My cousin lost her husband to an untimely death last week. As I sat in the LDS chapel singing hymns for the funeral service I couldn't help but compare my current experience singing hymns with my past experience.
The opening hymn was "How Great Thou Art," one of my past favorites. I realized as I sang along I didn't feel nearly as connected to that song as I used to. I also realized the reason I don't is because I don't feel dependent on the mercy of a Savior to rescue my soul from oblivion. I'm not sure I can adequately describe what that song meant to me back then. In a nutshell, I believed the only reason my consumption of oxygen in this life was tolerated was because there was a Savior who loved me, understood me and would intervene on my behalf to shield me from the vengeance of a Just God.
In my mind, Jesus was the only person who understood what it was like to live inside my skin. He was the only person who loved me without reservation, because surely my family would, at best, pity me if the things in my mind ever found voice. Pierced ears: sin. Fashion conscious: sin. Rock and roll: sin. Kissing anyone, never mind boys: sin. Sin. SIN.
As I sat there and listened to one speaker drone on and on (OMG, that guy loved the sound of his own voice) about the hope that is offered in The Gospel of Jesus Christ™, I couldn't help but think, "Yes, but in order for the kind of hope you are talking about to have any power or even meaning, there has to be some part of you that feels hopeless." I'm sorry, I just can't believe in or worship a god who sets up creation such that—even on the tiniest level—his creations must live in terror of his wrath.
Do I feel hopeless now? No. Have I moved beyond that frame of mind where fear holds sway? Also, no. There is still a part of me that fears the Wrath of God, that is metaphorically looking over his shoulder for the Avenging Angel. As I went through school and got my MSW, it was rather disturbing to realize that a lot of my inner processes and emotional responses mirror those who have been subject to abuse. Disturbing mostly because I have no memory of any kind of abuse that I feel would qualify. And yet as I write, the parallels between my past relationship to God and the relationship of an abuse victim to their abuser seem somewhat less than subtle. Is that where it comes from? Some kind of fucked up PTSD because I lived so long in fear putting one toe out of line and being subject to Divine Retribution?
I didn't know my cousin's husband very well. I had only met "Bob" on a few occasions. My cousin and I had the best of intentions to reconnect and spend more time together, but life has a way of getting in the way, especially when everyone is struggling just to make ends meet. Bob's death was an accident, and not even an I-was-doing-something-crazy-that-I-loved accident. It didn't have to happen. And yet, based on the glimpse I had into his family and his life (from his long-time friend who delivered a touching eulogy that was actually about Bob), it makes me wonder what fears Bob wrestled with and wonder also if maybe we might have had more in common than either of us knew.
Rest in peace, Bob.
My oldest loves watching Glee and now that Netflix has season two, that's what we end up doing most of time when she's at my house. Watching Glee is a mixed bag for me. Yes, I enjoy watching Glee, but there's also a part of me that grieves and says, "That could have been me."
Something about "show choir" just appeals to me. I shouldn't be surprised much. I'm sure I've mentioned before that as a child the person I wanted to grow up to be was Dick Van Dyke. I loved the production numbers in Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I distinctly remember watching "Me 'Ol Bamboo" and "Step In Time" and thinking, "I want to do that."
I'm not really sure where I got off track. Probably when we moved when I was in Jr. High and went from a place where it was no big deal if a guy was in the choir to a place where it was about as uncool and you could get. In my new school, I was the male in a choir of at least 50. And I was harassed for it, like Kurt in Glee. I didn't have to wear anything "fabulous." It was enough that I was in the choir. Unlike Kurt, I learned very quickly to keep a low profile and not draw attention to myself.
I tend to think it wasn't just the harassment that derailed my aspirations. I think there were a lot of factors at play, not the least of which is my Mormon upbringing where conformity is the sine qua non of existence and where I was taught to doubt my own inner voice in favor of the dictates of old men in dark suits. It certainly began a pattern of laying low and not drawing attention to myself.
Recently Facebook has reconnected me to some of the guys I danced with while at BYU. I had joined the folk dance team and even made it onto the touring team. Turns out one of the guys I thought didn't like me—always having been stand-offish and distant—had a huge crush on me. One of the first things he said to me was, "You were so quiet!" "I was scared," was my reply. "I was afraid if I said too much people would figure it out." Dancing with the folk dancers was bitter sweet. I loved being on stage and dancing, but there was always a part of me that felt guilty for doing something that served no purpose beyond making me happy. I danced for a few years before I quit the team to get married and get on with my "purpose in life" of starting a family and fathering children.
Playing the "What might have been?" game is generally not very useful. The past is done. We don't get do-overs. You end up stuck, wishing for things that cannot ever happen. There are no guarantees your life would have played out how you imagine, even if you did get your wish. Dick Van Dyke certainly hasn't life a fairy tale life.
So what to do then? If I had a client struggling with these kinds of things, I would probably challenge him or her to find ways to pursue that dream now. For now, that means I've stopped listening to NPR on the drive home and have begun singing along with show tunes again...something I haven't done in years. I usually end up getting home in a better mood now as well. Go figure.
So a few weeks ago I posted a nice little graphic that I thought had a nice empowering message with just a bit of f-u to it.
Imagine my chagrin when this song came on the radio this morning in the car and I realized this is where that line comes from, especially since I really like P!nk and that's hardly the first time I've heard the song...
I'm sure many of you are thinking, "Well, duh, Sean." I know. I'm a little slow sometimes.
Since this song just came up on my playlist, let's just make it a musical f-bomb day.
I've never seen the official music video before. I like this one better (even though the whole song isn't there.)
No, these are not the symptoms of some new medication to control cholesterol. These are the symptoms of prolonged exposure to Michelle Bachmann and her unapologetic idiocy. According to the news spot on the radio this morning she says she knows how to create jobs: cut corporate taxes, eliminate capital gains taxes and rollback EPA regulations. "...she says voters 'must make a bold choice if we are to secure the promise of the future'" (NPR). I have to ask, "Secure the promise of the future for who?"
This spot came right on the heels of another spot talking about the sluggish economy and how we've definitely hit a "soft spot." Can we please stop blaming gas prices? What is the problem with the economy? It depends on middle class spending and nothing anyone is doing right now is inspiring confidence in the middle class. In fact, everything that is happening now is doing exactly the opposite.
First of all, the rich and large corporations do not need more money. Period. They have plenty. Newspapers aren't dying because they're being smothered by taxes. Corporate taxes and taxes for the wealthy are at their lowest in U.S. history. So where are the goddamned jobs? Why hasn't that translated into higher wages? Because the whole premise of trickle down economics is a complete farce. American's know this. Forty plus years of lowering taxes hasn't helped them one bit. Republicans and their wealthy friends are no longer satisfied now with a slow transfer of wealth. Now it's an all out assault on the fortunes of the "little people." How do we pay for tax cuts to the rich (since our previous strategy of borrowing from China isn't working now)? By cutting services for everyone else. How do we solve the budget problems of the states? By hamstringing unions and making it easier to balance the budget by...wait for it...cutting salaries and benefits for the middle class and the working poor.
A friend of mine posted this propaganda piece to his Facebook page saying, "This video is an interesting look about what would happen if we taxed the rich and large corporations to help us pay for the $3.7 Trillion budget we are going to spend in 2011." First of all, no, it's not about taxation. For crying out loud, the video is titled "Eat the Rich!" Nothing like a little blood spatter to distract from the fact you're making a completely irrelevant point. No one has ever said the rich should bear sole responsibility for the deficit. But there's a flip side to this argument as well. The rich can't spend their way out of our economic mess either. They simply do not have the spending power. Ironic isn't it?
Let's face it folks, the current state of our economy is directly related to corporate greed. It's directly related to the very rich and narcissistic idiots like Bachmann for whom entitlement issues is just barest surface of personal failings that make them believe that $100 million will make them happy if $10 million hasn't. The banking industry didn't engage in risky and unethical practices in order to pay their taxes. And who has borne the brunt of consequences of this behavior? The middle class. Those who haven't lost their homes have seen their equity evaporate and are so far underwater their homes have no value. Pensions and retirement savings are gone. And we wonder why spending is stagnant and why Republican calls for decreasing taxes on corporations and the very wealthy all the while cutting benefits and services for everyone else aren't inspirational.
I must admit I have been extremely frustrated with the apparent lack of Democratic will and ability to take back the debate, to point out the blatant misinformation that is being perpetrated as fact, to do more to let the middle class know, "Hey. We've got your back." Sometimes, though, I wonder if this isn't a fairly accurate metaphor for what is going on on Capitol Hill.
Damn. I'm gonna have to break down and read the books again. I own them all. I just gave up on them. George spins a fantastic yarn, but it's been six years since the last book was released and there's no news regarding the next book's release date. The last time George updated his web site on the subject was 2008.
According to Wikipedia, there are two more books after that. Heaven help me. At the rate he's going, I'll end up re-reading the entire series whenever he puts out a new book. Six years is a long time to try and remember a story that complex.
There's also the concern that he'll never finish. George isn't exactly a spring chicken.
I saw Swan Lake at the Vienna Opera House when I was on my mission. I left somewhat underwhelmed and haven't been really big on ballet ever since. Maybe it was because we were in the stehplaetze (standing places) and even with rails to lean on, three hours is a damn long time to be standing—they're super cheap and in the old emperor's box so the view of the stage is superb—or maybe it was because there were too many girls....
I think I could have stood and watched that for three hours. Perhaps I begin to understand why so many people gush about Swan Lake now.
I had a similar experience a while back with a movie called Another Gay Movie. I've tried watching similar adolescent hijinks movies and always found them boring and unfunny. I turned American Pie off after about 15 minutes. Another Gay Movie? As my little brother would say, "I was cramping." Yes, it was adolescent. Yes, it was predictable, but I laughed out loud several times and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
A gay man (or woman) spends most of his (or her) life swimming against the hetero-current of society. When one occasionally finds a gay eddy in which to rest, it's a wonderful respite.
Three years of being trashed by Apple in one of the cleverest ad campaigns I've seen in a while and this is the best (belated) response Microsoft can come up with? Apparently their marketing department is as lame as their engineering department. No wonder Apple is starting to eat into their market share. Good thing Microsoft owns a sizable interest in Apple.