Thursday, November 30, 2006

Silent Night

It's snowing where I am. It's been snowing since 1:00 this afternoon. Since our evening concert was cancelled (along with class) in the middle of the dress rehearsal, I had a bit of free time. So I went with a couple of friends to a restaurant and ate "lunch" at 3:00 or so. The food joint isn't far from campus. We all drove, and the half-mile drive through the falling snow and panicking drivers took about 30 minutes.

The restaurant has big glass windows (almost floor to ceiling), so I was able to sit and watch the flakes fall. I'm at a loss to explain why snow effects me so profoundly. I know that when snow is falling, it quiets my mind. Since I've been home this afternoon, I've opened all my blinds. When I walk into various rooms for food, drinks, papers, or whatever, I run the very real risk of being captivated by what's going on outside my window. I spent ten minutes looking out the window earlier without even realizing what I was doing.

And since you read this entry at your own speed (not the speed at which I write it), you can't tell that I just did it again. I padded out to the kitchen in search of something to drink and got stuck at the window on my way back.

There are no people out. No cars on the roads. No animals wandering. Just streetlights, one after another around the curve until they become indistinct in the snow haze. When I look out, I feel myself relaxing in a way that almost nothing else allows me to do. There is a timeless feeling, watching the snow fall, as though it could go on forever.

I love the sound. Regular sounds get absorbed and curtailed almost as they are created. Shouts fall to the ground exhausted before making it across the street. A new sound eclipses everything. The sizzle of snow falling on snow, like sand poured from an hourglass. It's never loud. Just constant. Omnipresent. Supporting. And my body feels different. Eventually I realize it is because for the length of that moment, I have no worries. There is no stress. There are no expectations. My mind is tranquil.

To me, it is an experience most profound. It resonates in me; I feel it in my soul, as I would the wind on my face. Perhaps this is what happens to others when they have a religious moment, or get to the beautiful beach on a fantastic summer day, or fall in love with someone who makes the knees weak: it's an experience that brings acknowledgement of the enormity of the moment.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Healthy Relationships

I had great news this evening. Out of the blue, I talked with my roommate for three of four undergrad years. I haven't talked to him for months, and it's always nice to catch up with good friends. Even if they've fallen by the wayside. It really is incredible how easy it is to pick up good relations with people if your general demeanor was positive before the interruption.

He let me know that he's engaged to a woman he's been with for at least a couple of years. I can remember sitting in the dark in our dorm room, talking about relationships and women while lying in our do-it-yourself bunk beds (liberal use of duct tape). Now he teaches high school, gets called "Mr." by his students, and is getting married.

This is awesome. I love good news for my friends. Even better when it's a good man whom I lived with for years. I'm sure some of you are wondering what sort of person this guy could be, for me to like him as a roomie. He's basically just like me, except instead of trombone, he listens to a lot of heavy metal. [insert trombone/metal joke here] In a way, perhaps I'm glad he's engaged because it buoys my own relationship perceptions. After all, if a crazy weirdo like HIM can scam.... I mean, woo a girl, there's GOT to be hope for everyone.

Before I get to the real point of this entry, I must make a confession. It's nothing I should feel guilt for, but I feel it just the same. In fact, it's the sort of gleeful "I'm doing something wrong" guilt we used to get when we placed thumbtacks on the teachers chair, or "Vasalined" the science classroom doorknob. I've been listening to a small amount of Christian talk radio. I started when my mp3 player batteries had run out while crossing the state, and now every once and a while, I tune it in to see what's happening.

Usually, it's a pastor speaking about a subject in a recorded sermon. Occasionally, there's some sort of studio show where a pastor gets a bunch of set-up questions lobbed at them by the straight man.

"That's fascinating, Pastor Bob. And speaking of fascinating, are there any good ways to bring the spirit of Christ into my household chores?"

"Steve, I'm glad you asked that. Most people, even most Christians, don't allow the Lord into their laundry rooms! But the Bible clearly tells us that Jesus washed people's feet at the Last Supper. Obviously, Jesus wants us all to follow his example with our white and warm-dark loads. It's all in my new series, 'What Does Jesus Do With My Missing Socks?"

But the last time I listened, it was a call-in relationship advice show. It would have been completely uninteresting except that the caller was a man who was conflicted about when to tell his girlfriend about some homosexual feelings in his past. I figured this was all cut and dried; true to my expectations, the advice-giver praised him for leaving behind his sinful choice and embracing the word of the Lord (and embracing women). Then it came out that he and his girlfriend hadn't really gone out in months. And they only really went out a couple of times, and there were always other people there. And she had said then that she didn't really want consider them "dating."

By this point, the advisor has correctly determined this guy doesn't really have a girlfriend. At least, not the sort of relationship modern science could measure. She switched tactics to tell him that maybe he needed to accept God's sign that they weren't meant to be together. And that God only really blesses a union if there is a true and holy understanding between the man and woman.

Basically, she's trying to tell him to go out and get a real woman; your girlfriend isn't just the woman who brushed your arm at a party on the way to the punch bowl. She started asking him about his younger life and suggesting that he broaden his social horizons and meet new people. Then it came up that he'd been home-schooled from the age of four, had been strictly kept away from women, and had only met this girl at the library when he was trying to register to vote. The advisor switched tactics, began praising home schooling as a godly course, and that he was probably better off in the long run because of the incorporation of the Bible into everyday academics. She also thought gender isolation was a good way to promote "respect" between girls and boys.

I have no doubts that home-schooling probably produces a superior academic student. Most parents I know who are inclined to homeschool would no doubt be slavish taskmasters with regards to their children's education. Having said that, I think that raising a child without giving them the opportunity to socialize with the opposite sex is a form of child abuse. In listening to this young man talk on the radio, it was clear that he was completely flummoxed when it came to dealing with women his own age. I felt great pity as he explained his frustration in trying to get the girl to like him and marry him (that was his ultimate goal).

I'm no social whirlwind, but I know the power that a woman can have over if she actually pays attention to me. It's a wonderful feeling to receive attention from someone, but it can be overwhelming if you're not used to it. Socializing has lots of subtle workings that differentiate between a person who's really interested in you vs. one who is only paying attention to be polite. If this poor guy doesn't have a good background in dating and dealing with rejection, he's going to start blaming some external source for his problems, instead of examining himself for what he needs to change.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"Only a good-for-nothing is not interested in his past."

--Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939)

I felt certain I had written something on this subject before, but since I've done a couple of searches and didn't find anything, you're stuck with old material. Ha!

As I mentioned before, this year is the tenth anniversary of my high school graduating class. I suppose it is most correctly celebrated in May, but we're so special we've decided to spread it out a little. Since this week has been so "past focused," there is little surprise that I'm also in a reflective mood (although going by my previous entries, I probably didn't need the excuse).

I went to visit friends of mine last week, and he had unearthed a couple of videos from the archives in his parents house. Doesn't it sound much more grand to say "archives," rather than "a slightly mildewed box in the basement"? Anyway, this was video taken by our band director in March of 1996 when the group went to England, and a video of the musical from the same year, "Camelot".

When the first frames came up from the travel video, it showed a guy I used to be friends with. One of those "every day, hang out" friends. I laughed when I saw him packing stuff onto buses, because I haven't seen him since the day we graduated. In my mind's eye, he still looks the same as he does in the video. I laughed because I know he's changed, but when I think about where he is now, I know he's ten years older, but I still SEE the high school senior working phones or training seals or whatever he does now.

And lo, into frame enters me. I remember that jacket! And what's with the hair? Sort of a Count Rugen from "Princess Bride" look, only flatter at the top and puffier around the ears. Like a pageboy if I were wearing around-the-back earmuffs under my hair. Weird.

And as the camera panned through the crowd on the high school steps, I was amazed at how many people I didn't know. Who was that guy? Was she even IN our class? My friend pointed out that we were seniors by this point; we didn't need to know everyone. I'd never thought of it like that, but it was immediately confirmed in my mind. When I was a freshman, I knew everyone who was older than I was, and I'm not sure why. But as I became the elder, I just knew some of the people younger than I. I guess that's what happens when you become more important.

As an aside, I had a similar experience two weeks ago when I sat in with a band in place of a friend. One of the trumpet players I sat next to (a young kid, first or second year undergrad), greeted me and said, "Nice to play next to you again, Doctor Andy." This took me by surprise, and I looked again at this guy (surreptitiously). No, he still doesn't look familiar. I'm searching through my brain.... did I know his older siblings? Have I played with him in a group before? Is he the kid who used to steal oranges from the supermarket in Columbia? I even looked at the name on his band folder, but it meant nothing to me. Turns out he was just in the same band I was last year. Not even the same section, but apparently, I was a much more memorable persona in the room than the average (trumpet) student. Who knew?

Anyway... just amazing to see people in these videos. Some people have changed remarkably. Some people HAVEN'T CHANGED at all. Freakishly, they still look like they do in these videos from high school. No wonder I have a hard time thinking of people as their proper age!

As Bill Cosby would say, I told you that story to tell you this one....

*** *** ***

Every time I drive through the state of Missouri, I pass through Columbia. It's a town of approximately 100,000 residents which rests on the main interstate more or less halfway across. I spent two years there doing my master's degree, in 2000-02. I spent less time there than I spent anywhere else I've lived, including Kansas City. But I can't drive through it without being stampeded with memories.

I experienced this acutely when I stopped for dinner during my last crossing. It was a restraunt I'd be in before, with a wide variety of people who no longer live in that city. This isn't a big deal at all; people tend to move around quite a bit. In Columbia, however, the awareness is tremendous. So, as I'm sitting there eating, I'm being visited by memories of many people, places, and things. It felt sort of like what happens to people in horror movies: they get possesed by demons only they can see and hear.

The reality is that it's not a horror film. These memories I'm experiencing aren't bad. Most of them aren't good, either! They're just memories, of things that used to happen in places I used to be. I don't want to create the impression that I'm dreading driving through a town, or that I've got some scar on my psyche that causes me to stutter when I say anything remotely related, like "Col...Col....COLumbus Day sale!" Far from it.

But Columbia does feel like a ghost town. Strange to say for a town with a ton of people living there, but it feels that way. It probably has mostly to do with the fact that I no longer know anyone who has a home there. The town, which once had many open doors and expectant faces in it, is now populated exclusively by "other people." Maybe it's because I now drive through it, rather than it being my destination.

Or maybe it's just the thought that a town I once knew as "home" is now just a place to eat and buy gas.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Unneccesary Reunion

My high school graduating class had their ten-year reunion this week. Since my high school has a long and storied history regarding a certain Thanksgiving football game and their arch rivals, the next high school over, the organizers felt this was a better time to hook lots of people who may be in town for Thanksgiving at the parents or reliving old high school football games.

I had every intention of going to at least one of the events, but the more I thought about it, the more I hesitated. If I had attended, I would not be guaranteed to see the few people I am really curious about. The odds are good I would instead see the multitudes who I have no strong feelings about one way or the other. I'm not angry enough to hold a grudge against people who didn't like me back then. The flip side, though, is that I'm not particularly eager to make conversation with a bunch of people I used to see in the halls (and even then, I didn't know them).

It might have been another story if I had gone with someone else. With a companion, if the joint is lame, you can laugh about it. Bringing a friend along covers a LARGE set of evils. However, there's only so many times you can bring a good male friend someplace without people wondering. And there's only so many times you can bring a girlfriend (who doesn't know anyone) as a trophy / companion. I've done it once for a wedding (my poor girlfriend!) and we both agreed it wasn't fair or entertaining.

The biggest reason I didn't feel compelled is because I've done a good job keeping track of people I might want to know. A few exchanged letters over the years is enough to keep me "in the loop" of what they're up to. There are some people I wish I knew more about, true, but I know how to go about contacting them if I want to (i.e., through their parents, last known cities, etc.) So I don't feel the great push to press hands with people whose names have not had a single minutes thought from me in ten years.

If there had been a way to ensure that everyone I'd want to talk to could be there, I would have spent the money gladly. As it is, I'm not going to call the girl I had a crush on in 11th grade just to find out if she's coming.

I hear she's married, anyhow.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Out-of-measure happy

Today, someone commented on my cheerful demeanor. They believed it was excessive, in the sense that they had never recalled seeing me so happy. It made me pause! If anyone had asked, yes, I would have commented that I was having a good day. But at least one person thought it was notable; notably different, anyways.

So now the question is: what sort of attitude have I been projecting to this person? No one else said anything about it (so far; the day isn't over yet). If there is an objective change in my outlook today, I blame getting up early.

I woke up early (for me) to get to a dress rehearsal. Alarm set for 6:30 AM. Here in KC, that means it's still dark out. Stumbling through my place, I turned on all the lights in the reverse order from turning them out going to bed. Bedside, bathroom, hall, kitchen. Needless to say, I was NOT cheerful at this time. Grumpy, even.

I can't find the trail that leads from early rising to "surprising good mood," but it's the only portion of my routine that has changed this week. So, if you ever see me in an atypically good mood, you can feel free to ask if my alarm clock went off early.

Now my fear is that my day will be so long, I'll crash during the rehearsal I have tonight. Since the first show is tomorrow, perhaps people can just leave me down there if I happen to fall asleep. I'll know it's bad if even the gunshot that murders the preacher fails to break the thick fog.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Reductio ad Absurdum

-- 1) a form of logical argument where a point is carried to an extreme and unlikely (but logically sequential) conclusion in order to dispute that point.

-- 2) if you are author J.K. Rowling, reductio absurdum is most likely a spell Harry Potter uses to make Lord Voldemort small and silly.

The federal government offers money to schools and other organizations that will teach "abstinence-only" sexual education. These programs "teach that abstaining from sex is the only effective or acceptable method to prevent pregnancy or disease. They give no instruction on birth control or safe sex." Recently, the government expanded the scope of this education beyond teenagers, and the program now includes people up to 29 years of age. ARTICLE

According to the article, this expansion came about because unmarried women in the 19-29 age group have more children than unmarried women in any other age group. A spokesperson at the Department of Health and Human Services says, "The message is 'It's better to wait until you're married to bear or father children.' [...] The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence."

If I can digress to a COMPLETELY UNRELATED TOPIC, I'm really worried about being shot one night. Kansas City is a rough town, and I may end up getting shot while minding my own business. In fact, people in my age group are more likely to be shot than anyone! It would be nice if the city would increase police presence, tell me where the bad neighborhoods are, or cut down on the factors that encourage violence, but there's really only one fool-proof way to be 100% sure I won't be shot.

We need to destroy all guns. We can't just get all the guns in Kansas City, either. Someone might get crafty and import one from somewhere far away like Topeka. So we have to destroy all guns in the world. Otherwise, there would still be a chance I would get shot.

That's why I support abstinence-only sex ed. If you tell people in nasty, clinical details about sexually-transmitted diseases, that will probably just encourage them to have sex and collect them all, like some sort of pus-filled Pokemon. Can't have that. If we tell them how and why birth control works, then we may have to explain uncomfortable things. And if you tell them about birth control methods, they may use them. That might lead to less young unmarried people having babies! Who wants that?

Because the federal program is expanding to try to cut down on the number of unmarried mothers, I suppose that means it's relatively OK for all those gay people to have sex. After all, no danger of children there! But I'd really prefer they'd be abstinent and just stick to oral sex. In 1999, 30% of a survey group of health care teachers believed that performing oral sex fell within the bounds of abstinence. And since abstinence is 100% preventative of disease (as mentioned above), I'm sure there's many other good explanations for the many reported cases of pharygeal (throat) gonorrhea among some groups "not typically thought to be sexually active." No doubt some infected pudding cups.

Most importantly, I think it's the responsibility of the government to teach people about abstinence until they turn 30. Mostly because people who have waited 29 years to have sex and who are considered "responsible adults" in the eyes of the law are the MOST likely to suddenly abandon their pledge and have impulse sex, leading to excess unmarried childbirth.

Of course, all bets are off if you're married. Then go wild with kids. That's what government assistance is for. But be careful here in Kansas. We consider ourselves guardians of the sacred adult bond that is marriage. We want only rational, mature individuals getting married. That's why in May, our legislature passed a statute that prohibits marriage of anyone under 18.

Well, unless you have a note from your parents. Then you can marry at 16 and 17. That's the limit though!

Oh, unless a judge thinks it's in your best interest. Then you can marry at 15. But 15, that's the real limit. Seriously! Marriage is for rational, mature adults of 15 or older!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hold on...

Ever get that feeling that you just want to grab someone and not let go? Maybe it's because things are rough. Maybe it's because someone finally treats you the way you want to be treated. Maybe it's because someone sees the "you" that even you didn't see. Maybe there's a big step that needs to be taken, and it's frightening.

And whoever that person is, you just want to grab on. Because holding onto someone means that someone else is real. Because they're not moving in the swirling tides. Because they know what it is to be adrift. Because they can never know, but they understand. Because they can't understand, but they feel that you need them. Because they don't even know why they're so helpful and wonderful. Because we know that as human beings, a touch is powerful.

Touching someone else is a consequential action. Some people do it casually. I know many people who do it practically without thinking about it. Some of those people act like it's no big deal, but I know that they thought about it. They analyzed the situation in advance. They calculated how casual to make the touch so it would still feel like no big deal. But those people know different. They know why they want the contact, but they're afraid of the reasons. They're afraid of being spurned, even as they reach out to someone (which they probably seldom do). They want a form of intimacy, and are willing to disguise it under a friendly "Listen to this!" tap. Or a "watch out, that person needs to get behind you" pull. Or a "help me off the floor" touch.

Other people know exactly what their touch means. It's a comfort. It's a tease. It's sympathy. It's relief. It's camaraderie. It's an apology. It's a commiseration on why it has to be so hard. It's a possessive feeling. It's a sign you aren't dreaming. It's a sign of the beginning. It's a sign it's over. It's a "this touch gives me some of your worries." It's a plea for understanding.

And everyone once and a while, don't you wish your embrace had the power to block out the world? To hold someone and keep on holding until all the troubles fade, all the problems are fixed, all the fear evaporates. To hold them because that's all that can be done; there is no other possible choice. To hold them until things work out like they should. To hold them to show that there is no "alone." To hold them because there are too many words to express the joy. To hold them because there are no words to express the sorrow. To hold them because you wish you could protect them, even though you can't. To hold them because you can't let go.

Do you ever get that feeling? neither...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Motivated to be Anti-Hetero Marriage

Apparently, while most of the civilized America was watching the polls and contemplating the ethics of stem cell research, Brittany Spears and her husband...umm...Mr. Spears, filed for divorce. While this is not the sort of thing I usually comment on (unless it's to mention that these are the people we need to defend marriage FROM), I found a video which cried out, nay.... COMPELLED me to post it. It contains the lyrics to one of Kevin Federline's songs, from his aborted rap career.

Lest I say too much, let me end with two words: James Lipton. Bask in the hilarity.

P.S. It helps if you've ever watched Bravo for any period of time.
P.P.S. Moderate language warning.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pacing in circles

I've spent all evening (since I got home from rehearsal) doing the same things. Going through the same pattern of websites. Waiting for something to change.

Isn't it funny how we can expect certain things to happen? I have no reason to believe that anything out of the ordinary is going to happen tonight (election night notwithstanding), but I still feel this need to keep checking my email accounts. I haven't sent anything terribly important lately that I'm expecting an answer to, yet still I hover.

Is it weird to be anticipating something but not know what it is? How can I look forward to something if I'm not expecting anything? I'm seriously confused.

Or maybe I do know, deep in my heart of hearts. In James Clavell's novel "Shogun," one of the characters refers to the medieval Japanese as having three hearts. One they wear on the outside to show to everyone, one in the mouth that only your close friends and family see, and a third that is hidden from everyone but yourself.

Am I waiting for something that I can't admit? The idea confuses me. And what happens when what I'm waiting for doesn't happen? Does it change me?

Or do I go back to walking in circles and waiting...

Is it paranoia if you think people are out to mess up things that don't really matter?

I ask this question because I have a stereotypical understanding of paranoia. I picture the guy holed up in his basement with jars of peanut butter and firearms because he's worried the IRS (who front for the alien overlord) is coming to take his brain. The dictionary defines paranoia as excessive fear or anxiety about one's own well-being taken to irrational levels.

Is it still paranoia if you're not really afraid? Or if the thing you're afraid of isn't important, and you know it isn't? I ask these questions because of a press release I found on the G.O.P. website. It's about exit polls, which is what television stations conduct by surveying people who left the ballot place. They're not scientific. They're not binding. The only reason they exist is for the television stations (who program 6 or eight hours of election "coverage") to begin to have some numbers to report. They do this because it takes time to count all the ballots, and results usually don't come until late in the day. What are they going to talk about if they don't have some numbers? So they latch onto anything, like exit polls, statistical probabilities, and even counting bumper stickers on cars.

As someone who's read "Statistics for Dummies," you can tell I don't think much of these exit polls. Here's the strange thing: apparently, the GOP does. Here's the link. That release, which starts with the attention-getting "BEWARE the exit polls," lets everyone know that traditionally, the Republicans aren't favored in exit polls. If this were just a statement saying "The exits may not favor us, but hold on: we win in the end!" I wouldn't be surprised. After all, that's basically what's happened lately.

But when I read this statement, I get the feeling like there's something else going on here. There are sections about exit polls influencing voter turn out in later time zones. They talk about how things skewed Democratic, but they turned around when the "real vote" came in. Doesn't everyone know that just asking the people who they voted for on the way to their cars isn't a great and reliable system? Why spend all this fact-finding research to put together an offical GOP statement?

In the past year, I've started to notice that everyone, even (or especially) the people in power, like to portray themselves as underdogs. They feel that everyone is out to get them. When immigration was hot news, people were running studies about how immigrants would take over the US with their higher birth rates and good work ethics. When the Supreme Court allowed Michael Schiavo to have his wife's feeding tube removed, people yelled that our rights were being trampled by the "activists". When the evolution vs. creationism (or "intelligent design") battle heated up, people were horrified that the giant scientific edifice was going to trample that plucky underdog Christianity.

After all, everyone knows that Christians are just a ragtag group of underfunded, persecuted, and harried people here in America. After all, they only make up ... 80% of the population! How can Christians in America do anything politically or socially when they have to face being in the supermajority? It's that godless and amoral 10% that's holding them back, curse this representative democracy!

Guess what? If you're in the majority and you find yourself unable to do some of the things you really want to do that effect everyone, the founding fathers are smiling. A lot of care and thought went into our political system to try to prevent the democratic (small "d") situation of the "tyranny of the majority." And even though a group may poll in the majority, in reality that group is made up of individuals who have their own ideas. I know scientists who are opposed to stem cell research, and I know devout Catholics who would support it.

No matter what creative polling and fancy spin might suggest, not everyone is in the minority. Not everyone is "under fire" or "threatened." Not everyone is having their values trampled by the gigantic opposition. When states that are traditionally pigeonholed into one party or another have candidate races that are statistically too close to call, that means that democracy is working. And if you think exit polls are anything other than an interesting number, you may need a reality check.

In addition to a course in political statistics.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Who's a Blog for, anyway?

I had an apostrophe in the shower, as I often do. It was relating to this blog, and how I was mistaken about it's true effect when I first started out. Travel through the wayback machine and look at my first entry in February here. In it, I basically equate this blog to a public journal. Now that I've been working on it for a few months, I know that's not correct.

This came about because of the entry I removed. In talking with someone else, I decided that the main problem was one of focus. Is the blog for me, or is it for other people? Initially, I thought it was for me. I wouldn't have referred to it as a journal otherwise. I have quite a few entries that are "journal-like," in that an event is mentioned and I spend the rest of my "paper" hashing through it. What does it mean, etc.

But gradually, and especially when I had to decide why to pull an entry, I have taken a different view. It's not that the blog is any LESS about me. I'm still the only content provider, my opinion is all that gets heard (outside of the occasional comment), I'm deciding what I'm going to write about... but I don't think I'm writing for me. That realization came when I noticed that I can't write whatever I feel like.

I take it back; I CAN write anything, but I don't want to. Because everything I write can effect someone else. Let's say I was madly in love with a girl. I wouldn't want to write about it on here, no matter how excited I was or how great the girl was. It wouldn't be fair to expose any relationship to such one-sided scrutiny in public. I made a decision not to write specifically about my students, too. Since my blog is attached to my name, it is possible (though unlikely) that anything poor I said could come back to me.

So it's not a journal. I can write anything in my journal, because almost no one has the opportunity to see it. On this blog, who knows who reads it? People I've never met could read it, or (even worse!) people I used to know. So I'm not free to talk about who used to wet their pants, or who kissed me because of a bet.

If it's not a journal, what is it? It's a social outlet. At the risk of sounding pathetic, I live by myself. My neighbor alternates between mistakenly reporting me for noise violations and bringing me pie to make up for said reports. When I turn off the TV, it gets quiet. However, I'm not looking for sympathy; I like living alone. That quiet is very relaxing, and when I put stuff someplace, it stays there! But there's a part of me that wants to connect to other people.

Sure, there's going out and drinking, but the chances for serious conversation aren't good (and I don't mean things that *seem* serious when you're drunk). So by updating my blog, I'm touching base (in a way) with everyone who reads it. People know what I'm thinking about that I might not get a chance to talk about while I'm rehearsing or taking a test. The reader and I get to share an experience.

One thing that my last serious girlfriend and I agreed upon was that a good relationship is maintained in strength by shared experiences. If I know what you are going through, that allows me empathy. It allows people to feel connected, even when the distance between them is great. By distance, I'm referring to mileage, temperament, or philosphy, to name a few.

So, much as I have stumbled across pictures of actor friends in productions, taped audio lectures from friends who work in art galleries, and papers of friends who are in scholarship (and felt close to them because of it), I create this blog to leave a signpost. I'm writing this for you as much as for me. And when I say "for you," it's not a situation of obligation, as if I gave you a scooter for your birthday and now you have to write a thank-you. My blog is not designed specifically to help you, hinder you, or illuminate you. My blog is not a gift or present any more than a business card is a gift for the guy you interview with. That's an impersonal metaphor, but my point is:

You are the intended audience.

PS. I still think it's tremendously funny that Blogger's spell check doesn't accept "blog" as a word.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Doctor is Out

Ahh mellow-ness. How I've missed you.

On this chilly night I have a fire, a cup of hot chai, and an inclination towards thinking things I have not yet thought. It's time for me to puzzle over my own issues, other people's issues, and where they intersect.

Life is good. If anyone needs me, I'll be on my futon.

Holy Bullshit!

I finished a post last night. I even published it to the blog. It was up for probably five minutes before I decided to take it down. That is the first post I've put up that I subsequently erased since beginning this blog. Here's why:

1) It felt repetitive. It was partially about religion and the abuse of power using modern media, specifically over children. While the specific subject is not something I've talked about before, it felt like another post where I shine a spotlight on religious flaws. I don't want this blog to be about awful people, but they really need to keep a lower profile! That would help me out...

2) It concerned children. I have a hard time maintaining even the illusion of self-control when it comes to misdirection and (what I consider) mental abuse of children. If you want to see me furious in anger, do something hurtful to a child who doesn't know any better. The post was written after contemplating three separate opinions on how to co-opt children to advance particular religious or societal causes. It made me angry.

3) It wasn't well structured. I like to maintain a balance in my entries. Balance light with serious, balance pro- with anti-, balance stupidity with wisdom. The phantom post contained little of this balance; instead, it was the sort of entry I don't particularly like to read. It was filled with one-sided pronouncements and preaching. Not only is this monotonous, it also damages an author's credibility.

I wasn't planning on mentioning it at all. I was just going to keep it in my drafts folder along with other entries that aren't quite ready yet, like "The Relationship Paradox: Being Alone Together," "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies," and "I am all three sides of the triangle." But then someone who figured into the entry, the Reverend Ted Haggard, made an appearance in the news today. Man, I told you not to make it easy for me!


Ted Haggard is the pastor in a large mega-church in Colorado. I believe they boast 14,000 members. He also recently appeared in the documentary "Jesus Camp," which is the connection to my removed entry. The documentary is about the indoctrination of children into the evangelical church for the purpose of fighting the holy war and reclaiming America from secularism. He was the only participant in the documentary to disown his portrayal. If you want to know what makes me furious, search the Internet for the trailer. He was also interviewed by renowned atheist Richard Dawkins regarding the instruction of "Intelligent Design" in schools. He also has a conference each week with President Bush or one of his advisors.

Anyway, the news released today is that a man is anouncing he has had sex with "Pastor Ted" approximately once a month for three years, for money. I have no idea if this is true or not. My inclination is that it's probably a spurious claim. If it turns out to be true, I'm not even sure I could wrap my brain around the depth and breadth of the hypocrisy for the head of the National Association of Evangelical ministries paying for gay sex. I know I wouldn't be able to laud it over him, because I'd be too sad for him and his existence.

The reason why I bring this up isn't really related to Pastor Ted at all. I found a humorous statement (to me) in the news article. He has stepped down as head minister and the church will form a four member committee to investigate the claims. The church spokeswoman said, "This is really routine when any sort of situation like this arises, so we're prepared."

So, do they have a lot of people in authority being accused of secretly being gay? So much so that there is a "routine" they go through? I'm assuming they don't convene a hearing when just any old parishioner might be gay. I suppose they must first decide if the claim has merit. If it does, then according to their beliefs, the suspect must have chosen to become gay.

I guess that would be the end of membership in the church, unless the person decides to "un-gay" himself.