The newest article for my column in Out & About Newspaper deals with having a plan to ensure success. All goals, whether they are personal or business, require a path from start to finish.
A man was speaking to a small group of people, and he asked how many would like the chance to win a diamond. Everyone volunteered. He put out 50 diamonds on the table. Forty nine of them were fake and one was real. Each person would get 60 seconds to examine them. If they found the real diamond, they got to keep it. A magnifying glass was also provided so they could inspect each one.
Each person examined the diamonds and none of them were able to discover the real one. Once they were finished, the man started the timer to give himself 60 seconds. In just 55 seconds, he lined them all up. With five seconds to spare, he said “This is the real diamond” and held it up.
How could he tell the difference? Since the fakes were all identical, they all looked perfect and flawless. The one real diamond had a small imperfection in it because natural stones do. Once they were all lined up, it was obvious to the naked eye.
What’s the moral of the story? A whole group of people tried to find a diamond, and they couldn’t. Why? Because they didn’t have a plan. The speaker did have a plan, and because of his plan, he was able to execute the action swiftly and successfully.
The first time I considered the possibility of Hillary Clinton as President was in 2005 when it was nothing more than a rumor. Since then, momentum has built and when we rang in the new year of 2008, things were looking really good for Hillary.
On Feb. 5th, she was on top of her game. I vividly remember sitting in a New Jersey hotel room with Rodney watching her speech on TV, and being so moved by her. She had such an inspirational message for the future. I was so proud that we’d supported her, and I remember walking through streets of New York City with my Hillary Clinton sticker on my coat. Other Hillary fans would pass me by and we’d make sounds and give each other high-fives. We were united.
But things have taken a drastic turn and she’s on my last nerve. This race is getting downright ugly. The Hillary I’ve seen lately is not the Hillary I’ve supported. I’m disappointed and ashamed. Is this the way you run our country?
I haven’t given up on her yet, but she’s cutting it close. I still have strong faith in her abilities as a President. I think that she has the guts to run this country and I like her ideas.
Still… this is ridiculous! She’s turning everyone off. People are going to hate the Democrats and vote for McCain instead. Bleh… I passionately despise that man. I get so sick of people saying “He’s experienced with war, he’ll know what to do.”
Yes, he’s been through war. That doesn’t mean he’s a good leader. I really don’t want him to be President.
So Hillary, stop fighting and stop bashing Barack. He’s on your team, silly!
And this controversy with that video footage… Girl, you lied. Just admit it. I think people will be more willing to forgive you if you just admit you got a little caught up in things. When you’re desperate for votes, I’m sure it is tempting to lie. Maybe I’d lie too if I had that much power. Who knows how we’d act in that situation. But now you’re caught, so you just need to come clean.
I’ll give it a little more time… But I must confess, I have been reading Barack’s blog…
It’s available in black, white, and brown.
Edit: It’s no longer available on the web, but as of 2011, it was still being sold at the store Rainbows & Triangles in Chelsea. They don’t have an online store, but if you call, you can probably pay over the phone and get it shipped.
There have only been 3 nights that Rodney and I slept apart in the 7 years we’ve been together. Once in 2001, once in 2005, and once in 2006. We’ve never went more than 24 hours without seeing each other.
Well this weekend, I’ll be breaking that record by spending not one, but two nights without him, and a full 48 hours apart.
2 of my nephews have birthday parties this weekend, but we don’t feel comfortable leaving Petey at a kennel to go out of town. He still hasn’t passed his bladder stones, so he’s kind of a “special needs” dog right now. So Rodney is staying home in Tennessee and I’m driving 4 hours to Illinois.
It’s going to be different without him. But I’ll make the best out of it. We’ll chat via webcam and he already has plans to spend time with friends this weekend. Wow, we’re both so independent all of a sudden.
The plus side is that I’ll have the car to myself, and I can listen to as much Mariah Carey as I want. Rodney hates Mariah. I can play the songs as loud as I want and sing along. Yes, there’s definitely going to be some very off-key “singing” going on in the car this weekend. There will also be some diva-like hand gestures. I’ll be really into it.
Can’t you just hear the bad singing now? Touch my bod-ay-yay-yeeeeeeah.
My Secret Reader:
Ah, the internet. An open portal to the whole world. A 24/7 spycam into the secret lives of others.
I’ve always known that there is the chance someone in my family would find my blog. I always told myself I’d close my blog if they did, because I knew I could never be as open and honest if I had to worry about them reading.
But one person I never expected to find my blog was someone I’d been in a relationship with. It was someone I’ve referred to as “Don” in posts that mentioned him. Well his real name is Dennis, and I found out today that he reads my blog.
Strangely enough, I don’t mind. When I found out, I didn’t feel the need to delete my blog. In fact, I was incredibly honored that he cared enough to keep up. It’s been 7 years since we broke up and I started my relationship with Rodney.
Recently I’ve had the strong urge to make peace with him, so I e-mailed him. He e-mailed me back, and I’m hoping we can talk about things.
I also wrote a post about him, but I never published it. When I wrote it, I obviously had no idea he was reading my blog.
Now that the cat’s out of the bad and we have opened the lines of communication, I’ve decided to go ahead and publish my thoughts in this post that never saw the light of day.
My Secret Post:
I bet you weren’t expecting to hear from me. Suddenly I have so much to say, and I hope it’s not too late.
I want to tell you that I’m sorry. I know I’ve apologized before, and I know that we have both moved on and have our own lives now, with our own relationships.
With all things considered, I guess you could say it all worked out. But even though it did, I’ve somehow always sensed that you were still hurt about the way things ended.
Maybe we’re both hurt. It was fast, I know that. One day we’re together, then the next, we’re dividing our belongings.
One of the reasons it had to end so abruptly was because I was so physically ill. There was just something inside me that was so upset about things, which caused me to run to the bathroom to vomit every time I came into our apartment.
But I still feel so bad when I think about how you must have felt. You probably thought I was throwing up because of you. Please understand, I wasn’t. Dennis, I would never get sick because of you. I think that you’re a wonderful person, and I’m so glad you were a part of my life.
It was the stress that made me sick, the feelings of turmoil and confusion that caused me to vomit. And please know that I’m not making excuses. No matter what, there is no excuse for hurting another human being.
All I know to say is that things changed. My heart was in a different place, and sometimes that happens in relationships. I realize that in your eyes, I’ll probably always be the bad guy who broke your heart, and I can accept that. I think that’s fair, and I’m certain I would have felt the same if I were in your shoes.
I’ll always hate the way things ended. I’ll always wish it could have been more diplomatic and more mutual. I think the love we had was very special and we had a bond that I’ve never shared with anyone else.
I’m okay with that too. I have no desire to replace you or erase you. Dennis is Dennis, and our relationship is an eternal part of our history. I really don’t see a reason to pretend it didn’t exist, so I embrace it for what it was.
You know, I also wonder if you were stuck thinking “what did I do to deserve this?” I can’t speak for you or read your mind, but I do remember you asking me that.
Dennis, there’s nothing you did. When I think about it, we were actually a pretty peaceful couple. We didn’t fight, we didn’t abuse or mistreat each other. I think we were a pretty good pair.
Like I said, sometimes things just change. It isn’t right, it isn’t fair, and sometimes it really hurts. I hate that it hurts, and believe me, it hurt me too.
So I guess this is what I’ve been wanting to say to you. I don’t know if it was a mistake saying these things, but I’m glad that I have.
These are things that I finally had the clarity to say. I could have never said them with such honesty back in 2001. It was only with time, age, and wisdom that I’ve finally seen things for what they were.
But sharing this with you makes me feel better, so I hope on some level, it makes you feel better too. I wish I could reach out and give you a hug, even if just for old time’s sake.
I hope everyone had a great Easter. Ours was nice and sunny, but deceptively cold.
Rodney had the idea of re-covering our dining room chairs. They are white, and unfortunately white chairs do not hold up well in a household with 2 cats and a dog. So we went to Hobby Lobby and found some gold fabric. The whole job was done for $16. Not bad at all.
This is a before and after. Pardon the small folds in the fabric. Re-covering a chair is harder than we thought…
On Sunday, we had Easter dinner. Rodney baked chicken, seasoned it, and even melted a slice of sharp cheddar cheese over mine. He knows I just love sharp cheddar. What would a meal be without mac and cheese? Mmmm. Also a sweet potato, whole grain rolls, salad, and strawberry shortcake.
After eating, we took Petey to the park to play in the grass and show off his new haircut. Doesn’t he look good? I did it myself. The cut isn’t perfect, but I’m doing much better.
I lost count of how many places Petey marked his territory somewhere after the 5th time. But Petey is a very social boy, so he never minds taking a break from pissing to bark at strangers jogging by. Here he is with Rodney trying to run after them.
One of my favorite trees is the Bradford Pear. I love it when they are in bloom during Spring. Every year, I say I’m going to take pictures of them, but I never do. So this year, I did. Here are some between the park and the golf course.
We came home and watched the Disney movie Enhanted. Really fun movie. I like anything shot in New York now that we’ve been there, but it was a good love story too. While we were on the couch, Purr Purr jumped up and put a stuffed bunny in check. He’d been getting a little too rowdy, but she handled him.
Sorry our other cat Prissy didn’t make an appearance. As usual, she’s camera shy. She spent Easter asleep on our bed. I did spend a little cuddle time with her, and even pulled a hair knot off her head. She promptly ate it before I could throw it away. I suppose I will wake up to find it on the carpet tomorrow.
Tonight I was thinking about our nephew and how it’s been almost a year since he died from a drug overdose. It was such a tragic event at age 23. Situations like these are difficult because there is so much anger left lingering after all the tears have dried. So many questions left un-answered.
I often hear people talk about losing someone they loved through an illness or suffering of some sort. It seems they always get a chance to say “goodbye”. For me, it seems that everyone who has died left without warning. It seems there are so many people I never got closure with. Grandparents, cousins, nephews, friends. It really makes me stop to appreciate each conversation I have with people. I always remember the last one.
The last time I talked to one Grandma was when I was in a hurry to get off the phone. I feel badly because if I’d known it was the last time, I would have said so much more. Then another Grandma, I sat with her at a restaurant, keeping my eye on the watch. Dad offered to let me ride back with them to the nursing home, but I declined. Would it really have bothered me so much to just haul my butt in the car and ride back with them? I can still see her tracking slowly to the car with her cane that night. If I’d only known it would be the last time I saw her.
Recalling these memories made me think about the conversations we have with people and the constant rush to be places and do things. Most of the things we’re in a rush to do won’t even matter tomorrow.
I try to value every moment of life, but many times I still feel I’ve failed to appreciate people. I always wish I could have one more conversation before they go, and maybe say the things I really felt in my heart.
Next time you’re engaged in a conversation with someone you love, I encourage you to imagine it’s your last. Make sure you’ve said the things you really felt so that you won’t regret not saying them later.
Before we get into this week’s article, I’d like to thank the wonderful readers of Nathan Exposed. My column on Out & About Newspaper’s website has consistently ranked highly in the “Most Read” articles section. On most days, I’m even at the #1 spot. I have no doubt that you guys have helped put me there by clicking over to my column through this blog. Your support really means the world to me, and I am so grateful for your loyalty.
This week’s article was a doozy. A straight man wrote in to tell me he was having sex with his friend’s wife, and the condom broke. He was scared he’d been exposed to HIV. This is a very real situation, and I had to think carefully about the advice I gave him. Not only did I need to address his concerns, but I also needed to get him to re-consider this awful situation of having an affair. The hard part was realizing this is not just another name in my e-mail box. He’s a real human being and there are consequences for everything.
All I can do is give it my best, and I do hope my advice is helpful.
Question Submitted by Reader—
I had protected sex with my friend’s wife, and while we were having sex, the condom tore. She has two kids and she says she doesn’t have HIV. What should I do? Will I get HIV? I’m a little afraid.
Starting from the top of the list, it’s good that you were using a condom. Safe sex is very important every time. Unfortunately, condoms can break. When this happens, action needs to be taken and it needs to be taken quickly.
The first thing you should do is get to a doctor, and it’s ideal that you go within four hours of possible exposure. You’ll need to discuss this at length so you and your doctor can determine if you need to start taking medications. If you do, this is called PEP (post-exposure prevention), in which you will be given a series of anti-HIV medications. The meds are very strong and can make you sick. You will have to take it for a full month. Because of the strength of this medication, doctors only recommend it in emergency situations.
Catholicism. It’s a religion that evokes very strong feelings, whether they be positive or negative.
I was raised Catholic and grew up in your traditional Catholic household. Church every weekend and on Holy Days, no meat on Fridays during lent, and confession for my sins on a regular basis.
By the time I was a teenager, I’d become rebellious and enjoyed pushing the limits of my religious confinements… as many young Catholics do. I went through many struggles with my religious identity, which continued into my adulthood.
Today, at age 26, I consider myself a “forward thinking Catholic”. I’ve denounced the strict beliefs of the church, but embraced my own personal beliefs of compassion and love that I believe to be truly “spiritual”.
I never go to the services, not even with my family on holidays. It’s just too difficult. But recently my Mom was in town, without my Dad. She usually goes to church with him, but this time I was the transportation and I took her to the church to drop her off.
I had my Nintendo DS Lite with me, and planned to play a game in the parking lot while I waited for her. It was no problem at all, I didn’t mind waiting.
But she gave me that hurt expression that Mom’s are so good at. “You don’t want to come in?” she asked.
“No, thanks. You know how I feel. But I’ll be fine. You go ahead and I’ll be here when you get out,” I said cheerfully.
“Oh, okay,” she said, hanging her head low and getting out of the car.
Arghhh! No matter how old I get, my Mom knows how to get my soft spot every time.
I slammed my Nintendo shut and walked cautiously inside. When she saw me, her face lit up with a smile. It was a nice service with Mom, I enjoyed it.
A few weeks later, I felt sentimental and decided to go to church alone. I had such a nice time with Mom, I thought maybe I would enjoy it by myself.
I walked in, and everything felt different. I was a gay man and everything around me felt so “straight”. I felt un-welcome, like everyone knew and didn’t want me there.
It was my imagination, I know it. I was just a guy in the back row. Nobody cared. But I felt uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. I didn’t believe the same things they believed. I felt like an imposter. I kept telling myself you don’t belong here.
Then I started thinking about when I was younger, and went to church with my family and my grandparents. Those days are done. Grandpa and Grandma are dead now. Mom and Dad are miles away. I’m just a guy… on my own. I don’t belong here. Nobody who made me feel safe and secure was around to protect me.
I felt tears surfacing. I can’t explain why. It was just emotional to know that the past is past, and there are so many feelings associated with the Catholic Church.
I waited until the time was right, and then I discreetly got up and slipped out. As I walked outside, the smell of rain filled my senses. The fresh air, the cool breeze. I felt as if I’d escaped.
I drove home and sat down on the couch next to Rodney. He held my hand and I cried. I don’t know why, but that’s okay. All that mattered was I belong here.
Add this to my collection of Mariah Carey posts. Yes, I know you dear readers hate the woman. The gays turned on her somewhere around 1998. I can only speculate, but I think it was the poodle hair she sported in Hawaii. It was right then and there that the gays threw in the towel. By 1999, I couldn’t get one gay friend to say they liked her anymore, and it was all downhill from there.
But I digress… I’ve been a loyal Mariah since 1990, and I suspect I always will be. Clearly somebody is buying her music… just nobody that reads my blog. (Except for you Alexsander.)
So her new CD is coming out, and I do believe my advice is helping. Look at Janet Jackson. I wrote several spirited posts back in 2006 giving her tips on how to make better music, and I think she took notes. That woman has completely turned it around. Good for you, Miss Jackson. I’m glad I could help you.
Now that brings me to my beautiful Mariah… you know you’re the only woman I’d switch for. But we need to talk about these rappers.
Let’s stroll back to 1995 when you did the “Fantasy” remix with ODB. Yeah, that was edgy. You were a pop princess living in Tommy-land, and collaborating with a rapper pissed off all the right people. It was a new sound for the Mariah we’d all known, and we liked it. It was a #1 hit. Good for you.
By 1997, the rap was going a little overboard. To this day, I don’t understand why people allow Jermaine Dupri to talk on their songs. “JD, y’all” is not singing… it’s not even rapping. He’s just this freakishly short man who says his name in the middle of songs, and ruins the whole damn thing for me. Really, Mariah… what value does he bring to the table?
As we moved into 1999, things got really crazy. There were just random guys screaming on your songs. No reason, they just screamed at really inappropriate times. The concept of rapping had went out the window. But I could still forgive you, because I understood that you were doing your independent thing, trying to find your place in the world, and all that good stuff.
We’ll bypass the early 2000’s because I think the media was incredibly harsh on you. So let’s just move on to to your most recent albums. You’ve survived the storms, you’ve grown up now, and you’re wiser and stronger. Why haven’t you ditched the annoying rappers?
Honey, you can out-sing anyone. You’ve been in this industry for nearly 2 decades! Why, oh why, do you feel like you have to share the stage with these rappers? You have enough talent to fill a 4 minute song on your own.
Last night, you appeared on Saturday Night Live with T-Pain, who looked like a homeless guy you picked up in an alley on your way to the show. Why???
The song was great. You were doing very well on your own. And you looked fantastic. I see no reason why this clown had to jump on stage 3 minutes into the song and start jumping around. Then you started dirty dancing with him. Bleh…
If you want my professional opinion; you should delay the album release and remove the rappers from the songs. Re-release it in May and let it be a true Mariah Carey album that features you and you alone. Come on… you’ve earned it!
Just look what my advice did for Janet.
Madonna… we’ll get to you next week…