Monday, February 26, 2007

I Don't Have Enough Time, So I'm Writing in Here

I'm leaving for St. Vincent and the Grenadines day after tomorrow. I have to pack. I have some last minute errands. I've been anticipating this trip for quite some time, and I should be frantic (I am, inside my head), but instead I'm writing in my blog. I think that's my response to confronting the inevitable. I'll be writing in here on April 14, too.

Eight of us have chartered a catamaran for 10 days in the sunny Caribbean. This will be my third trip to that part of the world. It gives me time to lay in the sun, read some books, do some hiking and snorkeling, and veg out, too.

This weekend has been a whirl. I've spent far too much time working on one of my web sites. Also, on Saturday evening, Ron and I went to a Gay Men's Chorus concert featuring Fauré's Requiem. Probably it is not my cuppa, but I enjoyed it and some of the very spirited Gay National Anthems sung at the end of the concert. I'm definitely culturally challenged, as a gay man. Bad Education!

Last night Ron and I watched Quinceañera, a very sweet film about a young pregnant girl and her gay cousin. It's a good tale, worth an evening snuggled up with your honey watching Netflix®.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Crusty Weather

I walked back home from the Metro last night. We had snow this week, mixed with rain and sleet, so the snow pack, although only a couple of inches, is very smooth and icy, particularly since the temperatures have been in the teens, and the wind has been a blustery, cold blanket of howling shivers.

While this scene probably doesn't compare with Minnesota or Oswego, it's pretty cool for Wheaton. The scene by streetlight and houselight is dimpled, icy whiteness. I took off across a couple of front yards (yeah, I was having a seven year-old moment) and felt the slippery ackwardness of my gait, while relishing the off-balanced sense that I could fall and injure my cabeza. I remembered that wonder of childhood and winter: the needle-like cold, the eerie sound of the thick crust cracking, but not breaking beneath my boots. The ice makes an initial loud retort followed by a sigh radiating from the point of impact. Then it's silence for a second, and the the next retort as I walk across the crusted lawn.

I love the awe-full beauty of the moment. Because of the nature of the storm, much of the lawn is undisturbed (it was too cold, and too icy for people to be out and about for a couple of days). I can imagine I'm in an ice-covered meadow, in some magic place having this childhood experience. And I'm discovering it in the midst of eight or ten million people - my own little secret glen, in the dark, on the ice, a hundred steps from my front door, eight miles from the White House, and a world away from DC and the 'burbs.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith

You started out Vicky, and I'm sorry that it ended so badly. This is a tale of guts, sex, love, tragedy, bad manners, and bad taste. You were a plucky girl who did what you had to do to raise a kid. You're the girl, who I think could give stripping a good name. You did what you had to do.

She married a man three times her age. Who was the fool? Did she do it for the money? Is it anyone's business but she and her man? Now everyone, except the baby are dead. What's the tragedy? The loss of a mate, the loss of a child, her dying years before her time? I think the greatest tragedy is that she was treated like dirt. Our media, our age gave her the very worst. I can still hear the tongue-clucking.

I never much knew about her until she died. I see her pictures and marvel at her voluptuous beauty. She had it in spades, but all the news stories can report is that she was born on the wrong side of the tracks in a small Texas town, that she married at 16 and had a baby at 17, that she started out as a stripper. The media don't report her grit. They don't report her determination. They don't report how she always came back, sometimes reinventing herself, but never ever giving up.

Anna Nicole, your story is all-American in so many ways. I'm touched and drawn to it, and saddened by the shabby, snarky ending so many are trying to give it. I'm counting on you to make one last, very dramatic comeback.

Gay Square Dancing and God

Sometimes Square Dancing and religion come together in one seamless expression. Today, being Sunday, what could be more propitious?

I was over at Brian and Kent's this afternoon for a caller workshop. Dayle was running them through their paces. During an interlude a bunch of us were upstairs, and one of the guys asked if any of us had seen Jesus Camp. Well, that started off the discussion about religion (particularly Christianity) and where we fit in.

The fact is, we don't, and that became quite clear during the discussion. Several of the people present related their own (bad) experiences. It seems pretty clear that toleration and understanding were not a part of the churches we grew up in. Faith really seems like a bad intellectual ground on which to base national policy. And if Jesus Camp is any harbinger, I think I'll start wearing a hardhat around certain religious groups - for my own health.

I have a lot of questions for my religious friends. If God so loved the world, why is God condemning 95% (or more) of his children to Hell? Why is the Christian God better than the Islam Allah (or vice versa)? Why is God (or Allah) offended by homosexuality?

You might inquire why I'm even concerned about this. One part of my concern is that about 95% of the people in the United States believe in God. Anywhere from 40 - 60% of them regard themselves as religious, and 30% of the voting electorate consider themselves religiously conservative. These people really do want to tell me how to run my life. Some of them do want to stone me. Most of these people have no respect for my relationships - loving years-long relationships, too.

This really is religious conviction determining public policy, and it really is affecting my civil rights. I'm ready to do my own missionary work. I'm recruiting. Now where can I find a red heiffer?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Fish out of Water

Ron and I have spent the weekend in Southaven, Mississippi, just south of Memphis. We've been visiting his mother, celebrating her 85th birthday. Yesterday featured an 85th surprise birthday party. Mom didn't know what hit her. I was most impressed by Jamison. I enjoyed meeting all of the other people, but now one else there had his spiky boy hair, his kinda geeky glasses, nor his winning smile. I don't know whether he bats for my team, but I wouldn't mind if he did.

About a dozen of Mom's friends were at the dinner, people that they've met here near Southaven, since Mom and Alex moved here a couple of years ago. They moved here running away from hurricane Ivan, and ended up staying in a hunting lodge in Arkansas. The family that took them in was at the party. The next door neighbor's daughter and her husband were there. One of their tenants and his girlfriend and their title agent and her husband joined us. We had a very nice party at the Sheraton.

On Friday night Alex, Mom, and the two of us went to the Grand Casino in Tunica for dinner. It's very easy to eat too much in these places, and if you put food in front of me, I usually eat it. We had a long night at the casino, and Alex sent us home in a stretch limo. I guess I could get used to it, because we came home in a stretch limo last night, too after the party. Too bad Jamison was busy in the restaurant.... There was plenty of room.

The casinos are a strange world. They are a fantasy world. Some of the players are genuinely having fun. Many of the players are playing the slots with this glassy-eyed look pressing the button, listening to the bells and buzzes, watching the sevens, hoping to hit the jackpot. They happen often enough that the hope stays alive while the players lose their shirts. It's a weird place.

Today, we headed out to the wilds of Arkansas and visited two of the couples who were at the party last night. Jay runs the hunting lodge referenced above. We met his two dogs, really wonderful animals who were extremely happy to see us. He's quite a hunter, mostly deer, turkey, and ducks. We saw lots of mounted deer heads, and even a turkey head. It sounds a little morbid (if you are city slickers like us), but the turkey head was really quite beautiful. I loved the conversation, too. It's a million miles removed from my world. I enjoyed being there. We drove a couple of miles further and visited Jay's parents. We had a wonderful visit - lots of stories, so very different than the lives that we live in our little suburb outside Washington, DC.

Jamison, maybe I'll see you next year, when we celebrate Mom's 86th....