Genesis, Exorcist, Leviathan, Do the Right Thing

I honestly cannot hear someone talk about the Pentateuch without remembering this moment from the show Psych. What great characters.

Speaking of great characters.

Also, I finished the first arc of the D&D podcast I’ve been listening to for the past year or so. Not Another D&D Podcast is the actual name of it. One hundred episodes, averaging I’d guess 100 minutes each. A lot of show to get through. And though it is a comedy podcast and is often quite funny, it also had some real and poignant scenes. Seeing those characters through to the end of it all was very moving for me.

It was a comedy and they kept it pretty light but there were some heavy moments. There were also some conversations that felt like philosophy. Hard to avoid, even if everything’s a joke, when you’re talking about characters taking over Hell and having to decide what to do with it, things like that. In many ways, conceptually and in the issues that arose, it reminded me of The Good Place. It’s all fun and games but also I feel like I’m pondering big questions?

One thing that I really appreciated from this final episode was something an NPC wrote in a letter to our main characters. He was a part of their team and departed the world in the final minutes (in the denouement, not the action, if you were worried). Basically, he just pointed out how small his world had been before he met the heroes. And how they all came to fight for the world.

Though they fought because they cared about their friends and families and communities, the longer the journey grew the more they came to fight simply because they saw things that were wrong and wanted to do the right thing. They traveled and saw and learned, and they increasingly had the power and authority to do something about the bad things they saw. They became invested in this big, final battle not just to save their friends or even their world, or because they alone had the power to stop a great evil. They just knew that it was a good cause and they couldn’t help but see it done. They had made a habit of doing the right thing.

It makes me think about the whole right thing/right reason question. I don’t think it’s always enough to do the wrong thing for the right reason but I also don’t think it exactly hits the spot to do the right thing for the wrong reason. I’m not sure which to weight more heavily, the Thing or the Reason. Or if it should always be the same one.

I guess the thing is to participate. I’m thinking again of Wonder Woman. We all have good and evil inside us. We have the capacity to be heroes. But we’ve got to choose it, every day. We have to do Things and have Reasons and try to strive for the right ones on both counts. And maybe we have a lot of reasons for doing things but I hope that Right Thing can be one of them more and more regularly. That’s what I’m kind of trying to go for, at least.

Let’s Forgive but Not Forget

I’m thinking a bit about forgiveness this week. How to make it into a daily practice to seek forgiveness for myself, and to be generous in giving it to others.

If love covers over a multitude of wrongs, forgiveness should probably be pretty central to what I’m doing as a person who claims to be really into the whole ‘love everyone’ thing. Obviously, forgiveness isn’t a license to act however you like, or to receive all kinds of treatment with equanimity. But the forgiveness of the heart–the kind that is about you forgiving them, or you seeking forgiveness rather than the other person–seems like a better way to live.

I’m not really sure how to make it into a daily practice, though. Partially because, in my general thinking about my life, most things just aren’t that big a deal and somehow forgiveness in my mind is mostly about Big Deals. This is silly, of course. But it will take time and effort for me to get used to seeking forgiveness for little things–that is, things I see as little. That view in and of itself probably isn’t conducive to seeking forgiveness.

On one hand, I feel like this is a very basic skill. Forgiveness is something that can be done within your own heart and doesn’t need to depend on anyone or anything else. You can give yourself the peace of letting things go and be free, having forgiven others. The work of changing behavior generally seems like that brunt of the labor on any given issue. Though, having thought about it just now, this is probably because I don’t really consider myself as having needed to forgive any Big Deals, for which I’d guess the labor of forgiveness would be more difficult.

Therefore, the other hand says that forgiveness is the more difficult, advanced skill, and behavior change is more basic. Anyone can do something differently but it takes a lot of work to move our souls to new places. Sometimes, the keys to freedom are heavy, even when we’re the ones carrying them.

I don’t know. I was trying to think about daily things to remind myself to forgive, and to seek forgiveness. In that, too, I can see different weights applying to each. “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,” as St Francis said. They’re inextricably bound up together, so probably I ought to pursue both equally.

Sometimes, it is easy to see where forgiveness–both sides–could be more present in my life. But even in those times, it just seems hard to step into.

Anyway, I hope that you can find and give some forgiveness this week. I think we could all use a bit more.

Nora sees you and she forgives you. Go in peace.

Volcanic Soil is Super Rich

First, some cat pictures, courtesy of stray cat seen by friend, and friend of friend with cat.

Second, a chicken, which is decidedly not a cat, but which some AI might think is a cat when doing an automatic search.

I think Lent is an interesting time. It certainly does feel different, in some ways, than last year’s–at least going in. I’m not giving anything up this year, nor am I really adding any particular practice (which, by the way, I think the adding in is generally more important than the giving up).

A conversation with friends on Tuesday made me think a bit about the ash part. And how growth can happen even in dead times. The ground doesn’t even have to be that fertile. Things just love growing.

Certainly, it’s best to have some nice soil. To practice some care about what you’re growing and to exert effort to help it grow. But it’s also good to just remember that growth happens. It doesn’t have to be springtime, it doesn’t have to look like what we’re used to, it doesn’t have to have flowers or fruit or anything in particular, really. Growing, that’s the main thing.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. And from the ash and the dust, new life.

That’s what I’m thinking about this Lent. May God grant me eyes to see the growth that is happening, whether I see it or not.

Tomatoes, Champagne, and Racial Purity

I do not like tomatoes. This is not the norm, I recognize, but I am not the only one in my family with this opinion so at least I come by it honestly. If they’re cooked in something to the point of no longer really being tomatoes, sure fine I don’t mind. But even just small-ish medium chunks of tomato in my spaghetti sauce, no thank you. I can, of course, eat tomatoes if I must, but I will always prefer not to.

I can’t tell you why exactly, but Italian cuisine has always been the prime example of something I find really interesting and I’d like to share a little bit about it and why I think about tomatoes a lot.

The Columbian Exchange–that colonial process of plants, animals, diseases, technology, ideas &ct moving back and forth between the Americas and the rest of the world after the voyages of Columbus–is such a wild process. Though things had been moving around the world by human intervention for millennia, this was the first time it had happened so rapidly and comprehensively.

Tomatoes are a great example of this. Before 1492, no one in Europe had ever seen them. Within a century or two, it had become a critical part of several European cuisines, including that of Spain and the Italian states. With a little bit more time, it had been introduced basically everywhere, from India and China to sub-Saharan Africa.

So the thing. As I said, humans have been moving things around and changing up the natural environment almost as long as we’ve been humans. That process, though, was on a scale and with a rapidity and deliberation never before seen. Though Europe didn’t really get on the lemon train until maybe the 15th century, they were aware of them and their regional neighbors had been growing them for centuries. Grapes, on the other hand, have been cultivated across Afro-Eurasia for thousands of years.

I just think it’s so wild to think of something as ubiquitous as the tomato and realize that almost all of its current cultivation is not due to simple dispersion over time but because Spain invaded Mexico. That is for real the only reason. And now, tomatoes are part of the very heart of Italian cuisine, as they have been for centuries.

On the other hand, we also have the kind of cuisines that change rapidly. Sudden-onset kale and matcha and sriracha. The world is at our fingertips, it seems, so we might as well try it all!

Fad diets and also just weird food fads are kind of a norm in this modern age. Whether it’s suddenly making everything out of cauliflower or putting quinoa into an equally dizzying number of things, people (at least well-to-do people) seem to love changing the way the eat all the time.

At the same time, bring any Italian to Olive Garden and I feel reasonably sure that they would make a comment to the effect that they do not serve ‘real Italian food.’ And, to be clear, I think this is right! And I think most people (I would hope) don’t imagine that your local Chinese buffet is not serving the same dishes as one would actually find eaten by locals in China.

I also wrote more than one paper in school on things like Designated Origin foods–the reason Champagne is from Champagne and Cornish pasties are from Cornwall–and I think those things are important. When things have a historical meaning, specific ingredients and methods, local significance, I think it’s important for us to acknowledge and respect those things. And at the same time, we can be okay with having American ‘sparkling wine’ or whatever, knowing that Champagne exists but not needing it for ourselves, at least not in any comprehensive way. Imitations are fine, too.

So we’ve covered the tomatoes, we’ve covered the Champagne, what about the racial purity?

I’ve talked a little about the idea that countries aren’t real–or, rather, that they have no objective reality and only exist as we think of them. This is kind of more in that vein. Whenever people talk about a racial, ethnical, or national group, it’s exactly the same. They are not fixed in any objective way, even as national borders are flexible over time.

The whole ancestry DNA thing kind of drives me wild for this reason. The methodology behind it relies on people choosing who gets to count as XYZ group. And the whole thing just makes me uncomfortable. Grandparents? That’s what most of that is based on?? As though people never moved before that time? I have so many thoughts and this isn’t the time to go into it. I get the appeal and I love that, but if you’re really into (for the ancestry, not health, part of it) go for actual geneology, that’s going to be a more interesting and personal story for you, I think.

Anyway, that’s the thing I have to say about racial purity. It’s like tomatoes. You can’t make authentic Italian cuisine without them, but tomatoes are not from Italy. It’s almost as though…mixing with different people and places and even plants makes the world a better place. Tomatoes certainly aren’t high on my list of things improving the world but I know many people love them.

So. I guess just be careful when you’re thinking about ‘real’ anything, whether of cuisine or nationalities and identities in general. Groups are a lot more complicated than that, they have a lot more history than that, and you certainly aren’t in any place to be the arbiter of In or Out. Perhaps better just to let us all enjoy some bubbly, and we can maybe care less about what it’s called.

Sick of War

Happy February, everyone. Not much of a month, if you ask me, but I guess it isn’t the month’s fault that people kept taking days from it. At least one of the beneficiaries was August, a fantastic month and a worthy candidate to extend.

To start us off this week, cats. Because sometimes, they just need to be in the same spot at the same time, no matter how much room there is (or isn’t).

I had a lot of thoughts about war to start the meat of this post about but instead, I’m going in the history direction because I hadn’t really thought about it much before. War and sickness are a part of it, but they’re not The Thing I want to say.

John Green made an interesting point in a video I watched this week. That our discourse around history education has been for so long centered around war. The causes, the execution, the results. We have cast war as the primary means by which we understand the progress of human history–this empire fought that, these people invaded there, this rebellion was successful &ct.

The point he is making is about human agency and how it takes the forefront of history in our minds, as opposed to other factors, namely disease. But, while he makes a compelling point about the ways in which many aspects of disease events are now actually in our control (how we prepare, how we respond), I think there might be a deeper concern at issue.

I think perhaps thinking about history in terms of human agency is most useful and important when we are thinking about our lives and how we make choices–we can look to the examples of people great and small that history has recorded for us and respond to their lives or live by their philosophies or whatever we want to do about them. But thinking about human agency in history eliminates a lot of history, and it starts to break down as a model, in my opinion, the bigger your scope gets.

Pandemics are a great example of this. There is a lot to be said about human agency in what we’ve been doing; we wear masks, we practice social distancing, we wash our hands, all that good stuff. There are larger-scale issues to do with governance and economics and research that are out of our individual control but are still (at least in democracies) within our collective control. But there are still other issues that we simply cannot do anything about.

When we think about war–or even just generally politics (war by other means, anyone?), economics, or technology–as the primary lenses through which to view history, we miss a lot. Humans are not the whole world, and so world history needs to include non-human things.

To the point: we cannot predict when a new disease will arise, how virulent it may become, or what its symptoms will be. Disease will always be an actor that we cannot control, as much as we can control our preparation and reaction. Without recognizing this, we set ourselves up for failure. I think this same thing can be said of the environment. As much as humanity prefers to think otherwise, we are not actually masters of our domains. We cannot control the weather, we cannot control animals, we cannot control the climate.

As I heard it from someone else this past week, humans are powerful enough to change the global climate but not powerful enough to control how we do so.

But it is interesting to think about. In your history classes, as far as you may recall, did you talk much about disease? We definitely covered the Black Death and mentioned it in regards to colonization of the Americas. But other pandemics were largely off the radar. What about climate history? I feel like the mini-ice age of the early industrial era was probably brought up but I’m not sure we really talked about it. Pollution? Definitely only got two mentions, that I recall: London smog and setting rivers on fire in Chicago or wherever. Animal history? I’m pretty sure the last check-in we got on that was the end of the wooly mammoths.

This makes me think a lot about the Columbian Exchange but that’s probably another whole post. Anyway, just some half-baked thoughts for you.


My life is very boring, as you know, and I like to make big Life Lessons out of small things because what else am I going to do. So for this week, I invite you into my kitchen for a little story time.

I like baking. I enjoy it a lot, while in contrast I do not enjoy cooking one bit. I couldn’t tell you what the difference is, though I suspect part of it is the ability to do what you’re going to do and then walk away (some cooking is like this, too, but it’s not the norm, whereas it’s kind of mandatory for baking).

However, I have long been scared of yeast. And it’s not an unfounded fear: I don’t think that I’ve ever on my own successfully made a yeasted recipe where everything goes as it is meant to. Generally, the final product is decent, but somewhere along the line it went haywire, to a greater or lesser degree. Sometimes, the yeast is dead, or I kill it immediately. Sometimes, I under-knead, or over/under-bake, or don’t let it rise long enough (or possibly let it over proof). Sometimes, I really don’t know what went wrong.

Anyway. This past weekend, I decided to give it a go again. It had been a while since last I tried (dinner rolls at Thanksgiving that ended up lumpy and enormous and kinda flat…though they still tasted nice enough). The recipe I went for was milk bread–something fairly straightforward and simple, and that would go nicely with the pandan kaya that I had recently acquired (I had never had pandan flavor before and it’s great, would recommend).

Long story short (too late), I made it and the dough was weirdly sticky and horrible no matter how long I kneaded and I got my hands all gross even though I tried to use the Danish whisk I got for Christmas and it was just overall a very stressful time. And I knew that, once again, I hadn’t quite lived up to the challenge of yeast.

The final product was still nice and tasty, no problems there really, but it wasn’t quite as it was supposed to be.

Here’s the thing I’m thinking about. First, you’re meant to get better with practice so of course it’s not going to be awesome the first time and without much experience in the field generally. Also, I’ve got to try to get over this terrible “talented child” syndrome where my instinct is to give up if I’m not immediately excellent at something with minimal effort. I think I mostly have but this seems a clear example of it. However…

The other thing I’m thinking about is that I’m not sure I feel particularly driven to try again. Not that I’ll never do another yeast recipe again, but that I just don’t really need to practice it. As I said, I bake because I enjoy it. If I’m not enjoying something that’s just a fun hobby, why would I continue? Maybe I can someday get some more practice in, maybe bake with someone more experienced and actually learn from them (I love baking with others). But for now, I’m content with the parts of baking that don’t involve yeast.

I think personal growth is important. I think complacency is not a great look. I do want to keep challenging myself, in life as in baking. But I also think that there are times and places to just say, as Dr Seuss tells us, “I don’t choose to go there.”

I’m going to keep baking. I’m going to keep trying new recipes and learning new skills (just a few weeks ago, I made my first choux!). But about yeast, for now, I will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” And I think it’s important to be okay with that.

If you ever want to bake with me, to teach me the mysterious ways of yeast or just to have a nice time together, let’s make a plan (especially if you have a cat, especially especially if that cat is Jackson). Because baking brings me joy and so does quality time with friends. Just know, if there’s yeast involved, you’re in charge.

It Figures, Be a Light

To begin this week, I want to introduce you to a very special someone. She came into my life at a very tender age and she was the coolest, most delightful, fluffiest presence in it until she wasn’t. Though I initially wanted to name her Creature (because I was a Scooby-Doo kid), we eventually went with the much more mature and refined Fuzz-Fuzz. My step-dad shared this image from his memories this past week.

If nothing else, at least I was an astutely observant child. Right? Anyway, you’re welcome for that precious gem. If you never met Fuzz-Fuzz before she left to go be one with the coyotes, it’s really a shame you’ll never get to lay on her like a pillow, something she definitely liked and sometimes demanded. At least, that’s how I remember it.

This will surprise no one, I’m sure, but I am in fact the world’s leading authority on adulthood! I’ve been around for a few years and turns out, I’ve got it down. Here’s what the deal is with being an adult:


Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but I feel pretty confident about that answer. Or, put another way, this is what I think I’m learning about being an adult: growing up isn’t about finally figuring it all out. It’s about finally believing with your inmost being that no one has it figured out.

It reminds me of this fantastic article I read waaay back in 2019, and I’m not going to say any more about it because I really, really want you to click the link and read the whole thing. If it doesn’t make you feel better, at least you can know that your clicking the link made me feel better, so that’s something. Please read.

On a different note, this did not seem like the time to not say anything about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

I don’t feel like I need or want to simply offer another quotation of his, we see them spoken enough but less frequently lived. I wonder what your dream is? I wonder if it’s only about you and yours, or if it includes other people?

I do want to share one small thing that I am drilling myself on. Nothing large but something that I have noticed in myself and want to change. I repeat to myself: dialect, accent, and English proficiency are not indicators of intelligence or worth. And intelligence does not change worth, anyway.

To close, I want to think about a few lines from the incredible poem recited at the Presidential Inauguration yesterday. Amanda Gorman’s assertion that we are not a nation broken, just unfinished resounded deeply for me. I have long found the most beautiful part of our Constitution the desire to form “a more perfect union.” 

And let us think about her closing words as we continue that striving (together, whether we like it or not):

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it

Remember Herostratus

I hope you are ready for some more rambles today.

I imagine that many of you are familiar with the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Pyramids and gardens and statues and the namesake of all mausolea, all that. It is recorded that, when he viewed the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, an ancient Greek poet mused:

I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, “Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand”.

Antipater, Greek Anthology IX.58. (apparently?)

Whatever you may think of his assessment–and the probably outsized place the structure has in Western history–it was probably a cool place. And very beautiful. The version of the temple that he saw was the third major edifice at the site, after who knows how many. The early history of the sacred place located in Ephesus is murky, it is not until the Greeks started building temples there that we have much evidence of what went on, though it is interesting to note that the goddess worshipped there really had nothing to do with Artemis.

Anyway, I would like to draw your attention to the second manifestation of the Greek temple, the destruction of which necessitated the building of the glorious third. In 356 BCE, a man named Herostratus burned the second temple down. His motive, at least as well as history is able to tell us, was simply to become famous. To achieve notoriety. To be remembered.

In the event, his punishment included not only execution but the creation of what became known as damnatio memoriae laws, that is: it was forbidden to mention his name, in speech or in writing. Obviously, it didn’t work very well since we still know his name but have long since forgotten many other characters in that story. Supposedly, his name is meant to be part of our modern parlance to refer to those who commit criminal acts to gain fame–fame at any cost, in other words.

Do what you will with that.

In Taylor Swift’s new-ish song, she sings, “Never be so polite you forget your power / Never wield such power you forget to be polite.”

And I’ve been thinking about the fragment, “Never wield such power.” In some cases, it seems to me, the more power you have, the more choice you have about what that power looks like. And if you are very powerful, you can choose simply not to wield such power. Billionaires are an example of that. You can just spend your money (and/or give it away). All of it.

But there’s something more to it. The more I try to become aware of my position in society, how I and others fit into big social structures, the more I learn about other kinds of power. Kinds that aren’t always super obvious, at least not to the wielders. Powers that can be insidious in their corruption. Something like white supremacy I can reject, but I can’t become any less white, and that means there is some kind of power that I can’t just refuse to wield.

What I can do is try to wield my power in better ways. As my mediocre high school romance novel recently reminded me, sometimes you just can’t fix things. But you can try to make them better. You can choose to wield power gently and compassionately. You can use your power to defer, to amplify, to protect.

There’s a lot more to be said about power, the good and the bad, but let’s leave it there for the time being.

I am glad that we still know who Herostratus is. I get what they were trying to do, erasing him from public memory, I get that feeling. But I’m glad we remember. Let’s remember him. If all he wanted to do was be remembered, yeah I’m giving him what he wants. But so what, he’s dead.

Let’s remember him because then we can point to him and say: “I will never wield such power. I refuse.” I will not let my ego destroy buildings or nations or lives. I fear being forgotten–it is a major existential fear of mine–but I would rather be the forgotten judge who held to truth, peace, and love than the remembered convict who burned it all to the ground.

I Am a Gay Man

I thought about setting aside the post I’ve prepared to write about how yesterday was such a horrible day in this country. But all I wanted to say boils down to: this is who we are. Everything that happened yesterday was exactly who we are. If you aren’t happy about that, let’s change it.

Now I’m going to move on because wickedness consumes enough airtime (screen time) as it is.

I have been thinking about guideposts. If someone, by how they live their life, is to be a guidepost, it can only be for pointing backwards, since the future is a mystery no matter how sure you feel about it (a lesson I hope we’ve learned at this point). And if you’re to be a useful guidepost to the past, you need two things: to understand where you were and to know how far you’ve come.

With that in mind, and recalling my awkward Keegan storytime that kicked of my blogging in 2020, I want to delve once again into younger Keegan’s wayward mind.

I cannot claim any real authority to discuss topics of sexuality and gender on any broad scale. Neither can I say that my experience with either has been particularly difficult or damaging, as I know they often are for others. So with both of those things being said, I thought that I might use my own personal experience, which I am somewhat an expert on, to address those who, perhaps, have had an easier time with those two subjects. And, hopefully, illuminate for them how, even if they have settled easily into their identities on the questions of sexuality and gender, there is still some harm being done by the way our society deals with them.

Growing up, I accumulated a lot of Thoughts on the term ‘Man’ and what it meant. Over time, consciously and subconsciously, I developed a system of identifying markers that I associated with Man. Because of what my brain space looked like at the time, it wasn’t (consciously) a way to make sense of masculinity so that I could stay in the closet, as some queer men do. I didn’t even realize that I was in the closet. I just knew it was important to understand what Men were.

Part of the issue for me was that, even though I didn’t understand that I was gay, I had always felt intuitively that I wasn’t quite a Man. And that, rather than aggressively pursuing behavior of a certain sort so that I could fit into the category more fully, I should bar myself from certain things because they were permitted only to Real Men. Since I was not a Real Man, then, I oughtn’t do certain things because it either wasn’t permitted for people like me or because I genuinely didn’t want to (the line between those often being significantly blurred).

The list of things that were not permitted was lengthy and, to be frank, pretty bonkers. And they were all over the map, things that would make sense for most of us to associate with masculinity and other things that I’m still not sure how I made the connection. Many of them were pretty clearly connected with being a {man} but the ways in which I made them traits of Men took it a little too far.

Before this gets any more confusing (actually, if you’re confused, I’m not sure what follows will elucidate anything for you), I will give you an example. Shaving.

I first started shaving my face I think around my sophomore year of high school. I didn’t have much facial hair but it was enough that the peach fuzz was gross if left untended for too long. It’s whatever, people in our society who have facial hair generally start shaving around that time. For me, though, there were two problems. I was in a bit of a catch-22 in terms of the rules of being a Man that I had laid out for myself.

First, having facial hair was something that only Men were allowed to do. If you knew me in high school, you’ll know that I did actually have a goatee for quite a bit of my high school career. That was an acceptable allowance because a) it was not that much of my face and b) it didn’t transgress the Man rules because people mostly saw it on me as a sort of odd, funny, unique thing rather than a Man thing–or at least that’s how I saw it. (There’s a lot more to be said about the caveats and loopholes I made for myself but that would take forever to explain and also is even more bizarre. I tried to think of a cut-and-dried example to share with you and trust me, shaving was the simplest… I am a mess)

Second, shaving was also strictly in the province of Men. The act of shaving itself felt like such a masculine ritual to me–think about all the movies and shows that include a scene of a man shaving, or doing something while half his face is still covered in shaving cream. It is a Man thing. It definitely was prohibited to me. But I also knew that declining to shave would mean breaking another Man rule (and I had enough self-awareness to acknowledge that it would look icky).

So. Every morning, after I got out of the shower, I’d have to debate with myself about whether today’s transgression would be shaving or stubble (such stubble as I had, at least). Even by the end of high school, when I was shaving pretty much every day (and not totally unreasonably), it still felt like that argument was happening in my mind. It was a lose-lose, I just got more used to the one option because I thought that at least I looked better that way.

And I’ll tell you something else. I think I’ve come a long way disassembling masculinity for myself and trying to rebuild my gendered world in such a way that I can consider myself a man (I do consider myself a man, though the word itself was forbidden to me for many years and still carries the teensiest bit of imposter syndrome with it). I still feel that shaving my face is something very masculine–not that it has to be for anyone else, of course. But instead of feeling myself outside of that, I can say that shaving is part of how I participate in being a man. Lower case. Accessible. Me.

I know that was probably a lot. A lot of me being a Big Yikes. A lot of me capitalizing too many things and having far too many parenthetical asides. 

But I really hope you made it through. Not because I particularly wanted you all to know those things about me, but because I want you to know that you are okay just the way you are. If there’s anything I can say to help you feel a little more comfortable in your skin, I’ll say it. Don’t let others set up rules for you about how you must understand your identity–and don’t let yourself be constrained by rules that only you know and which only wound you.

Don’t be afraid to do things. Don’t be afraid to seek new things if the things you’re presented with aren’t your scene. Have interests, whether they’re the ones that others prescribe to you and you actually enjoy, or ones you’ve found on your own, despite everyone else’s best efforts. Open doors for yourself and walk through whichever you like.

I don’t know what kind of guidepost I can be on this matter. But if nothing else, I can show you a bit of where I was. I’m not certain how far I’ve come but at least I know that I’m not there anymore.

I can say proudly that I’m a man, that I’m a gay man, and that I’m (mostly) the kind of man I want to be. Because I get to decide what Man is for me. And all the valuable stuff, I’m convinced, isn’t connected to gender anyway.

Fifty-Three Thursdays

I’m not a numbers person but I do really like putting numbers to things. I think it appeals to my category-loving side, the same reason I love personality tests and things like that. It feels nice to organize life, sometimes, and numbers are certainly very helpful in that pursuit.

Sometimes, putting numbers to my life makes me feel kind of sad because I think probably my default for personal numbers is a bit of a glass-half-empty kind of reaction. But if I can sit with those numbers enough, with enough positive mental capacity, I can let myself find the happy feeling that categorization and organization usually gives me. It just takes a little more work than similar numbers that aren’t a direct reflection of my life, you know?

But anyway. Here’s my number for today. This week. This year. 2020 had fifty-three Thursdays, the first time since 2015. Since that was the year I started my blog, and I started in August, this is my first year with fifty-three posts. It’s a good opportunity to look back over the year, as any New Year’s Eve post is, but I think I’m going to keep that mostly to myself. What I want to say about my fifty-three is less about what happened and more about how I want to feel–today and looking back on these Thursdays in the years to come.

Christmas evening, I watched the new Wonder Woman. As I’ve said before, I think, I’m not a critical movie watcher and that’s doubly true for superhero movies. I like the movies that I like, and I like pretty much every superhero movie. I am what I am. But I do think this was a good one (though it falls short of its predecessor, tied with Black Panther as my definite favorites in the genre).

You may recall in when I discussed here watching the first one and the main thing I took away from the story. Namely, that superheroes don’t matter, evil will always coexist with good within each one of us. And it is the choices we make that matter, not heroes doing great deeds and saving us from villains who seek to destroy us. The saving and the destruction both come from ourselves.

I think this second movie was the perfect follow-up to it. Not to give too much away, I hope, but the plot hinged on the choices that everyone made. Not Wonder Woman, not Chris Pine (whom I will always refer to as such because…reasons), not even really the villain. But everyone. All of us. The whole planet, basically, had a responsibility to choose good and to save the world. And I though that was beautiful.

This year, we’ve certainly seen that primary dilemma played out not only on a global scale but also with consequences unlike that which we’ve really seen before. And, in ways that I honestly didn’t expect in my life, we’ve been given opportunities to save the world. Each of us. Each day. Just as Wonder Woman said.

With all that this year has brought, and all that each of us has lived through, I know that I have not always chosen to save the world. But I think that I will be proud of the good that I have been able to choose over the course of the pandemic, the ways I sought to protect others and look after people whom I don’t even know. I haven’t had to sacrifice much other than fun and convenience, but I have tried to be very willing to sacrifice those when it meant that others could be a little safer for it.

There is one other thing that I’m taking away from the movie and applying that lesson to this year, something I think is very appropriate to remember on New Year’s Eve: every day is another chance. Some choices we make are very final, or have consequences that we can never erase. But even so, every day is another chance to choose good. There is no expiry on our inner conflict between hero and villain.

Having been through 2020, I think that gives me hope. A long fight is hard. And I’m not certain that it’s something that can really be ‘won.’ The struggle, though, is the thing. When we keep going, we find fresh opportunities to choose good and save the world.

What so I want future Keegan to see, when he reads this again, who knows when? Choose good and save the world, not just yourself. And when you don’t, just try to next time.

Maybe not the most profound wish for the coming year and whatever it may hold, not to mention years on from that. But it’s something that bears repeating and is certainly a lesson that has not been well-learned, I think. Let’s remember: ‘good’ is different than ‘good for me.’ That’s why we say ‘save the world.’ We’re all worth saving.