Learning To Live Life Like A Honey Bee

Everyone thinks of honey bees as amazing social insects capable of creating delicious food stores that humans and other animals enjoy consuming. Their interactions and ability to communicate with other members of their colony has been the source of much study and mystery, with more incredible discoveries being observed on a regular basis. With so many specialized behaviors that honeybees posses, it makes me wonder why we don’t learn more about ourselves from this amazing insect. Yes, the obvious desirable aspects of honeybee life are easy to aspire to… we should work together peacefully for a common goal, if we all pitch in and do our part… those are just a given. But what about the different jobs a honey bees does during its life cycle? The unique roles that are in alignment with their age and current physical status? What can we learn as humans about our personal growth as we watch this amazing, beautiful, beneficial, and necessary creature?

Many times in our own lives we are presented with choices to make regarding career, mates, schools, and for some reason, they are always referred to as singular. We can’t or shouldn’t make more than one choice, because we should pick something and totally stick with it. In fact, until watching a TED talk by Emilie Wapnick, I didn’t realize my tendency to want to do many different things was actually a good thing, and it had a term all of its own… a “multipotentialite.” Yet worker honeybees are all multipotentialites, each doing a job that perfectly suits them until the time comes to move onto something else… wouldn’t it be great if we could all do the same? Well come to think of it, why can’t we?

Female honeybees, which are known as “worker” bees, begin life as a fertilized egg laid in a myriad of cells created for the purpose of rearing new bees. As the name implies, they do all the work in the colony while male bees are produced from unfertilized eggs and do nothing but eat and have sex. This is always a great way to start any bee talk and a useful tool to see if your audience is paying attention. Aside from the comedic references, this is an important aspect to note since 21 days later and with great metamorphoses  (egg, larva, pupa, etc.), an adult female bee emerges from a cell. With her body still soft and moist from being cooped up inside a tiny enclosure, she enjoys her first meal by consuming the cap of the cell she emerged from, and then cleans herself off. She’s unable to sting and defend herself with her parts being very new, so her first job is cleaning up the colony… she is known as a “house” bee and let’s get all anthropomorphic and call her “Gwen.”

Gwen has lots of work to do as a house bee… she will clean the colony by removing dirt and debris, sometimes even paint from the insides of man made hives. Bees that die inside the colony will be removed by Gwen and tossed out the entrance since they can rot and spread disease. No one likes cleaning the house all day it seems, and so Gwen will tire of her role and decide after about two days that she’d like to do something a little more challenging… of course this is something we often feel as humans. Sometimes we no longer feel joy in our jobs or careers and so we seek out something else to do… sometimes that change requiring a ton of courage in the process. For Gwen the change is part of her life and she will take on the role of what some like to call a “nurse bee.”

As a nurse bee Gwen will see to it that all developing bees are well fed and taken care of. She will gather pollen and honey that’s been stored in cells, add some of her saliva containing enzymes and even bacteria, and use it to make nutritious “bee bread.” She will feed this bread to the larvae that just hatched from eggs the queen laid about three days prior. As Gwen becomes more experienced as a nurse bee, she might actually experience a kind of promotion. It has been observed that older nurse bees are the ones that take care of developing queens when a replacement is needed, feeding them “royal jelly.” This magical food is what actually turns a developing worker bee into a queen… nothing else is different other than this specialized diet.

As Gwen continues to age and is about into her second week of being an adult honey bee, she will grow weary of taking care of so many and decide to change it up a bit. She will start producing wax flakes from her abdomen and chewing them to form honey comb. She will decide that perhaps making honey is her thing and she will construct comb for the purposes of storing nectar that foraging bees bring in from the field. This nectar has been mixed in-flight with enzymes, and will form into honey when the moisture is removed and it has the opportunity to “ripen.” Gwen will sit over exposed honeycomb and flap her wings to evaporate the water from the honey until it’s ready to be capped and stored. This is a huge career change but hey it’s a job and she enjoys it for about five days. At this point Gwen has a wonderful knowledge of hive life and she’s feeling like she knows her stuff… and perhaps it’s time to change it up a little once again.

Still considered a “house” bee, Gwen has decided security and environmental controls are her thing and she will begin guarding the entrance of the colony. Her stinger is ready for battle and every single bee returning from the field will get a little “sniff” to make sure they belong. Every honeybee carries a unique biochemical ID card to make sure they’re allowed to gain access to the colony, and Gwen is ready to kick ass in case other honeybees are looking to steal honey… because yeah that’s a thing. When she’s not defending the colony she might decide that it needs a little bit of air conditioning and will use the trick she learned from evaporating moisture from honey, and do the same with water to cool down the colony. By flapping her wings over water droplets intentionally brought in by other bees and causing evaporation, she can lower the internal temperature of the colony. All honey bee colonies must be kept at a temperature between 91 and 97 degrees fahrenheit for bees to develop properly… and that means sometimes being an air conditioner bee.

Well it’s been three weeks now and Gwen is tired of big city colony life. Like many of us, she wants to spread her wings and fly and explore what else life has to offer. She will take short trips around the outside of the colony, getting used to flying and orienting herself with the exact location of the colony with an error range of about three feet. Her internal GPS is thought to use the geomagnetic field of the planet combined with visual data, to get back to the same place every time, despite sometimes traveling up to twelve miles away! She will spend a day or two getting to know the neighborhood before doing her very last job… a foraging or “field” bee.

With her past behind her, Gwen sets off on her last and greatest adventure of all! She will spend about three more weeks flying all over town collecting nectar, pollen, water droplets, and plant resins… the later to make a glue / sealant called “propolis.” This is also the most dangerous job in her career path because Gwen will be away from the colony and her greatest source of protection… she will be extremely vulnerable to predators, pesticides, and even weather. It is very possible Gwen won’t return home, but she’s had a wonderful life and she’s taking it by the horns. Gwen will also navigate using the Sun, and will go back to the colony to let the other foragers know where food sources are in relation to it. She will perform the famously known “dances” which are fascinating to watch by the way, and can actually be read by humans. I’m honored to say I have done so myself within the glass hives of the University of Miami, during a brief internship when I was a teen.

If Gwen doesn’t get killed by predators or pesticides and makes it to her final days, her wings will become frayed and torn, and she will be unable to fly. She will be about 45 days old when she will decide that she’s had a full life and doesn’t want to endanger the colony by dying inside of it. She will exit the colony and fall to the ground, crawling away from the family of sisters that brought her into the world and saw her out of it. She will have looked back at a truly exciting life filled with many jobs, adventures, and knowledge… a day that we will all experience within our lifetimes. And hopefully just like Gwen, we can look back knowing we made the best of it, and lived life to the absolute fullest… because it’s never too late to reinvent ourselves.

Abusive Relationships – A Cancer With Many Shapes And Sizes

It was really difficult for me to decide what to title this article. It’s been such a long time since I’ve last written, and there was so much I wanted to say in as few words as possible. I recently just ended a nine year relationship and while it wasn’t chronically abusive in itself, a mutual friend offered a healthy dose of ridicule and repeated affirmations about how interior and damaged I was. This was accompanied by disturbing images and videos sent to me over the course of 25 years. When it came time to finally stand up for myself, the reactions of my partner made me realize that not only had our time together come to an end, but how the abusive situation had been completely normalized and even expected. My feelings were no longer an issue, since I should basically know better and await our friend’s repetitive behavior. The worse part being that after every hostile interaction, my friend would emphasize, “You know I love you Mike, I’m just joking with you.” Like many abusers, the point is to gaslight your target and make them believe through repetition that something must be wrong with you… that your pain is actually your own fault.

I first met my friend… let’s call him “Javier” for sake of anonymity, almost 25 years ago on America Online. At the time I was very much attracted to “alpha” males and there was certainly little doubt that Javier considered himself to be that and so much more. He worked in Law Enforcement and as a young gay man this was definitely a plus. We dated for almost two months when I quickly realized he had issues with expressing emotions, anger, and just being plain human. He got upset easily and didn’t have any patience whatsoever. One beautiful day early in our relationship while driving, someone cut him off and he thought it would be appropriate to exit the car and approach the female driver… which didn’t sit well with her boyfriend who was also a cop. Javier realized that he actually worked with the officer, smiled and said “It’s okay you’re good…” and came back to the car. The entire time I was incredibly embarrassed and saw the moment as a kind of “light bulb” of awareness.

We continued to date for a bit until one night I decided to make dinner for Javier at his house, and he thought it best to stay upstairs and watch TV while I cooked. He turned on the downstairs tv for me before leaving and I knew then he wasn’t relationship material, but we continued to stay friends. As is the case so often with gay relationships, we often remain friends with people we’ve dated… and I still think that’s a really wonderful thing to do. As time went by, Javier and I grew our friendship, but the sudden outbursts of anger didn’t go away. One night while exiting a movie theatre with Javier, I looked at his chest and playfully pulled the time honored joke of telling something they had food on their shirt. When Javier looked down, I moved my finger up to touch his nose and playfully said “HA HA! Gotcha!” Javier immediately lost it and suddenly started yelling at me to never touch his face… his rant continued until I left to my car. I thought that would be the last time I would see him.

Eventually life found me in the first relationship since the death of my best friend, and I was head over heals for yet another Alpha acting male. It lasted only four months and the timing of the breakup couldn’t have been worse. I felt incredibly alone and broken, and Javier had once again worked his way into my awareness. When I was in the relationship his presence didn’t appear threatening to me in the least, so once again our friendship was rekindled. One particular day I was a total mess, I couldn’t stop crying and Javier thought it would be great to do lunch. We ended up at The Cheesecake Factory where I found it next to impossible to keep food down. The relationship experience itself had led me to lose over 20 pounds and I couldn’t stop crying at the restaurant. At first Javier was kind and caring, but when his words didn’t seem to have any effect, he suddenly began to scream at the top of his lungs “Shut the fuck up Mike! I’m so fucking tired of your crying!” Of course everyone turned around to look at us… my grief was temporarily suspended and replaced with the feeling of being completely mortified.

Javier started laughing hysterically, saying “Oh my god, did you see? He fucking blew his brains out! What the fuck was that?!”

By this time in my life Javier had become a fixture in my family. His outrageous words and phrases were a big hit with everyone, and he actually did often act like a hilarious stand up comedian. However the focus of his jokes started to change, and very quickly I became the punchline itself. The mocking was subtle at first, but little by little it started to get worse. The sudden bursts of anger didn’t stop either, they ranged in frequency and at times came out of nowhere. On one particular day we were roller blading in South Beach and I was talking about something as we skated down Ocean Drive. Javier suddenly started screaming at me without warning “Shut the fuck up! You don’t stop talking! It just never ends! Shut the fuck up already!!!” I just wanted to cry when the shouting was done and I was convinced Javier’s outburst would be his last in my presence. This kind of irrational outburst was just too much… and frightening.

Something else began to happen at this time with Javier, it was just as the Internet began to blossom and video was now something easily attached to email messages. So it wasn’t uncommon to get messages from people you knew, with the most unusual kind of attachments in video format. Javier made his affinity for disturbing images and video well known at this time when one day I opened one of his attachments. The video showed a very handsome young man with perfect hair and eyes, looking into a web camera… I still remember how clear the image was. Suddenly the young man pulls a gun out, sticks the barrel in his mouth, and…

I stopped the video immediately. I knew what was going to happen next. I called up Javier and was extremely upset, telling him he couldn’t send me such graphic content. Javier started laughing hysterically, saying “Oh my god, did you see? He fucking blew his brains out! What the fuck was that?!” It seemed like once Javier knew this kind of imagery was a trigger for me, it only got worse. The images were horrific… one of them showing a picture of a soldier posing with a dead man that he had literally just shot his head off, like some kind of trophy. It was absolutely disgusting and I made the decision to never open an attachment from Javier again. But then phones gained the ability to start receiving photos as well.

I am an animal lover. I have spent years of my life volunteering and educating people about animals, I have donated money to animal causes, both of my dogs are rescues and the list goes on. For Javier this was yet another weak spot he could target, and I started receiving pictures of dead animals on my phone. Mutilated animals. Kittens run over by cars, dead opossums with live young still in their pouches… and it went on and on. My complaints fell on deaf years but at least I had some support. My new boyfriend was also an animal lover and a paramedic, and he had no problem telling Javier he was sick or mental, and he needed to seriously stop. He told me on several occasions he didn’t like Javier’s influence on me, however on one faithful night Javier came to his aide and they kind of bonded.

It was New Years Eve and I got seriously drunk at a gay bar. I couldn’t find my boyfriend or Javier, and it turned out they had left me at the bar to go get something at a Seven Eleven. I could barely walk and was incapacitated, and I couldn’t believe I had been left alone. In a drunk panic I sent some nasty texts to my boyfriend on his phone… they went along the lines of “You’re just like all the other men in my life leaving me…” I can’t be certain because I was inebriated at the time, but they were deeply hurtful to my also drunk boyfriend. Finally, Javier showed up with car and my boyfriend, and of course he would not stop yelling at me in regards to the texts. He was screaming in my ear and I couldn’t even open my eyes I was so drunk. I removed the cap from the bottle of water I had in my lap, and I squeezed it hard sending water across the cabin into Javier’s face. He was beyond angry and started spinning my car in circles, making me feel like I was going to puke all over. He was determined to make me feel as horrible as possible, screaming and swerving the car back and forth all the way to the Interstate.

The routine was always the same, go for the jugular and then withdraw saying “I was only kidding, I love you.”

The yelling continued through our friendship, even when picking me up from surgery and under the effects of antiesthetic. It was not unusual for Javier to mock me in front of others, embarrass me, or event suddenly burst out with “Oh here we go again! It’s all about Michael!” in the middle of a group conversation. I finally told Javier we were done as friends after an incident where we were going to a club with friends, and he said out of the blue “So help me if you get drunk again I’m going to kick your ass.” This had become a recurring thing to say, he was always going to kick my ass for something, and I was done with being publicly ridiculed. I ended the friendship and he called up my sister crying and crying, saying I wasn’t his friend anymore and how upset that made him. I felt guilty as all hell, and he agreed to stop what had turned into outright bullying.

My friendship with Javier got better after that, but only for a while. I met Eric nine years ago and all went great at first until we had our first falling out. I hadn’t slept for four days and Eric and I got into a heated argument. He called Javier up and ended staying with him for a few nights… that of course opened the door for heightened and continued attacks on my character, and finally my Spiritual practice. The routine was always the same, go for the jugular and then withdraw saying “I was only kidding, I love you.” This disgusting repetitive display not only continued in Eric’s presence, it started to become part of a game almost. Sometimes both Eric and Javier would engage in a tag team approach teasing me about everything from my Spirituality, to my desire to help others. As the years progressed, Javier also became increasingly racist and a supporter of hateful ideologies. It was a powder keg just waiting to explode. My feelings meant absolutely nothing since it was always “It’s just Javier being Javier. That’s just the way it is.” This was like a huge flashback for me. Being repeatedly told that something offensive and violating is to be “accepted“, is something that was repeated to me a child that suffered from sexual abuse at the hands of my father.

Yesterday I made my position clear and told Javier we weren’t to be friends any longer. His response was “I forgot I can’t joke with you.” Not “I’m so sorry I hurt you.” In fact, I was told time and time again that I’m “too sensitive” and that “I need to just let it go” every time I displayed any sign of anger towards Javier. The gaslighting is incredibly intense when you’re in any kind of an abusive relationship. You’re always made to believe that something must be wrong with you, or that the very feelings you’re experiencing are your fault because you allowed them to exist. It’s fucking amazing when you look back… and that’s something I was told repeatedly also “You always dig up the past..” People that are afraid of the truth and established patterns or behaviors will always use this as an excuse. You should forget about the past because well, the past doesn’t show them in a very positive light.

The most hurtful thing regarding abuse is something I learned as a child. When I brought up the sexual abuse I had experienced with my father to people outside the family… the hands down my pants, the words “You like this don’t you?” , the pure ugliness and evil associated with this action, I was met with downright anger and hostility. My family was enraged that I chose to disclose this activity with a social worker, and I was told “He has a big mouth” in front of the family attorney. No one likes it when you point out the ugly that’s been occurring, because it points a finger at the complacency of others. And so just as my family was angry at me for talking about my dad, my husband became angry at my decision to end my friendship with Javier. His complacency was in full view of everyone else, he couldn’t say he didn’t know about it because even as recently as my wedding dinner, Javier threatened me at the table “So help me Mike if you hurt Eric, I will kick your fucking ass.” He had repeated this twice to make sure I heard him and I intentionally ignored his words. Demonstrating his alliance and support with my significant others had become standard practice for Javier, it made himself look stronger and my position extremely weak. And this worked as planned as my husband had grown particularly fond of him.

I have some ideas why Javier is the way he is… and self loathing because of his sexuality is front and center. In the 25 years I have known him I have never intentionally met a member of his family. He’s incredibly close with his mom, dad and brothers and holds them in high regard, however he’s incredibly closeted. So much so that he kept me and Eric (and my ex) tucked away in a box, and if I ever joking and said something like “Tell your mom I said hello…” he would become enraged and say something like “Why did you have to go there? It is what it is Mike… go fuck yourself.” He seldom introduces me to any of his other friends either, I’m not sure why but I have probably only met a small handful of them. However most of my friends all know Javier and they have seen what he’s capable of. One friend in particular would warn others prior to his arrival at dinner what would probably go down, while another was Javier’s target behind the scenes. Javier found him particularly annoying mostly likely because he couldn’t get under his skin, and during a group trip to Disney Javier was shouted at me “I can get him deported with a single phone call Mike, I just pick up the phone and they’ll deport him.” My friend was in the country legally, however Javier’s occupation in Law Enforcement gave him the perception of omnipotence of some kind or another.

I asked Javier once to become FaceBook friends and he warned me in advance that it would be open season on me. I literally thought he was joking since he always says “I’m kidding Mike, you know I love you…” but he wasn’t. He would insert himself into threads of personal interest to me and make antagonistic comments, even sexuality explicit ones complete with eggplant emojis… threads that my former boss and relatives were participants. I had to eventually block him and he was pretty proud that he got me to the breaking point, even boasting about it. My partner Eric mentioned to him that it wasn’t nice of him, but as always people just expected Javier to be a social deviant and my feelings weren’t really of consequence.

Abuse is like a cancer. It grows so slowly and before you know it, it’s at stage 4. Just as no one wants to acknowledge your little chances for survival, no one wants to admit that someone they love has been subjected to repeated harassment, abuse, or bullying. Not only am I proud for standing up to Javier, it was also the ideal opportunity for my husband to demonstrate his love, support, and affection. And when that didn’t happen, I knew our time was up. The fact that my husband even had to talk to Javier before a recent vacation to make sure he didn’t act up in front of people at my request, emphasizes his level of awareness. Still, the emphasis was the same… it’s my problem for feeling that way, it’s my problem for looking at the historical evidence. Yet as anyone that’s reading this is probably thinking, “What took you so long?” I can tell you that when such a toxic person invades your inner circle, they will garner support for their behavior because the end effect is similar to when they’re humiliating you in public… the want to make you look bad and elevate themselves. I am SO BLESSED however that the vast majority of people that know Javier saw this coming, and have rallied to my side for support. Sadly, I couldn’t count my husband as one of them.

The exit out of an abusive situation is never easy, and often has unseen hurdles. The gaslighting and finger pointing are intense. But the important thing is that you eventually take the steps necessary to put your own self first, and that can be the hardest decision to make ever. I don’t know what’s going to happen now… I don’t see myself ever in a serious relationship again, because I repeat painful patterns and honestly I need to respect myself more. I’m 52 now and I shouldn’t be spending anymore time on others, when it’s obvious I need to work on myself. And that’s what an abusive situation seeks to accomplish… the irrelevance of your personal feelings and emotions. Not anymore, not ever again.

Lured By Muscle – Gay Bodybuilders Are Not What They Appear To Be

As a young gay male, there was nothing more desirable to me than to be in a relationship with a man that was really muscular. Looks didn’t matter so much, the major requirements being incredibly smooth muscle paired nicely with ripped six pack abs, the stuff of Muscle & Fitness magazine covers. Of course since you want to attract that kind of man, looking somewhat similar would definitely be to my advantage. And so my original intention in the pursuit of bodybuilding (before realizing the health benefits) was to look like what I was seeing in magazines lining store shelves… the best free porn ever invented for those counting the days before they would reach their 18th birthday. Eventually, through tons of hard work, dedication and previously failed attempts at online dating, you meet your first bodybuilder and think it’s going to be heaven on earth… and it totally sucks. Your expectations hit rock bottom and rather than associate the experience with bodybuilding, you think it must be the person, and you continue trying. Well I’m 51 now and consider myself to be in a very happy and fulfilling relationship with my best friend, and now looking back I can identify a pretty interesting pattern…. bodybuilders kinda suck.

Mike Robert - The Geek With Muscles
So much work to get to this place of being huge, but turns out it’s nice to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

Before I go any further, let me just say I’m still into bodybuilding and being inside a gym continues to be a part of my life as it has been for almost 30 years now. The experience has changed somewhat though, and I have to honestly say that I do it mostly for me and as I’ve already alluded to, it hasn’t always been that way. Many people from both sexes, orientations and identities, are guilty of trying to look a certain way for the purposes of attracting a mate. This kind of behavior is not unique to humans, and can be seen all over the animal kingdom. Looking good, healthy and strong, is anthropologically a huge button pusher for those seeking to pass on their genetic material, and bodybuilders often look like they’re on their A game when it comes to this. Unfortunately what’s on the surface is literally only skin deep and more often than not, bodybuilders, especially the gay ones, are often hiding a plethora of insecurities and unhealthy habits directly proportional to the amount of mass they carry around. To say they’re high maintenance is a total understatement.

I will never forget meeting my dream fantasy man on a gay cruise once… he had to be at least 6’4″, 250+ lbs of solid hairless ripped muscle, complete with a shaved head and a mean look on his face. I met him on the dance floor and it’s a little known fact that huge muscle guys often like little muscle guys… so at 5’5″ and 185 pounds I was good to go and all I needed was a handle to become his carry-on baggage for the evening. He was French and didn’t speak a word of English, however as gay men, we understand fluent dog and words aren’t necessary. I soon discovered reproductively he totally matched his stature, and could shame your favorite ungulate. Something weird happened that night though, because what I thought was going to be an incredible time was in fact, largely mechanical and lacked any kind of passion. How could this happen? How could Mr. Right… I mean Monsieur le Droit, be so wrong? I was determined to find answers and so I set out on a five year mission to seek out even more bodybuilders and boldly go where every bottom had gone before… but with a clear mind for observational purposes.

“…the minute I heard “Can you put the peanut oil dressing on the side?” I knew there wouldn’t be a second date.”

My findings? Well I’ve discovered that many body builders rely entirely on their looks and physique, and forget the subtle nuisances that make any sexual experience or relationship wonderful and engaging. They often frame their perspective in such a way that you are incredibly fortunate to experience muscles so huge and as such, what more could you possibly ask for? Gay bodybuilders are so often focused on physical aspects of themselves, they forget about the other person and what their…. dare I say, feelings are. Eventually this becomes super annoying, especially when you meet one that looks like they fell out of a magazine and are so concerned about their dietary requirements, that watching them order a meal at a restaurant is like a nightmarish crash course in nutrition with an emphasis on carbohydrates. Been there, done that and the minute I heard “can you put the peanut oil dressing on the side…” I knew there wouldn’t be a second date. Sometimes I wonder if his jaw is still so perfectly square? Did he move to West Hollywood where that kind of thing is perfectly legal and encouraged? Sorry, I digress.

The other thing about gay bodybuilders is their health. Looks can be incredibly deceiving and social media platforms like Instagram only illustrate this point… people are getting more and more massive, yet actually living shorter lives in the process. I am proud to say I’ve never injected any kind of steroid into my body, and unfortunately that’s pretty common in a sub-culture that has also seen its share of substance abuse. In fact, a study at Baylor college indicated that among bodybuilders that started out young, the average age of death was 47 years old for the 597 men studied. If you managed to make it past 50, the numbers started to normalize. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that massive quantities of muscle require massive amounts of blood to keep it alive… and a good heart to pump it. Most bodybuilders avoid cardio exercise like the plague since it also burns lean muscle, and when combined with an alphabet of synthetic metabolic substances… look out. The awareness of this kind of health issue becomes amplified when you’re involved in social media circles focused on bodybuilding. The posts regarding the sudden and unexpected death of a fellow body builder often from a heart attack, are surprisingly frequent when so many look so healthy.

Of course if you try hard enough, you WILL eventually find that bodybuilder that is well balanced, not conceded, and looking to live a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. However, I strongly believe those kinds of persons are much fewer in numbers in the population of gay men than one might imagine. And while all these men are busy searching for an archetype that doesn’t really exist, they pass up potentially wonderful relationships and experiences with people that aren’t as muscular or maybe lack a six pack. These people look at themselves objectively, and are genuinely interested and concerned about how they treat and interact with others. In other words there’s an untapped market… go seek it out and find yourself a good man. He may not have the body of your fantasies, but his heart will be real enough. Just remember, there’s guys you f—, and there’s guys you marry.

Why Don’t Say Gay Terrifies Me

It’s hard to believe by looking at this photo of me in the 10th grade, how tormented I was on the inside.

Growing up as a gay kid in school was probably one of the scariest experiences of my life. Going far back as elementary school, I knew something was very different about me compared to other kids, and I did everything I could to avoid confronting the realty that awaited me. I wasn’t great at sports, I didn’t like girls, I wasn’t even into the same music or cartoons as other children my age were. I couldn’t relate to the rowdy boys that pretended to be soldiers at war, or the ones that talked about He Man – Masters of the Universe… I just wanted to learn about science and watch the Smurfs. I wanted to hang around girls and enjoy the bond they seemed to share with one another, to experience being shameless about being creative and good at sewing. I just wanted to be myself… and I was terrified to do so. I was so frightened to let anyone see the real side of who I was, else run the risk of being bullied and ridiculed. It was bad enough that when it came time to form teams for group sports, I was ALWAYS the last one picked, always the one person in the class to endure the longest session of public humiliation. One by one, as each person was chosen and the available pool of students became smaller and smaller, the unspoken became increasingly obvious… I was not wanted, I was not good enough. With each new sport played, the process was repeated… month after month, year after year. Through a cruel election of my peers, through the visual display of fingers not pointing in my direction… I was not wanted, I was not good enough.

Junior High eventually came around and a new horror was brought into existence, we had to change clothes in front of other boys in the locker room. Suddenly I was immersed in the reality that if my eyes should accidentally look in the wrong direction, I would be called out and even worse, pulled from the closet that had protected me for so long. I found a false sense of safety by changing with other “nerds” that weren’t good at sports and engaging them in conversation. At least we had the appearance of being normal, of just two guys getting ready for physical education class, but even that proved to futile in preventing episodes of outright personal assault. I can remember my friend Raj being picked up while still in his underwear and thrown into a trash can, clearly singled out because of his ethnicity and the color of his skin. On another occasion, still fresh in my memory, we were surrounded by a group of at least 20 while we sat with our backs against the wall next to the outdoor eating area. There was no where to run while a tall male student stood over us, thrusting his hips back and forth while repeatedly telling Raj, “go ahead, suck my dick… go ahead, I know you want to.” His vulgar actions provided a show for the other students, and instead of anyone running to our aide, we were laughed at and mocked… the crowd only dispersing after a teacher noticed the large group huddled around the wall. Indeed, physical education class provided an open arena for bullies to do their thing, largely unsupervised.

Going into the 10th grade and fastly approaching the darkest years of my life where I no longer had the desire to live, I absolutely refused to experience this kind of repetitive harassment again. In the beginning of the school year I approached my physical education coach, someone the other students nicknamed Mighty Mouse because of his short and muscular stature, and told him I wouldn’t be attending class because I was working on getting a note from my doctor to exempt me from taking the course. I explained that I would be in the library until this could be finalized, and he could find me there if need be. My coach accepted this reasoning at first, and would issue me daily passes to go to the library. My mother went to our family doctor to get the necessary documentation, however the amazing school board of Dade County, Florida, had decided to treat those not wanting to attend physical education class like an adult trying to obtain disability payments. Suddenly there was a process to be followed with all kinds of assessments of my abilities, and what I could and couldn’t do… something that a kid / family without health insurance could not afford. I kept asking for hall passes until one day Mighty Mouse asked me “So what are you going to do when you get married? Is your wife going to give you a hand job or something?” Yes, apparently at Miami Sunset Senior Highschool, it was acceptable to say those kinds of thing to students in the 10th grade and thankfully, I still had some fight left in me. I informed my home room teacher of the situation and she became livid, telling me she would get to the bottom of it. The next time I would see Mighty Mouse he verbally questioned my masculinity by asking “Are you a sissy Robért?” So yeah, being bullied by teachers is also a thing kids experience in school.

There was no where to run while a tall male student stood over us, thrusting his hips back and forth while repeatedly telling Raj, “go ahead, suck my dick… go ahead, I know you want to.

When I reached 11th grade I was tired of fighting. I was tired of fighting the truth of what I was, I was tired of fighting with others telling me how wrong I was. I was tired of going to my friend’s grandmother for some kind of consolation, only to be told “You have a demon inside of you Michael.” I was tired of my Uncle Gene seeing how depressed I was and one day telling me that he’d always love me, no matter what… “as long as you’re not a god damned homosexual.” I was tired of my cousins being so incredibly kind to me, letting my guard down as result, and then randomly blurting out some bullshit like “I just pray for you so much Michael, because I don’t want you to go to hell.” Because nothing says I love you like telling someone they’re going to hell with a smile on their face. I was tired of seeing my entire church youthgroup, a church that I CHOSE to be baptised in at the age of 14 in front of an entire congregation, turn their back on me when a bitter girl I wouldn’t kiss decided to tell everyone I was gay. I was tired of my own brother handing me a loaded gun and telling me to go kill myself in front of him, while his closeted Baptist Minister twin lectured me on morals…raiding my porn collection for his own use when I wasn’t home. I was tired of my sister calling me a faggot because she knew how much I hated it, and my only retalitory response was to call her a fat cow. Upon which she would cry and go running to my mom… and yeah, you guessed it, I’d be the one to get into trouble. I was so tired… I was tired of hate and just wanted nothing more than to die. I couldn’t experience another day of the constant fear and blatant two faced love by relatives in the name of religion.

Writing this was harder than I expected… I realize now there is so much anger left inside me. There is much pain associated with those memories and looking back, I have no clue in the Universe how I made it through. I used to think kids had it easier these days in school… after all, there are shows where being a gay teen is wonderful and accepted. However now there is a new evil out there, an evil that seeks to take back the years of work and progress that we as a community, have made in the fight for equality. There are those in the highest levels of Government that want children to know they’re not normal, and are validating the hate that some of their fellow students feel. A door has been opened that can not easily be shut, a door that once held back the darkness and told people it wasn’t okay to hate others and commit acts of violence against them. Somewhere out there, in the State of Florida, there’s a little skinny Michael experiencing the exact fears, emotions and inner conflicts that I did, and on top of that, now has to deal with someone like Govenor Ron DeSantis making it against the law to address those issues through education. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law is sending a deadly message to gay youth, and it needs to be repealed.

My high school counselors saved my life… period. A female counselor whom I’ve tried to remember her name for years, and a social worker named Mike Miller did the work with me to get me functioning again. Together they showed me how to respect and love myself, to be proud of who I am. Had this happened today, chances are I wouldn’t have even made it to the counselors office that day my aunt forced me to go. I wouldn’t have been able to handle the hate coming at me from all sides, including the government itself. I would have taken my life, exactly as I intended to do when I realized I was gay.

It’s not really surprising to see the recent actions of our government, De Santis didn’t want to protect our children during COVID, so why would gay youth be any different? Watching so many high school students marching in yesterday’s pride parade made a huge impact on me… however the darkness of the reality that awaits so many still rings true. I wonder who the next parent will be to suddenly discover that their child, the bright light that carried them through the darkest of times, the person they brought into this world, the person they watched grow into a remarkable human being, the one they loved more than life itself… was gay,

… through their suicide note.

To anyone reading this going through something similar, trust me, it gets better. Don’t let fuckers like DeSantis win. There’s so much life to live, and as hard as it may seem, I got through it and so can you. We need you alive to help continue to the fight… until we don’t have to.

My Life Since The Hot Seat

photo credit – thejoywithin.org

In one month, almost to the day, it will be four years since I traveled to Orlando Florida with my amazing friend Kim, to partake in something we had only learned about the year prior. It had been an interesting journey for the two of us, rapidly growing and learning about “Law Of Attraction”, or how some have come to know it, “The Secret.” We had high hopes and even higher expectations. I was certain I was going to get picked to be in the infamous “Hot Seat” and get my opportunity to speak with Abraham, my only concern being the actual question… because I had none really. Finally the time came when I would notice a strange energy about the room, and an awareness in Abraham’s words… did they have some special meaning encoded within them? So with my question in mind, I raised my hand and was chosen to speak with “infinite intelligence.” This was an amazing experience, one that I will never forget, but did it change my life in anyway?

I have been blessed to have heard some amazing spiritual leaders speak in person, Eckhart Tolle, The Dalai Lama, a number of pastors that seemed totally tapped into some loving force… but seldom do you get to chat with one in person, while a thousand or so people watched. I had fully expected my interaction with Abraham to be life changing, but in what way? Would I suddenly manifest great wealth and a beautiful home? Would I win the lottery? Would I suddenly become enlightened in a way only few have known? Well to answer simply, yes…. and also no. I think my biggest surprise with deep diving into LOA (Law Of Attraction), was that while I was truly manifesting amazing things into my life, they happened in ways that were completely unexpected, and sometimes downright magical. At times it almost felt as though things were manifesting too quickly, and I wanted it to slow down. While at other moments I felt completely stuck, like I must be missing something, like I was almost there.

I got my huge lightbulb moment about LOA about a year after seeing Abraham in person. I had actually stopped listening to them at one point completely, ignoring my great desire to hear the many YouTube videos of their sessions that are available free of charge. It wasn’t that I was turned off or angered by them, on the contrary it was because I truly believed I was learning from them. And perhaps if I was vibrating as “student” and not in the sense of applying this knowledge, maybe that meant I wasn’t vibrating as “ready.” So I said to myself “This isn’t rocket science.” and I went on my merry way of applying what I had learned, instead of just listening to more and more examples of what to do. I actually felt this really moved me into the right direction, until the moment when I kind of felt like I needed more instruction, because obviously I wasn’t doing something just right enough. So I started listening again and that’s when it happened.

I was taking a break from the office on a beautiful sunny day, and found myself walking on a tree lined pathway not far away. The sky was so blue, the air was clean and the heat wasn’t oppressive as is often the case in Miami. I was listening to a track on YouTube and Abraham was talking about using day dreaming as a tool for getting yourself where you needed to be vibrationally. Since I was born a day dreamer, this was an easy task, but there’s something that most people do, including myself, that ruins what they called “A perfectly good day dream.” In addition to not feeling sad during your day dream because you don’t have what you want (because that just emphasizes and vibrates lack), many people also try to figure out how they’re going to accomplish what it is they’re actually dreaming about. And there lies the problem… or as Abraham put it “Why ruin a perfectly good day dream by trying to figure out how you’re going to get there… that just adds clutter and resistance.” And the light bulb suddenly went off. While Law Of Attraction is so much more than just day dreaming about what you desire, perhaps this was the one tool that would help me move to where I needed to be vibrationally. I felt so close as it was… maybe this would bring me past the finish line.

At first, I didn’t notice anything huge manifesting in my life, although there were some small things here and there that seemed to be working for me… after all, I already considered myself to be a very blessed individual. However, it did seem like my perspective had in fact changed somewhat… I just felt really good most of the time, and although I was far from being where I wanted, I was feeling pretty enthusiastic. I seemed to always have this sense that “Everything is always working out for me.” When my partner and I vacationed before the Spring, things really started to change… in the most peculiar of ways. The cruise we had planned was upgraded to a beautiful suite, something we had never experienced, and then because of a leaky pipe the first day, we were offered a %10 percent voucher for a future cruise, which turned into %15 percent when we received it. The entire trip was incredibly memorable, and as the months went by, more and more events began to occur with incredible solutions that followed. My car was on its last leg about to die, but the dealer gave me almost $7,000 for it when I thought it would barely fetch $2,000… engine light on, no A/C, etc. Indeed it seemed like everything was truly going my way… and it didn’t stop there. Unexpected sources of abundance seemed to just flow to me, despite fearing bankruptcy only months earlier.

“Why ruin a perfectly good day dream by trying to figure out how you’re going to get there… that just adds clutter and resistance.”

Abraham Hicks

So here we are, four years after the Hot Seat and five since I started being aware of Law Of Attraction, and my life has totally and completely changed. I’m in a place now in my life where I’m not only incredibly happy, but the sky is truly the limit. I started to love my job again and won three awards, I feel like I’m in the relationship I was always meant to be in, and I’m incredibly excited of what and how the Universe will surprise me with next, because I’m not afraid of the unknown. While at the gym late last year, I received an incredibly strong “impulse” to start my own social media platform about spirituality (think Facebook only with nice people), and that project manifested itself almost “automagically” as we say in the IT world. Digitalsoulspace.org is a reality, and I believe we’re already starting to make a difference in people’s lives, if only because we are here and waiting for them when they need us. This is a very exciting time to be me and I’m loving it, so yeah…. The Hot Seat… it’s a good thing. I’m excited about the future, I no longer fear it, and that in itself is worth the price of admission. 🙂

Click HERE to listen to Mike’s experience with Abraham Hicks

Mike Robert is the science loving owner and creator of the The Geek With Muscles Blog and Podcast, Digital Soulspace, an independent online spiritual community, aquarist, a life long volunteer, social / community activist, body building enthusiast, naturalist, animal lover, conservationist, videographer, former actor and beekeeper, and an IT Professional of over 35 years. When he’s not doing any of the previously mentioned activities, he’s at Michael’s shopping for new ideas and hobbies for which he has absolutely zero time for.

All Bets Are Off For 2022

Last year at this time we were all glad to see 2020 go away. We were moving forward with new hope, new leadership, and new perspectives of how life would be post pandemic. We never imagined that we’d be experiencing a brand new variant of COVID that was breaking infection records, or that our country came so close to experiencing what we thought could only occur in third world nations. There were fantasies and hopes of amazing summer vacations, as many of us, including myself, struggled to recover from a virus that so many denied even existed. Now 2021 is about leave us with a collective bitter taste in our mouths, and many of us are wondering if 2022 will be any better. Perhaps it’s time to stop wishing for things to get better, and focus on what IS working right now in this exact time and moment in our lives.

So let’s try and think about something that is working right… well science for one. It brought us amazing breakthroughs, including not one, but several vaccines to combat a virus that has killed millions worldwide. The same science that saves countless lives through medical advances in cardiac care, cancer research, and organ transplants to name a few. It’s been an amazing year for science, but as physics teaches us, every action has an opposite and equal reaction. So while science advanced, people became dummer. They arbitrarily accepted science that would save lives from every other disease on Earth, except COVID. Because somehow, COVID science is actually bad for you, and it’s better to join the millions that have died from this disease, than to get a shot to prevent it.

Space exploration. Okay, more science, but we sent Captain Kirk to space ya’ all!!! We heard the words of an artist, poet and songwriter describe the Earth from a distance!!! This was mind blowing and a huge step in the right direction for the entire human race. Okay so people got dummer on this one too… at least humans are consistent. While sharing memes about billionaires blasting into space on penis shaped rockets instead of spending money on other issues here on Earth, people forgot one thing… technology advanced thanks to these “dicks”, and they didn’t have to pay for it. NASA is tax payer funded ya’ all, and everything we have learned about space which has resulted in greater technology here on Earth, came from your pockets. So put your memes away for a second, and realize the technology these people are developing, which is at little or no cost to you, will enrich the lives of everyone on this planet eventually. How about we use some of that misplaced criticism and energy on the Kardashians or The Bachelorette instead?

“So while science advanced, people became dummer.”

Speaking of space, perhaps the last thing I can think of that’s working and good in 2021, is that “Lost In Space” came back on NetFlix, albeit for its final season. This show is the best sci-fi program since the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, because it touches us at the core of what we used to cherish the most, our families. You remember those? Families? You know the humans you loved so much before you realized they were part of a cult that worshipped a man that is the living incarnate of evil and sin? Yeah those people. Lost In Space brought us back to good old fashioned unconditional love, great parenting, and families that stayed together while fighting evil robots trying to destroy all intelligent life. Fuck yeah! We so miss those times, and perhaps we need the future… like the very distant kind, to set us back on the course to our own humanity.

This New Year’s eve, we’ll all say good bye to 2021, but I’m not going to hope for a better 2022… that didn’t work at all last year. This time around I’m going to devote my attention to what IS working, what didn’t let me down, and what brings me joy. My faith and spirituality, my partner Eric, and our dogs, and yes… men and women flying in giant penis shaped rockets.

Gay And Single During The Holidays

The holidays can sometimes contain nasty triggers for feelings of loneliness and despair… reminders of feelings experienced when dealing with sexual identity.

Growing up as a kid the holidays were known to be a time for family to come together and celebrate the season, and of course each other. It was “supposed” to be a special time of the year, filled with hope and happiness, where ideally, being “together” was valued highest among all other things. Of course life happens, parents get divorced or separated, relatives and good friends leave this Earth, and the dream is sometimes crushed… often with a lot of pain associated with it. Then one year, sometimes after a lengthy pause, the season becomes special again and we celebrate with great joy. Somewhere during my upbringing, the knowledge of my sexuality threw a new variable into the equation and instead of feeling like I was a part of something, I began to feel alone… even though I was surrounded by people. Not having someone to connect with… someone to share with, while the awareness of couples and family was everywhere, was a bitter pill to swallow. Since most LGBTQ+ people experience some degree of intense isolation and fear during their lifetimes while becoming aware of their sexuality, the holidays can be a nasty reminder of darker times, especially when there’s no one special to call your own.

Thanksgiving is just days away, and although I’m in a happy longterm relationship of almost eight years with my partner Eric, the memories of being gay and single during the holidays are still fresh in my mind. I thought it would be helpful to write about this from my current perspective, not only to let others know they aren’t alone, but to validate that life is constantly evolving. Your relationship situation will most likely change eventually, but even if it doesn’t, we can focus on ways to make the holidays special for person number one… yourself. I’m almost certain that my painful desire to feel unconditionally loved and to “belong” while I was discovering who I was, makes this part of the year extra difficult at times.

“Since most LGBTQ+ people experience some degree of intense isolation and fear during their lifetimes while becoming aware of their sexuality, the holidays can be a nasty reminder of darker times, especially when there’s no one special to call your own.”

I can still remember the first New Years I spent alone after ending a relationship of almost ten years. The year before I was standing on a dance floor alone at Midnight, while my partner tried unsuccessfully to acquire champagne from a bartender. The lines for drinks were super long, and I came to the realization that while his intentions were admirable, he didn’t understand how much his presence by my side meant to me, and that the champagne could have waited until after the stroke of 12. I knew our time together was wrapping up, and the following year I found myself on the couch with my dogs, bringing in 2013 alone.

You might be visualizing this scene as tragic and dark in your head, with light of the television being the only source of illumination in the room, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Every light in the place was on, I had a bottle of champagne with a cheese plate to snack on, and I was treating myself like the king… or queen, I knew I was. I made the conscious choice to celebrate the occasion as an opportunity for new hope, opportunities and abundance, and not to wallow in self defeat. I was loving myself %100 and it felt amazing, and most importantly, empowering.

Now I would be lying if I said I never experienced a dark and lonely holiday, alone in my living room with an empty wine bottle next to me… with the only light in the room coming from the television, because I have. So I get it, I know what despair feels like… all too well. But we can also choose not to let it overpower us and bring us to our knees… because I have made that choice myself and I speak from experience. Even when things seem utterly hopeless, we can choose actions that don’t reflect what we are feeling inside, as a way to keep us afloat. This applies to any holiday you may be dreading… make the choice to do something contrary to your emotions, no matter how hard it may seem.

While I’m hoping the person reading this never has to go at the holidays alone, if you are, know that others have walked this path before… more than once. As dark as things may be, as painful as they may feel, times will eventually get better and you’ll experience joy again. Nothing in life is permanent, the Universe sees to it that everything is constantly in motion. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, just because you can’t see the light at the end of the dark tunnel, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. If at all possible, summon up the strength to throw yourself a gala of one, or at the very least, draw courage from happiness you will most certainly enjoy in the not so distant future.

Knock Knock

Anybody there? Just really wanted to write this morning, so excuse any grammatical errors, I’m not looking to spend hours on this post like I normally do. I was just sitting here in my home office / guest room after walking the dogs, and wanted to say hello to the world. Yeah I could have gone to Facebook and posted something, but there’s a different kind of feeling here… this part of cyberspace belongs to me, it’s my blog.

I first had the idea for this blog many years ago… I purchased the domain name and it sat forever, just being an idea. I even configured the site once and it was ready to go, only to procrastinate once again, when I lost the piece of scrap paper that contained usernames and password of all things related to the site. I guess it was the Universe’s way of telling me it wasn’t time yet. I once read that when a writer wants to write, it will consume them until they do. I have to say that writing when I absolutely want to is pure joy, and I love just sitting at the computer and watching my thoughts evolve with each sentence. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed watching Send And The City so much, because the lead character was a writer and the thought of sitting in my own Brownstone in NYC or even better, a Victorian style home in San Francisco overlooking the Castro, seemed like it would be such an amazing life. I still do at times, although I here San Francisco is nothing like it was when I was introduced to it almost 20 years ago.

Well that’s it for now, I just wanted to post something and not make it formal, just me… and my Sunday morning thoughts. 🙂

Advocating For Your Health and How Star Trek Ruined Medicine For Me

Last week I was placed in an unexpected situation that put me in a horrible mood for days. I’m still feeling the emotional hangover associated with all the different feelings I was experiencing… confusion, sadness, anger and even bewilderment. What caused such an emotional roller coaster? It wasn’t what you might have expected from such a broad range of human experience… it was a visit to my primary care physician. I guess it wouldn’t have sucked as much if I thought she wasn’t a good doctor, or if she was a bitch… on the contrary, she has amazing energy, is beautiful, and brilliant. She isn’t anything like the doctor I stopped seeing almost a decade ago, whom I never saw again after she loudly screamed “I don’t give a fuck what you think…” (someone even noted the screaming session in YELP). No this doctor is super kind, professional, and made me feel well looked after when I had COVID last year, when I met her during a tele-health appointment. So what made me feel the way I did? Like I didn’t feel seen? Like a statistic? Like a text book exam? Like huge assumptions were being made based on the way I look?

I’ve fought a battle with depression almost all my life. I can remember being depressed as a young child, and certainly very depressed when confronting my own sexuality in my late teens. As an adult, I had learned many coping mechanisms to deal with depression, and one of them was medication during a period of my life when I certainly needed it. I thought I was about to experience another one of those situations in 2013, when depression had gained a foothold in my life and I was being prescribed different meds… and being yelled at, by a doctor that was clearly wrestling with her own demons at the time. That was when a friend of mine suggested I get my testosterone levels checked, and sure enough, they were really low for someone my age. I found a urologist and was put on a Hormone Replacement Therapy regimen, or HRT, and it changed my life in a matter of days. Suddenly it felt like a fog was lifted, and I was seeing colors I’ve never seen before…. life was amazing. I was incredibly surprised since being pretty muscular, I thought my testosterone was just fine. I didn’t realize you could be jacked, and have messed up hormones at the same time.

Almost ten years has gone by since that day, and I continue utilizing HRT as a part of my daily life. I get blood work done every six months to make sure I’m addressing any of the inherent risk factors associated with HRT, and so far so good. Which is why it came as a complete shock to me that my primary care doctor suggested I stop HRT, abandon all the associated benefits with it (people with low testosterone can experience a variety of health issues), and go on anti-depressants. Seriously? I mean what the fuck? I was shocked because she even suggested in running my testosterone blood work again last the time I saw her, when I said I was often experiencing fatigue… also a sign of low testosterone. After my blood work results came back with a number of 125 (with not taking my medication for two days), which is well below the testosterone scale starting point of 300 for men according to the American Urological Association, I thought she would consider consider possibly changing the transport method of the medication. Nope. Instead she explained that I was getting older, and I needed to consider the possible side effects of such a medicine. Oh wow… yeah she said it… “you’re getting older.” Even more oh wow because she just prescribed me Crestor, which has death among an entire list of potentially serious side-effects… like a shit load of them. Holy shit I felt like I was being put out to pasture… I’m 50 now and there’s no reason I need testosterone… here’s some big pharma drug with its own issues… I might as well be put on happy pills with additional side effects, because it doesn’t matter that what you’re doing now is actually working for you. Yeah, it’s actually fucking working for me. I wasn’t even sure why she ordered the labs in the first place if she wasn’t going to do anything about it.

“I’m just tired of feeling like I need to stuck up for myself every time I see a doctor… it shouldn’t feel like a war, it should like they’re on your side. You should be a part of the team that’s evaluating you, not feel like someone being looked at through aquarium glass and being told what’s best for you.”

I was just blown away and in the worst mood for days. I felt old, I felt endocrinology insulted, I felt like as a man, someone was trying to take away my penis… seriously it fucked me up. Then my partner Eric brought something up to me that made a lot of sense, he wondered if she thought I was abusing the drug because I am a pretty muscular guy… and that made complete sense. Okay so news flash PCP, I’m the size of a fucking hobbit… I’m like Mike of the Miami Shire… in other words, I’m short as hell. It’s soooooooo easy to build muscle when you’re short, and I’ve been accused of taking roids for decades now. My first urologist ever even plead with me to come clean about steroid use because he said the insurance company wont pay for the test if my blood work comes back high. When I told him I didn’t take steroids, he told me again and again, so you see, that’s how I’ve always looked. Of course I’m gay too, so that doesn’t help… because many gay men take roids in order to look just like their super hero crushes when they were young. The entire thing just pissed me off and I realized part of the reason I was so pissed, is that I’m tired of having to advocate for my health so fucking often. Where are the doctors that actually have your back?

I have the worst luck with medical providers… there’s fellow hobbit angry lady (at least I didn’t have to look up at her), homophobic Christian Coalition former military doctor that said I have an STD, puts me on Herpes meds and then tells me “…sorry they’re just common fever blisters in your mouth…” after test results return, a pill pushing psychiatrist that was angered I wasn’t filling my Xanax scripts, a dental assistant that grabbed my arm and squeezed it painfully while scolding me and saying “Don’t scream, you raise your hand, there are other patients here!” (she actually ended up fracturing the tooth and it had to be pulled, she thought it was a crown and didn’t check the xrays), homophobic doctor at Baptist Hospital ER that didn’t want to treat an accidental HIV exposure (a lab tech even whispered instructions to me and emphasized the need for treatment), and then my last doctor…. who was so fucking amazing she got promoted and now I can’t see her anymore (she looked fabulous with her hair blown out… like Dr. Torres in Grey’s Anatomy). I’m just tired of feeling like I need to stick up for myself every time I see a doctor… it shouldn’t feel like a war, it should feel like they’re on your side. You should be a part of the team that’s evaluating you, not feel like someone being looked at through aquarium glass and being told what’s best for you.

Mike Robert - The Geek With Muscles

So now I have a dilemma… should I keep my current doctor and explain my feelings and somehow invest in a medical relationship built on trust? Or do I look for someone else, like a male doctor that knows how to treat a prostate infection (angry hobbit did not). Do male patients need male doctors? In such a time of gender fluidity, is that even a real concern anymore? The problem being is that as a gay man, I’m not comfortable with many male doctors, having the experience I did with church going navy doc in my early 20’s. I just want someone like…. Dr. Beverly Crusher!!!! OMG Where the fuck is the present day equivalent of Beverly Crusher?!?! Seriously do I have to wait 400 more years? It’s getting harder and harder to find virgin males as it is. I just don’t have a clue of what to do next… I’m very open to advice in the comments please.

One to transport Jordi, I need a full medical diagnostic please.

The Awareness of 50

I was walking my dog the other morning, and by chance, ran into my friend Alex while he was also walking his dog. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Alex, and his little Yorkie was doing what little dogs do… barking at my two dogs with a combined weight of 140lbs. Alex’s Yorkie is the second dog he’s had in the 16 plus years since I first met him, right after our neighboring condominiums had just completed construction. We seldom get to spend the time we’d like with each other, and as countless times before, made a commitment to visit with one another soon. Although this promise seemed somewhat different this time… it had much more energy and sincerity behind it. Before we parted our ways and pulled our very curious dogs away from each other, I told Alex that if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we need to stay in touch. Heading back home I realized that while there was much truth in my statement, the larger awareness came with my 50th birthday seven months ago, and wondering where the time had gone. Suddenly career opportunities have turned into retirement seminars and workshops, and the friends that used to date like they were renting cars, are now grandparents. The awareness of my age is everywhere, and I’m trying to make some sense of it.

Geek With Muscles
Everyone needs at least one crazy look pic… or three.

I think one of the first things that’s really starting to kick in at 50, is how cool my life has been. While I had my own version of a mid-life crisis, it didn’t seem to last all that long. Yeah, it was very real and significant to me, and I felt like I was seriously running out of time, but it also seemed to end as fast as it started. Just yesterday I was thinking of starting my acting career up again, and how I would feel totally comfortable being 80, and accepting an academy award… it was like suddenly it was time for Life 2.0. This concept of “re-booting” my reality isn’t new to me, I’ve felt it before and not that long ago, however this time it feels completely different. There’s much more momentum in these daydreams than ever before, and how cool is it that I can even make a statement like that? How totally cool is it that I’ve been on movie sets, I know what it’s like to audition for film and television, I know what it’s like to have an agent…. fuck that’s totally cool!! And while acting has been a really wonderful and educational experience for me, it’s just one of many that I feel incredibly blessed to have lived. Why stop now? I’m gonna age regardless of what happens, so I might as well be doing something fun while the time goes by.

“…the only thing I’m absolutely certain about, is that I don’t have all the answers.”

Mike Robert – A totally cool dude.

I’ve noticed recently that turning 50 has made me appreciate art in ways that I haven’t ever before. All kinds of art, from poetry to painting, to sculpture to videography… I’m so much more aware of the effort and process involved in creating, even though I’ve personally tried them all. It just seems like there’s this heightened sense of the pureness in one’s art, and I’m totally digging it. It’s like discovering that fries dipped in a Wendy’s Frosty are pretty damn amazing, and all your friends are like “you just figured this out?” This past June I volunteered to videotape a poetry reading, and I was pretty amazed during the editing process, how much I enjoyed the material itself… the poems, the soul of the work, and the perspective of the author. Today, just hours ago, I had another poetry experience while listening to NPR in the car. I was totally into it and felt the once familiar sensation of visiting San Francisco, and being immersed in a city that seemed to appreciate all aspects of creating. Listening to the show was inspirational, and the reason I decided to finish this blog post I started earlier in the week. Because you know, like the poet I was listening to, I’m also a writer and couldn’t resist to feel like one once again. How cool is that? I’m a writer!

The biggest change in my awareness has to be what I already alluded to in the beginning of this post…. the importance of friends and family, and acknowledging the contributions they have made to my life. I have always been a people person, but it’s so completely different now. I find myself thinking about how blessed I am to have had a singular conversation with a person at one point in time, and how much that interaction meant to me. It doesn’t matter if they were a close friend, a mere acquaintance or someone I barely knew, I just find it so important to tell them that I appreciate the awareness of them in my life. Of course for people that I have regular communication with, I have had to hold back for fear of smothering them… at times I just want to shout out loud “Thank you for being in my life!!!” And that would be completely awkward to say the least. Still, the desire to acknowledge others continues to grow within me, and I am finding creative ways to let people know they are amazing, or that I love them, in one way or another. However, this newfound appreciation for elevated communication also seems to include speaking my truth, so I’m not opposed to telling others “fuck off, you’re an asshole” when it’s absolutely deserved.

Spirituality plays a huge part of my 50 awareness, as I’ve become increasingly comfortable about letting other’s know that I am an intuitive. Yeah, I’m basically a psychic and I’m not ashamed to discuss or talk about it any longer… and I’m pretty darn good at it too. Through my adult life I’ve been blessed to have attended talks hosted by spiritual leaders, and mostly by chance. Very little planning if any went into these chance occurrences, many of them were as simple as answering an invite, as if to see a movie. I’ve been blessed to have seen the Dalai Llama, Eckart Tolle and even shared the stage with Abraham Hicks. In fact my entire life seems like it’s been one spiritual journey after another… I explored being a Mormon as a pre-teen, and then chose to Baptized as a Southern Baptist when I was 14. I started reading Angel Cards over 20 years ago, and now consider myself a mixture of almost every religion, but identify mostly as Neo Pagan. So going to Church for me is a visit to the Florida Everglades, and I’m incredibly aware and sensitive to lunar and solar cycles. I have never felt more connected to the Universe than I do today, and at times my world is a never ending conversation with energies through signs and interactions with fellow intuitive peoples. Each and every day is a new experience and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride. People often come to me with lots of questions, but the only thing I’m absolutely certain about, is that I don’t have all the answers.

I guess turning 50 was a pretty fabulous thing, I’m suddenly thinking about what to do with the next phase of my life, and that’s pretty exciting. I can’t believe that I’ve managed to amass so many different and unique experiences up until now, and I’m confident that I will enjoy what’s to come with even greater enthusiasm. I’m living more in “the now” than ever before, so I’m finding delight in little things like the way the sun hits the branches of Oak Trees as I’m walking the dogs in the morning. The smile of a stranger walking by brings joy to my day, and I’m looking for increasingly more things to appreciate on a daily basis. I’m also still working on the aspects of myself I’m not too proud of, so the good news is, arrogance hasn’t found its way into my heart… I hope it never does. My life long struggle against depression is still very real, and I hope these words give me strength when I need them, knowing someday I most certainly will. In the mean time I’m just trying to live my best life, help others when possible, and looking forward to the days and the weeks ahead. As my former boss and now dear friend once said to me, “Happiness is a choice…” and that has never resonated more with me than it does today. I know it sounds cliché, and I may have referenced it before, but it’s the honest truth and yet another aspect of growth that I’m enjoying immensely.