Hello, It’s Me

Nov 17, 2015 / Filed in Blogs / 2 Comments

I finally feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief. My follow-up blood work and CT scans confirmed I am cancer-free. I was technically cancer-free three months ago, but the doctors expressed some concern (a less than 5% chance) that microscopic cells had spread to my lymph-nodes. Now that these results have come back, I finally feel able to accept that I’m free from those shackles.

A lot has changed in three months. We live in California now. I’m not sure how we survived the move. Having cancer, having surgery, going through recovery, taking all our personal belongings and saying goodbye to people we loved. Whew. Just typing it out puts me in a state of disbelief. But somehow we did it.

Our son is perhaps just days away from taking his first steps. This morning, he started standing up with the help of furniture. I couldn’t believe it when I saw him standing up in his bed, with that huge grin on his face. He knew what he’d done and he was proud of it. It breaks my heart a little.

I’ve been looking through photos and videos, taken just mere months ago, and feeling like they were only yesterday. How did this little baby, whom I held in my arms day after day, night after night, turn into this active little boy, giggling and playing, and growing up much too fast. Every parent talks about how quickly their children grow up. I knew it was true. I never doubted it. But I also wasn’t prepared. It just rips your heart out in a way I can’t describe.

I love who he’s growing up to be. He matures a little each day, and becomes better and better at communication. Sometimes I look at him and our eyes meet, and I capture this moment of “knowing” that we’ve connected somehow. And yet I miss the days when he was just a little spud, whose little head fit in the nook of my shoulder.

Ah, that nook. Parents know that nook. We spend less and less time cuddling, and someday his head won’t fit there at all.

What was the point of my story…?

Life changing, babies growing up, life speeding by.

Well this is just a combination of thoughts, and feelings, and memories. Tomorrow I will start a new day, reaffirmed as cancer-free, and clinging desperately to each moment of our son’s time as an infant.

Nathan, cancer survivor
Nathan, cancer survivor

I had my radical orchiectomy surgery yesterday to remove my right testicle, which had a cancerous tumor in it. The surgery went smoothly. I’d never been so scared in my life, but I made it through. The pain has been pretty intense. Medication helps a lot, but it’s normal to still have a little discomfort.

This all happened so fast, I haven’t really processed it yet. I just got the news last week (see previous post). I never expected this to happen, but now I’m Nathan, cancer survivor.

When I was asleep for the surgery, I had a dream about Beyonce running for president in 2016. It’s so funny, but that’s what I dreamt. So when I was waking up, my husband and parents were at my side looking over me. Through heavy eyelids, I whispered, “Beyonce is the answer.”

“What?” they inquired.

“I’ve had an epiphany. Beyonce needs to be our president in 2016. She will solve the world problems. I don’t know who her running mate should be, but she is the answer.”

Everyone laughed.

I’m just glad this is over.

I’m coming up on ten years since I started this blog. I was 23 at the time, and my first blog post makes me cringe because it reads like something a 23-year-old would write.

A part of me wants to erase it because the post seems immature somehow. It embarrasses me. But on the other hand, I admire my honesty in the post. I don’t open up like that anymore, at least not unless it’s to someone I know and trust.

That’s the difference between being 23 and 33. Now I’m just pondering this… Do we really mature or do we just self-censor?

With age, we realize our words and actions will be heavily judged and scrutinized by others. It starts when we’re children, a time when we express ourselves so freely. Then the older we get, the more we water down what we say to conform to society… To blend in and be “normal.”

Even though the first post I wrote is embarrassing for me to read, I can’t argue with its sincerity. And I feel exactly the same ten years later. I’m just less likely to share those feelings openly.

So have I matured at all, or just learned how to censor and hide everything I feel from the world? Aren’t we all self-censoring anyway?

A Sparkling New Blog

Jul 9, 2014 / Filed in Blogs / 4 Comments

Nathan Exposed responsive design

I’m (nervously) excited to present the new look of Nathan Exposed.

This is the first version that has offered a responsive layout, which should automatically adapt to your screen size—mobile, tablet, or desktop. I ran into some compatibility issues right before launching it, which always happens at the 11th hour. (Yippee!) If you run into any problems, please leave a comment and let me know.

Hopefully the new look will inspire me to write more often. I have many stories to share about this summer!

A year ago, I started the P90X program and had satisfactory results. I can’t say that I looked like one of the dramatic “Before and After” models you see in the videos, but I did feel and look healthier, and that was most important to me.

As trainer Tony Horton points out, the cost of the program is usually cheaper than a gym membership, and you’ll be more likely to stick with the program when you can do it in your own home. Even if gyms are open 24/7, I still think there’s a mindset that it’s a hassle for some people, and that’s why they fall off the wagon 1-2 months into their one year membership, making it a total waste. I was able to stick to the program for the full 90 days, and even after then, I continued to use some of the moves in my regular exercises.

Now P90X3 is here, 10 years later after the original, and I really think this one is worth checking out. I did my first one yesterday, Agility X, and it completely kicked my ass within the first 10 minutes. I can tell this is going to be a great program and will really challenge me, a year after finishing P90X.

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When you go to San Francisco, there’s one view everyone wants of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The best view of the Golden Gate Bridge overlooking San Francisco, CA

It’s the iconic view featured in movies, TV shows, and photos for the last 75+ years. But how do you get there?

This view can’t be found in San Francisco! It’s across the bay in Sausalito, California. Read on for a step-by-step guide to capturing a postcard-worthy view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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A Hoarder in Training

Oct 1, 2013 / Filed in Blogs / 5 Comments

photo of me

Fall is here, which I love. Halloween parties, cooler temperatures, and pumpkin spice-everything. But there is one fall task that I’m terrible at, and that’s cleaning out the garage.

I’m a sentimental person, which makes it difficult to part with anything I have saved. I have box after box filled with things that evoke some type of memory. A photo, a book, an inspiring letter from my high school art teacher. All of these things, no matter how small, mean something special to me. I have almost 32 years worth of accumulation, right down to the first outfit I wore after I was born.

It’s nice, in a way, to have such a consistent road map of my life. Most people I know just have fragments. Family photos are lost in fires, floods, or during a big move. But I could tell you my whole story, complete with props.

Reminiscing slows down the cleaning process, and I usually give up after a few days, put the boxes back in their designated corners, and vow to try again next year. I’m usually successful at eliminating a box or two, so there’s a little progress.

And since all of my new music, photos, movies, and books are digital now, it helps because I’m not adding new boxes to the garage. But I do foresee a potential problem in the future as my computer hard drives are close to being filled, and even my cloud-based online back-ups are nearing their limits. Yes, we will have a big problem in the future as we become dependent on internet storage, and we have thousands of gigabytes of data to manage. That’s a problem too big to tackle today though.

I found this photo above from autumn 1996, when I was 14. That was the last year of true innocence. The next year is when my issues with hiding my sexuality came to the forefront, as my hormones raged and I couldn’t keep my secret any longer. It spiraled from there and was rough until my 20s. But this moment captured in time on camera, I had a bright smile, and I enjoy this particular memory.

Maybe the true hoarding isn’t what we store in our garage, or our computer hard drives. Maybe it’s what we carry around in our hearts and souls; the memories that have shaped and defined us, and ones we can never let go of.

What’s Been Going On?

Sep 30, 2013 / Filed in Blogs / 1 Comment

A whole summer has passed with hardly a peep from me. I think it’s time I shared what’s been going on.

Starting with the biggest news, things are moving forward in a positive direction with the adoption process. We’ve been at it for over a year now, and it’s shocking to think about how much time has passed. Yeah, it really does take a long time, just as everyone says it does. But things are moving forward and we’re currently putting together the nursery, which is very exciting! I’ll post photos when it’s finished. We haven’t been matched with a baby yet, but we have narrowed our decision down to a newborn. We were originally working on adopting children between 8-12, as mentioned in earlier posts.

I was very nervous about having a newborn at first, but time has helped me realize that ALL people are nervous about newborns! If I wasn’t nervous, something would be wrong with me!

Second, things have improved quite a bit with all the stomach problems I was having. Part of it was due to my IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). If you have it, or know someone who does, you know it can control your life. I started working with a gastrointestinal specialist in July and it’s been great. I wish I hadn’t put it off for so many years.

Third, I’m much more involved in the foreskin restoration community. From time to time, I’ve posted articles here about the topic and received some great input from readers. I have some new information to share soon, as well as some side sites that may be of interest.

Fourth, and finally, it’s Halloween season—my favorite! I have a Halloween costume blog called Gay Halloween Costumes, which collects and posts the most popular costumes gay men are buying. It’s fun to be involved with what gay guys are buying for my favorite holiday!

That’s the news for now! I will expand on some of these topics soon.

My P90X Experience

Apr 26, 2013 / Filed in Blogs / 0 Comments

Many of you have probably heard of the P90X workout program. It’s a beast of a workout that requires 90 continuous days of activity to build muscle and lose weight.

Daniel and I started in January and completed the program. We’ve continued to do select exercises several times a week in April. It’s an excellent program and I have many good things to say about it.

An overview

P90X uses “muscle confusion” to boast fast results. By doing different exercises every day, your body doesn’t get a chance to adapt. This prevents plateauing, which is a common problem for people when they work out. It’s common to get set in a routine and eventually you body stops responding to the workouts. There is no plateau with P90X.

I can vouch for the effectiveness of muscle confusion. The workouts never really get easier. We were sore for at least the first 30 days. This is an especially rough period where a lot of people give up. There were days we could hardly move and the last thing we wanted to do was lift more weights or do more crunches. But you have to push through it. Surprisingly exercises did relieve some of the pain. Once we got warmed up and stretched, we felt a little better.

It continues to be challenging right up until the end, but you find ways to cope and it becomes manageable. Even now, there are exercises I can’t do very well, and some I can’t do at all. This confirms that there is plenty of room to grow with the program and even after 90 days, it will continue to challenge you to work harder.

A reality check on the results

The P90X website and commercials are packed full of shocking transformation photos. I have to admit that we don’t look like those photos.

Do we have more muscle definition? Yes, absolutely. Do we feel stronger and more energized? Oh, hell yes! We feel great! But we don’t look like those photos… Yet!

I do believe it’s possible and I do feel we’ll get there. We are healthier and in better shape than we were in January. I have no complaints about that.

A fair disclaimer about getting more out of it

Although we didn’t transform as dramatically as the people in the photos, I do have to say you get back what you put into it. We didn’t do doubles, which would entail doing two sets of exercises per day. We didn’t buy the expensive supplements and stick to the very strict diet guide they recommended. If we did all that, we would have even greater results and maybe we would look like the photos. So I’m willing to take the blame for that.

BUT… I know myself pretty well. If we did the doubles, if we stuck with these wildly strict diet guides, I wouldn’t be happy. I’d be overwhelmed, I would burn out, and I would probably quit the program. That’s just the truth.

Part of this challenge is accepting yourself and taking an honest look at what’s going to keep you motivated. I think that people who try too hard may do well in the short run, but in the long run they’ll get sick of it and won’t work out at all.

The schedule we adapted to was the standard P90X plan and it’s been manageable for us. We continue to do it now so I think it’s more effective because it’s stuck with us.

About Tony Horton, your fitness guide

Good ol’ Tony. There are so many crazy things he says that could be misinterpreted. I’m sure there’s a Tumblr page out there that’s created memes about it. He’s very colorful, but that’s what makes him fun and interesting.

He flirts with the guys in the gym a lot and he is particularly harsh with the women, especially the young pretty ones.

Before the end of the 90 days, you may not like Tony. You may have to mute the entire video and that’s okay. I think it’s normal to get angry with your trainer, no matter who they are. Here is a person who keeps pushing you and pushing you. It’s natural to want to take it out on someone.

In Tony’s defense, I think he is one of the most likeable and effective trainers I’ve seen. If I ever met him, I’d want to tell him how much I appreciate the work he does and how it changes lives.

Prepare to buy a new wardrobe

I have always been a skinny guy with a small body frame. But I have always dreamed of being strong and muscular. Over the years, I’ve tried different routines, but never saw results, other than being mildly toned.

When I look in the mirror now, I do see the beginning of some solid muscle definition, particularly in my chest. It becomes more evident when I put t-shirts on. They hug my body and most of them are too small now. Actually that helps because I feel like a giant and it boosts my confidence. But really, I look kind of silly now. I’m going to have to buy larger shirts, which I haven’t had to do since junior high!

Jeans are a separate problem. I love my jeans. I’ve spent the last few years building a very solid collection of nice jeans. God, there’s nothing like a great fitting pair of jeans, right? It can boost your mood and instantly make you feel better about yourself.

WELL… I didn’t realize all those damn squats they make you do would bulk up my thighs so much! Hardly any of my jeans fit now and I’m going to have to start over with a larger size. In retrospect, I probably would have skipped the lower body exercises. I know they’re important to keep you balanced. After all, you don’t want to be walking around with chicken legs, right?

But I’m fairly proportional and I would have been fine without them. Oh well.

Any questions?

I’ve focused on mostly the emotional and psychological changes after P90X. There are already hundreds of blog posts out there which focus on the specific exercises and how they impact you physically. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m happy to answer.

P90X is a great program and I highly recommend it! You’ll be healthier and happier and the sense of accomplishment is wonderful.

California Love

Feb 6, 2013 / Filed in Blogs, Daniel / 8 Comments

I’m in a California mood today. I’d like to go get Daniel from work and take the next flight there. We went to San Francisco last summer and had such a good time.

I’d recommend we start with lunch at The Buena Vista Cafe, where I’d have a big club sandwich and Irish coffee to drink. Daniel would order a crab salad sandwich, which would probably be covered with onions. I’d cringe just a little, but then smile because I’d know he’s happy and he never gets to eat stuff like that here in Nashville.

Next we’d go to Ghirardelli for dessert and walk around Fisherman’s Wharf. And after that, I’d want to sit on the staircase used for the set of Barbary Lane in Tales of the City. I’d pretend Mrs. Madrigal was waiting on the other side of the hill. Even though she’s a fictional character, it still makes me happy to imagine her there.

I’d have to take at least one ride on a cable car and enjoy the steep hills of the city. It’s really a lot of fun, and I don’t care if it makes me look like a tourist. I also enjoy the clanging sound.

Next would be an afternoon stroll at the Palace of Fine Arts. The massive Roman architecture is amazing to see up close and I love seeing the sunset there.

All of this would build up to a drive along the winding roads to Sausalito for a breathtaking view of The Golden Gate Bridge.

By then, I’m sure our friends Dan and Rich would be home from work and want to meet at their favorite neighborhood bar. That would wrap up an excellent day in one of my favorite cities.

About Nathan

I'm a happily married gay man, writing about my life as a new father and sharing our adventures with a side of snark.
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