Posted on 2016.10.19 at 15:18
As we all suffer together through this particularly painful election season, one of the few things that we can all agree upon is the fact that this has got to be one of the most contentious and particularly ugly Presidential campaigns that any of us can remember. (It’s all HIS fault! It’s all HER fault! It’s all THEIR fault! Etc.)
As soon as I reached voting age, I proudly registered as a Democrat. Why? Well, simple really. I do believe in the American society creating social programs and helping our fellow citizens – something that was (and still is) very important to the core belief system of the party. Republicans, on the other hand, tend to favor less government and more personal liberty and freedom. Now… because I am a Democrat, do I believe that Republicans are all wrong, evil, and blind?
No. I do not.
Personally, I do not really believe in the concept of “party lines”. If someone comes up with an idea for an improvement (or what I consider to be an improvement), I don’t really care if the person is blue or red. I have no interest in whether her or his totem happens to be a donkey or an elephant. I’m more interested in seeing progress and above all Doing the Right Thing. Are all Democrats good? No. Are all Republicans bad? No. It just doesn’t work that way. Heck, I would be fine if we did away with parties altogether, as long as we get the opportunity to support the people that we believe have the best intent and ability to make positive change!
But to really call specific attention to where I think the attention needs to be called, I would like to introduce a new descriptor – “RepubliCANT”.
A republicant is one of those politicians who, in her or his capacity as a politician, works solely to obstruct the other party. These are the people who have resulted in the Republican party (one referred to as the Grand Ol’ Party, as opposed to the sad laughing stock that it is today), turning into nothing more than the “Party of No.” For years now, we had a black Democrat in the highest office in the nation. And that didn’t seem to sit well with several of the Grand Ol’ Boys. So rather than working together, or seeking compromise, or being productive whatsoever, they instead seem to have adopted a political version of a Meghan Trainor song:
My vote is… NO!
My view is… NO!
My speech is…NO!
I’m gonna sink so low.
I’m gonna sink so low.
Feel insulted? Sorry, but it’s true. The Republican party over the past eight years has worked to be an obstructionist force. And that isn’t good for anyone – including members of their own party. Regardless of your party or your religion or your beliefs, I want to ask you all to do one key thing before you cast your votes. What have your political representatives accomplished? Have they passed bills? Written bills? Gotten out with the people and worked on improving things? Or have they just been staunch supporters of, “No”?
Vote OUT the Republicants! Whether they be Red, Blue, Purple, or paisley - this crap has got to stop!
Posted on 2016.10.10 at 18:08
At this time last week, I was worried about GWW. I felt so sick after the weekend, but it was something new - what I can only refer to as Utter Exhaustion. My stomach was fine. My head was fine. My lungs were fine. Everything felt fine. Except I had mild body aches everywhere, and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO energy. Just calling in to work took effort. And after laying in bed all morning, I managed to get up, throw on a bathrobe, head downstairs to eat; and then spend the rest of the day on the couch. So, because I tend to overthink, I was worried about attending Great Western War. Would I be able to pack? Would I be able to take care of the few responsibilities that I had agreed to do? And most importantly - would I be able to go?
Well, the good news is, I was mostly recovered by the time the event came about. My wonderful hubby made my life easy, and even told me to sleep on the trip to the war. And ya know what? I did! Once we arrived at the event, it felt like we had never left - except for one thing - we drove past the Gyldenholt camp to once again camp with La Familia. While it felt wonderful to once again join our old camp group, there was no question that I missed camping with the Barony. Why? Because in our 4 years representing everyone in the SCA living in and playing with the Orange County chapter; we became a family. So yes - I loved all the laughter and love of La Familia. But every time we had the honor of joining in with the rest of Gyldenholt, it felt simply wonderful.
I didn't wander around the war very much, I must confess. Sadly, there were many friends and camps and activities that I missed; because I just didn't have the strength. I did as my hubby advised - walk a little, and then rest. Walk a little more and then rest. And when I got too hot or too tired; I simply went back to camp.
So in no short order, here are some of the things that really made this event memorable:
1. Returning to the La Familia camp and being welcomed back with open arms!
2. New friends
3. Seeing Wulfric and Lasairfhiona return to the camp and have fun.
4. Being part of the offering of peerage to little Colette de Montpellier.
5. Playing Crowns against Nobility
7. Hanging out with Asikura Mashime and having her geek over her INCREDIBLE pottery talent.
8. Getting drunk and being able to act silly.
9. Having our set-up and break-down routine so down-pat at this point, that my hubby and I are doing it well.
10. NOT having the heat at this event melt my skin off!
Thank you Caid and the entire SCA for making such a wonderful event that I shall never forget.
Posted on 2016.09.28 at 12:31
If you don’t want to be exposed to my head exploding, just move along and look at funny videos of silly puppies and cute kittens, and I will not be offended.
OK, you’ve made it this far, which means you are interested in knowing what is goin’ on.
I am SO FREAKING SICK TO DEATH of people who believe that I should live my life according to their rules!!!! This statement applies across the board in my life. I run into it all over the place – in my SCA life, in my social life, reading the paper, walking down the street, going to work, and I’m just seriously FED UP with it!
What IS it with some people who believe that their rights or beliefs or religion or sensibilities or lifestyles are more important than everybody else’s? Look, I get it. You are firm in your convictions. OK, fine. I have no problem with that. I even understand that you might take offense with something that I say, or do, or wear, or write. OK, fine. You have that right, and I support that right. But ya know what, bud/dudette? That is where your rights END! This is America – not a suppressed country under some form of sharia law dictating what I should do or think. And while you have the right to be offended, you do NOT have the right to suppress me simply because you are offended. Know what I think of you being offended? I think you can go pound salt! (throwback expression to my childhood).
So now it is turnabout time.
I am offended by…
… Christianists who cherry-pick the bible (whichever author and version) and spin it into a vision of hatred in order to condemn or judge other people. Who the fuck do you think you are? God? Jesus? Some days I wish your Jesus would reappear if for nothing else than to tell you all to knock it the fuck off! I really don’t think Jesus gives a holy fuck if someone plays Dungeons and Dragons, eats meat on a holy day, or fucks someone of the same sex. I think he would be more interested in knowing what good you have done for the world lately. But hey… what do I know? I’m just a heathen who quit the Catholic Church prior to confirmation because I had the audacity of asking questions of what I was taught when it didn’t sound right to me.
I am offended by…
…people who still take strong stances against same-gender marriage (or as we call it at home – marriage). I don’t care how they try and sugar-coat it! “Protect the Family!” (from WHAT I would really like to know) ads still scare stupid people (yes… STUPID people) into joining their cause. “Protect Traditional Marriage” (again… from WHAT exactly?) stances still run rampant. Hell, I saw a full page ad with such bullshit in the LA Times just this past Sunday. Jeebus-FUCK! Get LIVES people! Are you so incredibly stupid as to think that your church marriage will fall apart if the lesbians down the street get legally married? Will the very foundation of your family unit really crumble if you see a Subaru covered in stickers showing two women with “I heart Birkenstocks” T-shirts? Oh NO! Jan and Jane down the street have more than two cats and are thinking of adopting an orphan child from Laos. Oh NO! We can NOT let that happen! That child would be much better off starving in the streets than to have two moms give him food, clothing, shelter, education and above all – love - right? Let me give you a quarter so you can buy some self-worth and maybe a clue, fuktard!
I am offended by…
…people who think I’m just the bee’s knees when I am saying things that they like to hear or agree with (Go Joe! Yeah you! Uncle Giuseppe, you rock! Etc.), only to go all SERIOUSLY- OFF-THE-WALL-CRAY-CRAY AND BELIGERANT when I say something that they don’t agree with (or more often than not – something that they misunderstood or misinterpreted). Um…. Let’s back up here. When exactly did I become YOUR voice? When exactly did I become YOUR personal advocate or cheerleader? My blog reflects my thoughts – MY thoughts. Not my associates. Not my friends’. Not my husband’s. Not my family’s. Mine. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to change my stance on issues or hold back my thoughts just because you MIGHT get butt sore. I’ve run into too many overly-sensitive and entitled people lately who act like people’s thoughts and opinions must be bubble-wrapped just in case their infantile feelings bump into them.
I am offended by…
…people who think that other people’s freedoms should be taken away just because they don’t like those things. Don’t like porn? Then don’t watch it! Don’t like four-letter words? Then don’t use them! Don’t like religions other than your own? Then don’t go to those churches! Don’t like clothes that are too revealing? Then don’t wear them! Your right to be offended ENDS right there. You do NOT have the right to suppress someone else. Know what? I don’t like guns. I’m offended by how many people have guns in this country. If it were up to me, NOBODY would have guns, other than law enforcement agents. I do NOT believe that the Founding Fathers had any idea that we would develop such gun technology. The 2nd amendment applied to muskets – not the extreme gun violence that we have today. But ya know what? I recognize that it is the law and that other people disagree with my stance. And guess what – that’s ok. I have my thoughts, and my neighbor may have different thoughts (and quite possibly a stockpile of weapons under his bed). Does that make me feel comfortable? No. But it also isn’t All-About-Me.
I really try my damnedest NEVER to wish ill of other people. But some days it is just difficult – especially when I see some people really garner attention and a following by spouting hatred, ill-will, or condemnation of others. But I cannot say I would be one bit bothered if I found out that Pat Robertson died while choking in his own bile. What better end for a man who has made a fortune spouting vitriol against others all in the name of a loving faith? If I got unfriended by the couple of individuals who continuously complain that they are offended by my stances on things, I can’t say I would lose any sleep. And if the extremist religious zealots out there feel like their faith is shaken to the core simply because I kiss my husband in front of them, too bad, so sad – your problem not mine. I’m gonna kiss him whenever I want, wherever I want, however much I want; and I don’t give a shit if it bothers you.
I’m not leading my life for other people. And if that offends you, I support your right to be offended. The End.
Posted on 2016.09.14 at 12:35
As I began to settle in for the night last night, my hubby and I were lying in bed watching the news like we normally do. In between segments, as the commercials rolled, we found ourselves taking a trip through the clouds and the mountainsides in a disjointed perfume commercial. You know the type. There is really no rhyme or reason to the dream-like sequence, or any sense to what is happening to the characters. But at the end, some breathy voice comes on to utter the one-word name, “Obsession” or something like that. In this particular case, the perfume name (which I cannot really remember) was a long lesser-used word that, truthfully, really didn’t make sense to me to use for a perfume. But it SOUNDED nice. So naturally this sent me into a fit of giggles as I began to think about bad perfume ideas that follow that trend. So without further ado, I present to you ten perfume names that don’t exist, but maybe should…
Liturgical – when you want him to answer your prayers
Garrulous – shut up and take notice
Oscillation – for the woman who likes to get around
Dexterous – for every day
Pretentious – it only smells expensive
Obscurity – wear it and stand out
Hedonism – for the pure pleasure of it all
Ephemeral – for that special moment
Impetuous – don’t think about it. Just wear it.
Nonchalant – for those casual encounters
Want to play along? What others might be fun?
Posted on 2016.09.07 at 20:09
On March 12, 2003, I posted my very first blog post, and I really haven’t stopped since. I have posted about events in my life, major milestones, upsets, successes, geeky moments, art, family and relationships, friends, admissions of guilt, SCA moments, religious reflections, pictures of pets, gardening, politics,– you name it, I’ve written about it. (I do call it “Random Stream of Consciousness” for a reason, after all). And in that time, I have read a proverbial ton of comments. Most of the time, the comments have been positive. Less so, posts from Facebook friends or journal friends have not been so nice. But that’s rare. For the most part, people have typically acted with civility. Yet, over around the past year or so, and particularly over the past few months, I have noticed some really unacceptable behavior – often from the same individuals over completely unrelated topics. And because I have noticed a pattern of behavior - key phrase – a PATTERN of behavior, I’m going to address it.
Let me give you an example. This example is 100% made up. But it runs very strong parallels to posts I have made anywhere over the past 12-18 months. Let’s say that I am recalling a wonderful Saturday where I got some alone time, and discovered a really cool new nature trail. I start my post thusly, “Saturday morning, I didn’t have great expectations for the day. I woke up with a headache. The cats howled unsympathetically for their breakfast, I stubbed my toe while walking down the stairs, and when I went to my favorite little hole-in-the-wall diner for breakfast, I was less than thrilled when my typical breakfast order came out with the eggs still runny, and the toast burned. But just as I was about to write off the day as a total loss, things began to change. (Here, the post goes on over several paragraphs painting a picture about how the day turned around, and became a wonderful almost tear-inducing story of a magical time out in nature).
OK, with me so far? I post the two page tale on my blog, and now is where the bad behavior starts.
Comment 1: I’m glad your Saturday went well, but I’m sorry that you had a bad experience at that restaurant. I’ve gone there many times myself and have never had an issue.
Comment 2: Joe is probably just saying that because he is a super-picky diner.
Comment 3: Well I for one have had Joe’s cooking, and I don’t always find it to my taste. Just because it isn’t to your taste doesn’t mean it is bad.
Comment 4: Back when I was in college, I worked as a short-order cook, and let me tell you, that is NOT an easy job, and it can be very unforgiving. (Long rant)
Comment 5: This is such bullshit typical behavior from Joe! Nothing is ever good enough!
Comment 6: Hey, what’s with you guys? Can’t he have an opinion? Sheesh!
Comment 7: Joe should realize that he is an SCA peer and an SCA baron and his words carry much more weight than if he were lower on the totem pole. I’m sure he didn’t mean to be so offensive with his clumsy wording.
Comment 8: While I doubt Joe meant to offend anyone with egg-gate, he really should stop creating controversy in his postings.
Comment 9: Stop telling me not to be offended!
Comment 10: Oh sure, Joe’s comment about the eggs may not seem all that bad, but I’m pretty sure he edited it because I remember his original statement being much worse.
Etc., etc., etc., etc.
I wish – I WISH this sort of an example were an exaggeration!!!!!!
Now, here’s the thing. While it may look to some individuals that I spend all my time online, trust me – I do not. I work a pretty hectic government job where I often barely have time to run to the restroom. At home, I am often doing several things at the same time, driving my poor hubby nuts by acting like a chicken with his head cut off. And on a very regular basis, I am guaranteed to not be able to sleep unless I have managed to check everything off of my (unrealistically large) To Do list. Thus, by the time I get to review all the commentary that is buzzing around, it has turned into its own crazy wildfire of tangent, hysteria, and victim-soapboxing. And ya know what? I am seriously tired of it, and it needs to stop.
So because it is my blog and thus, my rules, I am going to make a few key points for future reference.
1. I take full responsibility for my actions and for my words. I will NOT, however, take responsibility for how someone else misinterprets my words. If I believe a rational person (a RATIONAL person) could misunderstand my meaning based on what I wrote, I will apologize and take steps to clear things up. But here’s what I am seeing lately. Some people bend things FAR out of proportion and really stretch interpretations almost as if they are trying to find a way to become offended and justified to jump on a soapbox. Nope. Sorry. Absolutely not! I will not be manipulated that way. You have the right to be offended by any darned thing in the universe. But your feelings are not my responsibility – particularly if I believe that you are getting TOO creative in your reasons to take offense.
2. There are times that after a lot of discussion (which in this case is a polite word for “flame-war”), I have had private side-bar discussions with key individuals and told them, as politely as I can, that they are making a mountain out of a molehill and need to knock it off. I have then been accused of “tone policing”, (which I must admit, I had to look up). Again, my blog – my rules. I can count on one hand the amount of people that I have ever blocked. I don’t mind civilized adult discussion. I don’t even mind disagreements. But when I see someone trolling my accounts and constantly regularly picking fights, taking things out of context, or creating drama, I will insist that they either behave like an adult, or leave.
3. Pot stirring. Yes. There are indeed times when I have created a post purposely to get people to think about and talk about an issue that I think is important. (my SCA-related post about the Order of Chivalry and the buffet is a good example; as is my many posts back in the day about Prop 8 and same-gender marriage). But as a matter of fact, I don’t get my jollies out of stirring pots unless I am in the kitchen. Do I have a reputation of being a pot-stirrer? Perhaps, to some people. And if that is how you view me, you are entitled to your opinion. But I will say this. Some of the biggest explosions I have seen on my Facebook or journal (MOST in fact) have come from the most innocuous posts where an individual go nuts not over what I actually wrote, but what he THINKS I wrote, and then the hysteria grows after more people join in. Again, I expect people to be adults.
4. If you have an issue with something I say, talk to me about it. I don’t mind discussing it. If you can convince me to take a different position, bully for you. It is possible. But just because you see something one particular way doesn’t mean I will. And if it comes to a point where you and I just aren’t going to agree, we both need to take a step back and decide if it is really so important as to continue the discussion. Most of the time, it just isn’t. Why? Because the original point just wasn’t a particularly big deal. Not every single disagreement in the world needs to be hashed out until fully resolved! People don’t always have to agree on things. But seriously – do NOT try and guilt or manipulate me into doing things your way. The only thing that is guaranteed to do is to make me angry.
So why am I discussing this? Well, simple. The pattern of behavior that I have described above is somewhat of an elephant in the room that I know several of my friends have seen and have been annoyed by, but I do not believe has been specifically called out. And because I have observed it from afar, from close-by, and from REALLY close-by; I have a good perspective about it, and I am not going to tolerate it going forward – nor do I believe anyone else should either. Life is challenging enough on a daily basis. The last thing any of us need when we open up our laptops to escape the challenges of life is to be hit in the face with manufactured drama.
Posted on 2016.08.26 at 11:01
Borrowing that subjectline from my BFF, this particular post is a reflection upon the past couple of days of SCA hysteria stemming from my post about Festival of the Rose. And before anyone says, "Oh Joe, don't add fuel to the fire," I will point out a few things - A. My blog, my rules. B. If you don't want to read my thoughts, that's fine. Don't. C. While several other people had their say (and then some), I really didn't have mine. And my view really does need to get out there because this whole thing stemmed from my words.
My post from Monday was written to emphasize how much I enjoyed this past event, and most especially just how much emotion surrounded the dance performance that Cateru-chi-chi and I did for Her Majesty. That was all - no hidden agenda - no hidden meaning - nothing. But from the first large and thought-provoking comment I read (which was fine in and of itself, even though it was starting to go off course) I thought to myself, "Oh crap. I know this pattern. In no time at all, someone is going to go on a tangent, ignore the words that I actually wrote, find a way to twist it, become Offended (TM) and go on attack mode spouting utter vitriol." And guess what? I wasn't wrong. And not surprisingly, it was a lot of the same people who manage to become Offended (TM) over you-name-it-and-they-are-offended.
SCA hysteria is not a new thing. Gods only know, I have seen it over and over and over in all the years that I've been playing. Most of the time, I have seen it over yonder. Fewer times, I have seen it close by, and often stepped in to try and quench the flames, and fewer still I find myself embroiled in it (Oh Trimaris... you taught me to be stronger!). But ultimately, it is almost always the same thing - people making a complete mountain out of a molehill. Some people just have to find a way to become offended. Some people just have to seize that opportunity to get on a soapbox that has nothing to do with the subject.
Haters gonna hate.
Martyrs gonna be martyrs.
And offended people gonna become Offended (TM).
Over the past few days, I have seen some truly bad behavior, and also seen some wonderful behavior. I have had friends and people that I don't know very well come sweeping in to my defense, while I have seen some other people really go off the deep end - not over what I actually meant or even said, but over some concept springing from a tangent off of what I had written. Come on people - try being adults! If there was a question at all about anything that I wrote, the adult thing would be to ask a question - not make a big deal - not try and publicly provoke - not grab the pitchforks and torches - but just have an adult discussion.
Luckily, I have a thick skin. As the slams came in, I rolled my eyes. My record speaks for itself. I have run more A&S competitions than just about anybody I know in this society, in several different kingdoms. I have written rules of competition, judged more times than I can count, taught multiple classes in multiple subjects, etc., etc. I could list out a proverbial SCA resume of experience and bending over backward to try and make art and technique available, but that wouldn't matter. Why? Because (altogether now)...
Haters gonna hate.
Martyrs gonna be martyrs.
And offended people gonna become Offended (TM).
But if there is one thing that I do find useful and actually on a positive note about incidents like this, it is the fact that in a very public way, I get to really see a person as they truly are - not with the polite smile that they give at events - not when they are performing - but how they TRULY are. Are you the kind of person who works to make the situation better and find a solution? (A very important Peer-Like Quality) Or are you the kind of person to kidnap a topic, twist it around, and make it All About You and how you have become Offended (TM)?
For my part, I will again emphasize that I was really impressed with this last event. It was much better than ones that I attended in the distant past. And I feel inspired to attend more in the future, and I will continue to encourage my laurel cousins to do so as well. As for those who have tried way too hard to create drama where there need be none, I leave you with this thought - moles are becoming extinct because you are killing off their homes.
Posted on 2016.08.22 at 12:36
I will admit, I have not been to a Festival of the Rose in quite a few years. Why? Because, to be perfectly honest, I just have not enjoyed them. Yes, I love historical dance and other types of historical performance. Yes, I love arts displays. But in the past, this event just hasn’t done it for me. Why? Because truthfully, I just wasn’t seeing quality. Most (and sometimes all) of the performances were not at all based on history, and the arts displays were, to be honest, pretty poor. And when it comes down to travel, time, and money; I really could never justify going.
HOWEVER, this weekend changed my view of this event. And for that, I am grateful not only to the staff who ran the event, but all of the wonderful artists who made it happen!
Arriving with Adelheit mid-morning (which I LOVE being able to do nowadays!), I gotta admit I was immediately swept up in things. Between court activities, scheduling, classes, some on-site to do’s, art displays, and conversations; the event turned into a surprisingly BUSY AS HECK event for me. I enjoyed seeing people, but on more than one occasion, I found myself feeling a sense of unexpected crush. (I was kind of expecting and counting on fading a bit into the background now that I’m no longer a landed noble.) Apparently, that isn’t quite the case. Hmmmm…
The most emotional part of the day was, of course, the dance performance that Caterucia and I performed. Why emotional? Because I choreographed the dance years ago to the wonderful music of Owen Phyfe and the New World Renaissance Band. I had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with the uber-talented lead singer well over 20 years ago, and still feel the sting of his passing a few years back. I haven’t been able to perform that dance in front of an audience since his passing, and the time just finally felt right. As much as I really, really, really tried to hold it together as I gave my background story of the dance, I just couldn’t. I broke down and cried a few times. It’s funny – you run into some people in the SCA only on rare occasions – maybe once or twice a year, if that in some cases, at events far, far away. Yet, in those few moments, sometimes you can attach such a strong bond that you become a kindred spirit. Without thinking about it, I guess that I how I feel… felt… still feel… about Owen. I am not even the least bit musical – but I can dance. And in my mind, the music just flowed so easily from him that it made dance easier for me. He was such an inspiration and a muse. THANK THE GODS that he recorded so much music as a gift to the world! It is a small consolation for his loss, but at least his voice will go on, and will hopefully continue to inspire more and more as time goes on.
Dear Owen, thank you for being such a wonderful muse and for inspiring me to be better. You will always be missed.
Posted on 2016.08.10 at 12:24
The other night, my hubby and I watched a documentary called, “Outrage”. Filmed in 2009, Outrage is a documentary about key high-level politicians with a track record of voting against LGBT rights while all along being closeted homosexuals themselves. In short, it is a documentary about total hypocrites who are actively working to hurt the very people like themselves.
Does such a thing make any sense?
Who would do such a thing?
What would make someone fight so hard not only to (unsuccessfully) suppress their own urges and natural feelings, but also battle against others of like-mind?
I’ll tell ya. The whole situation makes me angry. It upsets me that we have so many people trying to force – FORCE – some artificially-created version of overly conservative 1950’s American family values down the throats of the majority. It upsets me that homosexuality is still viewed by so many Americans as a “sickness” – so much so that some people feel the need to hide this aspect of themselves as much as possible. It angers me that in different parts of the country, my rights as an American can be thrown out the window because of whom I love. It angers me that some of the biggest enemies to GLBT rights and equality in the Senate and the House of Representatives are closet queers themselves. And… in a lot of ways, I’m still really angry with myself. Why? Because as much as I would love to be able to say that I have always been on the right side of history fighting the good fight and standing up for myself as I truly am, that isn’t the case. I had a long and hard road getting to this point in my life, and I’m not proud of how long it took or the hurt caused along the way. And that is something that I will own for the rest of my life.
The fact is, from as far back as I can remember, I always preferred men. I just didn’t understand it. You see, I had a bit of a weird and unconventional upbringing. I grew up in Provincetown, MA. For those of you who don’t know about this beautiful New England town, it has many reputations – quaint New England small town, old fishing village, Portuguese ethnic center, oh… and MECCA of gay tourism. You see, every summer, Provincetown has more gays than Disney had kids. And growing up in that environment is… well… weird. I really don’t have anything else to compare it to since it is my only experience – but in talking to anyone else I’ve ever met outside of my own family or old classmates, their experiences growing up were not at all like mine. I saw gay culture everywhere at a young age. And to my young, impressionable, and dangerously naive eyes, because I saw guys who may very well have been closeted back in Kansas, but who were out loud and proud on vacation, I saw the extremes of gay behavior. I saw gays dressed like showgirls. I saw guys walking down the street in the skimpiest of jean shorts, boots, and bandanas showing off their bodies as much as they legally could in public. I saw super tough looking hairy and scary looking guys who appeared tough, but would let out the most girly shrieks when they saw their friends across the way. In short, I really didn’t see anything that I identified with. I was very vanilla in comparison. So… in my young pre-pubescent little gay mind, I wasn’t like them. So I clearly had to be like everyone else. Right? So I guess my feelings weren’t what I thought they were. There had to be some sort of a confused misinterpretation. And… there was something wrong with me.
When people nowadays find out that I came out late and was married to a woman, they can’t wrap their heads around it. “Didn’t you know?” is the most common question. And the answer, very simply, is yes n’ no. I kinda did, and kinda didn’t. I was so confused! For instance, if I went to see a movie with some big sexy star in the leading role, and he took his shirt off, what was going on in my head? Nowadays, the answer is simple – “dayummm! What a hottie stud!” I think to myself. But back then, it wasn’t so simple. Sure, my heart raced. Sure, I felt myself get flushed. But… what was it? What was causing those feelings? What did it mean? What really was sexual attraction was coming through in confused signals – much like static on a radio interfering with your favorite song. So I convinced myself that these feelings were in fact a fraternal type of attraction – an admiration if you will. When I saw that guy on the big screen take his shirt off, and my heart began to race, I convinced myself that what it meant was that I was inspired by that guy. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to look like him. I wanted to be more like him. Maybe if I worked out? Maybe if I lost weight? Maybe if I… Maybe if I… if I changed absolutely everything about myself.
This happened all through high school, and all through college. I had my share of girlfriends – all of whom I really imagined settling down with eventually. BUT, there was always some reason that wouldn’t happen – always some deal-breaker or some issue. At least up until the time that I met Becky. I don’t often talk about my ex-wife because there was soooooo much drama involved in our relationship. But the fact is, I have to admit that times were not always bad. Heck, we dated for a long time before we got married. And when times were good, they were really good. We had a good chemistry in a lot of ways, and I felt complete. But the fact is, I wasn’t complete. There was something VERY wrong with our relationship and something VERY missing from our relationship. I didn’t know what it was, but the stress began to mount. The failure of our marriage really cannot be attributed to any one thing. Not long after we got married, things began to fall apart. Each day brought another stress-factor. But I have to be honest – it wasn’t all her. And it has taken me a long time to realize that. I think in some ways, some of the things she did were in reaction to the elephant in the room that I would not allow my brain to even consider. Heck, even when I filed for divorce, I still was not acknowledging the truth about myself. I didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t like the faux image that I had created of myself. If anything, I was still entertaining the idea of starting over, finding a nice woman to date, etc. But it wasn’t until the pieces of my marriage came crashing down around me that I finally felt rock-bottom enough to face reality – I wasn’t interested in a woman – furthermore, I never was!!!!!! That was a VERY difficult pill for me to swallow – and I felt ashamed – so very, very ashamed. I felt like I was letting down my friends, my family, and everything that ever meant anything to me. I felt like I was a failure. Heck, I couldn’t even imagine facing my father (who had died years earlier). The last thing in the world I could handle at that time was seeing my dad turn his head away from me in disgust one more time because I wasn’t what he wanted out of a son.
Over thirty years of repression, guilt, shame, and self-loathing did quite a number to my self-esteem. I had hurt people along the way in trying to be something that I wasn’t. And I have to wonder – isn’t that exactly what a lot of these closeted career politicians are doing? Trying hard – oh so hard – to do what they THINK other people want them to do, not even knowing themselves anymore? I’m not defending the harm done by such politicians, any more than I am defending the harm that I did. But I think I understand it – just a little.
Coming out was the best thing in the world I ever did. In some ways, coming out felt like a weird type of suicide. I was killing off this image and persona of myself that I had been for over 30 years. And once killed off, there was no going back. And there was no certainty for the future. But luckily for me, my future was bright and I am in a wonderful place. My hope is that American society will get to a point in the not so distant future where there is less pressure on people to be any one particular image of American. I hope that in the future, we no longer hear of more gays doing damage against other gays to help strengthen their artificial image of being a tough, conservative straight man. I hope that the mistakes that I made can encourage others NOT to make the same mistakes. Because nobody – NOBODY – should have to live a false life because of shame, or fear, or out of an attempt to do what they think they are supposed to do.
Shakespeare said it best – to thine own self be true. Sadly, it just takes some people longer to get there than others.
And to those whom I hurt along the way (and to myself), I’m sorry. I’m so, so, very, sincerely sorry!
Posted on 2016.07.27 at 18:21
Imagine for a moment that you are relaxing in your favorite chair, laptop open, and you are scanning through your favorite sites. Perhaps you are looking at Facebook memes. Maybe you are watching funny YouTube videos of kittens doing the darnedest things. Or you might be e-shopping. By a stroke of fortune, you run across something that you just know your friend Jane would just love. It is so very Jane, and even though you are not typically in touch with Jane, you just know she would love it. So you contact Jane and forward the information. You did a good thing, right? Naturally, you expect that Jane will love it and appreciate your gesture, right?
A day later, you receive a rather short (perhaps flip) comment from Jane that informs you that she posted that very thing on her wall a couple of weeks ago - nothing more.
How do you feel? Dismissed? Told off? Annoyed? Scorned? Does Jane REALLY believe you have nothing better to do with your spare time than to scan through all of her postings JUST IN CASE she already ran across the video of a sneezing kitten? More importantly, has Jane actually forgotten the importance of saying, “thank you for thinking of me”?
While most of my friends are courteous and polite, on several occasions, I have gone through this type of situation where “Jane” has acted pretty darned flip when I have sent her information that I really believe she would like. And ya know what? No matter how you look at it, it is rude. You could make up all kinds of excuses for Jane if you tried hard enough. Maybe Jane was having a bad day? Maybe Jane was in a rush? Maybe Jane had a ton of friends sending her the same video of a sneezing kitten, and she was just over it? Or maybe, “that’s just Jane”. But still… what does any of that have to do with the fact that I took the time – took my VALUABLE time – to think of Jane and to try to improve her day, only to be met with a rude reply? No matter how you look at it, the next time I find something that I think she would like, I am going to be hesitant to send it to her. Why bother? She clearly won’t appreciate it, right?
So what’s the point of this post? To remind everyone (myself included) that it really doesn’t take much effort to be kind and appreciative of someone else’s efforts. When a friend sends you a link or a meme or whatever, it may appear silly or unimportant to you. But when you think about it, what that person is really doing is giving you their time and attention – however brief. And that is a very valuable and selfless gift, which deserves your courtesy.
Posted on 2016.07.25 at 12:46
Some people get hooked on soap operas. Others get their daily dose of mind fluff from novels or reruns. For me, over the span of years, I found myself addicted to reading the daily “For Better or for Worse” comic strip. For those of you unfamiliar with it, FBofW was a Canadian syndicate that ran from 1979 until 2008, opening up a window into the lives of the fictional Patterson family. I fell in love with the Pattersons early on. They were not a perfect family. They bickered. They made mistakes. They were silly. But somehow, there was almost always something funny about each struggle or each mistake, exposing the absurdity of life in general. Sometimes the strip took a dramatic turn, but typically they were funny or occasionally reflective.
One of the strips that I recall fondly involved something as simple as brushing one’s hair. Elly, the mom, had taken a shower, and then stepped out on the family deck still in her towel, to brush her hair. She was alone, and the warm breeze blew all around her. She recalled how when she was a girl, her mother had long hair, and how her mother would take advantage of the clean Canadian breeze to brush her hair and let it dry. As she did much like her mom used to do, she felt a sense of connection and reflection. Now, she was the mom. Times had changed and she had grown older. Yet, she felt that connection to her mother. And most special of all, peering at her from within, her own daughter watched, transfixed by this ritual. And reading it, you couldn’t help but get a sense that her young daughter would also eventually grow up and carry on this simple little tradition, and think about her mother. And thus, I come to the point of this post – what are the inadvertent little rituals that you have learned from your parents?
When I asked myself this question, naturally I thought first about food. But in this case, it isn’t about recipes, but rather about things that you do in your life that you don’t necessarily think about – but rather just do much as you saw your parents do. I’ve caught myself more and more as time goes by noticing little things. If I’m trying to make my way through a dark room and I stub my toe, often the first word out of my mouth is, “Kudishka!” I can’t say that I know how that is spelled. I don’t even know what it means. All I know is it is Portuguese, and an all-purpose word of disdain. In recent times, when I’m somewhat half-tuned out from whatever is going on, and I notice a funny moment, I laugh. But the laugh is not my laugh, but that of my dad. When did THAT happen? When I get upset at home because I just finished cleaning an area and after turning around I find it messy again, I go a bit explosive. But the words that come out of my mouth aren’t mine as much as they are my mother’s. When did THAT happen?
Do you ever find yourself doing something without even thinking about it, and realize that through you, you are carrying on some sort of familial ritual or tradition that you never even really thought of before? If so, what might that be?