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)
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<.
yrmencyn: (Default)
The Anglican Communion, following a global meeting a month or two ago, made demands of the Episcopal Church that it, basically, straighten up and get back in line with the rest of the [conservative] Anglican world.  Last night, the leadership of the Episcopal Church made a strong declaration that it would neither accept foreign parallel leadership for the conservative diocese under its jurisdiction, nor would it promise not to ordain homosexuals or bless homosexual unions.  This is absolutely wonderful.  It's just wonderful.  In this day and age, when "religion" is so often equated with "hatred" and "bigotry", it's so heartening to see people of faith -- a whole body of the faithful -- actually standing up for the human dignity of all God's children.

Whisp, where did you say that Pisky Church is that you like?  Because at this juncture, I'm thinking it might be time for me to throw in the towel with the Catholic Church and actually align myself with a faith that respects me as a person.

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: (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: (armadillo)
I'm not even going to bother apologizing for my absence anymore, since it appears to be my default state nowadays.

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

Dentists, catholic stupidity, driving, coming out, grades, and a disclaimer. In that order. )
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
Just a couple of things stewing around in my head tonight.  The second one in particular shows the central tragedy of a liberal arts education: it gets harder and harder to enjoy things qua things.

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

I think it's so interesting to see the marketing machine at work.  There's a musical artist I've really grown to enjoy, name of Corinne Bailey Rae.  She's a young woman from England, plays guitar and sings some of the silkiest, smokiest lite R&B, all with this lovely light lilt thanks to merry old England.  I first ran across her... 9 months ago or so?  It was through an ad on the All Music Guide that included an audio component, in this case the lead track off her self-titled album ("Like a Star").  I listened to other clips, decided I had to have it, and ordered it used from some 3rd-party Amazon seller; the album hadn't even been released in the States yet.  So a couple months went by, and I kept seeing her crop up.  First when her album was released in the US, then a couple of quick features in tv ads, you know, light marketing stuff.  And now finally, she was the featured musical artist on the in-show ep of Studio 60 during tonight's ep of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.  [Apologies to non-viewers, for whom that sentence may be confusing; there's this show-within-a-show thing that gets a bit tricky to enumerate.]  It's just fascinating to watch the machinery unfurl, is all.  Plus I think she's quite talented, so I'm glad to see Ms. Rae get so much exposure.

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

I'm not sure if I can deal with Margaret Cho anymore.  It really pains me to say this, because that woman has made me nearly piss myself with laughter more times than I can count.  But it's her gay politics that are throwing me off.  Now, this will sound odd to anybody who has even a passing familiarity with Cho's work, because she's militantly gay-friendly.  She is a gay icon, folks.  But her brand of gay pride is just... ossified.  OK, this isn't making any sense, let me do it by way of an example.  In the last section of her show Revolution, which I was listening to as I washed a mountain of dishes tonight, she talks about how she would love to have a gay son.  And at one point, she makes this joke [light paraphrase, due to cloudy memory]: "And he would be a boy scout.  And he would teach the other boys how to light a fire with nothing but two sticks and a back-handed compliment."

First off, cards on the table: it's a funny line.  I laughed.  And hey, I'm all about gay boy scouts lighting fires with aptitude and whatever skills they bring to the table.  But it's also a really telling line, because it's rooted in a very particular, stylized conception of the Catty Gay Man.  Like most of the rest of her gay-based humor (and arguably the rest of her humor as well, but I'm not approaching that point here), it has recourse to a set of fixed stereotypes.  One could argue, of course, that this is the nature of the beast: in Anglo-American stand-up, much of the discourse is mediated by a certain caricatural lens that enables the comic to make broad statements out of particulars.  The excuse wears thin in Cho's case, however, because her purpose is not solely comedic; she also, in her own words, would like to start a liberal revolution of tolerance.  This means that she can't complacently expect her words to be evaluated only in the venue of comedy; they're subject to broader social pressure.

And in the light of the broader social pressure, it's not a beneficial discourse.  Rather than promoting a true equality, in which individuals would be free to express themselves in whatever manner they deemed fit, Cho ends up positing a system that defines a limited number of roles.  Instead of making a principled break from the constraints of society, she just ends up reinforcing a new orthodoxy.  And for those of us that aren't particularly enamored of the roles available in her system, it's no less restrictive than the old one she wishes to depose.

Backhanded compliment, indeed. 
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
Hmm.  I seem to be working on my third glass of wine, in a rather more-than-standard pour.  Thus we get some stream of consciousness, interrupted with bursts of Project Runway commentary.  I shall put the rest of the entry under a cut, just in case you don't want to get spoiled (assuming I actually give any spoilers).  If you haven't seen the ep and don't want to be spoiled, well... you miss out.  Or you get spoiled.  Pick.

Read more... )
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
Work today pretty much blew, to put it simply.  There were an inordinate number of charts to file, and I did nothing else from the time I got there until the time I left, discounting lunch.  I made a dent, but not a big enough one; I'm going to have to work like crazy to get somewhere close to caught up tomorrow.  There should really be more than one person filing, for this volume, ugh.

So by the time I left, after my usual quittin' time, I was beat.  There was, of course, but one thing to do: go home to change, and immediately adjourn to Chelsea's to read a book, drink a beer, and consume an entire plate of cheese fries (and those of you who've been to Chelsea's know how big those plates are!).  I felt completely gross when I was done, but in a very satisfying way.  Sometimes it's completely appropriate to abuse your bodily systems in retaliation against ill-defined blandishments.

I read the first half of Tobias Wolff's Old School this evening, and I'm quite enjoying it.  The reason I'm reading it is because it's the common book for OSU freshmen, and I volunteered to lead a session in one of the survey classes discussing the book; Michelle Herman of the CW faculty has been harassing faculty and staff to lead them :)  In addition, and here's where this gets interesting, I've also volunteered to be on a related question panel on Coming Out.  Old School deals with the narrator coming out as a Jew to his New England prep school classmates, and Michelle and Janice Miller of the Statistics faculty thought it'd be an interesting idea to do a separate session, outside of class, to further explore the concept of coming out -- as a Jew, as gay, as an addict, as bulimic, what have you --, and I volunteered to do that as well: in for a dime, in for a dollar.

In a sterling burst of meta, it functions as a furthering of my own coming out process, which is interesting.  It's only in the past year that I've really started acting on my sexuality, so I feel almost like this panel is a bizarre form of non-film cinéma vérité/reality tv: see it as it happens!  Like CNN, but live-action and at Hillel!  So odd.

Um... I'm bad at conclusions.  It's a failing.  I'll leave with a couple of entertainment-related items.

1.  There is a channel out there that I recently found through [livejournal.com profile] queenmargot, called The Tube.  It's wonderful.  It's what MTV should be: they show videos, and that's pretty much it.  I've seen a couple of PSAs on there, but I don't really have a problem with PSAs, and a couple of promos for WAFB, the local network affiliate, but those aren't too annoying.  AND: they play videos from all over the timeline.  I've seen a few current ones, but also a whole lot of stuff from the 80s, 90s, even the 70s (concert footage, mostly), including a lot of stuff that isn't really MTV fare anyway, which is nifty (though don't worry, mainstream vids have a strong presence, too).  It's wonderful.  Baton Rouge, you can see it on Cox Digital channel 120.  Columbus, you can see it on WOW 140 or Insight 834.  Other markets, you can check the site.  Highly recommended.  Seriously, they're playing David Gray's "Babylon" right now, and it's (a) one of my favorite songs ever (b) never, ever, ever on the radio or the tv.  Score.

2.  Thanks to the inestimable [livejournal.com profile] puppetoflove, I can now share with you a link to the video of the Dixie Chick's "Top of the World" (originally by the fabulous Patty Griffin).  I strongly suggest you all watch it, even if you think "Ew, country music."  Reasons?  Well, first off, it's a great song.  Patty Griffin is by far one of the most talented songwriters of our time, and the Dixie Chicks are very talented performers, and this is a standout track from Home, their best album to date IMO.  If you've ever wondered what it is I see in the Dixie Chicks, this should answer.  Second, the video itself is beautifully done.  It's artful and technically skilled, and it actually adds a layer to my understanding of the song, which is something that I can say for only a tiny minority of music videos out there.
yrmencyn: (armadillo)
This is starting to bother me.  OK, so, y'all should all know by now that I'm not straight, right?  So that's covered.  Sorry if I surprised anybody; my bad.  I'm mostly quite comfortable with who I am, that's not usually an issue.  What's at issue, at the moment, is my outward demeanor.  In my own perception, I'm pretty straight-acting; I don't think that people glance over at me and say "GIRL."  I'm actually very much ok with this, since I tend to be turned off by the stereotype gay effeminate, and I'd hate to turn myself off. 

Recently, though, I've had my self-image called into question.  Exhibit A: I went in for my interview at LCA a couple weeks ago, and after I left, the woman I was interviewing with asked Mandi, "Is he gay?  He got too much shake to be straight!"  [I'm still not sure what this means, exactly, but I get the gist.]  Our interview, obviously, didn't touch on my personal life, that being illegal in most locales, so, what?  Was I exuding some sort of gay pheromone?  If I was, I must have been doing it again yesterday, because apparently soon after I went back to work after lunch, one of the Treadmill Guys, who was in the break room, asked Mandi, "Is he gay?"  Seriously, people.  The fuck?

It's just bothering me, because it conflicts with my self-image.  I don't dress particularly 'gay', nor wear a 'gay' haircut, nor talk 'gay' (these all being references to the stereotype, hence the quotes), so... what?  Is it because I use big words, and straight men don't do that?  Is it because my accent's usually neutral faded slightly toward proper, and straight men talk country?  Is it because I work in medical records, which is apparently a woman's job (I never knew.)?

I've been asking people.  So far I've got a "yes you do come off as kind of gay, a bit" from Mandi, and a tepid yes from my sister, and a couple of no's from other people.  What do y'all think?  I know it's hard to ignore current knowledge, but when you first met me did you think I was straight?  Gay?  Asexual?  Chickensexual?

It's a fair question, of course, to ask what you think even now, too.  I despise labels, so I have trouble applying one to myself.  I've tended to go with "bi" for the last couple of years, because it's technically the most accurate: proportions and degrees aside, I do find myself attracted to both sexes.  But if we're really considering proportions and degrees, then "gay" is probably a lot closer, since I find myself attracted to vastly greater numbers of men than women.  Also, "gay" works better; it's really quite a tricky proposition to maintain an identity on the bi fence, culturally, especially when you don't find yourself (and others don't find you) talking about hot women, but you'll stop in mid-sentence because of some random guy walking by or flicking up on the TV screen.  Still, calling oneself "gay" is a much more highly charged political act, because it's so black and white.  And don't get me started on "queer," which on the one hand I love for its vagueness, but on the other hand I hate for its academic-y pc-speak.  This shit is stupid.  Fuckin' labels.

On the plus side my apparent obviousness plays well into certain schemes I'm considering.
yrmencyn: (qc - drunk)
For the past few days, I have been indulging in a terrifically fun activity, which may in fact be the flamingest thing I do on a regular basis.  No, this does not involve the ever-growing porn collection on my computer.

It does, however, involve a singer who could arguably be called a gay icon (the Wikipedia seems to agree): Mariah Carey.  I have already confessed to a guilty enjoyment of her Daydream album, but I haven't actually listened to it in quite a long while.  Well, the other day I got the song "Always Be My Baby" stuck in my head, and had to dig out the CD, which was miraculously un-destroyed like most other CDs in the case (don't ask).  So... in addition to ripping it into the mp3 player and playing it while I was working in the kitchen, I blared it in the car.  Going down Kenilworth.  With all my windows down.  Singing along with "Always Be My Baby" at the top of my lungs and hitting. every. note.  It was great fun!  I felt young and carefree, and had a weird sensation of being in Florida (I don't even know). 

Of course, then I got home and was chatting with a neighbor kid... and I realized the album's older than he is (it came out in 1995, he's ten years old -- do the math).  That was a bit odd.

-------

There is a marathon of New Scandinavian Cooking on the local PBS affiliate right now.  How can one man be so lucky?

-------

Is there a particular reason I don't make quesadillas every day?  I made one today with a wonderful hard Irish cheese and leftover 40-clove chicken, and it was delicious and super quick!  I honestly don't think I have ever before in my life made a quesadilla... that is a crime against good food if I ever heard of one.

-------

My thesis has to be given to my committee members Monday (or, in Dr. Cerquiglini's case, airmailed to Paris).  I spent a solid block from 2pm til about 11pm today reading translation theory and taking notes (well, except for the time I took to make a chicken groundnut stew, but I read during the downtime of that ever).  I basically have to write my translator's note tomorrow.  I haven't the vaguest idea how long it will be.  I fear it'll either ramble or end up disturbingly pompous.  Oh gods, what have I done?  Too much putting off, too much.  And now at the 11th hour I've decided that it needs to be more critically rigorous than I had originally intended.  Zounds.

-------

Got my letter of admission from LSU two day ago.  The money's not as good as at OSU, although it's close, so... yeah.  Of course there are other factors to consider there, too, which could really work in either direction.  I mean, I'm here, staying wouldn't be uprooting myself at all (bonus.), but then again I wouldn't get that fresh start I'm looking for; geographic dislocation is a fine, tangible marker for new endeavors.  Of course, there's tone of admission, too: OSU has been very excited/-ing, very welcoming, while LSU was so businesslike as to be disturbingly brusque.  Also of course, Shane did mention that it wouldn't be at all a bad idea to look at the faculty's writings, since they will be the ones who will be molding/evaluating my work wherever I go.  And then again, Indiana's not even got back to me yet, and they will add a whole new dimension of madness to the mix.  Arg.  This was all so easy and cleancut for undergrad and my first grad program... I guess this is payback.
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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