Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm just like you, so leave me alone.

I don't know if it's the incredible weather, or the fact that I'm finally fully recovered from the 12 hours of non-stop puking, shitting and dry-heaving that invaded my body last week, or if the happy pills are just really starting to kick in, but man, I've been feeling good these last few days. Physically good, emotionally good, optimistic, energetic. The possibilities seem more...possible than they have in a long time.

I'm sure that in a few days time, this too shall pass and I'll go back to my surly, irritable, depressive self, but in the meantime I'm going to enjoy this burst of good fortune. I've earned it.

My thoughts have already turned heavily to the summer, and how I'm going to accomplish my goal (the same one I had last year) of getting the fuck out of dodge for awhile. For the better part of last fall and most of January, I was pursuing an out-of-state internship with a vengeance, but have mostly come up with nothing. Phone calls upon phone calls upon emails upon more phone calls have produced very little to speak of. It also has occurred to me that I can't afford a non-paid internship, especially in somewhere like New York or Boston or D.C., which were the main cities in which I was looking (among a few random others), and guess what internships don't do for the most part? If you guessed "Pay!" then you win the prize. I have applied for a paid 8-week research position at the University of Maryland, just outside D.C., which would be amazing and look incredible on a grad school resume, but I'm not holding my breath. They pick between 8 and 12 undergrads from all over the country to participate in the program, and the likelihood of me being one of them seems unlikely. But still, you never know....

So, in lieu of spending all summer either swiping groceries in Austin and wishing for an untimely death, or working for free in a city where I couldn't even afford to be homeless, I've decided my next plan of action to have an action-packed, fun-filled summer is to become a camp counselor.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, I want to spend all summer camping and hiking and swimming and doing arts and crafts with little kids.

And I want it bad. I get giddy every time I even think about how fucking awesome it would be to spend the entire summer outside, in nature, essentially playing. And getting paid for it. At this point I almost even hope I don't get the research position, because I think this would be more fun.

I started a preliminary search in Austin, and found Austin Sunshine Camps which are weeklong overnight camps in the hill country for under-privileged inner-city kids to foster an appreciation for nature and diversity, and develop teamwork and group activity skills.

I also started looking elsewhere in the country, and found several I plan to apply to, in upstate New York (which is the leading contender at this point), in Pennsylvania, Maine, and Washington state (which is in second place). It's weird, when you start really looking into this stuff, how lucrative it must be. All these camps I've been looking at recruit counselors from all over the country, provide paid training, pay them for the camp, and provide transportation to and from the camp. One of them (either the one in New York or Pennsylvania, I don't remember) also provides days off and transportation to the nearby cities (in these cases NYC, Boston and Philadelphia). It sounds pretty awesome, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up, because, well, you know, probably none of it will pan out (there's the old Ryan!).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I need you so much closer

A week or two ago, Andrew Sullivan posted a link on his site to this extraordinary article in the NYT. I just now got around to reading it, and it literally made me cry, it's so touching.

Mr. Tammet and Abby.
It's about Daniel Tammet, a well-functioning, but autistic 28-year-old man. He is classified a "prodigious savant," one of only about a hundred in the world, who are classified as mentally disabled people who have tremendous, "almost preternatural" skills.

He wears his gifts lightly, casually. When he gets nervous, he said, he sometimes reverts to a coping strategy he employed as a child: he multiplies two over and over again, each result emitting in his head bright silvery sparks until he is enveloped by fireworks of them. He demonstrated, reciting the numbers to himself, and in a moment had reached 1,048,576 — 2 to the 20th power. He speaks 10 languages, including Lithuanian, Icelandic and Esperanto, and has invented his own language, Mantï. In 2004, he raised money for an epilepsy charity by memorizing and publicly reciting the number pi to 22,514 digits — a new European record. In addition to Asperger’s, he has the rare gift of synesthesia, which allows him to see numbers as having shapes, colors and textures; he also assigns them personalities. His unusual mind has been studied repeatedly by researchers in Britain and the United States.

Mr. Tammet also happens to be gay, and lives a quiet life in Kent, England, in a small country house with his boyfriend, 30.

He met Neil Mitchell, his partner, online, and the two have lived together for six years. They both like being at home: Mr. Mitchell, who is 30 and writes computer software programs for a living, is perhaps even shyer than he is, Mr. Tammet said. They grow fruit and vegetables in their garden, play with their two cats and cook meals as a team.

“These sorts of tactile experiences really root me,” Mr. Tammet said. “If I know that I have a meal to cook or that a vegetable needs pulling, it forces me to engage with normality.”

I love these sorts of stories. I love hearing, or at least knowing, that people can, and do, find each other. A simple life created out of utter complexity. I like that idea too.

I'm very excited to read Mr. Tammet's book, though I'll have to wait until the paperback comes out, or check it out from the library. Unfortunately, hard cover books are not in my budget these days.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"People have started to mate with vegetables."

Below I have posted two clips from a BBC2 television show called Top Gear, about three British men driving through America.

I must admit, they have bigger balls than I do. The first clip involves nearly getting killed by an angry mob at a gas station in Alabama after painting "provocative" slogans on their cars.

Some may say it's jaundiced and cynical, and they were intentionally provoking a reaction (and they are), but the fact that it works is what's funny. And lest you think these people aren't real, I had multiple encounters of these types as a teenager in Arkansas. And where I grew up (for the most part) isn't nearly as primitive as this place in Alabama. Honestly, I had a physiological reaction to watching this first video. But it's also quite funny.

The second clip is a more serious (and shorter) look at some Hurricane Katrina footage that's a little more stark than you're likely to see on mainstream news.

Monday, February 19, 2007


One of the few (only) perks of my job is that we get to attend one cooking class every month for free. I've always meant to take advantage of it, but never did until tonight. Yesterday at work a certain very cute boy told me he was taking one tonight and asked if I cared to join him, so naturally I immediately went and signed up.

It turns out it was a class called "Prego Entertains," and was led by John Watt, the owner and head chef of Prego and Trevisio, both upscale Italian restaurants in Houston.

I don't know if I actually learned a whole lot of very useful information (unless I'm hosting a dinner party for 30), but damn, I sure ate a shitload of delicious food, and got 2 glasses of wine.

It started out with a Tri Colore Salad, made with an amazingly savory Lemon Vinaigrette dressing (actually, very similar to the dressing I always make with my salads at home, but with a few more little ingredients).

Then we had rigatoni with pancetta, roasted root vegetables and scallions. It was incredibly rich (as is most Italian food), and filling. This would be incredibly simple to make, actually, and I may attempt it myself soon. He made a creamy, but not too thick, sauce with heavy cream and white wine that was extraordinary that I would probably never attempt at home, but at least I'm pretty sure I could.

Next we had Salmon with caramelized onions and bianco. Again, very rich and heavy, but absolutely delicious. He also seared then baked the salmon, and I usually pan cook mine, so I'm going to start baking, I think. It doesn't dry it out as much, it's cleaner, and it keeps it so much more flavorful. I love cooking salmon, and I do it at least once a week, but I don't see myself caramelizing any onions anytime soon.

As the final course we had Sicilian spiced lamb chops on a bed of garlic spinach. I learned how to blanch (sp?) spinach to help it retain its lush green color, and cook easier. He mixed the spinach with the garlic, and again cooked it in some white wine, and it was the best spinach I've ever had and was absolutely gorgeous. As they were putting it on the plates before they passed it out, I was literally grinning from ear to ear, I was so excited to eat it.

I can say in the past couple of years, I've come to really appreciate healthy, homemade whole foods in a way I never used to. It's frustrating sometimes, because I have such little expendable income to spend on extravagant meals (because even cooking for one can run up to $10 or more), and often don't even know where to start. So I'm really glad I took the class. It got my creative cooking juices flowing and made me excited to maybe try some of this someday. And they give you the recipes to hold onto, so that's nice.

At the end they pass out a survey, and for any suggestions for future classes, I put down that maybe they should have classes on more "realistic" food for busy, fairly inexperienced people to make. And economic dishes for single people. Which seemed sort of depressing to write down, but hey, that would be useful.

So I think I'm gonna start taking more advantage of these classes, and try to take one every month. In May, they have the chef from 34th Street Cafe coming in, and I'd definitely like to jump in on that. As we were leaving, I told my friend that we'd just eaten probably $70 or $80 worth of food for free. That was exciting.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Queer & Loathing

In the New York Times today they have a very interesting article about gay people kissing.

About gay people kissing in public, specifically, and why it's still so scary for so many people to do. Or to show any same-sex affection at all. It might seem like a simplistic and kind of dumb thing to write a whole article about, but I really appreciate the tack they take, which is essentially that for a same-sex couple, especially two men, to hold hands, or especially kiss, in public is still a pretty politically charged thing to do. It takes a conscious decision and is never done casually or thoughtlessly. I don't care how comfortable you are with yourself internally, or what city you live in, if you're two men (or women), and you decide (and yes, it's a decision) to hold hands (or God forbid, kiss!) in public, you know it's a "statement" and you know people will be watching and you feel like you're on display.

It's hard for straight people to understand, even the most empathetic among them, why it's so scary. And why it does feel like something "political." It's something that I think most straight people just take for granted (like getting married) and it's difficult to explain how this affects your behavior and your relationships. One woman they interviewed I think gives a fairly succinct description

After considering herself exclusively lesbian for decades, Sarah Van Arsdale, a novelist, not long ago found, to her surprise, that she had fallen in love with a man. At first, as she wrote last week in an e-mail message from a writer’s colony in Oaxaca, Mexico, “ Whenever we would hold hands in public, I felt a frisson of fear, waiting for the customary dirty looks or at least for the customary looking-away.”

In place of revulsion, Ms. Van Arsdale was startled to discover that, having adjusted her sexual identity, she was now greeted by strangers with approving smiles. “I felt suddenly acceptable and accepted and cute, as opposed to queer,” she said.

It's not an incredibly in-depth article, but worth reading. And bravo to the NYT for running it (and for framing it in political terms; I think that was gutsy for some reason). It's something more people should think about.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Had the flight been cancelled?

Chungking Express is one of the best movies ever for when you're feeling lonely and when you're really, really drunk home alone on a Friday night.

I heart Tony Leung.

Also, I heart red wine.

Also, I heart Chungking Express.

The Sweet Taste of Liberty in Your Mouth

It's been decided: Stephen Colbert officially has his own ice cream!

While fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and caramel doesn't sound particularly appetizing to me, I guess I'll have to be a good consumer and member of the Colbert Nation and pick some up.

"I'm not afraid to say it. Dessert has a well-known liberal agenda," Colbert said in a statement. "What I hope to do with this ice cream is bring some balance back to the freezer case."

In other news, my wretched, nightmare of a paper for my American Dilemmas class is coming along nicely. After working on it for almost 5 hours yesterday, including late into the night at the St. Ed's library, where I spent most of my time actually checking out the other boys up late doing homework, and emailing with Bryan about how much I hate being challenged in school (everything's so much easier when it's...easy).

I have come to the conclusion, after boundless research, that homeless people and single mothers sucking up tax dollars should just be released into the forest and hunted by Republicans.

I wonder how my professor would react to my suggesting that as a "controversial solution."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lurker II: Dark Son of Night

You know what the worst thing is about working retail on Valentine's Day? All those really cute sexually ambiguous boys that you vaguely flirt with as you're ringing up their items that come in all the time, by themselves, and just buy a few little things (which clearly means they live alone) end up coming to your store and spending $60 on flowers, and $20 on chocolate, and buy a $30 bottle of wine.

Which completely smashes all hopes you ever had of ever actually flirting with them enough to get them to flirt back.

It's not that you're surprised they're straight and have girlfriends, it's just that it ruins the fantasy, and now you have to start all over and find all new really cute sexually ambiguous regular customers to flirt with.

And I know they're straight because if they were gay they'd be single, and probably have just arbitrarily decided the week before to just stop returning the calls of whatever incredibly fabulous boy they'd been dating for the past month. Like the idiots that they are.*

*Any bitterness noted by the reader in that last sentence is a purely subjective inference on the part of said reader.


I've always hated Valentine's Day. Always. Even when I was happily in relationships, so you can't attribute my hatred towards it to bitterness, like you can most every other aspect of my personality.

In lieu of writing my own, unfunny (read: bitter) rant against VD, I'll simply point you to GayProf, who has eloquently written his own loving tribute to that most Holy of Hated Days, on his blog, Center of Gravitas.

I'll let him speak for me, since he seems to do it quite well. (I like his last suggestion the best, in case anyone feels like treating me to a little Valentine's gift!)


Monday, February 12, 2007

Not Ready to Make Nice

If anyone's interested in donating money to LYRIC, a San Francisco-based housing retreat for gay and lesbian teenagers, you can do so here, in the Ted Haggard Betting Pool.

All you have to do is wager a guess on the what the date will be when he "falls off the wagon" and gets caught with his mouth wrapped around some random guy's dick at an interstate rest stop, and if you're closest to the correct date, you win!

Obviously, my sympathy for the man has greatly diminished. My hopes that he would use this opportunity to become a real person have not reached fruition. Instead, he's going to go on preaching his hate and ignorance and taking part in ruining more people's lives. Fuck him.

If I can't marry him, maybe I could just eat him

Stephen Colbert-flavored ice cream?

Salon has the scoop:

Colbert taste test: We asked; you responded. We got a flood of suggestions for Ben & Jerry's rumored Stephen Colbert-flavored ice cream, a number involving eagles and bears and a version of the hard-to-say Colbert Sherbet. We'll print more over the rest of the week (send your suggestions to, but here are some of our favorites:

Yummy Stephen ColberryStephen Colbert's All-American Eagle Food
A ribbon of apple-pie-flavored ice cream, swirled with cream ice cream, and salmon- and trout-shaped pie-crust-flavored pieces. (Thanks, Christi!)

Stephen Colbert's Big Scoop of Balls
Malt-flavored ice cream with a chocolate swirl and whole Whoppers ... just like the lies the Democrats serve to the American people. (Thanks, Keith!)

Fudgya ("Great flavor? Or the greatest flavor?")
The Colbert Dessert (pronounced, of course, "des-air"). (Thanks, David!)

Stephen Jr.'s Eagle Tracks
Vanilla ice cream with red and blue swirls and candy eagle eggs. Mission Egg-Complished! (Thanks, Vic!)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

And even I'm getting tired of useless desires

In her simple and resigned essay, "One Cheer for Melancholy," writer Susanna Kaysen argues that sadness, or melancholy, before it was rechristened "depression," and marked as something to be avoided, was simply common, and commonly accepted as part of life.

The best, and most telling, part of this essay for me was when she appeared on a TV talk show promoting her book Girl, Interrupted, the talk turned to Prozac, about which she admitted she knew nothing and had never taken it. She got into an argument with a woman in the audience who had been so distraught over the death of her dog, that she "couldn't function." When Kaysen suggested that perhaps that was a reasonable response to a traumatic event, and sometimes events in our lives warranted an extended and intense grief period, the woman became furious with Kaysen and said, "You've never been really depressed," and "you don't understand clinical depression." Not wanting to engage in a battle of who'd been more depressed, Kaysen gave up, but uses this antecdote to point out the shame most people feel about having feelings of sadness and grief in our society. By using the word "clinical," this woman had invalidated her own feelings and relegated them to the rank of disease because she couldn't stand the thought of being that distraught over her dog's death. So she had to pathologize it. Which is also something our country does quite well. Love/Gambling/Sex Addictions are all quite common in our society nowadays, as Kaysen points out, due to extraordinary advances in medical science and our quests for quick cures, easy ways out, and chemical explanations for, up until the 20th century, what were generally considered ordinary human emotions and behaviors. In other words, medicine and its advances has made us sicker than ever.

People don't like to feel bad, and somewhere along the way, our society has decided that life is, or rather should be, happy and joyful, and if you're experiencing sadness, or melancholy, or anxiety, then you must be doing something wrong. But even this, Kaysen points out, is due to what she dubs "chronic optimism."

People who always expect things to turn out for the best, and have the highest hopes, are often the ones most crushed when things don't go the way they anticipated. Which things never do. Kaysen, on the other hand, claims to get her disappointment out of the way early by simply always expecting the worst, and then if things happen to turn out in her favor, well, then she's all the more pleasantly surprised. Which sounds like a smart philosopy to me.

I know for a fact that what's been going on with me the last couple of years, and what I've been struggling so hard with, is my loss of expectations. Or, I guess, more appropriately, the breaking down of my idealism and sense of control. My family life was pretty chaotic and unstable and laced with grief (and sometimes violence) all throughout my formative years, starting at around 13 or 14, and I think that this instilled in me a deep need to control my surroundings. I had no idea how to process hardly anything that was going on around me, and in retrospect, my parents should have had the whole family, or at least me, in some therapy. My oldest brother actually recommended this to my parents for me, and I've never forgotten that. He was prescient enough to see how having a pretty charmed life be suddenly thrown into turmoil practically overnight might have a really detrimental effect on me, and at one point in high school I did ask my mom for therapy and she basically brushed me off. I didn't push the issue, stuck as I was by that point in having to be the perfect example of a model son in order to overcompensate and guiltily beating myself up over every little infraction that might cause my parents even a modicum more of grief.

One would think that going through a situation like this, having the rug completely yanked out from under you at that age, would be an adequate enough breaking down of expectations to squelch most idealism. But I think it had the opposite effect for me. It made me want to do everything in my power to control everything, to have everything turn out perfectly, all the time. I wanted no part of any sadness in my life, of any conflict, of any disappointment. Needless to say, in order to accomplish this, it took a mind set of an immense amount of repression and denial.

It's only been recently, at around 27 or so, that I've begun to let go of this. I've stopped denying my inner nature, I've stopped denying how much my family hurt me (unintentional though it was, that doesn't make it any less damaging), I've stopped denying how much resentment I feel, and most of all, I've stopped expecting anything to go the way I want it to, or expect it to. Cliche as it is, all you can do is hope for the best and plan for the worst, and readjust accordingly.

Letting go of old schemas, and patterns of thought, and outdated and often useless values is a primary part of most people's therapies. That's what makes therapy so difficult and painful. To do it effectively, one has to let go of so much, which usually means embracing something else in its place (such as uncertainty, or, in turn, the certainty of pain and distress). People will do what they will do, the world will go on turning and people will go on living their lives regardless of how much you think they should bend to you and your will.

And optimism doesn't help matters. Which is not to say you shouldn't have hope, but maybe, just maybe, you'd be less disappointed if you actually expected to be disappointed most of the time. This is a lesson that most people I know seem to have learned long before I did. And I'm still learning it. Every single day is still a struggle to live in the present and accept things as they are, and that most of the time, life just sucks.

But isn't that why so many people cry when they're happy? Because in its own twisted way, being joyful is such an odd and exhilarating and painful experience, so unfamiliar to people, that it takes you by such unexpected surprise and really wraps itself around your heart? Joy can be as overwhelming as sadness, but in the long run, doesn't stick around nearly as long and has less residual effects. That, in and of itself, should tell you something about the nature of life.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Catastrophe Averted (Thus Far)

In an earlier post on this very blog, I relayed a story of a "nightmare" outline and apoplectic seizures over too many electronic red marks.

Well, you may be happy to know that I received said outline back from said Professor this morning, and received an A+ and "This is an excellent start." With not a red mark in sight.

Now, however, there's the whole matter of the actual paper....


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Beware this troubled world; control your intake.

One red pill. One fuckin' huge red pill. Or is it sort of orange-ish? I haven't actually taken any out of the wrapper yet. Maybe the wrapper is just red, and the pill will be some kind of washed-out beige color. Beige is bland. Beige is oatmeal. Beige is a multi-vitamin from Central Market that makes your urine turn neon.

But red. A red pill is serious. Fire-engine red. Red is danger. Red is passion. Red is not. fucking around.

Every morning. With food. One big red fucking passionate pill.

8 am? Every morning? Why 8 am? That seems absurd. Why will it hurt to take it at 10? With my 4 daily eggs and orange juice and coffee.

Because they said so. 8 am. And they're doctors. So you have to listen to them. Well, except for Stacy. She's not a doctor, but she is working on her Ph.D. in Psychology. It's nice that they let her help with the psychiatric evaluation. Dr. Garcia I'm not so crazy about. Not incredibly affable for a psychiatrist. But here I've been sitting in this room for 45 fucking minutes waiting on him. I tried to turn on the radio to listen to Fresh Air, but it didn't work even though it was plugged in.

Not crazy. About him. Not crazy. I don't want to kill myself. I still have my sense of humor. No suicidal ideation.

No, no nightmares.

Yes, I have a still have a libido. Oh yes. The pill could reduce that. The big red fuckin' passionate pill could interfere with "sexual function." Hmm. That's something to consider. But that might not be so bad. It's not like I'm sleeping with anyone anyway.

Appetite? Yep. Although I do seem to have lost some weight. I wonder if that's due to the red meat I've been cutting down on and replacing with more yogurt, bananas and cantaloupe.

Nevertheless, I qualify. Acute generalized anxiety disorder with mild to moderate depression.

It's not healthy to ruminate. It's not healthy to be gripped by such panic at least once a day that you have to stop whatever you're doing and cry or go be alone, and if you can't you fly into such a murderous rage that you want to kill every person you see for at least an hour and you grind your teeth and your blood pressure goes up.

I'm not special.

It's called Being Alive.

At least I'm feeling something. I guess.

Who am I to feel this way? My life has been pretty charmed, considering. There have been some tragedies, some upsets, some tension. Nothing's perfect. And besides, that's got shit all to really do with it.

But it's in my lineage.

My grandfather suffered from debilitating depression for most of his life. He was a warm, sensitive, loving, wonderful man. I miss him dearly. But he could also be very cold, withdrawn, distant, tired. Blank. His eyes held a lot of pain.

His daughter, my aunt, my mom's sister, she died too young. The coroner was a family friend, so it was an "accident," but we all know what really happened. She practically held a degree in pharmaceuticals. She knew what she was doing.

And, well, there's the immediate family, which I won't even go into.

So what's one more?

That, in and of itself, is depressing. Elizabeth Wurtzel makes it seem glamorous. But it's not. It's fucking boring. At least I can get out of bed in the morning and don't try to kill myself at parties.

Blake Schwarzenbach, of Jawbreaker, once sang, "All I want is a life without parties." I know what he means.

William Styron said, "The shadows of nightfall seemed more somber, my mornings were less buoyant, walks in the woods became less zestful." He was saddled with a "fidgety restlessness" and "an immense and aching solitude."

In The Savage God A. Alvarez writes, "My life felt so cluttered and obstructed that I could hardly breathe. I inhabited a closed, concentrated world, airless and without exits. I doubt if any of this was noticeable socially: I was simply tenser, more nervous than usual, and I drank more. But underneath I was going a bit mad."

Can a big red fucking passionate pill give you Hope? Can it give you Faith that intellectually you believe in, but emotionally you don't? And I don't mean the religious variety. I just mean Faith in general. Faith in humanity. Faith in yourself. Faith in your future. (That's the hardest one.)

We'll see.

10 weeks. Then 3-6 months of free treatment, regardless of what happens with the pill.

It's a win-win-win situation.

I guess.

Heart On

One more reason to heart John Edwards.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Possibly one of the most brilliant political maneuvers I've ever heard.

Pro-gay marriage supporters are filing an initiative that would require straight couples to have children in 3 years or have their marriags annulled.

Under the initiative, marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. Couples would be required to prove they can have children in order to get a marriage license, and if they did not have children within three years, their marriage would be subject to annulment.

All other marriages would be defined as "unrecognized" and people in those marriages would be ineligible to receive any marriage benefits.

“For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation ... The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine," said WA-DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow in a printed statement. “If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage."

That made my day.

And the world of psychology eagerly awaits his gifted insight.

Apparently, all it takes is 3 weeks to go from gay to straight. And Ted Haggard is cured, ladies and gentlepeople.

Among other things, the overseers urged Haggard to enter a 12-step program for sexual addiction, Ware said.

Ralph said three weeks of counseling at an undisclosed Arizona treatment center helped Haggard immensely and left Haggard sure of one thing.

"He is completely heterosexual," Ralph said. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting- out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."

I can't even begin to go into all the things that are wrong and irresponsible and just plain stupid about that statement.

Now he and his wife plant to move to Iowa or Missouri and each pursue Masters Degrees in psychology.

London said he was not surprised Haggard was considering the psychological field.

"Many of us that go into the healing, helping professions do so out of some sort of dysfunction or traumatic event in our lives, and we want to do what we can to help other people avoid what we've gone through," he said. "He is certainly gifted and intelligent and has an intuitive side to him. And he has life experience. Those are good credentials."

Dear God, help us all.

Sullivan seems to think we should be asking Haggard the really tough questions.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Further Adventures of Our Young Hero in Which He Learns Another Valuable Lesson:

That to get him to engage in something he had previously derided and mocked but always sort of secretly wanted to do, is to make it involve a roomful of gay, naked men. Hence, tonight I attended my first session of nude yoga. (Sorry, no pics on the site.) Technically, it's not "gay only," but come on, how many straight guys are gonna go do that?

I've been wondering what to do about exercise lately. Nobody plays soccer anymore (and I'm not interested in joining a league or playing with strangers), and I'm totally burned out on going to the gym. I went for the first time in 3 weeks the other day, and only stayed for 20 minutes, I was so bored. So I heard about this place and decided to give it a day in court. And you know what? I actually had a really good time.

There's nothing sexy about it, folks, believe me, and I saw more assholes tonight than I ever cared or wanted to. Sometimes I just had to shut my eyes and pretend like I was someplace else. Someplace where people wear clothing while they bend over or stretch.

But it was fun, and I worked muscles I don't think I've ever worked at the gym. You laugh now, but you just wait. Abs of steel by summer.

But I promise to keep my pants on at Barton Springs.

The already infamous Snickers ad

I had no idea this crazy commercial existed until just now (it only aired last night during the Super Bowl), but the gay bloggers are already in a tizzy about it, criticizing Mars, Inc., calling for boycotts, and screaming that they're promoting violence against gay people.

Americablog has a really great and much more in-depth reaction to the commercial. Links to Snickers' site seem to have the commercial removed already, including the players' reactions to the "kiss." Unless someone more web-saavy than I am can figure it all out.

While I see their points, especially about showing the NFL players recoiling in disgust, I think maybe they're missing the point. Could it be possible that the Snickers company is making fun of homophobes? Albeit the commercial is aggressively unfunny, uninspired, and not at all clever, I don't really think it's homophobic, exactly. Just sort of...gross. And dumb. I will admit, however, that the association between homosexuality and being unmanly is a particularly insidious one, and one that I, personally, struggled with for many, many years. It's an association that still stings probably more than any of the other ones, and is the cause for, I'm sure, the majority of the overcompensation of most closet cases, and even a lot of "out" homosexuals who harbor a large degree of internalized homophobia, whether they're conscious of it or not.

Anyway, I can't imagine in my wildest dreams (nightmares?) that Mars, Inc. would make a commercial like this and not expect (or perhaps be deliberately courting) controversy. I'm glad people are raising a stink about it, but I do think it's slightly unwarranted. Well, at least in regards to the commercial itself. Maybe not to the publicity on their web site.


Ultimately, though, this is all so boring. Can we as a society please just move on? Exploiting any kind of minority, or people's fears of those minorities, is so unoriginal and cynical. For that reason alone, Mars should have to issue an apology, in my opinion.

The Existentialism of Westlife

I love my counseling professor. She's just really the most open and sincere professor (at least in a classroom setting) that I've ever had. It's fitting that she's also a therapist. She talks so openly about her life, and her trials, and constantly uses herself as an example for things that we talk about. I think it really fosters an openness in the students as well, which is good, because sometimes we have to get in groups and talk about pretty personal stuff. She always offers the caveat that we don't have to talk about anything we don't want to, but most everyone is pretty open.

So today we were talking about Existential therapy (even though it's less a therapy, per se, than a pure philosophy) and its adherents, like students of Alfred Adler (who I love!), and Victor Frankl, who also seems pretty great. He wrote Man's Search for Meaning, and was himself an Auschwitz survivor, though not a single person in his family survived. His parents, relatives, wife and children were all exterminated, but he migrated to America after the war, started a practice, and maintained until the day he died that he wasn't a victim, and life was all about attitude. Which I guess is a central tenet of existentialism, that no one is a victim, and everyone has the power to create his or her own destiny.

But to get to the point, this is why I love my professor:

To help illustrate the idea of existentialism, she showed us the video for Westlife's version of "The Rose." She feels that the lyrics encapsulate kind of the heart of what the philosophy is all about. My professor is such a sentimentalist at heart, and I think that's why I like her so much. She's been through some hell (including having to commit her first husband for mental illness and then having him kill himself, leaving her with two very young children, and also having a younger brother who died very prematurely. How he died she's never said, but she's implied it was due to some pretty reckless and careless living). But she maintains this sense of optimism, while remaining firmly in reality and how awful life sometimes is.

It's a corny song and video, but she got a little teary-eyed showing it to us. Which, I don't know, I find so endearing. And to top it all off, she even admitted how corny it is, but she liked it anyway, and she said the video really gets to her. And she kind of giggled about it.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

In which Our Young Hero learns the inherent value of sticking to what he knows

In the history of my re-schooling career, which encapsulates the last two semesters and about a month of the latest semester, I've scored a 100% on two different papers, and nothing less than a 96% on any other paper. However, one of those papers was all about myself (which, as we all know, is my favorite subject), and the others were either about literature or psychological issues. Both of which I have a vested interest in.

This semester I'm taking a class called "American Dilemmas," which is a St. Eds requirement, and is all about America and its social ills. A sociology class of sorts, but with a slightly narrower focus. In other words, total bullshit, but whatever. Within this class, we have to compose a 15-20-page research paper about a topic of our choosing, but which has to be about a particular "social ill" (or controversy) plaguing America. (Right from the start we were informed that this year the faculty has decided to ban anyone from doing abortion or gay marriage, as the papers written about these subjects, historically, have been too emotional and too subjective, and anyone writing about these subjects generally already had their mind firmly made up about where they stand.) So with some labored thought and introspection, I decided to do my paper on welfare reform.

And it's a fucking nightmare!!!

I have never in my life felt so lost in doing research on a paper, mostly because the issue is so big, and there is so much information, and I don't even know where to begin. I had a conference with my professor the other day (who I totally have a girl-crush on, by the way; she's SO cute!!) and she helped me narrow it down to focus on one particular of this issue. So I decided to focus on the 5-year time limit now set on receiving welfare, either consecutive or non-consecutive. 5 years. Period. Then they kick you out the door.

The paper, luckily, has to be written in three segments, each one 5-8 pages long, and the outline for the first segment is due on Tuesday. It's an outline, folks, not even a real paper, and it's causing me untold amounts of anxiety. I emailed my rough draft to my professor today, and she sent it back with so many electronic red marks on it, it was unrecognizable. I mean, thank God she did, but you should have seen the apoplectic fit I had sitting at my little table after I read it. I nearly started sobbing.

I understand now the necessity of becoming very versed in one or two issues and leaving the rest to the experts in those issues. I'm trying to console myself with the fact that it will expand my horizons, make me better at research, blah blah blah.

But it's hard.

I don't like things that are hard. They make me feel dumb. So far school has made me feel smart.

But this? Uh-uh.

I don't like this one bit.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Fuck you, Mary Cheney

My god, I hate this woman more every day. I'm not usually a huge fan of Dan Savage, either, but today, I think he really nailed it. He's also nice and succinct about it.

What a fucking slimy, opportunistic, self-hating bitch.

And I'm sure everyone's seen the Dick Cheney/Wolf Blitzer interview, but the Daily Show did this great segment last night.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Front-Desk Dick

I don't know what's more annoying to me right now: the guy at the table next to mine yapping on his cell phone as loudly as he possibly can in the middle of a coffee shop, or the fact that I've been here for about 15 minutes and already stopped working on my research paper about welfare reform and poverty in the United States. I should have chosen a different topic, like What America Should Do About Alexis Arquette's Face.

If anyone besides me was fortunate enough to have caught the premiere episode of Top Design on Bravo last night, you'll know what I'm talking about. It's just like all those other reality/competition shows, except this one features designers putting rooms together. Last night, the contestants were given 5 objects belonging to a "mystery person" and instructed to design a room around those objects. It's a neat idea, actually, and each team was given $50,000 (!!!) to play with. Anyway, after the rooms are all done, the "mystery guest" was revealed to be none other than Alexis Arquette.


When he/she was revealed as the guest, all the little queens in the room (and believe you me, this show contains no small amount of the swishiest, bitchiest queens you never wanted) nearly fainted with delight and excitement. I had no idea Alexis was such a huge icon in the gay world. It appears that he has officially gone through "the change," and the other judges kept referring to him/her as "her," so I guess that's the case. But seriously, what does Alexis do? I know that as a male, he's had a bunch of bit parts in a bunch of movies, but what besides that? When I lived in Dallas I went to a screening he and 3 of his friends were hosting of a "film" they'd made, involving a bunch of dudes in drag pretending to be sorority girls getting killed by a slasher. Um. It was real clever. Alexis and his friends sat directly behind me and my friends and talked out loud, laughed, and threw popcorn throughout the entire film. Which in hindsight, I'm sure made it much better.

Last time I was in L.A., actually, Brad and I went to a club in Hollywood, where Miss Arquette just happened to be hosting some sort of "show," where she basically ran around taking pictures of anyone's dick who would let her, then hanging up each picture on a clothesline running through the bar (they were Polaroids). And sucked up copious amounts of cocaine. And this was apparently a regular Sunday night "event" at this particular club.

I've always heard he was a big crackhead.

When I expressed the question out loud last night about what Alexis actually does (and speaking of which, where the hell did the Arquettes even come from? Are they Hollywood lineage of some sort, or did they just have really ambitious parents?), my friend with whom I was watching the show said that he always thought of Alexis as the "front-desk dick" from Threesome. Look, he's even listed in the cast as Dick. Anyway, I thought that was hilarious. I'm not going to explain it if you haven't seen the movie.

Oh, but wait.... Oops.

Never mind. I just realized I made a mistake.

The guest last night wasn't Alexis Arquette.

It was Ann Coulter.

My bad.