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Archive for May, 2009

May 31st, 2009

Why I Need To Keep The World At Arms Length For A While Every Now And Then…(continued)

So I’m reading this morning that one of god’s little right hands shot a doctor to death…in his church…during services…

Kan. abortion doc killed in church; suspect held

WICHITA, Kan. – Dr. George Tiller, who remained one of the nation’s few providers of late-term abortions through decades of protests and attacks, was shot and killed Sunday in a church where he was serving as an usher and his wife was in the choir.

The gunman fled, but a 51-year-old suspect was arrested some 170 miles away in suburban Kansas City three hours after the shooting, Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said.

Andrew Sullivan writes that Bill O’Reilly painted a bull’s eye on the doctor during one of his shows. John Aravosis reminds us that President Obama caved recently to right wing demands to bottle up or tone down a report on domestic terrorism.  At some point, this naton is going to have to confront its right wing hate mongers and their willing tools.  Either that, or let them cow us all into the facist theocracy of their dreams.  In the meantime, I am on vacation and I have a new mantra…

…I will not become a misanthrope…I will not become a misanthrope…I will not become a misanthrope…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why I Need To Keep The World At Arms Length For A While Every Now And Then…(continued)

May 29th, 2009

Western Light

Yes…I haven’t been very talkative here lately.  I’m on vacation and these days I try to keep the world at arm’s length when I am trying to rest and relax.  I’m at my brother’s house in Oceano for a bit…then on to San Francisco and the Java One developer’s conference.  At the moment, I just don’t want to deal with the world.

Here’s some images for you, until the talking feather comes back my way again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Western Light

May 24th, 2009

Mercedes Love…

 

…still in it…

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mercedes Love…


In Grand Junction…The Rain In Maryland Has Apparently Followed Me…

I decided to abandon my plan to go into lower Kansas and from there into the Rockies and take a small scenic side road though them up to I-70.  The weather here in the four corners states is horrible…all socked in with clouds and rain.  And it looks like it will be that way for days to come.  I suppose in some of the desert areas they appreciate getting rain, but this seems a tad much and the Colorado river is all floody now.  I drive over it and it’s almost up to the bottom of the road deck on some bridges now.  This throws my plans into some chaos since it means some of the scenic side roads I wanted to travel down might get washed out.  I don’t want to get stuck driving down a small side road in the Utah canyon lands only to have to turn around and drive hundreds of miles back the way I came because the road in front of me got washed out.  Or worse, get stuck because now the road behind me is washed out too.

So when I got to Oakley Kansas I drove US 40 for a while in the plains and then just let it take me back to I-70.  Now I’m here in Grand Junction after going through some serious elevation changes that seriously stressed my out of shape 55 year old body.  Around ten thousand feet I started noticing my heart pounding and my face getting all flushed out.  I stopped at a rest stop at ten thousand six hundred feet and tried to get myself stabilized and just kept being on the edge of too dizzy to drive.  Crap. I guess I my sitting down all the friggin’ time job has left my circulatory system a tad weakened.  Or maybe I just have my mom’s side of the family’s bad heart gene.  So I guess going up the volcano to see Keck is out of the question now… 

It’s memorial day weekend, which I wasn’t aware of when I planned this thing out (I’m a software engineer…I am oblivious to the regular work week of most folks…), so I’ve been watching warily the parking lots of the motels I pass along the way, trying to judge how full they’re getting.  I don’t normally make reservations on these road trips because I want the freedom to adjust my travel plans as I see things along the way.  But this puts me at risk of entering a town tired at the end of the day and wanting to stop now, and all the motels are full and then I have to keep driving and hope the next town over isn’t full too.  That’s happened to me. 

So I freaked when I drove past Rifle Colorado and saw all the motel lots jammed full.  When I got to Parachute I hit the first little motel I saw and asked for a room and they gladly gave it to me, which should have set my alarm bells off.  But I was just releaved to have a room for the night.  The room was around back and while it was nice the neighborhood behind the room was scary.  I sat in the room for a while looking out the window and thinking I’m driving a Mercedes-Benz and it’s going to stick out like a neon sign around here telling everyone who looks at it that there are probably things worth busting out a window in that car for…and breaking into the room it’s in front of…

So I freaked and got back in the car hoping that Grand Junction wouldn’t be full when I got there.  I shouldn’t have worried.  But once I got here I made a reservatin online via Travelocity for Kayenta, my favorite place to stay near Monument Valley.

I’m off now to try and see what I can see in the Utah canyon lands.  Given propsition 8 I’ll try not to spend much money while I’m there (Kayenta is in Arizona).  But the weather may make my trip through here a bust this year and that’s really bringing me down today because I don’t think the price of gasoline is going to allow me to do this for many more years.  This may be my last trip through the four corners area for a long, long time.  And it’s getting rained out.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on In Grand Junction…The Rain In Maryland Has Apparently Followed Me…

May 22nd, 2009

On The Road…Topeka, Kansas

Truckhinge – Topeka, Kansas

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on On The Road…Topeka, Kansas

May 19th, 2009

Road Trip!

Tomorrow morning around now, bright eyed and bushy tailed, I should be on I-70 headed west.  The Institute is sending me to the Java One conference in San Fransisco the first week in June, and I am taking vacation time to do another small road trip across the great plains, and the Rockies, and a little of the southwest.  I want to do this while the price of gasoline still makes it possible.  Last year at four dollars a gallon plus I simply could not do it.

Lane Wallace, posting on Sullivan’s blog yesterday, put up this image from a current MOMA exhibit titled, "Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West".  I have a similar image of my own that I’ll post later today for comparison, taken on at the northern approach to Monument Valley down Utah highway 163.  Images like these capture the allure of the road trip for me perfectly…

Dorothea Lange, The Road West, New Mexico, 1938

 

Escaping The Gravity Of Home

There’s a moment in every long distance road trip that I think of as escaping the gravity of home. Like the Apollo astronauts who escaped the earth’s gravity to go to the moon…there is a threshold you cross on a long distance drive where heading back home to your own comfortable bed is no longer possible, even if you push it bleary eyed into the night.  You must bed down somewhere else.  Keep going and its two nights.  Then three.  You’ve left the safe comfortable orbit of home.  Now you’re traveling among the planets.  At some point, and for me it’s usually the middle of the second day, comes the awareness that no matter what happens, you’re not getting back home any time soon.  You and your car are a self contained capsule, scooting down the highway, looking for whatever it is ahead of you that you’ve never seen before…

Friday May 24, 2003

To really get to know planet Earth you have to travel across it.  Not over it in an airplane.  A train comes closer. But you need a personal, private mode of transit to really get to know it, see its many different faces.  You have to have your hands on the steering wheel, your feet on the pedals, feel your vehicle respond to the road.  Then you are one with the land you’re traveling across.  You should feel the sun and wind on your skin, be completely free, untethered.  Then you can stop whenever, wherever.  Get out of your car.  Feel the land under your feet.  The wind plays with your hair.  It came from over that horizon.  Look.  It’s telling you that there is something over there you should go see.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Road Trip!

May 17th, 2009

Birds Of A Feather…

From today’s Washington Post…

Look Who’s in Bed Together on Gay Marriage Fight

Lying on his cot in the Longworth House Office Building in the small of the night, Jason Chaffetz had a scary dream: The conservative Republican from Utah had beaten the odds, defeated an incumbent and made it to Washington, only to end up by some bizarre twist of events arm-in-arm with Marion Barry, the crack-smoking laughingstock former mayor of the District of Columbia.

"Oh man, if I had run a campaign saying I’d be working closely with Marion Barry, I don’t know that I would have been elected," Chaffetz says

Mirror, mirror on the wall…  Sure you’d have been elected Jason.  Your voters are cut from the same cloth you are…the same bolt of cloth Washington’s former Mayor For Life was cut from.  Barry wasn’t our ally, we were his tools…his useful stepping stones to political power.  Just like we are to you.  And to your voters, we’re convenient scapegoats for every cheapshit failure of personal character.  We give them someone to blame for how lousy their lives are, how dead and rotten their conscience is, so they don’t have to blame themselves.  Useful tools Jason…that’s what gay people are.  To Barry.  To you.  To your constituents.  Tools.  Nothing more.  Look in Barry’s empty smiling eyes Jason, and see yourself.

So go ahead and smoke yourself some crack Jason.  It won’t matter.  Smoke it right in church if you like.  As long as you’re willing to put a knife in the hearts of loving, devoted same sex couples you’ll still be a Mormon in good standing.  Because nothing matters more then the war against The Homosexual, not even the resurrection.  You could spit in Christ’s face on Judgment Day and as long as you’ve left a trail of destruction in the lives of gay and lesbian people you’ll make it to heaven on a red carpet.  Oh wait…Mormons think they get to be gods in the afterlife don’t they…?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Birds Of A Feather…

May 12th, 2009

Today In Headlines You Can Reuse Forever…

So on The Local…which is an English Language German news site…I read the following…

Study says teens familiar with pornography and alcohol

Oh…you think…?  And there I read that the study was done via the German youth magazine Bravo, which "combines no-holds-barred sex advice with explicit photos". 

Wow.  I’m sitting here trying to picture what my teen years would have been like if American youth magazines had treated sex that matter of factly.  Damn. 

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

May 11th, 2009

SM-4 – A Perfect Launch!

My co-workers and I at the Space Telescope Science Institute watch the launch of Atlantis in the main auditorium…

Atlantis went up right on schedule and it was just about a perfect burn to orbit.  So good they didn’t need to tweak it a tad immediately after main engine cut-off like they often do.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll be able to do all the work on Hubble they want to this mission.  If they can, then the telescope may very well keep on giving us great science about the heavens for the next decade.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on SM-4 – A Perfect Launch!


The Religious Freedom Smokescreen

First…  Robin Wilson, professor of law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, writing in the Los Angles Times…

So what should states do to respond to [these] clashes between same-sex relationships and religious liberty?

What they should not do is what New Hampshire’s Senate did last week: pay lip-service to religious freedom while enacting meaningless protections. New Hampshire’s bill provides that "members of the clergy … shall not be obligated … to officiate at any particular civil marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of their right to free exercise of religion." But this is a hollow guarantee: The 1st Amendment already provides such protection.

Okay.  Got that?  All those religious freedom clauses being written into same-sex marriage statutes are hollow, since the 1st Amendment already establishes religious freedom in the first place.  Well…duh.  But that’s not the point. 

Here’s the point…

In her May 3 Times Op-Ed article, "The flip-side of same-sex marriage," Robin Wilson urges state legislators across the country to undertake "the careful crafting of robust religious protections" when they draft laws to recognize same-sex marriages. Her goal in recommending such religious accommodations is to "allow Americans with radically different views on moral questions to live in peace and equality in the same society."

I share Wilson’s goals. States that recognize same-sex marriages should protect the autonomy rights of religious individuals and institutions at the same time that they protect the autonomy rights of gay and lesbian individuals and couples. But Wilson’s column does little to promote the careful crafting of accommodations to achieve the equality she seeks.

Wilson starts off on the wrong foot. She characterizes clauses such as the one in the New Hampshire same-sex marriage bill that reiterates the protection of clergy from being required to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies as "meaningless protections" and a "hollow guarantee" since the 1st Amendment already provides such protection.

Where was Wilson six months ago when we had an election in which the opponents of same-sex marriage insisted that the defeat of Proposition 8 would result in churches being forced to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples?

-Letter to the Editor, Alan Brownstein, May 11, 2009

[Emphasis mine]  See…here’s the problem:  No Alan…you don’t share Wilson’s goals.  Wilson’s goals are that his gay and lesbian neighbors remain second class citizens, Regardless Of What The Law Says.  This claptrap about churches being forced to marry same-sex couples, and all the other crap, is what we in the IT profession call FUD…  Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.  Wilson is a goddamned professor of law…he’ knows goddamned well that the first Amendment prevents states from doing to churches, precisely what the Proposition 8 hatemongers said they would.  And no…you didn’t see him taking them to task for it in the pages of the L.A. Times, did you?  There’s a reason for that.  It isn’t the religious freedom clause in New Hampshire that’s hollow.  As far as Wilson is concerned it’s the First Amendment that’s hollow.

So now what’s happening is that states and some gay rights activists are starting to call the religious rights bluff on this and expressly including religious freedom protections in their same-sex marriage and civil unions statutes.  And naturally, now we find out the truth…that the first amendment protections aren’t enough.  What they want is a religious exemption from the equal opportunity laws that everyone else must abide by.  A Specific Exemption in fact, just to accommodate their specific hatred of a specific class of people…gay people.  They want to be able to deny gay people health care and medicine, housing, jobs, services…in short, they want to be free to keep on persecuting gay people and same-sex couples regardless of their status in the eyes of the law. 

What you have to understand about the religious right is they’ve elevated persecuting gay people to a religious piety greater then that of belief in the resurrection.   You aren’t saved by the blood of Jesus Christ…you are saved by your hatred of homosexual people.  That is what religion is in the kook pews.  If a nurse can’t eject a gay person’s spouse from their hospital room, they have no freedom of religion.  Because it isn’t Jesus who saves.  Salvation depends on how much you hate your gay neighbor.  If we don’t bleed, they aren’t being righteous enough.

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Religious Freedom Smokescreen

May 10th, 2009

The New Haircut…

Ta-da…

Basically, I got tired of how it was always getting in my face unless I had it pulled back into a ponytail.  This is how I always used to wear it.

I’d forgotten how energetic the wave in my hair is.  Without all that extra weight it just comes roaring back, even when I blow dry it.

I’m going to let it grow out again in the back and sides eventually, but I’m keeping the bang because I don’t like it getting in my eyes.  The problem has always been finding hair stylists who know how to do long-haired guys any good.  That was why I just let it all grow out some years ago…I’d given up on hair stylists and decided to just let it grow and pull it back into a pony tail when necessary.  And…I wanted to see just how long I could get it to grow.  Now I know…about a third of the way down my back.  That’s it.  It won’t grow any longer then that.  I have this very fine baby hair and it takes forever to grow and it never gets very long.  I was hoping I could get it down to my waist.  But…not…

Damn…I’ve really gone gray haven’t I…?  Crap…

 

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

May 9th, 2009

I’m Not Druck. Duck. Drunk. I’m Just Naturally Confused And Disoriented…

Via Sullivan…  I find it hard to believe that the United States Of America drink more per capita then Cuba, Brazil and Mexico, and less then Britain, Germany, France, Spain and…Greenland…

Be interesting to see that broken down for the U.S. by state.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I’m Not Druck. Duck. Drunk. I’m Just Naturally Confused And Disoriented…

May 7th, 2009

Missing A Little Something In There Are We?

Fred Clark takes a wee peek into the heart of the conservative movement

"[President Barack Obama] says he wants to appoint judges who show empathy, but what does that mean?" said Wendy Long, chief counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network. "Who do you have empathy for?"

"Empathy," says Wendy Long, scornfully spitting out the word like an epithet. "What does that mean?" I wonder if it’s possible to answer that question in a way she could ever understand.

No.

This has been another edition of Simple Answers To Simple Questions…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Missing A Little Something In There Are We?

May 6th, 2009

Letter To A Straight Friend…

So you’re calling again now.  And I’m actually picking up the phone and talking to you again.  Wow.  It’s been a while hasn’t it?  A while since I stopped returning your calls.  Because you voted one too many times for George Bush.  Because you didn’t seem to give a good goddamn how much slime the republicans threw into your gay friend’s face.  Because you didn’t seem to care one whit how hard they tried to make everyone hate people like me.  Hey…look at us.  We’re talking again!  So nice.  When we talk nowadays, it’s almost like old times.  But that’s the problem.

So once again I get to hear about your life.  What you’re up to.  All your successes.  All your disappointments.  That’s what friends do.  We share our lives with each other, the good times and the bad.  The highs and the lows.  Well…wait…except I’m suppose to hide a part of my life from you aren’t I?  And not a small part either.  Not judging from how often you talk about that part of yours.  Your love life that is.  Still single are we?  Yeah.  I know the feeling.  I know a lot about being single, and lonely that you will never know.  But then, you don’t want to know. 

That was always the bargain wasn’t it old friend?  I get to hear about your girlfriend problems.  I get to hear about the latest cute new girl you’re seeing nowadays.  I get to hear about how the two of you got it on.  I get to hear about how great you felt afterward.  Hey, I know the feeling!  But you’d rather I didn’t tell you that I suppose.  Feels great at our age doesn’t it though.  We’re both getting old now aren’t we?  Not quite the sexy young guys we used to be back in the day.  Except I was never allowed to think of myself that way, even back then.  Even back when I was young and cute and could have made something of it.  I wasn’t allowed to be that.  Cute.  Sexy.  Desirable.  I had to keep it under wraps.  I had to play it low key.  You didn’t want to hear about my struggles with the dating and mating game.  You didn’t even want to know I was interested in any of that.  Because that meant bringing up the fact of my sexuality.  Yeah…yeah…I know…  You’re Not Gay.  I got that then.  I get it now.  What I didn’t really get back then was that I wasn’t allowed to be gay either. 

Oh I could be gay…Theoretically.  I could be gay as some abstract concept you could put in some safe place in the back of your mind.  I could be the oddball artistic little nerd nobody expected to date girls for some unspoken reason.  I could be that.  I could be out of the closet, so long as I kept being out of the closet in the closet.  That was always how our friendship worked.

And I went along with it.  Because you didn’t have anti-gay prejudices.  You were just…misinformed.  Like I was.  I knew how that worked.  They taught me the same lies about homosexuals they taught you.  I knew this.  I knew from firsthand experience how it was to live with all the stereotypes in my head that you have in yours.  The mincing faggot.  The swishing queer.  The lurking child molester.  The dangerous sexual pervert, waiting in the men’s rooms…in the bushes.  Cocksuckers.  Ass fuckers.  I laughed at all the same fag jokes you did all through grade school.  They were fairies.  They were queers.  They were homos.  I understood this the same as the rest of you guys.  And then puberty came along and tapped me on the shoulder.  It took a while…you can appreciate why…but one day I finally came to understand that I was gay myself.  Kinda gave me a whole new perspective on the subject, that.

I came out to myself when I was 17.  That was back in 1971.  And because the guy I fell in love with was so decent and good hearted, because I saw that what I had fallen in love with was the person, not just any random male body, I realized that there was nothing wrong with me.  In that rush of first love I learned that what I had been taught about homosexuals was a load of horseshit.  The fact of my homosexuality was there, staring me in the face, every time I laid eyes on the guy I was in love with.  Making my heart beat.  Making my knees tremble.  Putting knots in my stomach and sweat on my brow.  It was terrifying.  It was wonderful.  First love is like that.  And there I was, feeling that for another guy.  Yet I knew I was none of the things I had been taught that homosexuals were.  And because of that, I was able to accept it.  I am a homosexual.  But I’m still me.  I knew both of those things were true.  So I never hated myself.  Because of him.  Because of how it hit me in just that way.  I was in love, and it was wonderful.  And nobody was happy for me.

Mom would have cried her heart out.  The preacher in our church would have warned me direly that God considered homosexuality an abomination and I was going to hell.  Maybe everyone in my life would turn against me.  I could go to jail.  That’s not what usually happens to a young guy, who wakes up one day to find he’s in love.  But I grew up in a world where the radios played rock and roll love songs about young guys and girls in love, and locker rooms echoed with jokes about homos who suck cock.

It’s a pure miracle I didn’t hate myself, but I didn’t.  I was in love.  But looking back I never really felt good about myself either.  How could I, when I still heard all the fag jokes I used to laugh at?  How could I, when could still hear our gym teachers telling us in Sex Ed that homosexuals were dangerous, deranged, sexual psychopaths who raped children and killed the people they had sex with?  How could I feel good about myself, when from Every…Fucking…Direction…I was being told that homosexuals were ridiculous, pathetic, repulsive, and that same-sex love was a sick parody of the real thing. 

Oh…I had pride.  I was chock full of gay pride.  I felt good about myself In Theory.  But you don’t come of age in a world that is constantly screaming in your face that you’re a sick, twisted pervert without being wounded somehow, somewhere.  I remember sitting in a movie theater watching "Something For Everyone" with my straight friends, and when the evil homosexual villain at the center of the story embraced and kissed the naive countess’s son, the entire theater erupted in a collective Ewwwwwwww!  That character was an evil murdering, blackmailing manipulating bastard, but it was that kiss that made the audience’s gorge rise.  I can still hear it to this day.  Ewwwwwwwwwwww!  It was spontaneous.  It filled the theater.  That was the world I grew up in.  How was I supposed to see my love life as anything but completely disgusting to everyone? 

How then, was I supposed to see myself as desirable? 

How especially, when I had so many straight friends, male and female, who kept signaling to me…tactfully of course…that they shared the audience’s disgust at my sexuality.  It took a while, and a lot of sweating…but I finally began to come out to my friends shortly after that first high school crush.  Do you remember when I came out to you?  I have a question: Have you ever sat down and pictured your friend Bruce sitting in one of those Sex Ed classes…the ones we all had back then…while his teachers taught him and everyone sitting in that class around him, that homosexuals were sick, sexually twisted, mentally ill deviants who raped children, lurked around public toilets and killed the people they had sex with?  Picture it now then, because that’s what happened to me.  I sat through it all only to discover years later that I was one of the people they were talking about.  Now recall again that moment when I came out to you.  Maybe you noticed how white my knuckles were.

But it seemed to go well.  You said it was okay.  You said it didn’t matter. I was still your friend.  I was so relieved…so happy.  My friends were cool!

Er…as long as I kept it low key.  But that was okay.  I had to know reconciling your mental image of me with the stereotypes we were all fed wasn’t going to happen overnight.  I could be patient.  I had to be.  You were my friend.  I came out to you and you didn’t walk off in disgust.  I figured I was the luckiest guy in the world to have friends like you.  Of course you were a little nervous about the whole thing.  Good god I was terrified!  I could cut you some slack.  Jeeze.  I figured once you saw that I wasn’t any of that crap we were all taught that homosexuals were, you’d treat me just like anyone else. 

But that never happened did it?  At least not with you.  And let it be said you weren’t the only straight friend of mine who never got over it.  Some did.  But only some.  And for the rest who didn’t, I ended up doing something no one should ever have to do: I stifled my human need for love and companionship, so you wouldn’t have to deal with it.  I put a pillow over it and suffocated it.  I did that because I thought it was for the best while I tried to coax you out of your…well…your cheapshit prejudices.

So there we are…two young men in the prime of our lives…and you’re talking about how messed up it is that your new girlfriend broke up with you.  And I nod my head and start talking about how much I miss the guy I fell in love with back in high school.  WHOOPS!  Can’t talk about that because it reminds you that Bruce likes having sex with guys.  So let’s change the subject.  So how about that movie we saw last week?  Great flick wasn’t it?  And…damn…the lead actress was smokin hot!  I guess…but I kinda liked that cute guy who played the part of…  WHOOPS!  Can’t talk about that because it reminds you that Bruce likes to look at guy’s bodies the way you like to look at girl’s.  So let’s change the subject.  How about we get something to eat and listen to some tunes?  I have some OJ in the fridge…  None for me thanks…I’m boycotting Orange Juice.  Huh?  Orange Juice?  What for?  Well Anita Bryant…  WHOOPS!

Damn boy…why is it that gays always want to talk about sex?

But Forcing the issue would just be too hardassed of me, too demanding.  We were all victims of the same homophobic crap we were taught.  Those were the excuses I kept making for you, whenever you signaled to me in some unspoken way that the thought of Bruce having a boyfriend of his own was a tad…repellent.  A bit Disgusting.  Uhm…Gross.  All that time I kept being patent with you, and all that time you were teaching me to accept the fact that I was disgusting.  Friend.

So I went out into the world back then, and tried to find a lover, knowing deep down inside that the sight of two males in love was a repulsive thing to…well…to just about everyone…Ewwwwwwwww!  Most of my friends included.  So I went into the world looking for love, understanding that same-sex love was utterly gross to most people.  Disgusting.  Sick.  Ugly.  Had you told me that in so many words I’d have walked away from you.  Instead, you fed me the poison slowly, one drop at a time, one sour look at a time, one change of the subject at a time.  I had to be careful.  I had to be respectful of your sensitivities.  And every time I approached a beautiful guy, someone who attracted me, someone decent, and smart, and good-hearted, someone who made my heart skip a beat, I approached them not as a potential lover, but the way I’d been conditioned to behave.  By my friends.  By you.  Carefully.  Trying hard not to shock and offend.

And now I’m 55 years old, and still single.

In my 30s, when the fear began to creep into my heart that I might not find someone to love after all, I began to pour myself into a series of charcoal and ink drawings, and a couple oil paintings, of young male couples in love.  I put everything I had, everything I wanted to say at that point in my life, about love and desire and finding your heart’s desire in another’s smile, into those drawings and paintings.  Nothing even vaguely pornographic, they were about love, but also about being in love body and soul.  All my unfulfilled yearnings, all my hopes and dreams.  I put them down on paper and canvas.  I showed a couple of them to you…or tried to…once.  You took one look and I could see in your eyes that it was as if I’d shown you gay pornography.  No…worse then that.  Pornography you might have just laughed at.  But this was two guys in love and that completely squicked you out.  So I didn’t show you the rest.

I had one drawing…I titled it "Moment of Recognition"…of two young guys sharing a look…that was all, just a look, as they briefly, lightly, touched hands while having a quiet moment alone.  They weren’t even actually holding hands…just fingers lightly touching…eyes looking into eyes…a slightly astonished look on their faces…the moment before the smile…  I wanted to capture that look in their faces, that hushed sudden timeless moment in time, when they both realize that they’re in love.  I remember that moment.  By then I’d had it more then once.  It’s the most wonderful thing in the world.  It’s the most wonderful part of being alive.  And I was really happy with what I was able to get on the artboard.  I thought I’d captured it.  And I guess I did, because it sure got a reaction.  I showed it to another straight friend and I could swear I saw the hair on the back of his neck stand up.  "What’s that about?" he asked, in a very perturbed voice.  But he knew damn well what it was about.

So I told myself to be patient, and in the process let the wound dig itself deeper and deeper into me.  I knew the beauty and sacredness of love wasn’t denied to same-sex lovers too.  I knew that.  Intellectually.  Rationally.  But your disgust was like a ball and chain around my heart, allowing it to soar only so far.  I eventually stopped drawing.  For nearly a decade and a half I did not pick up my tools again.  I put down my cameras too.  I just didn’t want to deal with my feelings anymore.  I stopped creating artwork altogether.  That’s another landscape of my life that should have more in it then it does.  Friend.

So now you’re calling again.  So now I’m picking up the phone again and talking to you.  It’s almost like old times isn’t it?  But that’s the problem, and I am over being the "some" in "some of my best friends are…".

The other day you phoned and shortly into the conversation you told me about that cute next door neighbor.  The one who made mad love to you one night, and then the next didn’t want you calling her.  The one who you later found out was playing you against her old boyfriend that she’s still mad at, but still seeing.  I got the whole story, listened supportively, fell back into the old routine of being a friend.  Yes, says I…I know how it is to be jerked around by a young cutie.  There is this really cute guy guy who moved in just a few doors down from me, who gives me this hot and cold routine…one moment he’s all flirty, the next he’s treating me like an old troll…  But you didn’t want to hear about that, and quickly changed the subject.

You wonder why I don’t call?  I am 55 years old now, single, alone, and sick with loneliness, and one thing I bitterly regret is spending so many of the precious moments of the prime of my life with people who thought there was something wrong with me.

I came out to myself back in 1971 and actually managed to feel good about myself afterward.  Looking back, that was a miracle.  That was three years before the APA removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.  But I was stupid.  I trusted in some of the people in my life, just a tad too much.  The kind of friendship you offered me was the one poison I didn’t know any better not to drink.  I came of age in a world that thought I was the most disgusting thing ever.  I didn’t need friends telling me to accept that.  I needed friends to tell me that I was beautiful, desirable, and just as deserving of love as anyone else.  I look at the pictures taken of me back then and I cannot believe that really cute gay kid never found a boyfriend.  But he never did.  And that was okay with you.  My friend.

You want to know why I don’t call anymore?  There’s a vast and empty wasteland in my heart where love should have been, and one of the signposts pointing to it has your name on it.  

I’m not laying it entirely at your doorstep.  There were larger forces in the culture we both lived in, grew up in, working hard to insure that no gay person ever knew what it was to be loved.  But you said I was your friend.  So I stifled that part of me.  Not just for you, but for the others too.  The others who couldn’t handle it.  And now…I’m 55 years old and I don’t know how to set it free.  That was something I was supposed to learn decades ago, and I never did.  And now here I am.  Alone in my little Baltimore rowhouse.  Talking to you on the phone.  Listening while you tell me about your latest heartache.  Old friend.

by Bruce | Link | React! (5)


Obviously A Northerner…

Via Atrios…  Matthew Yglesias notices something

Ed Kilgore has a very interesting post on a new trend sweeping conservative politics in Dixie—“sovereignty resolutions” that appear to assert states’ rights to unilaterally invalidate federal action, a doctrine last seen in the hands of John C. Calhoun, the great antebellum theorist of white supremacy.

At any rate, while looking at Wikipedia for a Calhoun image, I saw this list of places named after John Calhoun. It’s a long list! And while I suppose I would hesitate to specifically place the blame for any current problems in American society on the fact that there are all these towns and counties and streets named after the guy, it is always striking for a historically informed northerner to see how thoroughly un-disavowed the legacy of white supremacy is in southern official culture. Get on 395 in DC and take the bridge across the Potomac, exiting onto Route 1, and you’ll find yourself on Jefferson Davis Highway. Yes. A highway named after the political leader of a rebellion against the duly constituted government of the United States of America, founded on the principle that democracy was less important than the right of white people to own black people. Right there on signs and everything.

Travel in the South much?  As Atrios said, Nobody could have predicted that the election of an African-American president would cause Southern states to start declaring their independence. 

Go ahead and laugh as you whistle past the civil war graveyard.  Calhoun was instrumental in getting the southern states of his time to pass similar nullification resolutions.  It was the first rumbling of the ocean of bloodshed to come.  That war killed more Americans then all our other wars combined.  And far too many leaders in the South today think they’re still living in the Confederate States of America, and that it would be a glorious thing to rise again.  Better millions of Americans die, better The United States of America is buried under a mountain of wreckage, then all Americans can live together peaceably, as equals, with liberty and justice for all.

 

If it happens here again, it will be more Sarajevo then Gettysburg.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Obviously A Northerner…

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