Monday, March 31, 2008

But I'm not drowning....

Tonight, for my thesis, I interviewed a man named Don who runs this place in Georgetown, offering "freedom from homosexuality through jesus christ" or whatever.

We met at Village Inn, just off Exit 261 in Georgetown, at 8pm.

Little did I know I would be there for 2 hours. After my formal questions, we just had a conversation.

And even littler did I know that I would the find the man totally charming, inoffensive, completely open and genuine, and actually quite relaxing to be around.

I opened up to him, and told him quite a bit about my life, and he told me about his. I mean, duh, naturally he's a great big homo who decided to get married when he was 27 because he needed stability in his life. He's now 50-something with 5 grown kids and claims to be totally happy and content, despite still struggling with temptation. And I only got testy and confrontational with him a couple of times.

My instinct is to mock him, and I do think he's mostly full of shit, but it's shit he genuinely believes. And you know what else? I really liked the guy.

I practically had to pry myself away from him (as in, he wouldn't stop talking, even out in the parking lot when I was trying to walk away), and I got in the car in a really good mood, albeit a bit mystified.

But on the way home, as I replayed bits and pieces of our conversation through my head, I started getting really depressed.

During our conversation I told him how much I resented his saying that "a gay life rarely ever works out for anyone," and his refusal to lay any blame on gay people's dysfunction at the feet of a society that makes little boys (and little dykes) hate and fear themselves if they don't fit the mold 100%. I told him how awful it is that he perpetuates a hateful culture where spiritual fulfillment and sexual fulfillment have to be mutually exclusive.

I felt sad for him. He talked openly about his struggles, even now into his 50's, and how he wished someone had told him when he was in his 20's that it was okay.

Even now, though, thinking about him, I have a renewed spirit. I want to prove him wrong. I can get more pessimistic than anyone I know about love, and men, and fulfillment, but when someone else tells me I'll never have that because of who I inherently am, well, all those negative thoughts I have disappear.

All I see is a sad man who gave up. To each his own. If denying his true spirit and getting married to a woman was the path for him, so be it. I do hope he's happy.

Tomorrow I'm going to interview my old therapist for the opposite side of the argument. We haven't spoken in over 2 years, and I'm really looking forward to seeing him again.

Tomorrow night, American Idol is doing a Dolly Parton tribute night. With Ms. Parton herself in attendance.

If you think I'm not DVR'ing that shit, you're sadly mistaken.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

oh god you owe me one more song so I can prove to you that I'm so much better than him

I came home on Saturday afternoon to get ready for work and when I checked the mail, saw that I had a letter from Wright (the school I interviewed at in Berkeley). My hands trembled as I held the letter and I didn't have the guts to open it. I considered waiting until after work, but then decided work would be interminable if I did that.

So I called my mom and asked if she would open it with me over the phone, which she happily did. Turns out it was a big, fat "NO! We don't want you. Sorry, best of luck." I didn't even make the wait list.

My heart deflated. For several hours, I was so upset I wanted to die. I moped around work, not making eye contact with anyone and contemplated my future in retail and one-room efficiencies until I drank myself to death. I silently fumed and wondered why I never get anything I want, ever, and why everything in the whole world has to be so goddamn hard, and why can't anything ever just be easy? Just once?

But once I got my moping out of my system I faced some reality. One of which is that if I was really honest with myself, I had some serious doubts that Wright was really the place for me. Secondly, doctorate programs are notoriously competitive, fickle and esoteric. Thirdly, I was more angry at myself for not applying to more schools and putting all my eggs in 2 baskets. Fourth, I think I was less upset at not getting in than I was at the prospect of having to be stuck in Austin for another year, and not only that, having to go through all the trouble and expense of applying to more schools.

But I have one more phone interview on Tuesday with Pacific, which was my #1 choice anyway. And the idea of living in Portland is far more appealing to me than the idea of living in Berkeley anyway.

But if I bomb that, then yes, Austin, you have me for another year. Lucky you. And truthfully, it wouldn't kill me to take a year off and just work and try to save some money. In fact, I've already started applying to full-time jobs. Just in case.

There is some degree of humility involved in all of this, though. I remember when I first started therapy, I told my therapist I wanted to go to grad school at Harvard (who the fuck was I kidding....), and of course he saw right through me and knew that I didn't really want to go to grad school at Harvard, I just wanted the validation. And for what? Because in most circles, your educational background is what earns you respect. If I'm still kicking myself for not at least trying to go to Sarah Lawrence, or Vassar, or Brown, or NYU, or wherever, as an undergraduate, well then by god, it's important to me to go to good schools as an adult. I know it's silly, but getting rejected by schools feels to me like being denied admission to exclusive clubs, even after the other members of the club went so far out of their way to make you feel like you belonged, but then shut the door in your face.

Interestingly enough, a Since You Asked column in Salon last week dealt with this very topic, and I think Cary is even more cynical about it than I am:

The Ivy League scions of empire whom you so admire will leave you standing in the snow by the side of the road when the fun is over. You will think there must have been some misunderstanding. But there was no misunderstanding. The car was full of other Ivy Leaguers so they left you in the snow by the side of the road ... like a slave, or a nanny, or a field hand.

Sometimes I just look back at my life and see nothing but failure. Failure to go to the right school; failed job attempts; failed and disastrous relationships; bad credit problems; totally fucking up the only one or two things in my life that I've ever found fulfilling; falling far short of my own (not unreasonable) educational goals while finishing school (i.e., not getting the grades I feel like I should have gotten).

And not getting into the schools I want to go to feels like one more notch on that bedpost of disappointment.

I know I'm being hyperbolic, and as my mom and a wonderful friend both told me last night, it just means that the real, correct decision has yet to present itself, and eventually, I'll be really thankful I didn't get in to Wright. I don't really believe all that mumbo-jumbo about fate, because it implies some kind of universal control over my life of which I'm unaware and that the entire universe isn't just totally random and meaningless, but it sounds nice. And I know I'll end up somewhere, eventually (if not Pacific, then somewhere else next year), and I'll be happy there.

But, still, I have to admit: the rejection stings. And not the least because I know I'm going to be so good at this. It's just a matter of convincing other people of that.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

If more evangelicals looked like this guy, perhaps I'd be more interested in actually talking to them instead of just hating them

Jonathan Merritt is a young spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention championing a new set of principles for environmental care and concern.

Good for him.

Because of the national press the resolution he co-authored has received, hundreds of prominent Southern Baptists have signed on.

Of course, he graduated with a degree in biology from Falwell's university so he probably doesn't even believe in evolution. That's too bad, because he has a damn nice haircut.

What a waste.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Seems like old times

Tonight Tom and I were walking south along the Drag about 10:00 when a car full of girls sped by us and one of them leaned out the back window and screamed "Cocksuckers!" and laughed hysterically.

The following conversation went like this:

Tom: That was clever.

Me: That was clever. It's like they know us.

Tom: Maybe it was one of our friends.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The seasons escape you

Ever since I started delving into psychology scholastically, I've become fascinated with the idea of identity: how it's created, what it means, how your environment or social life affects it. Almost all of the research I've done in school has been about identity and self-perception in one way or another: transexuality (nature v. nurture), how orientation and perception affect romantic relationships, conversion therapy (kind of nature v. nurture again). I even largely chose what grad schools I wanted to go to based on their philosophies of identity and the social realm. I guess a lot of that really cuts to the heart of psychology as a science. A vague and tenuous science, but a science nonetheless.

So I've been thinking a lot about the role that therapy plays in all of that, especially while I've been writing my thesis, and strangely, become more open-minded towards the idea of conversion therapy than I was before I started my research. I mean, I still think the agenda is bullshit, but as a pure science and form of therapeutic treatment, I actually find it really interesting and that proponents make a couple of valid points. But only a couple. It's still not something I would support or advocate, but it has set me thinking.

People go to therapy for all kinds of reasons. Largely, whatever kind of goals you want to achieve determines what kind of therapy you go to. Most people don't put that much thought into it, and the typical therapy client probably wouldn't even be able to tell you that there are multiple schools of therapy for all kinds of different purposes. Most conventional therapists today practice cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is just a short-term exploration of your bad habits and negative thought patterns and concrete actions you can do to change them to improve your life. In a nutshell. For my money, this is the most valid form of therapy, and what I intend to mostly practice myself. I used to be very into this idea of "exploration" and trying to go backwards in one's life and pinpoint exactly where every little thing went wrong and its origin.

Not so much anymore. I think that it can often be valuable to try to unlock some of the mysteries of your subconscious and try to find those blocks you've developed, or why you might always act out in certain ways that are harmful. But it can also just lead you in circles and create a lot more questions than it answers, when what really matters is the here-and-now and how to get your life back on track. CBT is a very pragmatic form of therapy.

So in the last year or so I've taken on a little personal project of my own. I've tried to do my best to feel less. Just in general. I've made it a personal mission to try to dull my emotions, not to the point of apathy or inertia, but just to where I can easily brush them aside if need be.

Sometimes I desperately want to be one of those people that nothing affects. Or maybe just one of those people who can get sad about something, go lay in bed, have a good cry, then be done with it.

Nope, not me. I dwell. And dwell. And dwell. And always imagine the worst case scenario, no matter the scenario.

So I think that was one reason I started drinking so heavily a year or so ago. I just wanted to experience nothingness, I think, without having to do heroin or overdose on Xanax.

But by engaging in this little experiment, am I betraying my true nature or just adapting? Obviously, drinking my feelings into obliteration 5 nights a week isn't adapting, it's just called repressing, and that benefits no one. But I've learned my lesson from that, which is that it just makes everything worse. I get depressed when I get drunk, but for some reason I just kept doing it over and over and over anyway. Maybe so I could blame my awful feelings on the drink, not on the fact that they already existed and I wasn't allowing myself to feel them while sober.

So alcohol is not the key to being comfortably numb. Necessarily. Anyway, I no longer get hysterical, or particularly panic-stricken, or vengefully full of rage. Or even really cry all that much, except in stupid movies. Whether this is a function of 2 years of alcoholism, or maturity, or simply a newfound apathy, I'm not sure. But I will say that it feels better. Feeling less is a good feeling.

But have I really altered my inherent nature? That's hard to say because I don't really know what my inherent nature is, and the answer to that question probably lies somewhere within the answer to the question posed in the preceeding paragraph.

But it's kind of like cognitive-behavioral therapy, I guess. Would an opponent of conversion therapy argue that learning to alter destructive behavior and thought patterns in CBT is just a milder form of what's practiced in conversion therapy?

This is probably a stupid question, and yeah, I guess it is kind of the same thing. It's like how proponents of conversion therapy compare it to drug abuse: you go to rehab to kick drug abuse and if you never, ever use drugs again, you're no longer a drug user, even if you might want to use drugs again at some point but don't. It's a stupid and weak analogy, but might the tendency toward substance abuse be just as strong a drive in a person as sexuality? Maybe, but one (sexuality) is an arguably inborn personality trait, while the other (a propensity toward drug abuse) is a maladaptive, learned behavior.

So we all have our biology that's inescapable. But our reactions to it are not. As a magnet that my mother has hanging on her refrigerator says: "Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it."

So true, Mom, so true.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dude, nice totally attack some college girl asking you a question.

I mean, seriously, the Clintons need to be stopped. Bill recently did a roundtable discussion with 4 kids at Smith College, and when one of them grilled him about his passing of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, he gets incredibly defensive and tries to turn it back around on the student. Quite aggressively, I might add. He even throws in something about "living in the real world."

God, what an ass.

Afternoon (non)delight

Does anyone else besides me have specific times of day that they just sort of inherently hate? For me, it's the late afternoon/early evening. Between, like, 4pm and dusk is my worst time of day. It's always the time of day I get depressed, or lonely, or really bored. Maybe my grandparents were really on to something when they always took naps this time of day.

The real irony of it is that despite how much I love sunshine and warm weather, I only really hate this time of day during daylight savings time. When we "spring forward" I always kind of dread what I know is coming: more sunlight, longer afternoons, and my afternoons of depression. I don't know why this doesn't affect me in the winter in the same way, but it doesn't. It's almost like reverse SAD. Although I'm not sure either of those really apply when we're talking about winter in Central Texas.

I love the morning, and I love nighttime (for the most part). Another reason I hate daylight savings time is because it's often still dark when I wake up in the mornings, which is never any good. I like to be dragged from bed by the sun (and a strong pot of coffee).

Of course, between 4pm and dusk is also the hottest part of the day, it's the part of the day when traffic is the worst, and it's the part of the day when you start getting tired. So maybe all of those things affect how I feel too. I first really noticed this when I was living in Dallas, and ever since then it's been an issue.

I can't really explain it. But I know at least one other person who feels the same way I do, and often even takes 2 and 3 hour naps this time of day, because she also gets really depressed in the afternoons. We both got kind of excited when we realized that the other one suffered the same affliction.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Extravagant Demolitions

Urban scientist Mike Davis begins the chapter entitled "Las Vegas Versus Nature" in his depressing, but fascinating, tour through urban renewal and destruction, Dead Cities by pointing out that to make way for the future, Las Vegas blatantly and extravagantly demolishes important pieces of its past. It's urban renewal, Vegas-style. In 1993, the Dunes hotel was blown up, and the dust plume was visible in California. The Sands, of Rat Pack fame, was detonated in 1996. The Hacienda Hotel - on New Year's Eve, 1996.

In greater detail, he extrapolates further as to why Las Vegas, even more than its hideous brethren Los Angeles, represents the very antithesis of smart, thoughtful, humanistic, and sustainable urban planning. It can only represent the end of the line, he basically says, and yet it keeps gobbling up land and resources like the desert parasite that it is. He even contrasts it to the White City of the Chicago World's Fair at the end of 19th century: Las Vegas represents the end the same way the fair was supposed to represent the possibilities of the future.

Each week over 1,000 new residents arrive in Las Vegas, an odd mixture of immigrants seeking jobs and retirees from Southern California seeking gated communities and an escape from the urban turmoil. Per capita, Las Vegas consumes 360 gallons of water per day, compared to L.A.'s 211, or Oakland's 110. 60% of that water use goes to irrigation of lawns and golf courses - in a region of the country that only sees 7 to 8 inches of rainfall per year! Sucking water from nearby Lake Mead has caused groundwater overdrafts that have actually caused ground levels to sink: the Strip, for example, is now several feet lower than it was in 1960, and a few nearby subdivisions have had to be abandoned.

In 1989, the Southern Nevada Water Authority stunned rural Nevadans by laying claim to over 800,000 acre-feet of surface and groundwater rights in 3 neighboring counties, to the degree that a mob of ranchers, miners, farmers, and environmentalists banded together and vowed to blow up any sections of pipeline laid down to steal their water. The Authority has also teamed up with the powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to increase its withdrawal of water from the Colorado River stored in Lake Mead so as to allocate distribution away from agirculture and towards their respective metropolitan regions (which also means hijacking Northern Arizona's water allotment). Meanwhile, large amounts of toxic waste have been found in Lake Mead, and in 1994, 37 people, most of them with AIDS, died from drinking the tap water. The unprecedented growth cannot keep up with water and waste treatment facilities.

In addition, Las Vegas also only gets 4% of its energy from "clean" hydropower: the rest comes from dirty coal-burning plants on the Moapa Indian Reservation and along the Colorado River. LV has the lowest vehicle occupancy rate of any city in the country, in tandem with the "longest per person, per trip, per day ratio." Its smog has already left a cloud over the Grand Canyon. The Lower Colorado River Valley desert landscape has also been seriously degraded and compromised environmentally by its use as a desert base camp of recreation (dune buggies, jet skis, dirt bikes, speed boats) by tourists and weekenders from Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

The term "urban sprawl" was actually coined by sociologist William Whyte, flying from Los Angeles to San Bernadino and looking out the window at "an unnerving lesson in man's infinite capacity to mess up his environment." Las Vegas is blindly and stupidly following in all of Los Angeles' idiotic footsteps in what not to do, including abdicating a rsponsible water ethic; fragmenting local government and subordinating it to private corporate planning; producing a negligible amount of usable public space; dispersing land use over an unnecessarily enormous area; and embraced the resulting "dictatorship" of the automobile, among other things.

Las Vegas has been diabolically split up into sprawling electoral districts to intentionally weaken the power of minorities and working-class voters. Only one-third of the metropolitan region is actually encompassed within the city limits: the Strip, Convention Center, International Airport, and the U of Nevada LV are all located in an unicorporated township named Paradise. Poverty, unemployment and homelessness are all concentrated within the boundaries of LV and North LV. This more easily centralizes land-use decisions in the hands of gaming corporations and giant residential and commercial-strip developers. Hop-scotch patterns of development with no regulation raise the costs of streets, utilities and schools, while covering up any available public-use land (commons areas) with vacant lots. Compared to the recommended national average minimum of 10 acres of common land for every 1,000 residents in most Eastern and Midwestern cities, LV has only 1.4 acres of commons area for every 1,000 residents.

As a result, sprawl is driving everything, from tourism attractions to gated communities, to the very periphery of the city, encroaching more and more upon the fragile desert landscape. The physical possibilities seem endless, with countless edge cities (including, seriously, gated mansions within larger gated communities, upon artificial lakes and major new resorts) popping up to provide exclusive enclaves and "upscale alternatives for Las Vegas."

No small wonder, writes Davis at the end of the chapter, that Las Vegas, with its obsession with sin and excess, is the manifestation for Satan's earthly capital in Stephen King's novel The Stand. No other city in the American West, he concludes, is as driven by occult forces or as unresponsive to social or natural constraints.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Friday Night Specials...."?

Apparently, a former aide to James McGreevey has come forward with assertions that he used to have hot and heavy 3-ways with Gov. McGreevey and his wife before they divorced.

He looks pretty cute, too. And I guess I never noticed that Gov. McGreevey's wife is kinda foxy too! I mean, McGreevey must have a really nice personality, because I'm sorry, he ain't that cute. I mean, he's not a beast, but really, I wouldn't look twice at him on the street.

How do you think it worked? Do you think they took turns with her, or she had a strap-on, they both took turns working over the Guvner?

Okay, sorry. I'm just sort of fascinated as to how two homos would have a 3-way with a woman.

But really, the most baffling part of it all is...why on Earth did they have dinner at T.G.I.Friday's??!?! I mean, that's enough to put anyobody off sex, no matter how attractive the partner....

I mean, open marriages and bisexual 3-ways are one thing. But TGIF? Now that's just tasteless.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I like lists

I've made a pretty hefty decision in the last couple of days that I am no longer going to apply to any Master's programs. It would be a silly waste of time and money. I know I want to get my Doctorate eventually, so why would I waste an extra year or two and that money in the pursuit of something I won't really even use?

Good question.

But which leaves me in a bit of a lurch. Due to being an extreme slacker last semester (and being very poor...), I only ended up applying to two doctoral programs. One of which I just interviewed at, and the other I was soundly rejected by. There are at least 4 or 5 other programs out there in which I'm interested, but due to aforementioned items (being a poor slacker), I never got around to applying to them. So if I don't get in to Wright, it looks like I won't be going to grad school until fall of 2009, instead of this year.

Which fucking sucks. But it also probably wouldn't kill me to take a year off and chill out and save some money.

So I've decided to make a short list of things I need to accomplish in the near future, whether I go to grad school or not.


1. Graduate. With at least 3 A's this semester. I think it's already too late for my science class, but not the other classes.

2. Find a new job, preferably at some kind of health clinic, Planned Parenthood, someting along those lines (anybody know of anything?).

3. Get my bike fixed up and start using it. Often. Instead of driving whenever possible.

4. Eat only grass-fed beef. It is healthy and good for you. If it's not grass-fed, it kills you and kills the earth.

5. Write. All the time. Every day. Start submitting writing to places that might publish it.

6. Write a novella. I'm not going to be so ambitious as to say a novel, but I think a novella is probably doable. This will have to wait until school's over, but it's going to be my summer project. Even if I go to grad school, I'll have a solid 4 months in which to write it. I've already started the outline.

7. Intensely research grants, scholarships, and fellowships, so as to hopefully alleviate some of the financial pain of grad school. And then actually apply for them.

8. Go back to therapy and really start sorting out my internal shit. I'm getting there anyway, but I need therapy. I do. Seriously.

9. Stop watching 3 back-to-back episodes of Will & Grace every night. It's very entertaining, but it's not that good. Especially now, because I've watched it up to the point that Grace left Leo, and she's all sad, and now she and Will are having a baby together and shit. Who cares. I want them to keep being mean, selfish, neurotic, and drinking too much. Otherwise it's not funny. Homos having babies isn't funny. Well, I mean, it sort of is, but not in an intentional way.

10. Once I get out of school, go swimming at least twice a week. Somewhere lovely. Or at Hippie Hollow.

11. Stop being bitter. (See #8.)

12. Get more sleep.

Maybe that is all.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Somehow apropos to San Francisco.... Stuff White People Like. I'm probably late to this party, as usual, but it's funny shit.

The entries on The Wire, Whole Foods, difficult breakups, recycling, bottled water, and knowing what's best for poor people are among my favorites.

If you have, you know, an hour to kill.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunny Days

After a late breakfast this morning (and by "late," I mean at 10:30), Clay and I rented a Zip car and drove to some tourist destinations, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Ghirardelli Square, the wharf, and Lombard Street. Clay's only lived here for a few months, so he hadn't been to a few of those places, either, so it was an adventure for both of us.

After we returned the car, we hopped on some bikes (Clay has 2 bikes) and he gave me a ground-level bike tour of a big part of the city. We rode all over the Mission, the Castro (where there were rumors of a staged gay pride parade for the new Gus van Sant movie being filmed, but we didn't see it), Dolores Park (which is in the Castro), Haight-Ashbury, and then the Golden Gate Park. Clay's a pretty experienced urban biker, so I had a little trouble keeping up, and got really freaked out a couple of times in traffic (and he even took it easy on me!), but had a really good time. We did that for about 3 hours, then grabbed some burgers at a little joint in his neighborhood. We crashed around 6:30, when we started drinking and watching TV and are still doing both things.

Today was really fun. San Francisco makes me feel like a square. But I kind of like it.

In Dolores Park

I wore my Werner Herzog t-shirt all day in the hopes that I would run into him at some point and he would see it, but that never happened. Ah well.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

San Francisco is windy

I hate wind. This place is weird.

It feels strangely like Austin, only transplanted from some kind of alternate gay universe. I feel this way sometimes when I'm in New York too: like, I'm not in a real city, I'm in a movie about a city called San Francisco. It's a weird, somewhat disorienting feeling. It's almost like an awareness that people have that they live here, but that it's not real. I know that makes no sense, really, but that's the best I can describe it.

I met up with my friend David yesterday afternoon for coffee. He graduated from St. Edwards last year, and we had a few classes together, but were never really friends. It's a shame, because he's pretty cool, and really sweet, and even older than me (by 3 years)! It would have been nice to have some older-undergrad-commiseration. Anyway, he goes to school out here now, and really likes it, so it was nice to bend his ear a bit about his schooling, the culture shock, how he likes it all. One thing that keeps coming up again and again, and Clay and I talked about this as well, is how much of an identity shift it can sometimes be. Like, David was saying how in Texas, he was considered a total raving, left-wing lunatic, and out here, he feels moderate to slightly conservative, and how much that's affected him. Both Clay and David said that, if anything, it's only strengthened their more moderate convictions, almost as a reactionary measure. Which makes sense. That's why I stopped reading The Nation: because I felt like I was being lectured and talked down to. Thoughtless, knee-jerk liberalism is just as dangerous and stupid as thoughtless, fundamentalist conservatism. In my opinion. Anyway, various interesting conversations have been had about this particular subject since I got here.

So after David and I had coffee, I went with him to Badlands, this bar in the Castro that was having $2 well drink specials (and is decidedly unlike the Dakotas), and met up with some of his school colleagues, which was fun. The bar was noisy and crowded and I was drunk before 7pm, but I had a good time. After he got off work, Clay met us up there as well. By the time we got home, we were both hoarse from shouting. Which I was really afraid would carry over to today, but didn't. Although my throat has been a bit scratchy and sore all day.

As for today, the interview went incredibly well. I won't go into a lot of detail, except to say that my interviewer, apparently, picked my application to come be interviewed largely based on my research interests and papers I'd written. (All of my research papers are listed on my curriculum vitae.)

Particularly my paper about Brenda, from Six Feet Under. My interviewer is a big SFU fan. Big. We spent about the first 5 or 6 minutes talking about that paper and the show itself. Which felt weird, but hey, whatever it takes. She enjoyed my take on it and seemed to genuinely appreciate what it meant to me. But the interview was an hour, and we talked about a lot of stuff, and I feel like I represented myself really well. We had a natural flow to our conversation and fed off of each other pretty well too. It was a conversation more than an interview, really. I liked her a lot. She's a Russian immigrant who works in her practice primarily with other Russian immigrant families, and a lot of kids. She told some interesting stories. The children she works with have seen a lot of violence and internalize it intensely.

The rest of the day was great too. I'm not smitten, but I was very happy to be there. I met several current students, who were all incredibly nice and helpful and talkative, and I enjoyed the panels.

Afterwards I just went and wandered around Berkeley for a bit to see what the place feels like. I really liked it a lot. More than I like San Francisco. I could see myself there pretty easily I think.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Another suitcase in another hall

It was a rocky start, but I'm in San Francisco. I flew out of Dallas this morning, with every intention of flying into Dallas from Austin last night, but just my luck, Dallas had freak ice storms yesterday and all flights were cancelled. So I hopped in my car around 7 and headed north.

It didn't manage to fuck up until I was about 20 minutes outside Dallas, where it decided to overheat. Nothing actually happened, but I noticed the temperature gauge suddenly quickly climbing. So I pulled over, let it cool for about 20 minutes (which wasn't hard, since it was about 30 degrees, with hurricane force winds), then bought some coolant and filled it up.

Problem solved.

Except for my dumb ass, which, despite driving to Dallas at least 187 times, somehow took a wrong turn/exit/highway something or other, and ended up in some place called Fort Worth.

By the time I realized where I was, I was about an hour past Mandy & Victor's house, so I had to turn around, and a round trip that should have taken no more than 3 hours, ended up taking almost 5. So I arrived around midnight, in time to guzzle some whiskey, get raped by their dog, and then go to bed.

But everything went as planned this morning, and I am now sitting comfortably in Clay's 3rd floor apartment in the Lower Haight, which I just roamed around a bit. I'm exhausted, though, and think I might take a nap. I know that's lame, but I finally ate (at a little sandwich shop called Love & Haight....), and now I just feel worn out. I think I'll just wait for him to get off work and then we can go out.

But SF is beautiful, and I'm excited to see more of it. My interview is in the morning. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A "diva?" Dear god....

Call it internalized homophobia if you want, but I swear to God, sometimes Im so embarrassed to be gay, it makes me want to go back in the closet.

I'll be honest: I've never understood this obsession with "gay icons" that most gay men (granted, older gay men, not so much younger ones) have. Cher, Madonna, Bette, Kathy Griffin.... Okay, so they're hags, who cares? What have any of them done for me? This is also one reason why I've always been so critical of drag queens, I guess. I mean, whatever, it's fine, but I don't get it.

I understand people need heroes, and people to look up to. But why not look up to people that have actually accomplished something? As for Hillary Clinton, well, that one I don't get at all. She and Mr. Bill are some of the first people in politics to completely sell out their gay supporters when the heat got turned up too high. The gays just like her because she's a woman. I mean, I guess.

The Lone Star State has a sizable gay population, many of them concentrated in Austin, Houston and Dallas. The Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, the state's biggest chapter, endorsed Clinton last month. The group's president, Jesse Garcia, 36, recently penned a pro-Clinton op-ed piece in the Dallas Voice, the state's most-read gay newspaper.

And far from the primped-up, tight-jean-wearing, I'm-eternally-single-and-loving-it vibe of Oak Lawn, the gay neighborhood in Dallas, Friends is a more laid-back, welcoming place full of older, middle-class and mostly coupled-up patrons. Kind of like "Cheers," where everyone knows your name, except they're wearing T-shirts that read "I love Cowboys" and baseball caps from Budweiser with a small rainbow flag. Jokes Bobbie Aldridge, 67, a retired teacher: "This is like a community center. Or a retirement home."

Like most of the patrons here, Aldridge wears a button on her shirt that reads "Out for Hillary."

Maybe this is just a Texas thing. Even the gays in this stupid state are conservative. I also realize that most people aren't single issue voters, but it seems that so many of the gay people I've talked to lately either are single-issue voters (which makes support of her even more perplexing), or they don't pay attention to politics at all. Neither of which is particularly forgivable, especially in a state like Texas, where I think most politicians would rather hang gay people than let them get married.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My Blueberry Nights

My favorite thing about Wong Kar Wai's films in general is that they're just honest. They're never cynical, or pessimistic, but they also never shy away from the soul-shattering devastation that often accompanies love. Sometimes there isn't a happy ending. Sometimes the girl just leaves to go to California and doesn't come back. Or the man picks the other woman. The end. There is no one else waiting across the street.

But even in the pain, there's always hope. The characters move on. They cry. They suffer. They grow. They clean house. Repeatedly. But his optimism is sincere, and doesn't have the cynical ring to it that so many Hollywood romantic comedies do, where you know that no one involved in the film actually believes in any of it, they're just giving the audience what they think it wants.

My Blueberry Nights
is a strange movie. It's probably Wong Kar Wai's most flawed film, but also it might be one of my favorites already. I watched it twice last week, 2 nights in a row, and I haven't stopped thinking about it all weekend. It almost feels like an imitation Kar Wai film, made by somebody who knows what they're doing and knows how to hit all the right notes, but just falls inexplicably short somewhere along the way.

For one, there's some really weird violence in the middle of it that's never really showed up in his films before, and one scene even veers very uncomfortably close to being frighteningly mysogynistic. Is this intentional? Is he trying to play to American sensibilities (or critquing them), or am I just reading too much into it? Both times I watched the film, though, the scene disturbed me. A lot. Not least because you're called to identify so strongly with the perpetrator, and afterwards, no one in the film seems nearly as disturbed by any of it as I was.

But, like all of his films, there's also such a sweet sadness to it. Chan Marshall (aka, Cat Power) makes an all-too-brief cameo, and for some reason the weight of her scene just killed me both times I watched it. Even though nothing really happens in it. It's just about that lost connection, that fire in your heart that slowly dims, but never really goes out.

Which sort of seems to be what the whole film is about. The pain is never denied. But there's a way through it. Sometimes that journey is physical, sometimes it's solely emotional. But there's always a way. Blueberry Nights is a road movie through the terrain of the broken heart, from one side to the other. It's more than a Band-Aid, but it's never fixed, either. It just is what it is. There's always more for you out there, the film says, if you're willing to be brave and embrace it.