Thursday, April 26, 2007

"The world is white no longer, and will never be white again."

To add a counter-weight to my last, somewhat...negative post, I'd like to draw your attention to an incredibly inspiring "3am" column in this week's Austin Chronicle. The writer, Michael Ventura, argues that once the notion of an idea is released into the public, once the idea is in the air, "everyone inhales it."

What he's talking about is the idea of gay marriage, and the more the conservatives have to reiterate what it "should be" (as in, "marriage should be between a man and a woman"), the battle by the progressives has been won. It may take another generation to be fully integrated into society, but it will be integrated, and all this silly hand-wringing and non-comittment by politicians (we're looking at you, Clinton and Obama) will be a laughable trademark of the past.

Already it's legal in Massachusetts, it's on its way to being legal in New York; exact-replicas of marriage, dubbed "civil unions," but only in semantics, have been recently passed in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, California, and DC; new laws protecting the rights of transgender students (read: kids!) have recently been passed in Massachusetts, Minnesota, California, New Jersey, and DC; and sweeping new pro-gay (well, anti-discrimination) laws have been passed just in the last couple of weeks in Iowa, probably will pass in Oregon (including a civil unions bill), and the gay foster parent ban was killed in Arkansas; a federal bill was introduced that would make discriminating against gay people in employment illegal.

But I digress. He argues that as society becomes more and more accepting of the debunking of "traditional" marriage vales and gender identities, a whole, new, sexually pluralistic world will be ours to embrace however we see fit (and however we see fit to define ourselves and our relationships). It's an exciting concept that makes me giddy to think about.

My mom has been really putting a lot of pressure on me lately to move back closer to home. Of course, it's never going to happen, but whenever I sort of (as nicely as possible) shrug off her suggestions and cajoling, it kind of breaks my heart a little bit more, as I'm sure it does hers. It's frustrating sometimes, and the real irony of it all is that the life she's always wanted me to lead, and the life I've affirmatively decided I want, I could never have there.

I want a family (yes, including kids). I want a home. I want a fulfilling career, and to feel a sense of inclusion and community wherever I live. Everything that I want is so ordinary, so regular, so boring. But were I to do all of those things in Rogers, Arkansas (which wouldn't even really be feasible), it would be considered radical and provocative. This is one thing I've absolutely never understood about opponents of gay marriage, and by extension, gay rights: for years they've maligned, persecuted, slandered, discriminated against, and threatened gay people for upsetting the status quo, for corrupting children and society, for being hedonistic, selfish, narcissistic. But when a gay person says, "Hey, I want exactly what you want. I want a spouse, I want 4 kids to raise, nurture and love, I want a regular job that I go to, and to make money to take my kids on nice vacations and send them to good schools," the conservative world shutters (or shrieks) and accuses us of being evil.

I'm pretty good at being empathetic I think, and seeing other people's points of view, even if I vehemently disagree, but that just makes no sense to me. I mean, obviously it presents a threat, but I don't get why. I truly, truly don't. Like, my mom loves for my brother and his family to come to her church on Sunday, and she parades my nephew around, and brags on him, and shows him off to everybody. I wonder if I had a husband, and a child that we adopted, if she would be quite so willing to put herself out there and so eager to show off our child, and say, "This is my son and his husband's daughter," and have to endure people's looks, questions, and whispers. Somehow, I doubt it. No matter how proud she might be, I just don't think she would have the strength to do that.

And it's fine. That's why I'll never live there (well, one reason among many), but I wonder if that would make sense to my mom. She thinks gay people wanting to raise children is radical. If she's gonna freak out if I kiss my boyfriend goodbye in the driveway of her house (because someone might see), well, then I'm fairly certain she would be pretty uncomfortable with the idea of my bringing home someone I call a husband, and our children, and sitting together in a pew at her small, conservative-ish church.

It's not that she's not supportive, it's just that, well, maybe it is radical. But it shouldn't be. And I think that's what Ventura is arguing in this article: that someday, probably sooner rather than later, it won't be so radical. The generation that thinks gay people have to be single, childless and alone their whole lives will someday all be gone, replaced with a new generation who takes gay families for granted. When I mentioned to my mom recently that I did want a family, and I did want kids someday, she gave me an utterly perplexed look, and said something along the lines of, "Well, you're gonna have to find a woman in order to do that." Well, yes, I suppose so technically. It's just not something people of her generation expect gay people to do, thus, she doesn't understand why it would be so difficult for me to live in Rogers, Arkansas. Not to mention, I'd just kill myself from boredom.

Ventura ends the article (and this is where he really won me over) with a quote from my favorite writer, James Baldwin, and a little nugget of real hope:

In 1953, James Baldwin, a gay African-American, wrote the most telling sentence of the 20th century: "The world is white no longer, and it will never be white again." He was right; the primacy of white power was soon to end. Now marriage and gender are no longer defined strictly by heterosexuals. Heterosexuals will not cease to be the majority, but – an enormous sea change in human history! – they have ceased to be the sole "official" definers of sexuality. Eventually this will expand our relationships in ways we cannot imagine. We've embarked, as a species, upon unmapped spectrums of sex. Baldwin would be pleased that half a century later his sentence could be refashioned to read: "The world is heterosexual no longer, and it will never be heterosexual again."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The rent's high, and the war's on, and it's last call; even your friends look worried.

Just when you think conservatives (Republicans, ahem) can't go any lower...they do!

First, Rush Limbaugh claims the Virginia Tech killer was clearly a liberal, with his head full of liberal, anti-rich propaganda. Never mind that he was actually a paranoid schizophrenic, but that's all semantics. Rush by far takes the cake for stooping to the lowest low possible to spin a horrific, mind-numbing tragedy for political gain. I mean, seriously, the guy is a sociopath! Rush, that is. It completely boggles the mind. Besides, I thought all liberals were the rich and elite.

Secondly, Guiliani yesterday said that if a Democrat is elected President in 2008, we can start expecting a lot more attacks equal to, or that rival, 9/11. Is anybody buying this anymore? Really? Anyone?

Third, in an interview released today, Laura Bush claimed that no one suffers over the Iraq war more than she and the President do. There's nothing to even say in response to that. The really sad part of it is, I think she really believes it. Except, well, it's weird that they would be suffering so much over one little bombing a day! It's just one bomb.

And lastly, on a somewhat more entertaining note, I want to direct anyone that hasn't yet seen it to my friend Dylan's little call and response to the always charming Dinesh D'Souza.

It's been a great week in the good ole U S of A, folks. Just the kind of week that makes you wonder what you're still doing here.

On the plus side, I only have 2 days of school left this semester.

Monday, April 23, 2007

90's Nostalgia (Come on over, and do the twist)

A few nights ago I pulled down Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield off Kurt's shelf and decided to read it. It was a quick read and I got through it in about 3 nightly pre-bed sittings. It was an incredibly sweet and sad little esoteric slice of someone's real life. In fact, once he started writing about his wife dying, I actually began crying so hard I had to put the book aside and collect myself - twice! A book has never done that to me before.

He has an entire chapter on widows/widowers and what it means to be one in our society, and he incorporates it into the coolest chapter I've ever read about Jackie Kennedy.

Granted, I've never read anything about Jackie Kennedy, but maybe I should now start. He writes about her in the context of being the most famous widow of all time, and how she refused to leave the White House after JFK died, which sounded sort of familiar.

He also writes this paragraph, which I think is one of the most brilliant things I've ever read about pain and grief:

It's the same with people who say, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Even people who say this must realize that the opposite is true. What doesn't kill you maims you, cripples you, makes you weak, makes you whiny and full of yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you incredibly annoying.

I love it.

He ends the book, basically, by giving a retrospective converage of the excitment of the 90's music scene, and now, how weird it all seems in retrospect. It's some of the best 90's nostalgia I've ever read, and did make me feel very nostalgic for my youth. Which I guess I've been feeling a lot lately.

I really wish I still had all the seemingly hundreds of mix tapes I've ever made and/or received over the years. What a trip that would be to listen to those.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What I really mean: I wish you were here.

Despite being a 30-year old man, silly little things really freak me out sometimes. Like David Cronenberg's film The Brood, about a genetically engineered breed of mutant, murderous little kids who hide in people's kitchen cabinets and jump out and attack them when they least expect it. After watching that movie, everytime I came home from anywhere, I had to check all of my cabinets and closets, usually with my boyfriend on the phone with me, just in case I were to be attacked. I'm not sure what he could have done through the telephone, but at least someone would know. He was patient with me, despite sighing and saying, "Ryan, you're almost a thirty-year-old man." This went on for about a week.

When I was a little kid, one random day my pet dog decided to stand at the threshold of the bathroom, stare up at the light fixture and bark and growl incessantly at it. But if you tried to coax him into the bathroom (or worse, push him in there), he would freak out and run away, only to return some time later and resume his barking without ever actually going into the bathroom. This lasted about 3 days, and my entire family was, of course, convinced that we were being visited by some kind of poltergeist or ghost. As a child it both enthralled and terrified me, and despite not having any real feelings one way or another on God, ever since then I have been a firm believer in the supernatural. You know, they say animals can sense this stuff, and they know, and they do their best to protect you (like bark and growl at the bathroom, and try to warn you not to go in there). I don't know what an evil spirit would have wanted in our home, and why they wouldn't bother to wreack (sp?) anymore havoc than tormenting our dog, but there you go. I'm convinced it was real.

I hadn't thought about this in a long time, until last night. It was my seventh night of house-sitting for Kurt and Meredith, and thus far, I've been surprisingly comfortable in their home, and not at all freaked out by stuff at night. It helps having a hyper, noisy dog around to keep the bad guys away.

Or, to completely freak you out and convince you there's a ghost in the doorway of the bedroom.

I got home late from work last night (around 11) and did my usual nightly activities (showering, pouring some wine, and settling in to a big comfy chair to read a bit before bed), leaving Ruby (the dog) outside a bit longer before corralling her in for the evening.

When she came in, she immediately crawled up into her sleeping chair and laid her head down, but a moment later, suddenly jerked it up and began staring in the direction of the bathroom/bedroom. It was such a sudden movement that I noticed her doing it, so I watched her. She stared. She perked up her ears, without for a moment moving her eyes. I called her name, but she just glanced my way, then turned immediately back towards the bathroom/bedroom.

She had a chew toy between her paws so I picked it up and threw it in the direction of the bedroom/bathroom to see if she would go get it (as she always, always, always does). She didn't.

Chills went over my entire body.

Finally, after a moment, she slowly got out of the chair, meandered over to where the toy lay, hesitated a moment, then picked it up and trotted back over to me.

I tossed it again, and this time she went to get it, but about two feet in front of it, stopped and continued to stare at the bedroom door.

She slowly walked towards it, picked it up, and walked back over to me.

I swear to God, she turned around, actually turned her head, to look back at the door.

I wasn't interested in performing any more experiments, and watched her behavior as she left the toy, crawled back up in her chair, laid down her head and went to sleep.

I read for a few more minutes to observe her behavior and try to take my mind off the fact that I might be attacked in the night by some unholy apparition lurking in the bedroom.

But eventually my fatigue got the best of me, and I braved my way to the bedroom, where I immediately regressed to childhood by covering my whole body, including my head, with the blankets. So, you know, the ghosts wouldn't find me.

I guess they decided to leave me alone, as I'm still here this morning, and Ruby is back to being her loud, rowdy self. But I haven't been that freaked out in a long time. It was the kind of freaked out where the hair stands up on your neck and your breathing gets shallow. I have chills now just writing it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Damn, maybe I should be looking into Duke!!

Does any other undergraduate institution make calendars of their rugby teams, that have players that look like this!??!?

I joined their Facebook group! Ha.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

God, it's about time straight men realized that boxers are just about the unsexiest thing ever!

The NYT today had a really cute article about what gay men have known for centuries: cute underwear is so cute! Well, really the article is about the rise in popularity among straight men in "fashion briefs" in the last couple of years.

I've always been a briefs man myself (I went through a very, very brief period when I was a freshmen in college of wearing boxers, but it was short-lived), and always preferred them on everyone else as well. And though I have my share of "fashion briefs," (in fact, I probably have far too many pairs of far too expensive underwear, and I'm actually sitting here in a pair of American Apparel underwear as we speak; grey ones) there's something about the little grey waistband of Hanes and Fruit of the Looms, with their simple gray, blue, and black colors that I find really hot. I will admit, though, that I only very recently retired my collection of tightie-whities. Which, as anyone who reads me regularly knows, were once my very favorite. It takes a special kind of man to pull off the white briefs, though.

Okay, I've rambled on about underwear for long enough....

The real irony of this, for me, is that "Death Proof" is the first Tarantino movie I've ever been able to sit through, much less liked!

But apparently, I'm somewhat of a loner in that opinion.

This article kind of makes me shudder, for various reasons.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What if I started making everyone call me Dr. Cox?

I had a meeting today after class with my Counseling professor about my grad school plans. I've been feeling a lot of confusion about what, exactly, the best route is for what I want. So many Counseling Master's degrees are different from one another, and have different specialties, and some are in Psychology departments, some are in Liberal Arts & Sciences departments, some are in Education departments.

So I reiterated exactly what I want (I just want to have my own little practice someday, with my own little office with a plaque on the door where I have clients that come and see me for average developmental and personality issues, like anxiety or depression. I'm not too interested in working with the seriously ill like schizophrenics or people with bi-polar disorder or whatever. As noble as that is, it's just not in me.)

After expressing my complete disinterest at this point in getting a PhD due to my complete and utter disinterest in research and science, she asked me if I'd ever considered a PsyD.

Well no, actually, I hadn't. I wasn't even sure what a PsyD was.

So she explained that it was very similar to a PhD in that it was a doctoral degree, and took about the same amount of time to attain (an average of 5 years), but instead of focusing so heavily on research and science, it focuses on clinical/counseling work. In other words, hands-on counseling training instead of working in a lab or spending all day in libraries. And you still get to be a doctor!

I have to say, the idea is extremely tempting. And as she said, simply getting a Master's is perfectly viable and legitimate for what I want to do, and there's no shame in it, but that having that "Doctor" in front of your name really does set you apart. And opens lots more doors, including professorial opportunities. Which, she added, can be very helpful in cushioning your income and skills a little bit while you practice, especially when you're starting out. Because just up and starting your own practice isn't as easy as people think it is.

She then went on to tell me that she truly believes I'll make a great therapist. I really put people at ease, she said, and I was open, and warm, and approachable. She added, "You're very real," and honest, and that makes people want to open up to me. She also said that there was not a single doubt in her mind that I was capable of doing excellent doctoral work, and that she would recommend me to anyone.

It was such an awesome thing for her to say, I was sort of flying all day. And I know she wouldn't say it if she didn't mean it. She's not one to blow smoke.

(Can I also just add that it feels so incredible to finally find that thing that really makes me tick. That thing that I feel confident about excelling in, that I have no problem seeing in my future, and that makes me feel secure and sure of myself, and inspires people to say things to me like what my professor said. People don't say that to people who haven't found what they were meant to do yet. It's like a huge load being lifted.)

So anyway. All of this has really got me thinking, and after spending months narrowing down grad school options, I've now begun all over again with a separate list of schools that offer PsyD programs (which are very few, I might add; most just offer PhD's). In fact, I spent about 2 hours this afternoon on Google looking at schools. With a new Excel spreadsheet open. The idea of 6(!) more years in school (including one more year at St. Eds) is a daunting prospect, but I think in the end it would pay off. And you start practicing your second year of graduate school at most places. And teaching. So, I've got some serious decisions to make. And fairly soon.

Also, I offically registered for the GRE today. I'm taking it on May 30th. Oy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Well, we made it onto CNN this morning, but not for anything good.

Some of you may have heard that shortly after 8 am today the Main Building at St. Edwards was evacuated (where I happened to have just arrived for class, actually on time for once) due to a vague bomb threat. Soon thereafter, the rest of campus was evacuated and locked down temporarily, while everyone was corralled to the soccer fields, away from buildings, and where we could all be in the open. Classes were cancelled for the whole day for campus to be searched and secured. I'm sure it was nothing, and I just saw it as an opportunity to go home at 9:30 on a day I normally don't get home until almost 1.

I've written before about how much I love my counseling professor (in fact, more than once), but today she just really drove it home. This afternoon she sent out this email to all of her students:

Hi, gang ..

It occurred to me, as I was standing outside near the soccer field this
morning, that some of you might prefer not to be on campus today or
tonight. There are lots of reasons for feeling this way, but the one that
comes to mind right away is simply not feeling safe. After the shooting
at Virginia Tech yesterday and the bomb threat this morning, some of you
may be feeling that things seem a bit out of control.

If that's the case for you and you'd rather spend the night somewhere else
tonight, please know that you're invited to my house. I have some extra
mattresses and lots of floor space. Bring your favorite DVD and pillow
and come on out. We'll pop some popcorn and watch movies, very informal.
I'll include directions at the end of this email. Since I have a supper
engagement, I'll leave a house key under the back doormat. Make yourself
at home. I'll be home around 7:30. Make yourself at home if you get
there before I get back.

I understand that most of you may be doing fine. But I wanted you to have
an option if you're feeling unsafe. Let me know if you think you'll be
coming out.

Hang in there,

Helen J.

She then included very specific directions to her house.

God! How sweet is she? I almost want to go just to go hang out with her.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Scars on my heart

I've only listened to the new Lucinda Williams record all the way through once since getting it as a gift from my brother for my birthday, but so far, one track, "Are You Alright" has really stood out to me. The album was written in the aftermath of a traumatic breakup and the death of her mother, within the same year, so naturally, it's incredibly sad and introspective.

"Are You Alright" is one of those rare, incredibly bittersweet broken heart songs penned for a former lover, just hoping that they've managed okay. It's a song that's written past the real heartbreak, past the anger, and resentment, and just gets to the heart of the matter, which is that she simply misses him. He's vanished from her life, as former lovers are so often wont to do, and she thinks of him fondly. She even hopes that he's found someone new to hold him and make him feel good. The chorus goes like this:

Are you sleeping through the night?
Do you have someone to hold you tight?
Do you have someone to hang out with?
Do you have someone to hug and kiss you,
Hug and kiss you,Hug and kiss you?
Are you alright?

I really like how undramatic the song is; it's a wistful plea for a "sign," and an acknowledgement that her lover might be as lonely as she is. Or he might be incredibly happy. Either way, she just hopes that he's okay. It's about forgiveness and moving on, but still always having that little ache always present in your heart when someone you truly loved has come and gone.

Someday I'm going to compile a top 10 or 20 list of the saddest songs ever. This will be on it, along with "Good Woman" from Cat Power's Free record. Sometimes I swear I just sit in the dark with that song on repeat until it makes me cry. Eddie Vedder's background vocals, verging on that thin line of cracking and holding it together, make me shiver everytime I hear it.

Oh, this will be fun! I want readers to either email me or leave a comment about what songs they think are the saddest, or always get them choked up when they hear. This will be fun. Then maybe I'll take the results and make a Saddest Mix Ever or something.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's Official!!

I haven't signed the contract, but I have (un)officially accepted a job at Camp Pinnacle. I'm going to be the camp photographer, and basically just be in charge of taking 50-60 photos a day, and attend as many of the various events as I can, and take pictures of every kid.

There are two 4-week sessions, one for all girls, and one for all boys, each one containing about 150 campers. Each night I'll have to upload and edit all the pictures onto the website, label them with the campers' names (which means I have to learn who every kid is), and every 2 days or so, write a little newsletter about the goings-on of the camp, all for the parent's benefit. They log onto the website and track everything their kids do (seriously, what the hell did people do before the internet? How did people communicate? Smoke signals? It seems crazy).

The tentative dates that I'll be gone are pretty much exactly eight weeks: June 5th to August 5th.

It's especially cool that I'm going to this particular camp, too, because I'll probably get to see Matt fairly frequently, and my whole family is going to Knoxville, and then to the Biltmore in Asheville, so I'll probably get to hook up with all of them at some point, too. It'll be a fun summer.

I'm very, very excited. Hopefully it will all turn out better than this camp did.

The Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I'm not really sure what color day I was born on, to be honest....

For my birthday on Sunday, I received a rather large (and unexpected) sum of money from my parents, so on Monday, I decided to go splurge a little bit and took myself down to the shiny new Borders Books near my parents' house, and actually bought a new hardback! Of course, I also had about $7 in gift cards left over from Christmas, so that helped as well.

The book I bought was one I've been wanting for awhile, a memoir by Daniel Tammet, the brilliant autistic savant that I wrote about back in February called Born on a Blue Day. The book is a very quick read, and totally fascinating, if not incredibly well-written, but that's all right. I'm not done with it yet, but I'm almost there, due to a good 4 hours of traveling back to Texas on Monday.

Anyway, the point is, when I started my Abnormal Psychology class this semester, my professor warned us that studying all these mental illnesses up close, we would probably gradually begin to apply all of these broad, generalized, and often vague symptoms to ourselves and start to think we were going crazy, or had scizophrenia or something.

Well, I think I'm autistic. I mean, it is possible to be just a little bit autistic, right? Well, except in my case, without the superior intelligence or any discernible gifts or talents.

Reading Mr. Tammet's book, I've been struck throughout it by how similar we are in our behaviors and mannerisms. Or so it seems; it's difficult to get a good grasp of what someone is really like be reading about them.

We both felt tremendous amounts of anxiety as children, beginning as early as we can both remember, and we were both terrified of the other kids, even before we had a reason to be.

As children, and largely as adults, we both found/find emotions to be completely overwhelming, and have a really hard time dealing with them, putting them into perspective, and they cause us great anxiety.

We both have tremendous difficulty concentrating or focusing on a task for very long.

We're both self-professed bad conversationalists. Which is weird to me, because it seems like people find it naturally easy to open up to me, and I've never quite figured out why until yesterday, when I was thinking about this, and I realized I think it's because I don't ever know what to say to people. In conversations, the other person generally does a lot of talking (at least from my perspective; I could be completely mistaken) and I just sit there, taking it in. Generally. But I think people generally just want an active ear, and my lack of communication skills makes me a good listener, so there you go.

We're both very easily overstimulated, especially around people and crowds, and usually prefer to stay in for that very reason. For both of us, noise is the greatest source of overstimulation.

I, too, am kind of obsessed with numbers, but not to the degree that Daniel Tammet is, obviously. But I constantly count things in my head, and if there are multiple items of the same thing (like candle holders on the back of my toilet), they either have to be in an even number, or shaped in such a way that being odd numbers is okay, like in a pyramid shape.

I also do this thing in my head with letters, that I've done ever since high school, when I did it with a stop sign while sitting at an intersection, and I just never stopped doing it. It doesn't seem all that weird to me, but when I've told people that I do it, and that I do it constantly, like, sometimes to the point that it starts to make me crazy, people always freak out. What I do is take words in my head and rearrange the letters of the word so that they're in alphabetical order. This happens generally when I see signs, billboards or advertisements. Sometimes it even distracts me when I drive, because I'm too busy putting all the letters in a billboard in alphabetical order to drive properly. For instance, if I see the word "grocery," I immediately put the letters in order, like:

Or highway:

Or house:

Or Dallas:

And I can do it instantaneously, within a blink of an eye, almost any word. Which, needless to say, sometimes even makes reading difficult, because, especially if I'm stressed out already or feeling anxious, I'll just start doing that with all the words on the page. I do it almost the entire time I'm at work, ringing up people's groceries, running words and letters in my head. Sometimes even while I'm talking to them.

But ultimately, I guess everybody has their own little weird things that they do, and eccentricities. I suppose rather than admitting I'm just sort of dumb, socially awkward, and have poor coping skills, I'd rather blame it on a learning disability.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

April is Counseling Awareness Month.

April is National Drug & Alcohol Dependency Awareness Month.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and Child Abuse Prevention Month.

April is International Guitar Month, Foot Health Awareness Month, and Holocaust Remembrance Month.

April is also Occupational Therapy Month, STD Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Welding Month!

Celebrities born on April 8th:
Patricia Arquette
Betty Ford
Julian Lennon
Kofi Annan
Biz Markie
Robin Wright Penn
Tom Delay
John Madden
Izzy Stradlin
Seymour Hersh

And some people who died on April 8th:
Kurt Cobain (well, technically he died on the 4th)
Pablo Picasso
Ryan White


Positive Traits: pioneering, adventurous, energetic, courageous, enterprising, confident, dynamic, quick-witted and freedom-loving

Negative Traits: selfish, quick-tempered, impulsive, impatient, foolhardy and undiplomatic

Likes: action, challenge, spontaneity, championing causes and coming in first

Dislikes: waiting, tyranny, failure, lack of opposition and the advice of others

Suitable Future Careers:
Medicine - Dentistry - Art - Music - Entertainment - Social Work - Advertising
Psychiatry - Engineering - Electronics - Sales - Armed Forces

In essence, Aries governs leadership and initiative, as well as using energy to make things happen. Aries subjects are vital, instinctual and forever young...the perpetual Children of the Zodiac who are constantly in search of identity. These are joyful, dynamic, assertive, outspoken and brave individuals who celebrate life, but who can also be intolerant, impatient, impulsive and overly-emotional. There is a deficient capacity here for self-reflection and a tendency to take ill-considered risks. Those born under the Sign of Aries should strive to direct their power toward mature and constructive ends, as well as attempting to master the slow process of self-education, if they are to bring to fruition the projects they begin with such elemental enthusiasm.

The Aries male is ambitious, hardworking and successful. Perhaps this man's most irritating fault is contradiction. He possesses much knowledge and heaven help the individual who gets his or her facts wrong. The male ruled by Aries plans for the future with a view toward an exciting and progressive life. Although romantic at heart, there is sometimes no pleasing this man, but he is constant and true by nature. As a sweetheart, he will almost certainly want to be the center of his loved one's attention and probably take it for granted that he is. He adores fun and can be utterly charming. Flattery works well with this man because he can take a virtually infinite amount...provided he does not suspect it is a line. As a life partner, he is warm-hearted but somewhat bossy, and probably prefers a career in the armed forces or as a managing director. At home, the man governed by this Sign likes to be waited on hand-and-foot but in return, he is ready and willing to fight for the best for his loved ones.

A distinguished and desirable soul, the Aries male is somewhat fussy by nature and rather exacting in his dealings with others. His romantic mental picture often demands perfection. Conventional in thought, this man expects a high moral standard from loved ones, regardless of his own private irregularities, which may be manifested in the form of an isolated adventurous fling. Outspoken to a fault, the male governed by Aries refuses to hide anything he feels like doing. Somewhat physically demanding in arena of romance, he will look elsewhere if not gratified. Ardent, proud and brimming with personality, this male is likely to remain a romantic soul throughout his entire life. He does possesses a rather voracious appetite in that regard, which he refuses to sublimate. No substitution devotion will satisfy the Aries man, but a partner can gain his everlasting faithfulness if there is physical harmony.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

And Texas is the place I dearly love to be.

I'm back in Arkansas this weekend to celebrate Easter and my birthday with my family. While it's always nice to see my family, being back in Arkansas, in the town where I grew up and spent the first 19 years of my life, is also always a little emotionally...disorienting. I don't want to say taxing, really, because it's not really that, but it's a sense of unease, a feeling of dislocation. I have a lot of extremely mixed emotions regarding this place, as I'm sure most people do who deliberatly leave their hometowns, not just for something a little different, but in order to even be able to live this kind of life they want to live in peace. I guess, having said that, it's a little ironic that I ended up in Texas, not at all by accident. Well, that's not entirely true; I did end up in Austin slightly by accident, but I had lived in Dallas 2 years before that, and that was quite planned.

I recently really let loose on a fellow blogger, whose blog I've been reading for awhile, for his constant Texas-bashing. See, the guy used to live in Texas, and he's gay, and an oh-so-enlightened liberal, and now he lives in Boston, which is the center of the fucking universe, and he writes column after column about how wretched Texas is, and how everyone who lives here is from hell, and how everyone in Boston hung the fucking moon, and they're so evolved up there.

I should have been more restrained, I guess, but the fact that he lives in Boston, I have to say, is somewhat of sore spot for me too, as I had to listen, for a whole year from my ex-boyfriend, about how lame Austin is, and how Boston is the best place in the world. My ex-boyfriend was from Boston, and moved here for work, for any of you reading who might not know that.

So he (my ex) was someone who came to Texas, not quite involuntarily (he had to make a decision), but this wouldn't have been the first place he would have chosen to live. As it is with this particular blogger I got so angry at. He moved here for work, had a terrible experience, and then got another job in Boston. Fine, dude. Let it go. Now he's made it his personal mission to denigrate and feel superior to everyone who might choose to call Texas home.

And I have chosen to call Texas home. The blogger makes some valid points about Texas, in terms of our miserable health care, sky-high poverty rates, poor quality of education, and the fact that our beloved governor Rick Perry, who somehow keeps getting re-elected by somebody, in 2005 publically suggested that gay people should find some other place besides Texas to live. I'm willing to concede those points.

But if that's the route you want to take, then you could look at America's federal government, and say the same thing, as over the last 6 years, we sure have had a pretty miserable showing in every area as well. Although I guess in 2004, a lot of people, myself included, did lament that maybe we should find another country to call home, but then we recovered from our national hangover, pulled up our boot straps, and decided to keep on keeping on, fighting the Good Fight.

I love Texas, and in most respects, Texas has been very good to me. I will admit that I live in somewhat of a shelter, I think, in Austin, and don't really have to experience the rest of what Texas has to "offer." Although Mr. Blogger also argues that people are deluded when they say that Austin in "liberal," and cites the fact that it's a white-majority city in a non-white-majority state, but that only 20% of Austin's poor are white people. And somehow that negates its liberalism? I'm not sure how, or what point he's making, but whatever.

I plan to leave Texas soon, but it's not necessarily because I'm unhappy here. I will say I feel like I need a change of scenery, but that has less to do with a dis-like of Texas and more to do with the fact that I've lived in the south all my life, and I just really feel the need to see another part of the country for awhile, to truly experience how other people live. I've done plenty of traveling in my day, but it's not quite the same thing. And another thing I hate to admit, is that Austin has really broken my heart, I mean some real doozies, not once, but twice. I know that you can't just run away from a broken heart, and you especially can't just run away from yourself, but you can take a break for a couple of years. I feel so tired here sometimes, and I think a change of city could revive me, could renew my spirit. Maybe I'm wrong, and until I truly become comfortable with myself, and at peace with my past, I won't be content anywhere. Which I higly suspect, but there you are. Moving is always an adventure. And this particular blogger I argued with also concedes to having had his heart smashed into a million pieces while living here, and freely admits that that situation has colored his feelings about Texas. Which, in my opinion, is all the more reason to call him out on his Texas-bashing. It's short-sighted and bitter. And despite my own bouts of bitterness, I'm doing everything in my power to try to eliminate bitterness from my life. So I've stopped reading the blog.

I'm not sure how I got so off-topic. I think every place has its good and bad points, nor do I think a whole state (or country) should be judged negatively or positively by what its government does, even if those officials have been elected (sometimes over and over and over....). People have different experiences everywhere, and while as a gay man, I have felt pretty assaulted and brutalized a few times while living in Texas, I know I don't suffer alone, and Austin has brought the most wonderful, loving, generous, intelligent, creative, and special people into my life, that I know will be in my life forever. We all ended up here by deliberate choice, and I'm sure none of us appreciate having our adopted state shat on by people living in fucking Massachusetts, of all places. As I once told my ex-boyfriend, people in the rest of the country don't hate people in the northeast because they're all "liberal" (which isn't even true), but because they're all such assholes who think they're so much better than everybody else just because of where they live. Which, I know, is also a gross stereotype. But that's my experience. And the blogger that I attacked can have his experiences. And hopefully we can both do it without hating one another.

I can't say that I would ever come back and live in Arkansas, for lots and lots of reasons. But I can also acknowledge that as much as I don't care for this place, and the things that a lot of people here do, it's where I grew up, and came of age, and I have to acknowledge that it shaped me. And that there are lots of good people here who do good things. And there is incredible nature.

Now, having said that, I'm leaving now to take my nephew bowling.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I'm sort of loath to even draw attention to it, because I think the less attention they get, the better, but I couldn't peel my eyes away.

I've posted the first part of a 7-part BBC documentary on the Phelps (the crazy God Hates Fags family) called The Most Hated Family in America. So far I've only watched the first episode (each one is about 8 minutes) but I'm sure I'll watch them all in time. Or maybe I'll get bored.

Honestly, these people are so nuts, and everybody hates them so much, that they don't get me riled up like people do who actually have any power or influence. If anything, the Phelps probably turn more people sympathetic to the gays than create any more hatred. I just wish people wouldn't engage with them, or have them on talk shows. (Although I guess that makes me a bit of a hypocrite posting this video. Oh well.)

And sadly, if nothing else, I hate them because in the clip they inspire Sean Hannity to actually say something I agree with. And that turns my stomach.

In case anyone had any doubt that the Republicans have always hated the gays.

This guy has started posting pictures on his blog from the archives of ACT UP, commemorating their 20th anniversary this year.

He only has 2 pictures up at the moment, but I like this one a lot, and think it speaks volumes. It's a group of college Republicans staging a counter-protest against ACT UP in 1988, when the AIDS crisis was reaching its cresecendo. In fact, I think the image is almost chilling.