Saturday, August 25, 2012

10 Kids 2 Dads...An Open Conversation


For those of you who may have missed it, The Oprah Winfrey Network recently aired it's new reality series 10 Kids 2 Dads. The show chronicles the lives of Clint and Bryan as they raise their 10 adopted children. As of now the show is being billed as a "special" with hopes that enough interest will lead OWN to make it into a regular series. That's an option I sincerely hope they pick up because I enjoyed watching it a lot...and the list of T.V. shows I consider "must watch" is extremely short....as in countable on one hand short. It was actually my husband Jay is who brought the show to my attention. He is a total reality show junky and so when a show about two dads with adopted kids came up on his radar, we both got pretty excited. And so we settled down to snuggled up for a TV night to watch another set of dad's deal with the stresses of family life both in the everyday way and in the challenges that come with parenting adopted children. This also counted as a "date night" for us...if that tells you anything.

Now...some of my readers know that we have already given some of our opinion about this show on Youtube. However, this is my chance to give my own unvarnished view in a way that our family videos doesn't always allow. In addition, I would like this to be an open conversation as I will likely ramble over a variety of topics relating to the show....please feel free to chime in and let me know what you think. So without further ado...






The Modern Family:
The first thing I need to say is that there are some things I just have to get off my back about the way the show is being marketed. It seems as if absolutely every family headed by a same-sex couple is being called a "modern family". It's really starting to get on my nerves as I feel it sets us apart as being different. I understand that they idea of a "modern family" comes from the ABC series of the same name and it's attempt to create a family/comedy story based of the notion that the classical idea of a family has changed to include a much broader picture. Yet, even though the show has other types of family make-ups, it seems like it's only Cam and Mitchel that get thought of when the term "Modern Family" gets used. So now same=sex couples with kids are being sold this way in television shows and media...as evidenced in the way that OWN describes the show on their website and in the preview. But my opinion is...what the hell is so dam modern about it? Gay people have been raising kids for a long time, why now is this considered so modern?

To me is points out their difference more than their sameness...or the largeness of their hearts for not being able to say no when another child in need is brought their way. And yes...I understand that one of the selling points of the show is because they are two men raising kids...I get that. For a lot of OWN's viewers, two men raising a family is outside of their experience enough by itself that, that alone will be a draw. That's a good thing, don't get me wrong...as long as OWN doesn't edit the show in such a way as to tell it's own preconcieved story, then someone might well learn a very valuable thing about same-sex families...and that's how much the similarities of same-sex families outweigh any differences(by a large margin). Use of the term "modern family" may be a handy marketing phrase to attract a wider audience...but that term is starting to sit bad with me because I feel like it points us out as different.

The Family Friend:
Through out the two episodes that aired there was a character that wound her way through the show that gave me a lot of mixed feelings for the way she was portrayed....the family friend Michelle. I find myself really struggling in how to give my opinions about this because I don't want to be rude or mean to her. She is obviously close to the guys and the kids and it's not my place to judge that. In fact, I was a little jealous that I don't have a Michelle in my life that I can call at a moments notice when I need a little help managing. but therein is my issue. When ever their was a problem, the guys could just scream out "Michelle!" and out she came. She made lemonade with the younger kids with the older boys where painting the house and helped council the dads on how to handle the fact that one of their sons was being teased at school.

This last on got to me a bit. Really?...One dads talks about such a major event with a family friend instead of together with his husband, as a couple?...something began to get fishy here. Given that a large majority of OWN's demographic are straight women, I started to ask myself if Michelle wasn't being cast as the surrogate mommy figure. That possibility bothered me quite a bit. I reasoned that had the tables been turned and the parents been two women, that OWN would not have included an ever present male friend who swooped in with advice when ever things got complicated. And when kids get bullied, sometimes you do want to talk about it with someone, because as a gay parent your always going to have a shadow of doubt in the back of your head. But...OWN did not show Clint and Bryan talking together about how best to handle it...nor did they show either of them talking to the school. Instead, they talked about it with Michelle as if she somehow had power to make parenting decisions. To me, that says that OWN is concerned that a mother figure must be present or they are not a real family and that is just not right. Michelle may be exactly who they portray her to be on the surface...a family friend that is very close to the whole family. Close enough to be one of the family really and that is a wonderful thing for any family to have. She was awesome and kind, just like the boys said on the show. the part that bothers me is that they are putting her in the place of mommy and that does a disservice, both to the dads and to the viewers of the show who do not get the benefit of seeing how they would have handled things  on their own.



Race and Money:
Of everything that's been said about these two dads, this one galls me the worst. In our review of the first two episodes a commentor questioned why all the children were Black and then went further to question why they had 10 kids and going further to accuse them of being in it for the monthly allowance the state gives you for raising fostering or adopting kids. This made Jay and myself pretty upset when we read it. So much so that we felt compelled to answer it ourselves:



Putting it in a nutshell...I don't think the public at large has a realistic view of just how many kids are out there waiting to be cared for in relation to how few homes there are to offer that care. In Clint's own words they entered adoption without the intent of having such a large family. but they admit that when faced with another child that needed a home and the difference being for that child.....a family with them...or no family and living in a group home....they couldn't say no. And any social worker who see's a happy home with room for more WILL bring by more children to fill it, I know that from my own experience fostering. Tons of kids are sitting in our own county run group home that the county would prefer to see in a safe home, and going to a school, making friends, and living as normal a life as is possible when you have been removed from your parents. So here are Clint and Bryan who understand what the stakes are for these kids...I don't blame them one bit for stretching their hearts and their idea of their family a bit larger to make room....that's what real family does.

I find it ironic in this day and age that there exists a bias against large families. I know that when I had my two kids and our three foster kids, if we took them out to eat we would sometimes get looks we never got when it is just my husband and our two kids alone. when it's the four of us, we get smiles...when it was seven of us, people would look at us out of the side of their eyes in concern....while actually knowing nothing of the facts of our situation. It's sad. And I do realize that the news like to sensationalize  large families negatively (Octomom or Duggars anyone?). But you can not look at a family from the outside and think that you understand whats going on....you don't. And all those who are judging Clint and Bryan really need to meet these kids(who seem awesome...everyone of them) and walk a mile in these dad's shoes. As a parent who felt stressed with five kids...my hat is off to these two big time.

And as for the race issue....I can't even believe someone would make an issue of it. The cold facts are that the kids least taken for adoption are older kids, kids with special needs, and minorities. There is just no easy way to say it but it's a fact. When my son and daughter were still in foster care, the family they were placed with wanted to adopt Selena because she was a healthy baby...and poor Daniel who had already had one younger brother adopted away from him was about to lose his little sister too. If it wasn't for Daniel and Selena's social worker reaching out to us....they might not be together today to pick on each other and fight over everything. No one wants to talk about this fact but it's absolutely true that kids of all races are living in the foster system until they age out of it, never knowing a home and parents of their own. The social system JUMPS at a chance to find these kids homes. What does that say about us as a country that we allow this to continue and yet still look at gay couples as inferior and/or potentially dangerous? It's not right.

And furthermore(rant continued)...when I see those boys I see all the marks of happiness. they are almost always smiling and in the case of the little ones, are always jumping around, cracking jokes, laughing and dancing. Neglected and unhappy kids don't do that. All it takes...even in one hour of footage is to see the way the kids act when they are being totally natural and unself conscious. It's in those moments when the older boys are talking about how their dad burned the birthday cake and their eyes dart toward each other without turning their heads that you know they understand each other without having to say anymore....or when Liam is standing on his chair and dancing in circles with a HUGE grin on his face, just cute as hell....or when Caleb made me cry when he talked about how his dads had his back. That is were the truth is in the health and happiness of this family....not in the external judgments of others who only see race or money.

And believe me...as someone who gets those monthly checks for fostering and adopting...every little bit helps when it comes time to put food on the table, buy school clothes, pay for extracurricular sports or classes, support school events, take the kids to do fun things...you name it, that check is only a drop in the bucket to what any family truly needs to live on. Which is why my husband works as much as he does and thinks that we don't recognize or appreciates what he does....we do, everyday we do. But what family doesn't have a similar story to tell?

Haters Gonna Hate:
And in closing I would like to address a question  that Clint and Bryan actually asked to Jay over the phone(They are awesome by the way...in case you were wondering.) and that's..."how do you deal with the haters?" Well guys...that's a easier question to ask than to answer. Putting your family out there for the world to see also opens the door to people who feel they have license to say whatever insane thing that pops into their heads. And the anonymity of the internet makes them feel safe to air it without consequence. Which means you will see things directed at you and your children that will sometimes make your blood boil and your stomach turn...like the time a YouTube stalker referred to my daughter as a "bought and paid for child bride." There was never a time when I wished more that I could pull his slimy butt through the computer screen and headbutt him...though it would probably require me getting a battery of penicillin shots afterword. You can say what you like about Jay and I...or gay people in general, but you don't mess with the kids. Those are the types of comments that we usually act on.

When someone goes crazy on gay people or Jay and myself in particular, we tend to leave those kinds of comments in place for others to see. The reason we do this is because it helps for people who are never exposed to real, naked, hatred and homophobia to see it and understand the reality of it. They need to know that this is what we live with as a part of the reality of our lives as gay people. We feel that maybe they will see it and some part of their hearts will be moved...or they will learn a little about what it means to walk a mile in an LGBT persons shoes.

But when they attack the kids they open themselves up to A.) a poppa bear mauling B.) a post mauling Ban from the channel. If someone calls our kids names or goes on the attack to another commenter in ways we feel are inappropriate we remove them promptly. We never....ever...let our kids be exposed to any of this. If you would protect your kids from a crazy drunk person staggering down the street spouting obscenities....then you likewise shield your kids from internet crazies who spout their garbage from a clear head.

you are never going to make everyone happy. Some people are going to latch on to the smallest detail and take you to the carpet for it(like when my daughter held our family dog in a way that a viewer felt was inappropriate)....others will watch the first thirty seconds of your show and think they know all they need to know about you. Some people are genuinely good people with some very bad ideas about gay people. In all cases, as long as the dialogue is civil(if sometimes heated) then there is always something valuable to be gained from the exchange...even when you sometimes want to shake your head and why people cant seem to see the basic humanity in our lives. Little by little it does change. And when you look back after a while, all the hate you had to suck up from world will seem like it's totally worth it when you see that positives that sharing your family may gain you. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to make friends in parts of the world you  never hoped to reach. Perhaps you will be able to give your boys amazing experiences that you otherwise would not have had...or perhaps you will have someone reach out to you and tell you how much your family has changed them...perhaps even saved their life. In the face of that, all the haters will mean nothing.


In Closing:
Finally, I would just like to say that through all my b*tching and griping, I loved the show. I really hope that OWN takes this on as a regular series. I want to know more about each boy and where they came from...what their histories are...and how they each feel about their family. I look forward to seeing one of the dads "go poppa bear" if the kids get bullied again. I look forward to understanding who Michelle is more. In short....I want more and I hope OWN intends to bring it.

It is so great to me to see a same-sex family on television...and even more so for having built their family through adoption. There is just so much that they can talk about and so much that Oprah's viewers can learn from seeing a real gay family in action. I hope that everyone who reads this will take a second to check the show out. Go to the OWN site, leave them your comments, and show them your support. In this way, maybe we can convince OWN to make this a regular series...answer all our burning questions...and give Clint, Bryan, and the boys a chance to rock the world.

Now it's your turn....Let me know what you think...

Until next time dear readers....

For those who may have missed out first review:

38 comments:

  1. Concerning reactions to the family size, I think that comes from people shaking their heads at hyper-religious married couples who, in the eyes of onlookers, breed recklessly and rejoice that every addition to their platoon is just another of many, many little soldiers for Jesus and the Republicans until the mother’s uterus finally gives out, is expelled from the body and splats on the kitchen floor. They shake their heads at such parents as the very kookiest of the religious right who probably wish we’d all breed like that. That feeling then is generalized to ANY family of that size, even if the kids are all adopted and regardless of the gender mix of the parents. For such observers, ultra-large equals reckless and nutty.

    I pretty much agree with your assessment on how the female close friend is portrayed. This reflects heterosexual PC that poor gay parents need extra help because they can’t cut it on their own. It can create an inference that gay male parents are “less than.” Now it could be that Clint and Bryan are much newer to parenting than you and Jay are and feel a need for more help than you ever did or have more questions than you and Jay. But, then again, there was a time when you and Jay were new to it too, and you doubt you ran out for help with every little thing that came up. You two just toughed your way through it. But, in real life, they probably ARE discussing whatever between themselves before they seek out Michelle. I don’t have OWN and can’t see this series, but I think your video review pointed that out and I agree to not show the two husbands discussing it among themselves too or first is not realistic and creates an image problem for gay parents.

    Combating haters by your videos, for you, is the most effective tool against them you have. My personal inclination in my own life would be to get really mouthy back at a hater who lips off to me and, if I can upstage him, so much the better. That’s what all that imagery about a new Coliseum, lions and “pulled-bigots” (as opposed to pulled pork) in the FRC thread was about. Not to seriously advocate that someone actually build such a stadium and use it that way, but to be as shocking and offensive to an irretrievable homophobic asshole as possible. I’m never going to win over someone that irretrievably homophobic and vicious, so I might as well have some fun at their expense. :-)

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  2. I would think that on the large family side of things it is because in this day and age large families just are not that common, what is common is a family with one or two kids, and I think that a lot of parents can't imagine trying to raise a family much larger then that. That and like you said people like Octomom, don't help the picture ether for large families adopted or not.

    I think I am going to have to see if OWN is one of the channels that we get (I am betting we do it is just a matter of digging threw all of them to find it)and give this show a try. I do think that it is odd that they would not show the Dads discussing things like what to do about bullying together and not just one of them discussing it with the female close friend. Although I would like to know what that dynamic is like, and why she is so ever present, If it is that they just are really good friends I think there are a lot of straight couples with kids that would kill for the same sort of thing! But I agree with you, that with out knowing the back story on her it dose seem like she is being put into a Mom roll for the show.

    I feel like the way that you guys deal with hatters is one that is quite good, as for one thing it leaves others to see how totally stupid and cowardly that haters actually are. I know that when I get hatters I tend to just ignore then or be sarcastic/bitchy with them, which is something that I am quite good and and for the most part seems to leave them not having a clue what to do. Luckily I don't get much in the way of hatters, although every now and then one will pop up in the comments on my YouTube videos.

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    1. Sarcastic? Me too! I can be extremely sarcastic when I want to. It's a great tool to use on them.

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    2. Matt,

      If a single individual gets really mouthy with you in a bigoted way but doesn’t look physically threatening, if you really wanna jab him back but good and send him home crying to Mommy and wet the bed, feel free to use my Coliseum imagery and work it your own way. :-) Check out the comments to the FRC thread to see how I built that imagery. Lotta priceless phraseology there: “Lionhearted customer care representative?” The “texture of pulled-pork?" :-D :-D You can have a lot of fun with this if you have the nerve to use it.

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  3. i may 'only' be an uncle but i completely understand the 'poppa bear' thing. this bear loves to be all cuddles and fun and sometimes people forget that claws and teeth come with the package.

    the things people will say...i know i have and will say some pretty shocking and inflammatory things, including some racial epitaphs. i do, however, reserve those kinds of comments for people who have earned the negative title. regardless of any factor other than their own decisions. any appearance of stereotyping is because someone who does not know my usage is seeing it, possibly for the first time and very likely not actually reading the words. never here. though i make no promise to insert stars, though i will minimize the need as much as i can. and i never include children in such comments. we give kids latitude for a reason...though sometimes you just want to strangle them.

    *i stick my tongue out at you with emphasis* that seems like a pretty good date night to me. not necessarily the porn fantasy (of whatever flavor) that may come to mind immediately but its a pretty exotic thing for me. read, im very jealous that you have that complaint.

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    1. I personally stay away from racial epithets of any kind whether in print or spoken. I treat going racial as radioactive. As an example, if Tony Perkins were black or Hispanic, ran into me and started giving me a vicious homophobic rant, I’d zing him back and probably say some pretty awful things but it wouldn’t occur to me to go racial on him. He can’t help his race but his behavior is a different matter.

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    2. its an issue of *trash* exists in all peoples and many dont help the world at large see anything other than the stereotype regardless of their quality. i know i have been called trash because we were poor.

      also, people have no idea what we were racially, my mom is too dark to be white but she doesnt speak spanish. so the 'people'(here used very loosely- im Reaally trying on this) at the welfare office refused us help for a five dollar difference in income. considering that even then, there were people who had brand new everything (cars, clothes, technology), better homes (on the interior), did not lack for food, etc on welfare and they had three times the minimal help we were requesting or more. yes race was and is a factor, to my face i never got much because i take after the scots and people dont know native look (more or less). it gets my ire up and i have no problem being as inflammatory as possible when so called 'victims' use their own racism to justify denying aid to people that genuinely need it because they got a job with that authority so that they could help all their many cousins.

      yeah i know, there has been institutional racism to the group in the past but that does not justify their own racism and the fraud they are party to 'to stick it to the man' and i do know this is not every single individual but it happened to me personally and to a bunch of others i know and the kids of a certain 'color' who were on welfare too many times i heard 'dont worry honey we'll get the new nikes when we get paid next month' after i went to bed hungry the night before because we had to pay rent instead of getting food. i never had new anything, i was that kid that had the ill fitting clothes that were hand me downs from my brothers or from some stranger who gave clothes to a church that randomly gave us clothes. and screw doctors visits (unless they were at the county health department) for anything other than absolute musts and we had no option but to use the cheapest possible everywhere.

      so yeah when its deserved by their decisions and actions absolutely.

      i think genocide and full on attempted eradication of your entire culture as well as forced ejection kind of trumps certain things; to take it to that visceral level.

      if i do something that deserves that level of shit-calling, bring it. i may say thank you later.

      on a humorous note. oops wrong word, sort of.. epitaphs are on headstones. although, according to hebrew thought you can commit verbal murder by speaking hatefully so perhaps in a way its accurate.

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    3. Yeah, when I read "epitaph" it seemed wrong to me, but I knew what you were trying to say. In that moment, I temporarily was unsure what an epitaph was--it's come back to me since--because, if I had that realization upfront at that moment, I would have seized on it and turned it into something funny. You know how notorious I am at doing things like that. :-)

      I had a similar incident like that at a Wendy's last night. The guy taking my order was new, and didn't know whether to characterize my order as a combo or not. He started having trouble on the computer--apparently trying to void something out but the system wouldn't let him do it. He called for help from a manager. The banter was going on for a while. "I just don't know what to do" the new guy said. And then I said, "YOu'll have to call the home office on that one." That really broke him up. :-)

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    4. i do genuinely try to live in a far more loving manner than my comment may imply.. sometimes, it is just very difficult to consolidate a loving caring attitude with the ongoing hatefulness and apathy and outright corruption too many people see and tolerate. i understand that in life we dont have screen writers telling us how to live out the scenes in our lives in a way that lets people be who they are and still makes it all ok when you go to bed at night.

      also, feelings are kind of new again-still- and i did not realize i had such a strong reaction to things that hit that close to home..but dammit some things should not be allowed and we as a society should hold these individuals accountable both the admittedly overworked underpaid govmnt employee that is a party to as well as the citizens, or not, that are committing fraud.

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    5. Most people here might not understand where your genocide remark is coming from, although I do. Your family is Native American and looks the part but you, as evidenced on your YouTube channel, take after your Scottish father and don’t have the classic, darker Native American look. For you, the genocide reference makes perfect sense when we generally see so few if any Native Americans running around.

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  4. I think a lot of people, who might otherwise be inclined to foster, don't, because of their anticipations. They know, primarily from the media, that many of these kids have behavioral problems as a result of the homes they grew up in, and the potential foster parents don't feel equipped to cope with those issues.

    My husband and I helped out a virtual stranger once by letting her stay with us for a few months. We gave her the use of one of our four bedrooms, and she lived with us, rent-free, for less than six months. We knew she had Fibromyalgia, which I also have, and so were sympathetic to her needs. At first.

    But she did things that left us extremely uncomfortable. She bought those religious candles in fat, heavy glasses you see in the grocery stores and lit them in her room. As her disorder had seriously affected her balance, I could just see these things burning my house down. So I forbid the candles, lighted, in the house. Some time later I found the used-up candles in a pile on my back porch. She had simply waited until I wasn't home.

    Another time she was dissatisfied with the reception on the TV, which was using rabbit ears for a time. She filled a two-liter plastic soda bottle with water and set that on the top edge of the TV to weigh down the antenna and hold it steady. An electrical short or fire waiting to happen.

    On yet another occasion she was in conversation with my husband at the kitchen sink and, while his hand was in the sink of soapy water, she turned on the garbage disposal, which was within inches of his fingers. Why on earth would anyone do that?

    And the one time I let her visiting kids take my dog for a walk to the nearby park, which had a creek bordering it. Why would my dog have nothing to do with those kids ever after? What the hell did they do to him in our absence?

    How about the multiple times she misplaced her house keys and jimmied the bedroom window so she could wriggle into the house?

    Today we have two basset hounds. One has separation anxiety. At least once a week or so, we'll come home to find they have penetrated the gates and barriers we've put up and have managed to trash the living room, hallway, or kitchen/dining room to some degree.

    When a person accepts a pet into their home, they are usually planning to keep the pet for the rest of it's life, creating a forever home for that animal. When a couple accepts a stranger's child into their home, presumably it is with the intent to provide a new, forever family to that child. But like adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue service, that child comes with baggage. Sometimes that baggage is innocuous, and the child just needs comfort and reassurance and acceptance to blossom. But too many children have gone from one sub-standard, questionable, abusive or greedy or disparaging foster home to another and are primed for a negative experience. They are as ready to lie, cheat, steal, and destroy as was necessary in the foster homes they experienced.

    Maybe this is part of a vicious cycle. Bad foster parents corrupting the kids they look after. Bad kids corrupting the foster parents that look after them. But it alienates the introduction of new blood, the entry of new couples into the system.

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  5. I can cope with a dog with issues, because those issues are small and relatively easy to fix. I clean up after my dog's destructive episodes, increase the security of my barriers, take her on more and longer walks and give her more attention. But I raised one son to adulthood and I don't feel up to raising another. He had ADHD and dyslexia and was in special education most of his school years. My son had to be placed in live-in school care for years because he became truant for six months when he didn't like his school environment. I went up to his school every month to assess his situation and counsel with the school staff. Did he play me like a violin? They told me so, but he said otherwise. Who was telling the truth? Who should I believe?

    It takes a special breed of person to take on all the excess baggage of raising someone else's kids, and do it well. Such people appear to be few and far between. If you are, more power to you. If you aren't, it doesn't make you any less than the other. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. What's more, we each have a unique destiny, assigned to us by the Man Upstairs. If fostering is not on His Agenda, that doesn't make us any less in His Eyes, I'm sure.

    Being a Trek fan, I kind of like Spock's IDIC datum – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination. That's what humanity is all about. We should all keep that in mind and show more respect for other peoples' living situations.

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    1. Wow! After a harrowing experience with a problem adult, I can understand your reluctance to take in a foster child who might also be problematic. You hit your wall with your houseguest. You're right, not everyone is up to this. I know I'm not.

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  7. Thank you, a lot, for everything you write, post and do. I'm a big lasting fan.

    I might be wrong about this one, but I guess your link on the depfox video now points to "Daniel's yearly trip Goldenhar" and not to the previous fine video you posted about how many children were waiting to be cared for.

    (You may delete at will this useless comment of course :D).

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  8. commented related to previous post, the science of the obvious.
    bryan thank you for responding to my question, i genuinely did not expect it and it is greatly appreciated. i know how reticent you are to discuss that topic. i comment now because i just saw that you had.

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    1. This thread is rather quiet, so I don't mind sharing this with everyone here. I once sent an e-mail to our Nebraska Republican Congressman, Lee Terry, seeking his views on marriage equality. I was reasonably certain where he stood anyway so, unfortunately, I let my temper with right wingers in general get the better of me and my e-mail to the Congressman ended with a rather irate tone.

      This one is to his opponent, and I behaved myself better in this one and actually might get an answer.

      Dear John,

      I know very little about you apart from the fact you are running against Republican Lee Terry.

      I am a gay man concerned for my civil rights as well as for my brothers and sisters like me and we are all at risk if theocratic Republicans take power, take the White House and ESPECIALLY the U.S. Supreme Court. Marriage equality, for example, has never been about anything more than about being able to get a marriage license for yourself and the love of your life (of whatever gender) from City Hall, NOT some church and the rights and protections which flow from marriage do so through the marriage license and NOT by the individual or entity who performed the ceremony. Any church or individual is always fully empowered to decline performing a sacramental wedding if that clashes with its or his beliefs. Only civil marriage can reliably protected a devoted and bonded gay couple from bigots who would deny one the ability to see and care for his other half in a hospital or to make medical decisions for that loved one, in accord with that patient’s wishes, when that patient is too incapacitated to decide for himself. Some bigots masquerading as health care professionals would even turn that gay partner away even if presented with a durable power of attorney.

      No gay person wishing to join his or her life to his or her love’s proposes by such questions as, “Will you be cohabiting stranger, my co-mortgage note holder, my co-civil unionist or my domestic partner?” We say, “Will you marry me?” And when I promise my love to cherish, care for, and love him forever no matter what, the vows I have made are the weightiest and most profound possible and they are commonly understood by our culture to be marital in nature.

      The younger generation intuitively understands that orientation isn’t chosen but is biologically determined. For proof those notions are factually accurate, go to the Golinski DOMA case under the section where the Court discusses the possibility of using heightened scrutiny review of orientation cases and look for the statistics of a study offered in evidence indicating what percentages of gay men and women reported having little or no choice in their orientation (93-94% for men and 87% for women). That study will be found in the part of the decision analyzing whether the characteristics of LGBT people which gives rise to laws targeted against them are traits they are capable of changing to avoid the law’s reach. For proof of a biological cause for gay orientation, at least for the men, watch an excerpt of a 2008 National Geographic documentary on the subject summarizing the science involved. That video clip can be found on YouTube by using the search phrase “epigenetics and homosexuality.” If you have any doubts, please DO fact check me with those two resources. I think you will find those two resources quite convincing unless you mind is irretrievably and ideologically closed—something I do NOT know about you one way or the other.

      ***End of First Half***

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    2. ****Remainder of Letter****


      Getting back to the younger generation, with their understanding on the issues of lack of choice and biological causation of gay orientation, they view treating a group of people sharing characteristics they cannot help as second class citizens to be unacceptable and un-American. Today’s bigots with power—and we know very well which party most of them come from, do we not?—are rapidly finding themselves on the wrong side of history and, in decades and centuries to come, they will be laughed at, scorned and despised.

      On LGBT issues, you are totally unknown to me. I need to you to tell me what lies in store for me and people like me if we vote for you and you defeat Lee Terry. Our fate in the future could be affected by what you do in office. Will we as a community find comfort in having you as our Congressman? Or perhaps not?

      Sincerely,
      ***** *******

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  9. I have an announcement to make. I have been a regular here for quite some time. While I’m capable of being pretty deep when I’m serious, I also let my fun side show here too and making people laugh is one of my greatest joys in this life. Unfortunately, I’ve just been given some pretty devastating medical news which I need to tell you about because it may cause me to disappear from here, at least for a while. Recently, I have been having some very severe nosebleeds from my left side. I had some episodes earlier this summer that, while significant, weren’t quite as cinematic as what I’m about to describe. Those went on for about a month at roughly one episode per week. Then they mysteriously stopped. But what replaced them was nearly constant stuffiness that couldn’t be blown out very well. It was as if something was up there blocking the exits. Jumping to the present, a sneeze at work triggered a really severe nosebleed, apparently releasing a backlog of blood. I ran to the bathroom and spent nearly an hour trying to get control of the most severe and spectacular bleed I’ve had my entire life. I began wondering whether I needed to go to the Emergency Room. I ultimately decided not to. That bathroom looked like a slaughterhouse.

    An Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist I saw later that week cauterized some areas up there to try to prevent future bleeds, but he saw a vascularized polyp up there and he ordered a cat-scan, which showed a roughly 4 by 4 cm tumor in my left sinus and it was up against some bony structure that separates the sinus from the brain. The cat-scan was insufficient to show whether the destructive mass had broken down that bony barrier or not. So he ordered an MRI to better show that area as well as if, and how much, the mass is or was about to interfere with my eyes. On both occasions I’ve seen the ENT, he has asked how my vision was and performed that follow-the-finger test on me. I take that as a hint of things to come if this gets too out of hand. The videos from both scans have been burned onto discs to be taken to a new doctor at a new hospital who is better skilled and equipped to deal with what I have.

    My ENT tells me this is very serious. It could be benign, but there also is a strong possibility that it’s cancerous and difficult to treat. To get all of the tumor out, assuming it’s even operable, it could require fairly invasive surgery opening up my nasal area and some of my face to give them the access they need. It could be disfiguring to a certain extent and might require plastic surgery to better restore me to my preexisting appearance. I am in enormous trouble, notwithstanding the fact that I feel fine apart from nearly constant stuffiness on my left side.

    ****END OF PART ONE****

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  10. ****PART TWO****

    I’m the one who took care of my disabled mother, now deceased, for some 15 years. She was a smoker and I have had PLENTY of secondhand smoke exposure for many, many years. She was a bit militant in her smoking and never took it outside like anyone with captive family members should. I intend to find out if that exposure could have played a role in what I now have. I also have been exposed to the fumes of such cleaning products as Mr. Clean and Lysol Liquid PROFOUNDLY more than would have been the case had I not ever had the caregiving job I had. I also will find out if that chronic and excessive chemical fume exposure could have any causative role in my illness. Anyway, those 15 years blew me out of the water socially and also harmed me professionally. In the time since, I was starting to get my life back on track. I managed to change careers to something much more to my liking and I had planned, once I get well-settled there, to venture out and start looking for my own Mr. Right—something which just wasn’t possible the preceding 15 years. I’m a very romantic and passionate guy. I know how to make someone feel special and am acutely aware of how important it is to treat someone I love that way if I expect to keep him loving me back. Apart from what I may look like, I think I’d be considered a pretty good catch in terms of how I treat people. If I were successful in finding my soul-mate, I would marry him if it were legal. This is something I very much wanted to pursue because I find the prospect of living out the rest of my life in loveless solitude completely unacceptable. I’ve been feeling the urgency to get going on this for a while now. I’ve just turned 53 and, although many think I look 10 to 15 years younger than what I really am, come on…. 53 is still 53. You just can’t keep putting this off forever. Eventually, that train is going to pull away from the station and never come back. And now this. WHO is EVER going to want and love me if I end up looking like Frankenstein?

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  11. ****PART THREE****

    I have had a lot of fun and laughs here and have made really good friends here I don’t know how I could have gotten along without. And, once I’m better, if it’s even possible to get better, I want to come back for more good times and make even more friends. I also wanted to stay open to the possibility of meeting friends I’ve made here in the physical world. I would have loved someday to show up at a Big Gay Vacation and meet Jay and Bryan and the others who often show up to those. In particular, that aggiepm dude—Scott something. From what I’ve seen, he seems pretty funny too and I think we’d be great enablers for each other. It would have been fun to see who could outdo the other. We all could have had some really great times together and shared a lot of hysterical laughter. You’ve seen my handiwork here. You know what I’m capable of. Remember the flashcard paddle screenplay? The cameo appearance of Bryan’s dad seeking an autographed paddle? The taking of “brainbleach” places it was never intended to go? My impersonation of “Father Leffew” complaining about the quality of the autograph received (too sticky)? That was perhaps my most inspired work. :-D :-D Just after I had posted that, I hopped in the shower and the imagery of Bryan’s dad showing up seeking an autographed flashcard paddle and walking in on the porn actors just after they “finished” and were still a sticky mess overwhelmed me and I was doubled over with THE most hysterical laughter I’ve experienced in many, many years. I could have passed a piano in there! :-D :-D But that would have turned me into Yoko Ono with all the squealing. BTW hearing Yoko Ono TRY to sing is enough to make you want to throw yourself off a cliff! :-D PLEASE, for your own personal safety, DON’T GO THERE!! :-D :-D Listening to her, that is. Not everyone has access to a cliff and I understand that…. :-D :-D You see! Even in my darkest hour, I still have my sense of humor! My ENT doctor told me my humor would come in handy later on.

    Steeldrago will serve as my voice here if or when I can no longer speak for myself. If, for example, I have a surgery I do not survive, he will be the one told by my father and, in turn, he will tell the rest of you. I’m not going down without a fight. I wanna live and get caught up on the good times I missed out on earlier in life! It’s not quite time to depart on my medical adventure because I have some personal business to take care of before I ever let a surgeon lay a finger on me. I intend to be back….

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  12. Hello Dave,
    I don't know if your going to read this if your taking a neccesary time out from the internet or not but I want to let you know that I am very sad to hear about what is happening to you. You can bet that I will be keeping you in my thoughts and hoping for a speedy recovery. You will be missed on the blog for sure.

    And to everyone else I need to explain that I have been absent because of a spate of obligations that have kept me litterally away from the computer on my normal blogging days. And of course we are heading off to New York this weekend and that means lots of preparations. So...I am planning to return to regular blogging soon. Fear not :)

    Bryan

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Bryan,

      I really appreciate hearing from you. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. Actually, this week is kind of like the eye in the storm as I’m waiting for biopsy results on both my sinus and a couple of small but suspicious areas found in the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. So I’m still gonna be online this week. Say, I sent a couple of e-mails to your house, one addressed to you and the other to Jay, and I threw in my phone number in Jay’s message and asked for yours. Please look for them. Do you mean to say that you’re leaving for New York RIGHT NOW, in the weekend we’re in now? Do you have time for a quick phone conversation? I have lots of funny stories ready to go. Should be a scream! :-)

      The messages I sent would have come in under the display name “David F***zen and the e-mail address contains the word “bear” within it. I’ll send another addressed to you with some pictures of me in it. Lord knows what I may look like after they yank the tumor. They’ll probably need to break into my forehead to give them the access they need. I could end up looking like a Clingon. That’ll really boost my Sci-Fi geek street cred and maybe I could earn some extra bucks dressed up in character and sign some autographs! :-D :-D

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    2. Hey Dave,
      I just responded ur email, but i decided to post it here, in any case...

      I'm really glad that u remember me to share this hard time of ur life!

      Man, I'm so sorry for hear that! I really haven't read the comments in the blog lately, i didn't know, just find out now that u emailed me...

      The worst part is that i can't do much to help u better then send u positive thoughts and words.

      I am very sorry that I have not been much contact with u. I really liked u. U are such a nice and fun dude, and ur sense of humor is precious! I really meant when i said i would like to be ur friend, and just cause u don't use social networks doesn't mean that we cant get good interaction through the internet. I'ts just I'm a little sloppy, and i let the day by day rush take me and i never actually did much to get contact with u more than read ur comments and write some on the blog. And now i see i lose time, cause now time may be short!

      On that topic, reading ur comment about ur condition, i see that u stay the same positive, funny and humorous guy, even facing what may be the hardest time of ur life. But i also noticed that u are scared to death. It's not easy, i can imagine. When i saw u say "I would have loved someday..." my heart sank. I know that u, of course, hope u will get through that, but of course that u also fear that u may not, and that even if u do it may have bad consequences.

      I want u to put something in ur mind. Doesn't matter what happens, u will just keep one thought: U WILL GET BETTER! I don't know if u believe on that, but the mind have a enormous power over the body, more than many people believe. So, doesn't matter what happens, doesn't matter how hard it is, doesn't matter what the doctors says about ur chances, just BELIEVE on that, above anything: U WILL GET BETTER!

      Here I am, 22 years old, all concern if i will ever find someone to love me, because i am too boring, too fat, too lazy, too ugly... Yeah. U may have liked me, but u are one in a few, at least around here. I grow up knowing that beauty wasn't one of my qualities. I was bullied allot, thou mostly because i always over reacted too much, and i was always different, too nerd. But any way, i always thought that who else would love me, would love me despite my appearance. Just very recently, after i have met some guy, about 1 year ago, i realized that there is always someone that finds u attractive, even that u don't belong the usual beauty standard. I really believe that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, even thou sometimes i get a little depressed. But then i remember that i really didn't have had much chance to meet someone yet, cause i'm not totally out yet, and i also don't go out many times, besides work and school, and the church community, that i still live along because most of my family and friends are there... Any ways, i know my time will come. I know i still have time. And so do U!

      U are still alive Dave, and where is live is hope!

      Don't give up, stay positive, and BELIEVE on this, above anything: U WILL GET BETTER!

      We will all be thinking of u, sending u positive thoughts. Now i'm concern whit u just as much i'm with Talat, and BOTH of u are going to get thru it, and both of u will have a amazing life. I BELIEVE in that, doesn't matter what is going to happen, I BELIEVE in that!

      Love,

      Samuel Germano.

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    3. Hi Sam,

      Thank you for your support, your encouragement and your love. I made wonderful friends here and I would be lost without you all. I agree, my humor is my greatest strength and that’s what will keep me from cracking up. The first doctor I saw said my humor would come in handy later. That first doctor may have portrayed my condition to be worse than what it may end up being. That’s where my temporary loss of faith (“ I would have loved someday…”) came from. I did have a couple of difficult, tearful days. The first thing that upset me is what I may end up looking like when it’s all over and done with and who will want me if I look like a freak. Then I started allowing myself to get carried away with his statements of how hard this is to treat. So the tears started coming because I thought I might have to start saying goodbye to people in the near future. But I seemed to have gotten over that now. I’m now in the hands of doctors more capable than my first one to treat this. Yes, this wasn’t caught early, but it wasn’t caught late either. It hasn’t reached either my brain or my eyes yet, and no significant damage has been done yet. The only lasting loss at this point is my sense of smell. I can live with that. As long as I retain my sense of sight, sound and orgasm, I’m good! :-D :-D And the tumor is only 2 by 2 inches. Unlike Tallat, mine is NOT in the brain itself, nor does it need to be chemically shrunk before it can be removed. Unless I hear super awful news at the end of week when my biopsy results are in, the only fatal thing about what I have that I’m aware of is just leaving it in my body. So removing it is a necessity and not just an option. I also have learned from my new doctors that the big surgery itself, apart from the nature of the tumor, is NOT so invasive and traumatic that people have trouble surviving it, so I needn’t fear that this procedure is its own independent death sentence. That’s a relief.

      So, for now, I’m inclined to believe that I WILL survive this. It’s just that, depending on how chopped up my forehead is after the surgery, I may not end up being quite the sexy man-beast I once was…. I heard that in the background! Somebody out there thinks they’re really cute with all those gagging sounds they make, don’t they? :-D :-D Sam, I once saw your blogspot profile picture and that’s why I thought you were hot. But I think there are certain segments of the gay community you’ll appeal more to than others. You have a pretty masculine look and a nice smile and, if you want to really enhance that smile and visually frame it, grow a mustache and beard. Well-sculpted facial hair can be outrageously sexy. You do that and the segment of the gay community that will go wild for you are called “bears.” These are very masculine, sometimes hyper-masculine guys who have lots of body hair and beards typically. I don’t know whether you like them, but they sure will like you. So if you grow out your face and then go to bear bars rather than mainstream gay clubs, I think you’ll be better received there. And if you have a hairy chest, be sure to wear a kind of shirt which allows you to show it off. People will be lining up to bury their faces in your chest and “other places” as well! :-D :-D You do all those things, and I just might have to get on a plane, come down there, locks lips with you and suction out your tonsils after all! :-D :=D

      Yes, let’s do try to keep in touch better.

      Love,
      Dave

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    4. Have my biopsy results back. The small areas in the lymph nodes of my neck are benign and can be left alone. The sinus tumor is cancerous and is called an "olfactory neuroblastoma" but it isn't doing anything too harmful right now and shouldn't be acting up to make waiting for a 9-27 tentative surgery date a problem. They MIGHT want to follow up with radiation and chemo, but I am told administering those in the head and neck area should NOT result in hair loss, so that's good. The other piece of good news I've gotten is that plastic surgery, for reconstructive or deformity-correction purposes should be covered, as opposed to cosmetic purposes such as a guy with tight muscletone dysphoria seeking saggy, flappy man boobs! :-D :-D Sorry to disappoint, but I never thought I looked good with saggy man-titties and you won't see me in a halter top anytime soon! :-D :-D So if my surgery initially leaves me looking like Freddie Krueger, I don't have to stay that way.

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    5. Hey Dave!

      Glad to hear those good news man! U are still in my thoughts! Hopefully it will be all right!

      By the way, i think i had responded your post already... but i think its lost again.

      Well, responding yours previous comment, i do know the bears and, yeah, i kinda like them! ;D That nephew of yours, Robbie, OMG! Man! I totally agree with u! He is damn hot! I don't like all kinds of bears, but they are definitely the group that i better fit in the gay community. By the way, u really, definitely does not look as 53! ;D If u let me say, i myself prefer a fully grown beard, or a goatee rather than just a mustache. I guess u would be even more good looking like that. Have u tried that?

      I do have a beard now too, but it is not fully grown yet, but i use it all the time. It have been years since the last time i shaved it totally, i hate shave! I just trim it once a week or two.

      I'll be sending an email to u soon with more details answering the emails u send me, its just it is getting quite big, when i start to talk i have a hard time to stop it... :D


      Hugs!!

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    6. Hi Sam,

      Yes, I’m trying to grow out all of my face right now. I would prefer if what I was getting was coming in denser though. Still, this is an improvement. I don’t know if the surgeon will need it gone or not. I also don’t know how suitable my evolving new look would be in the job market. Unfortunately, I’m without a camera at this point, so I can’t send you a picture of my transformation. I don’t usually care for clean shaven either. I think it can come across too harsh, too stark and abrasive on a lot of people.

      The bear community incorporates all body types and sizes. Really overweight ones don’t really do much for me. I like the more muscular ones the best. They are called “muscle bears.” Yes, my step nephew-in-law, Robbie, is smoking hot and typifies the ideal muscle bear look. Speaking of hot…. Sam!! That new picture of you with some of the beard coming in! OMG… You look so gorgeous to me that way that I just about fell out of my chair when I first clicked on your Google profile and saw the enlarged picture! I want you! The fact that we live on different continents totally sucks! To me, you’re quite sexy. I think for you to be down on yourself over your appearance is insane. I also tend to be strongly attracted to people with dark complexions and, in that way, you’re ideal for me. If I ever managed to get my arms around you, I don’t how I would ever be able to let go. Keep the facial hair! The bears are absolutely going to go crazy over you! Just flash them that sexy smile of yours, be self-confident and you can have anyone you want. I just wish it was me! :-)

      Love,
      Dave



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    7. Sam,

      You're latest picture looks like you might have a little African blood in you. Is that true? If so, no wonder I have the hots for you! I got hard the instant I gazed upon that picture for the first time. If that picture is what you look like most of the time now, I find you irresistable.

      All my love,
      Dave

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    8. Lol Dave, u'r making me blush again! :P And yeah, i probably have some African blood in me. Actually most of the Brazilian people have some. We are a very multiracial people. As far as i know i have some African, some European and some native Brazilian blood, so... :D

      By the way i USED to don't like much my appearance, but that was before. Now i know i am beautiful on my won way. ;P All i want now is lose some weight and get brawny... :D

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    9. Packing on some muscle? Oh yes, that would be awesome! I would love that. Your new picture only shows what your face looks like, nothing more. I’m probably going to make you blush some more fairly shortly, but I can tell you that, when you have a close encounter with your own mortality, it changes you. It makes you realize more acutely than ever before that, if there are people in your life that you love, you just gotta tell them while you still can! It’s not enough that they GUESS that you love them or INFER that you do. That’s not anywhere near good enough. You need to actually speak those words and be sure they heard you. And I have been busy doing just that.

      Certainly on a physical level, I really, REALLY like you. I have no idea if you feel for me in that way too. You don’t have to say if you don’t want to. By reading what you have to say about things, we possibly might have compatibility too, which any relationship has to have to survive, but without actually speaking to you by voice or being in your physical presence, it’s hard to know just how well we would enjoy each other’s company outside the bedroom. I very much regret that we are thousands and thousands of miles apart and that, as a practical matter, I will never, ever get to meet you and certainly will never get to hold you in my arms—something I very badly want to do—and spend time with you trying to figure out if there can be a future for us as a couple. But IF it were possible to be in each other’s presence, IF we really did have chemistry together and IF we had that compatibility element working for us too, I’m capable of loving you. That sure is a lot of “ if’s “ there and I have an unfortunate habit of falling for people I can’t have. I really do need to stop that. But that’s easier said than done. Okay, you can blush now if you must. :-D :-D

      Some people have all the luck. “Samuel Henrique Germano.” Even the sound of your name is sexy.

      Hugs,
      Dave



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    10. You say you used to dislike your appearance, but now you know you’re beautiful in your own way, and you most certainly are. Were you kind of evolving that way on your own? Or was it me who finally made you see what a sexy man-beast you truly are?

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    11. Lol Dave! :P

      I dont know man, but i think we could get along very well! I like the way u think, and the way u see things. And there is nothing better than a well humored person, even thou sometimes u are a little to much zany! :D

      About what i think about appearance, i have already said. And like i said, i myself prefer a fully grown beard rather than just a mustache, and I guess u would be even MORE good looking like that. ;D

      I mean, ur not the ideal prefect guy of my dreams, like i could say about that nephew of yours (and i think we both agree with that :D ). In fact, both of your nephews! That Collin is REALLY cute too! At least i think. Speaking about it, for me, for instance, Seth Fornea is the ULTIMATE piece of hot man in the world! Well, maybe not only him. I guess that Chris Hemsworth makes a good fight.:D I have a think for gingers and blondes... :P

      But anyway, LOL, that really matters? I mean, look at Jay and Bryan. When they met and became friends Jay used to see Bryan as just a his skinny little buddy! And look how CUTE they look together now! Of course that appearance matters, cause physical attraction is GOOD and part of the relationship too. I think we have discussed that topic here, or it was on Jay's facebook...

      Any way, for the what matters, i think u are a kinda handsome man. ;P Looking forward to see u with that full beard u said u'r growing! :D

      And about how i think about my self, i guess i just learned that i cant base my own value in what other people think about me, but in what i really am. So now i can look in the mirror and say: "Man! look that hottie smiling at you!"

      Bear HUG!


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    12. Hmmm…. Guess what I should do for you, in addition to my beard growing project, is go gobble down a bunch of anabolic steroids, pump myself up at the gym (as in the body as a whole; not my love appendage this time :-D :-D ), slather my body in Propecia (an off-label use for a baldness medication) so I’m ultra-hairy afterwards, hit the tanning bed and THEN ask you out on a date. Collin doesn’t fire up my engines, but Robbie sure does. This last Christmas is the first time I had met him and was completely blown away by him. We were really getting along great too. As time got closer to the time I knew he needed to leave, I actually was starting to feel pretty upset inside to see him go, although I was able to mask what I was feeling. That’s yet another manifestation of my problem of falling for people I can’t have. That’s a BIG problem for me.

      Okay, I'll stop hitting on you. I guess I'll have to go out and have a clone of you made to take home with me. That'll work.... :-D :-D

      I don’t know who Seth Fornea and Chris Hemsworth are, but I’ll do searches and find that out.

      A little too zany sometimes, eh? Maybe it was the line about dunking my schlong in a jar of Purell hand sanitizer after an unwanted encounter with “fish tacos” in comments following The New Normal topic that was too much. :-D The bigoted grandmother character really pissed me off and I really lost it in my comment about her.

      Hugs

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    13. Sam,

      I found Seth and Chris on Youtube. Of the two, Seth appeals to me more, but I prefer them hairier and with darker hair. Add a dark complexion on top and I boil over with passion. I'm not really into Gingers though.

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    14. I have updated news on the medical front and it’s good. Some of you here have been e-mailed privately with more extensive details. For here, I’ll give the condensed version. The surgery procedure itself is well tolerated by patients and only 5% have adverse outcomes from the procedure itself (ignoring the nature of any tumor removed). Rather than slicing up my face to get the access they need, they make the largest incision just in back of my hairline on top and peel my forehead down and expose the skull, which they then can chisel whatever size opening they need to get the tumor. Perhaps some smaller incisions might be made where the nose meets the face as well. But these kinds of incisions routinely heal well with very good aesthetic results and only very rarely is reconstructive plastic surgery ever needed. And I can keep my head and facial hair, and I will still look like me. I needn’t fear anymore that I’m going to look like some Godzilla / Keith Richards freak show. I’ll be in the hospital about 5 to 7 days, then I can go home but I shouldn’t be working for about 3 to 4 weeks and, after that, I can go back to my regular life.





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