Friday, October 29, 2004

Standing Ovation

B-squared, the famous Byun, has said something very profound. Go read that and think about it.

I did, and now I must pontificate. No doubt I've said all this before, because it's something very central to my beliefs and usually pops up at least once a week.

Anger does not change minds about issues. Being angry, being vitriolic, being sarcastic or crudely insulting doesn't do diddly squat to change anyone's position. In fact, the entire concept of attempting to change someone's mind is pretty questionable.

To change one's mind about something based on the rhetoric and reasoning of another means that, from the start, one was prepared to admit that one was WRONG. Being wrong, at least in my observable corner of American Culture, is nearly criminal. To admit to being wrong about anything is to simultanously admit to being weak, stupid, morally rotten, capable of eating babies and giving up your lunch money to bullies.

People will do anything rather than admit they were wrong. I've watched it. Ever catch one of those Police Video shows, where hot pursuits are recorded on the dash cam of the local cop? At least every other show, some person will take off when pulled over, determined to escape rather than admit they ran a stop sign or doing 35 in a 25 MPH zone. This person inevitably wrecks the car and then jumps out to argue with the policemen about why they were pulling him/her over in the first place.

The scale doesn't matter. People will fight equally hard to be right about the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question as to be right about their choice of healthcare method or political representatives. Whatever question might be raised, someone has "THE" best method for handling it. Look at the weight loss industry if you doubt this -- everyone has "THE" best method, be it exercise machines, programs, diet books, pills, drink mixes, electric devices...

Ok, so if no one wants to be wrong, most people are convinced of their own rightness because they perceive themselves to be in agreement with an authority, a majority, or a divinity. All three are problematic because, withoutdoubt, all three are pretty shaky. Authorities can disagree, majorities are not always right, are difficult to accurately measure, and tend to shift, and divinity...well, it depends on which version of the Divine interpretation you consult. Facts are only as good as the source that perports them, and facts change all the time.

In essense all matters of opinion on who is right and who is wrong are matters of faith. And you can't argue faith. "True Faith", in my definition, is something you have when everyone and everything says you are wrong. In general, my observation is that the faith most people have in anything (be it God, Science, or Politics) is affected by how many other people, authorities, or divinities they can say are in agreement with them. The more of these three sources one can claim to have agree with one's point of view, the "more right" one is.

In my little corner of the universe, I've struggled and continue to struggle with the imperative to be Right All The Time. I have to remind myself that I have no monopoly on "facts", "truth" or "right". I have to keep in mind that fear rules. We are afraid of being wrong, because being wrong is so terrible.

Only being wrong isn't so bad. I've been wrong a lot and it's always been a chance to learn something. Yeah, it can be painful and embarrassing, but so what? There's no point in fearing pain, because it just makes the pain worse. Being wrong is survivable and being right is damned hard work. I do not gloat when I am right. I'll be wrong again.

I don't know if that's something a lot of people realize, up front and on a daily basis. I think everyone knows it somehow, but they don't live with it as a tenet of their lives.

Which brings us back to B and his sniper. I see this as a giant exercise in getting away from the overwhelming burden of fearing to be wrong. I see B's actions as a huge and difficult step toward accepting that his beliefs are just that -- beliefs -- and that being angry at those who disagree is useless. They, too, labor under the crushing weight that They Might Be Wrong, and that fear directs much of what they do. Fear is a foundation emotion, creating hatred and anger and jealousy and resentment. To go past the fear is to offer understanding. One may disagree with another person without hating them, hurting them, or avoiding them, if that other person also understands the possibility.

I say ye, B.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Checking in

Nothing in particular going on. MIL has moved into her house and we moved boxes, assembled desks, unpacked dishes and moved boxes. She's about an hour away, which seems to be the perfect distance to prevent "drop in" visits.

Rehearsals are going....well, mostly. Lots of people are not singing this concert. The music isn't turning a lot of wheels, but I think it will be OK. I'm singing with a smaller ensemble and folks from ANOTHER ensemble keep coming up and saying "Aren't you the new member of (this smaller) ensemble? They are really thrilled with you. No, really." Compliments always make me a little nervous in such venues, since I have no idea how they know anything. We share a member between ensembles, but I didn't think this particular member thought much of me and I don't think he'd rave like that.

Weather is great, life is good, Samhain is coming, and I'm going pumpkin shopping.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Timid

I picked up two Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers. I haven't put them on my car yet.

I live in the heart of Bush Country, that's why.

Isn't is strange that in the Land of the Free, I should feel trepidation about announcing my political affiliations? Because I fully expect if I do so, I must be prepared to argue politics with anyone who steps up and says "Oh yeah?" And I'm not really prepared to do that, for a number of reasons.

1) I try hard not to pay too much attention to politics because I suspect it is a leading cause in mental illness.
2) You can get cooties from politicians
3) I'm not really jazzed about ANY politician we've got up right now.

You see, I'm of the opinion that marketing has ruined our political system. The information age has destroyed it all. Information is just data until someone spins it, interprets it, puts it next to a picture and draws a conclusion, samples out 5 second snips and makes a 30 second soundbite. And candidates, by nature, want to appeal widely. Which means they go for the average, which means they end up frozen in the middle of something, somewhere, leaning closer to whichever extreme edge they also want to scoop up. And they have to be perfect because all their dirt will be dug, etc. etc.

What really makes a good political leader? A person who's made mistakes -- big ones, whoppers -- and learned from them and moved on. That's how leaders are made. They tend to be imperfect. They always have flaws somewhere because they are human beings and the qualities that make a good leader tend to go hand in hand with certain kinds of flaws. A good political leader isn't necessarily an altruist, but they can at least be honest. Being a good political leader doesn't always mean being a good person (that's historically proven) but good people sometimes become good political leaders...if you have a realistic idea of what a good person is (like you and me).

These are the complications that make me shy away from politics. I'm not interested in proving myself right to someone eager to prove me wrong. I think the American People as a big, undifferentiated Jello-like blob interpreted through spot polls and marketing analysts have gotten exactly the government we really want rather than what we idealistically want (since we can't get our ideals to mesh anyway and aren't willing to pick a spot -- we tug and pull toward our respective far ends and so everything sits in the center-ish area where not too many people are happy but not too many are really pissed about it).

So now I have to get up the courage to put that sticker on my car. I should wash my car first, I guess. Ugh. I'm going to be having the sign war with my neighbor across the street with the Bush/Cheney poster in his front yard.

Not that I talk to him anyway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Fitting In

The little concert on Monday went quite well. We sang in the rotunda of the City Hall for National Coming Out Day. What an echo! The reverb took a full minute. It was fun, it was fast, we were loud and mostly in tune and we were outa there.

I also learned that, if I stand in a large crown of gay people, I look just like everyone else. My straightness doesn't make me conspicuous. Who'da thunk?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Rain on a Monday

seems like a cliche.

Tonight the OGC is going to sing on the steps of Orlando City Hall in support of something I've only got the vaguest notion of name on -- the UCF GLBT group is having a "coming out day" celebration. This is all I know. I wonder if I will be one of the few people there who isn't represented in the call letters.

I've come to realize that, unless it personally involves me, I don't give a flying freak who you have sex with, at least as far as gender, race and ethnicity are involved. I' ve got some issues about sex between adults and minors, and nonconsensual, and stuff like that. But after those are taken out, I really, really, REALLY don't care.

Most of all, I wish it wasn't a political issue.

This weekend the Science Channel reran "The Day The Universe Changed", that James Burke series from the 80's and one thing he discussed was how we feel safe in our rules so that we codify them into laws and traditions and are willing to fight and kill and die for them -- but that we will change them if the money is better. I spent some time thinking about it and I can't refute it.

Pause

'Superman' Christopher Reeve Dies at 52

I had hoped he would walk again. Perhaps now he will.

Friday, October 08, 2004

What doesn't hurt

I was overcome with a cleansing desire today -- opened the windows of my temperature controlled house and started on a pile of boxes stuck in a back corner. Among other treasure and garbage I came across a cache of photos that my dad had horded. Old photos, but not that old -- I was in many of them, at ages 7 and 9 and 12. Other people I remembered were in them. I found the long lost photo of my grandfather's gravesight.

And it didn't hurt. No urge to break down in tears, no lump in the throat, no papations.

There is a photo of me on Award day in junior high, my hands full of trophies and certificates (I was one of those kids), looking THIN. I mean, SKINNY. Not surprising, really. I think it was my eight grade photo and I was in the midst of the "diet pill" amphetamine haze (yes, doctor prescribed amphetamines for a 14 year old. I started when I was 11 and finally refused them when I was 15. There are reasons I was a straight A student for 3 years who had few friends, lots of depressive habits, and read every book that wandered my way.) I didn't look unhealthy, but there was all kinds of skinniness in that picture.

I was still convinced of my fatness. Everyone told me I was fat -- I think I had big thighs and calves because I walked and rode my bike a lot then, and rollerskated a lot. But the face, the neck, the chest, the arms -- skinny. Hard to believe. I don't remember feeling thin. I don't remember thinking I was thin. I'd been "dieting" -- aka developing my weird relationship with food, eating everything that was "bad" for me when no one was looking -- for about 4 years by then. Four years.

Four years. From the time I was about 10. I remember my mother fixing me meals consisting of a single hamburger pattie (fried), sliced tomato, and a spoonful of mac-n-cheese. That was a diet meal.

Very confusing.

What is it in my mind that I can't conquer about my weight? How many years before I figure it out?

Anyway, there's more stuff to be cleaned and I want to clean while moving doesn't hurt.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Chords

The last week or so have been dark and dreary, mostly shapeless passings of time in which I have (variously) bemoaned the accumulated years, the myriad little failures, the utter lonliness of my world, blah blah blah.

Today I hung my windchime back up. Good thing.

It's a lovely thing, a Grace Note, tuned in A minor 7/11, which is perhaps an odd chord to make me feel better. We took it down before Frances paid her visit and it's been in the front entry ever since. A minor 7/11 (you can work it out on a piano) is a favorite chord -- it speaks of sadness, as do all minor chords, but there's a wistfulness and a flavor of hope, too, probably in the 7th. It's an honest chord that sings about life's losses but tosses out good things as well. Like an Irish melody.

If you survey traditional Irish Music, you're bound to discover (sooner or later) that all Irish songs are about Love, Drinking, and Death, either singly or -- more commonly -- in some combination. You can somehow manage to write funny songs about Love, Drinking and Death, but I suspect you must be Irish to manage it. My genes remember just enough about Ireland to help me appreciate that fact, but not enough to make me drink much, which is probably just as good because I'm sure the German genes floating around with them would make me drink beer, and I can't stand the stuff. But I do like Riesling. Go figure. With my fried potatoes, thank you very much.

I've another chime that hangs in the back yard, a huge one, the longest pipe almost as tall as I am, with a more sonorous sound and a chord I can't remember without running back to check. It plays "Nyannie nyannie boo boo" when the wind is right, which can be irritating. When we clean up the back patio I'll hang it because when the wind blows the other way it sounds like church bells.

I joined a new singing group last night, a small ensemble from the Chorus who work very much like my old Ren Faire group did -- you make it up as you go. I can get into that. AND I CAN SING SOPRANO. I am so much NOT a first tenor.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Not my best week

What has this week been? Another week in my life where I didn't really do anything, went from being quite happy and content to thinking my life was a long trail of misery and failure, and slept too little some days and too much on others.

Nothing really to write about. That doesn't usually stop me, does it? Well, this time is different.