It's the end of the big summer period, the time when everyone tends to act a lot freer, when people seem to enjoy life a lot more. I've usually just got back from a trip to the US. It's been the last of the bank holidays (excepting Christmas), and everyone sort of starts to buckle up for 3 months of slogging through work and braving the increasingly cold, wet, and dark weather before Christmas and actual New Year come around and we look forward to Spring (which is just as wet in the UK so I don't know why we fool ourselves otherwise). It's also one of the few points I can enjoy the summer, as the hayfever season has ended, so I can usually get in some trips out places, some afternoons in the parks and so on and so forth before the weather turns. There's not a specific date, but sometime around September is most definitely much more the turning point of the year to me.
That said, someone decreed long ago that the year turned on the whim of the god Janus. And so there's some sort of obligation on me to provide a review of my year around now. So with that in mind, lets charge full steam ahead...
Looking back, 2011 (yes I mean 2011) was a truly crappy year. I'd started 2011 suicidal, I worked 90 hour weeks for the first 5 months, half way through the year I broke up with my fiance of 6.5 years, I was living back with dad, and I ended the year firmly unemployed. 2011 had been shitty so I went into 2012 thinking at least it couldn't be as bad, and there was some definite promise of things to come.
...Famous last words.
Now I have to be fair, 2012 has had some truly great moments, but over all, it has somehow managed to trump 2011 as one of the worst points in my life. I spent 9 months of it unemployed, barely scraping by, and usually relying on friends to mean I didn't starve. I almost I ended up in court several times. It was only by the grace of various friends that I genuinely didn't end up homeless and starving. The situation I found myself was by no means ideal, in fact I hated it, but at least it was a roof over my head and it was in London. The housing situation, limited funds, and unsociable hours all throughout the year meant my friendship group basically boiled down to 5 people who continued to make the effort for me. Nevertheless, having got myself some sort of income, things started to look up and there was some sort of vague hope.
Oh foolish naive me... The last 3 months of the year are probably some of the hardest I have ever been through. The lives of the most important people I cared about fell apart, I mean really badly, there were lost jobs, threats of losing jobs, losing homes, getting robbed, cancer, death; the serious big shit and it all happened at once. To all the people I cared about. My mother almost committed suicide. And then I got diagnosed with a life threatening disease that means I'll be on meds every day for the rest of my life.
It says something positive (no pun intended) that pretty much all of my friends, even knowing my sexual habits, turn around and said "but you're so sensible about what you do". And people have since said to me that I'm dealing with it a lot better than they expected, or that they imagine they themselves would do. So at least it was a shock to them as much as it was to me. But regardless, somehow, somewhere along the line, it's down to me; I wasn't careful enough, I did something stupid, and I turned into just another dumb kid who let himself become a statistic, another name on someone's list - which was pretty much the one thing I was told never to do, and cause of my own idiocy, however it happened, I did just that.
It's still early, I'm still processing it and coming to terms with it, I get a little bit more okay with it every day. But I'm probably never gonna get over that panic every time I'm with someone I love. I start meds on 9th January so we'll see how that goes, no doubt I'll blog about the effects of it and how I'm dealing with it.
But moving on, lets get to some of the good stuff that happened this year. Because even this year overall SUCKED, the highlights of it were so intensely blinding I found if difficult to believe they had happened to me, and struggled to even put my words together to say thank you for them.
At the start of the year, I wrote a 7000 word blog post, that had been on my mind for a while, that came about as a result of the fact that pretty much once a week I get some body asking me, via twitter, via gaydar, or recon, or in person, or whatever, about something to do with sex. Apparently I'm some kind of expert on the subject (which I completely don't understand and the concept just feels weird to me, but if you guys insist). The post was entitled 'Bottoming 101' (along with a follow up post) and was basically a guide to all sorts of things to do with having anal sex. I sent the post to just about every gay porn star, studio, lgbt blog etc on my twitter to get it some publicity and boy did it! The post is now just shy of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND HITS. ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND HITS to some random 25 year old's blog mostly bitching about how his life isn't utterly perfect. I still get THOUSANDS of hits a month to that post. Just before Christmas I received five thousand hits IN ONE DAY because it got reposted somewhere. I owe MASSIVE thanks to TwisTurtle, who first submitted it to reddit, where it gets reposted at least once a day, all the readers of Reddit who continue to click through, Dewitt of Manhunt Daily who made an entire post about it - honestly I never thought I would get published by Manhunt. Yes its just an internet blog, but its run by one of the biggest gay sites around; it was thanks to this post I got to MEET Dewitt in April. I am really grateful to all the people who helped with the post, who commented on it, who suggested clarifications or extra bits of info, who reposted it and reblogged it; it was a random post I made one night when I had something to say and it took off like I could never expect. People I don't even know send me messages saying they pointed a friend in the direction of my post. I hope you are all having some FANTASTIC ANAL SEX as a result of it.
My lovelife took a very unexpected but long hoped for turn over the course of the year. It's been the thing that has probably got me through everything that's happened in the year without entering a full blown depressive episode. I'm deliberately fairly coy about it for reasons that anyone who knows about the relationship will be aware of. The most incredible bit of this was how my friends reacted though. Despite the unorthodoxness of the relationship, my friends immediately accepted it, without judgement, and in fact ACTIVELY told the both of us how much they approved. I was left stunned, having finally found the sort of people I'd spent my entire life until that point looking for. People who would accept things, because I accepted them, and they trusted me. And then they left me speechless all over again, when they all worked together, without me knowing (until the last moment - SORRY!), just so they could put a smile on my face. This guy does things I never expected anyone to do for me, that I don't think I deserve, or that I don't think people will notice are important. And now I have friends that do the same. So even though it doesn't begin to express the gratitude I feel to you all, thank you.
I watched 2 of my cousins get married this year, one in Las Vegas, and one in Italy, and was reminded what a great family I have, how they piss me off, and drive me crazy, and I dread spending time with them, and how I grew up with 3 effective brothers, how my homophobic cousin has become so accepting he wants to meet the boy I'm in love with, how we look out for each other and cover each other's backs, how my entire family can spend 7 hours drunkenly dancing non stop with each other - not just the cousins, not just the 20 year olds, everyone from my 13 year old cousin, to my grandparents in their 70s, how we can demolish 60 pizzas between us in 15 minutes. My family are the first people to make me relive any kind of painful or humiliating memory, they will be the first people to pick me up on my shortcomings and failings, and to ask why I haven't got my life perfect yet. But they will also be the people who will do whatever it takes when I truly need the help, and I may have to ask for that help some time in the coming year, because what I have planned, I can't do on my own, not currently.
Enough with the schmultz huh? Let's start to wrap up with an examination of how I did at last year's resolutions. They were:
1. Go to RoomService Club
2. Pay off one credit card.
3. Find some more self confidence
1. Yes, I finally did this, it took me several months into the year. You might laugh at such a thing being a resolution, but given it took me several months to do, you'll appreciate it counts as an achievement.
2. Technically, yes, this one got achieved. But that was only through my parents saving me from bankruptcy and paying off my financial obligations. I am now close to £5k in debt to my parents, and I am desperately trying to get enough of an income that I can start to pay this off. So yes, my credit cards got paid off, but I'm not exactly counting this resolution as a success.
3. Ah, now this is the interesting one. I'm not very good at introducing myself to people, or putting myself out there. People seem to think I am but anyone who's tried to get me to do it on the spur of the moment will have seen just how much such a situation distresses me. I was actually doing okay on this, in large part due to the events of March and August. I suddenly had a lot of confidence, not enough in certain situations, but I was working on it, I was starting to believe in myself finally. And then I got HIV, and my confidence got shot to pieces, and pretty much still is. When I found out I rang the boy I love and asked him to tell me that he loved me because I NEEDED to hear him say that he still did. I'm very slowly getting back to where I was, and coming plans for February will no doubt help this, but currently I'm really not confident AT ALL, about ANYTHING. If it wasn't for my best friend effectively DRAGGING me back to work I might still be sitting around scared and crying myself to sleep (what are best friends for hey!) So for now, this is something I'm gonna have to keep working at, and is probably gonna take a good while whilst I get used to being HIV+ and dealing with how that affects my life in all its myriad ways.
Well there we go, so lets lay out some goals for the coming year shall we? They're all relatively boring obvious things, but like last years resolutions, will actually take a hell of a lot of hard work to achieve, however trivial they may seem.
- Get a stable living situation
- Get a relatively decent, regular income again (this is kinda a prerequisite before no. 1, but these aims aren't in any specific order)
- Find a way to afford 2 very specific things in February
- Finally get round to buying myself an Xbox
- Achieve at least one of the eligibility criteria for the visa I'm trying to get
Yes I'm aware 3 and 5 are pointedly vague, deal with it. 5 is the big one; if I'm lucky I can tie it into aims 1 and 2 and achieve a lot in one go, but we'll have to see. 2012 brought a hell of a lot of instability and unpredictability, and until 2013 proves otherwise, I'm not about to get complacent in my hope for a better tomorrow.
Thanks for reading kids, tune in next time for a sort of review of 2012 in LGBT related things!