Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone

This is a very disjointed post, I’m not sorry. I will never get over the horizontal line feature. Anyway. We’ll start with cats (a very good place to start).

They are still, as ever, very cute. And I’m so pleased to have gotten a semi-decent picture of Bubba sitting still.


Events this week have included not a whole lot, other than the relatively unsurprising but still very disheartening news that I will not be moving to New Mexico any time in the near future. It was a distinct possibility, and one that I had staked rather a lot of hope (of necessity, since I have had no other leads), but it all proved to be in vain. I’m not utterly broken by the news but it was hard to hear all the same.

I had already started planning a little bit about what I would do if it didn’t come through but those plans are still very nascent and so who really knows what’s coming. It’s scary and uncomfortable and I hate it.


I was reminded of a series of Tweets I saw on Facebook (social media, what have you done). Someone named Julia Rodgers was responding to Christians who asked whether/how they can love queer people without being fully affirming. She responds, in part, “Love draws us outside of ourselves and moves us to think of other people first. If we keep returning to questions that are about our beliefs or our experience of them, we might ask whether we truly love them or are just trying to manage our anxiety about them.”

I don’t disagree that sometimes loving people means choosing for them something they would not choose for themselves–helping someone recover from addiction may be a good example of that. But imagine being told that, though all sin, you are so uniquely sinful that you are prohibited from falling in love. Not with a specific person or in a specific situation, just ever. So while choosing good for someone else is a thing, how do you know what the best thing is for someone? What does the fruit (to speak a little Christianese) of those choices have on the people you’re choosing for?

I’ve also never gotten the whole concept of considering homosexual acts different from simply existing as a homosexual person. God looks at the heart, I think it’s pretty clear: looking lustfully is the same as committing adultery, being angry with someone is the same as murdering them. My heart is so very gay. Either it’s a problem or it’s not, regardless of how I act.

I’m not expressing myself well here at all, alas. I just wasn’t expecting to be in this place again this week but, as I have seen and been told, you never finish coming out. Sigh. I am not perfect at love, so forgive me. But also, if you’ve asked the question above, please listen.


I read a new book this week (sorry, Far from the Madding Crowd, you’re on the back burner already) and it’s pretty good. It’s City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. I want to share with you three quotations, all from the same chapter, in fact, around one third of the way in. The first two are from a Buddhist monk-type guy who is talking with the main character about why he still performs acts of charity when his god has been dead for decades. The last is a while later, from the main character to an old lady from an opposing ethnic group.

“I never saw a country before […] All I saw was the earth under my feet.”

“Good can be done at anytime, anywhere, to anyone, by anyone.”

“I don’t have the time or the energy to hate. I only wish to understand. People are what they are.”


I would like to conclude with a poem by Mary Oliver (who sadly died earlier this year) that one of my correspondents sent me in a letter this week. It ends with a sentiment that seems to me–at least in my current state–both haunting and hopeful.

Today

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

Getting to Feel Free and Easy

And here we are, another week gone without much to show for it. A couple more people declining to hire me, as per usual. Eaten a fair number of cookies. Read in the sun some. Visited the beach (yay beach, that’s what has been lacking my whole summer so far). Had a typical rainy, kinda chilly day. The calendar rolls on, as it is often wont to do, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

I have enjoyed spending some more time with the kitties. I have not taken new pictures and for that, I apologize. But rest assured, they continue to give me life simply by existing. Cats are just so, so good. Beautiful and soft and I love them.


I was reading a blog post the other day; it was a very good, emotional coming out story. The author used the phrase “using the internet to uplift” almost in passing–referring to small ways that we can help those we don’t even realize are suffering. Thinking about ways to uplift, on the internet and otherwise.


Once again, there are so many current event-news kind of things that I could talk about but honestly, I just don’t have the mental energy at this time. So I’m going to refrain. I’m confident my readers are aware of at least the most egregious transgressions, lies, and inflammatory conduct. So this week, I’ll let it rest.

I thought maybe for this week I could address you, reader, in a more direct kind of way. No need to actually comment or respond but if you’d like, I think that would be cool. This is a community of sorts so it would be nice to take a moment to get to know each other. Some random facts about me and you may submit your own answers (and rebuttals to mine) in written form, verbally, or simply in the confines of your own mind. Let’s get to know each other.

  1. Where do you not mind waiting? Dappled shade on a warm, breezy day, sitting on a bench. That’s my summer answer, at least.
  2. What is your favorite part of the human face? My first instinct was to say glasses. My second was hair style. Neither of those are face parts, I guess I’d go with facial hair, because face is in the name. And if that doesn’t count, jawline. Wait, favorite or most attractive?
  3. What is your favorite color? Yellow, always has been and always will be.
  4. Would you rather look like a potato or feel like a potato? This one’s easy, since I already feel like a potato and don’t love it.
  5. What makes someone a hero? Lots of thoughts but, first and shortest answer is one who performs justice with great compassion.
  6. Why is your middle name your middle name? It’s a whole middle initial issue from my mom, and it’s also my uncle’s middle name.
  7. What is your favorite jelly bean flavor? Juicy pear. Has not always been but has been for many years at this point.
  8. What is your favorite thing to create? A few things I guess, but the one that I thought of first is maps. I have always loved drawing my own fantasy maps.
  9. How quickly do you go through a box of cereal? I don’t typically buy cereal when I’m living my normal life so if I get a box, it’s because I need it. Usually lasts a day.
  10. What are your personality types? INFJ, 5w4, several others that I can’t think of. I love personality tests and feel those categorizations fit me relatively well, but I don’t really put much stock in them.
  11. Which is your least favorite US state? West Virginia.
  12. When was the last time you cried? As I was just recently telling my sister, I often cry first thing in the morning. Or rather, my eyes water a lot when I first wake up. Don’t know why.
  13. Who is your favorite movie star? You know most favorites are hard for me. I like attractive men more than their acting ability, how about that.
  14. What makes people perfect for each other? I’ve no idea but I’ve an inkling it’s more about shared values that shared interests or personality types.
  15. Where is your happy place? Two options. A mental image of mountain, lake, and forest that came to me when singing ‘Aká si mi krásna’ in Bojnice Castle, Slovakia. Or Glen Cove, for indiscernible reasons.

So how about you?

Care about People

As a quick follow-up to last week’s post, I encountered a quotation recently which was super relevant but I forgot to include. No commentary, just a line from the writer James Baldwin who said, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”

What a beautiful thing unconditional love is.

Anyway, we’re in this week now so we’ll move on. This week has held… not a whole lot for me. Surprise. I have fallen once more into the unemployed, unmotivated bleh of nothingness that has become a bit of an annual affair for me. Still applying and things but it’s a big yikes. Whatever.

I have also been reading in the sun, one of my favorite things in the world, as you know. I have been trying to have friends, as you know, and trying to balance being honest about my needs with listening and honoring their needs. It’s hard to do both simultaneously, work in progress.


Because nothing is happening in my life, I would like to talk for a moment about the world and the people in it.

I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned it on here before, but I have been to Russia. Twice, in fact, in the same summer. First, I went on tour with my university choir and then, only a couple weeks after our return, I went to study in St. Petersburg for six weeks. It was such an experience.

It is not my place to give you a rundown on recent Russian political history, current events in Russia, or the geopolitical dynamics involving Russia. Though, if you’re interested, I would encourage even a cursory look into those topics (as long as you remain humble about it; a cursory look isn’t going to make you any kind of expert). But those things are on my mind because things are happening and they matter to me because I’m interested but they also should matter at least a little to you because you’re a part of this world.

I do keep up on world news, because I find it interesting and I have some higher-level background on the subject than others may. And I like to pay special attention to a few places that have grabbed my heart in often random but definitely meaningful ways (see: Croatia).  But I bring up Russia as a place to start because I have several memories, specific and vivid (at least relative to my memory) memories, that speak so loudly to the kind of international understanding and across-boundaries/through-barriers camaraderie that is possible among people who are so very different and whose countries are not, shall we say, supposed to be particularly friendly.

Two fictional moments that I ponder often:

  • in The Phantom Tollbooth when one of the princesses says “Whenever you laugh, gladness spreads like the ripples in the pond; and whenever you’re sad, no one anywhere can be really happy.”
  • in The Two Towers when the ents refuse to act and Pippin says “But you’re a part of this world! Aren’t you?”

We cannot all be responsible for keeping track of all that is going on in the world. And we should not be condemned to perpetual sadness because people somewhere are sad. That is not what I am advocating here. We have to live our lives, as they’re the only ones we’re able to live.

Acknowledging that, however, I think we do bear two responsibilities when it comes to thinking about issues in the world on a global level. First, though we don’t need to keep up with every single thing that is going on (as much as I am an advocate for reading world news), we ought to be aware that things are tough in the world. That we are blessed. That problems exist in other places, for other people, and those problems matter.

Second, as obvious and ridiculous as it may sound, we need to remember that the world is populated by human beings. Some would try to tell us that certain people–from a certain neighborhood/region/country, with a different sexual orientation or gender identity, who speak a different language, who are differently abled, who are otherwise overtly different–are distinct on some fundamental level and that they are not like you. This is a lie. Our differences matter but they are not fundamental. We are we.

I read yesterday that Americans are much more supportive of dropping nuclear bombs on people than I thought. When asked why, many respond that it is a quick, painless death and a sure way to achieve the desired results. But when people are given information about the actual effects are–the horrific, grueling, gruesome effects that nuclear weapons have on the human body–support drops dramatically.

So please. I know that you have to live your lives, that we are all inevitably trapped in a sphere that, on some level, we cannot make any larger. We simply don’t have the capacity. But please, please, care for your fellow people. They are facing problems, too, and they are, deep in their core, exactly like you.  Refuse to believe that any human being is less worthy of love, safety, provision, or life.

Loving your neighbor isn’t about who your neighbor is. It’s about who you are.

Why You Should Be More Like a Bag of Tortilla Chips

I was reading an article the other day (I’m not linking it because I honestly don’t care that much) about how, apparently, there’s been a recent uptick in lawsuits regarding underfilled snack packaging. You know, like a bag of chips with four total chips in it. We’ve all been there. I guess it’s a whole genre of legal action, though I forget the name.

Then, just yesterday, I saw a bag of tortilla chips–Safeway brand I believe, if you’re curious–that was entirely opaque. You know, just a normal chip bag. Then I realized, most tortilla chips come in a bag with a little window. You can see the chips. You know how full the bag is before you buy.

And, this will tell you where I am in life right now, that Safeway bag of chips is now the topic of this post. Are you ready. Here it comes.

People are upset in those legal cases because they are surprised by what something has (or does not have, rather) inside. It’s shocking to purchase a snack product–movie theater candy was another popular choice because their boxes are bigger than grocery store boxes apparently–and end up with way less snack than the packaging would suggest.

I won’t get into how this is, at it’s core, why either capitalism is a failed system (businesses built on what is, at best, misleading and at worst, lies, are not enabling rational choice, the beloved principle of economists) or we are not living in a true capitalist society. It would be so easy for all chip bags to be translucent. Instead, surprise of the century, I’m going to make things personal and philosophical.

Here’s the thing: little cellophane windows in tortilla chips are what I feel people need more of in their lives. Openness, that is. Showing the insides. Not just so people know what to expect, and decide whether to know us or not, but so that we can simply be a little bit more known.

I know this summer, relational and social have been very difficult for me. Social is pretty much always difficult for me but that’s beside the point. It’s hard to be transient in the way that I have been for the past few years because getting to see inside other people’s bag of chips is a real challenge when you haven’t know them that long. The same holds true of online communities as well, where I have made some inroads toward relational but have again been stymied partly because it just hasn’t been that long. There hasn’t been that much contact.

And thus, the emotional response to the entirely not-see-through-able bag of tortilla chips. There are good reasons for having bags of chips with lots of air, or milk duds that only fill up the box part way. Things are delicate, sealing adhesives may melt the product or overfilling may fuse parts you want to be individual &ct &ct &ct. The question isn’t really “should there be any empty space” it’s more along the lines of “what amount of space is okay with me.”

The little tortilla chip window does not claim that there is not space. It simply shows you what’s inside and lets you make the judgement. And, it hopes, the window will be enticing enough for you to choose that bag specially.


As an aside, I have finally gotten to see these precious ones again. Bubba remains impossible to photograph reasonably, but Camaro is regal as ever.


Later that evening–after the whole chip bag revelation– I finally sat down to watch The Imitation Game which is a wonderful movie. I really enjoyed it and would recommend but it was, of course, very sad. The kind of tragedy that unfolds on several different levels morally, ethically, emotionally, and personally. Oddly enough, it resonated with my above musings as though the whole thing had been planned.

It is difficult to know people. Another mind is, and always will be, an enigma. We can only be ourselves and, far too often, being ourselves is a hard ask for people whose selves are different from the norm. Sometimes, letting people see inside your chip bag isn’t just difficult, it’s dangerous.

Yet we look all the same. We look for people who will let us in, show us their insides, and hope against hope that we will not find them underfilled. Slowly, and if all goes well, we find people who think the same of us. And call them friends.

Showing insides is hard, and I am so very bad at it. It bears costs but I do believe the risks are worth the rewards. So I hope that we can all take a deep breath and let some of our chip bag become translucent. It’s vulnerable, showing all that empty space, but how else are we meant to find the people who like us just the way we are?

Shel Silverstein, philosopher for the ages, wrote,

“She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through.
Then passed right by–
And never knew.”

Song

Since 14 June, I have driven almost 5,000 miles, stayed in ten cities, and been physically present in nineteen states plus the District of Columbia. Since 1 August of last year, you could add five more states and five Canadian provinces to that list. And now I am in Seattle. So close to being right back where I started.


Today’s my birthday but I don’t have any good birthday musings–or any musings at all, really. And because it’s my birthday, I don’t really feel like wringing any ideas out of my mind. I’m okay with a brief entry today.


Langston Hughes wrote that, “Song is a strong thing,” and I think about that a lot.