245. polysemy

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Rosalind-Russell-Mame-Dennis-Auntie-MameThe past two weeks I’ve been working on a graduate education scholarship application in the records and information management field, and consequently started saving my blog entries on this site to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine project.

I’ve been adding a few every day and am up to the entry where Seth comes into the picture.

Yay…

Going back over those early entries when I was just coming out and to terms with the challenge that was proving to my then conservative Christian morality and upbringing is fascinating. Not to mention extremely uncomfortable at times to read how different a person I was.

Ah, and yet…

The other evening I was saying to my housemate how I just don’t want to have sex these days because I’m single, and all I can seem to get is these meaningless flings that only serve to remind me of what I don’t currently have but want. And unfortunately, it’s not for lack of attention. There are probably plenty of guys who would date me if I were mutually attracted. But it usually goes that they’re interested and I’m not, and vice versa.

C’est la guerre

Furthermore, I said, I’m done hooking up with other people’s partners (both with their knowledge and sometimes participation), adding that I’m tired of “being someone else’s dessert when I haven’t had a solid meal in ages.” And how it all plays into my fear that no matter how successful or accomplished I may be in life, I’ll always be fundamentally alone.

As Sartre wrote: “Je suis condamné à être libre. I am condemned to be free.

So it was curious later that night when I ended up hooking up with a friend of our’s who came over for drinks and to play Cards Against Humanity… who is in a relationship. We’d been talking outside in the hot tub about families and hangups, and I think something in my mind snapped of no longer wanting to be defined and constrained by my past, my family, or my damage. Of my fears and anxieties determining where I can and can’t go.

Most of all tired of feeling paralyzed into inaction by my fucked up, over-analytical brain.

I’m reminded of what Rosalind Russell’s titular character says in the 1958 film Auntie Mame: “Life is a banquet, and most poor [sons-of-bitches] are starving to death!” And it bothers me that I’m aware of this, of everything that’s currently going for me right now, and yet I don’t really know if what I’m apparently missing is what I want.

For example:

There’s lots one could say about this. That’s it was 2010. That it’s reflective of extroverted, urban, nonreflexive New York City gay culture. Hell, that it’s Jake Shears.

On the one hand, my repressed, proper, conservative, wannabe-19th Century inner upper-middle-class Brit looks down on such extroversion, disapproves of the embrace of unrestrained sensuality, because (if I’m being perfectly honest with myself and with you, dear reader) I don’t feel comfortable or empowered to be that way myself.

But is that authentically me? Sure, I don’t often push my comfort zone and pursue new experiences… but am I the kind of guy who just wants sex, with or without intimacy or connection?

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today:

You know you’re one of those East Coast gays when for weeks at a time during summer, it seems like half the people in your news feed are either going to, currently visiting, or just returning from P-Town… and the other half are on Fire Island.

That kind of lifestyle, frankly, sounds like hell for an introvert of introverts. Being surrounded by (presumably) all manner and ilk of carefully groomed, stylishly dressed, cosmopolitan, pretentious, hyper flirtatious gay men… no, thank you.

But on some level, I wish that I were the kind of person who could fit in with and at least enjoy myself in that crowd, that I were truly self-assured enough to mix with any company and not give a damn what anyone else thinks, or whether or not I get laid.

Mostly, I’m weary of feeling as if I don’t belong—that I still haven’t found my gay tribe. Because I’ve found my librarian tribe. Those folks are cool. With Sunday Assembly, I’ve found my secular tribe. But 99.9% of those I’ve met in these circles are heterosexual, and while they’re wonderful folks, I don’t 100% belong. But there are so few gay men who I actually like, and that makes me very nervous that there’s no one out there with whom I’m actually compatible.

Because I’m not looking for “good enough.” That’s how I ended up with Jay. Again, no thanks.

The reality is that I’m not queer, “gay,” fabulous, femme, masc, jock, twink, etc. I’m me, whatever that means. I’m a recovering fundamentalist Christian who is finally (albeit glacially) coming into his own without the bullshit and baggage of high school and having conformity beaten into his shoes. I don’t have a label, or a modality.

These days, I’m committed to being uncompromisingly myself. That seems to intimidate guys who are accustomed to other guys who fit neatly into pre-fabricated boxes.


 <<Brief rant ahead>>

And this is my main issue with gay culture, with the Scissor Sisters video, and all of it.

I’m tired of feeling there’s something wrong with me because I don’t want to party, to get drunk and stupid, to jump into bed (or the bushes) with some guy I just met. I felt that way in San Francisco, I’ve felt that way with gays here in Minneapolis, with friends of various boyfriends…

It’s my gripe with gay porn—with picture-perfect guys selling us the idea that you have to have some perfect, unattainable, sculpted gym body to be accepted, that gay men primarily interact with each other sexually, and that this is “normal.”

No, it’s not normal. It’s bullshit, and it’s not realistic.

Am I alone in this, or do other people feel this way too?

195. Six de Bâtons

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Six of WandsThe first few of weeks of 2014 have been hit and miss. Aside from a handful of social outings, I’ve been hermited away for the most part. There’ve been several close calls with jobs and a couple of interviews, but no luck so far. Not the best way to start the year, especially when the previous one was so dismal.

I’ve decided to make a change for this year in blogging. Since the inception of this site, most of my posts have had one-word titles. The idea was to draw from Word-of-the-Day sites, like Dictionary.com’s, and use that word as a guide for processing thoughts and experiences.

Lately, I’ve been engaging more with Tarot. I posted about a little this last time, but the more I work with the deck, the meanings of each of the cards in the Major and Minor arcana, and the different spreads used in Tarot readings, the more I’m interested in their potential application, especially from a Jungian perspective. The basis of Jungian psychology is the view that the human unconscious is largely unreachable except through the symbolic world of dream, myth, and folklore—the world of archetypes, “universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct” (Wikipedia).

For example, the twenty-two cards of the Major (or Greater) Arcana. We see The Fool at the beginning of his journey, full of hope, potential, and ready to learn the lessons on his way through the Major Arcana. This seems to correspond to the archetype of The Child, who (according to many Jungians) is present in all humans throughout their life. The Empress represents fertility, beauty, nature, and abundance—corresponding to the “Anima” archetype, “the personification of the energy that gives birth to forms and nourishes forms is properly female” (according to Joseph Campbell). The Hermit represents soul-searching, introspection, and inner guidance, which corresponds to the “Wise Old Man” archetype.

As I do my own readings, and let others read for me, I use the cards (as I said in my previous post) as more a Rorschach test than for divination. Each card and its position in the spread has a significance. As querent, I listen for anything that resonates on the psychological level.

  • The Star reversed, for example, might suggest that I’m dwelling on negative issues and thoughts, to the point of them derailing any progress or healing that I’m making.
  • The reversed Ten of Swords might suggest that I’m still carrying around old wounds from past hurts, and that I still haven’t dealt with them.
  • The Page of Pentacles could suggest that, contrary to what I might feel or believe, I have the necessary skills and experience to succeed—but need to have clear goals and a plan laid out to put it all into motion.

These are all true things for me right now. But they’re not true because some mystical powers-that-be orchestrated how I shuffled. They’re true because the meaning could always be true. The question is: is the meaning true right now? Sometimes a card is just a card.

So my plan for the next couple of months is to go through the Tarot deck, card by card, and using a randomly drawn card as the basis for self-examination.

This afternoon, I drew the Six of Wands, from the Lesser, “Minor” arcana.

The Six of Wands depicts a man wearing a victory wreath around his head, riding a white horse through a crowd of cheering people. The white horse represents strength, purity, and the success of an adventure, and the crowd of people demonstrates public recognition for the man’s achievements. The wand held by the rider also has a wreath tied to it, further emphasizing success and achievement. He is not afraid to show off to others what he has accomplished in his life so far, and even better, the people around him cheer him along. (Source: BiddyTarot.com)

Wands are typically associated with creativity, with the Pythagorean element of fire, and the Jungian function of intuition. According to one site, “Wands are the creative application of what we experience in the world to make our lives more enjoyable.”

The number six in Tarot typically represents a journey into harmony. There are two parts to this journey. The first is departure. The second is the journey itself. In the process of getting from one place to another, one must leave something behind. In finding my “true” self, I had to leave behind the heterosexual expectations that my family and community had for me, as well as the belief in God that I’d “inherited,” that connected me to my family and everything that was home.

Home no more home to me, whither must I wander?

Much of the significance of each card in the Minor Arcana has to do with what comes before, and that’s where meaning can be found. In the Five of Wands, five men are playing or sparring with their wands (oh, the subtext), each going in a different direction, but with no contact. It typically signifies competition, strife, confusion, or disagreement. In the Six of Wands, that confusion has been overcome through focused work to achieve harmony.

I tend to focus on defeats and obstacles rather than successes and progress. At the present, worries about finances and employment (and getting my fracking landlord to fix the fracking hole in my fracking ceiling) have been sapping my creativity. However, in the past few weeks, I finished revising my one-act opera and orchestrated it. I wrote an article published today about my first Christmas back with my Evangelical family in two years that my editor called “one of the best essays I’ve read in a long time.” And even though my grad school applications were rejected this time, I’m getting back on course to aligning my career with my passions and what I’m truly good at.

The message I see here: Look at what you want, not at where you are, not at what you’ll be.

023. phthongaphile

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Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists

Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists

If I were the sort of person who had idols and celebrity crushes, this might be the moment for it.

Behold, my heroes!

A few weeks ago came the culmination of months of excited waiting and jumping up and down like a silly fangirl…

Rock the Garden 2009.

Why so ecstatic, you ask?

The Decemberists, that’s why. Only my favourite band in all of creation. And they were headlining the concert!

I feel kind of bad. In this picture they were standing off to the side watching the band right before them, Calexico, perform and I first saw Jenny and distracted everyone around me by pointing her out, leaning over the side of the rail trying to see the band. Then frontman Colin Meloy appeared, followed by Chris Funk, and then honourary Decemberists Becky Stark (of Lavendar Diamond) and Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond).

Needless to say, I was completely beside myself. And part of me felt bad that this band was putting on a great show and all I could think about was the next band.

It’s not like I have a crush on Colin Meloy or anything. For one thing, he’s not my type at all. I do have a little thing for Jenny Conlee though, kind of a keyboardist crush. Her work on Crane Wife was exemplary (especially on “The Landlord’s Daughter” from the epic track No.2, “The Island”). They’re just really, really good!

Yea, even amazing!

They are currently touring with their new album, the 17-song folk rock opera The Hazards of Love. From what I can decipher of the plot, it’s about Margaret, a maiden who falls in love with the shape-shifting William (faun by day, human by night), the son of the [jealous and possessive] Queen of the Forest. What follows is a twisted tale of love, perversion, infanticide, kidnapping, haunting and drowning.

And the music is divine. However convoluted the plot may be, the music is some of the best and mature that Meloy has written so far. And I got to hear him live!

Shara Worden as the Queen was absolutely incredible in her silver glam rock pants, working every angle in her performance. She just exuded sex. If I were straight… well…

So that’s all I’ll say. Go out and buy the album. Hazards of Love. Prepare to be amazed.

So that was two weeks ago.

This past weekend was Twin Cities Pride—the third largest in the nation, according to festival organisers. In 2006, Minneapolis had the fourth-highest percentage of GLBT persons in the adult population, with 12.5%. (That figure may be higher now.) Not surprisingly, the area has an active arts and theatre scene, boasting the highest number of theatre companies per capita in the nation (including the Guthrie)!

This year, even though it’s my first “out” year, I decided not to be in attendance. For one thing, the sight of drag queens and the like does absolutely nothing to boost my pride. And while the sight of shirtless, chiselled, muscular boys wearing next to nothing was temptation enough to go (I do like me hot some shirtless men), I can now see that anytime on my way to work. [insert goofy grin]

But pride in what? I ask.

I won’t go on about that because it’s a moot point and I’ve ranted about this before. I don’t aspire to be a woman or surround myself with gay icons or role models (e.g., Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Joan Crawford, Bette Midler or Cher), pursue promiscuity and multiple sex partners, go out clubbing (I can’t dance worth anything and refuse to make a fool of myself in public that way) or play into any of the stereotypes that culture expects me to fit as a homosexual.

As a blogger wrote recently,

If we want Joe Public to understand that GLBT is not about sexual deviancy, then half naked, leather wearing, whip carrying people are not exactly sending the message that we want them to understand . . . Is the purpose of the parade to widen societies acceptance, to honour our peers who made the parades possible in the first place, or just a party? If it’s one of the first two, then I think it damages everything that we want society to understand and also devalues everything that the earliest parades and marches worked to achieve.

It’s just not something that I’m comfortable with. I’m not “Loud and Proud.” My sexuality is something I treat with reverence and respect. It’s not a political tool or an activist badge. For me, it’s very personal, and I refuse to see myself as different. We’re just people.

As my boyfriend and I have discussed on many, many occasions, straight people don’t have pride festivals. They don’t flaunt their straightness in front of everyone and expect the general public to just accept them. Of course, they are accepted by Joe public and enjoy all rights and privileges therein:

  • Parents don’t have to explain to their kids what a couple stealing a kiss or just full-on making out is, unless said PDA gets so gross (as in, misdemeanour) to the point of calling the cops.
  • Old ladies don’t scowl at a man and a woman holding hands (and more) in public. Unless they’re just bitter old hags who scowl at everything…
  • Christians don’t show up to protest with hate signs at their weddings.
  • Straight people aren’t beaten to death just for being straight.

Granted, at Rock the Garden there were some very public heterosexual displays of affection (including a couple haxing sex on the lawn, according to a friend of mine); and honestly, shirtless guy with his hands all over his girlfriend right next to me made me uncomfortable.

As did the drunk guy trying (and I mean trying) to dance with his girlfriend. And hitting blond girl in front of them in the head twice as he attempted to twirl GF. Things were not working well for them that night.

022. mercuriality

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Both my jobs are taking quite a toll on my blogging and personal life, so my posts here will be a bit spotty for the next few days. I have entries planned but no time to write them for now.

See you on the flip side of insanity.