yrmencyn: (Default)
Hi folks!  As some of you know, I've been off on a whirlwind loop through Louisiana and Texas, visiting family and friends.  I flew down to New Orleans last Monday, rented a car, and drove to Baton Rouge.  Let's pause and give that act its due.  I felt like a Real Live Adult what with the whole renting-without-a-surcharge and signing-off-on-hundreds-of-dollars and not-having-anyone-meet-me-at-the-airport.  I've done parts of that before, but not all three at one fell swoop.  Anyway, I ended up with a Saturn Aura, which was larger than I expected, since I requested (and paid for) an economy car, and that's a midsize.  I've actually grown to like it, though, so that's nice, since I've put over 500 miles on it already.

Anyway, I crashed at Mandi's house in BR, where we feasted on chickpea salad, buttermilk curry, and tasty beers (I had Tilburg's Dutch Brown Ale, which is just lovely).  After watching the Olympics for a while (I suspect we may have watched Phelps massacre one of his own WRs, but I've really lost track at this point), I went to sleep so I could head to Nacogdoches the next day (after chatting with Carla for a while at her new place).

And that's where I've been for the last couple of days.  It's been a fun time, busy in a good way.  Hung out with Megan and Kate Tuesday night, which included some tipsy Facebook messaging by committee, saw Therese and Ann-Marie on Wednesday and then hung out at the Kulhavys' for, yes, more Olympics, and drove down to Lufkin today to see Cliff before coming back home for dinner at Clear Springs and (you guessed it) more Olympics.  What can I say?  I'm happy to be part of the Olympic mania.  (I mean, what about Nastia Liukin tonight: she's amazing!)

So tomorrow it's off to Lafayette to meet up with the CBC folk, and then on to BR for the weekend.  I already feel like I've gotten my vacation's worth, and I've barely hit BR at all.  It's been really nice to see people, and I hope it continues on through the weekend.  If you're down in the pertinent areas and haven't talked to me... do so!
yrmencyn: (Default)
So... here we are, watching Last of the Mohicans.  Cause, you know, it's a comedic holiday movie.  Except, you see, with us it kind of was, because Elisa's slap happy.  Some great moments, really.

"Wait.  So... Wait.  I forgot that part of 5th grade.  Who's fighting?"
"It's like faster hobbits!" (the opening deer hunt scene)
"We should have just watched The Patriot." "It's only 20 years later."
"Coon meat!"  (it's a long story)

ETA:I forgot one of my favorites:
Dad's been commenting on each of the actor names as they flash up in the opening credits, based on whether their character's a good guy or a bad guy.
WES STUDI: "That guy's an asshole." "Yeah, he always plays the bad Indian." "In all movies with American Indians?" "Yep." "So... Dances with Wolves had a number of Bad Indians... did he play the one with a hand on his face?" "Actually? Yes."
This is funny because it's true. I'm sure he's very nice in real life, but if Wes Studi's in a movie, he's probably playing the Bad Indian.

---------------------

And somehow I've ended up spending the last fifteen or twenty minutes reading about St.-Pierre-et-Miquelon.  I think I should visit (after I visit Delaware, of course).  I'm sure I'll get Kevin to go along with that no problem.
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
I say this because I think I've finally found an angle that I can enter this from.

In today's Something Positive,  PeeJee asks Davan, "Why are you always cooking?  It seems like you're always trying to feed me," to which he replies, "It's a Southern thing.  Food is a form of affection."  Truer words have never been said.  Food is certainly one of the most basic non-verbal forms of affection.  But it's also a form of nesting, and domesticity (note I'm no longer really making reference to the S*P strip; I'm just riffing, now).  I've been thinking a lot about domesticity recently.

I don't know what it is; if it's a function of people around me 'settling down' (notably my sister -- 5 weeks and counting -- but also others close to me), or some abstract 'biological clock', or just something arbitrary and mundane like my quarter-century birthday coming up.  I've been thinking about where I want to end up, what I want to do, how I want to live... it's a little odd-feeling, and a little bit of a poor choice on my part, since I know as well as anyone that if I'm really serious about wanting a job in academia, I'll be lucky to take whatever I can find, no matter where it is.  (Of course one could question whether I want that academic position at all, but that's my current thought-stance.)

And I've been coming up with some answers to these questions, that's the scary thing.  First of all, I want a house.  This has become abundantly clear to me.  I mean, my upstairs neighbors are great -- very friendly and generally rather quiet -- but I still find myself displeased with just the little bits of neighbor presence that I sense.  I want a backyard (I'll even happily mow the lawn, if it means getting my damn backyard).  A back porch would be my delight and joy.  I want to paint the walls with impunity.  I want to fix the damn problems in the house without having to pester my landlord, even if it means footing the bill.  I want to fix problems!

And I think I want kids.  No, scratch that, I know I want kids.  Or at least kid.  I went through this really sad phase, mentally, a while back, when I pretty much thought that my sexuality precluded me from being able to have that kind of parent(s)+kid(s) family structure.  But over the past year, I've been realizing that this just isn't the case.  I think I first started to really become cognizant of it with a really fantastic NYT article this past November, "Gay Donor or Gay Dad?", and then it floated around a bit, really getting stirred up recently by Neal Pollack's great memoir Alternadad.  And I've got some books en route about the particular gay-father aspect (more memoirs; I like to be entertained, thank you).  Obviously I don't have any immediate plans or anything, but I'm definitely trying to (re-)adopt a stance in which I can say "My life is my life, and I'll be damned if I let some segment of society tell me how I can and cannot live."

And I miss Texas.  This is also, to a certain extent, Mr. Pollack's fault, since he lived with his wife and newborn in Austin for a few years, but it's also thanks to the movie Waitress, and Karen Stolz's World of Pies (thanks, Terri!), and just to a certain... I don't know, nostalgia.  I mean, I grew up in Texas.  So thinking about kids makes me think of Texas, I guess?  And of course, I'm realistic.  Like I mentioned above, the ball is often taken out of your court in academia, and that's without even considering the needs and desires of the other people in your life.  And without considering the fact that, in a ranked list of gay-friendly states, Texas wouldn't exactly be tops.  But all that being said, in a perfect world, I think I might live in Texas.  I love Ohio, and I love Louisiana, and I really have enjoyed many of the other places that I've visited, but there will always be a part of me that belongs to the Lone Star State.

God, I'm such a homebody :)
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
Sisters visiting: exactly one
Restaurants visited: The Dube, Aladdin's, El Vaquero, Jeni's, Betty's, Pistachio
Plays seen: The Children's Hour, Mary Stuart
Movies watched: Bridget Jones's Diary, Blades of Glory
Seitan dishes surprisingly well-received: Mock Chicken Meatloaf (though it ended up tasting more like chicken taco filling)
Seemingly innocuous dishes ill-received: Green Beans à la vomit (seriously; they tasted like vomit)
Magical smoothies: two batches, thank you Kevin
Miles logged driving and walking around various neighborhoods: innumerable
Most commonly uttered food phrase (not about things I cooked, sadly; I was a little off my game): "This is so good."

All in all, a fine weekend with my sister.  It'll be fun when she and her man move up here in August, but for now I must send her back in a flying metal tube early tomorrow morning.

Glad that Kevin will be back tomorrow (he's been out-of-town at a wedding).  I really missed him this evening (part of the reason I decided we had to get out of the house and see a mindless movie, i.e. Blades of Glory); Sister (who is an expert at LDRs) tells me I'll get used to him not being around over the summer, though it'll sneak up on me at unpredictable intervals.  Good times.
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
I'm... really confused by this one.  OK, so, you remember I came out to my family back in January?  Well, I got a number of positive responses back, and no negative responses.  I also didn't get responses from a fair number of people; I'll let you draw your own conclusions.  Well, there was one aberrant response, which was a long hand-written letter from my Aunt S.  S is very, very, very Catholic, of the extremely Old School variety, and the letter wasn't too far out of what I expected.  Very loving, very concerned with me (and my health, and my soul), and utterly backward (in my opinion) on matters of sexual orientation (not to mention harboring some very basic misunderstandings of the current research on nature/nurture and the particularities of certain medicoanatomical concepts [although she was spot-on that "sexual expression between men" does "frequently involve sodomy" -- I really haven't the words]).

But that's just background.  As Kevin and I were walking out the front door this morning, we saw that the mail had come.  Among a number of bills and other terribly exciting junk, I saw that there was a large envelope from Aunt S.  I really didn't know what to expect, but I knew there was no way I was waiting four or five hours to open it, so I went back inside with it.  What was inside?  You would never guess.  No, really.  Inside was a cardboard plaque/print from the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, along with a prayer book from same and a letter from S.  It turns out, she's enrolled me in the Confraternity, which "means that [I] and [my] intentions will always be included in the prayers of the cloistered sisters at the Monastery of the Precious Blood."¹  Now, you know, it's very sweet, sort of.  Although upon close examination, we all decided that she probably sent off the enrollment form around the same time she wrote me the first letter, which makes this an implicit response to my coming out.  It's like she's trying to guide me back to the right path.  And, you know, whatever.  It's a little insulting, as if I myself am not able to make my own religious decisions (oh, and I'm going to hell because I happen to have fallen in love with another man), but whatever.  That's not the thing that's really bothering me here.

The thing that's really bothering is that I can't figure out how this whole enrollment business isn't simony.  Let me lay this out.

  1. Definition: simony is the selling of religious things.  Put a bit more formally, it is "a deliberate intention of buying or selling for a temporal price such things as are spiritual of annexed unto spirituals"²

  2. This enrollment is not free.  "One year, Perpetual, and Family memberships are available to living members. Enrollment is $7.00,$15.00, and $30.00."³

  3. To make explicit: punishments (excommunication, to be exact), are to be rendered against, among others, "such as are guilty of simony by purchasing or selling admission into a religious order."²

  4. Now, the enrollment does not make me a member of the cloistered sisters of the Monastery, of course.  But it does "[bestow] the Privilege [sic] of Sharing in the merits of the DAILY PRAYRERS [sic], PENANCES, and NIGHTHOUR of REPARATION of our CLOISTERED SISTERS and of the HOLY MASSES and NOVENAS offered up under the Auspices of our CONFRATERNITY at the MONASTERY of the PRECIOUS BLOOD."³

I don't know.  I'm hardly a canon lawyer, and there are some weird provisos which may be at play here (i.e. "It is likewise simony to accept temporal compensation for admission into a religious order; but contributions made by candidates to defray the expenses of their novitiate as well as the dowry required by some female orders are not included in this prohibition."²).  Nevertheless, my gut instinct is that this sounds a bit like a racket, and it makes me uncomfortable.  The buying and selling of indulgences was one of the biggest factors in the upheaval we know as the Reformation -- hell, the Dominicans relied on practices we would now call simoniacal for pretty much all of their income during the Middle Ages.  And given I spent a lot of time last quarter dealing with medieval Dominican texts, you'll forgive me if I'm a bit leery.

--------------
¹ B-----, S-----.  Personal letter to the author.  11 April 2007.
² "Simony."  The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912).  <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14001a.htm>.
³ "Join Us."  The Confraternity of the Precious Blood.  <http://www.confraternitypb.org/joinus.html<.

Responses

Jan. 15th, 2007 07:28 pm
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how much coming out is less about people's reactions, but about your own reactions.  So far, everything I've gotten from my family has been positive, but it hasn't really elicited any terribly big emotional response.  Now, though, I just got an email back from Uncle Fr. Steve (I have two Steves for uncle so we distinguish Uncle Steve  -- Dad's sister's husband -- from Uncle Fr. Steve -- Dad's eldest brother, a priest).  It includes this snippet:
One thing I am sure of is that God does not create mistakes.  In the Book of Genesis it says that when God created every different thing, he looked at it and “ .  .  . saw that it was good.” And that is even more true about every person he creates – he chooses to make each of us at a certain place and time, with all our talents and opportunities and trials and struggles. [...] And no matter what happens, those who love you will always be there – because you belong to us.
I knew my faith was important to me, and I knew that I had made my own peace with it, but I hadn't realized how much I needed to hear it from somebody else.  I also didn't know how worried I was about Fr. Steve's reaction; I didn't realize how important it was to me.  But I can't stop crying, every time I reread that passage, because I'm so relieved.  And it sounds like the height of ridiculousness, but it's like having possibility flow back from wherever it went.  It feels like praying.  It feels like having somebody answer. 
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
Things to do for the new year:
  • Come out to the grandparents
  • Come out to the extended family
  • Finally write that damn translitic


We'll see how that goes.
yrmencyn: (food)
Greetings, all.  It was a good Christmas here at the Bierschenks.  Of course, the holiday was aided by the presence of Phoebe, the Christmas cat:
DSC00955

Oh, and of course the holiday is always improved by tasty food, as we see in this photo:
DSC00967
Ham, smoked turkey, Italian (ish) green beans, mashed potatoes, ham gravy, monkey bread.  Mmmm.  So terribly happily full.

But of course, for all us of dedicated consumer whores, the gifts are the big locus of sweaty-palmed anticipation.  And gifts?  Whoo boy, did we have a lot.  I mean, there were a lot of presents under the tree:
Xmas gifts 2006: 1
So many presents, in fact, that we had to make an annex in front of the TV:
Xmas gifts 2006: 2
In fact, there were even a couple of really big things hiding in weird places, e.g. behind the armchair:
Xmas gifts 2006: 3
(picture purposefully reduced in size to try and hide the blurriness)

So, it only took us about 2 hours to get through them all (I know, right?).  I was pretty happy with everything that I got, and my gifts were well-received.  What I got, in order of opening:

  • The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems - Mark Eisner, ed.
  • A contribution to "Mike's Major Appliance Fund" (heh)
  • A Transformer (a Decepticon that turns from a hovercraft into a robot)
  • Some more money
  • A case of canned tamales (...it's a long story; this was really funny in context)
  • The traditional loungewear, this year from Jockey (some of my extended-extended family own a lingerie and loungewear factory)
  • An IOU from my sister for a room's worth of curtains
  • A smoker
  • a Target gift card

Moving back slightly, let us reconsider the penultimate item.  Dude.  My parents gave me a smoker (and incidentally a cover therefor).  I am so stoked.  See, in the first place I've been meaning to grill more, but I don't trust the little tiny Weber grill the former tenants left behind.  In the second, I really want to start working on making my own charcuterie.  I've had this amazing book checked out from the public library for a while now, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.  Ruhlman is a highly respected food writer (his The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute was a deeply satisfying examination of professional culinary formation) (from Cleveland!), and Brian Polcyn is a head chef and culinary instructor in Michigan, with a specialization in, natch, charcuterie.  Anyway, it's a refreshingly lucid look at a subject that most home cooks (including me) are afraid of.  I should probably say, for further accuracy, that I was afraid of the subject, but the book has really made me decide that I'm more than up to the task.  As many items of charcuterie are smoked, I expect it will be called into service to aid me in my quest.  Plus I have these ideas for making veggie sausages, and I think that many of the techniques in the book can be successfully applied.  I even have odd ideas about a cured, smoked seitan and mushroom sausage... though they may, in the end, prove untenable.
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
Things to do for the new year:
  • Come out to the grandparents
  • Come out to the extended family
  • Finally write that damn translitic
Well.  As Elisa and Francis say, that was a 'pass the ham' moment.  Let me just replay the conversation for you.
ME: So.  Pops, you remember you asked me last week whether I'd met any nice ladies at Ohio State?  [This actually happened.  He just piped up after we'd been sitting there quietly, doing our own things, for 30 minutes.

POPS: *grunts*

ME: Well, I have, but more pertinently I've met a nice man, and I've been dating him for a bit now.  I'm gay.

GRAMMIE: OK.

ME: *beat* *pause* *more different pause* OK?  Well, I just wanted to say... (babbles).

GRAMMIE:  Now, wait just a second, before you go any farther.  I should say, we sort of suspected.

ME: (has no idea what to say)
And then, after a couple of brief questions about Kevin, we talked about airlines and other unrelated things.  So... whoopee?  I managed to get to the liquor store minutes before close, for which: definitely whoopee.
yrmencyn: (Default)
I swear, I didn't disappear.  I just went to Texas for a bit, is all.  See, my license expires on August 3, 2006 (kind of weird to think of it expiring, since I've had it since I turned 18 in 2000; Texas has long renewal periods), and the online system was telling me my SSN didn't match my record (or something), so I had to go in person to a DPS office.  Hence I didn't go to work on Friday, and now I have a lovely slip of paper that will extend my current card until the end of September while I wait 2-3 weeks for the new card to be printed in Austin and get sent to Nacogdoches.  Add that to the registration sticker that I found waiting at my parents', and both I and my car are now properly accredited, just in time to drive to Kentucky on Friday (Fridays and Sundays are my travel days, apparently).

When I got to Nac on Friday afternoon, the parents were still out of town (they went on a big trip throughout Colorado and New Mexico, hitting a lot Silverton (I think?), Durango (?), Mesa Verde, and Santa Fe, among others), but both my siblings were in town, as was Elisa's boyfriend, so we went out to eat at Union Cafe to celebrate Elisa's birthday that passed earlier in the week.  First time I've eaten at Union Cafe, and the Yins have done it again.  It's crazy, it's like they can't make a bad restaurant.  They started out with Szechuan (Chinese) back in the early 90s, then opened La Carreta (Mexican) in the late 90s, and now Union Cafe (Italian) just this past year, and they're all quite good restaurants.  Although I do have to say, Union's grill guy needs to learn what a rare tuna steak is.  Still, medium well tuna is tasty, too, and the rest of the food was largely excellent.  Later that night Elisa named Kevin "Pie Boy".  She thus needs a suitable nickname of her own in return/response/retaliation.  Suggestions?

Celebrated Dad's birthday with a weird deconstructed lasagna I made (eh... needs some work, honestly, although I still think the idea's good) and the traditional World War I Spice Cake.  While Mom and I were waiting for the pictures from the trip to be developed, we went out into the Kimbrook neighborhood over by the high school so I could practice starting my car uphill.  See, it's scary to start a standard uphill, because it rolls backward until you catch it by applying the gas.  Apply too much gas and you'll peel out, but too little will just have you stalling out, and consequently rolling backwards into the car behind you.  Unfortunately, there's not much possibility to practice the skill in Baton Rouge, situated as it is on a coastal plain, but it's still a pertinent skill, since the exit from my neighborhood, inexplicably, is on a quite steep incline.  The only one like it around.  So I've been, since I got the Jetta, pretty much praying that I won't get stuck in the middle of a line of cars at that intersection, so I can just wait on the flat ground at the top. And on the occasions when I do get stuck, I've pretty much been making a spectacle of myself and peeling out.  The problem is that panic mode sets in when I feel myself rolling backwards, and so I overreact.  In a controlled situation in Kimbrook, I caught it fine, no rollback, no peeling, so I'm hoping that I can perform the skill in real-world conditions now that my conscious brain knows for a fact that I can.

Which is quite a lot of words to say, basically, "Look, it's like I'm 16!  Again!  Because I remember doing this with Dad in his truck back then!  Mein Gott!"

The drive back today was uneventful, dominated by two major mind-wanderings: contemplating the shrimp brochette at the Nacogdoches restaurant Clear Springs, which is far better than it has any right to be (Nac really does have some good restaurants, now that I think of it), and insistent sex daydreams that, while not unenjoyable, posed the maddening problem of a raging hard-on on the interstate, with little to do about it except listen to NPR and hope that would chase it off (it did).  This moment of TMI brought to you by my subconscious and a certain lack of internet discretion.

Erin-the-roommate quote, upon her seeing me in a purple Tshirt (Pétanque Louisianaise) and a pair of red nylon gym shorts while I did laundry: "Red and purple, quite daring!  Bold splash of color!  If I were gay I'd be excited."  Which is pretty much unparseable as to intent, really.

Watched Gattaca tonight, only 9 years after it came out. Good film, echoes a lot of my mistrust of natal genetic modification. Plus, immolation. Better, in my opinion, than Kinsey, which I borrowed from Rebecca et al. at the same time and watched Thursday night (?).
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
Alright, I said I'd post about the reunion, and here we go.  This is actually going to be quite brief, but c'est la vie.  I had a good time.  I was reminded, as always, that our family has a couple of ideological camps floating around, but it's fun to be in our camp.  Our camp is the bad camp, and we get to be funny.  Also, turns out the bad camp's bigger than we thought, so cool!  Regardless of leanings, I love all of my gigantic family, and it was great to be around them again.  I haven't been to a big gathering (where most everybody comes and there are 60+ people) in a while now, so I was feeling a little out of touch.  In addition, I finally have a decent group of people who fall in my vague peer group, as more and more of the cousins hit high school and college (I'm the second-oldest, and it's been kinda *cricket noises* for a while here in the old-youngsters crowd).  I'm also finally feeling some sort of connection with more of my cousins.  It's ironic, I'm one of 34 grandkids, yet until a few years ago I didn't really feel like I had 'cousins' in the same sense as other people: peers you hang out with at family gatherings.  Only just recently am I really connecting to any of them; it's nice.

Anyway, pictures.  The best way to view the pictures is just to go through the ordered, commented set on Flickr, here.  For those who don't want to, though, a selection:
photojournalism! )
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
I have been instructed to update right now.  I'm sitting here in my living playing "Goth" with Mandi, Erin, and Katie.  It's "the game of horror trivia," and it's funny at times.  Sometimes it's just frustrating.  Anyway, we just had a lovely mini-dinner party.  I made a gratin dauphinois (contrary to Jeffrey Steingarten's opinions, the potatoes really need to be thicker than 1/8 in.) and some carne asada tacos without the tortillas (cause I forgot to buy them).  Mandi brought tasty wine, Erin brought a delicious spinach souffle, and Katie brought a nummy Sara Lee cheesecake.  We so win.  It was scrumdiddliumptious.

Anyway, I'm going back to the game, because double-tasking is hard.

Oh, but I have to mention: my sister called me yesterday to tell me, regarding suntans: tanned skin first became popular during the JFK presidency.  It was not considered attractive per se at the time, rather it was a sign that one had the leisure time available to gain a suntan.  Ironically, this same general concept is behind the longtime historical preference for alabaster skin.
yrmencyn: (Default)
Oh dear.  Decisions, decisions.  Ever since I got on Facebook, I knew this day would come.  My cousin Sara, possibly the most conservative of all the conservative relatives, has just friended me, and now I must decide what to do.  If I friend her back, she'll be able to see my profile, which will in turn reveal my sexuality.  This could be a barrel of laughs.  I'm not willing to change the information I have up, because that's just ridiculous.  I should just friend her back.  Kristin's already on the list, although I don't know whether she's looked at my info, but she's not so rabid/fervent.  Fuck this, what happens happens.  They gotta find out eventually, might as well play this game.

Anyway, time to put some clothes on and go out to eat/drink.  I've had my downtime after the [fabulous] parade [(pictures to follow)], now it's time to get back off the wagon.

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