Thursday, September 23, 2021

Pic of the Day

A Roll in the Hay


I think sometimes people who grew up like I did in a religious family where sex was a dirty thing and gay sex was unthinkable, we often feel ashamed of exploring our sexuality. I know I’ve often said to people that I was a slut in my twenties, but that is really just sex-shaming myself and being self-deprecating. The truth is, I had fun, and I’m not really ashamed of that. I doubt I’ll ever get married, so if I’m going to have sex, sometimes it’s just a random hook-up. Hell, I hooked up with a guy within days of moving to Vermont. In fact my bed hadn’t even come yet, so we had sex on an air mattress. It was great sex too, and I’d love to get together with him again, it’s just never worked out. I do see him on occasion and he has expressed interest in getting together again. It just hasn’t happened yet.

This brings me to the main topic of this post. A week or so ago a guy messaged me that he was in town and wanted to get together. At the time, I couldn’t, but he said he’d be back this week. We chatted a bit and realized we’d both like to get together, so we made tentative plans for this week. Don’t think this guy was just some random guy off the internet. I knew what he looked like, what his first name was, and why he was in town. With that information, I was able to look him up online, so I knew more about him then he’d probably intended. He’s closeted, or discreet as many guys say these days, and I respect that, even if I wish no one had to be closeted or discreet these days. 

Anyway, he’s in town for a big event at the university and wanted to get together. I said sure and was looking forward to it. It wasn’t a major get together, but really just a “fuck and go” as I tend to call it. He only had a limited amount of time before he had another engagement (not another sexual one, I might add), so he came over, we got down to business and had a great time. He said he’d like to see more of me while he’s in town, and I’d like that too. Discreet guys though can be a little skittish, whether it’s because of post-sex guilt, being afraid they might get caught by someone, or any other myriad of reasons. Will I see him again? Yeah, if he wants to. I got what I wanted out of it; he got what he wanted out of it. We had fun! I’d like to repeat the experience.

The thing is, I refuse to feel guilt or shame for hooking up with a guy. I’ve been there done that and wasted too many years doing that. I have a few local guys I get together with occasionally, and if this guy wants to get together when he’s in town (and I think he’s in town a fair amount), then I have no problem with it. You can only do so much by yourself, and while that can be pretty good too, there’s really nothing like having someone else to help you out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Pic of the Day

Thinking Positively

"We are beckoned to see the world through a one-way mirror, as if we are threatened and innocent and the rest of humanity is threatening, or wretched, or expendable. Our memory is struggling to rescue the truth that human rights were not handed down as privileges from a parliament, or a boardroom, or an institution, but that peace is only possible with justice and with information that gives us the power to act justly."

—John Pilger

Australian journalist, writer, scholar, and filmmaker

 

Are you a glass half-empty or half-full sort of person? Studies have demonstrated that both can impact your physical and mental health and that being a positive thinker is the better of the two. Sometimes, having a positive outlook is one of the hardest things to do. One just needs to look at the news to feel depressed and hopeless. Whether it’s from a natural disaster like a hurricane or a wildfire or it’s the hate filled politics of the current Trumpism of the Republican Party. Every time politics is mentioned especially something done by either the Democrats or those Republicans who opposed the former president, the Republicans trying to find the favor of the former twice impeached and disgraced president seem to be diametrically opposed to it. They don’t seem to care how much it would benefit their constituents, how sensible or scientifically proven it is, or even if it was a policy they previously supported. The current climate is nastier than I can ever remember it. The world continues to see deaths from COVID due to the delta variant, and it seems to go ignored by those who refuse to support science or believe in helping their fellow man simply to follow the lunatic ravings of one madman. 

 

It is all so disheartening and depressing. What can we do about it? If we dwell on it and allow it to consume us, we are only seeing the world through a one-way mirror and the hopelessness consumes us. We must make a change in our outlook before we can make a change in the world. We must turn to positive thinking and heal ourselves first. Jesus reminded those in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:23) of a Greek proverb, “Physician, heal yourself!” The moral of the proverb in general, containing within itself also a criticism of hypocrisy, is to attend to one's own defects before those in others. If our defect is negative thinking, then we must heal that first. Positive thinking isn’t magic, and it won’t make all of our problems disappear. What it will do is make problems seem more manageable and help us approach hardships in a more positive and productive way.

 

The first thing we can do is to focus on the good things in our lives. Challenging situations and obstacles are a part of life. When we’re faced with one, focus on the good things no matter how small or seemingly insignificant they seem. If we look for it, we you can always find the proverbial silver lining in every cloud—even if it’s not immediately obvious. To follow this up, we should practice gratitude of what we have. Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and foster resilience even in very difficult times. Think of people, moments, or things that bring you comfort or happiness and try to express your gratitude at least once a day. 

 

Comedians who often tell stories instead of just telling jokes often say that humor is all around them and they find their stories in everyday situations because they open themselves up to the humor of life. Instead of dwelling on what can go wrong, they focus on how to find the humor in the situation. Studies have found that laughter lowers stress, anxiety, and depression. It also improves coping skills, mood, and self-esteem. Be open to humor in all situations, especially the difficult ones, and give yourself permission to laugh. It instantly lightens the mood and makes things seem a little less difficult. Even if you’re not feeling it; pretending or forcing yourself to laugh can improve your mood and lower stress.

 

One of the most important things, and something I have been doing more of lately, is to spend time with positive people. Negative people will only pull you down into their negativity. Positivity and negativity have been shown to be contagious. Consider the people with whom you’re spending time. Have you noticed how someone in a bad mood can bring down almost everyone in a room? A positive person has the opposite effect on others. Being around positive people has been shown to improve self-esteem and increase our chances of reaching goals. We should surround ourselves with people who will lift us up and help us see the bright side.  Two songs come to mind, the jazz classic, “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” and the country/bluegrass classic, “Keep on the Sunny Side.” The latter song tells us, “It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way, if we keep on the sunny side of life.”

 

We also need to not be so hard on ourselves. We tend to be the hardest on ourselves and be our own worst critic. Over time, this can cause us to form a negative opinion of ourselves that can be hard to shake. To stop this, we need to be mindful of the voice in our head and respond with positive messages. Research shows that even a small shift in the way we talk to ourselves can influence our ability to regulate our feelings, thoughts, and behavior under stress. We need to identify the areas of negativity in our lives. We should take a good look at the different areas of our life and identify the ones in which we tend to be the most negative. If you are not sure what those are? Ask a trusted friend or colleague. Chances are, they’ll be able to offer some insight. A co-worker might notice that you tend to be negative at work. A close friend may notice that you get especially negative while driving. Tackle one area at a time.

 

We can also drive away the negativity in our lives by starting every day on a positive note. There are several ways we can do this. We can create a ritual in which you start off each day with something uplifting and positive. We can tell ourselves that it’s going to be a great day or any other positive affirmation. We can listen to a happy and positive song or playlist, or we can share some positivity by giving a compliment or doing something nice for someone. We can’t undo years of pessimism and negative thoughts overnight, but with some practice, we can learn how to approach things with a more positive outlook.

 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Teller of Tales


The Teller of Tales

By Gabriela Mistral - 1889-1957

 

translated by Ursula K. Le Guin

 

    When I’m walking, everything

on earth gets up

and stops me and whispers to me,

and what they tell me is their story.

 

    And the people walking

on the road leave me their stories,

I pick them up where they fell

in cocoons of silken thread.

 

    Stories run through my body

or sit purring in my lap.

So many they take my breath away,

buzzing, boiling, humming.

Uncalled they come to me,

and told, they still won’t leave me.

 

    The ones that come down through the trees

weave and unweave themselves,

and knit me up and wind me round

until the sea drives them away.

 

    But the sea that’s always telling stories,

the wearier I am the more it tells me...

 

    The people who cut trees,

the people who break stones,

want stories before they go to sleep.

 

    Women looking for children

who got lost and don’t come home,

women who think they’re alive

and don’t know they’re dead,

every night they ask for stories,

and I return tale for tale.

 

    In the middle of the road, I stand

between rivers that won’t let me go,

and the circle keeps closing

and I’m caught in the wheel.

 

    The riverside people tell me

of the drowned woman sunk in grasses

and her gaze tells her story,

and I graft the tales into my open hands.

 

    To the thumb come stories of animals,

to the index fingers, stories of my dead.

There are so many tales of children

they swarm on my palms like ants.

 

    When my arms held

the one I had, the stories

all ran as a blood-gift

in my arms, all through the night.

Now, turned to the East,

I’m giving them away because I forget them.

 

    Old folks want them to be lies.

Children want them to be true.

All of them want to hear my own story,

which, on my living tongue, is dead.

 

    I’m seeking someone who remembers it

leaf by leaf, thread by thread.

I lend her my breath, I give her my legs,

so that hearing it may waken it for me.


 

La Contadora 

 

    Cuando camino se levantan

todas las cosas de la tierra

y me paran y cuchichean

y es su historia lo que cuentan.

 

    Y las gentes que caminan

en la ruta me la dejan

y la recojo caída

en capullos que son de huella.

 

    Historias corren mi cuerpo

o en mi regazo ronronean.

Tantas son que no dan respiro,

zumban, hierven y abejean.

Sin llamada se me vienen

y contadas tampoco dejan…

 

    Las que bajan por los árboles

se trenzan y se destrenzan,

y me tejen y me envuelvan

hasta que el mar los ahuyenta.

 

    Pero el mar que cuenta siempre

más rendida, más me deja...

 

    Los que están mascando bosque

y los que rompen la piedra,

al dormirse quieren historias.

 

    Mujeres que buscan hijos

perdidos que no regresan,

y las que se creen vivas

y no saben que están muertas,

cada noche piden historias,

y yo me rindo cuenta que cuenta.

 

    A medio camino quedo

entre ríos que no me sueltan,

el corro se va cerrando

y me atrapa en la rueda.

 

   Los ribereños me cuentan

la ahogada sumida en hierbas,

y su mirada cuenta su historia,

y yo las tronco en mis palmas abiertas.

 

    Al pulgar llegan las de animales,

al índice las de mis muertos.

Las de niños, de ser tantas

en las palmas me hormiguean.

 

    Cuando tomaba así mis brazos

el que yo tuve, todas ellas

en regalo de sangre corrieron

mis brazos una noche entera.

Ahora yo, vuelta al Oriente,

se las voy dando porque no recuerdo.

 

    Los viejos las quieren mentidas,

los niños las quieren ciertas.

Todos quieren oír la historia mía

que en mi lengua viva está muerta.

 

    Busco alguna que la recuerde

hoja por hoja, herbra por hebra.

Le presto mi aliento, le doy mi marcha

por si el oírla me la despierta.



 

This poem is much longer than poems I usually post, but I found it very interesting. I think we are all “Teller of Tales.” We all have a story to tell. Anyone who knows me in real life will tell you that I am a shy person until I get to know you, then I can be quite a talker. I have a story or an obscure fact for most anything. I may not be able to remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can remember that Vermont used to alternate governors according to what side of the Green Mountains they lived on. I can tell you that Alabama Governor Lurleen B. Wallace once was publicized for going turkey hunting and was called Governor Diana (the Roman goddess of the hunt) and that she weighed that turkey on the porch of my grandparents’ store. Telling that story will probably get you a whole dissertation on the governorship of Lurleen Wallace and how running for governor ultimately led to her death. It’s amazing the minutia in my head, yet when I play Trivial Pursuit, I often can’t recall those “trivial” details when I need to. 

 

The point is, we all have stories to tell. One of the things I love about working in a museum is that every object has a story. Every person behind that object has a story. We may not know all the details, and some things may be impossible to know, but the stories existed at one time or another. Can you think of a story or piece of minutia that is in the back of your head that comes up at odd times? What is that story?

 

 

About the Author

 

Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957), pseudonym for Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga, was born in Vicuña, Chile. The daughter of a dilettante poet, she began to write poetry as a village schoolteacher after a passionate romance with a railway employee who committed suicide. She taught elementary and secondary school for many years until her poetry made her famous. She played an important role in the educational systems of Mexico and Chile, was active in cultural committees of the League of Nations, and was Chilean consul in Naples, Madrid, and Lisbon. She held honorary degrees from the Universities of Florence and Guatemala and was an honorary member of various cultural societies in Chile as well as in the United States, Spain, and Cuba. She taught Spanish literature in the United States at Columbia University, Middlebury College, Vassar College, and at the University of Puerto Rico.

 

The love poems in memory of the dead, Sonetos de la muerte (1914), made her known throughout Latin America, but her first great collection of poems, Desolación [Despair], was not published until 1922. In 1924 appeared Ternura [Tenderness], a volume of poetry dominated by the theme of childhood; the same theme, linked with that of maternity, plays a significant role in Tala, poems published in 1938. Her complete poetry was published in 1958.

 

Note: I found this poem as part of a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Poets.org, the website of the Academy of American Poets. National Hispanic Heritage Month (Spanish: Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana) is a period from September 15 to October 15 in the United States for recognizing the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Pic of the Day

JBC vs. CDR


For Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Canada’s Drag Race (CDR) should have been a dream come true. He was raised in a tiny town in Alberta and had no previous major television credits to his name. The 36-year-old actor and model — whose biggest credit was playing a manipulative reality TV producer on Lifetime’s UnREAL — was chosen to sit among its panel of judges. The openly gay and biracial Bowyer-Chapman already was familiar to CDR fans the world over having appeared a handful of times as a guest judge on VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR) and RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars. “There’s something about drag that I’ve always been so enamored by,” he said. “Drag is magic."

But the dream quickly turned into a glittery nightmare. In a recent interview, Bowyer-Chapman discussed his exit from the program where he alleged racism from the CDR producers, as well as a toxic fanbase that prompted his abrupt exit from the program. Bowyer-Chapman had served as one of the permanent judges in the first season of the series, a spin-off of the popular American show, RPDR. He exited the job prior to Season 2 following a campaign of online blowback for his comments as a judge although he cited “scheduling conflicts” as the official reason for his departure. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Bowyer-Chapman explained that American producers convinced him to accept the job as a judge on the Canadian show, but that the toxic work environment drove him to leave.

Upon arriving on the Canadian set, Bowyer-Chapman encountered a new group of local producers, and very different attitudes about his involvement. “I came into CDR with a false sense of security because I had built trust with the producers of the American show,” he said. “But this was a different set of producers. And I think they were trying to create something impactful and prove themselves along the way. There were many instances where I should have paid attention to my intuition and spoken up. And I didn’t.”

The problems began almost immediately when a “white, gay, male showrunner” pulled Bowyer-Chapman aside and told him just before he was to meet the queens for the first time that he was the “man-candy for the queens to drool over.” Apparently, all the judges had signed very ironclad contracts stating they would not fraternize with any of the contestants or the crew off-set. They were to have no personal relationships, dialogue, or contact with the queens whatsoever other than when they were filming. Bowyer-Chapman said in his introduction to the drag contestants, “the queens were flirting with me and being suggestive in some ways. My walls went up immediately. I realized there were different expectations being put on me that were not being placed on the rest of the cast, and nobody was going to protect me.”

The harassment from the showrunner continued, as Bowyer-Chapman’s boss explained he needed to play the role of the “sassy” judge on the panel. Bowyer-Chapman said, “Being told that from a white person, ever, as a Black person, it’s like a dog whistle. It’s like what is said of Black women and of Black queer men meaning you’re the hot-headed, opinionated one who’s going to tell it like it is and not give a shit about what anybody has to say. And that’s not who I am.” He also attributes that environment, at least in part, to a lack of Black talent behind the camera. “There really was no Black talent,” he said. “We’re walking onto a set of CDR day one, and the showrunner is telling me how diverse the crew was as he’s giving me a tour. And I didn’t see one Black person.”

In a departure from the US version of the show, the Canadian version outfitted judges with earpieces to get suggested snarky comments from producers. Judges also got a list of suggested negative criticisms from producers ahead of time, and were required to record them so editors could drop them into a show at will. The policy made Bowyer-Chapman uncomfortable as it forced both him and the other judges to constantly deliver negative criticism. “Even if we didn’t have anything negative to say, you had to come up with something negative.”  He said he realized the producers were portraying him as aggressively negative after the first episode. Tensions hit a new level several episodes into the season when Bowyer-Chapman had a terse exchange with the contestant, Jimbo. The moment, in which Bowyer-Chapman told Jimbo to “use time better, maybe,” became an instant meme, and prompted fans to create a Change.org petition to have Bowyer-Chapman fired from the show. The petition didn’t garner anywhere near its signature goal, but the moment started a campaign of online bullying that would follow Bowyer-Chapman the rest of the season. 

“My inbox was flooded with people telling me I was too mean. I didn’t know what I was talking about. Just a lot of blatant racism. Their public profiles read ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but their DMs were all about how my Black life didn’t matter. All of us were locked in our homes, riddled with anxiety … and then to be experiencing this hate and verbal violence and emotional assaults, this just blatant racism at the same time from my own community? It was really hard.” Bowyer-Chapman’s co-judges felt some of the backlash, too — but whereas judge, Brooke Lynn Hytes (who said of one contestant’s piñata-like outfit, “I should … beat you with a stick”) already had competed in a season of RPDR, and earned the right to critique, Bowyer-Chapman was viewed as an interloper with no expertise in the field. There also was the matter of race. “There was a lot I experienced that Brooke Lynn just couldn’t have, because Brooke Lynn is a white man.” 

Amid the harassment, RuPaul himself reached out to comfort Bowyer-Chapman. He also advised the then-judge to leave Twitter over the ongoing harassment. “We had conversations about his experience in this world and this industry as a Black, queer man. As a drag queen,” Bowyer-Chapman recalled. “All the hate and trolling and vitriol he’s experienced his entire life. And it’s really heartbreaking, but he’s experienced it for so many years and he’s so clear-headed about it. He has learned to not take it personally.” Still, when Season 2 of CDR rolled around, Bowyer-Chapman opted to leave to accept a role on another series though not before he “called a lot of attention to the bullshit that occurred behind the scenes and the stuff that happened online and their inaction.”

Crave, the network that airs CDR, released a statement regarding Bowyer-Chapman’s departure and the campaign of online bullying. “In light of the social media attacks and bullying that Jeffrey experienced during season one, we put measures in place to mitigate this for future seasons. This includes a dedicated social media consultant to work with Crave to continue monitoring conversations in real-time.” RuPaul declined to comment, but his relationship with Bowyer-Chapman remains good, and he already has taped an appearance on an upcoming season of RPDR. For Bowyer-Chapman, though, the lesson is clear: “That’s what happens when it’s only white, cisgender people behind the scenes making the decisions. That’s what happens.”

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Pic of the Day

What Is Faith?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

—Hebrews 11:1

 

The expression “just have faith, it will work out” is used by people to encourage and comfort someone facing serious problems or stressful situations. But just what is faith as described in the Bible, and does it really work? Elizabeth Gilbert, an American journalist and author best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, described faith as "Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy." 

 

Faith is the substance or assurance of things we hope for but have not yet received. Faith (confidence, belief, trust) is also our evidence of that which is not seen. Faith comes before a prayer is answered or before an individual has received what he or she has requested from God. If we have received what we asked for, then faith is not needed. An example of this definition is found in Matthew 9:27-30 where two blind men came to Jesus and asked Him to heal them. Jesus first asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” and their reply was, “Yes, Lord.” “Then He touched their eyes saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’ And their eyes were opened.” Their faith and assurance that Jesus could give them sight was the substance or reality they hoped for. It also gave them the evidence or trust that they would receive what they asked for. They believed; that is, they had faith in advance that it would be done.

 

Another example from the Old Testament is that of Daniel’s three friends who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold. Those who refused to bow to the image were threatened with being thrown into a fiery pit alive. In Daniel 3:17-18, the three young Jewish men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, told King Nebuchadnezzar: “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver usfrom your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” They did not know in advance how God would deliver them from the fiery furnace, whether at that time by saving their physical lives or later in the resurrection. Their faith or trust was the substance of what they hoped for, and it was the evidence of that which was not yet seen or received.

 

The apostle James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, uses the example of Abraham, who had both faith and works because he believed God and he obeyed what God commanded him to do. In James 2:18-18, James said, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James gave an example of this in verses 21-22 saying, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” Real faith is more than just believing in God alone. It includes acting on that faith in one’s life by serving God and obeying His commandments. We cannot have faith if we don’t show our faith through our works and how we live. Living faith is accompanied by service and obedience to God and His laws. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Waves



Yesterday, I replied to a comment by uvdp about my headaches in which I said, “ I have moments when I only have a little pain, uvdp. Other times, it can be quite intense. Basically, the intensity come in waves, and on occasion, like when I woke up this morning, the wave is a tidal wave, other times it's more like a tidal pool.” By the time I was able to write this post, my headache wasn’t a tidal wave, but the size of the wave would have made any surfer happy. Needless to say, I was not feeling very well as I wrote this. I went to bed shortly afterwards in hopes that I could fall asleep before it could get any worse.