Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start.
My father was neither a Greek god nor a fallen Jedi, nor was my mother a lucky virgin or a prophetess. But as far as momentous births go, I had a few circumstances marking me as special right from the top. Several years prior to my conception, my mother battled breast cancer. Following her mastectomy and radiation treatment, she was told that not only would she be unable to have any more children, but to attempt to do so could prove life-threatening. So needless to say, I was an “oops” baby, and I think to this day my brother still resents being deprived of his only-child status seven and a half years into his life. My parents seriously considered an abortion, but ultimately they decided to risk my mother’s life and enlarge the family.
I didn’t know about that whole abortion twist until my twenty-first birthday, when my mom dropped that little bombshell in her card to me. I’m sure she was sharing out of a heartfelt need to express how “worth it” I am to her, but boy was that not the gift I was hoping for. (No worries, there was a check enclosed too.) Every so often my mom will come out with a doozie like that one, such as the time she mentioned she had only tried pot once… a few days before finding out she was pregnant with me. Oopsies! (Moral of the story: aren’t I glad she didn’t get hooked? Don’t do drugs, kids!) So you see, my penchant for oversharing might be genetic. Although I have another explanation as well.
I was pretty sure I was gay from an early age. Some of my earliest memories are of “playing naked” with my best friend — usually at my instigation. By late elementary school, I was pretty sure this was a) unusual, b) frowned upon, and c) possibly connected as well to my love of showtunes and desire to dress up as Tiffany at my summer camp’s “Dress Like a Celebrity” theme day. Due to a & b, I figured out that I should probably keep this side of me a secret, whichwas certainly challenging given c, but somehow I made it all work. Some time in the future, I will regale you with stories from my gay youth, like the time I tried to convince my 5th grade chorus teacher that “The God Why Don’t You Love Me Oh You Do Now See You Later Blues” from Follies would be the PERFECT solo for me! But I digress.
When I eventually did come out of the closet, which happened in stages, I found the ability to speak freely so liberating, I sort of went whole hog. There was a time — we’ll call it “college” — when I basically had no filter, no shame. There’s a lot I recommend about living in that manner, but as one grows older and develops better judgment and the need for a professional reputation, the anything goes approach to speaking one’s mind becomes less workable.
I kept my first blog from 2000 – 2002. It was ground zero for oversharing. It was also one of the best experiences I’ve had for many reasons. I wrote regularly, turning out prose I’m still proud of. I connected with a community of incredibly interesting people, both readers and fellow bloggers, many of whom I am still friends with to this day. I honed skills that serve me to this day both professionally and generally. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
But that first blog went the way of the dodo, although in this case its extinction was brought about by the chilling experience of having a blog post entered into evidence in a terrifying lawsuit pointed at me. My writer’s block eventually chilled, but I’ve never gone back to keeping a personal blog in a real, ongoing way.
Today is the first day of the Jewish year 5771. The past year has been great for me, with a new job (as a professional blogger), great friends, and a new relationship that, while seemingly over now, brought me great joy and helped me grow up a lot. That relationship ended (SEEMINGLY, he says with a potent mix of optimism and denial) on Sunday night. There’s something poetic about a relationship starting on New Year’s Eve on the secular calendar and ending (SEEMINGLY) on the cusp of the Jewish New Year. In the last few weeks, both because of my new job as a pro-blogger and in the aftermath of my breakup, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and reading back over old blogs and dead-tree diaries. I think writing this personal stuff is good for me. And I think I’m now in a place where I can do it in a way that’s entertaining for you without being worrysome for me. (“No lawsuits in 2011!”) So here we are.
The title of the blog comes from the Dorothy Fields/Cy Coleman song from the musical Seesaw. At some point in the evolution of my original blog, I started naming all my blog posts after showtunes. This year, as I’ve navigated the ups and downs of a love affair, I’ve once again affirmed for myself that the logic of showtunes is the logic of my life. When emotions run high, sometimes they’re best expressed in song. So I think I’m going to continue the conceit, only now that YouTube exists (that’s right – I was blogging before YouTube!), I’m going to try to include a video of the actual song as well. What can I say? I’m a giver.
So there you have it. A bit about my birth (and I didn’t even mention that I was born during an honest-to-goodness BLIZZARD, and I don’t mean the Dairy Queen kind) coupled with a bit about the birth of this blog. I promise that future posts will be more focused, and possibly shorter. But I can’t promise better video clips than the one above from the Muppet Show.
L’shana tova – to a good year.