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The word applies to both life and writing, but for now I’ll focus on writing. Last week I turned in my screenplay that I’ve been working on all semester. It’s a good start, but still has a lot of polishing to do before I could even think of submitting it. The problem is I can’t stop watching TV and films without a running commentary of how what I see would look as a screenplay. I used to love Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters, but this running dialogue in my head about how it would possibly look in prose is quite distracting.
Yesterday I was watching Purple Violets, and the dialogue was so distracting I went and hung out with Dear at his printshop. Today, I was watching Sex and the City for the umpteenth time, and again there was that running dialogue. Thank god I’ve moved past the point of writing where I have the running screenwriting commentary in my head for daily life. But now I cannot immerse myself in mindless distractions.
The only cure, I hope, is to immerse myself in more writing. Since working on Dear’s book last semester, I couldn’t help but think that it would make for great theatre and even better film. I told him I’d love to do an adaptation of it. I gave a manuscript of his book for my mom to read and she came to the same, independent conclusion. And several people we’ve run into who’ve read a copy of the manuscript say that it would look great on the screen.
The only problem before was that I didn’t have the time. With the semester finally over, I now have his book in front of me and am beginning the process of adapting it to the stage and screen. Adapting a short story of mine was easy (using the word easy very loosely). It was all fictional and make believe. I controlled the characters and their thoughts. Adapting the memoirs of someone’s life, however, is a difficult endeavor. My first script, written last summer, still causes me to cringe whenever I think about it. But I looked over it last night and realized enough time has passed that there are some salvageable parts of it that could make for great stage and screen. Still, this was something loosely based off my own life.
Taking Dear’s words and attempting to translate it into drama, there’s this incredible pressure to remain faithful to what is written. I already helped him by giving the manuscript a structure of sorts. Just thinking about how we sat for weeks going line by line over my suggestions and what he thought about those suggestions was difficult to say the least. I do not envy professional editors in the least, but there is something … exciting and invigorating helping someone develop their voice. If I had to get paid to work with writers, I know that, despite the stress and hopes that they’ll listen to your advice, despite all of that the process is highly rewarding.
So I sit contemplating the adaptations I need to make in my own life, and the adaptations I have before me in writing. It is a way to keep myself busy while looking for work and waiting for the summer semester to start. Now if only Jesse, AKA “Donkey”, would stop whining about nothing …
I just deleted/will be deleting my Facebook account. No, this isn’t a rash decision, but instead something I’ve been considering for the past six months. Granted, I only use Facebook occasionally these days, and it’s usually to procrastinate. But somehow Facebook, and all the online interactions, have replaced actual interactions with friends. Why pay for all those minutes on my phone and that text messaging plan if all I’m never going to use it.
Dan Yoder gave ten reasons on his blog why one should delete his/her Facebook account. Most of the reasons didn’t move me so much as a personal feeling that Facebook has replaced real interactions with friends.
I may regret this, and perhaps come crawling back. Hopefully I don’t. Hopefully this inspires me to live in the moment. Hopefully this inspires me to call friends and ask for an update. Hopefully this inspires me to focus on what I do have instead of what I don’t have. Hopefully this inspires me to become the social person I know I can be. Hopefully this inspires me to answer my phone call (when not in class/driving/working), or at the very least listen to my voice-mails. Hopefully. We’ll see.
Once again, I should be writing. I woke up this morning around, let’s say 8 AM. The daunting thought of churning out my final paper, the capstone paper for my Comparative Literature degree, and I am allured by the siren calls of the In-tuh-net.
Gmail? Check. I’ve even managed to clean up my inbox on both Gmail and Facebook, which is something that has needed to be done lest important emails get lost yet again.
Wikipedia? Does a fat kid like cake?
Twitter? Eh. I guess I could lose myself in Twitter, but for some reason reading random articles online is much more appealing.
Nevermind that in the midst of all this procrastination, I’ve managed to churn out this post, written an upcoming (and long-winded) post about Imposter Syndrome, looked for jobs online, and found time to read 20-30 pages of Cleckley’s The Mask of Sanity. Sure, I have an outline for my capstone paper, but the weight of that task versus the pleasures of procrastination is a battle that is easily lost.
I suppose I should write now, but something tells me the In-Tuh-Net will find yet another way to pull me into its tangled web.
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I came across this delightful quote during some late-night bedtime reading :
Renowned critics and some professors in our best universities reverently acclaim as the superlative expression of genius James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, a 628-page collection of erudite gibberish indistinguishable to most people from the familiar word salad produced by hebephrenic patients on the back wards of any state hospital.
Hervey Cleckley, The Mask of Sanity
Why I found this funny, I’ve no idea. Someday (perhaps when I am old and grey) I do hope to read Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Finnegan’s Wake, however, is nowhere on that list. And according to Jacques Lacan, Joyce’s writing is the supplementary cord which kept Joyce from psychosis.
I open up the web browser in the SLC, and am immediately confronted with this :
Media Advisory: UGA scientists make major discovery
Writer/Contact: Faith Peppers, 770/640-4840, firstname.lastname@example.org
Apr 28, 2010, 11:30
Athens, Ga. – Two scientists from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will announce a discovery that has major implications for developing new therapies and cures for regenerative diseases, especially diabetes, improving organ and tissue transplant success rates and improving livestock disease resistance and production. Information about this discovery will be shared at a news conference May 4.
Major discovery? Major implications? These are mighty big words, UGA. You have my attention. I am very, very curious.
It seems like I’m constantly hitting people up for charitable donations. If I’m not careful, one day I may have my own television show, my own network and a billion in the bank. And I may have changed my name to rhyme with Pope-rah Winfrey. Until then, I bring you the latest cause :
Help Photographer Robert Bryce Milburn travel to Haiti and document the people and conditions. The majority of your donations will go towards purchasing supplies such as food, clothing, and shelter for the people of Haiti. A small portion of the total donation amount will go towards the travel arrangements and supplies for the Photographer to travel to Haiti and back and photograph.
These people are in dire need of food, shelter, and clothing; stuff you and I take granted every single day. Your generosity, small or large, will go a long way.
***Invite everyone you know. Help support the people of Haiti!
***Indiegogo will give an extra 5% to every dollar earned if we reach the full $5000 or pass it.
Donate here – http://www.indiegogo.com/Document-Save-Haiti
It’s been awhile since I’ve written. I’ll quickly address that in one simple word: school. And alas, that commute to and from Athens. In this commuting time, I have discovered fine friends in Bert, Melissa, Wendy, Jen and Jeff (the storyline from Not So Psycho Sue is the most incredible story I’ve heard, and posibly haven’t felt this inspired since my Aunt’s story from the fall of 2008 that inspired a short story and a screenplay.) The commute has also made me very good friends with Michele Norris, Denis O’Hayer, Marco Werman, and Melissa Block. It is Melissa Block who reminded me last week of the sounds of Florence Welch. I say reminded because the introduction happened awhile back (during the first few weeks of school while visiting Amy in Athens for a night that would end in my first frat party ever). All I can say is thank you.
Perhaps it is all the tree spunk in the air that is fueling some creative madness, or the knowledge that I’m less than three months away from completing my degree and slightly plan-less about afterwards. Or perhaps it is the fact that the days are getting progressively longer, and I finally have physical education (PEDB 1930 or 40 or 50, I can’t remember) out of the way. It could be a number of things, and I plan on going with the answer that tree spunk is in the air. But back to Florence Welch.
The introduction started innocently enough. Riding through the back roads of Georgia 42, less than twenty minutes from home, when, passing over the rocky effluence of Indian Springs in a haze of golden afternoon sun and tree spunk, the sound of harps filled the car. I assume it was harps. And this sweet, melodic voice that suddenly gave rise to powerful drums and a gritty, soul scratching moment. I call them soul scratching because I feel the tension begin in my throat, unable to form words, and it radiates to both my heart and brain before flooding my body with endorphins. As though an atomic bomb of pure, unadultered happiness has gone off. And soul-scratching it was, because it took me a full day of forgetting about the interview, processing the sounds and feelings in my subconscious while studying for an exam over The Lusiads while simultaneously watching Modern Family, Cougar Town and Calendar Girls on Hulu. And then I woke up that morning, with the light of a fresh day streaming in through my window, pure unadulterated happiness, and I felt it. I heard the sweet melodic voice while simultaneously feeling the beginning of the drums telling me to run.
And the search was on, scouring WABE’s website until at last I found the interview Melissa Block had with Florence Welch. I replayed it, attempting to refine some words out of the brief soundbite of a song with which I could search. I went to Wikipedia and looked up her latest album, Lungs. I narrowed the search down to the Dog Days are Over and JACKPOT! The bliss was back.
Suddenly I had my left my netbook in favor of the laptop connected to my stereo on at full blast, dancing around the room with morning light filtering through the blinds. I couldn’t resist. The deep thumps of the song had my body moving in bed, and suddenly the bed didn’t have enough space so there I was on the floor with the stereo turned up loud, sheer white scarves and soft green yarn blending rhymically as I danced to my hearts content like a little kid with a sweet angelic voice and drums so intense I felt them in my chest cavity.
This song has suddenly become the anthem to my summer in its ability to instill intense saudade in me. The first memory that floods my mind when hearing this song is Sun Day, which happened to coincide with Earth Day, in 2007. From there I spread out until that entire time of my life is encapsulated in one song, an intense desire to revisit the Summer of Love and Modern Romanticism but knowing full well those days have come and gone. Not that I’m not content now, nor ungrateful for the experiences I’ve experienced. But just an intense desire to revisit that pure, unadulterated happiness that I remember starting Dec. 30th, 2006 and suddenly ending hazily the last week of July, 2007. Everyone should have a moment like that in their life, where they can look back with a certain fondness for the innocence.
Driving through the Smoky Mountains, literally scared shitless I would careen over the edge as I made my way back to Athens after running away and scaring everyone around me for thirty-six hours, driving through those mountains I thought about what I wanted most from life if I should die. I was literally on a precipice, and emotionally as well. I wanted to live life to the fullest, without regards to time. And I wanted to love. I chose these things because, if someday I should end up in a hospital bed, I want to look back on my life and remember happier times. I wanted to be carefree for at least a short time in my life before resigning myself to responsibility. I’m still feeling the effects of how that carefree, reckless abandonment reverberated through my life, both good and bad. There was innocence and there was experience.
Perhaps I also connect with the song because of the two different videos shot for the song, one that reflects the beginning of an artist and one who is coming into her own. One that has the impressions of a fete galante, which is why the song and video immediately take me back to Sun Day April 2007. And the other video is a surrealist’s wet dream. Both are surreal. But there’s something refined and polished about the second video. To put it simply, they are comparable to Blake’s songs of Innocence and Experience. And perhaps I resonate with both Florence’s song and Blake’s two books of poetry about the contrary state of human souls because I went looking for my soul and in the process became a bit disillusioned.
There’s something fitting and serendipitous that the song which stuck to my cerebellum is titled The Dog Days Are Over. Except, for me, it is better to measure in years. The dog years are over, and they come to a close July 31st, 2010. In the back of my mind I’ve kept telling myself that “In 2010 life will begin.” I don’t know where life after graduation will take me. Those older than me, from Dear to my Mother, keep telling me that there are great things planned in my future. In 2006, I was scared to believe them. But now, I’m less apprehensive. I told Dear the night before I heard this song while we were drifting off to sleep that while I’m apprehensive about the future, I’m more than excited about what’s to come.
I can tell the dog days and years are over because I can feel myself changing. I’ve cut my hair. I’m learning how to balance health, life, love, and creativity. And, when I look into my past I no longer feel immense regret over the things I failed to do in life, but look forward to all that will happen. That, my friend, is a huge difference. There are occasionally the same battles; skirmishes would be the better term. Whenever I hear or think of Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over,” I’m reminded of this vast inner peace that up until a year ago I thought was only possible by revisiting shrooms and fuzzy covered seeds ordered from some island in the Pacific. It floods and erupts through my consciousness until I feel utter contentment. The casual observer would say that this is the work of Dear, but in reality I’ve simply learned to love and accept myself.
The dog days may be over, but something else equally as memorable is just beginning.
Artist: Florence and the Machine
Song: Dog Days Are Over
Production Company: Rokkit, London
The Love is Universal Valentine’s reading has been post-poned:
A guy in a big brown coat wearing what appears to be a roman / semi-gladiator costume crosses the street and walks into a bookstore. The start of a very funny story…
We must regretfully postpone our event. Franklin Abbott will be discussing rescheduling with Jef at Bound to Be Read BOoks and Stan, our technology poet to find alternatives next month. [...] Jef is updating the bookstore website and the Facebook event page to let folks know we have postponed.
This does give me a chance to memorize more of my poems so I can read without looking down. I guess I’ll take this costume out and have a drink. Or something. I’ll update when the next reading is.
Tomorrow I’ll be reading, along with many talented poets and writers, at:
Love Is Universal Valentine Poetry Event
Saturday, February 13th @ 3:00 P.M.
Come brave the snow and celebrate love in all its many forms.
Poet Franklin Abbott has organized another showcase of popular local gay artists to share their poetic musings and interpretations on the theme of love on Valentine’s Eve, Saturday, February, 13th at 3:00 P.M.
We will be experimenting with broadcasting this event live through Ustream.tv.
The URL to watch the event is: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/love-is-universal-poetry-event.
Here’s the line-up of poets reading on Saturday:
Located just 2 miles from downtown!
Take I-20 East from downtown.
Take Moreland Ave. (South),
Turn left on McPherson (first light) and right on Flat Shoals;
OR left on Glenwood (2nd light) and left on Flat Shoals.
Easy Parking. Plenty of FREE street parking available, as well as free lots behind the store and across the street.
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Secretly I knew Atlanta just may be the gayest city in America, but someone by the name of Mike Albo has empirical evidence to prove it, in February’s Advocate.
Georgia isn’t the most gay-friendly state, but Atlanta is undoubtedly our gayest city—with 29 gay bars here, there’s a reason it’s dubbed Hotlanta. Atlanta’s several queer events include one of the nation’s largest Prides in October (returning to Piedmont Park this year), and MondoHomo, a May event celebrating art, drag, burlesque, film, and BBQ. The gay epicenter is Midtown, anchored by Outwrite Books, a giant gay bookstore bucking the national trend—by staying in business! Atlanta guys are hunky, the ladies are gracious, the gay sports leagues are seriously well organized, and its housewives (and their gay BFFs, complete with handbags and heels) are now camp icons. And who doesn’t love the sweet lilt of a Georgia accent on a knockout guy or gal?
This past year I was fortunate to attend both MondoHomo and my first Pride. Ever. I also visited my first gay club in Atlanta (though not my first gay club; this ain’t my first time at the rodeo). Both were interesting experiences, though I think I may have enjoyed MondoHomo a bit more. Perhaps because I volunteered. Perhaps because it was in May, versus Halloween weekend, though I did watch the parade from a friend’s apartment on Peachtree Street, and was able to meet Margaret Kaiser (not gay), who ran up to greet Dear while walking in the Parade. She seems like a sweet lady. Perhaps I’ll get to meet other elected gay officials. I dunno. I found that meeting interesting. And I finally made a visit to Outwrite, the venerable gay bookstore in the heart of Midtown. Yes, 2009 was an adventurous and gay year.
Some of the other cities on the list were surprising, and others weren’t so surprising. I can see Austin being on the list; apparently there’s an amazing film school, and where there is art there are gays. It’s science. Or perhaps art. Bloomfield, Ill. suprised me, as did Gainesville, Florida. When I went to a gay nude campground over the summer (remind me to detail about that one), I was surprised at all the North Carolina license plates. Dear informed me that Asheville was surprisingly gay. I was taken aback, not only at that information but also at how prudish I found myself. Among my friends I’m known for taking my clothes off, but once there I would not go take it all off. Secretly I was hoping that either Athens or Savannah would have made the list. As of late, I find myself becoming more and more a Georgia boy. Though I’m not so fond of their university and its physical education requirement.
Also, there’s something amiss with the point system used that I can’t quite place my finger on. One commenter noted that gay dating and hookup profiles were synonymous with closeted. I’ll have to add cruising spots to that as well. Another criterion used to evaluate the gayest city in the land was the amount of gay films in Netflix queues. Gay film in NetFlix’s favorites raises a privacy concern, for which Netflix is being sued. Some I can jump behind are:
- gay elected officials
- statewide marriage equality
- gay bars per capita
- same-sex households per capita
Because The Gays need places to live while battling borderline alcoholism as they come to terms with their nascent sexuality, and usually shack up for this purpose. I jest. That’s only my age bracket.
On January, 18, 2010, people of all ages and backgrounds will come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and move our nation closer to the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King envisioned. Dr. Martin Luther King devoted his life’s work to causes of equality and social justice. He taught that through nonviolence and service to one another, problems such as hunger and homelessness, prejudice and discrimination can be overcome. Dr. King’s teachings can continue to guide us in addressing our nation’s most pressing needs—poverty, economic insecurity, job loss and education.
If you haven’t heard by now (perhaps you’ve been living in a rock, or in outerspace, or just waking up from a coma) Haiti has been hit by a disastrous earthquake. Tomorrow happens to be Martin Luther King Day of Service.
One way to definitely help, if you haven’t heard by now, is to text to a variety of organizations to help support disaster relief in Haiti. Even if you’re unable to donate time or energy, perhaps you could send a text.
The following organizations are accepting SMS donations in the US only:
- SMS text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts
- SMS text “YELE” to 501501 to Donate $5 to Yele Haiti’s Earthquake Relief efforts
- SMS text “GIVE10″ to 20222 to donate $10 to Direct Relief
Google is also offering free phone calls for the next two weeks to Haiti, among numerous other contributions. More information can be found at Google’s Haiti Relief Site
Other ways to help include visiting numerous sites who are accepting cash and in-kind donations :
Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, UNICEF (1-800-4UNICEF), Direct Relief, Yele Haiti, Partners in Health, Red Cross, World Food Program, Mercy Corps (1-888-256-1900), Save the Children, Lambi Fund, Doctors Without Borders, The International Rescue Committee, Care, William J. Clinton Foundation, Meds & Food For Kids, Feed the Children, Habitat for Humanity
Just last night I was browsing through the In-tuh-net, and ran across an ad that chose to celebrate MLK Day by drinking and partying with scantily clad boys. I’m in no position to judge, but I did find it a bit tasteless that some would choose to celebrate MLK Day (which most college students have off) with sex, drugs and rock and roll. Save it for Vernal Equinox. Or Saturnalia. Eh.
A couple of weeks ago Dear and I were taking Jesse, AKA Lucifer to the vet. Upon checking out, a lady walked by and commented “What a cute dog!” I went to join Dear at the front of the line and he commented to me that he felt uncomfortable cutting in front of Martin Luther King, III. I asked what he meant, and he responded by turning around and pointing toward the aisles, where I saw a man on his cell phone. The lady then commented, “Oh he’s always on his phone.” Slowly, it dawned on me that I was having a conversation with Martin Luther King III’s wife. I’ve never been starstruck in my life, but I suddenly couldn’t talk anymore. There he was standing mere feet away.
I remember being about four or five and reading a children’s book about Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the more memorable images that stick in my mind from this book is one of cross burning. After reading that book, for weeks I was afraid people would come by and burn a cross in our yard. It didn’t help that the previous Christmas someone broke into our house. I remember seeing a dark figure escape through the back as we pulled up. What did comfort me, after reading this book, was the knowledge that my family would soon be moving to California. But that image from the book stuck with me.
When we moved back to Georgia five years later, to the exact same house, I remember attending Forest Road Elemetary School. In addition to memorizing the Preamble of the Constitution (Thanks Schoolhouse Rocks), and the Gettysburg Address, we were required to remember and recite in front of the class MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Initially I was irritated at my teacher, Mrs. Walker. Looking back, I’d like to thank her. She pushed me, and saw that I was a bit ahead of my classmates and allowed me to read ahead of them. When I say ahead, I mean she had to go and find books for me to read, and would then ask me about them. While the class slowly made their way through one book I had sped through four or five. But I remember getting in front of the class, and reciting Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech. I remember reciting :
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I still get chills whenever I hear, read or speak those lines. There’s a reason that speech was ranked as the top speech in the 20th century, and is on the list as one of the greatest speeches in human history. I think Miri Ben Ari’s “Symphony of Brotherhood” does the speech justice.
Fast forward to present day. I stay in Grant Park, off of Boulevard. On my way to the University of Georgia each day I pass through the Old 4th Ward, and I also pass the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. Most days I don’t give it a second thought, unless traffic catches me in front of the natatorium, or I find myself stopped in front of Fire Station No. 6., glancing at the shotgun houses in the area and wondering what those times must have been like. Sometimes I forget, and take it for granted, that I live in a historic neighborhood, and that historic means history took place in what appear to be everyday and common places. And sometimes history will intersect in the most unlikely places.
Tomorrow, I wish I were doing more on a national day of service. Hopefully my little bit helps someone.
And February is still three plus weeks away. After waking up at 8:30 to let Jesse aka Lucifer out to use the bathroom, and after Dear left this morning to go to work, I opened up my netbook and began perusing the In-tuh-net as I usually do when I wake up. I can’t remember what led to what, but somehow I found myself on The Assimilated Negro’s blog, and after reading through it I began asking myself (yet again) “Where have I been? Under a rock?” Yet again, I feel 2000-late. I found myself reading through many of the brilliantly written entries (Forward Fodder made me lizzle myself a bit, and I felt up to speed when he wrote about Prom Night in Mississippi simply because I had seen it already).
But it was the entry on the Prep School Negro that made me do a double take (and the other double take upon discovering damali ayo’s How to Rent a Negro, thus leading to the impromptu Negro Day). Here’s the synopsis for the movie from their website:
In The Prep School Negro, André takes a journey back in time to revisit the events of his adolescence while also spending time with current day prep school students of color and their classmates to see how much has really changed inside the ivory tower. What he discovers along the way is the poignant and unapologetic truth about who really pays the consequences for yesterday’s accelerated desegregation and today’s racial naiveté.
Watching the trailer, I had two initial reactions. The first was, “wow, I can sort of relate” and the second was “wow, I don’t relate at all.” I didn’t go to a prep school, but then again we all know that the high schools of suburbia are very similar, in that nouveau riche kind of way. My younger brother actually attends a prep school, as there was no way my parents would send him to a public school anywhere in middle Georgia.
I can’t say that I wish I came from a disadvantaged background. I think my parents lived through enough of that for their children. Still, I think I can relate, and perhaps that’s why this project resonates with me. For black people who become successful or come from successful families, isn’t there a tinge of survivor’s guilt. Especially at family gatherings and reunions. And especially when one’s younger. I remember telling my dad one time in high school that I wish my uncle and aunt had children, simply so I would have someone to relate to within my family (He comes from a family of twelve brothers and sisters, and a very large extended family. In fact, anytime I’m in Macon, it’s near impossible to go anywhere without someone asking if I’m my father’s son. I was a quiet child, and because of this every one thought I was stuck up when I just liked to observe before making my move. Eventually, we all matured, and got past perceived slights. But the observation I made to my dad years ago still kind of sticks. It’s rather lonely at the top, and that statement has nothing to do with race. In fact, this topic has been explored for centuries, and can be found in the anecdote about the Sword of Damocles. To sum up the story:
Damocles was a courtier in the court of Dionysius II of Syracuse. Without thinking, Damocles exclaimed that Dionysius was fortunate, because of his power and authority. Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, just so Damocles could experience the other side. In the evening a banquet was held where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king. Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a sharpened sword hanging directly above his head by a single horse-hair. Immediately, he lost all taste for the amenities and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.
I think my own experience leads me to pity those in positions of power. In some respects, I empathize with President George W. Bush. And I can understand why President Obama is hesitant to personally criticize the former president. They both belong to an exclusive club. It’s lonely at the top. And with all that great power comes incredible responsibility. Plus, President Obama has the added struggle of balancing two racial identities. Bipartisan politics have nothing on biracial identities, or even struggling with socioeconomic identities. With all Tiger Woods is going through, perhaps the two of them should have a tête-à-tête. Share a bit of wisdom with this young billionaire. Yes, I think I have to tip my hat off to anyone in a position of power.
I can see a bit of survivors guilt in The Prep School Negro. In the director’s statement, André Robert Lee writes :
While at GFS, I also thought of the family and the community I had left behind. We had been trained to live as second-class citizens, and I felt guilty about gaining access to this world of privilege and knowledge. I wanted to share this new world with those who were not able to walk with me. My former elementary classmates were not reading “The Iliad” or travelling the world on a choir tour.
One can also find this experience in the move The Soloist. Perhaps that guilt eats and eats away at some people until they snap. Perhaps that’s what happened to my older brother, because while watching that movie I cried. Not the sentimental tugging on my heartstrings crying. But crying because I couldn’t help but see my older brother in that same position. While I was born into the life of a military brat, he had to adjust. And somewhere along the way, he broke. Yes, I can see a bit of survivor’s guilt in The Prep School Negro, and I can also see the effects the sword of Damocles can have on those unaccustomed to that type of stress.
With the many swords hanging above my head, the only thing I can do is breath, dance and somehow live. The website claims they hold “See the Film” workshops across the United States. André, if you ever come to Atlanta I’d love to come to a workshop. Perhaps even a double event so I can sell some of these pins for FACEAIDS. Even if not, good luck in the festival submissions.
I consider myself a pretty level person who’s difficult to kerfluffle, or even shock. But when I ran across this book I couldn’t help but do a cartoon double take.
Of course this led to more research, because an eyecatching title like How To Rent a Negro simply begs anyone to find out as much as possible. Read: I wikipedia’d her and then went to her website. Wikipedia writes :
In 2005 ayo released How to Rent a Negro. A satirical guidebook about race relations in the United States was published in 2005. How to Rent a Negro was granted a 2005 Honorable Mention in the Outstanding Book Awards from the Gustavus Meyers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. In 2006 How to Rent a Negro was purchased by Coalition Films to be made into a movie.
Needing to know more, I went to her website :
damali ayo uses art, wit and satire to generate dialogue to draw us together as a global community. Her best-selling book How to Rent a Negro is a satirical guidebook that explores the commodification of race relations in our culture. damali’s newest book (2010) Obamistan! Land without Racism has been described as “laying bare the fact that we are not in a postracial world just yet with great warmth, sincerity, sophistication about the experiences of different groups and a sense of hope and optimism — something that sometimes feels completely missing among progressives these days.”
Do you ever get that sinking feeling like you may have been living under a rock and letting life pass you by because you run across interesting things that were big (relatively) a long time ago. That’s the feeling I encountered. In the span of two minutes I went from shock and intrigued to dejected and 2000-late.
I already sent my order of books to the bookstore, and it doesn’t include the grueling reading schedule like last semester did, so perhaps I’ll have time to read this and her new book when it comes out. How to rent a negro. That’s rich. And hilarious. Le sigh, when did I get so out of touch?
Ten dollars if you can guess where the inspiration for the title came from. I kid. I’m on a budget. I may be able to afford a quarter right now.
The past year has been incredible in many different ways. I’ve seen myself grow up and become a bit more mature (read: I try very hard to steer away from oppositional defiance). Saw my dad leave for Afghanistan a second time and (finally) realized it had nothing to do with me. I would say I spent a year living in the same house with my psycho older brother, but in reality I pretty much moved in with Dear after three months. Funny how this also coincided with my father’s sudden decision to go to Afghanistan. I’m attempting to take financial control of my life, mean what I say and say what I mean. Though I still have a problem overextending myself out of enthusiastic optimism. But hey, c’est la vie. This past August I commented to Dear that it’s officially a year since I’ve been back on medicine. The day came and went with little fanfare, and yet for me that’s a huge step.
This past year has also been the year of my return from the descent into the shadowrealm of myself. I’m grateful for what I found out about myself while wandering shiftless like a cloud, but my god I wreaked havoc on my life and left a Katrina-size mess in my wake. Still, I look back on the past six years and don’t think “My god, what have I done with my life?” I look back and think about all the lessons I’ve learned. Whatever these lessons for the quarter-life crisis didn’t fully sink in until this past semester in CMLT 4010 when we read What Maisie Knew, and Dr. Cerbu continually presented the question to the class, “Exactly what did Maisie know?” As the semester drew to a close I was tempted to write a paper explaining to him what Maisie might have known, and could have made for a better paper than the 8 page dump I took, turned in and then drove to Atlanta to drown myself in a big bowl of nachos thinking I had royally failed that class and my life. Ask Dear. I wept that night (triply so for drowning my sorrows in a plate of nachos combined with the first day without a cigarette and possibly failing a class). By now, hopefully you’ve become accustomed to my digressions. If not, then too bad.
There’s a multitude of thoughttrains to follow, but for now I’ll stick to what Maisie knew. More precisely, what Patrique knew. Here’s a brief Wikisummary of What Maisie Knew:
When Beale and Ida Farange are divorced, the court decrees that their only child, the very young Maisie, will shuttle back and forth between them, spending six months of the year with each. The parents are immoral and frivolous, and they use Maisie to intensify their hatred of each other. Beale Farange marries Miss Overmore, Maisie’s pretty governess, while Ida marries the likeable but weak Sir Claude. Maisie gets a new governess, the frumpy, more than a little ridiculous, but devoted Mrs. Wix.
Both Ida and Beale soon busy themselves with other lovers besides their spouses. In return those spouses — Sir Claude and the new Mrs. Beale — begin an affair with each other. Maisie’s parents essentially abandon her in heartbreaking scenes, and she becomes largely the responsibility of Sir Claude. Eventually, Maisie must decide if she wants to remain with Sir Claude and Mrs. Beale. In the book’s long final section set in France, the now teenaged Maisie maturely decides that the relationship of her new “parents” might well end as badly as that of her biological parents. She leaves them and goes to stay with Mrs. Wix, her most reliable adult guardian.
There’s the gist of it. A precocious child must forefeit her youth in order to make decisions for herself. In essence, she must be her own parent because her parents aren’t fit to look after her emotional well-being. Isn’t that the story of very many gay men? And women. Really, anyone from a dysfunctional home. So the question remains, what did Maisie know? She knew she had to start looking out for her own interests because she couldn’t, nor should she, depend on others to do it for her. After finishing this book I almost cried because it does have contemporary applications, but that’s neither here nor there. The lessons for my own quarterlife crisis finally took shape, as though in the past year I was handed a masters defense in the form of Erik Erikson’s stage of psychosocial development and had to go over every lesson I had learned along the way. And yes, I’m including the last one typically reserved for senior citizens because of the cards I’ve been handed. The whole point of the past three years has been an attempt to answer the question of whether or not I’ve lived a full life.
The other day on Facebook, my friends left a comment about New Years Eve 2006. At approximately 6 PM on New Years Eve, I popped a Lexapro, a Wellbutrin and a Zoloft. I then made a large drink , chugged it, and ran over to Lola and Maclean telling them I’ll see them on the other side. I don’t remember anything from the rest of that night. However, this story apparently lives down in Waterford lore, becasue at some point during the festivities I stripped down to my underwear, ran around the parking lot while it was raining, got up on the roof of my car and then slid down. A friend recently commented, “I will never forget watching whitesnake-style hood-dancing in the pouring rain.” Yes. It was that kind of night.
Three years later, at 6 PM I toasted a glass of champagne with Dear and we both told each other that despite what has happened, it’s been an interesting year. As I toasted, I thought to myself I had finally answered the question that prompted the whole descent. I felt at peace. While the New Years of 2006 was fraught with despair over whether or not I had lived a full life, the New Years of 2009 was filled with contentment of knowing I could die and I would be alright. But the most incredible feeling was knowing that I’m only 24, and I (hopefully) still have many years left to live. I remember the night fully. And I remember counting down inside the smoke-filled Heretic while some drag queen screamed “5, 4, 3 ….” And as the clock ticked down, I reveled in my youth and to a hopeful future.
When I handed in my final on December 4th, I also decided to get a headstart on my New Years Resolution. I quit smoking. I started exercising. And I started eating healthier (Not that I’m an unhealthy eater. The doctor and nurses are usually begging me to put on a bit more weight). So instead of the typical New Years Resolution, I came up with a different list. The first of which includes writing more consistently on this blog. And also moving it to a hosted space. Expanding Bearing the Lightness of Being to include more perspectives. Answering my phone more consistently. And now that I’m done with Dear’s book, finishing my own. Along with a play and a screenplay. Overall, become more professional in my “writing” career. There is that one commitment I made last year to sell 100 pins for FACEAIDS/ raise $500 (so far, I have $20). I’ve given myself until graduation to complete that task, and I won’t cheat by prolonging graduation. There are also small personal resolutions, but as a Scorpio I deal better in the realm of secrecy. I subscribe to the personal belief that life isn’t magical if every little detail is known. I like keeping some details hidden to give the illusion of magic.
Instead of ten dollars, or a quarter, or however much I promised for guessing where the song came from I should pay chers lecteurs for reading this far. Ah, c’est la vie.
At any rate, I felt last year I said yes. And I’m happy with the dividends.
I couldn’t resist. Plus, I’ve too much time on my hands. Today I bring you revenge, apparently best served after Christmas:
Looking for a model to party with on 12/26/09 (Toms Brook)
Date: 2009-12-21, 8:04PM EST
Reply to: *******************
My girlfriend is going out to some parties on 12/26/09 and I’m not invited (she’s trying to make me jealous). So I’m looking for a sexy girl to go partying with. I posted some ads in the personals sections but I want to make sure I find someone. I’m willining to pay, negotiable, and I’m just looking for a good time and a distraction. I’m an attractive guy (will send a picture) and can gel into any situation and company. Hit me back if you’re interested.
The In-tuh-net really is a wonderful invention used for the best intentions.
but it wasn’t May. It was December. While down at my parents house for the holidays I decided to catch up on some In-tuh-net and ran across several photographers whose work I find very eye-catching.
The first is Tarrice Love. I’d post some pictures, but I’m a bit lazy and didn’t email him to ask permission if I could post (for any of them really). But, in his own words :
“He is mostly self-taught but his talents were fine tuned at Southwest Community College and the University of Memphis. He has manage to develope a signature style that combines classic simplicity with edgy sex appeal that rivals other newcomers in the industry.”
I admire his skills, especially for being self-taught. It does raise the age-old question I’ve pondered all semester: education or experience? I usually learn best by doing. Taking chances. Getting messy. Learning from mistakes (like that one time I worked at a certain cafe, and attempted to fix the toilet only to get a call the next morning that the entire restaurant had flooded. Definitely a learning experience.)
At any rate, I like his work. I like his style. There’s this one photo series he has that contrasts masculinity and femininity. It’s gritty yet soft, and almost voyeuristic but very artistic. Je ne sais pas. I look at pictures like that and think to myself, ” I’d love to do something like that one day, before I’m old and gray.”
Another site is Trevor Green. I became so enamored with his stuff when I ran across it that, in a fit of geek-ism, I sent him an email and said I’d love to work with him sometime. Only after I sent the email did I realize how crazy and fan-like I must sound, but what can I say. Photography moves me.
On his ModelMayhem profile, he describes that he’s an art director for an ad agency in Atlanta, and attempting to go pro. He goes on to say that he currently shows in galleries and has done several fine arts festivals, and hopes to get published eventually. In the meantime, he’s working on building a portfolio to submit to magazines and talent agencies. Moi aussi, moi aussi. Well, a portfolio for jobs and also a portfolio when I submit to an MFA program (if I can decide which route to go).
Another thing that struck me was his influences. Namely Herb Ritts and David LaChapelle. So, when I think of Herb Ritts I immediatly think of Mariah Carey, (directed her “My All” video) but he’s shot so much more than that. To give you a brief rundown of Herb Ritts, he’s directed: Madonna – Cherish, Janet Jackson – Love Will Never Do, Jennifer Lopez – Ain’t It Funny, Shakira – Underneath Your Clothes, plus many many more.
Half the reason I love all those songs is because of their music video. I remember being a senior in high school and hearing in the news that he died, and thinking to myself “the world has lost a legend.” And when I think of David LaChapelle, I’m immediately reminded of this one photo shoot he did with Pink where half the room was on fire. God, just thinking about those photos is like eating ten pieces of dark chocolate, drinking a glass of wine, and then lighting up a cigarette. In other words, purely orgasmic. If he had mentioned Annie Leibovitz, I just may have simultaneously shat and pissed my pants. Yeah, if I had to think about it, those are probably my top three photographer idols.
But back to Trevor Green. Really, though, I’m drawn to the way he uses light, in the few pictures I have seen. And also the way his photos seem to capture essence. Though anytime I get to describing what I like about art, I feel like I’m that blonde in the episode of Family Guy when Brian goes on a date and she pronounces everything wrong. “Oh yeah, I love re..recetite. Um, I’ll have the escargot and the chablis.”
And yet another photographer I’ve run across is Ethan James. After reading his bio, all I could think was, “wow” :
“James is a Ph.D. student at Middle Tennessee State University. He completed his B.A. and M.A. in English (short fiction creative writing) at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. His master’s thesis was entitled, “Short Fiction Creative Writing: Storytelling with a Film Perspective.” His fields of study include children’s literature and horror films, narratological studies in television and film, applications of gender and queer theory in popular culture, and creative writing poetry, short fiction, and screenplay. He is also a freelance writer and former editor of nationally-ranked magazine and newspaper publications.”
If he comes to Atlanta Queer Literary Fest sometime, I definitely want to meet him. If he’s already come and I’ve missed him, well damn. What’s intriguing about this is his thesis: storytelling with a film perspective. That’s how I (attempt) to write, at least my short stories. I can definitely identify with first picturing the scene inside my head and then attempting to translate that scene into words. Perhaps I’ll be able to find his thesis somewhere and read it. And perhaps someday I will get to work with him as well.
Yep, I think that does it for my dabble into photographic idolatry. À plus.
I gave out pins and donated money in people’s names to an organization called FACEAIDS.
FACE AIDS aims to build a broad-based movement of students seeking to increase global health equality. Working with Partners In Health (PIH), a respected health and social justice organization working to provide healthcare for the poor in nine countries, FACE AIDS runs income-generating projects with HIV associations in the Kirehe District of eastern Rwanda.
If you’d like a pin, if you’d like to donate, or if you’d like to purchase any of the other products they sell, feel free to contact me or visit their website. However, one of the benefits with student fund-raising is that they are donating 100% of student fund-raising efforts towards the cause. For more info, visit my FACEAIDS page, or visit their website, http://www.faceaids.org.
And, if you’re a student at the University of Georgia, feel free to contact me about joining the cause. I do need help putting together the local chapter and can use anyone willing to donate time or effort.
and I seriously do love black and white photography.
This Christmas finds us with two movies opening. Possibly three. But there’s only one I want to see. Yes, Robert Downey, Jr. is quite sexy as a shirtless Holmes. And yes, I have a cougar crush on Meryl Streep. But who, in their right mind, could resist the allure of this:
While lying in bed with Dear, as the semester came to a close, every time commercials were on for Nine I would exclaim, in a high-pitched voice, that I couldn’t wait to see it. I saw KHud make the rounds on the talk show. I saw Larry King pretty much ignore Sophia Loren while he chatted with the crew of Nine in his studio. And I’ve seen all the sneak peaks I could manage OnDemand.
Dear has been dying to see Avatar. I’m kind of indifferent to the special effects, and while the IMAX would be cool, as a self-respecting card carrying member of The Gays I absolutely cannot resist a musical and a movie filled with seductive women. Why The Gays cannot resist the last one, I have no idea. Perhaps it’s the hairography. Perhaps it’s the heels. Perhaps it’s the glitter and all the pretty shiny things. Je ne sais pas.
While critics have been crushing this movie, I just do not care. I’m in love with the black and white. And you know how I love the play of light. I can feel my body chill, and it gives me such a special thrill just thinking about this. Perhaps I’m just in love with Rob Marshall. First Cinderella (I still catch myself humming “Impossible”). Then Chicago (and all that jazz). And then Memoirs of a Geisha (which wasn’t even a musical).
Last year I couldn’t wait to see The Duchess. (Seriously, I drove all the way up to the Mall of Georgia because that’s the only place I could find it playing when it came out). This year, it’s Nine. Although one of my teachers did say Brightstar was good. And A Single Man does sound interesting. No, I remain resolute. Gimme Nine.
… A 54 convertible too,
I’ll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.
Think of all the fun I’ve missed,
Think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed, (let’s not forget Derek Magyar either)
Next year I could be just as good,
If you’ll check off my Christmas list,
Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex,
Sign your ‘X’ on the line,
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight.