Tuesday, August 28, 2007


While I wait for NerdyGirl to comment me some questions, I thought I'd share...a thought. Er...yeah.

So while watching TV tonight, I caught a commercial (rare, because I have DVR and don't watching commercials often). Apparently several channels, especially anything with BBC in or near its name, are running memorial specials. It's been 10 years since Princess Diana was killed in a car accident. It made me remember where I was when it happened.

A friend in Denver, Dusty, was hosting a gay dinner party for Labor Day. We were watching odd movies, and making bitchy comments. Sort of a gay version of MST3K. When we finished watching Poltergeist, we stopped to rewind the VHS tape. That's when we saw the news. A room full of gay men, well fed, liquored up, and all riled up over our own senses of humor. And Di was dead. The mood changed quickly.

My commentary today is not focused on Diana, or even moments of tragedy. It's about memorable moments in general. What makes something memorable? We remember so many things clearly. Things we'll never forget. Our first kiss. Our first date. Our first...time. And yet so many things are trivial to us. What tells us that a moment is special? Is it instinct? Perhaps a biochemical response? "There is an abnormally high level of dopamine present. We are very happy. Take a picture, brain." Or is it something more subjective? That we choose the moments to remember based on an established criteria. Only those events that cause us signficant psychological response in either direction can be remembered, as they elicit the strongest stimuli. That seems quasi-Freudian in a way, and we DON'T want that.

It's just my musing this evening. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think causes you to remember something. An anniversary, milestone, or particular stimulus.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jim's 4th annual 29th birthday

Who: The people who make my life worth living, including you!

What: I never turned 30. Last year, my friend Mary gave me the cute term "thirty-wonderful," and I could live that. This year, I'm going back to being 29. And there are plans for birthday shenanigans!

When: Saturday, August 25th, beginning at 8pm(ish) and ending when the last person collapses. ;)

Where: Downtown Laramie (for starters). Let's meet at the Alibi for a drink or two. We'll start bar-hopping from there! At around 11ish, we'll head back to my place for "drunken sing-a-long karaoke." The Library bar was supposed to karaoke, but they're not cooperating with my master plan. So the night owls and the adventurous can go back to "Ruby Slippers" (aka my house) for a sing-a-long karaoke fest. I may not have my own karaoke machine, but I have CD's, surround sound, and no shame!

Why: It's not every day I turn 29 (though it IS every year now). And it's a last hurrah before school starts. Do you really need an excuse?

Other details:
  • Gifts are welcome, but certainly not required. Having a chance to see my friends and adopted families before all hell breaks loose at work is a gift in and of itself!
  • If you're not sure where to find us, call me. I'll be happy to tell you where to go. *smirk*
  • If you don't know where my house is, let me know and I'll send you directions.
  • You don't HAVE to bring anything to karaoke, but if you have a particular type of munchie or adult beverage you can't live without, you might want to bring it along. You're welcome to what I have, but no fair whining if I don't have your craving. ;)
  • No, you are not required to be there for EVERYTHING. That's why the evening is in stages...so those with a life, kids, or a curfew can duck out at any point. I won't hold it against you...unless you ask really nicely.
  • No, you are not required to sing if you come to "karaoke."
  • Yes, you can invite someone. Work is already crazy for me, and the odds are that I forgot to invite someone important.
    Any questions? Give me a call, email me, MySpace me, Connexion me, etc.
  • Monday, August 20, 2007

    Big Gay Jim...Unplugged

    This weekend I had an invitation to go "camping" up in the mountains. A friend has a cabin up there with electricity, running water, etc. I was tentative about the trip at first. I've been having back spasms for a while, and the thought of "camping" with a bad back isn't thrilling. I also worried that with the impending birthday, I should be responsibile and clean the house, etc. In other words, I was listing all the reasons NOT to go. Fortunately, my friends are good salesfolk.

    We set off late Friday night and came back Sunday afternoon. I didn't have to drive. I didn't have to buy food. I had a bed to sleep in. I was in good company. We had an amazingly fun weekend, and went over to Saratoga for a dip in the hot springs. That felt SOOOOO good on my back. It was eight shades of relaxing, and was just what the doctor ordered before a week of sure hell at work.

    When heading up the mountain, I made a show of turning off my cell phone. "Look everyone...I am officially on vacation." And it felt SO good. I didn't have to worry about work calling me. I didn't have to worry about calling someone back before they went to bed. I didn't have to WORRY. No TV. No video games. Our only tech indulgences were a fridge and a stereo system. Wood burning stove even!

    I fully recommend this to everyone. Turn off your digi-life for a while. While I live and die by the computer, cell phone, and DVR, it's nice to be without them for a while. Be safe and sane about it, though. People knew where we were. We had phones available in case of emergency. If you turn off and check out, you should do the same. Otherwise, drop out for a day or two.

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    My heart runneth over

    This will be the last post in the latest series. But not to worry, the fabulous gayness will continue! And hopefully, there will be an inspirational word, thought, etc. Or two. So sorry...it's a long one.

    I've gotten a bit of grief every now and then from friends about some of the TV shows I watch. In addition to crime dramas, fabulously gay shows, the Daily Show, etc...I also watch shows like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. As Linus calls them, shows designed to make you cry. And to a large extent, he's right. Overly sappy. Mushy even. And it works, too. It's pretty much a guarantee that by the time the family of twelve (who probably have a story like: lost their father to cancer just before the tornado destroyed their ramshackle, termite-infested 4 bedroom house) gets their new house, I'm blubbering like an idiot. And not just because "the team" goes the extra mile by treating the entire house with a special anti-termite goo and installs an underground emergency shelter...just in case tornadoes don't follow the same rules as lightning.

    It's because of the love the family has for one another. It doesn't matter what they've been through, how tough times got, or how much they've lost. They have kept their heads high because they have each other. They keep putting one foot in front of the other because they know they're not alone. And more often than not, they also have found some way to give back to their community, their family, or someone else in need. They remind me of many people in my life.

    My mother, who never let what we didn't have keep us from feeling loved and blessed. Dennis and Judy Shepard, who found grace and compassion when it was least likely and who still today devote their time, energy, and money in the hopes nobody else has to do the same. And the list goes on and on.

    Lately I've been watching a new show on TNT, called Heartland. It's about a team of transplant surgeons and nurses. They save lives, and they lose some. They care about total strangers, and do everything they can to give people more time. more time with loved ones. More time to accomplish a dream. More time to simply live. It's about giving to someone else, even when you don't get anything in return. Out of love. And out of humanity.

    I have a confession. I watch these shows BECAUSE I will cry. It's a way to vent the sadness. The sadness I feel when I hear a friend worry about whether or not she can stay in school because her parents don't come through as promised. The frustration I feel when I read today that a 22 year man died in custody because OUR government refused him the AIDS medication he needed to stay alive. His crime? He didn't have a green card. The anger I feel when I hear the Phelps will protest the funerals of those killed in the bridge collapse.

    But most of all, it's the worry. The worry that those who mean SO much to me, and have given me so many wonderful yet intangible gifts, will not know how much love I carry inside. Sometimes I feel ready to burst. Like the love inside is overflowing. I was there when my mother died. I was there when I was afraid Scotty was going to do the same. For me, every single day in precious. Like so many of my faithful readers, I've felt the loss of a loved one. And I rejoice in every moment I get to spend with my friends and family.

    If you've ever heard me give a SafeZone presentation or speak to a class, you might know that back in 9th grade, I was ready to give up. I felt no hope, and was so tired of the internal struggle. But the day I was ready to swallow every pill in the house, a friend called and asked me to "head into town" for a day of fun. I don't remember what we did, but we had SO much fun. When I got home, I realized that had I followed through, I would have missed the good times too. And so from that day on, I have focused on the good times. I look toward the light at the end of the tunnel. The silver lining. Or at least I try to...I am human after all.

    So that's the way I try to live my life now. Always remember the good times. Help each other through the bad ones, and try to learn from them as you go. Take some chances. Love easily, and make certain you share that love. Speak it. Act it. Write it. MAKE IT KNOWN. And not just to those you call family. Or friend. But to everyone around you. The stranger on the street. The person who sits next to you in class. The umpteenth customer of the day.

    That's really the point of this whole series of posts. Just by changing the little things, we can make a big difference. "Become the change you want to see in the world." It really does work. And I've found that when you do your best to BE your best, the Universe will give you the best in return. Witness the countless friends and family who stand by you when you're sick, cranky, tired, in pain, poor, or just plain sad. Being filled with love is an amazing feeling. Sharing it is even better.

    So at the risk of sounding like a broken record, thank you to you all. And all my love. YOU GIVE ME WINGS!

    For the record, the only tears shed during the writing of this post are due to smiles and happy memories. It's not sadness talking...just LOVE! (And you know damned well that SOMEONE would worry it was a depressed or sulky post if I didn't clarify...it's the nature of text on a screen instead of tone of voice.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    United We Stand... Why not work together?

    Think for a moment about all the time, energy, and power we spend fighting for a small piece of the pie. What if all the numerous groups worked together as one, combining that same time, power, and energy? It would be a force to reckoned with, indeed. We even have examples of people working together and the great things they can accomplish.

    The Olympics. We love to see athletes coming together in the spirit of sportmanship and competition. Even here in America we manage to make note of the trimuphs, struggles, and efforts of others. The under dogs. Someone who has overcome incredible odds just to participate. New firsts. New records. Heoric feats and daring dos. The Kennedy Center Honors. Celebrating people in film, television, music, and the arts. Where else in one year can you honor Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, Steven Spielberg, and Andrew Lloyd Webber? (Don't know them? Look them up. They're worth it.)

    Here on campus we're starting to see it. Women's Action Network and Spectrum have co-sponsored countless events, and other groups along the way too. In the past, Spectrum has worked with Campus Ventures, Catholics on Campus, AAPISA, OMA, UMC, the Bahai's, Hillel, MEChA, several greek houses, and many departments. If we all worked together to bring in an event as one...how could it be denied? I imagine funding would be thrown at an event.

    One way or another, we have to learn to work together. The similarities between racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, classism, politicism, etc. far outweigh the differences. Oppression is the same, even if the particular flavor isn't. It's not about us and them. There is only us. We are ALL connected. Not matter how many little boxes we try to create to separate us from one another, we're all still in the same container.

    What happens in Mexico impacts us in the U.S. Any conflict in the world has an impact on the entire globe. HIV crosses all boundaries, and the number of AIDS orphans who are coming of age and the number who will be orphaned in 10 years will certainly have global impact. How will nations of children eat? Learn? Govern? We must act now to prevent disaster down the road. And will take a concerted effort from everyone.

    But the good news is you don't have to go to Africa and work with AIDS orphans. You do, however, have to get involved. In something. Find something you're passionate about and volunteer. Donate your time and your money. Think globally and act locally is a great motto! It reminds me of something a Lakota healer taught me once.

    "First, I must heal myself. Then I can heal my family. Then we can heal our community. Then we can heal the world."