In the Land of Rape and Honey

•November 17, 2006 • Leave a Comment

One of the things that really has amazed me over the last year, is just how surreal the US has become politically. Years ago, I was content to leave politics to the politicians and the chattering class, assuming that they knew what they were doing, and preferring to stay focused on things closer to my heart, like languages, computers, tacky 80s music, etc. I suspect many Americans are in the same boat. And then to my surprise, I find that not only are the people running things completely inept, but they are almost certainly certifiably insane.

At one time, there were two major approaches to politics; one Democratic, and one Republican. Which one you preferred was pretty much a matter of how much you made, with a quite a bit of wiggle room for personal preference, social aspirations, etc. Both had their problems, both had their benefits, what I’m getting at here is that both approaches were valid political stances. And then everything changed. And not terribly gradually…this is due primarily to the end of the third American major economic cycle. I go into nauseating detail about this on the old blog for those interested…and the political links here in the blogroll also cover this kind of thing. At this point, we have Democrats who are still in the process of coming to terms that theirs is the only valid political stance currently on the market, so to speak. The Republicans have been taken over by Authoritarian Cultists, and religious nuts. Raving, lunatic, evangelical nuts. Raving Jewish nuts. Raving fundamentalist nuts. If they’re at all religious and still in the GOP, they’re batshit insane. The more moderate religious have quietly left the party…heck most of them are now Democrats. The Neocons are still nominally in charge of the Bush Administration, but their implosion continues apace. While the next two years could continue to be troubling, it is unlikely that the neocon movement will survive. And if they do somehow manage to hang onto control of the Republican Party, they could throw it into a permanent minority status, essentially wiping it out. You won’t know this from the media of course, because they are too busy chattering about faux-Centrism…as if such a thing as Centrism is possible between liberals, and the radical Constitution-destructionists. Centrism is gone, it’s dead, and it’s unlikely to come back any time soon. When the punditocracy blathers on about Centrism, what they really mean is whatever they themselves happen to believe. Which seeing as how they all take Republican paychecks, is so far from real centrism in any conventional sense, as to be unrecognizable. So they remain silent on Bush’s dismantling of habeas corpus, turning the clock back to pre-Magna Carta days, and instead drone on about the color of Nancy Pelosi’s outfit. They ignore Bush’s illegal torture, Geneva Convention violations, etc….and instead zoom in on the fact that 2 people applied for the Majority Leader post, and that somehow (wrongly) means the Dems are divided. Conservatism is also dead, which the chatterati are also blissfully ignorant of…while they declare newly elected Democrats to be, in fact, closet Conservatives. They aren’t of course. Why do people listen to these pundits again?

As mentioned elsewhere, what Bush, Rove, and company tried to do with their unholy alliance of Neocon, Theocon, and economic conservatives was to usher in a new economic cycle similar to the Robber Baron Age of Railroads, where wealth was concentrated into the hands of a very few, extremely wealthy and powerful individuals. They attempted to do this by attempting to destroy the Democratic Party, trample on the US Constitution, and create a permanent state of war in the Middle East. The Republican owned non-liberal media simply stopped reporting anything that even remotely made Republicans look bad, which is why we’ve had little if any reporting on the unconstitutional behavior of the President, and hours and hours of Missing White Woman stories. They failed, miserably. And as this whole thing unravels, the poo flinging is really starting to get off the ground, so to speak hehe. We had a radical rightwing blogger associated with the Free Republic arrested for sending fake anthrax to the Democratic leadership, and the few liberal journalists still out there. This would shine a bright light into the whole nest of vipers that passes for political discourse on the radical right nowadays…if the radical right-owned media would actually report about it. Instead, we have CNN continuing to shill for the goopers, with Glenn Beck asking the newly elected Muslim Congressman to prove he’s not a terrorist. Funny, I’d like to see some proof that Coulter and Malkin aren’t terrorists, seeing as how they REGULARLY ADVOCATE TERROR. And can we all just admit that James Carville is really a Republican operative, and just move on? Why on earth does anyone take him even remotely seriously anymore? His wife is most likely about to become the next head of the RNC, there’s no way in hell anything he is bloviating about is going to harm her efforts. Atlas Juggs is even more unhinged than ever, if that is even possible 🙂 …her BFF John Bolton is about to be permanently kicked out of the UN, I guess it’s really rough for her. The other doughy pantloads are even doughier, and are still avoiding military service, while pushing for even more troops in the Iraq Quagmire. Lieberman is an even bigger whore than before, but then, that is his only major job skill, and I guess you gotta do what you’re good at.

Older video of Pam @ Atlas. This is her during her “sane” period…sane being used in it’s most broad meaning.

There is a ton of work to do now, to reverse all of the damage done since 2000. And if you are an American citizen, you owe it to your country to get involved. Because we are all to blame for allowing things to get this bad. We were too busy, wrapped up in our little lives, to do something about the creeping fascism. We were too wrapped up in our stupid tv shows, and our stupid video games, and our stupid sporting events. We don’t have to change careers and become political consultants hehe…but we do need to be more involved. I challenge every (American) reader to set aside 30 minutes of your time every week. and stay informed about the political situation. The major news sites are useless for the most part, as they stopped reporting any real news long ago. There are plenty of blogs though that report on things in a timely fashion. I highly recommend Huffington Post and Rawstory for this, linked to the right. I challenge every American to take some time, and write your Congresscritters an email. It’s important! Because if people like us don’t take the time to do these things, the only people doing them are Little Green Fascists. And look where that’s gotten us. We are not to blame alone. A horde of legislators, mostly Republican, but many of them Democrats, joined the Bush Admin and enabled their disgusting behavior. Hundreds of corporations, large and small, were completely on board too. There must be repercussions. These people must be held accountable. That’s our job…to make sure that they are.

#60 : Demons

•November 14, 2006 • Leave a Comment

When you use the Way to conquer the world,
Your demons will lose their power to harm.
It is not that they lose their power as such,
But that they will not harm others;
Because they will not harm others,
You will not harm others:
When neither you nor your demons can do harm,
You will be at peace with them.

This is from the Tao Te Ching, a book that infuriates many due to the way that it is written, but that provides interesting little things to meditate on for those who don’t mind stepping outside of themselves for a bit. It’s an infuriating book for those people…mostly Republicans I would imagine hehe…for whom everything in the world is either black or white, with nary a shade of grey in between. (Certainly Republicans have gotten into trouble lately with their own inner demons erupting onto the public stage!) I however see the world as mostly shades of grey, with very little black and white, and so perhaps this is why I find the Tao Te Ching so interesting. As mentioned earlier here and on the old blog, I’ve spent much of my life studying language, and inevitably this led me into such areas of speculation as the nature of consciousness, the nature of Mind, the nature of reality, and perhaps into the nature of morality. There are whole schools of Philosophy out there that attempt to reduce reality to a discussion of the nature of language, which to me is bass ackwards, as my grandma would have said. It’s even more infuriating when the linguist in question is someone who hasn’t even bothered learning any languages other than English…they just memorize the usual textbook examples from their linguistics courses, and then pontificate on the nature of reality as if they were some sort of expert now, with that college degree under their belts.

Language, the Universe, and Everything

But that’s a debate for another day. Back to the demons. As mentioned earlier, I went through a Wiccan period. Pagans have much more varied beliefs on pretty much every subject relating to religion and spirituality, than say, for example, Christians. In Christianity there’s a creed you are supposed to accept and “believe in”, whereas with paganism there is more of a laundry list of approaches to issues of spirituality, and you are left to figure it out on your own. The beliefs are secondary; the approach is what is important. So with Christians you will get pretty standard answers to questions about the nature of reality, nature of good and evil, etc. within the same denomination, but with Pagans it’s pretty much a different answer for each person you talk to, though many of the differences are nuanced. So with Christians the concept of the supernatural is usually a given. That’s how God and Jesus work their miracles or whatever. And that’s what demons are, supernatural beings of some sort. Pagans on the other hand tend to view the entire universe as a natural thing, with by definition an impossiblity of anything being supernatural. If it’s here, it’s natural, and that’s the end of it. And then there is how both groups tend to approach the “occult”; Christians tend to view it as a study of the supernatural, using means that are probably unwise at best and heretical and evil at worst. Pagans however would approach the occult as a rather dated attempt to understand human psychology and the universe generally.

Ministry – Stigmata

Since for pagans there is no supernatural, there is nothing supernatural behind the occult, and it’s just some rather curious writings by people from another era. Many pagans have recast the entire occult/magick discussion completely into psychological terms, and spend more time studying the writings of Jung than some weird grimoire from the 1500s that advises you how to curse your neighbor’s farm animals, by wrapping a piece of fur around your leg and chanting something in Latin hehe. In other words, modern pagans are not medievalists. Once you reject the supernatural as a motive force, demons are relegated to being creatures of Consciousness of some sort instead. Which means they are in the Mind somewhere. (Or they are just natural creatures out there in the universe somewhere. Since there is no evidence of them being natural creatures, like dogs or cats, the Mind it is!) We are immediately confronted by a problem however. Cognitive Studies is a relatively young discipline, and it is remarkable how little we know about how the Mind works. Earlier philosophers suggested that physical reality was somehow “less real” than spiritual reality, whatever that might mean. Plato had his famous Cave analogy, where we were like people in a cave, doomed to only experience life as shadows of the real reality that was better and more real. Berkeley went so far as to say that all of us and the universe around us are just dreams in the mind of God. This is a little too close to the Great Green Arkleseizure Theory for my tastes, so let’s go back to the Mind :). The fact is there doesn’t seem to be a “mind” at all. There appears to be no such thing. There does however, appear to be a brain, and when it functions normally, a process which we can call Mind functions. And to make matters even more complicated, there appear to be many brains in our heads, not just one! We call it “a brain”, but in fact a number of different brains have accumulated in our heads over the millennia, via evolution. Depending on how detailed and picky you want to be, there could be literally dozens of discrete parts in there functioning in tandem to create Mind. Clearly the earliest developing parts were only intended to control parts of the body, and regulate various systems. The so-called “lizard” brain handles such simple things as telling us when to eat, when to run away, etc. Higher brain functions relate to more abstract things, such as processing language and problem-solving.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

Something odd happened though when enough “computing power” ended up bundled together inside our heads. Namely, we became self-aware. Verbal language developed at some point in the mists of time, and can only be tracked with certainty once it began to be written down a few thousand years ago. But linguists have reconstructed “proto-languages” using common sense and educated guessing by examining how languages have diverged over time. This is how they pinpointed the birthplace of Indo-European to Central Asia, by comparing common words in its descendant languages and working backwards. Language and self-awareness go hand-in-hand. And so we get to the nature of consciousness. What does it mean to be conscious? What is the difference between being conscious and unconscious? Where and what is the sub-conscious? What about that collective unconscious thing of Jung’s? What about that Cosmic Unconsciousness thing from Repo Man?! It’s all pretty mind-boggling isn’t it. I leave it to the reader to meditate on such things.

Cosmic Unconsciousness illustrated

I see I’ve already blathered on too long, and wandered all over the map, and I apologize hehe…but again back to the demons. The most logical place for them to exist is internally. Yep, in one of the many of those brains inside our heads. A psychologist might call them complexes instead of demons, but there they are. They are a part of us…collective or no…that is mostly forgotten, buried, hidden, literally “occult”…and that is not evil per se, but not overtly working productively or for our own good. These are ancient and primal parts of ourselves, and if we don’t come to terms with them, they can create all kinds of trouble for us in our lives. Getting these demons into line is the whole point of some of the old grimoires…though admittedly back then any practioner would have viewed them as supernatural entities, rather then as complexes. The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, and the Goetia both go into elaborate detail as to how to deal with these things…from the perspective of a medievalist…and both books have been reinterpreted for use by more modern people as psychological journeys. And a dangerous journey it is. You’re not in danger of being possessed by something supernatural though; you’re in danger of losing your mind. As such the instructions contained in those books are usually only attempted by people who have studied them for years, and remain the province of specialists in the field. I wouldn’t recommend that people dally with them.

Coming to terms with your inner demons however, and causing them to stop doing harm to you and to your own life, is an important part of the spiritual journey, in my humble opinion. You can never banish them, or destroy them, since they are a part of you. You can just come to understand them, and live with them, and hopefully be at peace with them.

Tiam Dat Beep!

•November 10, 2006 • 4 Comments

As I’ve said before, the US is a little insulated from European trends…cough…ok a lot insulated from European trends hehe. And as I’ve also mentioned before, I tend to avoid the radio and am a bit of a music snob, so I ended up missing that whole Numa Numa thing. In fact it was only a bit of chance that I stumbled upon the song, Dragostea Din Tei, at all. I had recently discovered YouTube, and ended up seeing some cute young guy’s video, which just happened to have the song in it as the background music. The tune was quite catchy, and in a foreign language (Romanian), and so naturally I was hooked. It took a few days but I finally found out what song was playing in the background. And so I discovered the Numa Numa meme.

The original video, that started it all!

What is a meme anyway? Let’s ask Merriam Webster.

Main Entry: meme
Pronunciation: ‘mEm
Function: noun
Etymology: alteration of mimeme, from mim- (as in mimesis) + -eme
: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture

OK, but a little dull. I prefer this definition: meme – bigger than an idea, more contagious than the flu!

The story behind Numa Numa is actually pretty interesting…way more interesting than the song perhaps. A Japanese internet user heard the song, and made a flash “music video” for it. Part of it can be seen here. And then there was Gary Brolsma whose, erm, energetic lip-synching the song in front of his webcam that started the whole Ï’m going to look like an idiot in front of my webcam to Numa Numa thing 🙂 There have since been literally thousands of similar videos, many of them viewable on YouTube. Warning…these are all pretty bad, and not worth watching unless you know the person in the video.

Gary Brolsma gets his numa numa on.

Wikipedia has the details about how the meme spread, but I’m just going to link some of the more notable user-made videos here. I love how exuberantly gay everyone looks in these videos, even when everyone involved is straight!

Japanese Numa Numa. Yes, it’s a guy as the head-cheerleader.

Hebrew Numa Numa. I love the plays on words here.

UBC Numa Numa. They keep with the airplane theme of the original video, and add in a new dance move, the Sprinkler!

Spanish Numa Numa. The meaningless chorus has been changed to Marica tú! (you’re gay!)

Navy Numa Numa. This one is probably my favorite.

Haiducci’s version.

And finally, New Numa! Gary Brolsma returns.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip through Eurotrash hehe.

Remember, Remember, the Seventh of November

•November 8, 2006 • Leave a Comment

Dems Take the House!

Well, here is my obligatory post-election article hehe. Unlike Señor Coconut, I have no compunction at all about droning on with my political views hehe. Analysis livened up however, with clever photoshopped images! (These are found images, not created by me).

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I think it is fair to say that Tuesday was a watershed moment in American political history, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. As of this writing, not only did the Democrats gain 29 seats in the US House of Representatives, they also gained 6 seats in the US Senate, and 6 Governorships in the states. This gives them a majority in both branches of the Legislature, and control of a majority of the states. (DailyKos is still updating these numbers, as some races are still in contention due to voting irregularities and close polls…these numbers are confirmed however. See dKos for current data.) And if that weren’t a big of enough deal, there has been a veritable Democratic tidal wave at the state level as well:

CHICAGO, Nov. 8 — Democratic gains in Congress and among the nation’s governors were matched on Tuesday by a huge surge closer to the grass roots — in the state legislatures, where more than 275 seats and 10 legislative chambers from Iowa to Oregon switched overnight from Republican to Democratic hands.

With those legislative victories combined with the six new Democratic governors elected on Tuesday, Democrats are now the one-party government in 15 states — including New Hampshire for the first time since 1874, and Colorado for the first time since 1960. No party has controlled as many as 15 states since the Republicans achieved that exact number after the 1994 election.

But what was equally remarkable, said Tim Storey, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group, is that the gains occurred everywhere in the country, even in the South, where Democrats lost ground in every statehouse election since 1982 — until Tuesday. The gains there were tiny, about 20 legislative seats spread across 14 states, but the direction, Mr. Storey said, was the important thing.

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Let’s compare these results to my predictions from back in May:

1. Let’s assume that the Democrats gain control of the House in November.

Check. They did even better than I had imagined.

2. Let’s assume they do NOT gain control of the Senate.

I was too conservative! They DID gain the Senate!

3. Let’s assume impeachment of Bush does not get off the ground.

To be determined. If I were Bush though, I would be lawyering up.

4. Let’s assume Rove is indicted however.

This was a reference to the investigations being conducted by Patrick Fitzgerald regarding the CIA leak case involving Valerie Plame. While the investigation is still ongoing, it does not currently appear likely that Rove will be indicted by Fitzgerald. He is however likely to be a prime target in any investigations of the Iraq War debacle. Such investigations, while not announced yet, are virtually guaranteed to occur.

5. Let’s assume that half a dozen new scandals have erupted by 2007, which we have no hint of yet.

Check. And how!

6. Let’s assume the GOP continues down the road of enriching Big Oil and Big Pharma.

Check. I’d predict the windfall is about to end now.

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Bottom line: peaceful change has occured…revolution has most likely been averted.

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Republicans pondering the consequences of Democratic control of the US

This hasn’t stopped the Corporate-owned GOP-friendly media from spinning the sea change in our politics as some sort of victory for conservatism however. Sheesh the chatterati really are a broken record. And the DINO branch of the Democratic Party is already spinning Progressive victories as really Centrist victories. Umm no. Thanks Christy and Pachacutec, for going into detail about this here and here.
While there were numerous reports of election irregularities, many of them caused by those hackable electronic voting machines, it does not appear to have altered the outcome of the elections…the wave was simply too big. There were however incidents of Republican-sponsored voter suppression and fraud. These are being vigorously prosecuted.

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Oh, and Rumsfeld has resigned! Praise the Lord! hehe. And Bush has already replaced him with another incompetent crony. It looks like the Republicans aren’t happy with the amount of implosion they suffered last night, and want to drag the process forward into the 2008 election cycle too! Well, let’s accommodate them!

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Interesting tidbit: AP reported that one third…ONE THIRD…of Christian Evangelicals crossed party lines Tuesday and voted Democrat. That is simply amazing.

Dirty Back Road – The Sequel

•November 7, 2006 • Leave a Comment

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Interstate 10 crossing the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge

So it’s still 1986, and I’ve just finished taking my slimy shower in Port Allen, just across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, and I’m on the road again headed west. For the first time…but as it would turn out later, nowhere near the last…I crossed the Atchafalaya Swamp, on the not-so-surprisingly-named Atchafalaya Swamp Freeway. It’s around 40 miles of elevated I-10 freeway in between Baton Rouge and Lafayette. For most of the drive on I-10, you don’t get a view like that picture there, you just see miles and miles of trees, plus the occasional break in the trees where you get a quick glimpse of the swamp. I thought it was beautiful, in an eerie desolate sort of way. Interestingly, more water from the Mississippi River empties into the Atchafalaya Swamp now than actually flows through the Mississippi Delta…the course of all that water has shifted back and forth over the millennia, and the building of levees up and down the river has only sped up the process. (Once again, pictures are from the internet, I did not take them myself).
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The Atchafalaya Swamp

I continued west with little of interest happening. With all of this driving, I was getting plenty of time to dwell on everything that had happened recently, the whole gay thing, the nature of sexual identity, how I was going to deal with being in the military, how was I going to date (indeed if I could date at all), the meaning of life, etc. Each question led me onto 10 more questions, and everything remained muddy and complicated in my mind. I was playing over events from years back, and seeing all kinds of hints that I had been gay all along, but had just not seen the signs before. Like I said earlier, it didn’t bother me…I wasn’t some angst-ridden gay person, unhappy with his sexuality…it was just such an unexpected surprise. Maybe I was even bisexual, who knew? At any rate, the closer I got to Fort Hood, the more dread I felt generally, and the more resigned I was to being miserable. But it was a nice drive all the same. Crossing state lines had been exciting, signposts of my journey so to speak. Until crossing back into Texas that is. The Sabine River is the border down there, and it was pretty, but then I was back in Texas. Everything changed instantly…my mood, the scenery, even the way the off-ramps on the interstate worked. Texas always has to be different.
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Sabine River, Louisiana-Texas border

The road area was much wider, and since the trees were further apart, there was a lot more light. Orange …the town on the Texas side…was all right, but nothing spectacular. What I really noticed though was how flat and green everything was. I had been in San Antonio as a child, which was brown and filled with fire ants. And I had been in San Angelo, which was brown, desolate, rocky and filled with cactus. This was actually pretty cool. I had just assumed that Fort Hood was going to be like San Angelo…but maybe it might be green after all, we’d see. I kept going west, and ended up driving straight through Beaumont. I had planned on stopping and looking around, but the place stank to high heaven of petroleum pollution smell and gave me a headache…the area is filled with petrochemical plants, and it smelled like it. So I drove on to Houston. But somewhere just east of it, there was a sudden thunderstorm, and it was a doozy…the visibility went down to zero, and my car started swerving all over the place. I ended up sliding right off the interstate, and onto the median! Which is probably a good thing, as the cars in front of me were all stopped, and there was no way I would have stopped my car in time to avoid crashing into them. I sat there on the median until the rain calmed down, which was only a few minutes, and it had totally stopped already. And I saw all the other cars sprawled all over the highway too, many of them on the median, miraculously none of which had crashed. That’s how it rains on the Gulf Coast, fast and furious like that.

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Beaumont refinery

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Houston skyline
Anyway in Houston, I navigated the highways with their crazy drivers, and ended up in the Galleria, where I had intended to stop and do some shopping. At the time, it was the largest shopping center in Texas, and one of the largest in the US. Today it is still the largest one in Texas, and the fifth largest in the US. It was an amazing mall, with multiple levels of fancy shops, 2 hotels, and even an ice-skating rink in the middle of it. I had a blast just walking around and looking at everything, and eventually walked the length of the whole thing, and bought a few things. And then I couldn’t find my car in the parking structure. The place is HUGE, and the various parking garages are quite complicated if you aren’t prepared for it. So I ended up wandering around for another 3 freaking hours looking for my stupid car! hehe. I was already tired from all of the shopping, and let me tell you my ass was dragging when I finally stumbled into the correct parking structure and saw my car. It was nice though after being cooped up in that car all day for several days, to get out and stretch the legs. At any rate I was exhausted, and it was late in the day, and I ended up spending the night in Houston, after driving around the Loop for a while.

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Houston Galleria icerink

In the morning I got back onto Houston’s freeways, and found the state highway which was my new road…I was done with driving west on I-10. It started out as wide and crowded as the rest of Houston’s many highways, but quickly got smaller as I got away from Houston. Houston is an immensely huge city, which unlike most American cities, keeps growing bigger in population AND in land area…it just gobbles up its suburbs and incorporates them. The highway I was on eventually ended up in Austin, 2 and a half hours later, after winding through many small Texas towns. The highway would just stop being a highway, and would be the Main Street of whatever town it was going through, complete with red lights, stop signs, corner drug stores, and the ubiquitous Dairy Queen…those things are freaking everywhere in Texas. As I got closer to Austin, I noticed the landscape changing. It was still lush and green, but it started getting a little hilly, but with fewer trees. It was pretty. And Austin, what a city! Houston was sprawling and vibrant, but Austin had funky character. It had a weird double-decker freeway system which was surely meant to ease the traffic, but that was scary as hell to drive on. I stopped in Austin to look around the University of Texas campus, but I really couldn’t enjoy it on this trip. I knew I was only about 90 minutes away from Fort Hood and the rest of my army career, and all of that drama kept coming back to me. So I drove up I-35 to Temple, and took the State Highway over to the base. But more on that in the next post.
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Austin, Texas

Dirty Back Road

•November 4, 2006 • Leave a Comment


There was one other thing going on right at the end of the Exile in San Angelo (March 1986)…and this one caught me by complete surprise. I had fallen in love with a guy! He was straight, and it was something I was completely unaware of until I had already packed all of my stuff and was waiting for the cab to take me to the airport, to visit with my parents in Maryland before heading off to my permanent assignment in Texas. I know how crazy it sounds…how on earth can you fall in love with someone and not even be aware of it hehe…but there you have it. Looking back it should have been obvious, but at the time I guess I was just completely caught up in army studies and whatnot. He certainly never did anything to encourage me. And honestly I never even thought of him in those terms when I was hanging out with him outside of class…he was just another one of the guys we hung out with. I had never fantasized about anything happening up to that moment, or anything either. It just hit me like a ton of bricks, when he came and said goodbye as he was getting into his own cab to leave. I just realized I’d never see this guy again, and that it affected me tremendously. The next few days were a complete haze, as I wandered around numb from it. I had almost an hour to wait for the cab to the airport, and my friend Rob was there waiting also…and he realized something was bothering me, but it wasn’t the kind of thing I could confide in him about at the time. So I just flew back to Baltimore, met my parents at the airport, and went back to their place.

Emotionally I guess I was a mess…my mom instantly knew something was bothering me, but it wasn’t something I really wanted to talk to her about either. I mean I was gay! How on earth could I be gay?! I had “dated” girls in junior high and high schools. I had never really been interested in a guy that way. I had even enjoyed hetero porn, for Christ’s sake hehe. And I didn’t even want to begin to think about how it complexified my military career. I had seen several guys kicked out for being gay already, so it wasn’t really something I could be openly in the military…I would have to be closeted if I was going to stay in to the end of my term. But sheesh, I was closeted even to myself until the day I caught the plane! It was all so confusing. It didn’t bother me per se, it was just unbelievable that I had been totally unaware of it all. Perhaps it was because all of the guys that had come out that I had known were so over-the-top effeminate? I didn’t feel or act that way particularly. I got into my old bed and just wanted to sleep for my whole 2 weeks of leave…and that was bizarre in itself. I wasn’t the type of person who laid in around in bed all day, ever. And then I started dreaming about him. I had never dreamt about him before, but now it was every night for a few weeks. And I started seeing him everywhere. Of course it was never him, it was just someone who bore a striking resemblance to him.

At any rate after a few days I crawled out of bed; fortunately my parents weren’t taking off from work this time, so I had the place to myself most of day. I had gone home specifically to buy and pick up a new car. I had gotten most of my military bonus money (yay!), but then plopped it all down on the car downpayment (boo!). My step-father, in a rare instance of helpfulness took care of all of the car details, as he used to be a car salesman and at another time he was a car mechanic. Even though I can take apart computers and fiddle with them and do some programming, I know nothing about cars, so it’s good someone with some knowledge dealt with it all. He haggled with the salesman and everything, and got the price knocked down a bit. I ended up with a new (at that time) Sentra…not the sexiest of cars, but reliable for lots of driving, which I was anticipating doing a lot of. The rest of my stay in Maryland was uneventful. I was dreading going on to Fort Hood, but I really didn’t want to stay in Maryland either, as it didn’t feel like home anymore. Mother Nature came to my rescue though, and sent a freak March snowstorm bearing down on us. I used this as a pretext for leaving early…to avoid getting stuck in snow…and started the long drive back to Texas. I wanted to take a different route than we took the last time driving, so I was going to drive down the East Coast to Jacksonville, Florida, and then drive across Interstate 10 to Houston, and then take complicated state routes to get to the base. It had started snowing just as I was driving out of Baltimore. I did decide to detour to Ocean City though, and get some of those wonderful Thrasher’s french fries and see the ocean. I even spent an hour or so hanging out on the Boardwalk, but it was really still too cold to enjoy, being right on the Atlantic Ocean in March, with an approaching snow storm hehe. I had bought a beach towel, planning to sit on the sand and watch the ocean for a bit, but it was too cold for that. So I just ended up getting the biggest barrel of fries available, and strapped it into the passenger seat of the car so I could munch on the road hehe.

Instead of just driving back acorss the Bay the normal way, I decided to go down the long way, through the Virginia part of the Delmarva Peninsula. I had pulled ahead of the storm, but it was all gloomy behind me in the rear-view mirror, so I knew I couldn’t dilly-dally or I could get stranded somewhere hehe. The drive down the Delmarva was spectacular, but then I was stuck paying a 12 dollar toll! WTF?! It would add hours to my trip to turn around, so I just grumbled and paid it. The sun set with me lost somewhere in North Carolina, trying to find I-95. I eventually found it, before the snow got to me, and kept driving south. Finally I made it to Jacksonville, and found some hotel to spend the night in there. I woke up in the morning to Jacksonville, covered in snow! Schools were closed, and traffic was a mess…Floridians don’t do snow well lol. But it was mostly melted already on the roads at least, but it was surreal seeing snow on the ground there. The second day was sunny, but cold, as I drove across I-10. The interstate got more and more disrepaired looking, as I went from Tallahassee to Pensacola. I kept expecting the interstate to turn into a dirt road, it was pretty bad hehe. I had planned on going much further west, but ended up spending the night in Pensacola, after detouring and doing tourist stuff on the Gulf. Day three I got up early, and continued going west. Mobile was surprisingly pretty, and so was Mississippi, though it was obvious that the state was very poor. Biloxi was also very pretty, and I drove around a bit sightseeing. And then I drove into Louisiana.

And before long crossed into New Orleans. It was just before rush hour, and the sun was low on the horizon, as I crossed the bridge into the city proper…not the Causeway which crosses Lake Pontchartrain, but a bridge that was part of I-10. The city was surreal, and beautiful. The first few highway exits were blocked off, and overgrown with weeds, like they had planned to put in roads, but never got around to it. It was like driving into a city in one of those disaster movies, where all the people are gone. Keep in mind this was waaaay before hurricanes Katrina and Rita, so this had nothing to do with that. I spent hours just driving around and looking at the city, though ironically I never found the French Quarter on this trip! (I’d find it on another trip in the future, I was just driving up and down Canal Street but not turning in the right places hehe). The city reminded me so much of San Francisco, it didn’t even feel like an American city. I drove out of New Orleans during full on rush hour, which was a nightmare, with a heavy heart. I really didn’t want to leave. I ended up driving up to Baton Rouge, and spending the night in some hotel in Port Allen, right across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge. The water here tasted odd, but not unpleasant. It did have a slimey consistency to it though when you showered…like you could never quite get all of the soap off of you, that’s what it was like.

I’ll end the rambling here, and next post we’ll keep driving west! I’ve included music clips of some of the music I was listening to on the drive…kind of a gay new wave theme! (The Madonna song was of course released much later, it just made me think of the army guy when I first heard it).

Happy Samhain!

•November 1, 2006 • 1 Comment

Well, I’m glad to see you all survived the night! I myself had a minor run in with a few flesh eating zombies, but other than that, the night was uneventful hehe. (No, I’m not in that photo…I just stumbled upon it on Flickr, and thought I’d share 🙂 )

samhain.jpg Halloween has been weird for me as an adult. I don’t have kids, and I’m too old to do the candy thing on my own. For the last almost 15 years now, I’ve lived in a building where we get no trick-or-treaters also, so I don’t even get to give the candy away. And then there were my army years, which I have gone into detail about recently at the old blog…where I started getting into Wicca. I hesitate to even mention this, as so many people immediately write off Wiccans as a) insane, b) harmless but nutty, c) irrational and into the occult, d) heretics. While I no longer consider myself a Wiccan, it did influence my life, and I am still sympathetic to their world view. Back then (1984-1986ish), it just got really tiresome answering all of the idiotic questions I got from people about it. No, we’re not Satanists. No, we’re not Christians either. No, we don’t engage in human sacrifice…in fact most Wiccans would have been horrified at the thought of any kind of animal sacrifice; heck many of them are Vegetarians or Vegans, and some would question the morality of eating vegetables, seeing as they were living things and all hehe. I myself was briefly a vegetarian, but I loved hamburgers way too much to give them up it turned out. Nowadays while I still eat meat and see nothing immoral about it, I tend to eat a lot less meat than most of my friends.

 

 

samhain2.jpg How did I get into Wicca? Well looking back through the mists of time hehe, it probably went back to those haunted houses we threw for Halloween. Wicca has absolutely nothing to do with any of that, but that’s probably where I went off on a tangent and discovered it. I know I was in the library looking for a book on the Tarot when I did tarot readings that one year. And I know I found a book of “spells” that I got out, also for use during the haunted house. It never occured to me that these things were “real”, these were just props. But while in the library, I stumbled upon the book Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler. It was a no-nonsense account of what nature religions were all about, and it chronicled Margot’s own discovery of a rebirth of these religions in the US. I also read Starhawk’s Spiral Dance at about the same time. There were a number of other books I ended up reading during high-school…mostly snuck into the house, to avoid my step-father’s inevitable freak out and scream-a-thon hehe; let’s just say it’s not one of those things he would have understood lol. I ended up taking away a mishmash of ideas about Wicca and paganism from these books though. 1) These folks are harmless, 2) Being more connected with the Planet is not really a bad idea at all, 3) In spite of being more open-minded on pretty much everything, Wiccans could be quite superstitious about various things, and 4) Their hostility toward Christianity was a little over the top.

I’m not going to dwell on paganism/Wicca/magick, but I did want to mention that this is one of the things I was getting more into while in San Angelo. And after I had my own room (after it had been vacated by the Shawl Guy hehe), I actually had time to do a few rituals. These were the typical bare-bones type ritual that appears in every basic Wicca book. I had no ritual tools…and would not have assembled a set of them anyway, being in the military and having people inspecting my room periodically. Though technically obscure religions were protected in the military under the UCMJ, it is a very hostile environment for any religion except the Christian ones. samhain32.jpgSo I bought and burned incense, but stuffed towels under my door to keep the smell from getting out into the common area hehe…I doubt if my flatmates would have cared, but I wasn’t going to take any chances and open myself up to unnecessary harassment by the military authorities…while it wasn’t Basic Training, it was still Training. And I followed the advice of one of the books: do the ritual with what you have! If you don’t have an athame, use a butter knife. If you don’t have a pentacle, use a plate. And etc. So there I was with my paper plate, and my plastic knife, trying to have a religious experience hehe. But after having “holied the holy water” in my grandfather’s church years before, I must say it didn’t seem that odd. Ritual was basically the practicioner putting themselves into a light trance, and getting in touch with nature. Which made Christian ritual seem bizarre by comparison to me at the time. In Christian ritual, the priest is doing his thing, but the congregation just sits there bored watching, trying to impress their neighbors with their fancy clothes, chatting, passing out business cards, etc. And then they get preached at for an hour. The two experiences were dramatically different. The notion of actually doing the ritual, as opposed to wearing uncomfortable clothes and watching someone else perform the ritual was very appealing to me. Every practicioner is essentially a Priest.

altar.jpg So at any rate, this is why Halloween started being odd for me…as November 1st is celebrated as a pagan holiday. The night before is not spent getting drunk with friends, or playing dress up, or even indulging in scary haunted houses. It’s spent honoring the earth, and commemorating your beloved family and friends who have passed on. (In many Spanish cultures, like Mexico, they also celebrate November 1st as Día de los Muertos). Imagine how odd it would be for a Christian to get dressed up in weird costumes and get drunk at a party on Easter Sunday hehe…that’s what it would have been like for me to celebrate Halloween that way. Nowadays I no longer think of myself as a “pagan”, but the party thing on Halloween is something I’ve never gotten back into the habit of. I did get to hand out candy this year though at a work event, where several hundred people brought their kids in in costume. We decorated the whole area around the outside of the building in a Halloween theme, and it was a lot of fun. I’ll leave the reader with a link to Beliefnet, which is truly a wonderful resource for unbiased information about all religions. (The link goes to the earth-based religion page). They even have a little quiz which will tell you what religion is most in line with your beliefs…pretty cool!