24 April 2005

Thoughts on turning 30

Today is my 30th birthday.

I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this.  I don’t really feel
any older than I did yesterday or a couple of months ago, and I don’t
really feel much older than when I was 27 or 28, to be honest.

(My mom, however, called today, and she said that she doesn’t feel like
she can have a kid who’s thirty.  And I actually sort of remember
when she turned thirty.  But she remembered it was a Thursday, and
about 10.30 in the morning, and it was kind of cloudy, but she saw a
little bit of sun through the window in the delivery room.)

Perhaps I’m supposed to start thinking about mortality or something
like that, and I guess I am in some way, in that I have now had three
decades of time to do something with life, and so one might want to
have something to point at.  One of the first thoughts that comes
to me is, “God, I am STILL in school.”  I’ve only been out of
school for a year or two since I turned five.

Here’s the thing.  One of the themes that’s come up a bit in
talking with my spiritual director is the need most of us (all of us?)
have to “do” something, “make” something, “impact” something.  I
certainly feel this need, in almost all the areas of my life —
physical, mental, professional, spiritual.  What do I have to show
for my efforts?  What output comes from my input?

And that’s the trap of our world, whether because of the particular
logic of the capitalist ethos, some innate human nature, or whatever
explanation you like.  But perhaps we are most fully ourselves,
most fully human, most fulfilled when we simply are.

Thirty’s a big marker only if I’m looking to validate or put a stamp of
accomplishment on my life so far.  But maybe thirty just is if I
just am.

Maybe more on this later.

Posted in Day2Day on 24 April 2005 at 6:21 pm by Nate
21 April 2005

Out of my head once a week

Well, sort of.

I’m taking a bike machanics’ class from Quad Bikes here in Cambridge.  We’re learning intermediate stuff in the four-week class.  Last night: rotational systems, especially hubs!

Yeah, it’s kind of geeky, but it’s nice to do something mechanical and
with my hands, rather than with books and the computer all the
time.  Also, it makes me feel more competent and secure with my
own bike….

Posted in Day2Day on 21 April 2005 at 12:12 pm by Nate
16 March 2005

Sweet, small revenge

Some people make a game out of getting even with the smaller, most annoying facets of modern life.

I take all the ads that get put into my bills and put them in the
return envelopes so that the companies can experience the same joy of
trying to figure out what’s relevant and what’s garbage.

Some people take it really far.

Wesley A. Williams spent more than a year exacting his revenge
against junk mailers. When signing up for a no-junk-mail list failed to
stem the flow, he resorted to writing at the top of each unwanted item:
“Not at this address. Return to sender.” But the mail kept coming
because the envelopes had “or current resident” on them, obligating
mail carriers to deliver it, he said.

Next, he began stuffing
the mail back into the “business reply” envelope and sending it back so
that the mailer would have to pay the postage. “That wasn’t exacting a
heavy enough cost from them for bothering me,” said Mr. Williams, 35, a
middle school science teacher who lives in Melrose, N.Y., near Albany.

After
checking with a postal clerk about the legality of stepping up his
efforts, he began cutting up magazines, heavy bond paper, and small
strips of sheet metal and stuffing them into the business reply
envelopes that came with the junk packages.

“You wouldn’t
believe how heavy I got some of these envelopes to weigh,” said Mr.
Williams, who added that he saw an immediate drop in the amount of
arriving junk mail. A spokesman for the United States Postal Service,
Gerald McKiernan, said that Mr. Williams’s actions sounded legal, as
long as the envelope was properly sealed.

I have nothing but admiration for this man.

What do you do?

Posted in Day2Day on 16 March 2005 at 10:22 pm by Nate
7 March 2005

Choice made

We made a choice in the resident tutor matter.  We chose
Winthrop.  A friend of mine noted this upon hearing that we had
been made a couple of offers.

I was telling [another friend] about your situation, and after he got over his initial (mild)
surprise at hearing that same-sex couples were considered suitable tutor
material, he recalled that the Kennedys, when they were students, had lived in
Winthrop House.  This was, of course, in days of yore, when there was a certain
amount of anti-Catholic sentiment at Harvard.  But Winthrop was considered “open
to Romans.” 

I wonder which was worse then.  Romans or queers?  I don’t dare take a guess….

Posted in Day2Day on 7 March 2005 at 9:27 pm by Nate
20 February 2005

Gay Simpsons!

And so it happened.

BF and I can marry, here in Massachusetts, and also in Springfield, U.S.A!

A few cheers and jeers:

  • Hooray: Homer looks for his online ordination so that he can make
    dough off of the crowds of gays that Rev. Lovejoy won’t marry. 
    (Lovejoy says the Bible forbids gay marriage, Marge asks which book,
    Lovejoy says, “The Bible!”, Marge tries to talk further, Lovejoy rings
    the church bells to drown her out.)  One of the churches Homer
    almost gets his ordination from is the “e-Piscopal Church.”  If the
    Simpsons make fun of you, you’ve come around.
  • Boo! Hiss!:
    Fox runs from the FCC.  Before the episode began, we were advised
    that “Due to mature themes discussing gay marriage, viewer discretion
    is advised.”  For God’s sake, it’s the Simpsons.  If
    anything, this show’ll probably deal with it with more maturity and
    good sense than anything else on the airwaves.  Which says
    something about the discourse around this in our country right
    now.  Actually, it doesn’t really, because the Simpsons continues
    to prove one of the most insightful and intelligent pieces of popular
    culture that our society produces. 
  • Yay!: When Homer runs out
    of gay couples to marry, $200 short of the $14,800 he needs for a 62″
    TV, he wonders aloud if he could get Lenny and Carl to marry. 
    Marge: “You leave them alone to figure that out themselves!” 
    Lenny and Carl — not just potentially gay, but interracially
    gay.  (As Homer’s hand note once said, “Lenny=white, Carl=black.”)
  • Cheer: Why do the people of Springfield decide to legalize gay marriage?  Because they offend a Southern bumpkiny television host,
    who declares Springfield the worst town he’s ever visited, and it
    destroys their tourist industry.  So to make quick money off “all
    the disposable income” gays have, they legalize marriage.

Later, he read aloud an aide’s report from a convention of the
Christian Coalition, a conservative political group: “This crowd uses
gays as the enemy. It’s hard to distinguish between fear of the
homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuality, however.”

“This is an issue I have been trying to downplay,” Mr. Bush said. “I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays.”

Told that one conservative supporter was saying Mr. Bush had pledged
not to hire gay people, Mr. Bush said sharply: “No, what I said was, I
wouldn’t fire gays.”

I’m sure that plenty of the culture-protectors of the “Christian” right
will critique and bash the show without having seen it, claiming that
we shouldn’t put such divisive moral issues on a show that entertains
children.  (They’re only like this because they know they cannot
win this “battle”, that history has shown up many of the right’s “moral” stands as cloaked bigotry.) 

But the Simpsons has always been more than
entertainment.  In putting the mirror of humor up to fear and
hatred and stupidity, it defuses it more effectively than almost
anything else. 
In making fun of all of us, it puts us in perspective and in our
place.  If Homer, an uber anti-hero, can deal with it — whatever
“it” is this week — then what are we making such a fuss about?

If you’ll permit a slight Anglican intrusion (other than that above),
the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, a pretty hefty
intellectual himself, has called the show “one of the most subtle
pieces of propaganda around in the cause of sense, humility and
virtue.”  He also said, “It’s generally on the side of the angels
and on the side of sense. It
punctures lots of pompous fictions about how the world works.” 

And it did that tonight.  It portrayed our national “debate”
accurately, in some sense, and we look pretty much like the fools that
we are.  But you can only really be a fool when you take yourself seriously.

BTW, check out this quiz on “Religion in ‘The Simpsons.'”

Posted in Day2Day on 20 February 2005 at 10:41 pm by Nate
18 February 2005

In need of education

We’ve (BF and I) been interviewing for positions in the undergrad
residences here at Harvard over the last week.  Each interview is
about half an hour, and the questions are generally pretty standard.

But there are a few curveballs here and there:

  • “If you could choose any picture of yourself to display on The Facebook, which would it be and why?”
  • A set of questions in Spanish (because I indicated I had studied for about five years in secondary school and college)
  • BF
    got asked if he spoke any Irish (possibly because his three names are
    all stereotypical Irish ones, e.g., Brendan Sean O’Donovan [which are
    not his names])

And then there was the question, which in essence asked what we
would do if we encountered people in the house who might not like us
because of the fact that we’re gay.  The question concerned me for
two reasons. 

First, it implies/forgets/lacks knowledge of the fact that that’s a
daily part of both of our lives, probably in larger ways that the
questioner imagined.  BF responded essentially by saying that he’s
Roman Catholic, and he runs into it all the time.  I did not
mention the fact that my family and I do not have good relations, due
to the fact that I’m queer.

Second, although I am not trying to equate the queer push for civil
rights with that of various racial and ethnic groups (not because I
think there’s necessarily a difference in magnitude but because I just
am not sure how comparable they are), one wonders whether the
questioner would have asked it if we substituted most other minority
groups in the sentence.  My guess is “No.”

Posted in Day2Day on 18 February 2005 at 5:27 pm by Nate
9 February 2005

Ash Wednesday

From “Ash Wednesday” by Thomas Stearns Eliot:

…And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death….

Posted in Day2Day on 9 February 2005 at 12:22 am by Nate
4 February 2005

Obituary

My great-uncle, Noel Kincaid, died in New Mexico recently.  He was 87.

I never got to meet him, but I’ve heard much about him over the
years.  He has always sounded like a man much-loved and respected.

His obituary came out earlier this week, and it seems he was even more respected than I had known.

…He knew the place he called home and raised his three children was soon to become a national park.

Meanwhile, as politicians came to view the Guadalupes, the Kincaid
kitchen table at the small Frijole ranch house was a place where many
notable politicians ate their meals during their visit to the
Guadalupes. One such notable was Chief Justice William O. Douglas who
dedicated a chapter in his book “Farewell to Texas” about his
experience in the back country with Kincaid, his dry sense of humor and
his mule train.


In his book that discusses the proposal of turning the Guadalupe
Mountains Ranch into a national park and the effort it took to get the
designation, Douglas said: “Noel Kincaid, who is not only a good ranch
foreman and justice of the peace, but also the best architect of hot
biscuits I knew, spoke up and to say, ‘No road should ever git beyond
this here Lodge.”


I hope to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park someday
.

Posted in Day2Day on 4 February 2005 at 11:48 am by Nate
29 January 2005

Yes!

Two U2 floor tickets!

With three dates in Boston, everything was sold out in less than ten minutes for each of the dates.

With the advent of the Internet, there’s no “tax” to disincentivize
people from trying to get tickets, like in the days when you had to
wait online at Tower Records….  For my friends’ sake, I wish
there were.

Posted in Day2Day on 29 January 2005 at 10:47 am by Nate
25 January 2005

95 bucks

Of course, right now I say I won’t pay the $95.  But I know that I will end up paying the 95 bucks, especially since I doubt I’ll get floor admission.

Anyone else think they’re going?  Anyone want to buy tickets with me?

Posted in Day2Day on 25 January 2005 at 10:53 pm by Nate