Beginning Again

From another posting (mine):

I was really disheartened when Multiply shut down. I’d been on it a couple of years and it was a great discipline for me. I wrote at least one entry a week of no less than 400 words and some of the entries were really quite good. Now I’m doing one hundred words a day, which is more in terms of word count, but less in terms of focus on a topic.

“Generally, my whole writing focus has gone to hell after Multiply’s demise. As all of you who have been here a while know, I’ve not been doing much of anything- too scattered in thought and deed-. I used to be a regular, here, but even that has not been true for a long time now.”

Multiply’s demise is some time, now.  When I get disheartened, I get disheartened. 

I will speak a truth, I have no faith this spot will be here for any longer than it takes for someone to make a huge amount of money by selling it.  And the search for a spot will start again.

This time, I’m going to cheat a little and save backups on every important entry.

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The Last Temple of the Celts

Feral Words

druids The Druids Bringing in the Mistletoe, by Edward Atkinson Hornel & George Henry

The west of Europe used to be full of Celtic temples. In every settlement, every holy grove, every mountain top and ring of stones that held any import for the peoples of old there would have been some structure marked out as holy, a place to connect the people to the spirits who lived alongside of them. There were statues of gold and idols of stone, rings of trees wreathed with cloth, wells encircled by the swirling patterns of the art called La Tene. A vivid, distinct and technically accomplished culture did as all such cultures have done; piled up in its holiest of holies the greatest achievements of its civilisation, to honour the gods that it worshipped.

The afterglow of their achievements still hangs on the horizon. The illuminated gospels of Ireland, the giant carved stones of the Picts…

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Love and Work are the cornerstones of our humanness- Sigmund Freud

January 20, 2016

The only promise I’m making, today, is that this is going to be a piss poor entry. I’m in the fourth day of a cold, must have lost four pounds in snot alone, and am only doing whatever the hell this will turn out to be just to keep the daily thing, if not the daily by the hour thing, going. It’s too easy for me to make excuses and I’m not going to do that, today.

I didn’t make it to the Center, yesterday. I just couldn’t get myself together. Besides, I didn’t want to infect everybody there.

Supernatural is due back from hiatus, in a few minutes, so this entry may be interrupted, if not shorter, than I intend it to be. Hoping the entry makes at least one hundred words.

Weather is supposed to be warming up, tomorrow. Hope so. Below freezing, we are not allowed away from the building unless we are going with family, or, in my case, have transportation door to door. Luckily, I have a Pace Pass. It costs three dollars a ride, but it beats waiting in the cold for buses.

I’m done. Honest to god, I’m done.


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Scribbles About Ritual

The secret of joy in work is contained on one word- escellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it. Pearl S. Buck

Scribbles About Ritual

One of the differences between Man and the rest of the animal kingdom is mankind’s conscious use of ritual. I emphasize the word conscious; you only have to watch the family pet to notice the preciseness, and the continutity with which animals perform some regular action. My family had a dog who before lying down in a chosen spot, would ritually circle three times before allowing herself to settle. I have heard that all dogs do this. I remember reading an article, the gist of which I forget, explaining why dogs did this. I think I do remember the article stating it was an instictive act, like their rituals of attracting mates and parenting. I take instinctive to mean no one has to teach them these acts; I’m not sure I agree totally with that. At least the parenting techniques have an element of education about them.

I am told elephants will make long journeys, to the place of death, to mourn their dead companions. I have a sister who, ritually, goes to vist the graves of dead relatives. She will happily spend a whole holiday afternoon going from gravesite to gravesite. She always has trouble locating a particular aunt and uncle’s site, never fails to grouse about it. I have suggested that they move everytime she comes because she doesn’t call first. She didn’t crack even the beginning of a smile. She doesn’t understand that I don’t want to come with her on these excursions. My take on visiting grave sites is the dead are dead, let them be. It’s not like they are going to offer you a cup of tea. This is, of course, coming from a man whose dream is to visit Greece and walk in the supposed footsteps of Socrates and Plato. I excuse my desire as being a one time thing.

Not that I don’t have my own rituals; my New Year Eves’ celebrations being a case in point.

The when and the how I developed my New Year’s Eve ritual is so far back in the past as to be mythical. While I remember certain aspects of the ritual, such as writing a note to the old year listing my triumphs and/or disappointments in the year passing, coming from outside myself, portions of the ritual seem to have sprung full blown out of my head and have no recognizable history. Even as a child, I made it a point to take the old year out of the house a few minutes before midnight, say “thank you” and goodbye, and welcome the New Year and bring it into the house with almost a religious conviction that by meeting the New Year, half way, I would encourage it to be kind to me. I was the only one in the family that did this; they actually thought me strange because I insisted on it.

Men give meaning to their rituals, they explain them. A wafer on the tongue to a Catholic, in prescribed conditions is the real body and blood of Jesus Christ. They don’t mean this in a symbolic way. In fact, growing up, I was taught the Sacrifice of the Mass was the actual cycle of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not a repeat, but a mystical connection with the actual event, itself. Over the years, the emphasis on Sacrifice, with the priest offering it up, seems to have evolved into an idea of the Mass as dinner, presided over by a host. Rituals change, over time, and this change in the Catholic Church of the meaning of Mass as less sacrifice, more celebration, is no small matter.

Every ritual has its birth in the practial. The Western Civilization ritual of a handshake grew out of warriors proving to each other they had no weapon in their weapon hand. The ritual is kept even when the need for it no longer exists.

The marriage ritual, perhaps, has changed the most, over the centuries. As established in the Bible, it was originally a ritual that symbolized the transfer of property (the bride) from the father to her new owner, the groom. The groom had to purchase the bride through some with labor, or property, or whatever medium of exchange deemed appropriate. Later that evolved into the idea of a dowry. In my lifetime, the dowry was replaced by the bride’s family paying for the wedding. A symbol of this exchange was the father, in front of witnesses, giving the bride to the groom. Today, the father no longer sells the bride, but he often still escorts her down the aisle . Now that same-sex marriage is in the offering, it will be interesting to watch what traditional rituals evolve and/or disappear.

I suppose we got the idea of ritual by watching the rituals of the heaven and the earth. We like our rituals; they give us a sense of comfort, of certainty, of the orderliness of life, presents on birthdays and winter holidays, boiled eggs and candy on Easter, masks and costumes on Halloween, etc., etc.

The dark side of ritual is obsessive compulsive behavior; ritual for the sake of ritual, with a touch of fear to its not being performed exactly.

While popular ritual probably began connected to religion, secular life has its rituals, too. At this moment, America is involved in the every fourth year pre-election of a President. This too can be a dark, dismal ritual.

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January 18, 2016

It’s where we go and what
we do, when we get there,
that tells us who we are.
Joyce Carol Oates

It’s 8 degrees farenheit in Chicago, right at this moment and I’m suffering from a bitch of a cold. Just to depress myself, I checked the temperature in the Los Angeles area. 59. Lord, I miss California winters, and as I type this the snot is running down my nose onto my hands.Well, got that cleaned up.

I’ve told this story before, so just the highlights: I hitch-hiked down Route 66, in the late summer of 1963, and hit L.A. on my twenty-first birthday. That trip, and my marching in the first Hollywood Gay Pride parade (1970) honoring The Stonewall Riots in New Yok, the year before, are my two shining accomplishments. I should note, here, that at the time the L.A. parade’s main focus was about ending police harrassment and entrapment. It was a very heady time, those early years of “gay liberation.”

Now, forty-six years later, America is seeing gay marriages, adoption of children by gay parents, receiving legal parity with heterosexual unions. Gay people have become a political force, with city, state and federal legislators open and active for gay causes. Less and less is it a an act of political and/or career suicide for law-makers, and actors, and athletes to declare their sexual preferences openly. Even the armed services has moved into the twenty-first century; homosexuality is no longer a bar against serving, and no longer a reason for expulsion for those already serving. Being gay is becoming very middle class. My fear is that by being absorbed into middle-class, Gay will surrender a certain outsider’s perspective, a group, and perhaps an individual creative tension, just to fit in.

Not to say that there are not still stides, and opinions to be changed, in the larger society. We, as a group are becoming, rather than accomplished, members of that middle. Strides we have made legally, are not yet matched by total social parity. In the private sector, there remains an antipathy, or more truly, and ignorance, largely fueled by fundamentalist religionists. Some places don’t want to offer gay people services they offer to the public, at large. Some companies will not promote, or even hire, open gay people. There are political forces at work to move the clock back regarding gay liberties. We still have some way to go for full middle-class inclusion.

Of course, fifty years ago, I supposed that eventually homosexuals would be considered with no particular sense of differnce than the idea of red-heads or blondes. Little did I know it would be in my lifetime.

America gays, of course, are not the only one fighting for full dignity. I read this morning that the Russian Duma refused to pass a bill that would make public coming out and offense punishable by fine and prison. Enlightenment is a slow process. Ask our brothers and sisters in Uganda, or any Muslim nation.

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January 17-Catechism

All serious daring
starts from within.
Eudora Wetley

He swears he doesn’t remember ever believing in Santa Claus. You need a certain innocence, a certain level of trust to do so; except for the first four years of his life, he didn’t own either. He doesn’t remember believing in God, either. He wishes he could, but having been a battered, emotionally abused child, he likes to say he learned scepticism before he learned to talk.

Not that he didn’t do his catechism lessons, catechism being that book which asks questions and supplies a pre-ordained answer- no thinking allowed. He learned to give back the answers they wanted, and kept his questions to himself. The Daughters of Charity, of The Blessed Virgin Mary, thought questions about catechism answers impudent, and awarded them a seat in the back of the class, and a number of written I shall not… lines. So, he never did ask questions, within the fifedom of their classrooms. He asked them of himself, and amused himself, with alternate answers.

“Who made you?’ asked Sister Carmina. That chapter had been among last night’s reading homework. “God made me” he shot back, with the perfect demeanor of an acolyte.

“Why did God make you?” She asked, as if checking to make sure he’d read the whole chapter.

“God made me to know Him, and to love Him, and to serve Him, in this world and the next.” He resisted asking if God didn’t have enough angels to do the housework. Probably a Union thing; conversations about Unions were bread and butter at the family’s dinner table. He didn’t think nuns had unions.

The smile, crinkling on the face under the headgear, told him he’d performed as needed. The nun turned next to the student sitting to the right of him, a pasty, smugged face mama’s boy, whose mother ran in and out of the convent every day with pastries and gossip, both of which she shared with Sister Honora, the school principle. He sat back down in his seat, planning his next trip to the library; there was a book on the Greek gods he wanted to get. He liked the Greek gods. You didn’t have to believe in them. An added pleasure was the pictures that came with the stories, all those beautiful faces and pretty muscles.

He didn’t blame the nuns for their belief. He had an uncle who sold used cars. Watching him with a customer, one day, he heard his uncle praise the wonders of a Hudson coupe to a man looking for dependable value; a car he classified aa a piece of junk to his boss, a few minutes before. Over a hamburger, his uncle had explained that “in sales” you have to believe in the product you’re selling, or at least make the customer think so.” He supposed the nuns’ product was God. It didn’t matter, really, whether the nuns believed, He didn’t have to. He just had to make them believe he believed.

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Jan. 16, 2016- Pruning

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them,
and pretty soon you have a dozen.
                                                                      John Steinbeck.
That you received this means that you are on a special list, that has grown over the years, of people I felt closest too, on these facebook pages, whose discretion I trusted, and with whom I felt I could share some of the more personal revelations. For my own housekeeping purposes, I named that list “close friends.” Looking over the list the other day, it occured to me that, although you have all, at one point or another, agreed to be my facebook friend, none of you agreed to be on the special list, and probably don’t realize you were.

Over the years, I haven’t used the close friends list, too often. As I intend to use my blog, daily, and often in a more revelatory way, this year, access to these entries, through Facebook, is going to be limited to my close friends group.

I am supposing that some, maybe all, of you on my list, may not wish to know more about me, or my interests, than my general entries provide. I have already begun pruning the list, removing those names from the list that have not responded to any posting of mine for a year or more. If any of you still on this list, as evidenced by receipt of this posting, would also prefer not participating in this project, please reply, within the week, asking to have your name removed from the list. You will remain on my general friends list, unless you unfriend me, or ask me to unfriend you.

Please do not think you will hurt my feelings, or otherwise offend me, if you want to be off the list. I do not mean this as an ego thing, but I do recognize that I am, quite often, an acquired taste, being too too, too often (hows that for a phrase?). Some prefer me in small doses.

Oddly, I feel weird writing this. It sounds too much like those embarrassing posts where people are asking “am I pretty?”, or I’m so lonesome, hug me posts. I always think those post both sad and a little creepy. Thinking about it though, in some ways, most post, by most people, are just more subtle about the need for ego-stroking.

When I was a child, there was always someone to whom I had to report. They didn’t have to be any more involved than being willing to be someone that was there, to be an occasional voice that said “No!”, or “You’re full of shit, you’d better rethink that.” Someone who could, and would, when necessary, warn me of dangers of which I wasn’t aware. I don’t know what direction this project is going to take, I only know I need to take it. Along the way, I want a few people to lean on, be responsible to. I’m not expecting that there will be an overwhelming response to everything I write. I just want the possibility of someone guiding me when I need to be guided, challenging me when I need to be challanged. It makes it easier to write, when there is a sense of a target.

I am never going to promise to make sense, though I will promise to try. Think of this entry as one of those tries.

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January 13, 2016

January 13, 2016

Start where you are.
Use what you have. Do what you can.
                                               Arthur Ashe

Bridgette Bardot

From the Web-Bridgette Bardot- Then and Now

Starting from where I am, I am having a hell of a time writing these entires, these past few days. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to write. I don’t have a damn thing to say that I haven’t said a thousand times, in a thousand different ways than before. I’m here, for this hour, only to keep the discipline going. I know that if I don’t write today, it will be easier to find an excuse to not write tomorrow. So, here I am, hoping to hell that tomorrow something will change.

Odd thought crossed my mind, earlier today, while I was digging around trying to find something about which to write. That odd thought is I was born nine months and seven days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Makes me wonder if my conception was a reaction to a sense of terror that probably gripped the nation, during that time. Interesting, if I was more a child of desparate terror than any more positive emotion. As I’ve revealed before, I only escaped being a bastard by thirty-five days. Would I have been conceived if Pearl Harbor had not happened?

As I think I said yesterday (I’m too lazy to check, and to fearful to get side-tracked), I made it to the Center on Halsted despite the sub-zero temperatures. Major reason was that I needed to be there for the photo that will be attached to my city card. They use the card to ascertain who is using the lunch services at the Center, and how often. I suppose that has to do with city funding for the Center.

While there, I was asked by the Senior Services manager at the Center, if I would take part in an interview with some student nurses sometime during the month. I’m becoming the go-to guy for interviews? I did the radio interview during the parade, and this will be my second set of student-nurse interviewers. I can’t decide if it’s because I’m a fun, interesting interview, particularly articulate, or just part of a small circle of people willing to do it. Maybe it is a combination of all three.

If I mentioned, yesterday, my trip to the Center, I probably also mentioned that the discussion was about how Seniors were maniuplated and used because they are older, perhaps less mentally sharp when it comes to discerning that they are being manipulated, and when manipulated, too embarrassed or ashamed to tell anyone. The conversation evolved into a general discussion about how the aged are seen in America. If I understood the gist of the conversation, it can be summed up as older people being condescended to, spoken to, and treated as, if we were children. I can’t say that I haven’t noticed those possibilities as they effect me. The trick is not to let it happen, but that’s not alwas possible, especially when dealing with authority figures holding a whip hand, superior knowledge.

One of the things I mentioned, as regarding Seniors, is their fair representation in the media. We are most often shown as either shown as “cutesy”, or tragic, incompetent figures who are lucky if they remember their own name. Now and then, there is a chacter like the japanese instructor in The Karate Kid, but those characters seem the exception rather than the rule- and are usually not culturally American characters (the thought occurs to me), but from cultures that Americans like to see as wise and more advanced in their respect for/honor of their elders. It reminded me of the long struggle we gay people have had to get a fair representation of us through the media.

A little aside note: Gay people, by and large, do not like to deal with aging in any of its evolutions. We like to present ourselves as always young, always beautiful, always at the top of our game. Look at the pictures of men that gay publishers and product pushers foster. Everybody has a beautiful smile and a six-pack. Hell, I’ve never had a six-pack unless you count the ones I carried home from the liquor department, and I’ve had damn few of even them.

The answer is, I guess, that we have to take care of, look out after, each other. One of the point blank questions that was asked was, “If you saw a friend being exploited, should you risk their anger by telling them.” The general consensus was that yes, we had that responsibility.

And so, I’ve done what I can.

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