Sunday, August 31, 2014

No Punchline - Jeff Suwak

I don't often recommend stories, but I became a huge fan of this author last year when he started sharing his short stories for me to critic. Sometimes you just come across a writer that does more than tantilize your mind, but moves your soul.  Suwak does that for me in a similar way that Patrick Rothfuss, Mark Lawrence, J.K. Rowling and Anthony Ryan move me, or touch my soul the way Jack Kerouac does.

No Punchline: Or, the Night Chale Thayer Blew His Head Off at the Punch Drunk Comedy Club   is one of those such stories and I can recommend it more.

If you've been reading my blogs for any period of time,  you know how I look at the world, you know I see things with a deeper perspective, often touching on the emotional nerve that is connected to the heart of a story.  This story will deliver.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rational Debate

In light of the recent news reports, political pundits, protest riots, looting, and argumentative angst on both sides of the issue concerning the fatal shooting in Ferguson, I’ve tried to remain quiet and not respond emotionally.  I’ve listened to the various arguments and have tried to see things from all perspectives. I have to say I don’t get most of them – on either side of the issue.  I’m so sick of all the race baiting and bashing in this world. We are human beings – all of us, yet we sometimes act worse than the most rabid of animals.

I’ve been so frustrated without realizing why I’ve been frustrated.  I believe it’s due to the fact I’ve been unable to verbally express what’s been rolling around inside my mind and heart, because honestly I felt like it didn’t matter anyway and there was really no one that I could share my true thoughts and feelings.  Not because I don’t have anyone to listen, but I feel there are very few who CAN listen – hear me without bias, without prejudice, without judgment, without a PC or anti-PC or victim’s mentality who would try and stuff me into one of their preconceived boxes.  I’ll either be labeled a racist or fascist – instead of a rationalist. 

There really isn’t such a thing as a rational debate anymore – there’s a contest to see who can shout the loudest, who can incite the more powerful emotional response, and who is right or wrong.  It’s not about the issues anymore – because everyone is now a victim, everyone is now more concerned with being heard and being right than being reasonable.   I honestly gave up the hope of hearing or witnessing a rational debate until a friend of mine shared his frustrations with me this morning.  I feel honored and privileged he shared his wise thoughts with me – because his words freed me.  He was able to verbalize what I could only feel for so long. 

“Claiming victory over a debate is wrong on so many levels.  There are no winners or losers.  It’s an exchange of ideas.  That’s the bottom line.” ~ Sergeant T. Emilio Solano “If we’re going to outrage about something, it should never be one-sided.  We should focus on the act and the bottom line, not the reasons.  Murder is murder.  If a black guy shoots a white guy or vice versa, it should not matter to the level of outrage.  It’s a man killing a man.”

I couldn’t agree more. I honestly feel that when we focus on the race of the victim or perpetrator that is the moment we dismiss the humanity and all rationalization.  Responses from that moment forward become not about the crime/act, but about the skin.

Sergeant Solano continues, “Why are we so infatuated with the reasons?  Does it really matter?  A crime was committed.  Harm was done.  Does it matter who or why?  Reason should only matter on self-defense cases.  That’s it.  A community of poor uneducated people (the majority are) should not care if a white cop shoots a black dude.  Do we revolt when a black man shoots a white man in a trailer park?  I’m tired when any minority cries out about how bad they have it, or how underprivileged they are.  If you want to succeed - go to school and make a better life for yourself.”

Again, I couldn’t agree more.  My friend is a great example.  He is man of mixed races, born in the Dominican Republic and not of privilege, yet has worked hard to make something of himself.  He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, and takes pride in all he sets himself to do – working with excellent ethics for nearly 15 years in the Army. He's been in combat, is a leader, a teacher, a role model, and my admiration and respect for him is intangible. The way his subordinates respect him is not something given or granted, but earned.   It’s also something very lacking in pop culture today. 

I made the response to him, “We live in a PC world where everyone is a victim.  You’re of a different mindset.  You see individuality and personal responsibility, and that, my friend, puts you into another minority.”

He responded, “In nature, victims get eaten.  In humanity, those who want to play the victim and not strive to change should be purged. We don’t need their sorryness (I know… it’s not a real word) around the rest of us who strive every day.  Nobody really cares if you’ve been oppressed, enslaved, or abused.  Grow up, become stronger, educate yourself, and work hard.  We all have the same opportunities.  Nobody cares about your sorrows.” 

If we all look into our own closets, we ALL have been victimized in some way.  We have ALL felt and experienced some form of oppression, enslavement, or abuse.  EVERY ONE of us (black, white, rich, poor and every box we’ve created between).  These experiences all lend to reasons for how we react, but they’re not excuses.  There are really no excuses for repaying one bad deed with another.  Our response is truly what separates victims from survivors - from those who fail and those who overcome.

Let’s be human beings, love one another as humans, and care for one another as humans.  Let us examine all things with rational debate – remove the race, the hate, the prejudice, the boxes, and the victimization.  Let’s talk to each other, not at each other. 

I love and admire my friend very much.  He’s not bad to look at either, but it’s his mind for rational debate that makes him truly beautiful.

Till next time
~T.L. Gray

Friday, August 29, 2014


Everyone has their definition of what success means to them.  Well, being that I’m of the strange persuasion and have a mind that lives in the outer regions of ordinary, my definition and understanding of success changes as I change.  Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?  Aren’t there different levels?   Whose levels are we trying to reach?  Who are we really trying to impress? I’d like to know my monster’s name, so I can beat the shit out of him and bring him down to a reasonable state.  However, I’m not a reasonable person – so that’s a moot point.

I used to dream big.  Oh, what the hell am I talking about, I still dream big.  I can’t help it – I’m a big dreamer.  I never do the expected, or expect the ordinary.  It’s just not how I’m wired.  I’m not saying my wiring isn’t all messed up and tangled, but it’s just how I’m connected.  Acceptance is the first step. I don’t know exactly to where – but it’s the first step.  Accept me as I am and we’ll get along.  Expect me to live up to your standards or your level of success and I guarantee I’m going to disappoint you – so save yourself some time and get disappointed now,  and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.  Better yet, let that damned door slam into you, and let the knob connect in your most sensitive areas. Hopefully it’ll knock you on your face as you trip on your way out. (I haven’t had my coffee yet, but it’s percolating as I type.)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand – success.  I had an interesting conversation with one of the most talented writers I have had the privilege to meet and befriend in my life last night.  I’m not going to sit here and gloat about his talent or bloat his ego; I’ve been there and done that, and he doesn’t hear a word of it.  No matter what I tell him, it doesn’t change the way he views success.  I also find it so hard to encourage him when I feel almost exactly the same way he does – but listening to someone else speak the same things I’m thinking helps me to see where I’m looking at a situation the wrong way.  Hearing my words coming out of his mouth, changed my focus.

I used to hear people in church say all the time, “If God never does anything else for me, I’ll still love and serve him for what he’s already done.”  That’s a good sentiment, but it’s bullshit.  We’re human beings, we’re not gods.  I’m not Jesus, I wasn’t sent to save the world, and I most certainly would have failed had our missions been the same.  I’m a human being, full of conflict, confusion, and corruption.  As a human, I need a constant receipt of acknowledgment that what I’m doing is good, that it’s right, that it leads somewhere.  If not, I feel like I’m just wafting through time, taking up space, and using up oxygen better spent elsewhere. I have to feel like I’m contributing to society, that what I’m doing is making a difference, that I simply fucking matter.  Bottom line – I need to experience success.  To say that I would be grateful or thankful for things to never move forward is being ignorant and naïve.

The question is …what constitutes as success for ME?  Your level of achievement may not be a level deemed successful for me and vice versa.  Where I think we really get off track is when we try to apply someone else’s level or measure of success to our own lives.  Either we think more highly of ourselves because we’ve compared ourselves to a very low level and we seem much more than what we are – or the opposite and choose too high of a level where we always feel like a failure and we don’t measure up. (ding, ding, ding)

I’m a perfectionist, and so is my friend, and I have a feeling we both set our levels of acceptable success way too high.  However, when I look at him, his life, and his gift, I can’t help but admire him and see loads of success all around him.  His gift, his integrity, his bravery, his compassion – those successes make him a great man, make him beautiful in my eyes. The way he sees the world – blows my mind. Many times he’s told me how proud he was of some of the things I have achieved in my life, goals I’ve met, obstacles I’ve overcome.  It never fails that he is always there to remind me of some of those things when I feel at my lowest or most unsuccessful.

I don’t see him as a failure, and when I talk to him, I don’t see myself as one either.  That, in and of itself, is a success.  My hope is that every dream  he has not only comes true, but exceeds his wildest expectations.  My wish for him is that he receives more success than he knows what to do with.  My desire for him is that he could see the success he already is by being a wonderful man and friend.

What is your measure of success?  Does your perception of success need an adjustment? Mine does on a daily basis.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Just Between Us

I talked to a friend of mine last night, and something she said won't leave my thoughts.  Her words made their way into my dreams, and haunted me again this morning during my run.  I couldn't understand what it was about her proclamation that affected me the way it had, and I think I’m only just beginning to grasp why. Perhaps as I write this post, which is what happens often, I’ll finally see the clarity into why her words hurt me.

I’m sure by now you’re asking, “Well, what the hell did she say?”  I’m also sure you’re expecting it to be something profound and revelatory, especially now that I’ve put those thoughts into your head.  But I doubt that’s the case.

My friend is in love.  She’s met a great guy and they’ve been talking a lot lately and I can’t help but revel in her excitement.  I like talking with her because her enthusiasm is infectious.  It’s even more so when we hang out together in person because I can just feel positive energy emit from her body in warm waves.  I strive to someday be that happy, but I suppose I’d like it to be on my own terms  -not because someone else is involved.  I sincerely believe that if someone else is the cause of such happiness, it also means they have the power to control it.

I kept a smile on my face as she chattered along at what felt like a million miles a second (I do the same when I’m excited) until she said something that literally made me wince and cringe and I felt a sharp pang run through my body – almost like the way my body seized when I dumped that bucket of ice water over my head the other day.  She said, “I wish I could tell the world about this wonderful guy and how happy he makes me, but he’s such a private person and has asked me to keep our relationship just between the two of us.  It’s nobody else’s business and would cause unnecessary trouble.”

I get that, I really do.  I have some very private friends, and I try to respect their privacy as much as I can.  But there’s this part of me that just wants to scream and slap them all upside the head and tell them all to go fuck themselves.   Before anyone gets all defensive, let me explain.

I’ve SEEN, FELT, EXPERIENCED and SUFFERED under the blanket of secrecy.  Predators, liars, cheaters, abusers, cons, and manipulators work behind secret smoke screens.  They can only be successful as long as their victims keep their mouths shut.  That’s why I’m such an open person, because I’ve been victim… perhaps to every one of those.  I grew up in a lie. My silence aided in my abuse and the destruction of my family.  I’ve been lied to, cheated on, and used because I’m naïve.  I want to believe the best in people, but people let me down all the time and they hurt me tremendously.   Last year I had a ‘friend’ who was the best friend anyone could ask for, so encouraging, so supportive, said all the right things for all the big changes I was going through.  But, he wanted to remain ‘private’ because he didn’t want his other friends to be jealous.  Turns out… he had several other private best friends, and a wife, and a few lovers on the side.  Though we were only talking, I felt so betrayed, because I know had I not discovered his deception our relationship could have become more and I a bigger victim. It was a wakeup call.  Yet a lesson I still have yet to learn.

I refuse to live in secret, because that is my strength.  I have nothing to hide in this world, and nothing in which to be ashamed.  I make mistakes, bad decisions, am prone to foolishness and embarrass the hell out of myself all the time, but I’m honest.  I try to show the best of me as much as I can, but I don’t hide the ugly parts either.  I am exactly what you see.  While I change with every experience, I’m not a different person at different times.  I am simply me.  Love me, hate me, admire me, despise me – it doesn’t make a difference.  YOUR opinion can hurt me, but it won’t change me.

I do my best to try and respect my friends privacies because it’s who they are and I don’t try to change who they are… but they should respect me too… they should know and understand that I’m not like them.  If they don’t want the world to know they’re my friend, then they shouldn’t be my friend.  Because my true friends would know how secrets and lies hurt me.  I can keep intimacies private, I’m not an idiot, so don’t ever ask me to keep my relationship private, because that will be the moment you’ll lose me.  That wounded little girl that lives inside me is getting bolder and stronger.  She whispers to me, “If they can’t claim you in public, they sure as fuck don’t deserve you in private.” Even Jesus said something similar – “If you deny me before men, I’ll deny you before my Father, and say I never knew you.”

This post isn’t about my friend or her new boyfriend.  I wish her the best.  With all my heart I hope he’s not a liar and a cheat – because that’s often the biggest reason for privacy.  This post is about me discovering another of my triggers – those things and issues that set me off and sends me spiraling.  The more I understand those things that hurt me, the more I learn to maneuver around them and purge them from my life.  These last couple of years have been a huge journey for me – I’ve done so much purging and so much  refilling – and the transformation has been amazing.  Learning to love yourself is not easy – because it requires taking a huge dose of truth.  Truth hurts, but deception, especially self-deception, destroys.

What saddens me most – is knowing that tomorrow will most likely change in light of this new revelation.  NOTHING is guaranteed, no relationship is granted, no promise that those I love and admire today will even be in my world tomorrow.  I wish with my whole heart there were certainties, people and things I could count on that would always be there – but that’s probably been the biggest lesson I’ve learned. Again, I say, NOTHING is guaranteed. The ONLY person that I will find for sure in my tomorrow, should I live until tomorrow, is ME.  That’s why it’s so important that I learn to love me, to trust me, to find happiness and peace within me.  I’m the only person that will be there with me until the end.

I say, “I’m sorry” in advance for those who I will leave behind.  You either love me or you don’t. I’m so tired of wasting my time on people who won’t love me, don’t love themselves, or don’t have the balls to be honest.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Author T.L. Gray - AuthorsInterviews

Here is a link to my latest interview.  Check it out:


I love to laugh.  I love to make other people laugh.  No matter how bad I’m feeling, laughter always makes me feel better.

When I’m down and depressed, what pulls me out of it is the following two aspects:

1.  Knowing that there is someone in this world who cares about me.

2.  Laughter.

There’s a lot each of us have to deal with, and we all have problems and stresses that pull on us regularly.  No one is without concern or burden, that’s our lot for being human.  The only difference between us is the severity of which we have to deal with the things that come into our life.

Anxiety is the worse of these stresses.  The Good Book says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,  let your requests be known to God.”  That’s easier said than done.  Sure… wait right here a moment while I go and lay down my anxiety.  If we could all just take it off like a jacket, we’d be perfect because I don’t know one person who LIKES and WANTS anxiety in their life. If anyone figures out the secret to turning off emotions of anxiety when worries pop up in their life, please share it.  I’d like a detailed manuscript or formula.

Let my requests be known to God?  Isn’t He omniscient?  If he knows the very number of hairs I have on my head (which He needs to recount after this morning’s brushing) and the thoughts I have in my mind, then doesn’t He already know what my requests are?  Could I possibly hide them from Him?  I’m thinking maybe we’ve been going at this one wrong for a long time now.

 The rest of that scripture reads “… and the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  I don’t even know what that really means anymore.  How will God’s peace guard my heart and mind exactly, because when situations come into my life my brain goes into overdrive dealing with all the ‘responsibility’  and ‘expectations’ that are associated.  What exactly are we expecting from this “peace of God”.  It doesn’t say peace from God, but the peace that belongs to Him and is of Him will guard my heart and mind.  Well, that didn’t work.  Maybe it’s because I’m trying to understand something that clearly states transcends my understanding – it’s not understandable.  If it’s not understandable, how then do I trust it and apply it to remove the anxiety that plagues me?  

I’m not looking for an answer here, so please don’t flood my comments with your divine religious insights.  I’m not a novice.  I’ve studied the scriptures for nearly two decades and this is an answer I’ll only accept from God himself.  Men have taught me they’re just as ignorant as I am, and most of the time have no clue what they really understand or believe.  They’re mockingjays and parrots, repeating what they’ve heard, yet most often their actions and reactions proclaim something contrary.  I don’t want or need your opinion.  If God can talk to an ass, He can damn well talk to me.    

But, I didn’t write this post to come down on Scripture.  I have nothing against Scripture, just a majority of men’s interpretation of it. I wrote this article to get to this point – anxiety is real and it’s hard.  Regardless of what you believe or don’t believe, the greatest weapon “I’ve” discovered to fight against is – is laughter.  I’ve prayed, taken pills, exercised, been to counseling… and  sometimes those things help.  But the only constant that brings ME results is laughter.

So, I’m letting my request be known to the whole world (hopefully that mean’s God too) that I hope your day, and my day, be filled with laughter.  I want to hear the sound of giggles and guffaws.  I’d like to see smiles and smirks.

Here’s a dumb joke to get you started on your day:

“Why do milking stools only have three legs? – Because the cow has the udder.”

That made you smile, didn’t it?  It at least had you shake your head.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I See ...

First of all, I want to give an update to my rant yesterday.  It was as I proclaimed, just a moment.  This morning on my run in the dark, every time I passed a shadow I smiled and whispered “fuck you” and grew stronger and stronger as I sailed past every shadow.  By the time I hit the ¼ mile mark I was almost giddy.  Fear, you will not control me.  I’m not stupid, though.  I still gripped my knife and pepper spray… but I enjoyed the wind on my face, the smell of cedar in the air, the burn in my muscles, and the rapid, steady beat of my heart.  Now if I can just get my breathing under control… I’ll have this made.

The thoughts that flipped through my mind as I ran this morning focused on a dear friend I haven’t heard from in a while and I miss.  I worry about him and hope that all is well.  Most of all, I hope he’s happy.  He’s one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen, and it’s got nothing to do with his physical looks.  He also hides behind a thick mask, but I see him – all of him.

I don’t know if it’s a curse or a blessing, but I see people in a peculiar way.  As Shakespeare said, (I can’t believe I’m quoting that douchebag, but he did have some deep things to say at times.), “All the worlds a stage and all the people are merely players.”  That’s how I see the world.  We walk around with our masks, we move, and dance, and laugh, and speak, but it’s all for show.  As I walk through the masquerade in my own mask, I don’t focus on the colorful, dazzling, sparkling displays, but the eyes behind them.  In those mysterious orbs I see beauty and shadow, love and anger, hope and despair.  I see truth.  There are some people I see and they’re so ugly because their hearts and soul are so black and cold – I physically shiver. Their negativity is like a thick cloud. Then, there are others so beautiful I become mesmerized.

The thing about looking into someone’s eyes, I can tell if they’re looking back at me.  I’ve discovered most people don’t like eye contact.  They look at everything, but me.  We’re afraid to let people see who we really are – because most of the time we can’t even look at ourselves.  We’re like babies, we think if we can’t see others, they can’t see us.  “Though they have eyes, they do not see.”  It’s hard to see the truth, because it’s heavy.  To see the beauty in someone comes right along with their darkness, and that is often a bitter pill to swallow.  I can’t handle everyone’s darkness.

Can I be fooled?  Always.  We can shift from the light to darkness in an instant. I’ve hid in the shadows.  I’ve been terrified that others will see my darkness, get a good look at my shame, and hate or reject me for it.  But when we hide our darkness, we also hide our light. We are fools if we think we can only expose our light - that’s the defect in our masks.  Once we open up and expose ourselves, our shadows are exposed too.  Our shame keeps us dancing, keeps us moving, keeps us smiling, and keeps us hurting.

In my friends and those I love, I see all of it – the beauty and the darkness, and I still love them.  I would fight those shadows, and offer open arms for those times of weakness.  No judgment.  To truly love someone, I have to love all of them.  To love myself, I have to love all of me – the good and the bad, my strengths and my weaknesses. But who sees me? Who really sees me?  You can’t see me unless you look at me, and to see me is to be exposed, because I will see you.

It hurts when those we love leave us – because they’ve closed their eyes, they’ve closed their hearts – shutting us out.  We can’t see them anymore, and they can’t see us… we become just another dancer on the floor, another guest at the ball, another mask.  As you brush past me in this dance, my heart cries out, “Please don’t shut me out.  Don’t close your eyes.  You’re beautiful. Dance with me.  Look at me. See me, because I see … and I still love you.”

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Chandelier by Sia

Party girls don't get hurt
Can't feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it down

I'm the one "for a good time call"
Phone's blowin' up, they're ringin' my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink

Throw 'em back, 'til I lose count

I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist
Like it doesn't exist
I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

But I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down won't open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, 'cos I'm just holding on for tonight
Help me, I'm holding on for dear life, won't look down won't open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, 'cos I'm just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Sun is up, I'm a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink
1,2,3 1,2,3 drink

I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist
Like it doesn't exist
I'm gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

Read more: Sia - Chandelier Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Monday, August 25, 2014

Behind the Veil

I’m so fucking mad.  If you can’t handle the word fuck, then you need to stop reading right now because there are bound to be a few in this post. 

I love myself.  I’m trying really hard to be fit and healthy, not for any vain purpose, though I do like how great my body looks, but to be strong and vibrant.  There’s so many things in this world I want to do and I have to be healthy to do them.  For several years all I heard and said was “I can’t”… but not anymore.  I look for ways to do those things I was once told I couldn’t.  Call it my rebellious side, I don’t care.  Call it stubbornness, I still don’t care. 

Anyway…. In my attempt to be healthy and fit, I run.  Because of the fucking horrible humidity of a Georgia summer, I’ve been doing most of my running on my treadmill, but I hate it.  It’s mindless, mind-numbing and I fight for every fucking second I’m on that hamster wheel.  I love being outdoors, feeling the wind on my face, struggling and pushing through all the hills and curves that nature provides.  This morning, I decided to run outdoors.  After all, I live next to a recreation field with a track – there’s no reason not to take advantage of it.  So, I got up early, did my yoga and core exercises, got limbered up and headed outside. 

Well, it’s early… well before sunrise because I don’t have the luxury to wait until the sun comes up because I have to get ready and be at work.  It’s dark, but there’s lots of lights all along the track.  No problem, I can see fine.  I know by now you’re probably wondering when the rant filled with profanities will start.  That’ll be now.

I’m so fucking tired of being scared.  Not three minutes into my run did my heart start pounding rapidly and it had nothing to do with the run and everything to do with a sense of panic filling me up.  The dark woods on my left sent shadows across my trail, and with each one a sharp panic would seize me and memories of past abuses would surface in my mind.  The faith of my youth and the past 20 years also surfaced and the familiar scriptures of calling on God for safety and security flipped through my thoughts. 

Back and forth the images and voices battled.  Abuse, faith, pain, prayer, laughter, tears… all the while in my right hand I gripped my pepper spray and in my left my knife.  About the ¾ mile mark, when my legs burned and my lungs felt like they were about to burst from my chest, the floodgates opened - and I’m so fucking mad. 

I’m so mad I live in a world where a woman can’t go for a fucking simple run without feeling afraid.  Don’t give me this bullshit either about prayer and God’s protection.  I believed with that perfect child-like faith, with every fucking ounce of my heart, every time I’d been attacked or abused.  My faith and belief didn’t stop the violence then, and I have no faith that it would stop it now.  I know the violence won’t stop as long as evil men have a free will.  So, no matter how much faith I have or don’t have the reality of the matter is that it exists and I live among it. 

During the last 1/8th of my mile I wept for all the other women who have it much worse than me.  I weep for the women in Iraq who have no voice at all, who don’t even have dominion over their own minds, who are victim to a society of savage men who take what they want and leave behind a path of destruction.  My life, even filled with the fear I have running a simple running trail is an oasis compared to what they have to deal with every day.  And those women who have faith and belief watch their husbands and children being murdered for that very faith, while they are raped and abused.  Most people think the violent act of being beat and raped is the hardest part to deal with.  The body heals. But it’s the battle of the mind, the heart, and the soul afterward that is the most violent and it what truly destroys.   

I’m so angry.  I want to shout, “I don’t need a fucking passive god that will hold my hand as I have to stand by and watch this evil run rampant.  I don’t want peace.  I want to fight.”  If someone tried to harm my children, I don’t care what my abilities are, I wouldn’t just stand by and allow it to happen.  I would fight, I would do what I could, even if it meant dying in the process to protect them.  Where are the warriors?

I know I don’t understand the greater scheme of things, but what I do understand is that I’m so fucking tired of being afraid.  For a moment this morning the veil of reality has been pulled back and I see the ugly face of evil in this beautiful world.  I’m not naïve.  I do what I can to be as much prepared as possible.  I have my gun, my pepper spray, my knife, my Ju-Jitsu, and even my weak faith.  But I know that all that preparedness won’t stop evil or protect me from it.  I could have the most badass soldier at my side, and even that can’t fully protect me. 

I’m having a moment this morning and raise my tear-stained cheeks toward heaven and cry out for myself and the other women who are constantly afraid.  But I know this moment will pass and I’ll allow the veil to drop back in place, and once again I’ll focus on the beauty of this world.  I’ll fill my heart and mind with the positive, with the valiant, with the hope for a better day today and even brighter tomorrow.  THAT is my strength and my true weapon against the evil violence in this world. But in this moment… my heart is broke, my faith is weak, and I can’t breathe, and I say, 
“Fuck You!”

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Brain Malfunction

I was sick yesterday.  Around 4am I woke up shivering from a high fever, but I didn’t feel terribly bad …unless I sat up, moved, or tried to eat. But just quietly lying in my bed or on the couch watching television, I felt relatively okay.

Hoping to take advantage of a day at home, I reveled at the thought I could get some writing done, so I opened my laptop and sat in an upright position on my couch.  As the page loaded, I tried to remember at which point I had left off in my novel, but couldn’t really string two full sentences together.  I was drawing blanks.  Just when I thought I had the last scene, I’d remember I’d already covered that point and started a fresh search.  By the time my document loaded, I felt my eyes growing heavy and my head spinning.

I thought, maybe if I fluffed some pillows and lay half-way down I’d be able to function.  I’m sure you realize how well that went.

I once again tried to open my document, but my laptop felt like it weighed 20lbs instead of 2.  While sitting in my lap, my computer felt constricting, like it was holding my legs down and refusing to let me move, which of course now I had the urgent sensation to move them.  I had a strong desire to free them from beneath the covers and release them from their bondage.  So, I stood up, but gravity had a different plan for me and decided that I should make a really close inspection of the floor.  It’s a good thing I cleaned it recently.  The floor turned out just fine.

This time I lay completely down on the couch and rolled onto my side, pulling my laptop near me.  Everyone knows you can’t type with both hands while you’re on your side and I wasn’t about to write tapping in the keys one letter at a time.  So, with a huff and a growl, I closed the document and opened my email.  At least I would get something  done and not feel completely useless if I could answer a few emails.  I wish I had just closed the laptop.

Needless to say, after a few minutes the laptop sat for the rest of the day on my coffee table… while I drifted in and out of delirium watching a couple series on Starz.  What bits and pieces I caught of Black Flag and Overland, I was really impressed and hope to watch more episodes in the future.  My television viewing habits are scattered at best – I just don’t really have time to watch television. It’s come to the point where what I know of what’s going on is what I catch subconsciously as it often plays in the background.

This morning I feel better, at least I can sit in an upright position, and hope to be very productive on all the work I missed the day before.  I’d love to be able to laugh today, so those of you that control the powers that be – send me some good laughs and bits of humor.  I’ve learned that when I’m sick …my brain malfunctions.  It doesn’t want to work.  It doesn’t want to write.  It doesn’t want to be creative, or decisive, or inventive, or studious… just relaxed. Maybe I can learn something from my brains rebellion. Maybe not.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sing With Me or Let Me Go

Inside my soul plays a melody– it’s such a beautiful song, and whenever I’m silent I can hear it.  I can feel every note, but I can’t recognize the lyrics.  There’s all this noise pushing, blocking, and making it hard to find that clear message.

Of what am I so afraid?  I’ve been to hell  - and I survived.  I couldn’t have made it through without the love and support I received from a couple of my friends, but what am I supposed to do now that they don’t have to carry or hold me anymore?  I’m so fucking tired of walking away or standing still as I watch others disappear into the shadows – their songs that helped me so much fading into the background.   I’m like a dust particle floating through a beam of sunlight – I’m falling, fluttering in uncontrolled chaos, swished around by every gust of wind.  My time in the sunlight is for but a moment.  I know eventually I’ll touch the floor and disappear among the others who’ve fell before.  Now is all I have. Today.  My song.

I wish we would just hear each other – really listen to each other’s heart, as human beings.  We’re such a mess, but we’re a beautiful mess.  I just want to hear my song as I dance in the sunlight.  I must let go – grab the notes that work, let go of the ones off key.  There is no perfection, there is no answer that will solve all the mysteries, there’s only now, there’s only today, there’s only one song.  Sing with me or let me go.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Moonlight Wolf

I sometimes hate my dreams, and other times I don’t want to wake.  They’re so vivid, so descriptive, and while having them I often feel like I’m there,  yet I’m hovering above watching.  The emotions are so real; the pain too.  Sometimes I even talk to myself, reminding myself it’s only a dream, warning myself that something bad is coming, or even urging myself to wake up.  No matter how bad or good the dream may be, I always know I’m in a dream.

I had a culmination of a few weird dreams last night, really over the last few months.  My world is constantly changing.  Well, really that’s the same for everyone even if we don’t realize it.  That’s life – a moving, changing, morphing series of events, one after another.  Even if we’re stuck in a loop of similar routine, we’re still moving.  The changes for me over these past few years have been very extreme and fast, and part of me wishes the world would just slow down little bit.  Other times I’m excited knowing I’m headed toward something bigger and greater.  Still at other times I try to delay the movement because I know not everything ahead is going to be easy; it never has been.

I keep dreaming of this wolf - he’s silver, he’s beautiful, and his coat is radiant beneath the moonlight.  He’s leading me somewhere in the woods, and there are other wolves lurking in the shadows, but for the time being they’re keeping their distance.  I follow the lone wolf, always talking to it.  I feel safe with him, connected, and sometimes his black eyes are filled with terror and fear.  I used to think it was for me – because the other wolves in the woods want to rip me to shreds, but now I don’t think he’s afraid for me, but for himself.  I get this huge sense of helplessness – that I can’t protect him and I can’t stop him.  He’s leading me somewhere, somewhere I need to go – but I’m afraid that for me to get there it’s going to be at the cost of his life.

I don’t know who or what this wolf is – or represents.  I just know in my dream I have a deep sense of love for and from the creature.  I keep thinking about change.  I keep thinking about loss.  I keep thinking about those black eyes that see me for who I am.  I don’t know what they’re telling me, but I don’t ignore my dreams or my intuitive feelings.  Too many things have happened in my life where my dreams have been warnings before those things have occurred.  I never know what’s going to happen, but when my dreams are this vivid, it’s never been good.

So, this morning I feel conflicted.  I’m so ready for something good in my life.  I’ve had good and bad this last year – amazing changes, amazing adventures, lots of uncertainty, but, wow, it’s been good.  So many beautiful people have entered my life and I can’t tell you how much I needed and loved them.  I feel like I’m losing some of them, that we’re drifting apart and taking different paths, and I don’t want to let them go. There are new people who want to come in, but I’m so hesitant and put up my walls and don’t want to let them.  I have no control over any of it – who I lose or who gets in.

I also can’t get this particular song out of my head by Imagine Dragons – “There’s Nothing Left to Say”.  How does it play a part?  I don’t know.

So, that’s what’s rolling around in this crazy mind of mine this morning.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Nothing Left to Say

Imagine Dragons

Who knows how long I’ve been awake now; the shadows on my wall don’t sleep, they keep calling me, beckoning.

Who knows what’s right, the lines keep getting thinner; my age has never made me wise, but I keep pushing on and on and on and on.

There’s nothing left to say now.  There’s nothing left to say now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.

There’s nothing left to say now.  There’s nothing left to say now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.

Below my soul, I feel an engine, collapsing as it seizes the pain. If only I could only shut it out.

I’ve come too far to see the end now; even if my way is wrong, I keep pushing on and on and on and on.

There’s nothing left to say now.  There’s nothing left to say now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.

There’s nothing left to say now.  There’s nothing left to say now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.

I keep fallin’, I keep fallin’ down.  I keep fallin’, I keep fallin’ down.

I keep fallin’, I keep fallin’ down.  I keep fallin’, I keep fallin’ down.

If you could only save me. I’m drowning in the waters of my soul.

There’s nothing left to say now.  There’s nothing left to say now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.

There’s nothing left to say now.  There’s nothing left to say now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.  I’m givin’ up, givin’ up, hey, hey, givin’ up now.

Monday, August 11, 2014

My Weekend Playdate

Every day we are weighed down with responsibilities, expectations, and duties.  All these thing constantly pull on us, dictating our time, burning our energy, and wearing us down.  It’s all part of life.  While we should take them seriously, perform or fulfill them to the best of our ability (not for someone else but for yourself), we should also learn to rest, to lay them aside for small periods of time.  If not, we will burn out or have a meltdown.  Even God rested from his work.

Now, for those who don’t really work hard all the time, this article isn’t for you.  You don’t deserve any time off, nor would you appreciate it if you had the opportunity. There comes a sense of pride in a job well done, no matter what it is you do – mother, writer, teacher, soldier, negotiator, lawyer, builder, factory worker, janitor.  It doesn’t matter what you do – but how you do it. I wish we could stop comparing one another by title or pay scale and education, and start gauging our values by passion.  The most successful people I know are not always the ones who make the most money, but who loves what they do.  Their lives are so much richer, fuller, and they are happier.  THAT’s what I want.

So, in my pursuit of happiness, which is actually one of my constitutional rights, I’ve learned to say ‘no’ and I’ve learned to have play dates.  Sometimes these dates are spent alone, but sometimes they involve others.  It really doesn’t matter on that point as long as it is separate from you do on a regular basis.  For me, it requires I unplug my computer and don’t even think about looking at my emails.  Yes, sure there are emergencies and problems that pop up – that too is life.  However, it takes a great discipline to leave all the responsibility behind for just one day… or two tops.  The hardest part to leave behind, which is also the most important and will null and void all the rest if it isn’t executed is… leave all the stress, fear, and worry behind too. The problem will still be there – I promise.  It’s best if you rest and reenergize so that you will have the strength to tackle that problem.

I can already hear the excuses popping into many of your minds right now, especially the phrase, ‘But you just don’t understand.’  I really do understand.

What is a play date?  That’s up to you.  For me this past weekend was a culmination of things… I went running, biking, took a few pictures, played my guitar (worked on a new song), played video games (which I haven’t done in forever – and it felt good but also caused me to create a few new expletives – it took me over an hour to figure out how to catch a flying piece of paper and kill a wolf – but I got it… and I rule!!!!), danced while I cleaned (yes, I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoy cleaning and love the smell of a fresh, clean house), sang out really loud (my neighbors should probably get some earphones) read a bit on Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, played around with some of my friends online being silly and obnoxious, talked with a friend (a very handsome and witty one at that) who made me laugh for hours, took a nap in the middle of the day, soaked in a long, hot bubble bath, watched a couple funny episodes of Carol Burnett,  and cooked some really amazing dishes.   But what I didn’t do… was work or worry about work.  I ignored my emails – though they often tugged at me.  Were there things I could have been working on?  Absolutely… there were LOTS of things that would have kept me glued to that computer all weekend.  Guess what.. those things are still there , but I’m much more relaxed, which leads to better production.  I didn’t worry about my family or my social life, ignored all requests from clubs or friends, or possible dates (I’ve since closed all my online dating profiles – it was just too stressful), screened my phone calls, and haven’t even checked the voice messages (*making note to check those when I’m done with this blog).

To put it simply – I cast off all those things that pressure me on a daily basis and I rested from my labors.  I had no obligations to fill, no one to please, and no expectations.  It was a really good weekend – play date.  Now it’s time to get back to work – and I look forward to the next playdate – maybe I’ll have an actual date for that one.  I hope it’s soon, but not too soon because I have like a million things to do and so little time to do them.  There are responsibilities and bills to pay.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Friday, August 08, 2014


I’ve really been spending a lot of time thinking about happiness, what I think would and does make me  happy in this world, and what I think would and does make those I love happy.  The answers to those questions are as unique as we are from each other, as well as similar.  Those answers really depend on the person, their history, their life, their thoughts, their ideals, their morals, and the things they value.  I can’t answer those questions for anyone else, because my answer would only be a speculation due to my observances and filtered through my own set of morals, values and experiences.  Therefore it’s biased.

Unable to speak,  speculate, or even postulate for someone else, I have to keep this idea centered on myself and treat me as the subject of study as well as be the student of understanding.

So what is happiness to me?

How the hell do I know? There are a lot of things, situations, and circumstances that bring on a sense of happiness within and around me.  I’m moved by emotion and consequence as much as the next, the only difference is to what varying degree.

So what things, situations, and circumstances move me?

Literature – reading, writing, discussing it, discovering it, sharing it, pondering it, and just having it fuel my imagination makes me happy.  It doesn’t just make me smile, it touches a very deep part of me, and brings out a satisfaction of the mind and soul the way coitus does after having great sex, which great sex is also something that moves me. Literature in varying degrees will always be a part of my life.

Nature – hiking, exploring, enjoying and learning about this beautiful universe in which we live makes me happy.  From discovering the function of the tiniest of atoms to speculating the vastness of the universe, I love existence and the science of it.  I love nature. I love knowing I’m a part of something so beautiful, so perfect in design, even when I feel alone in its vastness.

Humanity – this is a hard one because as much as I love it, I hate it.  The way we love one another and rise to greatness, we also hate and sink to vilest of depths.  I’ve seen the greatest acts of bravery and the lowliest acts of cowardice.  I’ve experienced both joy and pain, happiness and sadness, love and hate from my fellow human beings, and have committed these acts myself.  The way we treat one another confounds me.  I don’t sit in judgment because I stand guilty, too.  I don’t exalt myself either because that is also vanity – meaningless.  Solomon had it right in Ecclesiastes – Meaningless, it’s all meaningless.  There is no greater thing under the sun that to eat, to drink, and to be happy.

Finding out what makes someone truly happy isn’t  a cookie cutter answer.  It requires a lot of experimentation and experience, mixed with failures and successes.  But one thing that NEVER fails to make ME happy, make me glow inside with pure satisfaction …is when I do something  for someone I love that leads to their happiness.  This world is shit.  It’s hard. It’s cruel, hateful, and unforgiving.  I have every natural right to be just as angry and hateful, but instead of letting anger rule me as it used to, I CHOOSE to hope for that atom of happiness.  The games people play in this world are just a reflection of all the pain.  I’ve been played so many times, sometimes knowing I was being played, but still clung desperately to the hope that maybe one act of love could change everything for someone.  Some call me naïve.  Some call me a fool.  Some just come right out and call me stupid.  I’m discovering it’s the unloved and unwanted who often love the most because they’ve had to learn to love themselves and make themselves happy – something the greatly loved often never learn.

Love makes me happy.  I may never receive it from another human being, and I’ll have to be okay with that – and I will be okay with that because I’ve learned to love me. I will continue to love those around me even if they push me away or don’t reciprocate.  I don’t love – to be loved.  Because I’m already loved and filled with love, that state allows me to share that love.  I don’t love everyone.  There are some in this world I hate.  I’m not God.  God so loved the world … that was his job, not mine.  Just as it’s not my job to save the world, either.  Jesus said that all the commandments are wrapped up in two simple ones – that if we can master those two we will in spirit master them all and they both center on love – to love God and to love one another AS we love ourselves (people forget that second part – because most don’t love themselves  - so how are they loving others  - but that’s a whole other topic.).  Yet… those are the two hardest things in the world to do.  I don’t have a problem loving God, but I have a serious problem with religion.  I don’t have a problem loving myself, but loving others is a bit more difficult.  But when I manage to do it, it truly makes me happy.

What makes you happy?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Drill Sergeants Hard at Work

The Flight

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Power of the Birthday Wish

My mind is all over the place today.  I feel like crawling back beneath the soft sheets of my bed and slipping off into an amazing and creative adventure, or perhaps return to the romantic dream of a witty smartass (I know, I know… I’m a weirdo – I’m more impressed with clever sarcasm than superfluous and flowery words).  However, I have responsibilities and duties to perform, so I push forward.  I drag myself through the routine of exercise and work. I think I’m starting to feel a little burnout – and need to re-energize.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in the woods to recharge myself.  Between moving, getting acclimated to my new place, catching up on work interrupted, adjusting to my new life,  and surviving the summer heat.  I’ve missed the woods. Everything in my life is changing… and it just feels like it’s happening way too fast. I turn around and some very important people are missing… they’re not there anymore – replaced by empty space. And then there are new people, some whom I’m afraid to open my heart for fear they too will someday vanish.  But it isn’t about me today.

Today is my best friend’s birthday, and as much as I’m happy for him and want to celebrate this day with him, I feel disconnected – lost, useless.  Not only has my location recently changed, but so has everything else, including my relationships.  As I take off flying, so many of the people I care about most in this world are left standing on the ground or flying in a different direction.  I miss them, but I can’t let them hold me back or keep me grounded.  I wish they were flying with me, but it seems our journeys are all headed in varying paths.

I couldn’t have made it these last couple of years without my best friend and the many times he’s listened to me pour my heart out in texts, messages, phone calls, and Skypes.  He was a voice of reason when I was lost in unreasonableness.  He was a calming wind in a turbulent storm.  Sometimes he was the storm that stirred stagnant waters.  He’s been a shoulder and a sounding block.  He’s dried my tears and caused many of them too. We fight with each other about as much as we encourage one another because we’re so different and offer a different view of the world. He’s arrogant and opinionated, loving and understanding, rude and respectful.   I love him with a love that surpasses and is deeper than some shallow relationship – a true friendship of respect and admiration, but I don’t often like him very much.  I think his tastes in music, culture and movies are awful and outdated, but I love and admire that he dances to his own beat and doesn’t follow the crowd.  He’s a unique character, a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, but has the radiance of a beautiful sun – he’s been a bright spot in my darkened world. He’s one of the most talented writers I’ve ever had the privilege to read.  He’d hate that I’m writing about him right now because he’s so introverted and paranoid about his privacy.  So I won’t say his name and  pray that he doesn’t read this.  If he does, I’m sure I’ll get his long, argumentative email about keeping his shit private.

What now? I needed him when my world was falling apart.  He jumped into the waters without hesitation and threw me a lifeline, and then pulled me to safety.  What now that I’m standing securely on the shore, on my own two feet and don’t need saving anymore? He faces his own storms and raging seas, but won’t accept my help.  He’s the consummate soldier – willing to risk himself to save others, but won’t allow anyone to save him.  He’s searching for answers but doesn’t even know the questions.

So, what kind of friend does he need?  The kind that will never give up and smash through those walls of his no matter how thick they are or how long it takes?  Or the kind that lets him go and hopes he never forgets, and will someday return knowing that he’ll always be welcomed and loved just as he is – no matter what?

If I could grant him a birthday wish today it would be that he finds true happiness, love, and peace – in himself, perhaps in the arms of a beautiful woman – one that will touch his mind, body, and soul, and in the surpassing fulfillment of his dreams.  None of that is in my power to give him – but I’m hoping there’s some power in the birthday wish that will set him on the right path.

Happy birthday, my friend.  May all your dreams come true.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Beautiful, Wonderful Mess

Every morning, just as my dreams begin to fade and reality takes over, a choice presents itself – a choice on how I’m going to face the day.  Regardless of the dream, whether it was good, bad, erotic, scary, hurtful, funny… no matter – I have a choice of how I’m going to set my pace for the day.

So many mornings over the past couple of years have been met with trembling hands, lumps in my throat, tears running down my cheeks, fear of the unknown, pain of the past, yet mixed with hope for a better day, for a better tomorrow, for love, for joy, for happiness.  Some days are met with those good moments, other days I face more trials and more heartache.  Every day I face me and the woman I was, the woman I choose to be, the woman I want to become.

I wish I could make everything perfect.  I wish I could always make the right choice. I wish I could always find happiness, always pick the right circumstances, and always find the right person.  I’m human and I make mistakes.  I get things wrong… a lot.  Sometimes …sometimes I get it right.

The world is in chaos, yet we’re expected to continue to keep on living, to continue hoping, to survive the pain.  Do you see me?  Do you not know I’m part of this world too?  For those who come into my life, I see you.  I look beyond your body, your words, your masks, and I see you - the beautiful, wonderful mess that you are, because in you - I see me.  I smile at your imperfections and hope you can do the same.

Quit expecting me to be perfect, to have all the answers, to lead you where you need to go.  I will disappoint you and let you down.  Don’t put that burden on me, I can’t carry it, I’m not strong enough.  Just love me as I am, and I’ll do my best to love you just as you are, and maybe together as we struggle to carry ourselves through this life and we won’t have to walk alone.

But if you can’t do that – let me go.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Friday, August 01, 2014

The New Bachelorette: Dating After 40 - Opposites Attract

Wow, this journey into twenty-first century dating over 40 is really opening my eyes to a lot of things I wish I’ve never seen, but then again, every experience enriches my life in some way, whether I like it or not.

I’m really learning a lot about myself and the things I like, want, don’t like, and definitely don’t want in my life.  Some of these things really shock me and other things I could have seen coming a mile away. So, today I hope I will have some of you shake your head, while others will have your eyeballs widen in disbelief.

Sometimes in this dating game, well almost all of the time, I’m clueless.  I know how to be married, how to be committed, how to be selfless, and how to put the needs and wants of others before me.  That’s how I’ve lived my whole life.  Being single is the total opposite of all that, so I’m often clueless, miss hints, don’t understand many of the terms used in today’s dating realm, and signals ... it’s like I’m still using smoke while the rest of the world has moved onto 1’s and 0’s.  I hope I can find a balance.

You’ve heard the old adage, ‘Opposites Attract’?  My first instinct is to say, “bullshit” but I’m finding that there are certain opposites I find attractive.  Case in point – all the guys I really want to date are guys who’ve been dating, serially, for years -  not guys who’ve been in committed relationships.  While I eventually want a commitment, I’m not in a hurry.  I’ve just come out of a huge commitment.  I’m not looking to get hitched again. I’m not looking for a husband.  I want a partner.  I want someone to go on adventures, experience life, explore the world with me… as-I’m-doing-it. I’m not looking for someone to complete me, but compliment me, and to whom I can be a compliment. I don’t want middle-class, raising a family, pursuing a demanding career kind of life.  I’ve been there, done that, and the tee-shirt is worn out.  It has fond memories, but the time has come to put it away.

I do everything bass ackwards.  When I was young, beautiful, and energetic, that was the time to explore the world and take on wild adventures.  Instead I took care of a family, and then raised one of my own, chased an education and a career, and have since walked away from it all.  Most of the guys my age are in the former state, while I’m in the latter.  In this instance, the opposite wouldn’t attract.

I think it’s quite pathetic when 50 year-old men are JUST NOW wanting to start a family so they try to find themselves a young 20 or 30-something year-old child to marry.  But what other choice do they have? 40 and 50 year-old women are past child bearing age.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to get some stiff feedback for this statement… but I think it’s ridiculous and quite unfair to the women, both the younger and older.

I can hear the older men say (because I’ve already heard them say it), “It’s fair because I can provide a luxurious lifestyle and a comfortable living for the young woman because I’m financially secure.  I can offer her experience in love-making (yeah, you pervert –it’s because you want that young, fit body instead of appreciating the beauty of an older woman’s body), life, and save her a bunch of trouble.”  Give me a f’ing break.  I’m sure there are young women, mostly damaged women with daddy issues (*raises hand in the air), who find it appealing for an older man to take care of her basic needs and be able to teach her about life because God-forbid she actually experiences and learns anything for herself (I hope you caught the sarcasm).  Isn’t the point of life to get out there and learn about it as you go? What happened to the older women who stood beside these older men as they were making their way in this world?  Most likely she gets tossed aside for the younger, child-bearing, unexperienced girl?  Fuck that.

Needless to say, those are often the first thoughts that run through my mind (I admit – I could be wrong) when I get hit on (because I look younger than my 43 years) by 50-60 year-old men when they tell me they’re looking for a wife and want to start a family.  I’m getting ready for grandchildren (kids – if you’re reading this…hopefully not for a few more years).  In these older men’s faces I can also see the future of the younger men (25-35) who also hit on me.  Those young men express how at this time they either don’t want a family, or is something they’d want to pursue at a later time  - when they get in their late 40’s or 50’s,  and are now just looking for that adventure partner – like me, that older woman they can have fun with – but don’t have to commit. While the thought of being a Cougar is quite appealing (what woman in her right mind wouldn’t fantasize about a hot, fit, sexy young man with lots and lots of stamina while she’s going through the hormonal changes of menopause and her libido is through the roof…what was I talking about, again?  Oh, yeah… partners), it’s just a heart-break waiting to happen.  When he does grow up and finally want that family, the cougar isn’t a viable option. While men can often sow their seed until the day they die, women have to compartmentalize that part of their lives because they are on a biological clock.

Just because we women in our 40’s are older, it doesn’t mean we can’t fall in love, or don’t want to fall in love, and be loved just like we did when we were 16.  I think men, both young and old,  forget that. Just because we’re more refined, smarter, experienced, know how to compose ourselves, independent, and classy, it doesn’t mean we’re not also spontaneous, crazy, wild, freaky, and still have that young romantic girl inside us.   In a way, we’re all cougars – because I’m always looking for that playful, horny, sexy, crazy young man inside every mature man I meet.

 So, do opposites attract?  Of course they do.  There’s something inside all of us that wants what’s different.  But, sometimes it’s not prudent when the opposites are just a little too far apart.  That’s why I think it’s important to know what you want, to know what works best with you, what traits about your partner will enrich your life.  Love – real love – can override any rule, even those of age, race, social status, culture, etc.  But, you should always be honest when it comes to those opposites to know which ones will work for you.

Here’s six traits and qualities about myself and what I want.  I’d want someone that could work with these particular things, because in the end – balance is the key.

· Age – 33-53 (I’m not interested in being a Sugar Mama or a Nurse Maid), but I can work within this age range.  It’s ten below and ten above, anything more is just asking for unmerited difficulty, sacrifice, and heartbreak.  Balance is key… remember?

· Race/Relations – I’m open to all races.  I find beauty in all shades.  The only color I’m concerned with is the color of the heart. I’m not a racist, but I’m extremely prejudiced.  I don’t like racists and will never be with one, I don’t care what our ancestors have done in the past – I’ve got relatives on both sides of every issue. I wasn’t there, it wasn’t me, and if everyone looked hard enough we can all find tragic and horrible stories in each of our family histories.  Holding onto the hate of past wrongs only produces more hate, and we all know two wrongs don’t make things right.  I don’t like bigots and could never be in a relationship with someone who carries around so much hatred and resentment toward other human beings.  I also don’t like hippy/pacifists who don’t live in the real world – one filled with evil people and evil acts and sometime harsh decisions need to be made to stop them.  Free love flowers don’t mean shit when  you’re trying to protect those you love.  I don’t like thugs, enablers, punks, perverts, pedophiles, players, cheaters, liars and thieves. No one is perfect, but some of us are really, really, really fucked up.

· Wealth – I’m independent and don’t need the support of anyone else.  I’m not rich, but I’m not desperate.  However, if you can’t manage your money and are in debt up to your eyeballs, or you’re extremely wealthy and used to buying everything, including the people in your life – it’s not going to work with me.  I won’t enable you and your bad habits, nor will I become your possession.   I’m looking for love, connection, a relationship – not to be taken care of or to take care of someone else.  I’ve had money, and I’ve been dirt poor.  Money is important, but I’m a very simple girl and that’s not just a phrase.  I’m the least materialistic person I know. I hate shopping, I like costume jewelry, I’m most comfortable in cargo pants, tee-shirts and hiking boots, I only buy what I need, and would rather spend my money on filling my life with adventures and good food, and not stuff.  I don’t need a big house, a fancy car, or diamonds and pearls. I don’t give a shit about social status and I’m not going to run away and join a commune and live off the earth.  I won’t stand in political rallies or religious gatherings.

· Health – I work hard to be fit, healthy and energetic.  There’s a lot of things I want to do in this world and they require me to be healthy and strong.  I’m not going to want to do these things alone.  While my partner doesn’t have to have a six-pack or walk around with less than 5% body fat, they do have to be physically capable of participating in general activities.  I have nothing against disabilities and I’m not opposed to someone being a bit overweight… but I won’t be with someone that is detrimental to my healthy lifestyle or who is lazy or requires a pharmacy to get through the day.  It’s hard enough to encourage myself.  I’m hoping to find a partner who would inspire and encourage me even more in my quests, not someone who will tempt me or encourage me into an unhealthy lifestyle.  So, if they’re not into eating healthy gourmet food but have to have their Southern-fried meat and potatoes – you’ll go hungry.  If they’re not into regular exercise, or opposed to participating in outdoor activities and exploration– they wouldn’t be good for me. They don’t have to be maniacs and run in marathons, but they do need to be active.

· Sex – I definitely love a strong man, and I’m not talking about physical strength. I like a man of a strong mind, independent thoughts, confidence (that’s the sexiest trait in a man).  However, I want a man in physical shape so we can have great sex. He doesn’t have to be perfect (I’d really like it if he still had some work to do), but his health should be important.  I want a sensual, strong, and sexy man.  I plan to have lots and lots and lots of sex.  He’ll have to be able to physically and emotionally handle that. But sex can’t be the most important thing to him.  His health and happiness should be first. If he’s healthy and happy… the sex will follow.  Also… my heart follows my body… not the other way around.  I’m not interested in being a FWB, or in a casual, polyamorous, or  swinger relationship. I’ve tried to apply those concepts to myself and failed miserably, because it’s just not who I am. I don’t judge those lifestyles, I just happen to be a faithful, monogamous, heterosexual, one-man woman.

· Clever Mind/Sense of Humor – I can’t tolerate ignorance, bigotry, or hate.  I love independent thinking, individuality.  I don’t mind strong opinions, even if they differ from mine, as long as they’re genuine.  I don’t like mouth-pieces, people who only repeat what they’ve heard but have no clue what they’re talking about - repeating party lines, quoting scriptures out of context, or regurgitating talking points.  I hate hypocrites – people on a crusade to make others just like their ideals, yet they themselves don’t follow their own agenda.  I’m a woman of faith, but I’m not religious.  I’m educated and understand the basic elementals of business, politics, and government, but I’m not a mission to save or convert the world.  I just want to be happy. I want to smile. I want to laugh.  I really love a man who can make me giggle, especially with witty, pithy, and clever comments. The stronger original opinions he has, the more I’m impressed.

So, opposite or twin,  this bachelorette over 40 is hoping she’ll find that balanced partner out there someday.  In the meantime, I’m still taking wild adventures, seeking thrills through extreme activities, and making crazy moves on my own.  I’m happy and content with who I am and the life I now live.  It’s taken me a long time to get here, but it’s so worth it. I’ve made lots of mistakes, but I’ve also made lots of great memories and met some really great people.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray