Monday, 21 January 2013
The drugs I took for the surgeries, totaling well over 48 pillsa day in the first two weeks, killed my sex drive as thoroughly as my sociallife. It was a nightmare to lay around, all day, unable to study or concentrateon anything because of the intensity of the medical cocktail I’d gag down sixtimes a day. My mother’s paranoia and anxiety disallowed ever having guestsover, and I didn’t see any of my friends until I was able to leave the house onmy own and friends would pick me up with my crutches.
By March, I was on a more bearable drug schedule and startedto feel human again. I was attending church and my faith in God and his path wasstronger than ever. On April 20, I had the second surgery but I healed upfaster this time and was able to enter physical therapy after just two monthsof bed rest. By summer, I was back on crutches, my left leg in an unjointed legbrace, my right leg in a cast up to my hips but my body weight at a whopping105.
My father had stayed home from the office during theroughest parts of my surgery, working from a home office he set up in thebasement that we both slept in. We would stay up late watching TV when he’dfinish his work, and when the drugs or pain would hit me really hard, he’d playgames with me to distract me from it all. I barely remember those months.
My sex drive eradicated by the narcotics, my online activitieswere curbed and I just played a ton of video games. Everything was an escapefrom the world and my pain. I began to obsess over the music of the video gamesand started watching anime, joining online forums and establishing onlinefriendships with people from all over the world. To this day, there are twopeople that I still stay in contact with regularly.
Church was never the same after the summer. While I was outof commission, my two mentor couples broke up as the guys admitted that theywere secretly sleeping with each other. One of them was apparently heavy intohard drugs and occasionally prostituted himself out for extra cash or drugs-all while he was my mentor. I discovered later that the majority of the advicethat I would get from him and the other was twisted, abusive rhetoric that ledto the majority of the youth group I attended to implode and eventually were afactor in two different suicide attempts among their other mentees.
This was perhaps the time in my life that I most wanted tostop being gay. I saw nothing good about it, but increased visibility of gayson TV led to nothing but more and more inflammatory remarks about gays from myparents. I told them nothing about my youth group; instead, I just switched toan even more conservative church, one that they would never bother me about- mycity’s Chinese Church.
My summer was spent in absolute agony and a constant battlewith my drugs and my identity. I hated taking them but I couldn’t handle thepain from the surgeries; I had lost all of my old friends because of thescandal at church, and my parents hated each other more than ever, and I justcowered in fear that they’d discover that I was gay.
On the first day of junior year, they announced theirseparation.
Wednesday, 16 January 2013
During the first week of my sophomore year of high school,my paternal grandfather died. It bothered me a lot less than it probably shouldhave; I wasn't close at all, and the majority of my memories of my grandparentsthat lived in Pittsburgh were of having to go through quarters they receivedfrom their car washes and taking out all the Canadian coins. I once threw up inthe car while driving to visit them.
This was a significant year in a lot of respects. Theprevious year, I was officially diagnosed with my neurological disorder and myfirst surgery was slated for December 4 of my sophomore year. I went into theschool year with more anxiety for that single event than for anything else, butthis all before the chain reaction.
I was living happily at school. The previous year, I hadscored straight As but my school had failed 16 out of 23 basic requirements aslaid out by the recently implemented No Child Left Behind Act; our alreadymeager resources were slashed further, especially in the arts. The only realenjoyment I had in school was in the music program and when they upped clubfees to over a hundred dollars per activity, I was forced to withdraw fromeverything besides choir and band- they were classes, so no extra fees.
My after school activities gone, I was forced to take thebus home after school. Because the neurological disorder was growing worse bythe day, I wasn't able to participate in even our marching band, and for once Ifound myself having free time at home. My two older brothers were both atcollege at this point, leaving me the oldest at home while my parents marriagefelt to shreds around me and my troubled younger brother.
Desperate for any escape, I turned to two very conflictingsources for comfort. One of them was church- I began attending youth group atthree different churches in the area, happy to be involved in a free activitythat provided me with rides so I wouldn't have to depend on my parents foranything. The other comfort was porn.
Some afternoons, when my little brother would disappearwithout a word, I would just sit online and watch porn for hours straight. Itbecame such a common activity that it was almost non-sexual for me; I can’trecall ever truly enjoying it. It was just an obsession that I could satisfywith our home’s new broadband internet.
Eventually, I started making online friends. The moreserious my church attendance became, the more serious I would take my littleonline relationships. I’d lie about my age to guys who lived really far away,but at other times I could be honest about the fact that I was 15. Things tooka dark turn when I secretly stole a webcam and began to get validation in allthe wrong ways.
But anything was better than facing my life. The clock wasticking away to the surgeries and my mother started disappearing at night asoften as my little brother. I once asked her for a ride to a church event andshe entered a violently angry mood, screaming profanities at me usuallyreserved for our janky washing machine while I was on the phone with a friend.
Church became a necessary emotional crutch. I told myfavorite youth pastor about the fact that I was gay and he gave me a responsethat was shockingly compassionate compared to my parent’s belief thathomosexuals unquestionably go to hell. He put me in a mentoring program withsome older kids in the youth group- two straight couples made up of seniors. Igrew to depend on my older friends, to trust them unquestionably, seeking themout as the older brothers that my blood brothers had never been.
The natural dissonance that arises from seeking gayreparative therapy (self-inflicted at this point in time) while at the sametime occasionally earning money by doing adult and illegal things online put mein a pretty bad place. My grades started slipping, and I stopped talking to allof my regular school friends- while I went through my first ultra-Jesus phase,they began to practice witchcraft.
Then D-day hit and my dad drove me down to Children’sHospital for the first of two bone surgeries I would eventually have. I was inthe hospital for four nights before being wheeled home. I didn't walk fornearly a year afterwards; I took Oxycontin for the next 20 months, but perhapsthe most difficult was that it was so cold out that as long as my overallcondition stayed positive, I wasn't to leave the house even for hospital visits.I didn't see sunlight until my dad wheeled me outside the following March. At16 and 6’1 tall, I weighed less than 90 lbs.
Sunday, 13 January 2013
Senior year was a tough year for me, a challenge that I was ill-equipped for. I was still wearing my leg braces to school, covering them up with heavy and extra-large jeans all year round to keep people at school from noticing, but they did anyways. I wore over-sized wolf t-shirts because it was all I could afford from the thrift store, and I didn't really want to be distracted from my entire reason for moving across the city the halfway through year three of high school- to study.But the reality was that I was in pain. I was still recovering from my life-altering bone surgeries from two years before, and when the ankles in my leg braces would click together, with each and every step, my face burned in shame as the metallic clicks echoed through the big, wide hallways of the still unfamiliar school. I couldn't sleep at night because of the pain now that I'd decided to not take prescription painkillers anymore and instead to enter pain therapy, perhaps the most difficult and mature decision I made during high school.Despite my parents recent divorce, or moving high schools, or the surgeries, there was something else that occupied my mind day in and day out. I was in love.He wasn't anything particularly special. We had met at church, ironically, and as two racial minorities at the church, we made quick friends. Both into video games and reading, lovers of spicy food and the Bible, it was a match made in heaven except that we were the same gender. He liked me back, but was in love with another friend- just as guiltily gay as I was, but in the end he chose to follow the path laid out by his pastor of a father for him- playing it straight. In the end, after months of spending time together every day, on the night I proposed that we dated and tried to kiss him, he said we could never see each other again.His demand didn't work well. We went to church together every week but I couldn't move to another church because my only friends were there since I had moved to a new school- his school. In fact, being in the same grade and in the same classes meant that we couldn't escape. Taking the highest track put us in four classes together each day, and when I realized how often I would see him each day, I vomited in the school bathroom from anxiety. This became a sort of addition, throwing up when we'd fight or not fight, or when he would pretend I didn't exist.By the end of the year, I was in shambles. My father had found my stores of gay porn and put me in ex-gay therapy, warping my brain and taking away my only source of support- the internet- as punishment for my viewing habits. Eventually I won it back by abjuring all desire and making a commitment to being straight, and I was finally able to talk my way out of the therapy.Yet I knew it all for the lie that it was. My anxiety grew worse and I developed a thyroid disorder, pleurisy and a blood infection after a brief fight with rheumatic fever. I finally finished pain therapy and could stop wearing my leg braces to school; I started buying new clothes, and got a hair cut. I was performing for him, always for the boy that said no to me- I wanted to be beautiful, successful, everything I felt that I wasn't, just to try to hurt him but in the end he didn't care, and even then his lack of caring just made my insides more and more sick, over and over.When Senior Prom rolled around in the Spring, I didn't know how I'd make it through. AP tests had just finished, thank god- I had taken five over the course of four days- and I was going in a big group of friends from church. The group was big and eventually split into two different entities because of the fight I had with him- because everyone knew we hated each other, because some people knew I still loved him.We had dinner at a grille restaurant on a boat, my first fancy dinner ever. I saved up my tutoring money, bitterly agreeing to rent a tux, buy flowers and pitch in for a group limousine. It was extravagant, taking place in downtown Cincinnati. After dinner, we took a walk around the area before the dance, seeing the skyline of our hometown from across the river in Newport, Kentucky.
The night was beautiful, but I had reached my breaking point. I had managed to make a gay friend at school, an atheist who challenged me and confused me while pushing me to question the manacles I was putting on myself through the lies. That night we fought in a very small and quiet manner, but he never forgave me, and I broke down on the way home. While everyone else from prom went home laughing and happy, joking and high off of sugar, I just sat in the back of my clueless but caring buddy's car, crying because I was so sick of lying and pretending that I was stronger than I really was.*Tonight, I went down to Newport again, and it floated up to me like fog off of the river. Cincinnati is a beautiful city sometimes, but sometimes it seems like every crack in the sidewalk holds its own memories.
Thursday, 10 January 2013
I've now been living in a small house with my students for over a full month. In Ohio, I run a small, short-term camp for Korean students who come to America to study English in an immersion environment. For all the faults of this program, most due to my awful coworker who, thankfully, is gone now, overall I think it's a really neat if not exhausting idea.But what it means for me is that I live in a house with no privacy and way too many teenage boys. We began with four elementary school preteens who were at that adorable but slightly whiny age just before puberty kicks in. We had them alone for 10 days and it was such an easy time- classes every day, helping them with their homework, getting them to speak English 24/7, and spending time with my boss who, despite all the problems I'm having with my company, is still a nice lady and a lot of fun to be around.After 10 days, though, the nightmare came in from Korea. A group of five mid-puberty middle and high school students flew in with my coworker, that awful bitch-teacher whom I can never happily work together with again after her awful and disrespectful behavior during the camp. More on that later.Anyways, that put us at a total of 9 students with three teachers and me being in charge of it all. Jesus. Christ.Things have calmed down since the little ones in the first group left with the other teacher, but that means it's just me and the teenagers at this point. I've been volunteering at camps and counseling programs for years; I've been teaching English for nearly twice as long. Yet this is still the most hilariously exhausting thing I've ever done in my life.For one thing, there are so many hormones flying around the house that I'm about to lose my mind. They're all pumping out so much testosterone that I swear I'm in a male hormone factory. They're loud and dirty, obnoxious and defiant, annoying and stupid all at the same time. My manager and I throw back a bottle of wine on the regular at night when they are finishing their night studies just to get through some of these longer days.But despite those troubles, I am having a really, honestly great time. The kids, for all their faults, are a ton of fun to around. Their energy is infectious and their stupidity is, for the most part, cute and laughable. They are all the right parts of goofy and intelligent to where they can actually appreciate my sense of humor. They enjoy a lot of the same video games that I do and so long as the conversation is kept age-appropriate (an extremely easy task) then I actually feel really comfortable around them.I've got less than a week left before I take four of them on a flight back to Korea next week, and I'm sort of bummed that I'm leaving. I'm going to very much miss America and I'm nervous about reentering a job and living situation in Gwangju that I'm less than pleased with. But I'll at least have these wonderful memories to carry me through the next few months, and after some serious negotiations with my manager, hopefully a much better paycheck as well.You can barely make out the ninth boy sitting behind me and pointing at my head.
Monday, 07 January 2013
So my computer finally crashed last night after about two months of slowly slipping into a coma that was increasingly frustrating me more and more each day. Last night was the final straw- the chinese spamware my exboyfriend downloaded onto my computer to watch a TV program had finally erased all of my backups then blocked access to the internet. I went out and bought a new external harddrive, backed up essential files, and formatted the motherfucker.So with a clean slate on my computer not even a week after the New Year begins, I am feeling even better about the successes I'll be striving for all year. It's going to be challenging but with a positive attitude, I'll find a path that works for me.In the meantime, my virus-infested computer had blocked all sorts of internet-related activities including leaving comments on xanga, but the new Windows install should allow me to begin reading and commenting again.I'm also trying to figure out how to use twitter. You're welcome to follow me there though I'm sure it'll be akin to someone trying to teach their grandparent how to use play farmville.
Words are fun, dirty words are better.