Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Goodbye Pat

A ghost from the past came by yesterday to say goodbye. My friend Bob called me to tell me that our friend Pat had died. I hadn't seen Pat in probably fifteen years. He was half of "Pat and Eileen." Back when I was living in the Tri-Cities, these two gave our little beleaguered gay community some courage, backbone, and clout. Pat was the quiet one, and Eileen was the organizer.

Pat always had a quiet smile. I think he was amused being demonstrably straight and surrounded by a lot of gay boys. Pat and Eileen's home was very much a community center for wayward and wounded, questioning, and declaiming 80s gay men. We were all living in a rather miserable desert town surrounded by rednecks. Pat and Eileen provided a welcoming, affirming home in which to be ourselves.

Pat, I remember your smile. Thanks for walking the distance with us. I hope your next journey is full of light, justice, and peace.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Mexican Food

Do you ever wonder what Mexican food really tastes like? I was just at a Mexican restaurant with Tim. We had tamales, quesadillas, and tortilla soup. I'm curious if I could get that same meal in Juarez or Mexico City, and I wonder what would it taste like. Don't get me wrong, my meal was very good, and I really enjoyed it, but I have doubts about its authenticity.

Several years ago, Ron and I were in Groningen. We were eating at what was represented as a Tex-Mex restaurant. At least that's what the restaurant's marquee promised. Let's just say that it tasted suspiciously Dutch, and leave it at that. Rather it tasted as I imagine a Dutch person might think Tex-Mex fare might or should taste. I still chuckle about that meal.

Closer to home, I suspect that a Mexican might chuckle at what I ate in Gaithersburg this evening: I imagining that I'm eating Tex-Mex. The Mexican knowing that I'm consuming a very smart marketing campaign.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering the Unthinkable

9/11 seeps into every corner today. Even the sky somberly covers this place with a gray shroud. The tone matches my own mood - reflective, serious, if not deep and intellectual. I still feel angry five years on. I still feel shocked five years on. I don't believe I've lived a day since then when 9/11 hasn't leaked into my consciousness and become part of conversation or reflection.

I was sitting at my desk, here at Fannie Mae, much as I am doing right now. Chris called me on his cell phone and told me that something terrible had happened, and he wouldn't be coming to work. Traffic was all backed up on I-395. He told me to go to the CNN web site. I did. I saw the picture, I saw the plume of fire and gas spew across the Manhattan skyline. That moment changed everything.

Life continues in a different world. I'm in Manchester, NH, on my way to Erika's wedding, and I see what look like high school kids (they were so young) in battle fatigues with machine guns in the airport. I'm in Atlanta, pulled out of line at the airport as the gloved security guard completely unpacks my backpack and my bag, and not so neatly repacks it. I see concrete barriers everywhere here in Washington. I see an unattended package in San Francisco, and a hundred scared onlookers as security people remove the package. I mean, this terrorism notion is settling in for a lifetime.

The little things count the most. Travel is not a carefree, joyful adventure. We are told by our leaders, and it's repeated in every security announcement - we live in a dangerous, unsettled world.

What's most shocking to me, is that this war on terrorism has become a struggle between Eastern fanaticism (read Islam) and Western values (read conservate, fundamentalist Christianity). It's played out across commerce (oil), governments, religions, and societies, but at it's heart it is a war between two ideologies that value belief over reason, faith over fact. This war won't end until we're all dead.