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Seething Cakes of Hatred

Making pancakes, as I learned at AP's birthday bash at the beach this weekend, is an unbelievably tedious chore. I don't know why I...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pony Post

It has been a long while since I posted about Pony. Last year, he was a regular feature on Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. I was obsessed with him.

Pony still trots across the pages of this blog from time to time, but not as often as he used to. When he found love in the arms of someone else, it hurt me for a time. But things have really worked out perfectly between us. Our friendship has become so valuable to me. He is a wonderful asset to my life.

Last night he invited me to Happy Seven Hours at CCs, and we sang karaoke and drank and laughed. He's been great at cheering me up when I miss Thor. I even like Pony's boyfriend and no longer wish he would burst into flames. So, all in all, things are going great for us as friends. I love you, Pony!

I was going to also link to somebody who calls me "Pony's Ex Baby Daddy" in his blogroll, but I can't find that blog right now, and Juju is yelling at me over the wall to work on an employee survey template that is due today, so I have to run now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Monday in Two Acts

Act One - Monday Morning
Woke up - made some coffee - showered - got ready for work - drank some coffee - checked the weather - took out the trash - so busy! - drove to work - got to the office early - returned phone calls - checked e-mail - scheduled training - updated database - took a break - checked mail - answered e-mails - returned another phone call - so busy! - wrote to a friend - researched IT classes - spoke to a vendor - took lunch - researched more IT training - spoke to a vendor - took a break - had a meeting - left office - drove home - took a walk in the park - so busy! - went to see a friend - played cards - drank beer - played more cards - said goodbye - drove home - take the elevator up to my loft - open the door - step inside.

Act Two - Monday Evening
I am alone. My apartment is empty. Quiet. Outside on my balcony, I can hear the fountain that Thor made for me. The soothing sound of trickling water. The night is calm and cool.

I look at a picture of Thor and me wearing cowboy hats. We're laughing in that one. (Oh, to hear him laugh right now.)

I contemplate the word "PATIENCE" etched onto a rock I keep on my nightstand. "I'm trying," I whisper to nobody.

I look at my phone, wishing he'd call.

My loft is devoid of energy. Almost as if nobody lives here. It is a museum after closing hours, and the silence is suffocating me.

The water keeps trickling, but the sound is no longer soothing. It has become monotonous. Nothing moves - not even time.

Waiting to hear his voice, afraid to miss his call, I carry the phone with me everywhere. Into the bedroom, into the bathroom, into the kitchen, out onto the balcony. I look at the sky. I wait.

I can't listen to the water anymore. I can't think anymore. I can't miss him anymore. The night is over. Nobody calls at this hour. Friends who are not lonely have gone to bed. The world is ready for tomorrow, but not me. If I end this day, I admit that today was a day without any word from him.

Giving up, I sink into my bed and will myself to sleep. I attempt to rush the process, wanting to be released from yearning and depression. Tomorrow I can be busy again, and I'll try not to think.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Keeping My Pants On

If your name is "Anonymous" and you read this post and are tempted to leave a comment telling me how disappointed you are with today's post, let me save you the trouble. Yes, I know you find my Thor posts "boring". Yes, I know you liked me better when I was miserable. Yes, I know that blogging about my crush on The Rock is funnier than blogging about my love affair with the man of my dreams.

The solution is simple. Go read something else. Don't nominate me for any blog awards. Don't comment (that'll teach me!) - Tell all your friends you hate me and that my blog has "jumped the shark".

Since I began this blog one boring December day in 2004, I have written my posts based on the way I felt at that particular moment. When I found myself pondering the lid of a Snapple cap, I wrote about my silly thoughts. When ex-boyfriends threw beer in my face or hurt my feelings or left hateful comments, I wrote about my anger and disappointment. This blog is called "Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven", not "Anonymous Reader's Toaster Oven".

That said, here is what I am thinking about today.

Thor has been away now for two weeks. It will be at least twice that long before I see him again for a short visit. My whole heart aches. I can't take a walk in the park or listen to Patty Griffin or go to a strip bar without tears welling up in my eyes. Yeah, so, I got misty-eyed in a strip bar and it wasn't because of the cigarette smoke, what of it? I tell you I think about him all the time because I loved the way he made me feel, and I loved the way I made him feel.

I've really been having a rough time keeping my pants on ever since Thor left. I mean that in every sense of the word. I am craving the warm tender feeling you can only find in physical touch. I know that my sex drive is ridiculous. It is through the roof sometimes. So, I'm not the perfect candidate for a long distance relationship. I need touch and lots of it.

Perhaps if I were waiting for a less desirable man to come home to me, I'd allow myself to indulge in some innocent heavy petting with someone, but the fact that my guy is, to me, the sexiest man alive, makes it hard for me to act on my impulses with anyone but him. Believe me, I've tried, but I can't take the way it makes me feel inside when I sort of "dip my toe" into the infidelity pool. You'd think the fact that he trusts me completely and sees my need for an occasional kiss or more as a purely innocent distraction while he's away would absolve me of the feeling that I belong to him. It doesn't.

My only defense is to make myself as undesirable as possible. That is why I have taken to wearing my grandpa underwear until Thor comes back to me. What is my grandpa underwear? Well, if you didn't click the link the first time, I'll give you one more chance.

The Gayest Post in the World

My former housemate, The Handsome Prince, just sent me an e-mail letting me know I had inadvertently left my Glinda the Good Witch Tree Topper in the attic when I moved out.

My ex, CT, didn't like the Glinda the Good Witch tree topper I bought him while I was on a tour with the Wizard of Oz traveling memorabilia museum tour that visited all the Planet Hollywoods in the country back in 1996. Instead, he preferred the Tinkerbell Tree Topper he purchased at The Disney Store.

If you ever read a gayer blog post than this one, please let me know.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hot Toddy Tackles Education

This morning I woke up at 5:30 a.m. faced with a choice. I could either cry because I woke up without Thor's arms around me, or I could transform the United States education system. One box of kleenex, a quick phone call to my company-sponsored mental health hotline, and a tear-soaked pillowcase later, I realized I still had plenty of time to transform education before I got to the office. So, here is my plan.

First of all, we need to get these kids in school earlier. Children are waiting much too long to get out there and learn. That is why we lag behind other countries in our duty to educating our young citizens. Children need to start attending school the minute they stop breast-feeding. Or we could just hire lactating teachers and get those kids to school even sooner.

Starting school earlier means, of course, the children will need to brush up on communication skills sooner too. It is my stance that infants need to have at least a passing knowledge of the language spoken in their native country prior to being born. If a fetus is about to be hatched, or whatever, in Guatemala, he or she damn well better be able to comprehend - um - Guatemese - before he or she pushes through the birth canal.

I am not insisting babies be able to actually speak their native language fluently, but I do not think it is too much to ask that they understand basic commands such as, "Please stop crying" or "Mommy had a few too many martinis tonight and needs to sleep off her drunken stupor, so please don't plan on waking her with your incessant howling before noon tomorrow."

I am working on some other plans to help socialize our children in school, such as ostracizing the ugly kids from the hot kids without waiting for them to do it themselves in junior high. I am a firm believer that the ugly kids should eat lunch in a separate section of the cafeteria, and this should begin in grade school. Why allow ugly children to grow up with the false hope that they are as good as everyone else when their self-esteem is bound to be shattered in a few years anyway? The sooner children who aren't hot learn to eat with others like them, the better off everyone will be.

Finally, teachers, especially the lactating ones, must be rewarded heartily for their self-sacrificing devotion to having three months off every year shaping young lives. Teachers should be picked up for school in limousines every morning and should get signing bonuses and free massages and gift certificates to TGI Friday's simply for showing up to work. I couldn't do what they do for one day. For one thing I would flirt with the hot boys in my class and be fired immediately. But even if my inappropriate advances somehow made it under the radar, I know there is no way I could commit to being on time for class every single morning.

So, I will just make decisions about education and tell everyone how to change that institution without actually having experience or, for that matter, any knowledge whatsoever about the system. Just like our politicians.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My Little Buttercup

I called one of my dearest friends, Buttercup, last night. We haven't spoken for almost a year, but we talked comfortably as only old friends can. Buttercup is the kind of friend who doesn't hold a grudge if you drift out of her life for a time. She is always waiting with open arms, the same way I wait for her. We will always be friends, because she knows how to give her friends room to fly yet always welcomes them back after their journeys.

I love you, Buttercup. It was wonderful to hear that you regularly read Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. I'm not surprised you never comment. You always were a bit on the mysterious side.

In case you missed it the first time, here is a story about the time Buttercup and I worked at a summer camp in Minnesota.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Nobody ever looks for a long distance relationship (LDR) do they? I mean, it has to be the most inconvenient type of relationship I've ever known. You can't just pick up the phone randomly to call, especially if your boyfriend refuses to get a cell phone. I mostly have to wait for him to call.

I take notes about things I want to remember to tell Thor. The cards I'm sending him always contain news that is several days old, and he usually calls before I mail the cards, so I end up telling him everything on the phone.

Thor has called me every single day since he left. He is sweet and supportive and understanding. I am crazy and miserable and paranoid. He sounds very happy, at least from what I can hear between my sobs and raging. Still, he keeps calling. He must love me a lot.

I'm starting to understand why everyone on Survivor cries when they get letters from home. I always thought the survivors were being a bit overdramatic after having only been away from their loved ones for a few weeks.

Thanks to those of you who have sent cheerful comments and e-mails. They are helping to encourage me more than you know!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Lighter Cocktail Parties

If you googled "lighter cocktail parties" and ended up here, I apologize. I think this blog is probably what you were looking for.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Apology to my New Neighbors

Dear New Neighbors:

I would like to apologize for the inconvenience that has descended upon you, namely Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven. I know that it hasn't been easy having me for a neighbor since I moved in earlier this month. You'll adjust. Remember when we began to see increased airport security a few years ago? At first it was pretty irritating, but most of us have adjusted to the new screening methods. Some things, like airport security or having me for a neighbor, just take some getting used to.

To the cool lesbian who lives below my unit, I am sorry that my boyfriend and I woke you up when we came home at 3:00 in the morning a couple weeks ago. True, we should have thought to remove our cowboy boots before walking on the hardwood floor above your head. Actually, to you it is a ceiling above your head, not a hardwood floor, but you get my drift. I'm sorry. And last night when I ran into you at Crush, you were very nice and, I might add, happy to see that I was wearing rubber-soled sandals.

To the neighbor who let me in when I locked myself out my first night there, I am sorry that you were inconvenienced. However, I still don't know anybody else's last name in the entire building, so don't be surprised if I have to bug you again soon.

Finally, to the resident next to the stairwell, I am sorry I entered your apartment yesterday with my bag of garbage. I thought I was in the stairwell. Honest. It wasn't until I saw your furniture and computer that I realized I had passed the door to the stairwell and brought a bag of trash into your home.

Also, I am sorry that I ran before you could find out who was in your apartment. I am sorry that I tried to cover my tracks by taking the stairs to the second floor and then jumping on the elevator so you'd lose my trail. I have watched a lot of Alias, so I know how to make quick getaways. You have to forgive me for using my extensive secret agent knowledge against you.

So, residents of the Toaster Oven lofts, I am sorry for all of you. Please be patient as I attempt to adjust to this new urban lifestyle. And please keep your doors locked if you don't want me wandering in and out of your homes.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Desperate Housewife

Wow, can you believe what is going on in the news lately? That Desperate Housewife got hit in the head with a pole and something happened in the Gaza Strip. I'm not interested. What is important is what is going on in my life. If anyone is the desperate housewife, it's me.

First I just want to say that if I have to hear Somewhere Goddamn Out There or John Fucking Waite's Missing You on the radio one more time, I'm going to have to hit someone over the head with a pole, and it won't be pretty. The radio is tormenting me on purpose. I know this to be true.

And let me also state that Target seemed like it might provide a distraction from my loneliness last night, so I wandered around the store for a while but there are definitely not enough Simpson's boxer shorts or Willy Wonka candies in the world to make me forget Thor.

He commented yesterday by the way. It was his first time reading my blog, and now the world knows my secret. I'm in love with a man who writes in all capital letters. Remember when I used to be such a snob about punctuation, grammar, spelling and the like? No more. It would be hypocritical of me to criticize at this point. Sorry, but muscular hairy chest trumps grammar. Thor wins.

Oh, and now you know another secret about me. I allow Thor to refer to me as his wife. I have always detested the idea of being called a "husband" to my boyfriend - and being called "wife" was completely out of the question. But you should hear the way he says it. You should see him shake his head at me when I do something goofy or stupid (which is often) as he sighs, "my wife". He says it with such affection. He can call me whatever he wants. He can call me his bitch if he says it with love. I don't care anymore.

Actually, Thor has lots of nicknames for me. Two are kinda dirty, and extremely personal, and I don't think I should share them here. One of his nicknames for me is "Lucy", as in Lucille Ball. I think I got that nickname when I shook up a Pepsi bottle before mixing a drink because I wanted to make sure the soda wasn't flat. It wasn't. Not at all.

He also calls me "Runaway Bride" because of a certain incident that occurred a few weeks ago when I kind of threw a fit over something stupid and left his house in the middle of the night when he was sleeping. I stopped being mad when he called me Runaway Bride the next day. It was too funny and too accurate. I couldn't stay angry.

Last night I only got to talk to him on the phone for 17 minutes and 38 seconds. It is bad enough that I can't touch him, but if I only get to hear his sexy voice for 17 minutes and 38 seconds a day, I am going to go insane for sure. Tonight maybe I'll go check out the goods at Wal-Mart. If you happen to be at that store and see a crazed 6'6" blonde man pushing a cart asking if anyone has seen his husband, be sure to say hello.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Final Countdown

We didn't sleep much on our last night together. We cried and held each other and felt the warmth of our bodies passing between us. My alarm was set for 4:15 a.m., because I had to leave for my trip to Texas that morning. Thor was taking me to the airport, and we would have our final goodbye there.

At 3:30 in the morning, I whispered to him that I wanted to see how much time we had left. For a couple hours I had tried not to look at the clock, hoping to relish every last moment. But I needed to know how much longer I had to be with him. After checking the time, I told him that we had about 45 more minutes to be in bed together.

When the alarm went off, I told him I wasn't ready. We needed more time, so I reset the alarm for 4:35. I turned towards him again and buried my face in his chest. 20 minutes later, the alarm once again shattered our peaceful repose.

"We don't have to leave for 20 more minutes, Thor. Let's stay close like this," I told him.

"That is what you said 20 minutes ago, Toddy," he answered.

"I changed it. I'm extending our deadline," I laughed. We pressed closer together and held on for dear life.

In what felt like three minutes, the alarm went off again. There was no more time.

"Okay. I'm going to get up now," I insisted. We both knew I was lying. Neither of us moved a muscle.

After a couple minutes, I realized I would have to be the strong one.

"Thor, I'm getting up in five...four..."

He pulled me tighter to his powerful body, and I started to cry. "Three...two..."

With all his might, he held onto my body. He squeezed so hard, I could barely breathe.

He didn't loosen his grip when I reached one. He kept holding onto me. Then I did something I never want to do again. I pushed away from him. Just a little, but enough so he would know I needed to be released from his grip. He relaxed his arms and let me go. I pulled myself out of his bed and tried to stifle my sobs.

If I could live one moment in time for all eternity, I would choose that night. I would still be in his arms right now, and I would never have to countdown those last five seconds.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven will be unplugged for about a week, but I'm not asking anyone to guest blog because you will end up liking them better than you like me. So, please enjoy some of the wonderful bloggers I've linked to, and I'll be back soon.

The next time you hear from me, Thor will be living somewhere between Ukiah, Oregon and Northern California. My primary contact with him will be phone calls, which doesn't completely suck because he has one of the sexiest voices I've ever heard. This morning he said, "why don't you go take a shower so you won't be late to work," and I made him repeat it twice into my ear. It was better than phone sex.

Again, I will state that I love my man and respect him for his love of family. I would have a hard time curbing my selfish desires to care for an immediate member of my family, let alone caring for a cousin. I wish with all my heart he did not have to go, but we have made each other a promise to be back together as soon as possible.

Besides my need for reflection and quiet as I deal with my boyfriend's departure, I'm also unplugging the oven so I can spend some time with my family in Texas. I will be spending a lot of time sitting by the pool at my parent's house, and my mother promises a trip to IKEA will be on our agenda.

When I return to Portland next week, I plan on finally unpacking some boxes and setting up my living space. I haven't spent a night there for over a week, since I'm pretty much glued to Thor until he goes.

I'll have to take some time rekindling friendships and asking forgiveness from some people once my man leaves. I have become the epitome of what I dislike in people who are in love. I have put my friendships on the back burner, and I realize some of my friends are feeling like they are not a priority. In normal dating circumstances, I hope that I would have done things differently. Knowing my time with Thor was so limited made me want to spend every second with him, and I hope that my friends will understand that when I come crawling back to them with my guilty conscience.

Thor, you have given me the most incredible three months. You've made me believe that I can have a relationship that meets my needs and brings me incredible joy. You have taken care of my heart completely. I've never experienced anything like this. And I promise that whenever I doubt we will be back together again, I will remember your comforting words one night when I was crying over our unknown future:

"Of course we will live together someday, dumb ass."

Thor, I love you more than Heinz Ketchup.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Crime and Punishment

Last night I engaged in some lascivious behavior with my boyfriend. I enthusiastically tried some new things I've never done before, and he was an excellent teacher. As I drifted off to sleep in Thor's arms, I visualized police cars chasing me down a dark road. I jolted awake when my mind visualized a cop car heading straight at me with its lights flashing.

I asked Thor if he was still awake so I could tell him about my dream. When I revealed my strange visions to him, he said it made sense. After all, we had so much fun last night, I almost feel like we broke a law or something.

Auburn Pisces came to the rescue last night by supplying my man with some great advice (and a nice big shot of Patron). This seemed to do the trick. The best part of playing with Thor is that he's incredibly creative. He always invents new games, and I am a willing participant. I trust him and am never scared, because I know that every game we play ends with his arms around me and his deep soothing voice whispering tender words to me.

In light of my very conservative christian upbringing, I am rather proud of my willingness to try new things and "break laws". The laws I'm referring to were instilled in me by people who meant well, but they weren't necessarily right in their teachings. Sometimes sex can feel dangerous, and that's okay. Not only okay. It's wonderful. I'm glad I have friends who encourage me to branch out and try new things. Juju has always been incredibly supportive and encouraging when it comes to giving advice. Between her and Auburn Pisces, I feel like I have two of the best counselors a guy could ever hope for.

I have only a few more days with Thor before he goes away for a while. And damn it, I plan to go out with a bang. Maybe I will even get arrested by the morality police.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Rainbow's End

Thor accompanied me to Patty Griffin's concert last night. He says that I like "lesbian music", so I warned him ahead of time that Patty's acoustic folk style may not be his cup of beer, but he loves me and went with me anyway.

During the opening act, Thor whispered to me that he wished he'd taken his medication for ADHD, and I agreed that would have been helpful. He was all over the place last night. He couldn't sit still. He couldn't stop his mind from racing, and I knew it would be a long concert for him since Patty Griffin rarely employs flash pots or smoke machines in her performances.

While the audience waited for Patty to begin her show, a cute boy and fiddle-playing girl charmed us with their music, although not enough for me to take note of their names, apparently. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Thor counting. He then informed me that 24 people in the back 10 rows were wearing eyeglasses. I thanked him for the information and took hold of his hand.

A few minutes later, he pulled his hand away and began counting again. Then he whispered, "Toddy, what is 53 times 16?"

"Honey, I have no idea."

Thor asked me to get my cell phone out and use the calculator function to answer his math question. I whispered back to him, "I don't have it with me. It's in the car."

"I need to know," he insisted. So I attempted to do the math by drawing imaginary numbers on my leg. I came up with eight hundred and something. Then I asked him why he needed to know.

"See that light board? It has 53 rows of 16 buttons," he said. "But there is no way that totals eight hundred," he said a bit too loudly.

I was roped into the debate and stopped listening to the cute boy and fiddle girl entirely. "Baby, if there were 53 rows of 10 buttons, that would be 530 buttons, so I think I'm right," I said a bit too loudly.

"NO WAY!" he boomed.

The lady with the rat's nest of hair who sat in front of us turned around and said, "Could you please keep your voices down!"

"Sorry," said Thor.

Soon Patty came out and Thor giggled at me when my tears started falling during her opening song. I sniffled and hummed along throughout the wonderful concert. Thor shifted impatiently and was, I assume, counting microphone stands or attempting to estimate the number of people wearing red. After she finished, Thor jumped up and stood in the aisle anxiously waiting to depart. "Thor, she's going to do an encore," I told him. His face was crestfallen, and he sat back down next to me.

When we left I hugged him and thanked him for tolerating my evening of "lesbian music". He said that he was glad there were some things he had to do only once in his life and seeing a Patty Griffin concert was one of these things.

"I'm sorry you didn't like it," I said.

His reply was perfect. "I loved spending the whole night with you, though." God, I love this man.

On the way home he ranted about Patty Griffin. "She was like Jewel or something. And it sounded like she was just singing the same exact song over and over all night. And then she did an encore! Why did she do an encore? Nobody made her come back out. We were just clapping for the concert, we weren't trying to get her to come back out. At least Jewel only did an encore because they made her do an encore, but nobody was making Patty Griffin do an encore."

"I will never make you go to another Patty Griffin concert again, baby," I promised.

"Next time you can go, and I will stay home and scrub the toilet. I will scrub the toilet all night, and you can come home and tell me about the concert," he said.

I imagined us together years from now. Me going to concerts with my friends while he scrubs the toilet at home. It made me happy to think about the future, even one in which my husband stays home scrubbing toilets while I attend concerts without him. As I thought about my dreams, the closing song Patty sang came to mind.

Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Hot Toddy's Random Acts of Kindness

Last evening on my way home from teaching illiterate adults to read, I stopped to give a homeless man a bag of food. He asked me to sit with him for a while, and we ended up getting into a long discussion about his dreams. He told me that he had always wanted to work in healthcare, so I dialed up a contact at work and got him a job. He starts Monday.

Then I brought Edna Mae, the elderly woman next door, her dinner. She thanked me for making turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy (her favorite) and showed me her wedding photo album for the fiftieth time. I always pretend I have never seen the pictures before because it makes her so happy.

I rescued some puppies out of a dumpster and took them to an orphanage. After that, I went home and called my boyfriend, Thor. I told him how much I loved him and promised to always be there for him. I also reminded him of his family's love for him and expressed how excited I am to one day meet them. I hope they will accept me in spite of all my faults.

That was pretty much all I did yesterday. Oh, I did find out something interesting though. Thor's mother found my blog and reads it sometimes now. I hope she will find it interesting to read of my humanitarian adventures.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Toddy's Age, The Rope, and The Cult

This is really three posts for the price of one.

The three most popular questions from my last post concerned all of the above. I'll elaborate a bit on each, and then you can let me know if you still have questions.

My age is 38. In a couple months I will be 39. The picture on this blog is just over two years old, but I don't look much older now. I still get carded often. I was at a restaurant/bar on Friday, and the server asked to see my ID. I laughed and told her I was nearly 39, and she seemed flabbergasted. After she told me I looked damn good for 39, I tipped her 30% on the bill. I owe my youthful looks to a Scandinavian heritage and my, um, healthy lifestyle. Yeah, that's it.

Mostly, I like looking younger than my age, but I usually can't get cast in some of the roles that most people in their late 30's could play. Maybe when I am 50 I can play a 35 year-old.

I sleep with a rope as sort of a game. I have never slept with a rope before, but I am making friends with this particular rope and find great comfort from it. At first I was worried I would strangle myself accidentally in my sleep, so I wrapped it around my forearm several times before dozing off. I have learned that my rope will not strangle me, as it is a benign rope. So now I drape it over my body or wad it up and hold it by my face when I sleep. My rope serves as a heart connection to someone and also fuels some fantasies that may someday be acted out. Or not. Either way, it's better than a teddy bear.

I was in a cult in the early 90's. You can read many testimonies of other people who had a similar experience with the group at this website. It was not a "Heaven's Gate" or "Unification Church" sort of cult. In fact, definitions vary on what actually constitutes a cult. According to the book, Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, the organization I belonged to meets most characteristics of a cult. We confessed everything to one another, including a casual lustful glance or momentary episode of shyness (which was condemned as sinful because a shy person is really just being "self-focused"). We also were called upon to give huge amounts of money to the church and believed that only by being a member of this group could you be spared the fires of hell. We could not date or marry outside the group. We singles lived with other church members and were discouraged from living with anyone who didn't belong to our church. We had a unique vocabulary and, until a couple years ago when I sought therapy, I couldn't say the word "awesome" because of the way that word triggered flashbacks in me.

The entire cult story takes about four hours to tell orally. I don't know how long it would take me to write about it, but I'm sure it would be quite a lengthy process. In this church, we were told who to date (and were sometimes told who we could not date), where to live, what job we should have, whether or not we should visit our families, and, in my case, whether or not we could participate in certain activities such as theater. Our instructions were called "advice", but if we did not follow advice, there could be serious repercussions. My most dreaded punishment was called a "breaking circle". In a breaking circle, I would have to sit in a circle with the other leaders as they each took turns trying to break me of my sin. Each brother would tell me how weak I was, how sinful I was, how prideful I was, etc. After he spoke, another brother would attempt to break me. I broke every time and usually expressed my own self-loathing by joining in with them to gang up on myself: "Plus I'm lazy. Don't forget lazy".

I joined the group in an attempt to become what I thought God wanted me to be - a straight man. I left the group after a few years when I realized I was becoming no straighter than I was when I joined. Sure, I was the leader of the music ministry and the singles ministry and was practically engaged to a woman and had no sexual experiences with men (or women) unless you want to count that one French guy who was a bodybuilder in Washington DC. Actually, I do want to count it because he was beautiful and muscular and climbed on top of me like I was a futon. And he was French, as I've mentioned. However, I was removed from leadership for that little slip-up. You can imagine the breaking circle I experienced after I confessed that encounter.

One night I took a walk around my apartment complex and begged God to free me from homosexuality. He answered my prayer in the negative by posting a naked young man in a window over my head. The guy was staring at me and playing with himself as he stood in front of his window. After I figured out which apartment was his, I went up and asked to use his phone because, even then, I had absolutely no game. He invited me in, and I left knowing I probably was not going to give up men anytime soon.

The worst part of being a former cult member is that I have a very hard time with boundaries. I do not always know where to draw the line when it comes to sacrificing my happiness for others. Becoming a doormat is often my first instinct, although, over the years, I have become better at standing up for myself.

The best part of being a former cult member is you can say things to your friend in the grocery store like, "When I was in the cult, the other brothers introduced me to this kind of pancake syrup. It is so good!" You can watch as people quicken their pace when they push their shopping carts by you. Plus, you also know of a really good syrup you would never have tasted if not for being in a cult.