Sunday, August 29, 2004

My Country Tis of Thee

I've been watching the Olympics. A lot. Last night as I watched yet another medal ceremony where the Star Spangled Banner played for a gold medalist, I thought about patriotism. You see, there is an edict that prohibits athletes from having an "extreme emotional outburst" on the medal platform. You can lose your medal, in fact. Crying is of course allowed, but the idea is that they don't want someone to become overly charged and start gloating on the podium.

I watched American runners showboating after a semi-final race. When asked last night if they were happy with "only" a silver, one member of a relay team replied "I'm not" in a haughty tone. It made me think about what "Old Glory" means today. When I see an American flag sticker on a car, I cringe. When I see a yellow ribbon or "United We Stand" in the window of a minivan, I sigh. But why? Why should a display of patriotism annoy, disgust, or shame me?

The answer is simple: today, we have exchanged patriotism for nationalism. Patriotism is pride in one's country. Nationalism is the doctrine that your country's culture and interests are superior to all others. Most Americans have a smug sense of security that we are somehow better than everyone else. That they want to BE us. How arrogant! How deluded! September 11th shifted our country's viewpoint. No longer was it enough to be proud of America; now we needed to look down on other countries, almost to hate them. As if they were somehow responsible. As if non-Americans could not be trusted. Soon came the US Patriot Act, institutionalizing this attitude. Now people must explain themselves if their name isn't American enough, if they speak with the slightest hint of an accent, or even if they visit friends and family outside the country.

When we popularize songs with lines like "with a boot to your ass, it's the American way," haven't we long ago crossed a line? When we view "other" as inherently evil for no reason other than that it's not us, aren't we engaging in the same kind of blind hatred and violence as Al Qaida? But is it possible to be patriotic without engaging in nationalism? I remember a discussion the SAFE Project Board had after the attack on the World Trade Center. We debated putting up a flag like other businesses. We finally decided against it, as we feared non-Americans would feel we weren't welcoming to all, and would not seek help for domestic violence or sexual assault. Wouldn't that be another crime, another loss?

Don't misunderstand me. I am PROUD to be an American. I am thankful to be born into this country and enjoy the life made possible by 2 centuries of struggle, sacrifice, and internal conflict. But it wasn't something I chose or can control, just as those from other countries cannot determine their lineage. Being born in the US does NOT make me, or anyone else, superior to others. The most I can do is try to be the best person possible, bringing honor to myself, my family, and my country. And that means being proud of my country, even when I disagree with its leadership or actions. It also means respecting other countries and their equals.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

It's official

I'm of 8:32am. And a friend sent me a GREAT present. Check this out:

These make me very happy indeed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

School starts WHEN?!

As Drew commented on his blog, work has been INSANE lately. Students are definitely back on campus, and there's new drama at every turn. This is the time of year when major problems jump from nowhere and make your life miserable. There's so much to do, and not nearly enough time in which to do it. It's easy to forget what's important: our friends, our families, and ourselves! Take a moment. Breathe. Step away from the homework, the paperwork, and the to do list. Do something to treat yourself or someone you care about. There now...isn't that better?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Did I mention I'm an Olympic junkie?

For those who didn't see the Men's All Around Gymnastics Finals tonight, I'm sooooo sorry. It's my mother's fault really. She instilled a love of the Olympics deep in my heart, especially gymnastics, figure skating, and more figure skating. (She also made me love show tunes, cooking, and classic films. Anybody shocked I sleep with boys?) Tonight's competition reminded me why.

It was the greatest comeback I have ever seen at the Olympics. Possibly anywhere. It proved when you behave like a champion, never quitting and pouring forth all of your effort/heart/soul, anything is possible. It doesn't matter if it's the American athletes or a Jamaican bobsled team, "I love me my underdogs." There are so many moving stories, struggles just to make it to the games. I often have what straight guys would feel the need to call "allergy attacks." Even the cheesy, produced history lessons move me.

This year alone - with only a few days of competition complete - there are plenty of stories. For the first time ever, Afghani women are competing. Thanks to new designs in body suits, Muslim women are swimming for gold. A swimmer came from nowhere (read UW) to place 7th in the world. An American male won the All Around gold in gymnastics for the first time in history, overcoming a fall to 12th place and certain defeat. The oldest world record in swimming was shattered by four American women. The Iraqi soccer team, airlifted to Athens in secret by the US military, wins match after match even though they've never competed on an international level. A group of men from Puerto Rico became the first team ever to defeat the American Dream Team on the basketball court.

Despite commmercialism, unheard-of security precautions, and questionably strict drug testing rules, the human spirit is shining brightly. Good sportsmanship abounds. Ordinary people - accountants, teachers, and housewives - are reaching for the impossible...and grabbing it. Watch some of the games. Ping pong, diving, badminton, beach volleyball, water polo, rowing...there are stories to be told, and some yet to be written. Tune it. It's worth it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Things to do before I die

As most of you know, gay men die at 30. Since that's now 53 weeks away, I thought I'd share my current list. It's kinda like NerdyGirl's list of 50 dreams, only more condensed. Rest assured, there is a larger list of smaller things, but these are the current biggies on my list:

1. Take a trip to Hawaii.
2. Take a cruise somewhere.
3. Visit Canada (maybe it IS a real country anyway).
4. Go to the Olympics.
5. See more of Germany.
6. Pay off my mortgage.
7. Live happily ever after with the man of my dreams.
8. Find the man of my dreams (the list is in no particular order).
9. Visit every state in the US (only 12 to go).
10. Become sveldt (okay it's a realistic list, so....become closer to sveldt?)
11. Go to Australia.
12. See Greece.
13. See Italy.

That seems like a good number. ;) The best part is that as you accomplish things from your list, you get to add new ones. Examples: I've already seen Phantom of the Opera (on Broadway, no less), bought a house, bought a brand new car for the first time, and travelled someplace that requires a passport. Not bad, eh?

Monday, August 16, 2004

Demons from the Past

A note from the Empress: I debated about publishing this post. I wrote it last night and let it sit while I slept on it. It is not meant to be mean, critical, or to point out someone else's faults. It's simply an experience from which I think we can all learn.

I ran into two friends at Walmart tonight. Jokingly, they ignored me and pretended not to know me. It was meant to be in jest, and all in good fun. I know they would never intentionally hurt me. But that's doesn't change the fact: that's what happened.

I'm torn here, as I'm not sure if I'm overreacting or internalizing or projecting. You see, in high school I was one of the kids that got ignored. It was all well and good for someone to talk to me one-on-one in private. The barriers came down enough that it was okay to really talk to the overweight, unpopular brain - as long as nobody would know it. But once it was a group setting, they didn't know me and we had never spoken. And so when my friends recreated this all-too-familiar scene from the past, I got PISSED. And hurt...

They didn't know they'd hurt me, so they couldn't know why or how. I don't think I even blame them, as it's a problem of mine and they just pushed a button. But that's why I'm writing this, though I might not even post it. We all need to remember that some actions will hurt others unintentionally. And we all need to remember that when we're hurt, it's not necessarily intentional...or something we should be angry about. Anger is a real reaction; it's honest and true. But sometimes it's not warranted, or is misdirected. And that's just not worth it.

I'm not writing this as an indictment of their actions, especially since they will likely read this. It's not to draw out an apology from anyone, as there really isn't a lot to apologize for. It's simply a message the universe chose to smack me with. Things will hurt us more than they should. We will hurt others when we don't mean to do so. Remember these things, and tread lightly. And more importantly, weigh your reaction to make sure it's fair...and remember to forgive freely and often.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

First Tinky Winky

And now Lilo and Stitch. That's right, not-so-gentle readers, and I learned all about it at the Farmer's Market on Friday. I ran into a friend of mine who married a guy from my senior class. He's on a secret mission in Iraq, so she's had a bit of spare time on her hands (when not worrying her ass off). So she visited the in laws. And went to church with them. (Yup, it's one of those.)

She's Catholic, but is very open-minded about religion. She's of the opinion that everyone should learn about other religions and be free to choose their own path in the world. Being the good sister-in-law, she's been very encouraging of her teenage siblings by marriage. They've started attending the Assembly of God Church in Wright. Please bear in mind this church is also known as the "Holy Rollers" in town. Speaking in tongues, having fits, etc. Jenn decided she'd go with them. While there, the minister informed the congregation that the movie "Lilo and Stitch" was gay, and thereby sinful.

Jerry Falwell announced Tinky Winky was gay because he wears purple and carries a purse. Lilo and Stitch is gay because "the boy wears a skirt." Um...he's Hawaiian, not queer. Granted, David is pretty cute for a cartoon, but NOT gay. Unless you're looking from the perspective of the Assembly of God Church in Wright, Wyoming.

How sad is your life when you are so paranoid about "those people" (no matter which group is those...) that you have to preach against Teletubbies, cartoon aliens, or other harmless characters? Why is it that we gay folk are so darned scary? It's not contagious, though that would make life so much simpler...and if not life, at least sex and dating. We're not trying to take over the world, just color coordinate it. Ahwell, perhaps I am not meant to understand the so-called reasoning of the religous (not-so-)right.

Friday, August 13, 2004

On birthdays, or "I'm OLD!"

10 year class reunions. My first annual 29th birthday (you're crazy if you think I'm gonna turn 30...we gay men die at 30). It's all just sooooo unnerving! (Cue the Graham Norton music!)

Last night I went to celebrate Jennifer's 40th birthday with Rachelle and Mandy. We had such a great time. Throw some burgers on the grill, have a Cosmo (or 5), and laugh your ass off until midnight. Throw in a healthy dose of girl talk while Dave is speaking to the League of Women Voters, and you have a recipe for a great time. It made me realize, however, that there are now just 12 days until my very own birthday.

Historically, my birthday has always been a fairly minor event. When your "I-survived-another-year-how-the-hell-did-that-happen" day falls at the beginning of school, you get used to minimal hoopla. Especially when you go to college. Everyone is too busy. They're stressing over the start of school, paying for books, or running out of town for one last visit home/camping trip/weekend shopping binge/etc. When in elementary school and junior high. I was moderately bitter about this. These days I take a more realistic approach.

After all, I don't FEEL different after 8:32am on August 25th. I don't need to have my oil changed or tires rotated, though a little body work and a new paint job would be nice. I don't magically obtain newfound wisdom...that happens on an on-going basis. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy getting presents, but it's not about the loot either. I have one theory about why having a birthday bash is a happy thing, but want to see if any of my gentle (or not-so-gentle) readers are channeling my psyche today, so take a stab at it. Comment away!

****In other news, Mackenzie and I are plotting the now annual Birthday Triad Event, as he, Laura, and I all have birthdays within 4 days of one another. 2 years ago it was a collective birthday BBQ, but we can't afford that - we know too many people. Last year, the three of us and Zeus went to Red Lobster for the Endless Crab Feast. Alas, such a display of carnivorous gluttony is not scheduled at the right time this year. Dinner still sounded happy, so we're toying with the idea of sushi on the 21st. The date's set, thanks to 1) the start of school, 2) my having to train new employees the following week, and 3) birthdays in the middle of the week when we can't afford to take a day off. Location is still TBA. Fort Collins has more exotic restaurants and wider selecter, but Laramie has the benefit of not driving hither, thither, OR yon. Especially good since we've been known to have one (and only one, of course) celebratory cocktail. What do you all think?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Random funny things

With the Rev adopting new titles left and right, I thought I'd mention the title I want, though some of you are familiar. Once upon a blue moon, Mandyfish had a website that would let you be ordained in any church you wanted (for a small fee, of course). I want to be The High Priestess of the Rainbowlific Church of the Flaming Plains. "And doesn't that sound like fun?" he said in his best Brini Maxwell voice.

"I am the lizard queen!" squealed Lisa Simpson (after drinking some of the water from a boat ride at DuffLand).

"Achilles, heel." - Captain Phoebus to his horse in Disney's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" (Also from Big Gay Jim after seeing Troy and claiming full ownership of Brad Pitt)

"He's a controlling bitch, and not in that fun way like you." - BGJ to Kristen (aka the Gucci Hoochie)

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it. 1500 years ago everybody KNEW the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago everybody KNEW the Earth was flat. 15 minutes ago you KNEW people were alone on this planet. Imagine what we'll KNOW tomorrow." - Tommy Lee Jones as K, from Men in Black

"As people do better, they start voting like Republicans...unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing." - Karl Rove, Bush's long-time political guru and White House advisor

And let's all remember the Bush campaign motto: "Who would Jesus bomb?"

So we watched Troy again


Monday, August 09, 2004

It's Sarong It's S'aright

So I went to Rendezvous. I drove up and down the hill (a mountain to non-westerners, but a hill to us since we only climb 1700 feet from our normal 7200 ft) Wednesday and Thursday nights. On Thursday I also managed to see the doctor about a pain in my side, present since Sunday or Monday. As expected, she sent me to the hospital for a series of x rays. The only thing that made it tolerable was a cute, friendly, and male x ray tech with an impossible-to-place accent. Yum. Nothing is broken, ruptured, or torn, so it's a muscle strain, pull, or other obnoxious injury. I have no idea how it happened, but it hurts. A LOT. When I cough, I wince. When I sneeze, I damned near pass out from the pain. Was I going to let that stop me from a weekend of cavorting in the wilderness with 400 homos (and a handful of faboo straight allies)? NOT LIKELY!

The highlights of the weekend: A SEXY cowboy type from Austin, TX cut in while I was dancing with Rachelle. He made me follow (poorly), but there was definite flirting, despite the existence of a boyfriend. (No...nothing happened.) Our group won the award for "Campiest Campground" for our site, Margaritaville. We were definitely the crowd favorites; the huge bar right by the roadside helped a little. I wore sarongs almost the whole week; I own 3 now, thanks to the influence of the Rev, aka the Dark Overlord of Freeballing (cuz yes...I did. Who wants panty lines?). I did body shots off the chests and nipples of 2 guys (sorry to those I already told about this, I forgot the second one!), one is 18 and one is a music teacher in town. *waggles eyebrows* Saw 3 naked men, a wet underwear contest, and a best hiney contest. I was Snow White in the play at closing ceremonies. We created several new drinks with SERIOUS alcohol content. I drove 4 wheelers, and want one so very, very much. Rachelle took 3rd in the Wet T shirt contest. No sex for me, but still a good weekend.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Being dilated has advantages

See, I knew that tag line would get your attention (and frighten you all). But I'm really just talking about my pupils. I went to the eye doctor yesterday morning. My prescription has not changed significantly, which is good news. The official terms are hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism (unequal curvature of the eye). A few years ago I volunteered as a guinea pig for a contact lens study, and LOVED them. Well, they're out on the market now for people with my precriptions/conditions, so I'm taking another stab at contacts. They seem to be working well so far this morning.

The doctor also decided to dilate my pupils yesterday. This means I could not see the computer screen as anything but a raging blur. This means I could not work. Woohoo! So I took my blurry self on up to Rendezvous early, dragging my friend Margaret along too. We rode four wheelers with Dave and Jennifer, and I want one now. We had SO much fun. And one or two cocktails. ;) My friends Chris and Andrew came up from Denver, which was a very pleasant surprise. I haven't seen them since AIDS Walk in April. They are representing the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which sponsored a movie...which is the meat of today's post, and what the previous rambling has been setting up. A film review!

It's called "Latter Days," and is a love story about a gay boy named Christian in LA. He's HOT. And his love interest turns out to be...a Mormon missionary. As you can imagine, there is a fair amount of turmoil involved, including excommunication, family reaction/rejection, suicide, and reparative therapy. Overall, it's FABULOUS! There are several punchlines, and most of them aren't "insider gay jokes." Fun for the whole family! There are very pretty boys, though it's not really an eye candy movie. There is hot gay sex, though it's not softcore porn. The plot really is the purpose and driving force of the film. And there are hidden stars throughout. "Dr. Maluchi" from ER, "Tommy" from Third Rock From the Sun, "Tara" from's faboo. And made me cry at the end. Er...maybe it was just an allergy attack from being in the mountains. was me. Crying. But I can't tell you why. It'd ruin the movie. This is one I'll buy the day it comes out on DVD.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

'shrooms, dude!

Last night the phone rang, with the distinctive "Inspector Gadget" ringtone, indicating Dave and Jennifer were stalking me. I answered and after the perfunctory greetings was asked "do you want some mushrooms?" For obvious reasons, this question took me aback for a moment. Then I considered the source (note for non-Laramites: Dave is our former Chief of Police and Jennifer is the former Health Inspector) and said "Um...sure." Apparently they've taken up wild 'shroom hunting, but only the edible, non-hallucinagenic varieties. They'd found a treasure trove and come back with 40 pounds of yummy fungus goodness. They were cleaning and cutting up a storm when I got there. I've never seen 40lbs. of wild mushrooms before. After 2.5 hours and 2 cocktails, it was home to bed. With a quart sized baggie full of diced, cleaned fungus. Mmm...

Blah. Don't you think it's kind of a blah day? I know many of us are feeling the impending onset of school...and cringing. I am so not ready to be gearing up for another semester. I wanna go back to Cali! I'm also ready for the weekend, when I shall spend the weekend up at Rendezvous, drinking and carrying on. I'll commute Wed and Thurs, but when I head up on Friday, I'm there, baby! I've got so much to do at work and can't afford to lose 2 days, but will you all join with me in singing a rousing chorus of "Is it Friday yet?"

Monday, August 02, 2004

It's done!

Well, if you didn't like the look/feel of the blog on my test site (or didn't go look), you've missed your chance. I did ask for feedback, after all. ;) But the new template is in place, and can I say, "Woohoo!" Now, for a real post!

Disconnected. Ever feel that way? Like you're going through the motions? Like you don't really care what happens, because it'll happen with or without you? I knew you had; we all have. I suppose I've been feeling that way the last few days. I spent Saturday at a BBQ with friends from IT. It was good to just hang out. No major drama. No continuing struggles. People coming and going freely without guilt. Just existing, and doing so together for a while. I didn't want to leave, but when 3am hit, I knew it was time.

Sunday was a day spent alone with the pups. Watching TV, catching up on some work, and getting some much needed sleep (though as many of you know, perhaps a bit too much - set an alarm when napping!)

I had things to do this weekend. A late, word-of-mouth wedding invitation. Setting up tents for Rendezvous. The fate of the world did not rest on these things happening, so I made some executive decisions (and had some made for me) and focused on simply being. I not only felt better rested today, I also felt a little bit more connected. A little more capable of heading into another week, the beginning of another semester. Like I have some control, some power, and some ability.

Will this work for you? I don't know. But what could it hurt?