Truth Be Known
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
My recent blog hiatus started, perhaps, because of an overload in the online world: Insults, cyclic arguments, disappointments, etc..
It continued because of an all-consuming project that I'm working on.
It was then compounded by some interpersonal shit going on in the intentional community that I live in (yes, I'm that kind of dyke) that has occupied whatever consciousness was left in me.
It's nothing personal. I don't hate you or anything. In fact, I kind of miss you.
I'm currently engaged in the kind of shit that gives intentional community a bad name, but truly, my time living in intentional community has been nothing but expansive for me -- even this apparent struggle between people who want to keep on keeping their agreements, and a person who doesn't.
A lot of people blanch when I speak of living, on purpose, with other adults who are not my spouse. The very words "intentional community" can conjure up for them visions of endless meetings, constant processing, and most people associate it with a loss of personal space.
That's not been my experience. In the main.
The past few weeks have been a sticky bit, though (and not in the enjoyable "sticky bits" sense of the phrase). I've watched someone with whom I've lived for five years go from "I need to do something else," to "You're bad, and that's why I'm leaving" in the space of a few weeks.
It's not that uncommon, and truth be known, I have compassion for the individual. Leaving is hard, even when it may be the perfect thing for all involved.
In our culture, I think that we're not really trained in the fine art of ending something.
The cultural ideal of nearly everything is that, if it's good, it must continue forever. Relationships are valued mostly for their longevity, regardless of the quality of the time together. So it is that we celebrate 50th wedding anniversaries in a sense of awe and wonder, even if the couple involved has been barely tolerating one another for the past 40 years, and have only the TV remote in common.
Don't get me wrong -- I like things that last. I treasure my oldest, bestest friend of (counting on fingers) . . . . wow! 30 years!
However, I think that there are some things that are not meant to last forever, and I think most people in our culture don't know how to handle it when that becomes apparent -- so they work hard to make the "other" wrong (even if they've been with the other for years or decades), because this makes it easier to part.
I feel sad about that bit. The person who is leaving my community seems busy re-writing history, when only a few months ago, he was misting up at a community-meeting, talking about how much having community had meant to him.
I honestly don't mind that he's going. I'm just not enjoying (at the moment) how he's going.
So that's where my head has been these past few weeks. In meetings. In communications. In cleaving to my own principles while someone else acts out in what I perceive is an unprincipled way.
It's taken a lot of energy, and if you have a prayer/good thought/some energy to direct this way, I'd appreciate it.
In many ways, I see this microcosmic event in my community as reflective of much of what I'm seeing in the larger culture -- the apparent dichotomy of principles versus practicality, the seeming rift between the physical and the spiritual, and the dissonance that is created when some people wish to move toward a greater functionality and sustainability, while others want to maintain the status quo.
Lessons, lessons, who's got the lessons? I do. I'm glad to have them.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:10 PM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I'll show you mine if you show me yours.
Off with you now! Go be Jackson Pollock!
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:30 PM
Just in Time For Sunday -- Mr. Deity
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Posted byPortlyDyke at 12:02 AM
Saturday With Portly
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Often, I'm teaching on the weekends, so my usual "real" weekend is Wed/Thurs, but this weekend, it's a free and breezy, sunny and open two days for me to catch up on rest, relaxation, bills, and sundry activities that I didn't get to in the last, very busy, week.
Here's my usual Saturday routine (when I'm not teaching):
- Lots of Green Tea with lots of honey (essentially, Green Tea is simply a carrying agent for honey, AFAIC)
- A few hours of "being a bobo" (which means idly alternating between reading email and staring out the window, maybe catching up on some blogs if they aren't mentally taxing)
- A nice, hot bath, followed by a little quality naked time in my office while I cool down enough to dress
- 11 AM -- Listen to: This American Life on my wireless headset, sometimes while at the computer, sometimes while wandering around the house. It's a good time for dusting, as I can't seem to do anything else if I'm actually listening to the program.
- Begin whatever day I've decided to have. Today, I'll be continuing on my video project, as there are hours and hours of open time to fuss with the incredible complexities of mesh-modeling -- something that I've discovered requires my entire brain -- and then some.
- Late afternoon -- this is the time I generally eat my main meal of the day, if I can, so there will probably be some light-weight cooking involved (you know, can-opening in preparation for making the black-bean burritos of which I am so fond on a lazy Saturday).
- Usually, at some point of the early evening, a movie. We have David Attenborough on hand today, but I don't know how National-Geo I'm feeling, so I may forego the movie and keep plugging away at the animation I'm working on.
I hope the sun is shining where you are. It's shining here, and since we tend to get a bit mushroomy around these parts this time of year, I plan to enjoy it while I've got it.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:52 AM
One Whole Week
Friday, February 22, 2008
I haven't blogged here since the 15th of February. Kind of amazing, really.
There is a shitload of shit going on in my non-virtual life. Shit I'm enjoying and relishing, and shit I'm trying to learn to enjoy and relish.
It's not like I don't have anything to say about it all -- I've just been choosing to say it more with my vocal chords, to people whose faces I can see, and less with my blog.
Add to this the fact that somehow, the spaces and places that I usually visit in cyberspace have seemed rather . . . . . . how shall I say it? . . . . Rabid? . . . lately.
When I come upon these times when I simply seem to need a break from the ravages of the internet, I often wonder if I'm wimping out or being self-nurturing.
I suppose it doesn't matter. I needed a vacation from blogging, I took it, and I'm back.
"Look to my coming at dawn".
See you tomorrow.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 1:06 AM
It's Not The Sex, It's the Phobia
Friday, February 15, 2008
My post yesterday was originally intended as fluff, but I find that it has stimulated (or re-stimulated) a long-suppressed diatribe in me.
The longer I live, and the more cultural dysfunction I witness, the more I think that the majority of my culture's problems are rooted in sex-phobia.
That's right. I said it. Sex-Phobia.
Seriously -- people in this culture seem way more freaked out by shitting and peeing than they are by vomiting, even though the latter is usually an indication of ill-health, and the former is a necessary, daily, health practice.
Hmmmm. I wonder why that is? Could it be that the orifices involved in shitting and peeing are simply too proximate to . . . . genitalia?
That's right. I said it. Genitalia.
Vaginas and Penises. Cunts and Cocks. Dents and Dicks. Pussies and Pricks.
If you're feeling a bit uncomfortable with that last line, you're proving my point -- and even if you aren't personally feeling uncomfortable with that line, let it be known that simply by using these words, I have just placed my blog (further) into the depths of parental control blacklists.
Why? Why? WHY?!?!
Why do "family level controls" deny the sexual nature of human beings, when every single human being (at this point, anyway) is the direct result of some kind of sex act? -- When "Teh Family" couldn't exist with "Teh Sex"?
The longer I examine it all, the more fucked up it looks:
Abercrombie and Fitch may display shirtless men everywhere that they want to -- as long as no actual shirtless men shop in their store.
Cuz, if shirtless men actually shopped in their stores, somebody might actually have sex instead of just thinking about it -- cuz we're all just mindless sex-drones who could not possibly resist a shirtless person of either sex -- and if we laid our mindless little sex-droney selves down in the aisles of A&F and did it, did it, did it -- then we wouldn't take all that roiling, boiling, sublimated sexual energy (that A&F is quite intentionally attempting to stir up in us) -- and channel it into . . . . . shopping.
Which leads me to my next point: I think that it is obvious that our culture is Actual Sex-Phobic -- not "Idea-of" Sex Phobic -- since sex is used to sell everything from soup to nuts:
In other words -- not only is it OK for you consider the idea of sex -- but it's completely necessary that you a) do so -- and then b) quickly suppress it -- in order for "Sex Sells" to work -- because if you considered the idea of sex and immediately carried on with a quick wank or a nooner with your sweetie, you'd be so mellowed out you'd never get to the fucking store.
Advertising analysts admit quite frankly that they use sexual imagery as a manipulator because it is the second-most primal human drive after eating. At the same time, we are barraged with cultural messages that sexuality is dirty/forbidden, that sexuality is part of our base, animal selves -- and, supposedly, the sworn enemy of our rational, civilized selves.
That's why the "family-values" folks are always ranting about how civilization is doomed -- Doomed! I tell you! -- if the homos can get married, or the kids see a naked boob at half-time, or Jane Fonda says "Cunt" on national TV.
Of course, since sexuality is such a primal urge, those who do the most to suppress it are probably setting themselves up for a knock-down drag-out internal cage-match with a mighty, mighty beast, who is likely to be royally pissed-off about having been locked in a tiny closet while simultaneously being poked with sticks like this:
I believe that Sex Phobia gives rise to an enormous host of societal ills -- including, but not limited to: child sex-abuse, the porn industry, rape, the subjugation of women, and homophobia -- I'd even go so far as to say that it plays a role in the creation of "Sheeple".
Explain? Of course:
Sex Phobia and Child Sex Abuse: When children are "protected" from real information about sexuality (while simultaneously being indoctrinated with the idea that sexuality is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman --a situation portrayed as the pinnacle of L.O.V.E., and anything else is dirty, wrong, bad, evil, perverted -- but never mind that we haven't told you much about what the whole sex thing is, just trust us) -- then kids are ill-prepared to understand what constitutes consensuality and healthy sexuality, or how to know when they're being abused, because they equate sex with love, but if they aren't married, then they're being dirty/wrong/bad, so they can't tell anyone about it, and around and around and around it goes.
Not to mention that suppressed sexuality in adult perpetrators is, I believe, the active ingredient in child sex-abuse -- because when you believe that sex is dirty/wrong/bad but are still faced with this primal urge, it makes perverted sense to channel that urge into something that must, by its very nature, be completely hidden. I believe that this is why so many pedophiles work hard to maintain a "squeaky-clean" image -- on the outside.
It's been my experience in analyzing my own experience of abuse, and hearing the stories of others, that pedophiles play willfully on the ignorance of sex that we actively foster in our culture's children. So it is that, when Uncle Greebly wants to play "find the candy in my pocket", the child is often left with a sickening sense of dis-ease and no functional words to describe what it is that they are experiencing. They just know that somehow, it is wrong, and usually, they project this wrongness onto themselves, rather than their perpetrators.
Sex Phobia and Porn/Rape: When sex is dirty/bad/wrong, then often, the only way to deal with the inevitable failure of repressing sexuality (and I do believe that repressing sexuality is pretty much always a losing battle in the end) -- is to de-humanize anyone with whom you might engage sexually. After all - if they aren't real, then the sex wasn't real, right? This is the primary distinction I make between "porn" and true erotica -- that erotica is designed to lead you to connection, while porn takes you to increasing levels of dissociation (and we've already covered what I think about dissociation).
Sex Phobia and the Subjugation of Women: I'm constantly assaulted with the insanity-inducing Madonna/Whore Complex. You're supposed to be sexy, but not sexual (you filthy slut). If you're a virgin, you're a prize -- but only insofar as you are valuable to a man for deflowering and possession. While you're a virgin, you're supposed to be demure, dainty, and . . . well . . . virginal, but once you're a wife you're supposed to be a sex-goddess who knows 12,200 ways to please her man. This is supposed to happen overnight (your wedding night), with only shitty women's magazines as your guide, since all you learned in sex-ed was this:
I believe that keeping women confused about their roles (don't cry or you're weak, cry or you're a Frigidaire -- I'm sure you can't imagine who I'm referring to) -- is key to keeping them disenfranchised. While women keep running to fulfill the role that they think will lead to their equality, the ground keeps shifting -- because they are still primarily valued as a sexual object -- in a sex-phobic society.
Doesn't that sound fun? To be primarily valued as something which is considered innately dirty/bad/wrong? Wheeee!!
Sex Phobia and Homophobia: I believe that one of the reasons that homosexuality and other forms of sexual queerness is threatening to fundies, etc. is that it puts sexuality directly in the spotlight. For centuries, religious institutions (especially Christian) have dealt with the icky, messy, dirty, bad, and just plan wrong reality that Humans Have Sex by dressing up sexuality as an unfortunate necessity to follow the divine command to "be fruitful and multiply".
Homos just ruin the living shit out of that concept -- fornicating their perverted brains out with no end product in mind but pleasure (filthy sluts). In a sex-phobic society, queers actually do pose a threat to the status quo, because they demonstrate that baby-making may not actually be the entire purpose of the dangly-bits and the sticky-bits.
One of the things I've witnessed over the years in terms of LGBTQ rights activism is the intentional toning-down of presentation of queer sexuality in an attempt to assimilate into the status-quo culture. I've always argued against this, because I realize that, to a homophobe who wants to remain a homophobe, no amount of "See! I'm just like you!" is going to make them forget the real problem they have with me -- who I have sex with. The proof of this is that most fundamentalist churches do not throw homosexuals out of their congregations -- as long as they abstain from having queer sex. They don't have a problem with me living with my girl-friend -- they have a problem with me licking her pussy (and other stuff).
Sex-Phobia and the Creation of Sheeple: If the powers that be can convince you that one of your most natural and powerful human drives is dirty/bad/wrong, and get you to devote a lot of energy suppressing, hiding, and attempting to subjugate it, you're going to have less energy to do important things like think, speak, act, vote, etc..
You're going to walk around in a state of fear that someone might actually figure out what a filthy little slut you really are, and spend a lot of time trying to keep this enormous part of you under control. You're going to be worried that, any moment, the scolding may start, if you slip up and say something honest and truthful that just happens to be "one of those words we don't say on TV".
In the dynamics of power, it's much easier to control someone if you intimidate them to a state where they will control themselves. It follows, then, that if you can intimidate someone into suppressing something as primal as their sexual instincts, you've penetrated into their psyche very deeply, indeed.
The only more primal instinct that would allow you to exert a greater level of control over a human being would be eating -- and surely you've noticed that the powers-that-be have been working on that one too -- shaming the nation for enjoying food, ringing alarm bells and screaming shrilly about the "obesity epidemic" -- an epidemic that they invented by arbitrarily changing the BMI and making 25 million Americans fat who weren't fat before -- literally overnight.
But once again: I digress.
There are many who say that the increasing sexualization of our society is a problem -- but I don't think that sexuality is the problem at all -- I think that it's the suppression that is the problem.
The one-two punch of sex-phobia wouldn't be a problem if we just got the first punch -- the sexuality -- without the second -- the socially-sanctioned and required suppression of the sexuality.
Take the porn industry, for example -- if porn were really out in the open, our society would be forced to take a look at the demeaning aspects of it -- but that's not how porn exists in our society. It's secret. It's shameful. It's everywhere, but under the surface. I think that the damaging aspects of porn rest precisely in its hidden-ness.
Let's look at that Target ad again:
In a way, I think this is porn at its worst. I believe that the advertisers intend for us to be titillated by this -- but we're not supposed to acknowledge that titillation -- just respond to it unconsciously -- because the underlying message -- "Woman as Target. Point Dick Here," -- if discussed frankly, would force us to talk about predatory sexuality as opposed to consensual sexuality, and to talk about either of those things, we would have to talk about . . . . . sex. Ewwww.
So the designers can maintain a level of plausible deniability, and say that it was just a design-choice, and that if they moved her down, you couldn't recognize the logo and, and, and, and . . . . when in fact, the design, as it is -- sucks, in my opinion. The pose looks completely artificial, and I can't really see the person I'm supposed to be relating to (unless I want to relate to her crotch) -- the person who I'm supposed to see and go "Gee! She looks really happy! Maybe if I buy some shit at Target, I'll be happy too!" (Wow. Now that I think of it, advertisers at Target have a really hard job -- cause I don't want to buy any of Target's shit. I can almost whip up some sympathy for them. Almost.)
I say: Down with Sex Phobia! Stop the Suppression!
Regardless of the current level of your sex-drive, you have one -- stop letting them talk you into suppressing it -- go to Abercrombie and Fitch and hump the first mannikin you see.
If the security guards come for you, tell them that A&F led you on.
Hell, it works for rapist.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:59 PM
A Little Fluff Never Hurt Anyone
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:55 PM
Don't Even Bother Me, Then
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
A couple of weeks ago, I got my primary ballot in the mail.
My county moved to "all mail-in" ballots a couple of years ago.
The problem is: I actually like going to an actual voting booth -- it feels all civic-duty and shit -- but -- whatever.
Thing is, the Democratic party in Washington had already decided to assign 100% of their delegates through the caucus process.
But. Then. Don't. Send. Me. A. Fucking. Paper. Ballot.
Cuz, you know -- Paper=Trees? Postage=$? Huge Postal Vans=Fossil Fuels Depleted? For just a start . . . .
I'm a registered Democrat, and I know, I know, they were just trying to make sure that I didn't want to change my mind at the last minute and vote Republican. They were trying to help me out! Graciously, they sent me two ballots in my thick, heavy ballot mailing -- one Donkey and one Elephant -- and the extra-thick, extra-heavy, extra-secure ballot-return envelope gives you two boxes, so that you can sign either the Democratic or Republican Party Oath.
The Dem Oath being sort of Unitarian about it:
"I declare that I consider myself to be a DEMOCRAT and I will not participate in the nomination process of any other political party for the 2008 Presidential election." (italics, mine, CAPS, theirs)While the Repubs were a bit more demanding in the commitment area:
"I declare that I am a member of the Republican Party and I have not participated and will not participate in the 2008 precinct caucus or convention system of any other party." (again, italics mine)What seemed completely fucked up to me was that, amongst all of the "you must sign the Oath and check a box" and the Affidavit that I do solemnly swear, and the detailed directions for what to do if I used my blue pen instead of my black pen (I'm supposed to use a black pen -- and I can only use one of the two ballots or my vote will not be counted, and if I don't swear my party oath, my vote will not be counted, and if I falsely sign the oath, I can be punished by a maximum imprisonment of 5 years, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both!) -- what seems fucked up is that, while they found room on the ballot to print all this very clearly, they didn't bother to put on the Democratic Ballot any words like:
"It's a caucus, Shit-For-Brains! Don't bother to send this ballot in! Don't waste your stamp! Use this nice, heavy paper to make Origami instead!"
I must say that the caucus system is rage-inducing to me.
Sure, there was probably a point where it might have actually worked better than balloting -- a time when people lived in small, closely-knit villages, and everyone represented at the caucus (oh, except that, during that time, women and people of color probably couldn't vote) -- a time when babies and small children were not considered "inappropriate" as public accessories, so that parents could exercise their right to participate in the process without forking out $30-$40 to a baby-sitter (oh, except that, during that time, women stayed at home with the bairns and men did the voting) -- a time when businesses actually closed down so that workers could go do their civic duty (and if you don't think workers have to work on a Saturday, well, visit a town whose major industry is tourism) . . . . yes -- during a time like that -- well, maybe it might have worked.
The caucuses in my town are small (the town is small) by comparison to an urban caucus -- but that can actually work against people with disabilities, since few small-town caucuses provide sign-language interpretation or help for folks who have mobility challenges -- not to mention the basic issue for people who just aren't up for the fucking intensity of a caucus. I mean, really -- does a 100% caucus-based vote mean that the Democratic Party in Washington State doesn't value the votes of people with PTSD, anxiety-disorders, and elder voters who would rather be eaten alive by weevils than to sit in a room where people were shouting?
But I digress from my subject-matter -- which is: If you are going to fucking decide that 100% of the delegates in Washington State will be decided in caucus -- don't bother me with a ballot -- or at the very least, be sure to put across it, in big, red, diagonal letters: "This paper was just wasted . . . . oh -- and the stamp, too . . . . oh - and your time spent in opening it . . . . . oh, and the energy consumed in writing, printing, delivering, and eventually, recycling it. Sincerely, The Democratic Party of Washington State -- you know, the people who are worried about the Environment! Yep! That's Us!"
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:58 PM
I Will Not Torture You With Fluff Tonight
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
As most of you know, I've been slogging up the giant mountain known as "Computer Animation Learning-Curve" for the past six weeks or so.
But that's not the only reason my blogging has been flimsy lately.
It's that Thumper thing again -- you know -- "If you don't have anything nice to say -- ".
I'm not big on the word "nice", but let's just change that to "additive/expansive".
Recently, I've witnessed some comment-threads that have seared my eyeballs -- name-calling and verbal hack-and-thrash (even among people who might be considered "natural allies") that have given me pause, and set me thinking about the term: Brutality.
Brutality. The ugly child of Hatred.
Hatred. The ugly child of Dissociation.
I honestly believe that the root of all the "-isms" that wreak such havoc in our culture is dissociation.
As primates, we are tribal/troop mammals. When we "associate" with other beings, we tend to think of them as "ours" and join them into a big "us" -- and that association usually leads us to defend, protect, and nurture anything that is considered me/my/mine/us/our/ours.
I hope you won't think I'm being terribly deterministic when I say that I believe that this tendency is hard-wired.
Luckily, I believe that there is another, and even more powerful, drive in us -- something that's wired into us not just at the Family Hominidae level, or as Ordered Primates, or even Class-y Mammals -- but at the Eukaryotic fundament of human-as-living-organism -- and that powerful drive is: Energy Efficiency.
If you think about what makes Homo Sapiens Sapiens really distinctive as an animal, it always seems (to me anyway) to be about the issue of Cooperation -- both the possibly "expansive" types of cooperation (Big Fuck-off Pyramids! International Space Stations! Teh Internets Tubes!) and the not-so-expansive types of cooperation (Xerxes Builds Mile-Long Bridge. Athens Doomed! Super-Delegates to Determine Election! Phelps Clan Pickets Another Funeral!) -- and I believe that, ultimately, humans usually cooperate in response to that pesky energy efficiency thing.
However, in order to cooperate, we have to work through any not-me/you/yours/they/them/theirs which resides at the shank end of our troop-mentality dichotomy. So, we often spend a lot of energy trying to determine the same thing that our immune system wrestles with all day: "Me? or Not Me?"
I believe that, in order for me to brutalize you, I must be convinced that you are not me/my/mine. In any way. I must be convinced that you are not remotely similar to me at any level, and that I could never be like you, and that you are alien and strange and possibly/probably -- very, very dangerous.
The bummer-ish thing about that is this: In order to become convinced of your "not-me-ness" to this extent, I have to also dissociate from the idea that, simply by virtue of your being a human being, you are probably more like me than 99.9999999999....% of the rest of all the matter that exists in the entire Universe.
So that's a lot of energy required for complete dissociation, right there -- and that wanton expenditure of energy pushes hard against our very deeply-ingrained desire, as organic life-forms, to get the MOST amount of energy for the LEAST expenditure of energy.
That's why whack-a-mole comment threads are so tiring sometimes, especially when the topic goes so far afield of the original post that Legolas couldn't track it if you dropped the phrase "leaves of Lothlorien" every third comment.
Yes, sometimes getting OT leads to some very interesting conversation, and leads us to ideas that we would never have imagined discussing -- but when the thread degenerates into --
"Asshole!" brtltrooth||2:14:03 pm
"No, you're the asshole!" snppycmbck||2:14:04 pm
-- well, then it's time for Calgon to take me away.
The threads that seared my baby-blues were not, however, of this simple "I know you are, but what am I" variety -- words and phrases were used that directly attempted to de-humanize the opponent, words like "scum" and "slime" and phrases that called into question the opponents' right to even be alive.
When that shit starts up, I believe we are entering into the realm of brutality. When action and words are used that have no other purpose but to denigrate and degrade the opponent -- I believe that these are used so that we can ultimately justify . . . . destroying them because they are "not me".
My main problem with dissociation (which I believe is a necessary predicate to hatred and brutality), is that, if I can manage to de-humanize you, I generally de-humanize myself in the process -- thus it is that, when hating, we are likely to become the very thing that we hate.
The worst part of all was that this kind of "conversation" was occurring between people who I am almost certain would call themselves "progressive" -- people who would protest that they are not "haters", and who would chafe (or rage) at being compared to the God Hates Fag-ers, or the KKK, or the man who raped me as a four-year-old and managed to dissociate from me so completely that my pain was, to him, completely inconsequential.
Some would argue that these are false equivalences (words in a comment thread and Phelps at a funeral) -- but I believe that the outrageous behavior of truly radical bigots and haters did not simply spring full-blown from the brow of Zeus -- it probably began with something much smaller and more "excusable" for each of them -- stones thrown at the alley-cat -- then derisive names for the passive servant who you know won't confront you -- then a trial slap -- turning into a blow -- turning into a beating.
I believe that any time I can convince myself that any other being "deserves" my brutality -- for any reason -- I am not standing on solid philosophical ground if I want to call myself a human-rights activist, or a progressive.
So I've been skimming threads lately, and Calgoning as needed, and thinking what I wanted to say about all this -- (it's not like I haven't gone there myself in the past, but I don't want to do it ever again).
I don't want to be Fred Phelps.
He's human -- and I don't hate him -- but I don't think he has a "Happy Place".
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:59 PM
Monday, February 11, 2008
Okay -- so you already know my "I'm your biggest fan" status with Mr. Deity -- and this most recent episode is probably my favorite since the very first episode -- so since they make such great book-ends, I've posted the new one first (Mr. Deity and the Good), and the original episode below it (Mr. Deity and the Evil).
(Note: It looks like this might be getting a lot of play at the Crackle server, so you may have to wait for it to load fully to get uninterrupted play.)
This was the premier episode -- truly -- they're all worth a watch.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 9:06 AM
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I'm pretty sure that my grandparents must have seen the number in the clip below the very week it was broadcast some 35 years ago -- they were die-hard Lawrence Welk fans until the show was canceled (actually, now that I think of it, my grand-dad died before the last show aired -- so he was literally a die-hard fan).
I hated that show, because when we were at my grandparents house, nothing else could exist on the TV if Welk was on -- but damn -- I can't stop watching this clip -- and Brian said it best:
"This is either the most subversive moment in the history of the Lawrence Welk Show, or they didn't have a clue what they're singing, and neither did anyone else on the show. Either way, it's effing brilliant." ~ Brian from Incertus
I love how Dale and Gail try to make it "extra zippy" with that syncopated drop-beat before "hopin' that the train is on time", and Dale's hep-cat bass scatting of "dontcha know that we're-a . . . ".
"There you've heard a modern spiritual by Gail . . . and Dale".
Indeed. Indeed I have.
I'm voting that they had no idea what this song was about -- Gail and Dale look way too perky to be stoners, and if they were taking anything beyond Folgers coffee back in the day, that pinafore would given them both flashbacks for decades.
Gail does look kind of creeped-out by Dale's proximity, though -- maybe that's the weed-induced paranoia setting in -- No -- wait -- never mind -- that's not paranoia, it's just good old-fashioned common sense. (Step away from the man with smarmy hair!)
Then again -- at 00:00:14 of the vid, Myron (yes, I know his name -- Myron Florens --the accordian guy -- I told you they made me watch it!) . . . . . . at second 14, Myron does seem to be exhibiting symptoms of, well . . . . hash-throat.
*waving at txrad*
(h/t to Brian at Incertus -- and by the way -- if you don't already read Incertus -- well, you know how much I hate the word "should", so I won't say that you "should" read this blog . . . . . I'll just say that I heartily recommend it.)
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:59 PM
Friday Cat Blogging
Friday, February 8, 2008
Not my kitty, but . . . . . DAMN that's cute!
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:53 PM
On Remaining Chronically In Love
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Valentine's Day is just around the corner.
Some time ago, a commenter requested that I speak about my marriage (not a "legal" one -- rather, the energetic relationship with my spouse, which is more of a marriage than most marriages I know of). Below is a piece that I wrote several years ago, which I am posting here in celebration and acknowledgment of my Beloved. (Change three years to five+ wherever appropriate -- cuz it's all still true for me.)
Remaining Chronically In Love
Something I’ve always wanted. Something I’m practicing now.
The being who serves as my primary spiritual teacher and adviser says that the thing we call being “In Love” (as opposed to simply “loving”) is produced directly by the process of revelation — when we fall in love, we hasten to tell each other stories, share pictures, and desire nothing more passionately than to “know” the Beloved at every level possible -- and to be known by them.
He says the reason we seek this experience so consistently, even after we have entered it and may have found it painful, is that it is the template for how God/The Divine loves us — not as the doting Mother or Father, but as the Beloved.
If anyone is squeamish about the "G" word -- please keep in mind that when I refer to "God" or "The Divine", I am NOT talking about the big guy with the white beard, but rather my belief in a divine unifying consciousness (more on the DUC According to Portly).
One of my favorite quotes from my teacher (indicating how DUC/God looks at us): “Oh — look — she’s fucking her life up — isn’t she fantastic!”
Just as we do in the first throes of love.
We want to eat, drink, absorb, and generally crawl into the skin of the object of our “in-loveness”. They are beautiful to us, whether dancing, sitting, or drooling in their sleep.
I am experiencing that with my Beloved — my Mate — and I have been experiencing it for the past three years.
She is sleeping in the other room as I write this, and I am typing away on my blog, waiting for my computer back-up to complete — anxiously awaiting the moment when I get to go sleep next to her.
For me, that is miraculous. I not only want to sleep next to her — I want it desperately (for those of you who may not understand why I think this is a miracle, try googling “Lesbian Bed Death”).
While that (LBD) has to do with the drop-off in sexuality in lesbian relationships, what I’m talking about is much, much more than sex. I am, personally, very glad that our relationship remains profoundly “frisky” (personally, I want to still be having wild, tantric, untamed sex when I’m 120 — and beyond) -- but what I value most in sharing my life with her is that I experience ongoing fascination — continuing interest — perpetual surprise.
I used to believe that love was a happy accident, the most unlikely, and yet, most coveted, of experiences.
I thought that “falling in love” was something that just dropped on your head — a rock tossed by some capricious and unnameable deity (sometimes with the predictable results of contusions and bleeding).
You could never tell when it would arrive — or — when it would depart — the hand that had aimed that ecstatic stone at you could reach down at any moment, and remove it with no more announcement or justification than when they had hurled it in the first place.
I used to believe that.
It made “in love” a precious and scary commodity — something completely outside my power.
I no longer believe it. I am finding, in my first three years of a very long-term experiment about doing “partnership” in a completely different way, that there actually seems to be a logic and a certainty to remaining “chronically in love”.
I’ve read and heard people talking about how to “make love stay” — but I don’t think love is a Labrador Retriever — (Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: “Staaaay. Staaaay.”) In fact, my experience has been that trying to “train” love is a sure way to kill it.
I think the reason I’m still crazy about her has to do with this revelation thing.
My mate and I meet every week to talk about the state of our relationship. We have an agenda. We check in about equal exchange, agreements, intimacy, money, things we’ve noticed about our dynamics, etc. - all the things couples typically fight about (don’t mistake me — it’s not like we never argue or come to points of conflict in our relating).
We go through this agenda every week, and as a result, we keep a pretty clean slate with each other in terms of back-log — but I don’t think that’s the “secret” of remaining “in love” either. It’s simply a tool -- Okay -- a really, really good tool.
The thing that this weekly meeting does provide that seems key to me is the opportunity to check in, consciously and regularly, about whether we are still revealed and revealing to one another.
We also take a good deal of time to ourselves. For me, this means that when we come back together, there is always something that has happened to each of us that the other was not a party to — there’s a story to tell, an experience to describe, or an insight that is new.
Because we have an agreement to be “radically and utterly truthful and honest” with one another (yes, in writing, and yes, this means that if I have a sex-dream in which the person involved is not my Beloved, I roll over in the morning and say “Honey, I think I cheated on you last night.”) — we actually tell each other these stories, experiences, and insights — not assuming that we will just “know” by osmosis, or that we know each other so well that there is nothing new to know.
We have an agreement to be monogamous (yes, in writing, too), but more than that, we have an agreement to contain our sexuality between us. This means that, while we may engage in “public displays of affection”, you won’t see us making out or grabbing each other’s asses. (We do those things, just not in front of you.) I have found that this somehow concentrates and focuses the intensity of our intimacy.
We have an agreement about the order of our priorities (DUC first, Self second, Others third), an agreement about how we share money, about maintaining equal exchange with one another, about whether we will have or adopt children, about whether we will live in the same house, about whether our time is our own (unless we schedule time together) or collective (unless we schedule time apart), and about how we will deal with conflict should it arise between us.
We have an agreement that we will leave the planet (die) together (and this is not a suicide pact — it is an intention to pass from this life at the same time, somewhere around, say, age 140, preferably during a bout of “mutual friskiness”).
All of these agreements are in writing, and have been witnessed officially by a close circle of loved ones.
[Imagined dialogue in my head from the reader: “Oh My God! All those agreements! That’s so romantic! — NOT!”]
I hear this whispered in my head, but I choose to affirm, instead, that you possess a curious and searching nature, and I put in my vote of confidence that, even if this is a new concept to you, you might just be intrigued and enthusiastic — so I choose to insert another possible dialogue into my mind: “Really, Portly? Agreements? In Writing? Tell me more!”
And to this, inquiring reader, I will gladly respond.
Yes. Agreements. In Writing. We actually have four pages of written agreements. Most of them, we made at the start of our relationship as mates, although a few have been added, and several modified. We began this way because of the conclusions each of us had come to in terms of what fostered sustainable relationship and what did not, and based our agreements upon what each of us believed to be our baseline spiritual and experientially-proven truths.
The agreements are the structure -- they are not the love itself -- just a good and fertile soil where the love can thrive -- an ever-expanding pot for it to grow in.
Two things about taking the time to make these agreements out front, and doing a weekly check-in on how well we are keeping them:
1. Having ironed these things out at the beginning, we spend less time processing basic things about our relationship “on the fly” as compared to many couples I have known (in my past relationships I often found out that agreements really were important, albeit completely missing, but I usually discovered this in the midst of a huge fight, when I was least equipped to work out the agreements that would have probably prevented the fight in the first placing).
2. The mere fact that we were both willing (alright --insistent) on making these agreements was, for me, a sign of how much we each valued the connection that we believed they would sustain.
Examples of #1 above -- just in case you don’t get it:
We have sometimes had a conflict about “I’m feeling disconnected from you right now and I don’t like it. What’s going on?” We have never had the conflict about “Do you even want to be with me?! Why won’t you commit!?”
We have sometimes had a conflict about “I notice that you’ve said you’ve been worrying about money lately, and I believe that worry creates the thing being worried about, and since my financial resources are blended with yours, I wonder how that affects me.” We have never had the conflict about “Well, I earn the money, so I get to decide how it’s spent!”
In previous relationships, I’ve had the “Why Won’t You Commit!?” fight (from both sides). I’ve had the “I Earn The Money!!” fight (from both sides). I’ve had the “I Don’t Have To Tell You Everything!” fight, and the “Why Are You So Distant?” fight. I’ve had the “If You Loved Me, You’d Put Me First!”, and “I’ve Been Up All Night Where Were You?! Why Didn’t You Call!?”, and “Why Didn’t You Stand Up For Me!?” fights. I’ve had all these fights, from both sides, in previous relationships.
I didn’t enjoy them.
When seeming conflict does arise between me and my mate, these are not the issues we grapple with. Because we have agreed about these issues. We don’t tussle about whether we should be honest and truthful. We both agree that this is an absolutely necessary agreement for the soil our connection requires --
-- and --
This Is What Grows in That Soil:
I still spend a serious amount of time trying to determine the correct word for her eye-color. Cedar? Teak? Teddy-Bear Button?
I look into them often, to get my bearings, but still haven’t drawn any conclusion.
I walk into the bedroom --I glimpse all ten of her toes, curled up against one another, and I stop in the doorway, entranced.
Kissing her in the hallway makes me literally, physically, dizzy.
If I hear her laugh out loud in the next room, I am absolutely compelled to find out what she thinks is funny. I simply cannot continue until I do.
I love watching her when she doesn’t know I’m watching her, but I always hope that she’ll look up and see me watching her.
I think she is the most interesting and complex person I have ever met.
I think this every single day.
ps. If you are interested in the formula for this potting mix, and want to see a copy of our agreements/intentions in full, let me know.
copyright 2005-2008 [all rights reserved]
Posted byPortlyDyke at 12:45 PM
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
No, really -- it's pretty good -- maybe not so fluffy at all.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:30 PM
Monday, February 4, 2008
Having a period is a very weird thing. (For any beings who, by virtue of their physical equipment, do NOT have and have never had periods, I'd like to say: Hang in there with me for a minute or two -- you might find this educational.)
I am a woman who is not yet post-menopausal. At 51, I'm still lingering in the limbo of what is quaintly termed: "perimenopause".
What perimenopause really means is: Your menstrual cycle has gone all Ninja on you.
I started having hot-flashes at 37 -- the same age that my mom entered perimenopause. For the next twelve years, I still had a period, and I had hot-flashes, (which is sort of like getting to have both zits and wrinkles).
For those of you who have not experienced a hot flash: Imagine being in Washington DC in late August.
Now, imagine being locked inside an economy sedan that's been sitting in direct sun at midday on a huge concrete pad . . . . . . without air-conditioning . . . . . . in Washington DC . . . . . in late August.
Add heat lamps.
Oh fuck it! Just imagine being made entirely of asbestos and sitting in the middle of a nuclear incinerator . . . .
Not that I'm complaining or anything.
This post is not, in fact, about perimenopause.
It's about PMS -- Pre-Menstrual Syndrome -- which is also Ninja-like, and which I also still have -- hence, the title: PMS Amnesia.
I figure that, in the 38 years that I had "regular" menstual cycles, I had at least 450 periods. My eggs were relentless, and orderly, and Mussolini-esque -- they made the trains run on time.
How is it, then, that month after month, I would fail to realize that 3 to 7 days prior to this remarkably predictable event, I would be completely, totally, and utterly convinced that my life was shit, my partner hated me, my career was in the toilet, and everyone was against me?
I mean, is there some special hormone that gives you a complete memory wipe about PMS, each and every month?
It's not like I didn't know my period was coming -- I was stocked for it:
"Enough pain-reliever to anesthetize a herd of bull-elephants?"
"Really ugly grandma underwear that doesn't bind around the waist?"
But PMS? Not only did I fail to recognize it as it arrived -- I would actually argue with people about the fact that it had already arrived:
ME: "I (sniffle) hate (trembling lip) my li-i-i-i-i-fe!"
GF: "Honey, do you think your period might be due?"
ME: "I knew you would discount me this way!!! You don't think any of the stuff I'm talking about is real!"
ME: (Two days later.) "Oh . . . Sorry."
The thing is, I rarely raged about nothing at all while I was in the throes -- in some ways, PMS was like being really, really drunk and having all the stuff that you'd been stuffing come rolling out of your mouth. Hormones are magical, that way.
I started this post about a week ago, and I kept stopping, because I realized that I didn't want to fuel the fucking fire about how women are crazy during "that time of the month" -- because I've recently seen so much disgusting sexism aimed at Hillary Clinton that I'm almost ready to vote for her in sheer protest, in spite of all my rational doubts about her platform.
Don't worry, I promise I won't "vote with my vagina" -- but it has been shouting at me a bit lately. (You should see it -- it's actually kind of cute when its lips get to flapping.)
Here's a thing that pisses me off: Nearly every woman on the planet has a period. Nearly every woman on the planet will go through menopause. Many women on the planet will bear children. Yet all of these things are remarkably under-studied and mysterious to mainstream medicine.
And while you can talk about your pregnancy --"When are you due!?" "Have you picked out a name?" -----
Wait -- let me qualify that: You can talk about your pregnancy up to the point when the blood and contractions turn the "bundle of joy" meme into an "edited for television" scenario. Woe betide you, however, if you speak in "mixed company" about the Dreaded Menstruation or the Unfathomable Menopause.
Recently, I had someone hold up their hand, palm-outward, in the universal "too much information" signal -- because I mentioned that I might not be all that perky today, as I had just gotten my period.
The section of the supermarket which holds "women's personal supplies" is generally labeled something like: "Sanitary Needs" (because you would never want to call it "Stuff for Your Period" or "Bleeding, Womany Things").
Personally, I've always had this kind of cringey response to the word "Menstruation" -- I suspect that this is a result of my cultural training. The invariably whispered tone in which this word was spoken evoked shame and loathing in me when I was growing up (plus, "Menstruation" has too many syllables and WAY too many vowels, as far as I'm concerned).
I have similar distaste for the many of the euphemisms that I heard while living on womyn's land: "Having My Moon/My Cycle", "In My Bloods", etc. -- I suppose that if I have to accept any euphemism, I prefer the one from Paper Moon:
"Havin' Her Lady's Time"
Except -- you have to say it like Imogene says it:
Did you see that there? That "Oh"?
I'm beginning to think that PMS Amnesia is directly tied to the fact that "Menstruation" (damn -- I just hate that word) is supposed to be hidden and ignored.
No wonder I forget that I have a period! The products that are supposed to keep me "sanitary" during my "time of uncleanness" (that's lovely, eh?) are hidden on a specially-coded aisle of the supermarket, I never see an ad on television, or receive massive email spam that might remind me that such a thing as a menstrual cycle exists (although I can watch men singing about Viagra on TV, and my inbox is a veritable Encyclopedia Dicktonia), and the ads that I might see that reference my period (in "women's" magazines) use words like "discreet", "protection", "fresh", and "odor-free" ('cuz you'd never, ever, ever want anyone to get a whiff of you and know you were having your period, for god's sake!).
Even the online Museum of Menstruation is called www.mum.org.
There are those who theorize that this type of enforced silence and body-shaming actually exacerbates PMS -- that if women in our culture were encouraged to accept and embrace their period as a sign of health and vitality, they wouldn't need to manifest PMS symptoms. I mean, what if PMS is really just a normal response to suppression? Where are the studies that compare cultures where women's cycles are respected and honored with culture where they are not? Oh . . . . . . right.
By now, you're probably wondering just what type of Portly True Story inspired this post.
Last week, I believe that I had PMS without the period -- which is exactly like an unpunctuated sentence
I would even go so far as to say that it is the ultimate in dangling participles.
My period has been in full-stealth mode for several years now -- arriving once every six months or so, usually after I have decided that I will never again need "sanitary products", and have entertained the idea of giving my rather impressive stash away to some more regularly periodic woman.
However, considering my period (or lack thereof) as a possible blog-post brought up many complex issues for me, and I found myself pondering, once again, the following conundrum (first posed to me by my spiritual teacher):
Why is it that, in our culture, we praise artists and writers who touch the "universal" in us, while simultaneously creating gigantic taboos around some of the most universal human experiences -- namely: Shitting, Peeing, Menstruating, Masturbating, and Sex?
Extra credit question: When was the last time that you considered the fact that you, personally, came out of a body that had a menstrual cycle, and that, without that menstrual cycle, you would probably not exist?
Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:20 PM
Being a Drama Queen is Exhausting
Friday, February 1, 2008
Or: Why I Can't Get My Panties in a Big Bunch About the Media Anymore
Oh My Fucking God.
I'm spelling that out rather than short-forming it because I believe it's time for a great big slap up the sides of the heads of everyone I know.
I'm sorry -- the entire MSM (which now, apparently, also includes PBS and NPR) needs a graduation ceremony.
So does everyone who is reading/listening to/ or otherwise paying attention to the "pundits", "commentators", and "anchor-folk".
Eighth grade is OVER, people!
I think it's telling that I don't feel inclined to even cite any examples. I can make the sweeping statement that the 99.9% of Main-Stream Media is utterly ridiculous and sophomoric and has NOTHING to do with any real "news" -- and you'll probably be nodding at your computer, going "Yep!".
I want some real journalism -- you know -- things like fact-checking, and integrity, and the Fairness Doctrine, and accountability, and real insights, and thoughtful commentary -- just little things like that.
In my humble opinion, the MSM suffers from the same malady as the Health Care system in our country -- it's too tightly bound to the bottom line.
So it is that I get the majority of my news and cultural insights from citizen bloggers.
True, much of their commentary concerns the MSM, and many of the "seeds" of their stories are derived from traditional newscasts -- but I find that the bloggers that I enjoy reading, in the main, take pains to research their facts, dig into the larger contexts of a newsbyte, and that they present their personal opinions clearly as just that -- personal opinions, rather than sweeping pronouncements of "The Way It Is Everywhere, For Everyone, For All Time" (I think it used to be called "humility" or "sense of proportion").
I wouldn't be so bitchy about the MSM if they didn't go around claiming shit like "All the News That's Fit To Print", and "Fair and Balanced", and "Your ONLY News for Eastern Washington", etc..
I mean, they could try out some mottoes like: "Stuff We Suspect Is True", or "What Our Sponsors Want You to Think About the World" or "White Guys Going On and On, with a Couple of Women and People of Color Thrown In, just for the Bling" -- hell, I'd even settle for "News Channel 5: Your Best Source For Mind-Control". At least that would get into general vicinity of "honest and fair".
One of the reasons that I'm not the type of blogger who pumps out a lot of posts every day (especially about politics and/or social issues) is that I figure that I bear a responsibility for my words. I have the sense that if something is worth communicating about, it's also worth putting some thought into it, and some time into researching any facts which may be attendant to it. (It's true -- I rant occasionally, but that's ranting, and I try to be honest about it and own it when I do it.)
I love the internet -- its accessibility, its variety, and its speed -- but I think that the speed of information transferral has had a detrimental effect on the quality (Ha! What quality?) of journalism in the MSM. I think that newscasters count on the fact that media consumers are so busy trying to keep up with the news-cycle that they will forget, tomorrow, what was said today.
So, three major problems with the way that most Americans get their "news": 1) Conglomerates that are monopolies, or near monopolies (no real diversity), 2) The need to bow to commercial pressures, and 3) Short-term institutional memory, and no journalistic integrity ethic in most journalists.
On my more idealistic and energetic days, I dream of creating an entirely separate media source -- one in which EVERY participating journalist has be licensed and take an oath to which they are legally bound and liable -- like the Hippocratic Oath-- that they are first and foremost to serve the public's need for accurate, complete, and factual information -- and that this priority comes before money, before political or commercial pressure, and before self-promotion.
There could be an entirely separate media source for ranting that was owned as ranting, and pure opinion stated as pure opinion (hint: It used to be called the Editorial Page).
And if the licensed journalists break their oath, they don't just lose their job -- they pay fines, and lose their license to broadcast, and are listed in the "Loss of Credibility" database.
I know, I know -- freedom of speech -- but really, if you are claiming to inform the public, shouldn't you have liability when you deliberately falsify information? Plumbers, carpenters, therapists, dry-cleaners, etc., etc., etc. are all liable for truth-in-advertising -- so if you're claiming to do factual reporting, shouldn't you have to back up that claim?
I can count on one hand the number of people who I consider "real journalists" who make the front page and the top story in the MSM on a daily basis.
The rest, in my opinion, are a bunch of Drama Queens -- constantly seeking the next punchy headline, the next sensational story, the next "draw" so that advertisers get paid -- blecch!
Being a Drama Queen is exhausting -- for the DQ and for the innocent bystanders who are asked to get wrought-up over every damn story (whether it's really a story or not).
I want a resurgence of real journalism. I want the integrity of some of the bloggers I know (who do what they do every day mostly with no remuneration whatsoever) to become the regulated standard of the broadcast and print news industry.
Anymore, every time I hear of some new and fantastically horrific episode in the MSM, I find myself thinking: "Well what else would you expect?"
I think we have a right to expect more.
Posted byPortlyDyke at 2:00 PM