Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pride (and Prejudice) 2011

I have to admit I was a bit weary this time around of going to Pride.

This is not to say my quality of life hasn't improved dramatically since when I came out of the closet at age 17.

It's for a very sad reason really because the other 362 days of the year I get to be the main gay person in my group of friends.  The majority of people I know do not identify as queer, let alone gay.  In point of fact, I have very few gay-identified women in my life, aside from myself.  Most women I know who are queer use just that word.  They don't even use the word "lesbian" quite honestly but I think that's because the word "lesbian" has a whole other range of negative connotations to it.  And I don't mean Xena.


And in a sick, twisted kind of way, I loved it.  I got used to being "The Gay" in my group of friends--the attention, the fact that I became the No. 1 source for all gay info and anything to do with the sexuality--and I, being a classic insecure teen, needy for attention, desirous for others to spoon-feed me self-confidence, loved it.

Then I went to my first SF Pride years ago and everything came crashing down.  I went expecting to feel immediately absorbed by the LGBT peeps, I went expecting to meet the love of my life and boom! everything would be solved and I wouldn't have to look (or work) anymore at finding people.

That day I learned a very important, intrinsic reality to Gay Pride Weekend:

I am not the only gay in the village.


Needle In A Gaystack

I am nowhere NEAR the only gay.

I am nowhere NEAR the definition of homosexuality and in point of fact, I know squat-diddly-doo about a lot of things to do with the LGBTQQ2.5...Z#%1!! community.  On top of that, I don't have a lot of gay friends--which, right there, will tell you I'm still struggling with my own identity and finding other people to identify with.

Point being, Pride happens but once a year and this last weekend I was struggling (as I have now done each year since my first visit) with either missing out on the fun, or facing the fact that I am a needle in a giant gaystack.


New Tactic:  Go, But Still Expect To Get Lost

I still wanted to go.  But, I was wary of feeling alone in the giant crowds of couples, trios and orgies.  So, to counteract this, I decided to invite everyone I knew and on top of that invite myself along to everyone else I knew who was already going.

Here are the results:






My mom became a Lesbian for me for Pride Weekend.




In conclusion, if I were to write a lesson guide for myself at age 17, this is how it would go:

1.  Don't go alone.

2.  Don't go expecting to magically meet the love of your life.  Do your straight friends expect to meet the love of their life every time they go clubbing?  Yes?  Ok.  Well.  That's their problem.

3.  Do bring as many people as possible.  Or at the very least, meet up with as many people as possible.  That way you can get the group experience but also go solo if you're feeling up to it.

4.  Do invite your parents to at least one parade--that way, you can feel extra special when the P-FLAG marchers go by.

5.  Do walk around in your regular clothes.  You'll stick out more if you don't wear rainbow.

and lastly,

6.  Volunteer.  At least try to give something back to the community because if you're looking to get a pity party you'd be better off preaching to a queer choir.

-beryl

p.s. WOO UPDATE:  I got Woo a rainbow tank top.  I don't think Woo is ready to come out of the closet though.  In fact, she hasn't even made it past the bed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sloth


Earlier today there was an intriguing discussion happening on this morning’s Forum. It was about one man’s book that had recently been published.  (Surprise, surprise, NPR was hosting a discussion on a book.)  His main thesis was that Agnostics are the only group that “have it right” in that they’re the only ones who admit to the basic fact that none of us know for sure whether there is or there is not a God.

You can probably see where this is going.  Forum quickly turned into a conversation about that age old question "Is there a God?" and consequently, "Who has the final say one way or another?  Who are the big wigs of our time that believed?  Who are the big wigs that didn't?"  But, by the time it turned into a counting of what big name landed in which camp, I turned the radio off.

Beliefs v. Knowledge

I got restless and tired of the conversation before it even really got underway.  Partly because the author of the book had a voice I didn't like (sorry dude--I'm sure you have a wonderful personality) and also because it seems a shame when arguments turn to people's beliefs versus people’s knowledge.  To split belief and knowledge apart is kind of like saying cause and effect have no relationship at all.  But, back to the question at hand.       

“Is there a God?”

Boring.

“Isn’t there a God?”

Slightly less boring.

“Is there a reason why we are asking there is a God?”

Interesting!

This is not to infer that I like it when people doubt their faith in a divine creator—no, no, no.  I don’t like it when people are insecure or doubt themselves or their God.  I like this question because I am curious to delve into the reasons why we ask that same question over and over again. 

I am not in fact asking whether or not there is a reason because it’s obvious that there are plenty of reasons why we question the existence of God. Modern human civilization was forged by people who have contended century after century that we are creations, and thus prized possessions and reflections of, a Bigger, Better Being Above.  If these people “got it wrong” this entire time, what does it say to our sense of life, culture, creed, economy, purpose and drive that a root of our sense of place is complete bunk?  It says “don't be lazy.  Go be independent and stop being a goober who needs reassurance from others.”  But, the subtext to this is that it was all but for not.  Our history, our lives and our supposed souls are all but for not.

Stay with me.

Don’t go suicide-y on me.

Because that’s boring.

Why Do We Keep Asking Questions? 

The fact remains that we as humans keep asking this.  It's gotten to the point of, “No but seriously, IS there a God?  Because I’m tired of not knowing for realzies and let’s be honest:  most people would rather just know than feel stuck with just yourself for inward reassurance.”

To which, I am convinced of something important:

We keep asking because we are the beings who were the first to ask. 

To have the power to question, to wonder, to reflect and in that sense, wanting a response to that curiosity—these are human needs.  If you think of it this way, we are amazed and charmed by our own echoes bouncing around a deep canyon, but simultaneously we are sad there is no response and that even our own echo will too fade away.  There is no solid response to our existence, and in that lacking affirmation comes a confirmation of our mortality.  

This is some scary shit.  

But, there's no need to be depressed.  There still are egg bagels and cheese in the world.  Sorry Vegans.

To me, it makes sense that we keep asking, searching for another, for an external call and response back.  The question really is then, when/will we get that response if ever?

Enter God(ot)

I am a human being that burns with curiosity—I love to learn new facts each and every day.  I accept this about myself and yet, I feel as though our society, our lazier portions of society, are deeply conflicted about this human desire, this human want.  To admit that we have curiosity and are questioning is generally assumed to be a kind of defeat, a lacking confidence in what should and always should be just assumed fact.

I would say that this is irrational—to admit to curiosity and “not knowing” is a form of recognizing who we are.  

However, even as I am saying this I am reminded again of that annoying dude on Forum (not you, Michael Krasny!  I love you!) who said that agnostics are brave and right for saying “I don’t know,” to that boring question.  Saying "I don't know" is the first step.  But, what's the next step?  And is it really all that far from believing one way or another?
  
Sloth

I've already mentioned that I am Bad Atheist.  I wish I could believe in a Bigger, Better Being than me.  But, I'm still asking questions and thinking about it all.  And I've learned something:  admitting that you "don't know" is different from admitting you're asking and reflecting on why you're asking in the first place.  

Btws, thanks to Todd Hanson's story on the Moth Podcast, I now know that the original word for Sloth, as in one of the Seven Deadly Sins Sloth, was the latin word, Acedia.  Acedia defined it as the profound sense of emptiness that comes from not believing in anything and the failure to pursue God, or not making the effort to seek out the joy of God, of creation.  

So, keeping this all in mind, instead of answering the direct question about the existence of God with a “I know/I don’t know” response, I’d rather give a new answer altogether:

I'm thinking about it.  In the meantime, this is what I do know:  I know that human beings are creatures that think they want to know everything.  I know that human beings like to think their generation/team/country/religion is the one that “got it right." I know that human beings can be fiercely judgmental of another's doubt and simultaneously persecute themselves for not knowing, either.  I know humans yearn for safety and control.  I know that constant surface level reassurance is the drug of choice for those feeling insecure.  

Given all that, what other creature so curious, and so prone to insecurity for it, could but not have a God?

-beryl

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Salmon Dance

"Even in the case of the breeds of the domestic dog...it cannot be doubted that there has been an immense amount of inherited variation; for who will believe that animals closely resembling...the pug-dog--so unlike all wild Canidae--ever existed in a state of nature?"   
-Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, Chapter 1: Variation Under Domestication

You remember my dog, right?


It's somewhat hard to forget about her.    


People have asked me a lot in the past why I write about her so much.  But, I have to say I probably get the same amount of people asking me why there wasn't an update about her the prior week.  I figure if half the population of readers out there are happy then I can neglect the other half.  I mean, that's normal right?

I wasn't sure.  So, while mulling over this all I happened to stumble upon the above quotation whilst cracking into The Origin of Species.  I then figured, if Charles Darwin can use pugs as a form of criteria for the foundation of the theory of natural selection verses domestic variation, I can use her as a reference guide for my day to day issues in life.  

Moving on.

Natural Selection Does Not Work As A Pick Up Line

I have the tendency to not be aware of the delineation between big moments and small moments in life.  I also have the inability to calmly, rationally react to any form of attention from women--particularly those that I've never met before.

As an example, a nice girl the other day gave me a free chocolate-dipped strawberry.  I became uncomfortable by the attention and felt a swelling urge to respond.  Yet, instead of using the normal words like "thanks" or "if I had a strawberry I'd give it to you too" or even "here is my apartment key," I proceeded to explain how the domesticated strawberry has most likely evolved through our ancestors choosing which berries to eat (and thus, ingesting selected seeds) and then defecating the remains into the earth, which helped prompt the selected seeds to germinate and reproduce a descendant of the choicest berry.


I'm learning it's sometimes best to keep what I'm learning to myself.  She managed to laugh off the fact that I had single-handedly destroyed her kind gesture and left me to my fruit, which then seemed unfortunately covered in chocolate.   

After that experience, I wondered what it would be like if I didn't react so quickly and strongly to human interactions.  I sometimes wonder what it would be like to not become over stimulated by things that are honestly simple in nature.  Fruit gift or no fruit gift, it'd be nice to know I could at least be nice in response as opposed to referencing biological studies and Guns, Germs and Steel

In other words, I've noticed I've lost the ability to see to the heart of things for what they are (positive as opposed to negative attention, low key verses highly charged interaction) and also how to enjoy them when they're happening.  My dog, Miss Woo, has yet again beaten me to the punch.

Pug Vision

The focus my dog has when it comes to the important stuff is something to behold.  She might be the evolutionary equivalent to a small meteorite crashing into the earth and smashing a couple smaller mammals along the way, but her ability to see to the heart of what's important is truly revolutionary.  

I think the best way to explain this is pictorially. 


Now, let's tweak it a bit.


Ok, so her idea of important is synonymous with "edible" but I think she's onto something.  There is something so zen about being utterly honest with what you want and why you want it.  


Example A:

If you have food she's interested in you.

If you don't have food, she isn't.

The last time I was that honest and direct with my wants was childhood.  But, perhaps there's something to that.  Perhaps my dog is onto something--perhaps celebrating the excitement you have and really celebrating when you're truly excited is the way to go.

With that, I leave you with an additional Woo Update:





We like to call this her Salmon Dance because we put fish oil in her food to help keep her healthy.  


She likes to call this THE BEST TIME EVER SINCE EVER. 


-Beryl

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Uh...

I'm having an Awkward Week.  So, it's awkward photo time.


If you're wondering, these and more can be found at Awkward Family Pet Photos:

It's all in the eyes.


In general, a theme I've noticed with these photos is worry.

Hell, I'd be worried if I was dependent on other humans...

...I think I now realize why I'm neurotic.


I mean.


No.


No.

Double no.

And finally,
YES.

Coming soon! 
A COLOSSAL update.  Filled with dog who doesn't need any cinematic allusions or poor 70's fashion to be awkward in photos.  I have a Woo update to come as well as hopefully some more delightfully historically accurate comics.

-beryl