January 17th, 2005

She said "I know you and you cannot sing", I said "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano."

I'm finally tired enough for sleep. It has been a long day, and I've been in a bad headspace for most of it. I spent 45 minutes on this long, detailed post, but then I reread it and deleted the entire thing because I hate the sound of my own self indulgent blues jams. Even when I've earned them. In the morning, I shall have my coffee and assess some things I dealt with this weekend, and listen exclusively to Morrissey & The Smiths. More on all that in the morning's post.

Fucking hell, man. I need a haircut.

URGENT CALL FOR EVERYONE ON MY F'LIST, ALL OF LIVEJOURNAL, AND INDEED THE WORLD

Before I get too involved in my next post and upset the sentiment I want guiding the majority of it, I want to get this out of the way first. If you care anything about taking a stand for democracy, then I urge you to help save our children. Help save them from an imminent threat, once so heinous that I can scarcely find the words. Help save our children from the Ashlee Simpson plague sweeping our country and in fact the world before this soulless audio mercenary can inflict any more damage! Help us to fight this monstrosity so that the children of tomorrow will know how to fight bad taste and bad choices in music, fashion, and chosen role models. I call on you now, reminding you that it doesn't end here - this struggle will continue as long as there are younger talentless, lackluster siblings of celebrities - and this fight will go on and on and on. Consider that there are younger Hilton siblings, and maybe the gravity of this problem will begin to take further shape.

I call on you now in the hope that you will aid in this fight against talentless people caterwauling on records and in concerts, glamming it up in magazines and on posters, making millions of dollars by preying on our children's underdeveloped knowledge of what's just wrong. The madness must end.

Please sign the petition to Geffen records demanding that Ashlee Simpson cease and desist immediately with her chosen career path. I thank you on behalf of impressionable minds everywhere that we take this stand against stupidity and indecency, against bad taste, and against people with no talent whatsoever making records and appearing on television.

Again, thank you for your signature. Please copy and repost or link to this entry.

So I write.

Last night at dinner with the family, my cousin Billy (Damien's cousin, therefore mine as well) and his new bride Melissa met us and we all spent a little time together afterward. They were taking a break from the rush to pack up their belongings in preparation for their move. Tomorrow, Billy leaves for Kuwait. He's been stationed in Iraq for a minimum of a year, possibly a year and a half, and in two weeks time he will be in Baghdad for the duration of his deployment there. In a little around a week, Melissa will be heading home to her parents house in Kansas City and begin the wait that hopefully ends in her husband coming home to her alive and unharmed. The reality of this war has always been profound for me being that I live in a military town, about 15 minutes from the largest army training base in the country. It is all around me. Seldom can I go anywhere in town and not see several soldiers. This one is different, though. This one is my family.

How many of them have I spoken to in passing that have already been casualties in this war? How many friends have I made and lost touch with that are already dead or wounded and I may never know about it? It felt different when I listened to my friend Charlie, who was one of the first casualties in Iraq, telling me stories about the things happening in and around Baghdad, and how he and another friend were the first casualties interviewed on Good Morning America and getting a heroes' attention "until that Jessica Lynch took it from us, that cockblocker!" It felt surreal seeing the scar from his bullet wound and thinking to myself that he endured that for me, for us all. I even thanked him for his service, which he shrugged off politely in favor of the home movies he was showing us. Sitting there in the restaurant last night trying to ignore the annoying mariachi band thundering behind our table, I wondered to myself when would be the next time we would be able to do this together again. Would we be able to ever do this again? Nothing I do right now makes me feel any sense of comfort about it. So I write.

I want to make something perfectly clear. Billy has chosen a job that protects the very freedom I have - that we ALL have, that enables me to say what I want to say. That allows me to live in a country where I can have a say in democracy and agree or disagree if I choose. I respect and support our armed servicemen and women with a conviction so strong that it damn near wrecks me. The people in charge, however, get no such respect or support.

It is very ironic that I write all of this today when there are so many things weighing in on both my heart and mind. Fresh on the heels of my experience with the older black lady on Friday and the ensuing commentary on racism here in the south, I had another experience yesterday that made my blood run cold and my stomach lurch over. I, along with countless others, view the confederate flag as something symbolic of a time in history that embraced and advocated racism. I've lost friends over this issue, I've had countless fights over it, and the only thing all of that served to do was stiffen my resolve. I'm almost glad when a racist wears their ignorance like a gleaming badge of honor, and yesterday I happened to see such an act. Directly in front of us, displayed on the rear of a car windshield in the form of the most disgusting bumpersticker I've ever seen was a slogan sandwiched between two confederate flags. It read "I RIDE WITH FORREST". For those of you that may be unaware of it, Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the founding members of the KKK and ammassed a fortune as a slave trader and plantation owner.

Here I am, the day before MLK Day, a gay white man in the south confronted with something like this. All I can think about is what Dr. King would be like were he not murdered by one of these cowardly fucks. I came home last night and read some of the things he had to say in his tragically short life and took every word to heart. This morning I read a story in the Marin Independent Journal titled "King family split reflects societal debate over gay marriage" that completely gave me pause. I cannot imagine Dr. King being in support of the FMA or of the DOMA (which, incidentally, was introduced to the house by former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr, who now - and someone please explain THIS to me - is now a speaker and consultant for organizations like the ACLU). Homo say what the fuck? I suppose none of this really matters now in light of a new development this morning. This one is good, I can hardly stand it. Bush just fucked over his entire Fundamentalist support base yesterday in an interview that was published in the Washington Post. Apparently this is being refuted by the White House in the NY Times article that ran this morning. My personal opinion is that the assholes deserved it for not only being so fucking mean and stupid in the name of God, but for reelecting this weak bastard that has now bent them over and dry fucked them in their collective asses. "Thanks for your vote on this promise, but fuck you now that I got my job back". Nice. The irony here is staggering. I'm almost proud of him.

Back to cousin Billy getting shipped off to fight in this totally unjustifiable war that has killed or wounded thousands of people and divided the world, setting many former American allies against us, to say nothing of the unanswered questions and scandals accompanying this war that have only made that problem worsen. People who have served before are in a better position to ask these questions, and there are two veteran's groups I reccommend. One is Veterans Against the Iraq War, the other is Veterans for Common Sense.

Something else to consider, the fact that Condoleezza Rice will be sworn in on Inauguration Day as Secretary of State [story: NY Times]. Beginning tomorrow, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will begin what could stretch to two full days of questioning her about almost every aspect of her past performance and future plans. I'm hoping they hold her feet to the fire to ask her questions like:
  • Why did the United States go to war in Iraq based on misleading -- if not false and fraudulent -- evidence?
  • Why did we divert valuable resources and intelligence personnel to Iraq, taking them away from Afghanistan and the pursuit of Osama bin Laden?
  • Why did you mislead the American people into thinking there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida before September 11th?

For your part, you can sign Senator Barbara Boxer's petition to hold her accountable for her misleading statements leading up to the Iraq war and beyond before we can even consider promoting her to Secretary of State.

Workout, Day II

Worked out again tonight, so I'm feeling content in that my inner asskicker visited me again when I really needed her. I know it's a her, because only a woman would kick my ass like that. I was not quite into the first half of my run on the elliptical treadmill, and it was programmed for the difficult run, the one designed to simulate running uphill every other minute. I was convinced for a moment that I was going to die, that there was no way I was going to be able to finish this relatively small run. I thought very self defeating thoughts, you know - you'll never lose this weight and have your old shape again, just have the balls to go ahead and get fat - and almost gave up for a microsecond before the booming voice came out and rocketed through my head.
Oh no you don't, motherfucker! If you have to have a heart attack and die on this treadmill then so be it, but you WILL. NOT. GET. OFF. UNTIL. TIME. IS. UP. Now suck it up and do what you have to do, you knew this was going to be hard, so just fucking suck it up and move your ass. I know your legs are on fire, they're supposed to feel like that. People do this every day, just don't stop. Ten more minutes and you can stop, but not now - you cannot stop now - don't even think about stopping.
And with that, I felt that surging anger again - the anger that took me up that mile long hill on my bike at the insane angle last summer. I chanted to myself "This makes me stronger, this makes me feel good" over and over. I hit my stride within a minute or two and finished the run. Determined as I was, if the gym had caught fire I'd have burned up in that bitch but no way was I getting off that treadmill.

It is a great product of age to teach yourself something about yourself that you never knew. It is great pushing your boundaries and feeling fearlessness. It is great hearing yourself say "I can do this!" For ten painful yet blissful minutes this evening, I felt a complete release from my frustration. I can't wait until Thursday's workout.