Future?

I recently stumbled across the short film from last summer. It’s a graduation project from two art academy students. I love the technology demonstrated in this film and it’s impact on society, and society’s impact on the direction of the technology demonstrated.

Do you think we are headed in this direction?

Politics.

The air is getting thick with the impending Presidential elections in November. I’m starting to overhear conversations at work and they are heated. A keep hearing and seeing the word “united” in the “United States of America” but the people don’t seem united. There are united factions, but the people as a whole seem split right down the middle. Everything is 50/50. One extreme or another. No shades of gray, it’s either black or white. Negative or positive. No compromise. I wonder if the media cooks it up to be a tight race so that there will be more ratings, which ends up with the sheep following their lead.

Kind of heavy stuff to be thinking about on a sunny Friday afternoon. I sometimes wonder what the world would be like today had Hillary been the nominee in 2008 instead of Obama. I guess I’ll have to find a way to an alternative universe to find that out.

The Social Commentary Realisation.

I remember it like it was just a few days ago. It was third period of a typical freshman day back when I was in high school. I was sitting in Room 208, ready for English class. I was feeling particularly good because I had read the assigned short story the night before. I adored reading back then, just as I do today, but I despised being told what to read. For me, part of the joy of reading is discovering on my own as to what I want to read. Being told to read something with empty promises of literary escape just rubs me the wrong way. But I felt pretty good because I had read the short story that was assigned to us and I was ready for the quiz that I was sure Miss Whalen was about to pop.

Miss Whalen entered the room carrying all of her necessary teaching equipment, she was one of the few teachers that didn’t have her own room because the school wasn’t big enough for the temporary population explosion going on in our tiny village. This was her usual way of entering the room, book bags and gear in tow; what was unusual on this day was that she was pushing a cart with a TV and one of those newfangled VCRs.  We were going to watch a movie.

So much for the pop quiz.

Now when I completed my assignment and read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson the night before, I kind of envisioned it taking place in some sort of nebulous time that wasn’t the present. They were talking about lotteries and crops and stonings and the like, so I figured it must have taken place in some medieval time. People didn’t act that way anymore.  Why would a community want to stone people to death in the 20th century? Stoning a person to death was something that happened in the Middle Ages.

Miss Whalen made a few remarks and then started up the VCR. I was immediately surprised by the setting as soon as I saw the pickup truck: it was taking place in a small farming community that could have been any community not far from the little town I went to school in. While the film felt ‘old’ (it was made in 1969 and the year was 1982), it still felt far more contemporary than the scenes I had played in my head the night before as I was doing my assignment. The clothes were familiar. The vehicles were familiar. The attitudes were familiar.

As the short film progressed, almost word for word with what I had read the night before, I realized that something was wrong with those people on the screen. Why didn’t they think about what they were doing? They were just blindly following a tradition that no one really understood anymore other than the saying “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon”.  These people paid no attention to the fact that they were about to stone a woman to death. And she was such a nice woman. She wasn’t some medieval woman who wore big dresses that I envisioned in my head thing night before. The woman they were about to stone could have been the mother of any of my classmates.

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My young heart cried out as the first stone hit Tessie Hutchinson as she cried out “it’s not fair.”  Terrified for Tessie and terrified that I would be teased for the remainder of the day, I hid the tears that were welling up in my eyes. I shoved the lump in my throat back down where it belonged. I wasn’t going to gasp out loud and I wasn’t going to cry for this fictional character. No one would see me do that. But something struck a chord within my soul that day in Room 208.  Luckily, the film wasn’t horribly graphic but the audio was another matter. Her cries freaked me out and rattled me immensely. Watching that film was a life changer for me.

Heavy stuff for a naive high school freshman.

Last night as we left the movie theatre, having just thoroughly enjoyed “The Hunger Games”, my thoughts drifted back to “The Lottery” and Tessie Hutchinson.  I did a quick search on the Internet when I got home and found it available on YouTube. I watched it again from beginning to end. No fast forward. No skipping. No rewinding. Beginning to end, just like the day in Room 208. I cringed and teared up and honestly, I’m not afraid to admit that I had to go upstairs and cuddle with my husband for a few moments. It’s been 30 years since I last saw that movie but it hit home just as hard, if not harder than it did back in high school. The folks in the story were doing what tradition told them to do, without even thinking about the ramifications. They did something just because “that’s the way it’s done”. The old man that keeps grumbling about new thought and the young people in neighboring towns ending the tradition of the Lottery even though we don’t really know why they’re doing the Lottery, other than the brief mention about “Lottery in June, corn heavy soon”, how different is that from the talk about “traditional marriage” today? How many people blindly follow tradition without providing any thought to what they’re doing? I have little against folks that follow the teachings of the Bible, as long as they’re using their brains when they’re studying the words that they’re following. Today, how many elders cast stones and then hand more stones to their youngsters so they’ll blindly cast stones as well? How many teenagers brutally attack their classmates that are different simply because they’ve seen their parents act the same way? How many people today follow tradition simply because they’re following tradition? How whacked out is that?

Olive Dunbar plays Tessie Hutchinson in the 1969 version of the movie and she does it well. The changes in her expression with each realization as the lottery progresses hits me hard. Like I said, she could easily be the mom of any of my contemporaries. She goes from a housewife who is late to the ritual because she didn’t want to leave dirty dishes in the sink to a woman who is forced to realize her own mortality in minutes, all in the name of tradition. The cinematography is subtle. Most would find it bland, boring and amateurish. I find it moving. It steps out of the way and makes the viewer think.

Just as the assigned reading did back in 1982.

These Dreams.

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So last night I spent the night at the Holiday Inn closest to work. I didn’t get the best of night’s sleep, but I did manage to get enough to keep me productive throughout the day. Worried that I was going to sleep through my alarm, I woke up several times during the night. Because of this, I had quite a selection of dreams peppered through my slumber to keep things interesting. For the first time in quite a few nights, I didn’t dream about tornadoes (thanks for taking over that duty, Erik) but instead I had one of my “performance frustration dreams”. These dreams usually come up when I’m worried about not doing well at something and they frequently manifest themselves as something music or radio related; for example, I can’t get CDs into the players fast enough to avoid dead air on the radio or I can’t beat match a mix while DJing at a club, no matter how many times I have been able to mix the two records in question in the past.

Last night’s spin on my performance frustration dreams involved a live performance of the group Heart. In my dream I was one of their sound engineers for this comeback concert, and I was in charge of making sure the recorded music augmented their live performances perfectly. Because I had to make sure the tracks matched the instruments, I was challenged with playing vinyl records that had been recorded at home. And because it was a rowdy crowd, I had to spin the record on top of a beer bottle while holding the needle in place. I couldn’t let the record wobble in any way or else Nancy and Ann would sound all warped, and that would be bad. The record ended up falling off the top of the beer bottle and the whole show slowed down into a warbling, draggy sound. Just as everyone was looking at me for messing up this comeback tour, my dream morphed into something more interesting that didn’t involve frustration at all.

That all being said, because of last night’s dream, this track has been my ear bug, playing over and over. If you follow me on Rdio, you’ll notice that I have played this track several times today trying to get it to move back into my enjoyment category and out of my repetitive category.

So, out of respect for the Wilson sisters of Heart, and with my apologizes for wobbling the record that was spinning on top of the beer bottle, here they are with their 1987 hit, “There’s The Girl.”

Great track, by the way. I LOVE the backup vocals on this. Interesting, melodic backup vocals do a lot more for me than lead vocal acrobatics.

Purple. (Repost)

Show your support of LGBT teens that are struggling by wearing purple today, if you’re not already. Too many teens are committing suicide because of being bullied simply for being different. Suicide is not the answer.

Remember, it gets better. I promise.

Bump.

There are two things that I need to mention in this quick blog entry.

1. Bump. This is an app on the iPad/iPhone/iPod that allows you to share things with other iUsers by simply bumping the two devices together. I tried it a while ago and it didn’t ever work right for me but now I see that the new Facebook app is suggesting it’s use so I’m going to give it another whirl. If you have an iDevice, please bump with me when I see you IRL. (Thanks, Erik, for that abbreviation which means In Real Life).

2. Bump. I bumped my head at work today and I have had a headache since but I have been feeling giddy, which could be due to the bump or to the fact of the aforementioned wedding this week. I don’t feel nauseated and Earl has been keeping a close eye on me so I’m sure that everything is fine aside from the few “Phenomenon” moments I’ve had where I started speaking in French and I tried to levitate the customer sitting in another booth at the restaurant simply by making a whirring sound with my mouth. To be on the safe side Earl has had me touch my nose a couple of times and has asked if I know his name (like I’m going to know that when we aren’t even married yet), but to be on the safe side I filled out an injury report at work. Perhaps I just need a hit of Tylenol with an iced tea chaser or something.

2a. Bump. Did people in the discos of the 1970s (no apostrophe) really dance by doing The Bump? I know about The Hustle, but was there a song called “The Bump”? I’m too giddy to look it up. Please note that the use of “2a” has kept me within the realm of mentioning two things quickly in this blog entry.

Thank you.

Date.

So last night I posted a status update on my Facebook that went something like this:

This wedding is so far outside of my comfort zone but I don’t care.

I was sitting next to Earl when I posted this. We were in the process of assembling wedding invitations and getting them ready for mailing. We talked a little bit about what I meant with this update, but I think my words may have startled some people. As usual, many of our friends and family are excited about our upcoming celebration and expressed sentiments stating this.

First of all, I still can’t put into words the amount of joy that I feel when I think about the fact that I am going to marry the man that I know is my true love. My soul mate. If anyone can put up with my shenanigans for 15 years then there must be something to this whole thing we got going on. I better get it down on paper quick before he comes to his senses.

Folks have asked about our wedding plans, so here’s how it goes. On October 13, 1996, Earl and I hiked to the top of Rocky Mountain Point in the Fulton Chain of Lakes in the Adirondacks. At the top of this mountain, I got down on my knee and asked him to marry me. Like the first time that I told him I loved him (which was romantically situated over a couple of foot long subs at a Subway restaurant), he told me that I better not say it unless I meant it. And I knew that I had never meant any words more in my life than what I was about to say whilst down on my knee.

Earl and I have decided to become legally married on Thursday, October 13, 2011, 15 years to the date after I asked him. We briefly considered doing it at the top of the mountain again, but it would have been cumbersome to hike family and friends to the top, so we are going to have a celebration in a private room at the local casino. There will be vows, we will be wearing suits and there will be a sit-down dinner for a small group of our friends and family.

I call this a celebration because Earl and I exchanged vows in a commitment ceremony back in December 26, 1996 on Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. That’s when the rings went on. We call that our wedding. That’s when it really started for us, after a few months of practice living together and a new washer and dryer. On October 13 we’ll be signing the legal documents, stating our sentiments in carefully constructed vows and sharing with our friends and family what we did privately back in December ’96. That’s kind of cool.

I consider this whole thing to be outside of my comfort zone because I’ve never really understood the need for a big wedding affair. I have seen brides walk down aisles barely representing what they really look like; their hair is being held up by flowers, they have makeup on in places that rarely need sprucing up and they might be stumbling a little as they make their way down an aisle of glaring guests wearing anything but their normally comfortable shoes. Conversely, I’ve seem grooms scrubbed up and cleaned out like they never have been before. Scruff is wiped away, unruly mustaches have been tamed and a comb has been introduced to hair that is usually hidden under a cap. It’s surreal to me. On the other hand, I’ve been to weddings where the bridesmaids ran off with the groom and took him to another bar for three hours. I don’t know if there was a stop at a no-tell motel along the way. Weddings are downright whacky to me for many reasons, but if it makes the couple happy then who am I to judge.

I mentioned to Earl last night that I thought it was going to be a little weird to kiss him in front of friends and family. Now don’t get me wrong, we still kiss and I still love it very much after all of these years, but I’m not one for public displays of affection. I think part of it is because I come from the tail end of the gay generation when you didn’t make other people uncomfortable. I don’t like people being uncomfortable. I get uncomfortable when I see other couples kiss (gay or straight) and to compensate I usually turn away slightly. It’s not that I’m embarrassed by it, but affection is something to be savored between the folks engaging in it. It’s a special moment and I just like to keep those thing private. I took a photo of Earl years ago where he was so overjoyed to be at Disney. His expression was pure happiness. I posted the photo on Flickr but then took it down. That was our moment and something that we would savor. It shouldn’t be put up on the web for people to make comments on. To see it on a website would be out of context. Context is important. The photo was printed out and posted on our wall of photos in our home. I can explain why Earl was so happy. Now that I think this through, I’m sure those celebrating with us will be happy to see that Earl and I share affection all these years later.

Suits have been fitted and will be here in plenty of time for alterations. Hotel reservations have been made and I have made our reservations for a long weekend together as a honeymoon. On Saturday we go to the casino to do some food and cake tasting and finalize the details.

Getting married on a Thursday evening is different. Not many people do that. But the date is special. I hope folks are able to share the moment with us. While I fully believe happiness should be savored, I guess it should also be shared.

I just need to realize that I am comfortable with that.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Smile.

I occasionally, well okay, I often get cranky in this blog and complain about the ills of the world. Most drivers are stupid. I had pink goo on my bagel. The government annoys the cocoa puffs out of me. The thought of Michelle Bachmann becoming president makes me want to move to Reykjavík, Iceland. These sort of things generally irk me, but I’ve been empty on the irk lately.

I’ve been smiling a lot.

I just wrote on my Facebook that it really seems true that if you smile, the world smiles with you.

I noticed in some recent photographs my expression has been noncommittal. Sort of like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, managing it for the most part but not really enjoying the experience.

The truth of the matter is, I’m smiling. I’m smiling a lot because there’s lots to smile about. We are planning a wedding, I have a great job, I am surrounded by wonderful family both at home and at all points around the country.

What’s the sense of getting all crabby about the bad stuff when the good stuff is much more important?

I think folks in what is deemed important places need to learn how to smile again. It’s our job to show them how to do it.

 

What Is Love.

I’ve mentioned on several recent blog entries that I do a lot of thinking on my bike rides. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, the physical exertion or just the freedom I feel while I’m peddling down a rural road in the warm sunshine, but I do some of my most creative thinking whilst on a bike ride. I often come up with blog entries that I never record. It’s time I do something about it.

One of the blog entries that I’ve formulated is this one, and it’s about love. Such a short little word with a big responsibility. Not to get all flower power but I believe that love is really what it’s all about and it’s not something that should be squandered away or ignored. Love should be celebrated. Love should be cherished. Love should be shared.

Growing up I felt a lot of love. I guess I was a happy kid because I felt loved and secure. My mother always told me that she loved me, my father never did. He didn’t need to. Grandma City told me she loved me, Grandma Country didn’t, she didn’t need to. Oh I knew that love was there, it’s just that it was an unspoken love. It didn’t diminish it in anyway and it’s not the way I play the game but that unspoken love wasn’t any less real, it was just conveyed differently.

There are so many different kinds of love. I’ve had three substantial relationships in my life. The first was a puppy love. We’ve all been there, you’re in love with being in love, and you’re going to love whether you really love or not. It makes sense when you’re 18. Looking back it makes you take pause but that’s o.k., it’s just part of our learning. It doesn’t make it any less real, but it’s just a little love.

I loved my second boyfriend as well, but it was more of a kinship type love. After a few beers I’ll declare that I love him to this day (though I don’t just bark it out randomly at people). We share a good friendship. Was it limitless? No. But was it good? Yes.

Now when I fell in love with Earl that’s when love knocked me off my feet. My love for Earl is honestly limitless. I still see fireworks when I see Earl, even all these years later. I love Earl in a way that I will never love another. My love for him is all encompassing. It has consumed every part of my soul and I know with all that I know that my love for him is never ending. I guess that’s easy for me to say as I don’t know what the future brings, but I’m certain that I will always love Earl. “‘Til death do us part.” Yep, it goes that deep. I’ve never felt that before.

Even with the undying love I have for Earl I do love other people. I’m not afraid to tell people that I love them if the emotion is true. This might make people take pause. Now I don’t go around telling everyone that I know that I love them, because that’s hardly the case. There are only a few that I could say that I love. It’s not the same kind of love I feel for Earl but it is love nonetheless. For example, I love our friend Steve in Buffalo and I have told him so. I love him like the brother I never had. We play games that only we get, like riding in the back seat of a car on a dark night telling each other cubby bear stories. It’s definitely a different kind of love. The closest comparison I can come to is a person that loves to paint but also loves to eat Chinese food. They don’t derive the same type of pleasure from painting that they derive from eating the Chinese food but they love both activities nonetheless. Both can coexist without compromising the other. The love of painting fulfills the painter in a myriad of ways and is all encompassing, the love of Chinese food goes beyond just satisfying them or fulfilling a need.

I wish I could write an analogy about how I feel about love. I’ve thought about saying, “I’d take a bullet for a person that I love” but then again, I think I’d take a bullet for just about anyone in danger, so that doesn’t really work. I guess I could say that it goes beyond caring. Perhaps it’s a special bond. Maybe we met in a previous life and here we are again. I just know it and I wish I could describe it.

I guess the point of my rambling is that love should be shared with those that we truly love, and those that we truly love should be cherished in their own special way. Save it, savor it, share it.

Calculated Irrationality.

After my one class today I had this attack of frustration unlike anything I’ve experienced in a while. The class is scheduled for 12:00 to 12:50. Over the past week or two, my classmates will start packing their books, etc. up at 12:49 and then start walking out at 12:50. The problem with this scenario is that the professor is still in the midst of conversing with the people that live in the chalkboard. I sit at my desk and wait for him to finish. He’s gone as long as another five minutes beyond his allotted time before realizing that the class has dwindled down to a few foolish few.

I find this scenario frustrating for several reasons.

First of all, it shows me that the majority of the class has absolutely no respect for the professor. This can’t be a good thing no matter how you look at it. Yeah, the guy is unorthodox but he holds the key to collegiate goodness. Without him and the next class in the sequence (he’s the only one that teaches it next semester), there’s no goody at the end of the ride. Like him or not, he should be given some respect.

Secondly, it’s confirming my belief that the professor doesn’t have a grasp on what’s going on in the class in any manner; how well we comprehend the material, how much material to cover in a class period or whether the students are sitting in their seats or not.

So I did something that I shouldn’t have done. I jumped on the closest thing we have to the Autobahn (long stretch of expressway with no hiding places for cops), cranked up my theme song of “Distorted” from La Nouba and drove really fast. Like three digits fast. And I’m talking three digits in the archaic manner of measuring things. I slowed down before the curve though and got it all under control.

It was release that I shouldn’t have done but felt really good.

I think one of the reasons that I’m feeling a little frustrated these days is because I’m having really good dreams at night. I remember a sizable number of my dreams (something I’ve discovered is rather rare when I mention this to others) and last night I was flying and flying and floating like a leaf on the wind. It was a beautiful moment for me and it felt very real. I woke up this morning feeling centered and at peace and the goofiness of class just messed it up.

Perhaps I tried to recreate that feeling by flying along the expressway as fast as I can. It wasn’t the same though.

I think I need to meditate.