Getting older and relationships

I was having lunch with Alex and Rick recently when the subject of age came up.  We discussed the fact that Alex was the youngest at the table, I was the middle child, and Rick was the eldest among us.  In the midst of that triflingly irrelevant discussion, my thoughts turned to my own age and how the reality now compares to the ideals of long ago.

It's funny, but life at 34-going-on-35 is much different from what I expected when I was 15 or 25.  I never would have guessed then that I would still be living in Dallas, have a successful career in technology management, be making a good living, and have found a happy median of both nuclear and adopted families.  At 15, I expected to be married with children by my present age, the expectation being tempered, of course, by my growing realization that I was going to have difficulty fitting the "normal" mold.  At 25, I expected to be, at this age, well, married — to a man, I finally realized — without children.

Self-efficacy notwithstanding, I was being true to the whole me — my id, ego and über-ich.  They were, after all, finally getting along with each other.

I'm now bridging the gap between being 34 and 35 years old, but I'm not married, and I mean married to someone emotionally and not necessarily under a legal or religious arrangement.  Unlike my priorities when I was 15 and when I was 25, I am no longer vexed by the pursuit of "being with someone."

For all their value in creating stability, family, and community, relationships are not for everyone.  This doesn't mean those who don't want relationships are unstable, anti-family or anti-community.  It does mean there are other ways for people to express themselves or promote their own stability, family and community.

I no longer see it as necessary to be in a relationship, the early and unrelenting pursuit of which can lead to bad experiences, emotional turmoil and heartache.

Before my gay readership excises me from the homosexual club with "that is just denial, because of your not being older yet or because you still like to get attention with your muscles,"  let me make clear that I do not agree with the implication that those who do not enter or seek relationships are immature.  I disagree with that line of reasoning — not just based on my own experiences.  With 6 billion people on the planet, it's difficult for me to believe that every one of us wants or needs exactly the same thing.  It's simply a clear statistical impossibility.

So why did I have such a dissimilar point of view when I was younger?

Many younger people worry about being alone and lonely in their thirties and forties and up.  I can't say I've never worried about this, but, as I've discussed with my closest friends, I grew out of that mentality.  I eventually learned that being in a relationship in your twenties and thirties is no guarantee you'll still be together in your forties or fifties.  People change, grow apart, and die.  As you've learned if you've followed my writings here, I, through experience on more than one occasion, have learned that all of those things are a natural part of life.

Put quite simply, fear of a lonely future seems a horrible reason to enter into a relationship, or to remain in one that doesn't work anymore.

Was it not Whitney Houston who sang "I'd rather be alone than unhappy"?  I'm almost 35 and I'm single.  But most importantly, I'm growing increasingly happy with my life.  I have a large and fantastic group of friends who are important to me.  I have a close-knit adopted family of friends and loved ones.  I have a great relationship with the reasonable members of my family.  My career, although hectic and stressful in the context of my current job, is a successful one.  I am grateful that I've come this far, and I look forward to the next thirty-something years, even if those years are spent outside of a formal relationship.

But don't say this to any "self-respecting gay man." From my experience, gay men can be awfully conservative sometimes.  Just look at the "perfect" responses that they give when asked what type of man they're looking for.

The vast majority of them will always say they want someone who is caring and intelligent and sensitive.  But when you look at the men they date, they generally seek out someone who is attractive and sexy with a nice body.  Of course it's difficult to forge a relationship based solely on sexual attraction, but why shouldn't we admit that we choose our partners based, in part, on this factor?

If I begin the description of my "ideal man" with his physical characteristics, the gay glee club would surely jump on me for being shallow and superficial.  The truth is, I wouldn't marry someone simply because they're cute.  But nor would I marry someone who I do not think is cute.  If that makes me shallow, then at least I'll be happy.

And don't dare mention the possibility of having an open relationship.  My gay club membership card would surely be taken from me and burned to ensure I couldn't attend the meetings anymore.  I'm not necessarily opposed to the concept under the right circumstances and believe that humans are inherently non-monogamous anyway (sex is, after all, a primitive act and governed by that part of us which tends to be rather unsophisticated — especially in men).  A lot of people who say they would never have an open relationship end up creating one unilaterally by violating the terms of their agreement and seeking sex from someone other than their partner.  Which is better — an open relationship or a cheating one?

It's understandable that a group of people who are often disenfranchised for their sexuality would want to be a part of the social norm.  But why do gay men try so hard to have a relationship and, in the same manner, why do they find it so abhorrent and incomprehensible when a gay man is happily "unmarried" with no intention of pursuing such an arrangement?  To put it another way, why would gay men be so critical of those who dare to stray from the norm?  The traditional model of monogamous, committed relationships may not work for everyone, and gay men, of all people, should understand that.

And I thought the "gay agenda" was itself a call for greater sexual liberation…

As Marianne Williamson has written (in a statement often mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela), "As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I feel liberated from the pursuit of marriage in whatever form is available to me.  Yes, I feel liberated.

I don't intend to spend my life hunting one down, but neither would I ignore the opportunity for one if it presented itself.  To think otherwise would certainly justify the question of "What the hell was I thinking?" when I wrote the Relativity series.  Expressing an emotional interest in someone does not automatically translate into the pursuit of a relationship, although I would certainly welcome such an opportunity with Rick.  But I don't need it because our relationship is already so fulfilling and my life already engendering my own happiness.

I do not want to chase marriage (formal or otherwise) simply for the sake of having a relationship with someone, to fulfill some base need to fit in, to fulfill my obligations under the gay club membership contract.

I have realized that being happy without being in a relationship is perfectly normal, that not having the desperate need to be with someone at all costs is also quite normal, and that my life need not be focused on the pursuit of a relationship in order to be complete.

I am living by a very simple axiom well stated by Francois de La Rochefoucauld: “When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.”

To paraphrase, if we cannot be happy with ourselves, we will never be happy with someone else.  Of course, the difficult part of that is to be happy with ourselves; once you have that, the rest becomes incidental.

Noctilucent cloud season begins

In the middle of the night a few weeks ago, electric-blue clouds appeared over Europe.  “They were glowing as if lit from within!” reports one observer.  The display marks the beginning of the 2005 noctilucent cloud season.  These beautiful clouds, which are something of a mystery, are usually spotted over high-northern latitudes.  In recent years, however, they’ve been spotted as far south as Colorado and Virginia.

You can read about the phenomenon here at  Better yet, take a look at the noctilucent cloud gallery for some awesome pics like the one below.

Noctilucent clouds in Kloetinge, the Netherlands

And that makes five

With Farl’s resignation this month, the IT group at work lost its fourth employee in just five months.  None of those positions have been backfilled because we’re under a hiring freeze (a hiring freeze which, by the way, is quite selective as my team has processed hundreds of new hires since it was implemented in March).  Regardless of the obvious disparity with how the hiring freeze is applied, the IT support teams have been under tremendous pressure for the last six months to do more work with fewer resources and to take regular verbal abuse from upper management and anyone else who wants to join in.

Following on the heels of Farl’s resignation came notice that the IT security manager would be leaving next week.  And that makes five — in five months.

With no hope of backfilling these positions and more work being thrown at us daily, I know for a fact that more people are looking to leave.  In fact, many more people will be leaving as soon as they can.

Despite making it clear many times over to management that attrition is going to be a major problem (I started ringing that bell late last year), the company continues to push harder and harder while reducing staff and increasing workloads, all while treating employees like so much dirt.

At least Farl and the others got out early.  Now it’s a race to see how many more can leave before the place either gets the point or falls on its own face.

Good luck with the new job

My friend Farl (aka Malachi, Blindf8th, or whatever pseudonym he’s using today) was recently presented with a new job opportunity.  He’s been working for me since November 2001 and has been one of the best employees I’ve ever had in my career, so I had mixed emotions about seeing him go.  Given all the hell going on at work recently and the insufferable environment which exists there now, I fully support his move — but I also know that his absence will be felt by my entire team as they’re already struggling to keep their heads above water.

I was just informed on Friday that, despite the preliminary approval to backfill his position which I received last week, they’ve decided not to let me hire someone to take his place.  That’s going to hurt us.

Despite that, the opportunity Farl has been presented with cannot be turned down.  It fits well with his career goals, it’s a better environment, he will have more opportunities to deal with new technologies, and the extra money won’t hurt.  Besides, getting out of the current environment would be good even if he didn’t have another job lined up.

Did I just say that aloud?  Anyway…

I want to wish Farl much luck with his new job.  He’ll certainly be missed both personally and professionally.

Thanks for ignoring me with such determination

As I mentioned in my open letter to Texas' governor Rick Perry, I snail-mailed a copy of the letter to the Office of the Governor since Mr. Perry has not been a consistent visitor to my site.  Today, not surprisingly, I received the form letter response from Dede Keith who works in Administration and Constituent Services (sadly, however, Dede didn't really send the letter either).

Let's start with the response.

June 21, 2005

Dear Mr. so-and-so:

Thank you for sharing your concerns with the Office of the Governor.

Please note that Governor Perry has asked no one to leave this state.  He said those seeking a gay marriage may find other states more receptive than Texas, but whether to leave Texas to pursue such an arrangement would be their choice.  The governor's comment was in direct response to a reporter's question.  The question asked pertained specifically to gay war veterans returning home and what they might think of a state not allowing them to marry.

The governor will welcome back to Texas any veteran who has served this nation with distinction.

Governor Perry respects the viewpoints of others, but he also believes that the vast majority of Texans agree with him that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman.


Dede Keith
Administration and Constituent Services
Office of the Governor


No, I don't see a need for you to actually read my letter before responding.  Why waste that precious time, right?

I did in fact mention the context in which the comment was made.  Look, it's right there in the second paragraph.

Your comments telling these veterans, specifically those returning from Iraq, that "a state that has more lenient views than Texas" might be "a better place for them to live" do not represent the views of most Americans, nor do they represent the views of most Texans.

Not to throw water on your holier-than-though, witch-burning pyre, but at least read my letter before responding.

As for telling me "whether to leave Texas to pursue such an arrangement would be their choice," Perry's remark is unmistakably a commination of gay veterans.  What the Office of the Governor fails to comprehend is the context of the very remarks they are now defending.

When in a position of authority, the idiots in the state capital fail to fully appreciate that inferences are as powerful as the actual language used.  Again I say, if you'd put yourself on the receiving end of those remarks, you'd have a much better idea of what was actually said.  The clear and concise inference is that gay veterans (and, by context, all non-heterosexuals) should accept that they're being discriminated against and, if they don't like it, they should leave the state.

Regardless of how you try to spin it, that's precisely what he said.

As for Perry respecting the viewpoints of others, that is, in the words of my dear mother, a bunch of malarkey.  Rick Perry respects nothing but power and discrimination and hatred and bigotry and the rule of the radical Christian element in our society.  This much is clear from his actions; I don't need more words to try to convince me otherwise.

Clearly defining his governorship as being controlled by the Christian cult, the "marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman" comment is self-explanatory.

In case you didn't know poppets, sacred means "devoted to deity: dedicated to a deity or religious purpose; of religion: relating to or used in religious worship; worthy of worship: worthy of or regarded with religious veneration, worship, and respect."

I don't know if anyone was paying attention when this form letter was put together, but it seems apparent to me that this simply enforces the rule of the church in state matters.  The conservative Christian movement in this country has indeed moved into the top leadership positions in our various governments.  Why is the state writing into law protection for religions?  If churches want marriage to be between a man and a woman, they can make that decision — the government, on the other hand, cannot enforce religious doctrine or use law to subjugate the population with any religious ideology.

Yet here we are…

Understand this, Mr. Perry.  I hope this is indeed the last time you sit in the governor's office.  You have blatantly voiced discrimination from the highest office in our state; you have clearly rejected anyone who's different and made clear that they are unwelcome in this state — especially by your régime — and that they should simply leave; you have demonstrated again and again that the separation of church and state is dead and gone and that those who are not conservative Christian are despised by you and wholly unwanted.

I greatly appreciate you not listening to anything I said in my letter.  I sincerely appreciate your form-letter response which essentially contained the same information I wrote in my original letter (thereby proving you didn't even read it or care about it).  I really do enjoy knowing that our governor happily practices exclusivity, bigotry, discrimination, hatred, and Nazi-like determination to get rid of those who are different.

You are a small man, Rick Perry, but then so was Hitler.