Thursday, August 5, 2021

Pic of the Day

Taking a Day Off


While I really wish I was wherever this guy is, I’m taking today off work to get some stuff done around my apartment. Plus, I just didn’t want to be at work today. So, I took a vacation day, and I’m going to basically take a vacation day from blogging. I’ll be back tomorrow (but there will be the usual Pic of the Day this evening).

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Pic of the Day

Going Solo

Now that the gay scene is opening up again in Vermont, I have begun thinking about leaving the house again for some gay socializing. The date the other week is a first step. Like many gay men in America, I have found myself growing somewhat more isolated and embracing my inner lone wolf side during this pandemic. Being a lone wolf can be great when you're just working from home, jerking off, and watching Netflix for many months on end, and it often feels daunting to go out and about in the world and enjoy quality gay excursions by myself. But maybe it's time to abandon those fears as gay events begin to get into full swing again. We are just four weeks away from Vermont Pride. For a variety of reasons, Vermont celebrates Pride the first week in September, not June like the rest of the world. I recently read that it is becoming not only more and more socially acceptable but also hip and cool to go at things solo. Who knew?

 

There are a lot of things I have gotten used to doing on my own: going to see a movie, eating out at a fancy restaurant, going to a drag show at a gay bar, etc. I am not an extroverted individual, and I am trying to be less of an extreme introvert. Therefore, these activities can be more anxiety inducing than they'd be with friends, but I am doing my best to get over that. In most of my trips to Montreal, I have gotten over my fear of going to bars alone, and usually I have a great time. I am working on doing the same at the gay events in Burlington. Many times, when I go alone, I think everyone will notice that I am alone and are judging me. However, I usually find that if someone does notice I am alone, they will more likely come up and chat with me. Although, there are times when no one even notices I am there by myself. At times, I guess I can just blend in and be unnoticeable. Maybe as I continue to lose weight, that will start to change.

 

Exploring the world solo is said to be a great way to find a new lover, arguably a lot better than endlessly swiping thru torsos on dating apps. It hasn’t been that long ago when gay men did go to bars to meet other men instead of just signing on to Grindr, Tinder, or any number of dating apps out there. One thing I must remember when I go out to bars on my own is to make sure that I don't erect walls of solitude around me that appear impregnable, because then I may be unable to seize the opportunity for a love connection when it happens. Some advice I have read is that we should treat every day like an adventure, if we do, we're bound to attract likeminded and independent men like ourselves. Plus, when we're just always hanging out with our usual friends, for me they are usually women, you have a harder time reinventing yourself. Sometimes ourselves and our social orbit needs a bit of a makeover. A bit of independent excursions into the gay world can do that.

 

Ultimately, going out with friends rather than solo will always have some benefits, especially for an introvert as it makes us more comfortable in public. But for someone who's always been too scared to try an excursion alone, then we owe it to ourselew to give it a shot. What better time than the present, just when the world is opening back up? Besides, if I end up getting a new job, I will be without my current social network and will need to get out there on my own. How exciting, and anxiety inducing, will it be to explore Chicago’s Northalsted (formerly known as Boystown), if I get the job there? I just have to realize that excitement awaits no matter where I am.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Pic of the Day

Taking Your Olympic Measure


Taking Your Olympic Measure

By Alberto Ríos - 1952-

 

—Poetry was an Olympic event from 1912-1948.

 

Think of the records you have held:

For one second, you were the world’s youngest person.

 

It was a long time ago, but still.

At this moment, you are living 

 

In the farthest thousandth-of-a-second in the history of time.

You have beaten yesterday’s record, again.

 

You were perhaps the only participant,

But in the race to get from your bedroom to the bathroom, 

 

You won.

You win so much, all the time in all things.

 

Your heart simply beats and beats and beats—

It does not lose, although perhaps one day.

 

Nevertheless, the lists of firsts for you is endless—

Doing what you have not done before,

 

Tasting sake and mole, smelling bergamot, hearing

Less well than you used to—

 

Not all records are for the scrapbook, of course—

Sometimes you are the best at being the worst.

 

Some records are secret—you know which ones.

Some records you’re not even aware of.

 

In general, however, at the end of a long day, you are—

Unlikely as it may seem—the record holder of note. 

 


About the Poet 

Born in 1952, Alberto Ríos is the inaugural state poet laureate of Arizona and the author of many poetry collections, including  A Small Story about the Sky (Copper Canyon Press, 2015). In 1981, he received the Walt Whitman Award for his collection Whispering to Fool the Wind (Sheep Meadow Press, 1982). He served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2014 to 2020.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Never-Ending Coming Out Process

Couper Gunn, 20, is a captain of the men’s soccer team at Colby-Sawyer College, which is a little over an hour southeast of me, and will be graduating in 2022 with a major in History and Political Studies and a minor in Education on track for a master’s in Education. In January of this year, Couper wrote about his coming out for Outsports. He has said that wearing a Pride shirt inspired him, a gay college soccer captain, to come out.

@cmaxxg

Journal 7/30/2021

♬ original sound - Coup

In the video above, he talks about something that all of us have had to deal with: coming out. If you are not out, then coming out is something on your mind constantly. If you are out, coming out is on your mind every time you meet someone new. It’s not a one-and-done thing. We first have to come out to ourselves. Then, we have to come out to others in our lives. We also have to decide: Are we coming out at work? Should we come out in church? Do we come out to just friends or do we also come out to our family? When, where, how, why, and to whom are all decisions we have to make.

 

For some coming out is easy. They grew up in a loving and accepting environment, and they know they will be accepted. For most of us though, it’s not that simple. It seems that it gets easier for each generation, but there are still parts of the country that will always lag behind (the South, I am talking about you). It also makes a difference whether you live in an urban or rural area.

 

Once you do come out, it is a continuing process, and it’s not always easy for everyone. I came out very slowly. It began with telling two people I greatly trusted and admired. Then, I decided to tell a few other people, but for about a year, I was very selective of whom I told. Finally, I came out to everyone in my grad school, but that was by far not everyone I had to come out to. My parents were the hardest, but they found out before I could come out to them. Every time I have had a new job, I have had to go through the coming out process, most of the time, it has been done in a subtle way, and sometimes I never came out fully at all. Only a few people knew, like when I taught at the private school in Alabama.

 

Even coming out to my doctor in Vermont was a nerve-racking experience for me. I had only ever come out to one doctor before and that was a nightmare that I don’t want to discuss, though I think I have on this blog before. My doctor here never even batted an eye when I told him. Also, with my medical profile, I list that I am a gay man, so all of my medical specialists know that I am a gay man when they read my chart. The problem is that the process never really ends. I hope that one day, no one will have to go through the process of coming out. Our sexualities won’t be questioned, and we will be free to be who we are without fear of any kind. Until that day though, coming out will be a thing that all LGBTQ+ people have to grapple with.


Even once we come out, we should examine what parts of ourselves and our personalities are things we did to hide out sexuality. I told a friend not too long ago that I learned to walk without a swish and to stop talking so much with my hands. The same is true about the way I hold a cup of tea or coffee. For some, it's the way we sit or how we cross our legs that we trained ourselves to do more "straight." Sometimes we can't even recognize all of the things we learned not to do or to do differently because we wanted to hide our sexuality. How many of us learned to check out men without being obvious? I know I learned to only move my eyes, not my head, but our eyes always give us away if someone is looking close enough. Do you recognize the things in you that you learned at an early age to hide or else you'd be labeled a sissy?

You can find Couper on Instagram @cmaxxg and TikTok @cmaxxg. 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Pic of the Day

But of God


 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

— John 1:12-13

 

This week, the 11th Circuit struck down a Florida evangelical Christian ministry’s claim that it was discriminated against and defamed after the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labeled it a hate group, causing Amazon to deny its application to fundraise through the online retailing giant’s charitable website. A unanimous three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court upheld an Alabama federal judge’s September 2019 decision to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Fort Lauderdale-based Coral Ridge Ministries Media (also known as D. James Kennedy Ministries) against Amazon, the AmazonSmile Foundation, and the SPLC.

 

D. James Kennedy Ministries, formerly Coral Ridge Ministries, has actively campaigned against same-sex marriage and has a history of maligning the entire LGBTQ+ community. Over the years, Kennedy emphasized anti-gay rhetoric, particularly in his TV ministry. In an especially nasty 1989 edition of a newsletter, Kennedy ran photographs of children along with the tagline, 'Sex With Children? Homosexuals Say Yes!'

 

Groups like D. James Kennedy Ministries have advocated that lawmakers across the country to propose or have passed a record number of bills this year that would impact the rights of transgender people. Groups like D. James Kennedy Ministries actively seek to demonize LGBTQ+ individuals, drive them back into the closet, and spread hate. They cherry-pick the Bible and take verses out of context to spread their messages of hate.

 

For many LGBTQ+ individuals, we are treated like Jesus is described as being treated in the Gospel of John. In John 1:10, it says of Jesus, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” The Jews saw all that Jesus did and heard all that He said. They witnessed His many miracles and followed Him wherever He went. They became His disciples and were astonished by the gracious things He said and all that He did - but most did not believe the Truth, and Jesus was crucified. Similarly, LGBTQ+ Christians are part of the wider Christian community, but many non-LGBTQ+ Christians do now want to know us. They shun us from the Christian community and tell us we are going to hell. But that is not what God says.

 

The next two verses tells us that God does not see the world that way. John 1:12-13 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” These verses tell us that if we take Jesus in our hearts and believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then we are born of God. We are the children of God. We all have an earthly mother and father, but when we choose to follow the teachings of Jesus, then we are children of God. We are not bound to the hatred espoused by men who claim they speak of Jesus. We are not of hatred little men, but of God.

 

John 1:17 even tells us, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The truth of God’s love and his acceptance doesn’t come from earthly authorities, but God’s grace and truth comes through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Jesus doesn’t say, “No one comes to the Father except through leaders of megachurches or of hate-filled ministries.” Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” It is only those who love that are truly following Jesus’s teachings. First John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” It is as simple as that: Anyone who spreads love knows God; anyone who spreads hate does not know God.

 

We are here on this Earth to know God and to love God. We cannot do that if we spread hate. God is very clear on the subject. Jesus spelled this out clearly in Matthew 22:37-40, “'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Friday, July 30, 2021

Pic of the Day

Chicago Job Update

I received an email from the museum in Chicago saying the team wanted to continue to pursue me as a job candidate and would like to set up a time for a Zoom interview sometime between Friday and Tuesday. I wrote back I was most available on Friday. The interview is scheduled for 2 pm today. It will be an interview with the museum's Executive Director and the COO of the foundation that funds the museum.

There is not much I can do to prepare except refresh myself with the job’s description. The interview I had with HR was pretty thorough so I know what to expect. The team will have my resume, cover letter, and the HR person's initial interview notes. I assume they will want to get a feel for how dynamic I am, and how well I could represent the museum in the community while also expanding on some of the questions already asked by HR.

I hope this interview will be an easy conversation about the position, and I will be able to address any issues they throw at me. This museum has a mission similar to my current museum except they are more focused on all veterans whereas my university-based museum is more focused on alumni veterans. Also, this Chicago museum has more funds and prestige in the wider veteran community. I have worked with this museum and its foundation in multiple ways. The foundation funded the position which originally brought me to Vermont. 

They know I interviewed for a different position at their museum several years ago. Ultimately, they hired someone with more qualifications. In the current available job, I meet all the required and preferred qualifications much like when I applied for the previous position I held at my current museum. I am confident I am what they are looking for. 

However, there is a lot for me to consider. Primary considerations are: 
  1. Will they offer a salary that will make the move to Chicago worthwhile? Rent and cost of living are higher there.
  2. Will the pros outweigh the cons regarding vacation time and benefits?
  3. Chicago does have a more active LGBTQ+ scene than Vermont as do most places, but that is a consideration.
  4. I will lose my current faculty status as an Assistant Professor. This is a personal consideration that may not mean as much to others.
  5. Before I could say yes, I would need to discuss the healthcare situation in Chicago with my current medical providers. While I realize Chicago is a larger city and the opportunity for world-class healthcare should be available, my medical team at the University of Vermont and Dartmouth have been life-changing.
It’s a lot to consider if they offer me the job. I’ll just have to wait and see.

UPDATE: The interview seemed to go pretty well. I think I answered their questions and was able to show them I would be a good fit. Now, I have to wait for them to finish the other interviews and get back to me. It seems like this was the final interview in the process, and they will not be bringing people to Chicago because of COVID. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Pic of the Day

Nudity and the Ancient Olympics


If the modern Olympic Games ran true to the strict customs of ancient Greece, they might well today have been called the "Naked Games". From the early 8th century BC, Olympic athletes competed in the nude. There are indisputable records going back to Athenian philosopher Plato in the 5th century BC and even Homer's Iliad, as well as many explicit drawings that confirm it was common practice for all male track and field athletes to take part naked. This included the often-dangerous sports of discus throwing, wrestling, boxing, and horse racing without protective clothing. 

 

There was a version of protection used by the Ancient Greeks, but one that would be odd to us today to be considered much protection. To protect the penis during wrestling matches and other contact sports, the men would tie a string known as a kynodesme around the tip of their foreskin enclosing their glans, thus keeping the glans safe. The kynodesme could then either be attached to a waist band to expose the scrotum or tied to the base of the penis so that the penis appeared to curl upwards.

 

The only exception to the nudity rule seems to have been for charioteers, who wore long white tunics. The words gymnastics and gymnasium are based on the Greek adjective gymnos, which means lightly-clad or naked. For non-charioteers, the only adornment on the athletes' bronzed, muscular torsos would have been the gleam of olive oil with which they ritually anointed themselves.

 

Some historians have believed that the reason for competing nude was to make sure that women did not compete. According to one legend, it was discovered that a woman had competed and won, so it was decreed that athletes would compete nude from that point on to make sure that only men competed in the Olympics. It was also said that this was done to make sure that non-Greeks, particularly Jews or others who practiced circumcision, could not compete. Only a man who was uncircumcised was allowed to compete.

 

According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a writer in the 1st century BCE, Greek athletes did not compete in the nude until the 15th Olympiad in 720 BCE, more than 2700 years ago. That was more than half a century after the birth of the first Olympic Games, which originated in Olympia, in southern Greece, in 776 BCE. A Spartan runner named Acanthus was said to have set the fashion by appearing without the customary loincloth. Two hundred years later, the origin of this practice of nudity was attributed to another sprinter, Osippus, who won the one-stade footrace (about 200 yards) at the Olympics of 720 BCE. It was said he realized that a naked man could run faster than one impeded by a loincloth.

 

In the 7th century CE, more than 1300 years later, writer Isidore of Seville suggested that during a race in Athens, one of the runners had the bad luck to trip over his own loincloth when it slipped down. A magistrate in charge of the games ordered a new ruling that athletes should compete in the nude. The historian Thucydides, who lived at the end of the 5th century BCE, wrote that it was the "Spartans who were the first to play games naked, to take off their clothes openly and to rub themselves down with olive oil after their exercise. In ancient times even at the Olympic Games the athletes used to wear coverings for their loins and indeed this practice was still in existence not very many years ago."

 

Women were not completely excluded from the Olympics. While married women were not allowed to participate in, or to watch, the ancient Olympic Games, unmarried women could attend the competition, and the priestess of Demeter, goddess of fertility, was given a privileged position next to the Stadium altar. During the classic period in Greece (500–323 BCE), women were allowed to participate in sporting events in Sparta, and there were two other events for sportswomen from other parts of Greece, Athens and Delos.

 

The closest thing to a women’s version of the Ancient Olympics were the Heraean Games, a separate festival honoring the Greek goddess Hera, which was held to demonstrate the athleticism of young, unmarried women. The athletes, with their hair hanging freely and dressed in special tunics that cut just above the knee and bared their right shoulder and breast, competed in footraces. The track shortened to about one-sixth the length of the men’s track in the Olympic Stadium. It’s uncertain if men were barred from these all-female races. Little is known about this festival other than what was written by Pausanias, a 2nd century CE Greek traveler. He mentions it in his description of the Temple of Hera in the Sanctuary of Zeus and says that it was organized and supervised by a committee of sixteen women from the cities of Elis. The festival took place every four years, when a new peplos, a body-length garment established as typical attire for women in ancient Greece, was woven and presented to Hera inside her temple.

 

It wasn’t that women were discouraged from sports in general; physical fitness was highly valued by women in Greece. A few women have been documented driving chariots, owning horses that won Olympic competitions, swimming, juggling, performing acrobatics, and potentially even wrestling. Spartan women were well-known for promoting physical education, believing good fitness assisted in healthy childbirth. By the first century CE, female athletic competitions were common under the Roman Empire. The first woman recorded to have won an event in the Olympics was Kyniska (or Cynisca) of Sparta, the daughter of Eurypontid king, Archidamus II, and the full sister of King Agesilaus (399–360 BCE). She won the four-horse chariot race in 396 and again in 392.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Pic of the Day

Migraines


I have been out sick from work for the past two days because of a major migraine. The new medicine for the trigeminal neuralgia (TN) has been helping with that pain. My neurologist doubled the dosage because the smaller dose was helping, but I was still having some nerve pain. The higher dose seems to be working but is also making me very drowsy. I felt a little drowsy with the smaller dose, but nothing like this. I’ll see how it goes at work today when I will be more active.

 

While the TN seems to have gotten better, I do still get migraines occasionally, and when I do, they are doozies. This one actually started on Sunday. I hope today is headache free, or at least mostly so. I have to be at work today because I have two important meetings. One has been rescheduled twice, and another has been rescheduled once. I can’t reschedule again. So, we’ll see how today goes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Pic of the Day

The World's Wanderers

 



The World's Wanderers

By Percy Bysshe Shelley - 1792-1822

 

                      I

Tell me, thou star, whose wings of light

Speed thee in thy fiery flight,

In what cavern of the night

            Will thy pinions close now?

 

                      II

Tell me, moon, thou pale and grey

Pilgrim of heaven’s homeless way,

In what depth of night or day

            Seekest thou repose now?

 

                     III

Weary wind, who wanderest

Like the world’s rejected guest,

Hast thou still some secret nest

            On the tree or billow?

Monday, July 26, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Dinner Date


My date Saturday cooked me dinner. It was originally supposed to be an early dinner, which I thought meant 5 pm or 6 pm at the latest. However, we did a lot of talking over coffee first, and he started cooking dinner around 7 pm. The had decided he wanted to grill and air- or dry-steak. Dry-aged beef is apparently known for its richer flavor and more tender texture than its fresh-cut counterparts. We went to a butcher shop near his house to get the steak cut fresh. Apparently, it is best to have a thick cut of meat, in this case about 1.5”, instead of two thinner steaks. I’ll be honest here, when I saw it, the steak did not look that appetizing. In fact, it looked like it had gone bad, but that’s because a lot of the moisture is taken out of it, similar to the curing process for prosciutto. I do love a good steak, so I kept an open mind.

 

He also roasted some root vegetables—carrots and parsnips—and sautéed some greens, which included collard and Swiss chard. He finished the greens with a balsamic sesame reduction. There was also a cucumber and tomato salad in a tasty yogurt (I think anyway) dill dressing. Everything was perfectly prepared, and while the steak was more rare than I normally prefer, the taste was divine. It was only seasoned with a little salt and pepper before it was grilled, but the taste was pure steak. Unless you’ve had dry-aged beef, I cannot describe just how good this was. The roasted root vegetables and the greens were also very good.

 

The whole meal was fantastic. My cooking is usually more on the simple southern cooking side, though I can make a few high end dishes. This was more on the gourmet side, and he obviously enjoyed cooking for someone else. I felt honored that he made me such a meal. We ended the night with a simple blueberry cherry parfait with layers of whipped cream and Mascarpone mixture. 

 

As I was leaving, I told him how much I’d enjoyed the museum, the conversation and company, the the delicious meal. I also told him I hoped I’d see him again. He said that we’d definitely see each other again and that he had a wonderful times as well. Now, the question is do I text him and if so, when? Or do I wait and let him make the next move? I have never been good at this part of a first date. I have tried both approaches and I’ve rarely gotten a second date. Only three or four times in my life have I gotten multiple dates. I just don’t know.

 

Also, because I was there until nearly midnight, I fear that I overstayed my welcome, but one friend told me that you don’t talk for ten solid hours if you didn’t like the person. I really enjoyed talking to him and spending time with him. He’s a very nice man, so I guess time will tell if this will be a friendship, a romantic relationship, or if it will just fizzle away. I do hope it’s friendship or romance, but time will tell.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Pic of the Day

Wisdom


But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

 James 3:17


God’s wisdom is not the same as what we see in our world. Our world is loud, it pushes to be seen, it fights to be right, and believes it knows best. God’s wisdom looks like an open mind, empathy, merciful, pure, and full of peace. Pray that God would fill you with His wisdom that you can rely on as you navigate a chaos-filled world. 


___________


 

Short and sweet today because I did not get home from my date until 1 am. We met at a museum then went to his place, where he cooked me dinner. It was delicious, and we spent the rest of the evening talking. Basically from 2 pm until I left around midnight, we talked almost nonstop. I had a great time, and I hope this isn’t the last time I see him. I think he’d make a great friend.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Pic of the Day

Pending…


We had the meeting yesterday morning, and quite honestly, it probably couldn’t have gone worse. It appeared that all hope was lost. We were being forced to compromise. They let us have our say, then we were told they did not care. The directive had come from on high. The situation was as bleak as it could possibly be.

However, there were some late day developments that may have changed some things, I can’t go into details because quite honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen next week. We were told things needed to be put on hold until this could be discussed further when the ultimate decision maker would be back. Let’s just say we were given the impression that the directive did not come from on high. The fat lady hasn’t sung quite yet, and the ultimate decision is still pending, I don’t see a different outcome in our future, but I think the ultimate decision will be delivered with more tact in hopes of mollifying everyone.

Anyway, I have my interview at 10 am, and after the interview (probably after lunch), I’ll update this post with how it went. Until then, I hope today is a better day than yesterday.

UPDATE: My interview seemed to go exceptionally well. She said that I sounded exactly like what they were looking for, and the job seemed to be well-suited to me because of my description to her of why I was interested in the position. Because this is a new position they were creating, she asked if I would be comfortable in starting in a position that had no prior established procedures. I told her that in my current position, I had been hired as the first person to hold this newly created position, so I had experience with this aspect of the job and looked forward to the opportunity to mold the position into the best it can be. We talked about a lot of things, and she brought up a discussion of salary, and it is in the range I was considering, so that’s definitely a plus. 

In addition to all of that, the phone interview was supposed to take 20-30 minutes and took about 40 minutes instead. That seems like a good sign to me. She said she’d pass her notes and my application material to the museum’s hiring committee (she’s just the first line HR person), and she’d let me know the next step (i.e. if they were going to continue with me as a candidate or not) early next week, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday. She’ll give them her recommendation, and we’ll see how it goes from there. She seemed to be leaning in the direction that I was exactly what they were looking for in this position.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pic of the Day

Down in the Upper Valley*


Yesterday, I had to drive down to White River Junction, Vermont, on the New Hampshire border for an appointment to get fitted for a new type of CPAP mask, since the one I have is aggravating my trigeminal neuralgia. I did get a new mask, and I just have to see how it works. There weren’t a lot of options that don’t put pressure on the right side of my head. I just can’t continue with the old mask which was causing me to go to sleep in pain and wake up in pain. I hope this helps, but there are other options if it doesn’t. I was told by my sleep doctor that I had to try the new masks before we could move onto other solutions.


While I was in that part of the state, I decided to go to the King Arthur Baking Store in Norwich, Vermont. They have a really nice kitchen store that sells much more than just King Arthur Flour. It’s expensive , but it’s fun to look. However, I got there and it was so crowded with people, I decided not to even go in to have a look around. Instead, I decided to drive across the border to Hanover, New Hampshire. Hanover, you may know, is the home of Dartmouth College. The college makes up most of the town, but it’s a beautiful little New England town. I had wanted to check out where a few restaurants I’d heard about were and see what the parking situation was, which turned out to be basically nonexistent. All I saw was a few street side metered parking spaces. Nowhere seems to have their own parking lot.


While the buildings on the campus and in the town are beautiful, the better view is of the male students. Basically, they all look like J. Crew models, and there’s a good reason for that. One of the largest retailers near the campus is J. Crew. Not only do all of the guys dress preppy, they are all pretty cute too. The women on the other hand seem to all dress like hippies. None of them look to take particular care of their appearance, but I’d venture to guess, they work really hard to have the appearance of not working hard on their appearance. In Vermont, unshaven men and women seem to be the norm, and most clothing appears to be from either vintage clothing store or if they want to dress up, L.L. Bean and their flannel collection. I am only exaggerating slightly. However, seeing Dartmouth students walking around Hanover, it’s refreshing to see guys clean shaven and dressed nicely.


* * * * *

 

In other news, my coworkers and I at the museum have been strategizing on how to best deal with the issue over the current exhibit. I’ll make sure that I update y’all tomorrow. I am not looking forward to today, but at some point we have to make a stand. I just pray, this isn’t our version of Custer’s Last Stand. All we can do is make our case and hope for the best. If it goes against us, there are back-up contingencies. I just hope we don’t have to go that route. I am looking forward to my phone interview tomorrow, and I’m going on a date Saturday afternoon. He’s a professor in Burlington, and we’re going to meet at a museum up there. Then the plan is to go back to his house for an early dinner. I’ve enjoyed my chats with him so far, and I hope it’s a pleasant experience Saturday afternoon.



*The Upper Valley straddles the Connecticut River between New Hampshire and Vermont which includes the towns of Hanover and Lebanon in New Hampshire, and White River Junction and Norwich in Vermont.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Pic of the Day

Work Problems


Work is a mess right now. We are having a problem with a donor who wants to dictate what the museum exhibits. It's not something I can go into too much detail about, but basically, the Office of Development (the fundraising wing) of the university's administration wants this donor's money and is trying to force the museum to cave to the pressure he is putting on us. If they force us to yield, we will not only alienate a large section of our student and alumni population, but we will most assuredly lose the other curator at the museum. Also, the museum will have to face a public relations nightmare that Development won't have to deal with immediately. However, in the long run, it will be a disaster for fundraising efforts to the group of students and alumni they will piss off by doing this.

 

There are numerous reasons why we have to do our best to stop them from forcing us to change the current exhibit. One of those reasons is the main reason we did this exhibit: public health concerns. We needed an exhibition that would allow the gallery to be a more open space. We needed to have an exhibit where people would continue to social distance. If we cram more into this gallery like this donor wants us to do, the gallery will become a public health hazard. This will be even more of an issue at homecoming when we have many more people on campus and the museum sees heavy traffic during this time. The nation, and the northeast included, is already seeing cities begin to reinstitute mask mandates because the variants of COVID are spreading even to the vaccinated. While the vaccinated don’t seem to be dying from the variants, I don’t think the university wants to be seen as a hotbed of an outbreak because we had people crammed into an enclosed area during homecoming.

 

I am not directly involved in this as my director and the other curator did not include me in most of the planning or execution of our current exhibit. Usually, I am much more involved, and I write many of the interpretive labels. This exhibit, however, did not need interpretive labels, so I wasn't very involved. However, once the exhibit is up, that's when I get involved in creating innovative and engaging programs highlighting the exhibit. I have been working on several programs that I do not know what will happen to if they make the changes to the exhibit they are discussing. My plans for public programs for the museum will fall apart if changes are made.

 

I'll be honest, our current exhibit is not my cup of tea. I would have never organized this exhibit, but now that it is installed, we can't just take it down when we have had an opening reception for it, and all of the publicity for the exhibit says it is scheduled to run through December. Also, as I said before, if they force us to make changes, our other curator will quit. If that happens, who do you think will have to help take up the slack: yours truly. My director and I will be forced to try to retool the exhibit to this donor's liking without the expertise to do it. Neither of us is an exhibit planner, which takes a unique skill set. 

 

We have a meeting tomorrow morning with the powers that be to discuss these issues. While I am not the main person this will affect, it will most certainly make my job more difficult. We will only have a matter of a few short weeks to make the somewhat drastic changes they are requesting, something that usually takes months of planning, preparation, and execution. The higher-ups are not looking at the long-term picture. They are only looking at a few immediate things, and they are not considering the number of donations they will lose because of this fiasco one donor is causing.

 

To be prepared for tomorrow's meeting, I have made a list of eight essential points that I want to bring up. I am not a particularly forceful person, but when attacked, I can bite back. I feel like I have to be assertive but rational in this situation. My director is a very weak leader, and he is a nice guy but not a great director. He has already given up as being defeated in this battle, and I am not sure how much he will muster to fight for the museum. If ever there was a time, this is it. If he caves to the pressure, we will always have to cave to their demands from here on out. I also know that our other curator is going to be emotional and irrational. She will not be able to argue effectively. She has faced some personal tragedies and is a bit unstable at the moment. I honestly believe that if they listen to me, as they say they are coming down to do, then I can rationally layout why dictating changes to this exhibit will be a major mistake and have dire consequences in the future, not only for the museum but for the university as a whole.

 

While I may sound like I am being dramatic, I am not exaggerating the issues a decision like this from the administration will cause. It will affect our chances of accreditation. It will affect donor and alumni relations, not only for the museum but for the university. There will be a backlash from a small but very vocal group of alumni and friends of the museum. The university is not prepared for that backlash. They may even immediately lose some promised funding they desperately need. The one thing I don't want to do is sound like I am threatening the administration. I will not be the one causing the external issues that will arise, but I know these museum supporters, and they will not let go of this. They will cause a massive amount of embarrassment to the university.

 

When I learned about all of this on Monday, I made up my mind to apply for a job in Chicago, which I did yesterday morning. It is a job for which I am highly qualified without being overqualified. The last time I felt this way about a job I applied for was the job that moved me to Vermont. I believe I am their perfect candidate, and my resume apparently drew their interest because they emailed me yesterday afternoon to set up a phone interview.


If the administration forces the changes they want to make onto us, the museum will cease to be the same place I have worked at for the past six years. There are other changes that they want to make which will not be good for the museum. I honestly love my job, and I love many of the people I work with. Since they created my current position and hired me for it, I have felt like I found my calling. I love the flexibility I have had working for my current director, as he understands my health issues. I have established a life in Vermont, and I honestly don't want that to change. A few minor improvements wouldn't hurt, but overall, I am where I want to be and doing what I love to do. I am praying that they won't ruin any of this..

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Pic of the Day

Boston


Boston

By Aaron Smith

 

I've been meaning to tell

you how the sky is pink

here sometimes like the roof

of a mouth that's about to chomp

down on the crooked steel teeth

of the city,

 

I remember the desperate 

things we did

            and that I stumble

down sidewalks listening

to the buzz of street lamps

at dusk and the crush

of leaves on the pavement,

 

Without you here I'm viciously lonely

 

and I can't remember 

the last time I felt holy,

the last time I offered

myself as sanctuary

 

*

 

I watched two men 

press hard into

each other, their bodies

caught in the club’s

bass drum swell,

and I couldn’t remember

when I knew I’d never

be beautiful, but it must 

have been quick

and subtle, the way

the holy ghost can pass

in and out of a room.

I want so desperately

to be finished with desire,

the rushing wind, the still

small voice.

 

 

About the Poem

 

"Boston" shows loneliness and a yearning for someone that is no longer there. The poem is about how empty and lost we can feel when we are missing someone and no longer able to find comfort in them. During these times, the world seems too big and vast and it feels as though we cannot find ourself. The speaker of the poem remembers back to how he used to feel and how what he used to do now only adds to how deserted he feels. In the poem, the speaker has lost a sense for who he is, saying how he "couldn't remember when [he] knew [he'd] never be beautiful, but it must have been quick and subtle, the way the holy ghost can pass in and out of a room." He doesn't even feel like he's living because the person he loves is no longer with him. The speaker is trying to find strength around him, but the city he's in is not providing him with any solace.

 

Although this poem is depressing, the audience is meant to be able to relate to it. Smith writes in a way that makes the reader feel the emptiness of both Boston and the space around the speaker without the person he loves by his side. The poem does not portray loneliness as a negative thing, instead, the audience feels the pain of the speaker and, if they have ever experienced a similar situation, is able to empathize with him.

 

We’ve all felt lonely in our lives. When I went to Italy for my dissertation research, I was alone and I remember how lonely I felt, even though I was surrounded by people. Ironically, I also went on a research trip to Boston, but I had a friend with me, so that was not somewhere I felt lonely. In fact, I had a constant companion on that research trip, but in Italy, I was all alone and knew no one. The loneliest I think I ever felt was when I first moved to Vermont, especially after a close friend died. I felt as if my life had fallen apart and no one could relate. Susan helped me through that period more than anyone. Even so, I felt a void in my life from the loss of my friend. The poem paints the feeling of missing someone in a beautiful way, so that while reading it, you can connect to the speaker's pain and, for me, share in the speakers feelings of loneliness.

 

About the Poet

 

Aaron Smith is the author of two collections of poetry both published by the Pitt Poetry Series: Appetite, finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Thom Gunn Award, and Blue on Blue Ground, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Ploughshares and The Best American Poetry 2013. He is assistant professor in creative writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.