Archive for the 'Musings' Category

11
Sep
17

St. Fidgeta


Back when I was a young thing, I entered the Paulist Fathers, a Roman Catholic religious community. My first year with them was based in northern New Jersey in the novitiate, kind of like basic training for clerics. During that one year, I spent 3 months working in a parish in uptown Manhattan (Inwood, near 207th and Broadway, end of the A line). I packed a lifetime of experiences in those 3 short months. Imagine: country boy hits the big city and goes nuts on culture (standing room style) – opera, ballet, symphony, theater. And I walked everywhere. Visiting places I had only dreamed about. Even though my time in NYC was spent in the dread of winter, nothing could deter me from making the most of my time there.

The previous paragraph has little to do with what now follows. I just wanted a few moments of fond memories. However, it was during that year that I came across a curious little book, which I found remaindered at a book store in suburban New Jersey. “St. Fidgeta and other Parodies” was published in 1966, not long after the end of the Second Vatican Council. The book is an irreverent take on all things Catholic and quite amusing for those of us who experienced church life on both sides of the Ecumenical Council.

The book contains a section on St. Fidgeta and her followers, the Fidgettines, one of whom was St. Dragomira, the Warrior Nun of Bosnia. “Converted from paganism by the Fidgettine missionary, Anfractua, she spent her life in fomenting religious wars and is usually credited with Christianizing Upper Bosnia. She was clubbed to death by her pagan brother Bogeslaw, after a long and heated argument about Christian hate. Patroness of edged weapons.”

There is also a Q and A section, the first question in which is: “Q. Does the olive in the martini break the Lenten fast or is it considered part of the drink?” The answer, in true Thomistic fashion, goes on forever and seems only to pose even more questions.

When I discovered the book, I bought 4-5 copies (there were, remember, remaindered and were going for a song). Over the years I loaned all of my copies to friends…none of which were ever returned. I have finally found another copy…on Amazon, of course. Let the chuckles begin again.

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19
Feb
17

Both this and that


One of the many challenges of living an introverted life is reconciling the need to be alone with the desire to not be left alone. I have defined and accepted my introversion but, apparently that is not enough. I shouldn’t be feeling this lonely. But I am. I am led to believe there are other issues at play here. Perhaps others are finding in me character traits which are not appealing – so much so that there is no room for me in their lives. Or, maybe it is my age. I have long believed that the older we become, the more invisible we get. Perhaps my physical appearance is off-putting. I’m grasping at straws now, I know.

I have spent so much energy isolating myself in recent years to find a peaceful place to live my life. Have I, as a by-product, signaled that I don’t want others in my life, in any degree, in any capacity? I cannot change my wiring at will. I cannot become the life of the party, the social magnate, the high energy extrovert I see in others. It’s not who I am nor is it someone I want to be. My introversion is exacerbated by a crippling shyness which requires so much energy to overcome. What do I do?

I am tired. My saner self tells me to accept the reality as it presents itself and live my remaining years on the planet grateful for the good in my life. Apparently I just do not have the wherewithal or fortitude to effect any change. It could be that I am just one of those rare individuals who are destined to persevere outside of special relationships. Maybe this is just a tempest in a teapot. Maybe I need to just stay in my shell.

 

13
Jun
16

Let’s make things perfectly clear


The Orlando massacre was a Hate Crime, plain and simple. In order to further fuel Islamophobia, the media, the politicians and religious right may spin this otherwise: that this was a terrorist attack. . There is no evidence that this was neither ISIS nor Taliban inspired, encouraged or endorsed. The man had shown history of mental illness and steroid use. He had demonstrated his hatred of same sex relationships. He became unhinged and, in his state of extreme hatred, he entered a Gay club in Orlando and began shooting, killing 49 and wounding many more. This was not a terrorist attack. It was a hate crime. It was a crime intended to kill as many in the LGBT community as possible, using an assault rifle. Do not be fooled. Do not succumb to the lies from the Right. If you disagree with me, despite the facts, well…it’s a free country. You, are, however, not allowed to post the disagreement here. To do so would demonstrate a direct betrayal of me and all for which I stand and you will be out of my life.

Sitting here, paralyzed by life, is not doing anyone any good. I have obligations, commitments, promises to keep. I need to open the door and face the realty of the day. Though 49 lives no longer enjoy the breath of life, I cannot die while mourning them. Change comes with action, not acquiescence. I need air.

If praying makes you feel better, useful,  knock yourself out. But, don’t pray for me. Pray for the intolerant, for the warmongers, for those who have the power to make changes, but refuse to do so, for the many for whom the death of someone gay is one less pervert in the world. Pray for those who believe that, somehow, a moment of silence will somehow compensate for a generation of inaction. Pray for peace, understanding, patience and respect. But, don’t pray for me. I need your strength, not your well-wishes.

27
Dec
14

The Paradox of (my) Introversion


Truth be told, if I had my druthers, I would choose to be alone. No, I do not hate, distrust or fear other folks. I am simply more comfortable with my own company. Life being what it is, I have to cope in a populated world. But, to do so completely robs me of energy and spirit. I have learned to adapt. I have learned to adopt various personae to confront the challenges of a public life. Yet, when all is said and done, I need solitude to regain my vitality.

How can I explain, therefore, the scattered moments of loneliness and isolation? This is my frustration. While I am more likely than not to refuse an invitation, I feel overlooked and abandoned when not included. How do I convey to others that I am neither a snob nor a boor; that I would love to be asked, even if I find it hard to accept. Indeed, a paradox. Indeed, a source of great discomfort. One would think that, at my age, I would have figured it all out by now.

17
Jan
13

Dreams do come true.


The following was shared earlier today with Tim Seelig, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. The moment is too dear to keep so private.

This is going to get a little personal and a bit long;  you have been warned.

I came out to my parents when I was 27. It was a difficult decision to make, but there was an attempt by an ex-partner to blackmail me into supporting him after the breakup by threatening to tell my parents the whole lurid story of our relationship. No one threatens me. So, one morning after work (I slaved along in the graveyard shift, working in hotels, in those days), I took a couple Valium, and drove the 65 miles from SF to Tracy. To make this long story a little shorter, let’s just say things didn’t go too well that January morning. But, the situation improved over time, even over my father’s insistence that, had he forced me to go deer hunitng, I wouldn’t have turned out queer. Yes, we do have redneck club in California – my father was Sergeant-at-arms!

My mother died just over 3 years later. But, before the terminal illness fully manifested itself, she asked me to promise never to tell the family that I was gay…not my brothers, not the aunts and uncles and the hoards of cousins. It was a promise she should have never asked me to make and one I should have refused. But I agreed. And even after she died, I kept that promise. I never did anything to directly inform the family about my sexuality. Mind you, I never did anything to hide it, either. I handled the situation by cutting myself off from my family. If who I was had to remain hidden from them, then I had to live my life away from them.

Two years after she died, I joined the chorus. My mother would have been happy that I was singing again, though I don’t know if she would have approved of the association; I will never know. Yet, I was sorry she couldn’t have lived to come to a concert. She had a glorious soprano voice. In another time and place, she could have been on stage; she was that good. So I think pride in her son may well have outweighed her disapproval of his lifestyle. Since I was still keeping that promise, I could never invite my brothers or the extended family to a performance. My father simply wasn’t interested. So, while friends and acquaintances and associates often attended an SFGMC concert with me on stage, my family was never in the audience.

Over time, I began reconnecting with my family, first with my youngest brother, and then with my oldest cousins. My cousin Don, the eldest of the 11 grandchildren and 20 years older than I, found me about 5 years ago. A simple computer search found me on the roster of SFGMC. He called the office and Tony managed to connect us. That Don showed no indication of disapproval or surprise, for that matter, encouraged me to be frank with him in our first phone conversation. The walls began to crumble. The wonder that is Facebook has helped me find other first cousins and 3 nephews and second and third cousins. Since my life is on open book on Facebook, the secret is no longer being kept.

Fast forward to the most recent holidays. Don’s son, Michael, who lives in Las Vegas, informed me that he was coming home to Redwood City for Christmas and extended an invitation for me to join him and the family for the day. It was the first holiday I have spent with my family since 1982. When the subject of SFGMC found its way into the conversation, I was told, in most uncertain terms, that I was to inform them about the next concert because they had every intention of being there.

In July I will celebrate my 30th anniversary singing in the chorus. In March, my family will be in the audience at Davies to hear me sing. I cannot fully express the joy I feel.

02
Oct
10

Fight for Air Walk – Treasure Island, San Francisco


Today I walked 3 miles.  “Big deal!”, you say. Well, for me, it was a very big deal.  Ten years ago, the simple act of climbing one flight of stairs was excruciating, depriving me of air. The three mile walk today was my marathon, my declaration than asthma will not defeat me.

Today I walked for my mother who died from asthma 29 years ago. She did not have the advantage of the many drugs which keep me functioning and thriving. For her, there was no walking at all; the shortest of distances left her incapacitated. No available treatment helped her. Finally, there was nothing left to do and she quietly passed from us at the age of 58.

Today I walked for those millions and millions of children who are diagnosed every year with asthma, one in every ten in the US, who cannot breathe because of second-hand smoke, industrial burn-off and car exhaust.  Today I walked for all those suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), who daily face the challenge of finding the next breath. Today I walked to honor those many worldwide who, for lack of immunization,  still contract tuberculosis at alarming rates.

Today I walked for life. And I will walk again.

25
Sep
10

Housing Leads Appreciated


I am facing a very compromised living situation currently and am seeking solutions. I am on an extremely limited income and, ideally, would prefer accommodations in exchange for housekeeping, cooking, errands etc. I am a very private person and require little other than adequate private space. Please contact me if you can be of any assistance. Thanks.




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