Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Jim's Emotional Roller Coaster: Please hold on to the bar!

So much has been going inside my head lately, though most might not be aware. The holidays are often difficult for me, you see. I still miss my mom more than even my over-inflated vocabulary can put into words. She raised me to believe that holidays are about family and simply being together. Most holidays involve my created family leaving to be with their own families, and a sense of loneliness sets in.

And this year there are additional problems. I fear the next four years and the roll back of so much hard work. I'm tired and don't know if I'm ready to deal with a media upheaval again as 20/20 seeks to...well...do whatever they're doing, for whatever possible reason they believe they have. Almost 6 months later I still have a spare room in shambles and a garage packed to the gills. A fresh round of weddings reminds me another year has passed with finding the love everyone says is just around the corner. And I'm still not in the physical condition I want. It's hard to remember why waking up in the morning is a good thing.

And then the pesky universe steps in, more than happy to give me the ass kicking I so desperately need. A Thanks-gay-ving is planned for Sunday. I start working out on my lunch hour and besides feeling better I lose 6 pounds in a week. And I randomly watch a movie because I like Cuba Gooding Jr. If you've not seen Radio, go now and watch it. I SAID NOW! Well, I suppose you can finish reading this post first, but then get thee to the video store! It's based on a true story. A town comes together and realizes what's really important. It happens with great struggle and sacrifice. And it restored my faith in the human heart.

And so today's lesson is this: there is nothing which cannot be overcome. There is nothing so difficult that the human spirit can't overcome it. I know we all have hard times coming up with the end of semester and the stress that comes with it. Some of us are heading into a final semester, while others approach their first finals in Law. Then there are weddings to plan! Remember this...as trite as it might sound, you CAN do it. And when you doubt that, remember your friends here. Without even knowing it, you have all helped me get through a rough spot.

This Thursday, it is YOU I am thankful for.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Far left, two seats from the back

That's where he sat in my classroom. Third period. 8th grade English. He was quiet, but had a devilish sense of humor. When he did speak, a slow smile would creep across his face. He'd look down at the desk when he cracked a joke, and then his eyes would trace up as he broke into a smile. He worked hard, though it was a struggle for him. He was so small. He often wore a hockey jersey. Though I don't remember a lot, I am saddened.


This is why I believe war is bad.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

And then it happens

I spent another early Saturday morning setting up a table for Discovery Days, a program where high school students considering UW show up to check out the campus with their parents. It's a two hour exercise is staying awake for most of the presenters there. I set up my gay table as usual, expecting to be ignored my 99.9% of the students and parents. The morning started like most others, and I stuffed bags for the VP for Student Affairs' Office to pass the time.

The usual folks stopped by to say hello - Admissions staff, some of the other table folk, professors I know. I've started a game with myself: read their thoughts. I usually get some interesting looks from people walking past, even if they don't say a word. By reading their eyes and expressions, I can guess at what they're thinking when they realize what my table is all about. My notes from the session before this one (quotes indicate verbal comments):
  • "I'm glad you're here." (from UW staff)
  • Oh my gawd! A homo! Eeek!
  • Don't let dad see me looking.
  • Dammit. I made eye contact. Now I HAVE to talk to him.
  • Ho-boy. They've got one of those groups here.
  • Oooo. I remember that. (from the picture of Matt I display)
  • You know about me, don't you?
As people walk past pointedly ignoring me, I continually remind myself that I'm not really there for the students who can come up to me openly and talk about the group. I'm there so that the students who can't talk to me know that we exist. That they're not alone. That there is someone out there supporting them. I'm there for the student who walks past my table 8 times without saying a word, but tries to read everything on the table out of the corner of their eye when they think nobody is looking. The student I used to be.

This time, a high school student from Longmont, Colorado walks up with a huge grin and her little brother in tow. "I didn't see you listed on the map!" After explaining the name change, we talk for 10 minutes. She practically bounces when she tells me her school just started a Gay/Straight Alliance. She grabbed copies of just about everything, having her brother stuff them into her backpack for later use. I gave her my card so she could request electronic copies of our materials. Why invent the wheel, after all?

Who should walk up but her mother. She looked tired, but I thought nothing of it, since I knew they'd left Longmont very early and driven up to Laramie that same morning. "Oh. Did you get copies of their stuff to take back?" she asked, and was assured that all was encased in the magical backpack. After another minute or so, daughter and son ran off to the next table. Mom asked if we had a group for lesbians, and I assured her that Spectrum was open to everyone. And then it happens. Her face drops and any ounce of emotion drains from her body as she says "Can you see the enthusiasm in my face?" She has changed from a mother I thought to be relatively accepting to a bitter and angry woman. "They're too young to be making these decisions."

Too young? She's old enough to be choosing a college but not to express herself about love? These are my thoughts, but I keep wearing my syrupy-sweet customer service smile. "I told her she's not allowed to have kids, because I don't want grandkids. So maybe this is a step in the right direction. I guess it's my fault." "Oh, I doubt that very much, ma'am. It's nobody's fault." "Well, I'm Jewish, so guilt is kinda my thing." For 5 minutes I listen as she vents, criticizes, and contradicts everything I stand for. Then she leaves quietly, with an almost defeated air about her. She seems resigned to wallow in her guilt. Her shame. She acts as though condemned.

And I am reminded once again why I do what I do. Why I wake up earlier than usual to sit and be ignored. I'm there for her too. So that while dealing with her daughter's sexuality, she doesn't have to do it alone. So that she can vent at me and not her daughter. So that she can maintain the illusion that she's supportive. I hope she can do it until it's true, and her daughter need never know. Because it would be a true loss if the enthusiam, energy, and passion in her eyes and voice were somehow diminished.

And the morning was suddenly worth it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Enough, I say!

{Begin rant}
Perhaps I'm being cynical. Perhaps I'm being unpatriotic. Perhaps I'm insane. Why you ask?

Because I am SO tired of seeing yellow or red/white/blue ribbons on cars. You know...the little magnetic things you can now buy at every retail store, grocery store, and gas station? Some say "Support our troops." Some say "God Bless America." At any rate, they are freaking everywhere!

Please do not misunderstand me here: I do support our troops, despite my absolute abhorence of this war (read occupation). And for those who are displaying these images because they are truly supporting the TROOPS, kudos. What I am tired of, however, is the use of these symbols to support "freedom and democracy." Or to be "patriotic." I do not believe it is unpatriotic to be against the war or the president. I do not believe I have to display a logo to support the troops themselves. As a raging homo, I understand the power and importance of symbols. I DO display many on my car, briefcase, and office. However, I know what the symbols mean and choose them carefully.

How many people are buying these because they are popular? Because they fear what friends, neighbors, family, or significant others will think if they DON'T display them? How many are displaying them because they sport the words "God Bless..." and they just think anything with God is good? For what percentage is it REALLY about the truth.

As I walked across campus today I paid special attention to these magnetic marvels. Many have the words "Freedom" on them. I personally think that freedom and democracy are good things. But I recognize that as MY BELIEF. And I think that it is not our place to tell other countries, regions, or religions they must think like me. It is not out place to determine what other people should value. That's assimilationism. Impirialism ring a bell? We're going to bring freedom/religion/salvation to you heathens.

Display whatever symbols you like, but PLEASE know what they mean. Choose them carefully. Understand the intent behind them. And do not criticize those who do NOT put up your symbols.
{End rant}

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Go here now


UPDATE: Make sure you check out page 293. Look closely, and think Blair Witch Project!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Post 85

And what does his Grand High Gayness have in store for such a monumental occasion as his 85th post? Well...nothing in particular! Just an update of sorts.

Sometime between now and Friday I'm meeting with the nice gay man speaking on campus Thursday night. He's started out on his own. He wants to talk to me about Laramie and Matt, since it was Judy (Matt's mom) who first encouraged him to take up speaking full-time. I want to talk to him about how he started and how business has been going. It's all about making a dream become a reality.

At work, I have many changes in progress. In just 2.5 days, I have accomplished a great deal. I'm revamping my training, creating another tier of employees who will help flog the nasty bump-on-a-log type employees. I have some good ones (many of whom are part of the flock). I have some BAD ones too. This will help alleviate that problem. I'm developing web pages, writing proposals, and trying to squeeze blood out of my turnipy staffing budget.

So today's gay message is this: pick a project and attack it. Knock one out of the park. Pour your effort into something you have a vision about and make it a reality! YOU CAN DO IT!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Four more years?!

Like most of us in the blogsphere, I'm sad and frightened. And not just because I'm gay and worry about losing more rights and privileges. I do worry about Shrub's ability to make me even more of a second class citizen, but there's so much more. I worry about the lives that will be lost in Iraq. I worry about where the next war will be. Iran? North Korea? Fiji? Hey...with HIM in charge, anyone could be next! I worry about our country's economy. How much will our deficit be after ANOTHER four years? How much national debt can we incur before we collapse?

In his acceptance speech, Shrub said he would need the support of everyone who voted for Kerry, and he pledged to do everything he can to earn our trust. I hope he realizes he reversed the order there. I will not trust him until he shows me he can avoid the pitfalls of his last four years. That he will change the direction his administration travels. That he will not support discrimination against me and my friends. That he will repair an economy that he's played a large role in trashing. That he will stop pandering to the religious right and the exceptionally wealthy. But I don't see that happening, do you? And so I don't see myself supporting him. But isn't that the beauty of democracy? I don't have to.

What I have to do, however, is continue fighting. In fact, I need to step up my efforts to create positive change. While some of my votes weren't winners on Tuesday, some were. Dave O'Malley is on the City Council. the Smoking Ordinance was upheld. And that gives me some hope. My losses only fuel my fire and drive my passion. Four more years, huh? Bring it on, bitch!