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  1. I guess some people on City Council don't understand the meaning of the word, "concert." Or perhaps the meaning of the words, "benefiting the local economy." Or perhaps they just don't like Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney? No, that last one's just about impossible. Also, Paul's a good English lad, local boy made good (okay, Liverpool, but still); and Bruce's a good American guy. Really, I'd think "concert" and "cash" trump "curfew." But then, I think the Boss and Paul rule, so maybe I'm partial. Come on, I was in high school when Alf dressed up as The Boss. I wore out a cassette of Born in the U.S.A. and it's still one of my all-time favorite records, er, CD's, er downloads... freakin' technology.
  2. Well, considering that Luggie said he hadn't read what I'd written, and since Luggie's pretty much always a good lug, I kinda figured I should let it slide after my response. No real harm done. Thanks, guys.
  3. It was commentary, not trying to guess the plot. I have a few ideas where the plot's going, but mostly, I'm just along for the ride on that. I was trying to make some sense about what I liked in the story's approach.
  4. During the first few chapters of the story, I noticed how our hero, Troy, gets all worked up about his own feelings, and keeps writing these long, involved emails to Chase. Then he gets upset with Chase for not writing him back immediately with long, involved, deeply emotional emails (treatises!) back. Hmm.... Okay, that sounds strangely familiar somehow.... Unfortunately, Troy is so freaked out that it takes him ages to put himself in Chase's shoes and think that Chase is hurting too, only Chase may not be able to deal with it or express it like Troy does. Chase's personality is fundamentally different. We don't see how Chase is really affected until later, and the boom drops. ...Hmm.... Okay, that also sounds strangely familiar somehow.... (Note: I am somewhere in between Troy and Chase in personality, and a lot of their reactions in these first few chapters, well, very familiar territory. Not always flattering or comfortable to see the similarities, but I do recognize them. I wish I could be as clear-headed as Troy about my own emotional life. I deal a lot better with other people's stuff, or I think I do. Except, as noted, with very close friends or loves. I'm not the extrovert that Chase is, but Chase's and Troy's reactions while depressed, I recognize from experience.) Troy and his mom and dad and later, Chase, all show signs of major depression going on. The bit about boxes and things to do, and how that can all seem overwhelming, to the point that someone may avoid facing them, such as Chase's unread emails from Troy, rings true. There can be other quirks, like answering the door or the phone, ordinary chores, even things a person would always do habitually without fail, that can pile up, or else can get handled in certain cases and avoided in others, all happen with depression. (For example, I would meticulously do many things for my grandmother, but leave them untouched at home, even sometimes critical things.) (I'm not mentioning some other examples because I'm embarrassed about them, even though local friends have been over and they know.) Troy's dad just sort of tunes out, as though he's experiencing everything from a distance or wrapped in something. Well, that's a good description: He's wrapped in the mess of pain, feelings, and confusion from what's happened, and he's so preoccupied with it, he's not paying attention to even necessary things, or to people he loves (like his son, Troy). Troy's mom just has a complete nose-dive into the bottle and her personality completely changes, partly from drinking, but mostly because she can't/won't deal with the pain of loss. Troy's mom makes it even worse: She leaves, abandons them. Bad, bad, bad reaction. Not helping her. Not helping her husband and son, who still love and need her. -- I can actually understand the drinking, even though I haven't ever been into drugs and alcohol. But skipping out on her husband and son (or any good friend) I have problems with someone who'd do that. That said, I'll have another comment in a minute. Chase.... We later see when Chase is separated from Troy, Chase pretty much falls apart. He doesn't check his emails, to read or reply. He stops eating regularly or the usual amounts. (Or eating habits change.) His moods probably swing wildly. (We know he cusses at his dad at one point, unlike him.) He acts listless, lifeless, no interest in anything, not much reaction, even to whom and what he would love. His sleep patterns change, day/night cycle and insomnia or oversleeping. His interest in personal appearance and hygiene drops. He's probably not doing chores or homework like usual, either. He may not be doing favorite leisure activities like he would. Other things, he may or may not be doing. Some things might get into a loop, repetitive behavior. There might be some things he starts doing to compensate: Flurries of activity to make up for things. Unusual activities or things taken to extremes to compensate, or just to be doing something. Difficulty concentrating, even on things he's naturally good at. (Rereading because he can't concentrate, for instance; lack of retention or comprehension because he's so distracted or out of it.) He may do some things almost compulsively or repetitively to try to feel better. Sexual habits can change too. A tendency to think in black-and-white extremes, all-or-nothing, too; or to focus on the negative and fatalistic instead of the good and optimistic, especially if that would be unlike him. That whole preceding paragraph is a list of warning signs of severe depression, and sometimes even suicidal behavior. It's a sign of serious trauma. -- Troy, his mom, his dad, and later, Chase, all show some of those. We find Chase shows most of them. That says how deeply being separated from Troy hurts him. I can rattle off several of those signs from personal experience, or from experience with a few friends. Oh, and that brings me to the item I'd skipped for later: A person in severe stress, trauma, post-trauma, depression, or suicidal, may also become very "clingy" and need lots of reassurance; or they may become very standoffish and independent; or reclusive and hermit-like. They may refuse help even though they need it. (If so, a friend needs to know when/if to step in anyway.) They may push people away or keep their own distance, because (1) they don't want to hurt the people they love, and they think somehow being around them and their problems will hurt the ones they love, so they push them away to protect their loved ones from themselves or their problems; or (2) they may push people away to see if anyone either pushes back or stays around or hugs back, figuratively or literally. It's like an unconscious test. The person isn't aware that's what they're doing, though at times, they may be aware. In effect, they're testing: Do you really care about me enough to push back? Do you care enough to stick around, to stay with me and help or support me? Do you care enough to love me, even with all this? ...Or will you just leave like so many others who don't care? Of course, there may be some flaws in that testing and acting out. But many people (supposedly friends and family) do not know how to handle it when a friend has problems, and so many of them simply quit calling, writing, visiting. Many will say they'll help, but when it comes down to it, they don't. Some outright leave, simply never show up again. I can assure you that happens, it's no exaggeration. So a person in duress may begin to test, to see if someone really is trustworthy. Never mind that acting out and testing like that can be extreme enough that it may have the very effect of causing people to leave. That bit about pulling into your own shell or pushing people away -- I have done that. I've also had people gradually or very suddenly stop contact, often when I hadn't done anything, other times when I didn't think I had, but I had. -- This happens in crisis, either personal crisis or when dealing with someone else's crisis (such as family illness) and in depression. Some of the venting and other things you've seen in my posts, some of which may seem odd, are either because I've been dealing with personal and caregiver depression, or because you, dear readers, have not been in those kinds of situations. (I'm still coming out of a period of 12 years of dealing with my parents' and then my grandmother's health problems, plus I'm handicapped, and until only a few years ago, I was closeted, so...there's stuff built up to work through.) ... Also, you may see things like that from other people who've been in various kinds of long-term stress, and you'll also see some unusual "coping behaviors" (or not-coping behaviors) from handicapped folks. And, for that matter, being LGBT can have some coping behaviors to deal with the stresses involved in not being accepted by segments of the larger culture. If you'd seen the nose dive I did during college, becoming severely depressed, well, it was not pretty. I managed to flunk myself out of a good academic scholarship because (impending irony) I could no longer avoid admitting to myself that I was really and truly gay. I didn't try to talk to anyone on campus, either. I really, really should have. -- You don't have to party all the time to be awake all night and sleep most of the day, sometimes skipping class or meals. (I still managed to make A's in Calculus, Computer Science, except a D in Data Structures, English Lit, and French Lit courses. (Simplifying, there were multiple courses.) -- By comparison, when I went back for my associate's degree to community college, I made honor roll twice. The lesson from that is: (1) Find someone with whom to talk about your problems. (2) If you're gay, it isn't worth flunking out of college or getting that depressed or suicidal. If you're in college, you're an adult, your parents can't tell you what to do, at least not while in college, and hey, there are other gay, lesbian, bi, and trans folks out there who'd really like a friend or a date, preferably both...and they might be interested in a little mutual biology too; beats doin' it alone. -- Oh, if only my college self would've listened. And if only my junior high and high school self had had some more positive experiences (including, yes, sex) to figure out it was really fine to be gay and not the only gay guy around. If the internet (and gay sites) had been around, it would've *really* helped. -- You'll notice I did eventually figure it out. Okay, still figuring it out. But I did come out, and yes, I read, write, and edit gay-friendly fiction and poetry. That sort of thing is why I tend to get on my soapbox. It may weird people out or they may get tired of hearing it. But if there was one gay guy like me out there having trouble accepting himself, and yet really wanting it, then there are plenty more where that came from. Those guys need to see it'll all turn out okay. In terms of the story -- When Chase arrives at Troy's, and Troy begins to shepherd him, to care for him, because Chase is so depressed -- That has happened over the course of only a few weeks, if that, within the story. So it's very sudden. Chase's behavior there is *very* at-risk, dangerously so. Troy handles it right. But if you see someone in that shape in real life, you *really need to help your friend,* because that friend is in real need and severely at risk. You have to gauge how to help without going overboard, scaring them, or making it worse. But do something to help, even if it's just a hug and a smile. (Trust me, a simple, heartfelt smile or hug can do wonders.) -- I would've expected Chase to be less obviously affected at that point, but it shows how much it's really shaken him. Troy's solution is to be very careful and loving to his friend and to ease him out of it. That's good. If a friend digs in his heels and resists or refuses help, then you do your best to get around that resistance. Love him, be caring, be genuine, and be damn persistent, and he'll at least know you're sincere. You'll help somehow. Remember that bit about a good smile and a good hug. (If he doesn't want a hug, there's a reason, but it may be that idea of pretecting himself or you.) Find some way to help and to get around the resistance to help. I know this particular post has gotten into some darker and worrisome areas. But that's because one part of the story deals with those. A main point of the rest of the story, the overall story, is that no matter how bad things get, you can still have friends, family, a boyfriend, who all love you and will be there for you. Another major point is, things get better. Life can be really good. There's a lot of life still to live, people to love and be loved by. There's good things in life, sunshine, enjoyment...skinny-dipping maybe...spending time with your boyfriend...spending time with the girl next door...more skinny-dipping...more time with that nice boyfriend.... Right, see, good stuff.
  5. I have some thoughts on Troy and his Dad and on Chase, how they're each dealing with depression, but I'd rather tackle the other first. Cole has done a really careful, sensitive job of portraying how Troy is trying to come to terms with his sexual feelings, his sexuality. Instead of massive angst or hiding things, he's initially decided he's gay and Chase is gay, and he's content with that. Then it would just be a matter of how that affects telling his dad or Chase's parents, or their friends. But instead, Cole's given us something not so simple. (If dealing with coming out could be called "simple.") Already at the start of the story, Troy and Chase are light-years ahead of where I was, growing up. But Cole has something more difficult in mind to handle. Troy gets to know Lindsey and discovers, hey, what's going on? he has feelings for her, good feelings, it all seems to go right, and he is a smart enough guy to think that maybe it's because he's new to all this and he likes her, that maybe this is why he's responding, when he had thought he was gay. So he wonders if he's "really" gay. Or could he be bi? Or was it a phase, and he's "really" straight, except for with Chase? And that gets at the heart of a lot of what it's like to be a real teenager, I think. Troy becomes aware he might be bisexual, or he might simply be riding all these hormones and everything is new and exciting. And he has to begin questioning how he really feels for Lindsey and Chase. He discovers there's more to sex and love than he'd thought, and although he's pretty clear-headed in recognizing his feelings and reasoning out what's going on with him, it's still something he has to come to terms with, to understand. Those questions, sometimes unexpected or conflicting feelings, are (I think) what it's like for questioning teens. They probably expected to be straight, but surprise, they find they like the same sex, at least some of the time, in very physical and very emotional ways, and those are satisfying...but sometimes they may have feelings for the opposite sex too, and those may be satisfying. Is one more fulfilling than the other? Are both about the same? And just what the heck does a guy or girl make of all that, when he or she expected to like the opposite sex? Hmm. That doesn't even get into how other people, like friends, siblings, or parents might react to it. (Or, for that matter, whoever happens to be the boy or girl who the teen likes, if they haven't shared something together.) -- And I tend to think we all have some degree of bisexuality as the default, if we could see underneath all the rest. Many of us end up "primarily" or "exclusively" straight or gay, and many end up more in the "mostly bisexual" range, but in practice, it seems like we're all expected to be one or the other, when being bisexual might be the biological norm. That is, unless we're supposed to have the potential to be bi, but it's built-in for most to gravitate to "mostly straight" and some to gravitate to "mostly gay." I am basing that on those figures that around 5% to 10% are primarily gay, but around 33% supposedly have at least one same-sex experience of some kind in their lives. (Kinsey studies, and I think some later Dutch or Danish studies. Also UK census figures I'd seen a reference about.) With percentages like that (really, 1/3 of all people having a same-sex experience) and up to 10% primarily gay) would seem to say there's more potential there for overlap than we usually think -- including in the LGBT community. Troy does some very astute searching through his feelings, and goes from thinking he's gay, to thinking he's bi, and talks with Lindsey and gets a surprise there, along with some free-floating curiosity from Trevor. Then Troy gets news of Chase, and has to think it all through again, and begins to understand the answer for his own case. Then we see what's going on with Chase, which is a big-time case of "I miss my best friend" and "I miss my boyfriend and serious crush and maybe life-partner." It really hits Chase hard. Then we get Troy beginning to put it together again, for himself and for Chase. Plus, we see Lindsey and Trevor dealing with their individual and different feelings. I think Cole gives a convincing portrayal of how even someone who's primarily gay can have heterosexual feelings too, and how both homo- and hetero- feelings can be strong, good, and healthy. Troy comes to see he's gay, but he sees he could love Lindsey. In his case, he sees he wouldn't feel as complete loving Lindsey as he would Chase. But if he didn't have Chase, as often happens with other people, then he might have gone with Lindsey and been happy. If Troy were more toward bi or straight, he'd be even more happy with Lindsey. It just happens that for Troy, he's more toward the gay side of the scale, and he has Chase still. We know at this point that Chase has been going through an awful time, feeling like he'd lost his best friend and his boyfriend (or even his partner). The separation throws Chase into a messy heap. Chase is lucky enough to have Troy, who won't turn away, and who actively gets him back in his life, so Chase and Troy can heal the damage in their relationship, the depression they've been in, and get back to good. Attaboy, Troy and Chase. We don't know for sure at this point if Lindsey is gay or straight or bi. She's said some things, but she's thinking about it. Trevor seems to be just discovering that, uh, he has one, and that other people have whatever, and that it all might be really great to investigate. He's very curious about Troy and Chase, the two new boys nearest him. He might be as curious if there were some girls nearby. Or he might be curious first about boys and then about girls. Or girls and then boys. Or.... Well, okay, let's just say Trevor's really starting to think about (feel) any of this. And hey, Troy and Chase look really good to him. They're the nearest chances for comparison with other boys, and that's pretty exciting too. -- No, I don't think Trevor's anywhere near figuring it all out yet. He's at the stage where he's just starting to feel those feelings and the main need then is to test and learn and compare. Troy, Chase, and Lindsey are old enough they're still in the middle of it, but they're beginning to feel their place in life when they'll be fully mature. They're starting to figure it out for themselves. The two ages are very different in physical, sexual, emotional, and social maturity. Trevor is going to be at the beginnings of those feelings where they first wake up and he wants to explore and find out things. But his feelings and his understanding are suited to his age. Troy, Chase, and Lindsey's feelings are suited to what teens in their age range feel, which is still not quite what they'll feel when they're past their teens. However, their feelings are a lot closer to that point, enough so it's a lot harder to differentiate. (I say that, thinking back to what I felt and what other kids I knew were going through, as far as I knew, at those ages.) Before about 11, I was basically oblivious, but there was still curiosity and play going on. (And funny enough, my parents and grandparents knew about that in the bathtub, and it was no big deal.) From 11 to about 14, that was when everything began to wake up, partly due to friends, but no, very little actual experience going on. Some was good. ("Hey, I really, really like that." -- Uh-huh, if you think you like it then, just wait until you hit puberty for real. -- "OMG, best. thing. ever. new favorite hobby!" :D ) Some was not so good. (Ouch, either physically or emotionally.) Some was just so-so, the normal lessons of crushes that go bust, but somehow, those were really significant for me. At 11 and at 14 would be my first very clear indications that yup, Ben is gay. (Yes, I heard Ben Gay jokes too.) But my point in bringing that age range up is -- Every now and then, I also had a little interest in girls. The last time I had any fantasy involving a girl was in junior high. So I had the potential, or I was, bisexual to some degree, back then. Ooh, but I would not have admitted it, except maybe to my best friends. Maybe. -- Uh, I was way more likely to want to be with a guy friend. How to ask a girl out, how to tell if a girl (or a guy) liked me, those were mysteries I was not good at. I apparently wasn't too great at it with guys, either. -- So, decreasing interest in girls, but it was there. -- More telling was that first dream about my best friend...rudely interrupted by falling out of bed because I was so startled, including a very Freudian and disturbing dream image going on with that. Just my luck. That friend moved, or it's just possible I might've found out if he was as actively interested as I was. Ambiguous evidence, there. High school, 14 to 18: I still was trying to figure out how to ask a girl or tell if she liked me. There were some nice girls too. But no real sparks. I think they all knew this; I didn't get a single "yes" to the few times I asked a girl out during high school. I still was trying to figure out how to ask a guy or tell if he liked me. But the idea of a "boyfriend" would not have occurred to me. I could defend other friends who were accused of being gay. I could do that very, very publicly. I could not admit I was gay. The thing was, despite pretty clear evidence, I wasn't sure I was. Oh, I like girls. Girls are nice, pretty, smart, funny, I like girls, I just must not have met the right girl. I must be a late bloomer. No real spark, though. Major sparks with two different friends, when I was 14 and 15, but like I said, didn't go anywhere. If you've been paying attention, you'll have noticed this means my few actual experiences from my pre-teens through the end of high school were with guys about my age, and not much of those, and a lot of negatives going on, self-image and image reflected by others or general society as well as religious, school, and family life. But hey, there was enough good in there, and the hormones were very busy, that despite how confused and conflicted, questiong or in denial I was, yup, it was there. I think if I'd had more positive experiences, such as with either one of those crushes, (particularly them) that I would've come to terms with myself in high school. My real intended point was to illustrate that even a primarily gay guy can have the potential for a straight relationship, a girlfriend. My other point there would be how much a questioning or conflicted teen might be likely to be, during the same time period, both not quite clear on it all, how to go about finding out, as well as in denial internally about any clear evidence that he's not quite straight, or might be really gay. -- On the other hand (pun intended) if Crush #1 and I had gotten permission, well, I would've been very glad to find out if he wanted to do what I thought and hoped. And if Crush #2 had given any positive indications instead of how things turned out, well, daaaang, uh, okay, yes, I had it bad for Crush #2. Say, I went off-topic somewhere in there.... Oh well, it was mostly a nice stroll down memory lane, straying off-topic. Anyway, my intention was to say how well I think Cole has dealt with the whole topic of a teen discovering the complexity of his/her feelings and the potential there for bisexuality, before they can settle the issue of where along that scale they happen to fit. I had intended to get into the idea that a person might be happy with a guy at one point in life and a girl at another point in life, and so on, which I think Cole has tackled here too.
  6. I'm up through the latest chapter. I'm not sure Troy could get away with all that in the porch scene, but it was sure a hoot to read. This chapter and the last were both really neat. Good for Chase and Troy. Good for Lindsey and Trevor. Though I think LIndsey is probably sorting through her feelings, and Trevor...I think is full of curiosity, everything's new to him. I liked the glimpse we had of Charlie, hoping we'll learn more what he's like too. Something's still up with Martinez, but aside from a bad attitude, I'm not quite prepared to say it's him. But yes, he's the one I suspect. I'm not expecting Carly to return. After so long, cases like that generally don't have any happy ending. Just my opinion, plot-wise. I've been saying I had some comments, and it's been so long, let's see if I can get down what I wanted to say.
  7. "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary / How does your garden grow?" I may not be Mary, but then, my garden is not much of a garden either. After almost a solid week of on-again, off-again thunderstorms (and much-needed rain).... My tomato plants' last two green tomatoes didn't make it. I suspect squirrels, as there is no evidence of either tomato. The plants themselves? Some sort of damage, insect or fungus or a mix of sun and rain, too much for several stems of the vines. The rest? Very bedraggled. With no flowers that might put forth fruit... I gave up in disgust, pulled up the plants, and they will compost down into that garden bed for next year. My basil plants are thriving. In fact, I'll need to harvest some leaves for the kitchen, the basil is doing so well. Hah, at least I know one thing that'll grow. They might last through the winter, we'll see. The marigolds are fine too, happily blooming, very cheerful. They'll stay until they die off in the winter, if they do. The chocolate mint I got... looks leggy and a bit forlorn. I had to rescue it from a clinging vine that was trying to choke it all out. I've moved the planter I have the mint in. -- I'm considering attempting to harvest and use or dry some of the mint, because it's so long. I'd expected it to be "bunchy," but no, not so. My aunt and uncle may send me something (peach or apple) later this year, and may send a cedar sapling too. The grass seed I cast in my back yard is doing fine. No results at all in the front yard. A side-effect of the rain: I have a fine crop of some large, broad white mushrooms of unknown kind growing in a swath in my back yard. They are welcome, I have no reason to get rid of them. -- And not knowing what they are, I am not foolish enough to try them. I presume they're a "gift" from food waste or a passing bird or squirrel. The mushrooms can do their thing in the yard, no hassle from me. So, I am now tomato-less and disappointed, but the rest is doing OK.
  8. Jonah has begun giving some advice and new posts on his YouTube channel recently. He's really jumping right in there, really new at it, and learning as he goes. The little foibles are funny and endearing, like most of us would be when we're trying something brand new. There are glimpses of that more together and self-assured, and strong-willed, guy in there. And he's brave and has a big heart, even if he thinks not. I get the idea he's going to be a powerhouse when he gets these things figured out. It shows already. A lot of respect there. It takes a lot to try something so big. He's come a long way, grown a lot inside, in the last few months. It's amazing what a little support and confidence can do for someone. Wishing him only the best.
  9. Thanks. The Golden Rule and good examples probably do more good than much of the other stuff anyway. I have a feeling when you're older, you'll like what you see from your teen years. Teens have more potential and maturity and have it more together than a lot of people seem to give them credit for.
  10. Two admissions: That was intentional. My senior high school and college years were the 80's. I had an off-brand Member's Only jacket, blue-grey...finally had to give up on it a few yeas ago. "Totally Tubular" or any other "Valley Girl" thing, yeah, that made the rounds at school. We all had fun kidding around. But I'm from Houston, the Gulf Coast. Now, I never got into surfing (bummer) but it's almost impossible to grow up here without sun and shorts, hanging out at the pool, and going to Galveston or Padre some. So you do sort of absorb some of it by osmosis. I didn't get as much of that as a lot of friends did, though. Even so, yeah, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, surfer music ... and lots of other kinds of music, are in the air. -- Crud, they still made station wagons with fake wood sides when I was a kid. It was a big deal when they stopped. Two college buddies were the "surfer dude" type. One was more clean cut, but the mindset was there, and he took his board and wetsuit out every weekend. The other guy, hahaha, laid back, beach bum sort of guy, but don't let it fool you, he graduated, so he wasn't coasting 2.0 and go. (I get the idea Lugnutz is kinda like that guy, too.) We missed out on a planned deep sea trip because one roommate turned up really sick the weekend before, or I would've gone deep sea fishing. I have a feeling surfing lessons would be funny, until and unless I got the hang of it. I can swim, not a great swimmer, but I like to swim. (Geez, haven't been swimming in way too long now. Man , I miss it.) So yeah, the story really resonates with me. -- Hahaha, and I loved Brian's clueless self muddling through all that and finding a nice guy. One thing... It's funny, I always presumed being a surfer guy was one of those very macho, girl magnet type things. It didn't occur to me some surfers might be straight but friendly or bi or gay. Why this didn't occur to me, given that any swimming with your buddies involves changing clothes, not much besides shorts, and occasional body contact among friends. But then, I was the guy in the locker room very carefully *not* looking or being seen. Heh, 6th grade swimming and showers...oh boy...not the easiest deal, always. (Despite that, I loved swimming.) All that's way too serious, though. This was a fantastic, free-spirited, friendly story with a great running gag and a happy ending. Excellent story, Gee.
  11. One translation also talks about removing the "beam" (like a 2x4 or split plank) or some sort of log or board, out of someone's eye. Um, no. The real translation was a speck or splinter, not a whole 2x4. But some people jump up and down and froth at the mouth over things like that about their "literal" translations. It doesn't occur to most folks like that that those "literal" wordings have to rely on translations, and then the person is supposed to think about it and interpret it, to study and discuss it with others, which, by the way, is what the Jews and early Christians did. I know what EleCivil means about the pop-music, pop-souvenir style Christian bookstores. I went into one large bookstore a few months ago to order something because a casual friend was going to be ordained a ministry. (Different tradition of what constituted ordination from what I was raised with, but OK, I was still going to honor that friend.) I did a good bit of looking, then had to chase down someone. Nope, they didn't carry that, they'd have to order anything like that. Huh? It's like, an ordinary thing for a new minister. Nope, gotta order it. Wow. You'll sell all this other stuff, some of which is mindful and spiritual, and some of which is just trinkets, and yet you don't stock items for a new minister or church, in a city this size, one of the few Christian bookstores? Wow. I grew up in a denomination somewhere between moderate and conservative, some liberal elements. Being gay wasn't so much openly railed against as it was simply not talked about, period. Sex in general, too. Ehh, but anyway. But in that tradition, I grew up in a family where it wasn't "religion" but "faith," as in, it permeated every aspect of life, and it wasn't intended to be mere ritual, but from deep inside, because you believed it, lived it, cared. I also have friends and family in other Christian denominations, including more fundamentalist/evangelical groups like EleCivil is talking about, and folks in the Roman Catholic tradition too. When I was a kid, one of the first times I had feelings for another boy was for a friend in a Charismatic group that had joined our church. Oh, boy. And yes, those folks were very much more strict than my church's beliefs, and oh my, a boy cannot, um, express feelings for another boy like that. (Hey, I just thought we were really close, brotherly love...I kissed him. Then got a lecture (from him) on why that was wrong. Sorry, my bad. Although we did stay friends.) (It was a big clue, the first real clue I had gay feelings. I just didn't know yet.) Their group wasn't from within our denomination, and that later caused a split within that particular congregation. That was that. I'd later run into that same friend. But from this, and from other friends and relatives, yes, I know the kinds of things EleCivil is talking about. -- And I have friends in other faiths, and atheists and agnostics and pagans. I have had conversations with some of them that I think were really enlightening on both sides, and those friends I think are truly good people. And yes, it's very possible for gay folks to come from that strict background, whichever faith it is. -- But in general, a gay person tends to find some way to reconcile their "gayness" and whatever faith they grew up in, or else they find something close to it. That, or they find something else altogether to fit them. Being gay deals with some very deep down, basic and instinctual parts of a person's being, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. You can't really ignore or suppress that any more than you can ignore or suppress the other basic drives and needs of a human being, or you wind up with some real problems to overcome. I went through a phase in college where I got really (really!) uptight and religious. Well, we'll just show everyone (including me and including God) just how good we are, right? Uh-huh. Hey, maybe if I pray really hard, am a really good boy, and don't even *think* about that gay stuff, or do anything (you know, like solo even) well, surely I'll "grow out of it" or something like that, right? (Let's never mind that I was in college and very stressed and had lots of teenage hormones going on there, right?) Well, golly! Guess what happened? I wasn't all that successful in (1) not thinking about it; (2) not doing anything about it (solo even) ; (3) and even when I was, well, that just meant that my body and emotions took care of the need in dreams and, er, the expected result of when a healthy, physically mature male goes without and dreams. (Oh, come on, you figure it out.) ...And you know, when you wake up from a dream or two like that and there's incontrovertible evidence, well...yes, it dawns on even the most uptight, fervent young believer that no, perhaps he's the one wrong about his assumptions on the matter, and ought to look some more about what any of this stuff he grew up with really says. ...And surprise, it turns out there's more there than I ever knew. Huh. Guess what? Perhaps a larger, more open, more accepting world-view and religious view is called for. That was probably the first step back toward being sensible and reasonable about it. Note, I was *not* that wacky in high school or earlier, and not even in the first year or two of college. That ultra-rigid (rigid? what?) view came about from being messed up in not accepting I was gay, when it finally dawned on me, yes, I was gay and that wasn't just some phase, around 19 in college. (Oh, there were plenty of clues before that. I just didn't accept them.) If I'd had different experiences at a couple of key points in junior high and high school, I probably would not have gone down that whole unaccepting and uptight (and unhelpful, unproductive) path for so long, if at all. My younger self would be really surprised at myself today. But as surprised as, say, my high school self would be, I think my younger self would recognize this present-day self more than that too-closeted, too-uptight self from late college and early adulthood. Some of us take more winding, wandering around paths toward enlightenment, I guess. As long as we figure it out eventually. Note again, this means I really value friends with other viewpoints. I don't always agree, but you might be surprised with what I do agree with or what it doesn't bother me not to disagree with. I tend to think every human has an incomplete, not quite correct, or sometimes very off-kilter view of whatever that ultimate truth really is. We're all just human, mortal, imperfect, so how could we get it all right? It would be nice, however, if we were less intent on hating and excluding and taking away, instead of loving, including, and sharing. Did I say anything of any lasting value there? Maybe not. Just my own take on things, at least today. :) Your mileage may vary. Perhaps your mileage is *supposed* to vary. Two quotes from a show I really like: (Farscape) -- "I am a Peacekeeper, it is my duty, my breeding, since birth." -- "You can be more." "Unique is always valuable." -- "You...you saved my life. Why...why wouldja do that?" -- "Pass it on." -- "What?" -- "When someone needs your help, pass it on." (I think I'm misquoting that last bit.) and another show: (Firefly) "You can't take the sky from me." -- "Ain't you s'posed to be off bringin' religiosity to the fuzzy-wuzzies, or somethin'?" -- "Oh, I got heathens a-plenty right here, them as needs the word." (in Firefly, also look for the scene where River removes all the *labels* from the cans, and the crew have to eat potluck for a while. I need to find the quote again.)
  12. I've been up all night writing, and what to my wondering ears do I hear? The Batman theme. Holy codpiece, Batman!
  13. blue

    Oh Kirk...

    "Non-Cognitive Elite" sounds so much better than "bubble-headed bleach blond," don't you think? (Eagles or Don Henley song reference.) I still think ol' Kirk was severely turned off by all those guys drooling for him back in the day. Never mind that it wasn't just older men, it was also guys my age, right around Kirk's age, older and younger. Yes, I may have been questioning and conflicted and in the closet, but that didn't stop me noticing a good-looking guy. (Ahem, cute and/or hot boy.) Never mind too that other male teen idols from then didn't get all freaked out over "gay cooties" and bristle and start spouting hate. So, Kirk, lighten up, dude. I don't know if ol' Kirk has any gay feelings he's nervous about. Just because he was that handsome doesn't mean he was or is gay or bi. But whatever's going on inside, I wish he'd have a moment of true enlightenment and realize how much he's being hateful and exclusionary (neither are supposed to be Christian) and I wish he'd get over it. 'Cause he's truly being a jerk. However, "non-cognitive elite," hahahaha, yeah, I can get a good chuckle or three outta that.
  14. I'm barely into this story so far. (Barely? What did I just say?) I'm sitting here laughing my butt off like an idiot. (Well, y'know....) Paused Awe, Dude Radio to listen to the "soundtrack" and I'm loving this story so far. I lost it with the pink slip, Daddy, and the confusion over surfing. Noticed the guy's name is Brian too. This is brilliant. Oh shoot, I'd better figure out where I was in the story, the music's still going. Oh, and the idea of a soundtrack of tunes? Freaking fantastic. (But it might need an occasional sound effect if someone's "changing channels" on the radio.) It's in the upper 90's and mid 70's here, midsummer, only because we've had rain all week. (The rain we never had all last year. So glad it's raining.) But otherwise, it'd be above 100, probably above 105. So yes, that thing about being sweaty on the bus ride? Yes, we understand that. I know almost nothing about cars. My dad could've talked all day with Lugnutz. But my former cabbie would've really had fun talking and shooting the bull. Straight guy but friendly. Gee and Dude, this is, er, "awesome." -- I'd also recommend "Wipeout." ... And the movie, "Step Into Liquid." Totally tubular.
  15. I've been listening to AwesomeDude Radio. After Kansas' bittersweet "Dust in the Wind," there was something I haven't heard in ages: by SOS, "Baby, You Can Do It (Do It Right)." Pretty funky soul, dudes. I hunted it up. I can see I'm gonna have to watch my song budget. I'd like to suggest Kansas' "Cheyenne Anthem" too. The image of the horses running gets me. I like the Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn" too, even if the author of Ecclesiastes was one seriously depressed royal dude.
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