not just an “ecard”). These are the people that understand why you are sad on Mother’s Day (because your Mom has passed away), the ones that won’t let you buy that mustard yellow A&F tee (even though it is on the clearance rack at TJ Maxx) and remember that you really, really hate raw onions on burgers (or anything!)

These are the people that make life fun, exciting, joyful and often just plain old bearable…

friends

My Sweetie and I are blessed with some GREAT friends. I guess I sometimes I wish we had more but then I stop, re-evaluate the “standard” and decide I would rather have a dozen awesome friends then a hundred “average” friends. This really sums up my thoughts:

friendship

Joy Fall-Out

I like to think I have a pretty awesome circle of friends – they support me and my beloved, they endure my craziness, they are (for the most part) socially conscious and engaged and they, by and large, make the world a better place simply by being themselves. I am pretty blessed. I seem to gravitate to “art-sy” types, maybe because I work in the design field, maybe because I am gay, who knows? My friends all seem to be somehow gifted in the arts department – writers, artists, designers and the like.

One of my dearest friends, Chris, would probably deny that he even is an artist, although he owns and manages an amazing and highly successful fine arts framing company in San Francisco. I have known Chris and his partner for just about five years but have gotten very close to them in the past couple of years. They are two very special people, in all the BEST definitions of the word. Kind. Loving. Generous. Giving. Selfless. Worldly. Responsible.

Anyhow, like most of my friends, Chris is a part of my online “social network” and while he is not a mad-poster like other friends, he does pop-up in my feed with reasonable frequency. Chris is one of my most political friends so typically his posts reflect current events or ways to better the world. They always make me smile but recently he posted this image, which made me stop and grin from ear to ear:

ImagePhoto courtesy of CB Fine Art Photography. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

The caption attached to the pic was simply this: “Growing shade outside of Rainbow Grocery, San Francisco.” I am guessing it was an image captured by my friend with his iPhone as he was walking outside the market. Speaking from a scholarly place, the composition is visually interesting, the balance and juxtaposition of colors is engaging. The artist plays with shadows of leaves contrasted against reflections of leaves in the glass. It clearly displays the sometimes hard to grasp concept of the “quality of light.”

In a nutshell, it is simply a kick ass photo.

But it was more than a simple pic/post for me. For one thing, I kinda’ joke with my friends about being affected with mild S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder – Google it) and this image, bright and saturated with sunlight, made me forget all the gray nothingness that is Ohio at the moment. I smiled, too, as I remembered being at Rainbow Grocery with my beloved Martin and Chris and his beloved guy during our trip to San Francisco last year. The visit to Rainbow Grocery was a big deal/no big deal, you know? Just four friends, having fun doing nothing, laughing and talking as we walked aisles of soy, bamboo and “free-range” products. The memory of that happy time made me smile.

In an effortless moment, simply by innocently posting a photograph, my friend lifted my spirits and reminded me of some awesome memories. I am sure it was not his original intention but he really made my day great by sharing that picture. It is moments like this, moments that I like to call “collateral joy happenings” that I wish would happen more often, not only for me but for everyone.

I’d like to publicly thank all my friends for being in my life. As I said, I am blessed with many great friends – I look forward to making many more memories/having many more adventures with all of you. As each new event and chapter in my life unfolds, I promise to savor every moment and open myself up to joy. And I promise to do my best to share that joy with you.

Today is MY Blue Ribbon Day

Today is a significant anniversary for me – one year ago today, on 16 January 2012, I began treatment for prostate cancer.

I was very private about my cancer diagnosis/treatment and began my journey through “external beam radiation therapy” one year ago today. Monday through Friday, for forty-four consecutive days, I traveled at 6:30 AM to the UH Seidman Cancer Center for a daily blast of radiation, with the ultimate goal of eradicating my cancer and maintaining complete “erectile function.”

It is estimated that one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. I posses, unfortunately,  the “perfect profile” as my father has also had prostate cancer. I am coming out today as a prostate cancer survivor in the hope that, by sharing my story and experience, others will be tested for prostate cancer and maybe I can help save someone’s life. The same article that stated the 1 in 6 figure above also shared that every 18 minutes someone dies as a result of untreated/undiagnosed prostate cancer. I hope I can help change that…

ImageI had been on unrelated testosterone replacement therapy for fatigue for probably two years when my PSA (prostate-specific antigen) number went a bit “wonky.” (Frequent PSA testing is a standard part of testosterone replacement therapy). The PSA test is generally considered the litmus test for the presence of cancerous cells in a man’s prostate. When your PSA numbers cross a certain numeric threshold, there is cause for concern. A biopsy of tissue collected from my prostate confirmed the presence of irregular, cancerous cells. After a year of “watchful waiting,” I decided to proceed with treatment in the hopes of achieving the best possible results.

Many doctor visits followed, gathering second/third opinions and lots and lots of additional testing. After weighing the treatment options available, I decided upon external beam radiation therapy as the treatment. That treatment allowed my life to continue with little interruption and seemed to have the lowest percentage of negative side effects. I was accepted into a clinical trial that will follow my recovery for three years. A few more tests, assignment to my treatment team, a dry run with the staff/machinery and I was good to go. The treatments began one year ago today.

For almost nine weeks, I rose every day at 5:30 AM to be on dark roads by 6:30 so I could be “in the treatment room” at 7AM. The four members of my treatment team are caring, healing individuals and made the procedure and process as painless and easy as possible. After the second week, we joked and talked every session about things like work, the color of my underwear, what we planned on doing over the weekend…

At the time I entered treatment, I made the decision NOT to share my situation with the world at large. I passed though the treatment supported by my baker’s dozen – my beloved partner Martin (who was as loving, caring and nurturing/supportive a caregiver and partner as I could have ever wished for) and a dozen of my closest friends and family members. You might ask why I chose to be so private about my condition; I guess I felt it better for my business to keep my cancer treatment on the down-low. I also had trouble dealing with what I had come to call “Cancer Face.”

Cancer Face is the look you see come over people’s faces when you share with them that you have been diagnosed with cancer. It is a look that combines fear, sadness, pity and love, and it was hard enough for me to see it appear on the faces of the people I loved, let alone from people I only knew socially or professionally. The C-word (cancer) scares people – it scared me. So, armed with my baker’s dozen of allies, I moved through treatment.

I won’t lie. Sometimes I wondered if it was all worth it…

Fatigue. Unfamiliar body cues. Uncontrollable urinary urges. A complete loss of libido. A total feeling of general “un-sexiness.” Fear of being more than three minutes from a bathroom. Radiation sunburn on my bottom that made me feel and look like a red ass baboon (Google it).  But forty-four sessions passed and I was done. Now the real work began.

Hoping…

Hoping I had made the right decision.

Hoping the radiation had “gotten it all.”

Hoping that my willy would still work after treatment (so far, so good!) And,

Hoping that prostate cancer will be the only cancer I have to face in my life…

I feel very blessed. I feel pretty good so far. My life has returned to near normal; in fact, I think it may be even better than before treatment. I have begun to take better care of myself. I value the friendships I have. I thank The Universe every day for my wonderful partner Martin, and all the love we share. And most importantly, I realize what a gift every single day is for me…

The symbol for prostate cancer awareness is a blue ribbon. Its blue, I’m sure, because blue is a manly color, and it serves as a compliment to the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. But I like to think that ribbon is blue because it symbolizes my victory (hopefully) over cancer. Winners are always awarded a blue ribbon, right?

Prostate-Cancer