Magic Pills

I just read a blog post that has really got me thinking.  It started with a tweet on Twitter.  Anita1956 said, “Would I take the straight pill? Here’s my answer.” with a link to her blog http://tinyurl.com/aa78mp.  Here’s what she said:


The Straight Pill

Date March 13, 2009

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..Straight in body

…..Straight in mind

…..Straight in heart

…....I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would restore all my lost friendships

…..And regain my parents pride

…..And give back my families respect

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would return me to my former ministry

…..And the admiration of the congregation

…..And the loving welcome of the church

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would replace the love I have for my wife with an equal love for a man

…..And we could legally marry

…..And we would be granted full rights under the law without fighting for them

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would mean no one would reject me for being who I am

…..And for saying what I believe

…..And for standing boldly as one who follows Christ

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill could take the world back in time,

…..Before I came out of the closet,

…..Before I said I was gay

…..Before I knew I was gay

…..Before inequality touched me

…..Before hate revealed its ugliness to me

…..Before anyone rejected me

…..Before anything was lost to me

…..Before I ever questioned God’s love for me

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking that pill would make me straight

…..And famous

…..And wealthy

…..And talented

…..And adored

…..And beautiful

…..And thin

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

I would never take a pill that would make me straight because

…....I love being who I am

…....I love being whole and free

…….I love seeing the world from where I stand

…....I love knowing God from this place

…....I love feeling passion burning in me for equality

…....I love being part of a people who are courageous and relentless

…....I love being one in Spirit with every queer youth

…………..With every gay man and woman

……………With every bisexual man and woman

…………..With every transman and transwoman

……………With every ally and friend

……………With everyone who questions, doubts and searches

…….And I love being one in Spirit with you

……………Bound in hope, and faith, and love

……………Bound in God

If there was a pill I could take that would make you straight

………..And taking that pill would end all your confusion and anxiety

……….And remove your fear that God has rejected you

……………I would not take that pill even for you.

You are gay.

…..You are not wrong.

…..…..You are not sinful.

…..…..…..You are not evil or perverted.

…..…....…..You are not unworthy.

…..…..…..…..…..You are not a mistake.

…..…..…..…..…..…..You are not to be ashamed.

You are gay.

…..God loves you.

…..…..God holds you.

…..…..…..God stands with you.

…..…..…..…..God delights in you.

…..…..…..…..…..God calls you “My own.”

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..And make you straight

…..And you

…..And you

…..And you

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

Before I even clicked the link to her blog I answered that question for myself.  “Yes!  I’d take that pill in a heartbeat!” Being gay is one of the biggest struggles I’ve ever dealt with in my life and most of the time I feel like if I could chose not to be gay, I would.

Growing up in a “Christian” home as a gay boy is an incredible challenge.  It is made abundantly clear to you from the beginning that homosexuality is wrong, that homosexuality is a perversion, and that homosexuals are damned for all eternity.  There is an incredible amount of fear that is driven into Christian children about hell and sin and damnation and we learn from a very young age that we want to do everything in our power to make sure we don’t go there.  This results in tremendous amounts of guilt and shame.

For me, the shame was too much to bear and I denied who I was for most of my life.  I chose to believe that I was not gay, that there were other, perfectly legitimate reasons why I was aroused by the images of the male models in the International Male and Undergear catalogues I subscribed to when I was a teenager.  I convinced myself that one day, when I met the woman God had in store for me, I would be physically attracted to her and I would feel normal and complete.

I finally began to admit to myself that I was gay and accept who I was about four years ago and I said it out loud for the first time when I told my therapist two years ago.  By this time, I had read the bible, The King James version, from cover to cover and learned that what I had been told my entire life was cut and dried, well, it really wasn’t.  I learned that there were a lot of discrepancies between the things I had been taught to believe and what I determined for myself in those pages.  I learned that while the Bible is an important resource that there is more research to be done and so I did.

I researched on-line the question of whether homosexuality is an immorality, whether it’s a sin and what it means to be gay and a Christian.  When it all started, I went in search of something definitive that would tell me what I was already sure must be true:  That Homosexuality is, in fact, an irrefutable sin.  What I found instead, was a whole lot of the same rhetoric, the same answers and explanations about why homosexuality is wrong, with all of the same holes that I had yet to explain away.  The same holes that made me question the accuracy, the validity of what I’d been taught.  These holes left me with questions and doubts.  The explanations didn’t sit well with me.  They didn’t feel… They didn’t feel true.  I believe that we all, each of us, possess a spirit that is to some extent or other, in tune with the Holy Spirit.  I started to realize that the reason these explanations didn’t feel or seem right to me is because my spirit knew they weren’t.  My spirit was hungry for the truth.

So I dug deeper and I found several resources with more information.  I found resources that did a better job of explaining what the various Biblical references which are used against us might have really meant.  I found scholarly authors who had a deeper understanding of what the times and the languages were like, and how the Bible might have been translated incorrectly over the generations and centuries that have passed.  And I found a reminder that the God I love and serve is a loving God who wants the best for me, who wants me to be happy.  I finally came to accept that the thoughts and feelings and urges that I was stifling for so many years, close to 30 of them, were normal and natural and a part of me, who I am, the way God made me.

I didn’t take this information lightly, and I didn’t set out to find justification for me to behave in a way that was not morally right.  Honestly, I set out to prove, once and for all, that what I was taught my whole life was absolute fact and that I had to continue to suffer until God saw fit change me and make me “normal”.  I resisted the things that I read that told me that I was OK as a gay man.  I resisted the urge to rejoice at the affirmations that I found because surely, as my mother would have told me were she involved, I was “possessed of the Devil”, I was “being deceived.”  Surely it wasn’t possible that I could, in fact, be gay and be acceptable in God’s sight.  But the evidence mounted, the case was made over and over again… and my spirit?  My spirit was at peace.  I stopped hurting.  I started healing.  I told my four closest friends.

I still struggle with the internalized homophobia that I was raised in.  I still struggle with accepting myself, but now, it’s because I’m programmed this way, not because I really believe that there’s anything wrong with whom I am.  I have to believe that as time moves on, I’ll struggle less and less and be more and more content in my life.

What I really struggle with, though, is the shame.  Not shame because I think there’s something wrong, but shame because I’m so sure everyone else will.  I get anxious when I write something like this because I’m sure that someone will read this and tell me that I can’t be both gay and a Christian.  (Of course I can.)  I’m afraid someone will read this and begin to scrutinize me and my behavior in a different way now that they know I call myself a Christian.  (I’m not living my life for those people, but no one likes to be judged.)  The truth is I hold myself up to the measure my mother has set out for me and I know I fail miserably.  Most days I’m OK with that.  I know I will never measure up to her expectations and I know that most of her expectations are unreasonably high anyway, but part of my internal programming is to see her expectations as those of all Christians and I assume I’ll be judged and condemned by all of them for one reason or another once they learn that I call myself one of them.  (I don’t really call myself one of them and I suspect that will make for another lengthy blog post in the future, but the terminology is the same even if the intent is different.)

The shame that I struggle with has crippled me with regard to coming out to my family.  Not a single member of my family knows that I’m gay while I have to believe some of them may suspect.  It is with this knowledge that as I bring this post nearer to its conclusion and prepare to press that “publish” button I am shaking and feeling genuine anxiety about putting this information out there for the world to see.  You see, my Twitter account updates my Facebook status.  My brother is my only immediate family member who is on Facebook.  I post links to my new blog posts on Twitter which means they’ll show up on Facebook as well.  It is not a stretch to think that my brother will actually see this post and because I am such a coward, this is how he’s going to learn the truth.  Will he say anything to me?  I don’t know.  Will he tell other members of my family?  He might.  Am I disappointed in myself that I can’t just say it to them?  Of course I am.

So if such a pill existed that could make me straight, would I take it?  I’m afraid that is not as simple a question as I first thought it was.  I’d be inclined to take it.  I’d never have to worry about telling my family the truth.  I’d never have to worry about facing the internalized doubts and fears that persist.  I’d never have to worry about having to tell people in my daily life.  And I’d never have to worry about trying to learn how to date as a gay man, or find someone that I could happily spend the rest of my life with.  Life would certainly be easier if I were straight.

On the other hand, maybe taking that pill would be like turning my back on everything that I learned in this process; that God did not make a mistake when he made me; that I am gay because that is how God intended it; that there is nothing wrong with me just because I’m gay; and that God loves me every bit as much today as he did the day I invited him into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior and the only thing that has really changed is, now, I know the truth.

If there was a pill that I could take that would make me straight, would I take it?  I’m sad to say that it would be a tough decision to make, but in the end, No, I would not take it.


———————————————————————————————

My special thanks to Anita, author of the blog that started this, first for writing the post to begin with and second, for granting me her blessing to re-post it here for all to see.

It’s Just Emotions Taking Me Over

big-edenLast night I watched another gay themed movie I recorded to my DVR, off the Logo Network, Big Eden.  I didn’t really know anything about it other than what I’d read in the very brief description on my DirecTV programming guide.

henry

Henry, Big Eden

sampa1

Sam, Big Eden

Big Eden is the story of Henry Hart an out artist living in New York City who is about to have a gallery opening when he receives a call from a friend in his hometown informing him that his Grandfather who raised him had suffered a stroke.  Henry abandons his opening to go back to see Sam, who he calls “Sampa”.

dean

Dean, Big Eden

Not long after arriving back in Big Eden Henry finds out that his childhood friend – and unrequited love – Dean has moved back to Big Eden after his divorce, with his two young sons so that his parents can help him raise his children.

pike

Pike, Big Eden

grace

Grace, Big Eden

Henry is introduced to Pike a Native American man who operates the local general store.  Pike is known to be very shy, but Grace, the friend who notified Henry of Sam’s stroke asks Pike to assist Sam and Henry by picking up meals from the local busy body widow and bringing them to Sam’s house for the men (apparently Henry can’t cook).

The movie has a rather predictable element to it; a love triangle between Dean, Henry and Pike and an unsurprising outcome with Henry and Pike falling in love.

There were several things about this movie that I was surprised at how I felt and reacted to them.  To start with, Henry has never told “Sampa” that he’s gay.  It’s never really explained why this is, it’s just clear that Henry is afraid.  It seems as if everyone knows the truth except for Sam, or does he?

Henry is asked at one point, “Do you really think he never figured it out?”  And that question is answered in a scene late in the film when Sam confronts Henry about what his plans are.  Henry came back to Big Eden to check on Sam after his stroke, and stayed for a year.  Sam tells Henry, he’ll be “joining” Henry’s Grandmother soon and he’ll need to know what to tell her.  After Henry attempts to avoid the conversation, Sam says to him, “You won’t tell me who you really are.  Why?  Is it shame?  Did I teach you to be ashamed?  ‘Cause if I did, I did a terrible thing.”  Henry responds by bursting into tears and laying his head in his grandfather’s lap, allowing the older man to comfort him.  After Sam dies, Henry says to Grace, “I never told him.” to which Grace replies, “Well.  He knows now.”  I was a little confused and maybe slightly annoyed that no one pointed out that clearly Sam already knew.

It is clear from the beginning that Pike is attracted to Henry and wants a relationship with him, but Pike has always been a very stoic and quiet man, easily rattled and embarrassed, unable to adequately express his thoughts and feelings.  For a time he seems almost to dislike Henry as he avoids contact.  Day after day, Sam and Henry invite Pike to join them in the meals that he brings and he declines.  Then one night, Henry is out and Sam invites Pike to stay.  Finally, Pike accepts.

After just a few days of delivering meals to the men which have been prepared by a local widow, it becomes clear that the meals are not very pleasant tasting.  Pike takes a book entitled “The Joy of Cooking” from his lending library and studies it.  The next day Pike prepares a delicious meal and delivers it to the men.  The regular invitations are extended, the usual declination given and Pike returns home where he himself eats the unenjoyable meal provided by the widow.

As the movie progresses it becomes clear that Pike has feelings for Henry which he does not know how to express.  Many of the peripheral characters begin to see what’s happening and attempt to help.  Eventually, Pike comes by with a meal for the men but Sam is asleep.  Henry invites Pike to join him and after a few attempts to escape, Pike finally agrees.  They have a very pleasant conversation and a friendship grows.  Naturally, as must happen in such a story, Henry does not see what’s happening.  Henry is learning more and seeing more of Pike but does not understand Pike’s feelings.

Midway through the movie, Sam has a medical episode and has to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.  Henry spends the night at the hospital with Sam, awake all night.  In the morning, Dean comes and takes Henry home.  It’s been clear that there is a relationship developing between the two but it’s slow and awkward.  Until this moment, you’re not really sure what is going on with Dean.  After returning to Sam’s house from the hospital, Dean offers to cook some eggs for Henry and while he is cooking there is a moment of vulnerability and tenderness when Henry places a hand and then his head on Dean’s shoulder and places his other arm around Dean.

dh-kissDean pushes the pan aside and turns toward Henry.  The two embrace and there is a brief kiss before Dean turns his face away and they hug.

“I can’t,” Dean says.

“I know,” is Henry’s reply.

“I want to.  I just can’t,” Dean repeats.

“I know,” Henry says again.

There are a few things about this movie that affected me.  The first is the relationship between Henry and his “Sampa”.  It is so clear to the viewer and to everyone else in Big Eden that Sam knows Henry is gay.  There’s even a scene when Henry is away at a town picnic so Pike stays and shares dinner with Sam.  After they eat, the two men go out by the lake outside Sam’s house to watch the fireworks.  They’re still outside when they hear Dean’s truck pull up to drop Henry off.  Pike and Sam observe what might be construed as a tender moment between Henry and Dean but but is in actuality more a push-me-pull-me exchange about the nature of their relationship.  Sam looks at Pike and says, “I’m sorry, son.”  He knows that Pike has feelings for Henry but they both assume there’s something there between Henry and Dean.

I struggle on an almost daily basis with the idea of what it would be like to tell my family that I’m gay.  The situations are different.  Henry was just afraid with no real explanation as to the reason why.  I come from an extremely conservative fundamentalist Christian family which believes that homosexuality is a sin and to be gay is to be damned.  I do not share in their sentiments and do not have any guilt about my orientation, but being able to tell them the truth and to explain my beliefs to them is a far more difficult proposition with very unpredictable outcomes.  I watched this movie, and particularly the exchange between Sam and Henry about seeing “Grandma” and I thought, “Just tell him!  It’s clear he already knows and it’s obvious he will accept you!  What have you got to be afraid of?  Do you know what a precious gift this is?!?

I imagined what it would be like to be in a position of knowing that what I have to tell would be graciously and lovingly received without any judgment or condemnation, to know that I could be open and completely truthful about myself and my life with the people who are supposed to matter the most.  Unfortunately, I live with the knowledge that very much the opposite is true.

The real irony is that I suspect that most if not all of my family knows, or at least suspects that I am gay, so it would not come as a surprise to them, yet I’m certain they’re also hoping that I’ll never accept it, that I’ll never act on these feelings.  I’m sure they think that as long as I never act on the feelings and I never say “I’m gay” to anyone (including myself – too late), then it won’t really be true and I won’t be damned.

The second thing about this movie that affected me was the general existence of the character, Pike.  I could relate to him, in a lot of ways.  In the real world, I also tend to be very shy and socially awkward.  I don’t really know how to talk to people I don’t know very well.  I’m very awkward with my feelings and don’t really know how to communicate them effectively or productively.

The third thing about this movie that affected me, which actually relates to the second, is the scene I described between Dean and Henry.  When it’s finally clear to everyone that there is an attraction and feelings between the two, when they finally kiss, and then Dean backs away, saying, “I can’t,” a part of me screamed, “Why not!?!  What are you so afraid of?  Do you know how lucky you are to be loved?  Why be so afraid of your feelings?

And then I began to think about myself.  I began to think how I can’t relate to him after all.  I can’t think of a time when I have felt a powerful attraction to a person.  I can’t think of a time when I was just so overcome by passion that I wanted to rip our clothes off and make love, right then and there.  I can’t think of a time when I was so distraught, or was with someone else who was so distraught and in need of comfort, that the most logical course of action seemed to be sex.  I can’t think of a time when physicality was —

Well… I can’t think of a time when physicality was not a terrifying prospect.  I can imagine that, assuming I somehow found myself in a situation like Dean did, that I’d react very much the same way he did, assuming we even got as far as a kiss.  I can imagine I’d be just as afraid to act on my feelings.  And it makes me angry.  Why should I be so afraid to act on my feelings.

But the thing is, I’m inclined to say I don’t have feelings.  I’ve only been “in love” once and it turned out not to be real.  It fell apart at the first sign of trouble.  And I haven’t dated much in the 15 years since.  I’ve thought a bit lately about the relationships in my life and how I’d feel if they ended.  With the exception of my friend Eve, I don’t really imagine being terribly upset about the end of a relationship and I already know that relationship is going to end so I have time to prepare myself… I hope.

I’ve thought about what my reaction would be if one of my parents died.  I don’t think I’d have much of one.  I don’t think I’d be terribly upset.  I think I’d be relieved in a lot of ways.  I’ve thought how I’d feel if one of my siblings died.  I don’t expect I’d feel much differently.  I’d be a little more upset if CPA Sis died because she’s the only one I’m really all that close to.  But if Ex Con Older Brother died, I wouldn’t even feel like I’d lost anything.

What I’ve determined is that I don’t feel strongly enough about anyone, or anything, to have a strong reaction.  “I don’t feel anything” I thought.  “But wait.  I can be very emotional and passionate when I feel like I’m being mistreated or abused… So I’m only capable of experiencing negative emotions strongly?  That sucks.  And it doesn’t help my case any.  I’d like to date.  I’d like to fall in love and share my life with someone.  How do I do that if I don’t feel positive emotions?

You know, I was beginning to wonder how I was going to bring this post back around and this is it:

I don’t feel positive emotions.  I don’t feel attraction or affection and certainly not love.  So if I somehow found myself in a situation where I was so affected by and attracted to a person (male or female) as Dean was in this movie…  I’d have to be all over it.  I hope that I would not let that moment pass by.

When Something Ends Something Begins, But Now It’s Just the End of the Road

Lawaxana Troi as played by Majel Barrett Roddenberry

Lwaxana Troi died yesterday.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry and Gene Roddenberry

Majel Barrett who played Lwaxana Troi, on Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST: TNG),  died yesterday at the age of 76, from Leukemia.  If you care, and you want to read up on it, I’m sure you can find any number of stories about her and about her death (not to mention her life) on the internet today.  But what really bothers me, aside from the obvious sadness that goes with any loss of human life, is what this means for Star Trek.

The wife of Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek, Barrettt is one of the few actors who has been in every version of Star Trek ever to exist.  Most notably, she has provided the voice of the Federation Computer systems in every show (except Enterprise – I think) since the first Star Trek movie.  She is a Star Trek icon and things will never be the same.

Star Trek: The Original Series

I remember being a young boy in the ’80s, lying on my mother’s bed on Saturday afternoons, watching the original Star Trek series.  I remember thinking that this show must have been on forever.  I knew it wasn’t a current production but I honestly didn’t know the history behind it.  I didn’t know that the show was only on for three seasons.  I didn’t know that NBC canceled it after the first season and that it was brought back, only because of the outpouring of viewer objection and a letter writing campaign.  I just knew it was a fun show to watch and I liked Captain Kirk.  It’s funny how things change because in later years while watching The Next Generation, I remember reflecting on the original series as not being that great and thinking that the acting and the stories were lame and not liking Captain Kirk all that much.  For years, I have reflected on the original series as being hokey, and William Shatner as being a ridiculous caricature of a man.  His speech patterns and over-acting leave a lot to be desired, even now.  As Denny Crane on Boston Legal, he could only be laughed at for being such a buffoon.  But not long ago I watched a few digitized episodes of Star Trek:  The Original Series (ST: TOS), on HD Net.  I was quite surprised to see that I actually found Captain Kirk quite attractive, in his youth.

I have loved Star Trek for as long as I can remember.  Even when I did not like it, I loved it.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

After those original series episodes became harder to find, I forgot, to some extent that Star Trek existed, outside of the movies and then one day my family was visiting another family and the kids were watching this new Star Trek series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation“.  I was roughly 12 years old and I thought it was really dumb.  More importantly, I thought it would never work, “There can’t be a Klingon on a Starfleet ship” we said.  And honestly, if you watch that first season or two, you’ll see that it was pretty hokey.  But then the show caught on and, I’m sure, got more money and it started really improving until it became one of my favorites and a can’t miss show.

About five years in, a new series was introduced, Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (ST: DS9).  Being the natural born skeptic that I am I had a hard time imagining how a show about a space station could fit the Star Trek mold, but they made it work and ST: DS9 was another favorite, not to be missed show.  When ST: TNG went off the air two seasons later, I was disappointed.  It was, and remains to be, my personal favorite incarnation of the Star Trek Universe.  My disappointment that the show was ending, as All Good Things… must, was tempered only by the immediate announcement that there would be a ST: TNG movie coming out the following year.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9

Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager

ST: TNG ended in May, 1994 and in January, 1995 the third, and to date, final “Next Generation” series, Star Trek: Voyager (ST: V) premiered.  Again, I was skeptical.  The ship was flung to the far side of the galaxy which means, none of the usual alien species would appear.  The hoke potential was considerably higher as a result, however, it turned out to be really well done.  This series debuted at a time in my life when things were really rough and I was very unhappy in my circumstances.  ST: V provided me with just a little taste of what “normal” was like for me, a taste of my life before I moved to Dead Beat Dad’s house and before my fiancé cheated on, and then broke up with me.  ST: DS9 ended in 1999 and then ST: V ended in May, 2001.

Enterprise

Star Trek: Enterprise

When I heard that there would be a new Star Trek series in September 2001, I was happy.  As far as I was concerned (and still am) there should always be a Star Trek series in production.  And then I heard that Enterprise (later known as Star Trek: Enterprise) (ST: E) was going to be a prequel.  That it was going to take place before the time of ST: TOS and I was really disappointed.  ST: TOS was created in the 1960s and the technology was far inferior to what we have today.  I felt that taking us back in time was a bad idea.  After we became accustomed to all the “modern technology” of that futuristic existence, how could they expect us to be interested in a show with switches and dials (instead of the touch screens of the TNG era) and how could they expect us to believe a “prehistoric” iteration of the show if it used the touch screen technology to which we were accustomed.  But it was a Star Trek series and of course I watched it.

I found ST: E disappointing.  They made some valiant attempts to keep the fans engaged.  The set designs and the technology of the times were actually successful, in my mind, though not as interesting because they weren’t so advanced as the serieses (seri?) that took place a couple hundred years later.  The show was fine for what it was, but it wasn’t a great Star Trek series.  Eventually, there was another television show that I wanted to watch that was opposite ST: E and I chose the other show.   (I wasn’t a proud owner of a TiVo or DVR yet.)

Enterprise ended in May, 2005 and for the first time in 18 years there would be no new Star Trek on television.  That is a void which still has yet to be filled in my heart.  Heroes makes an effort.  It’s an excellent SciFi show (though it’s quality is waning) and they keep bringing in actors from the Star Trek Universe (although it’s been original series actors only until this weeks episode with Michael Dorn) but it is no substitute.

Enterprise

Conner Trinneer, Commander Charles (Trip) Tucker III, on Star Trek: Enterprise

Recently I re-watched Enterprise on HD Net.  I had the opportunity to watch the entire series from beginning to end and was surprised to find that I liked it quite a bit.  I don’t know if I was just nostalgic for the good ole days of yore, of if the show really was that good and I just didn’t see it then, but I found the show very interesting and compelling and the two characters that once annoyed me, Hoshi and T’Pol, were now far more intriguing and appealing.  Of course with my new found certainty in my sexuality, I wasn’t afraid to admit that Trip (Conner Trinneer) was pretty fine to look at, as well.

The death of Majel Barrett, to me, solidifies the end of an era.  The Star Trek Universe has been slowly imploding ever since the 1991 death of creator Gene Roddenberry, when Rick Berman took over as head Trekker.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have loved the vast majority of the Star Trek Universe, but I have noticed on several occasions that Berman has not held true to Roddenberry’s concept.

It seems to me that Gene Roddenberry envisioned a show that would parallel the real world…the times we lived in, but with an optimistic, positive spin.  The Original Series so closely represented our nation in the time of the cold war, while simultaneously offering hope of a brighter tomorrow.  In my opinion, Star Trek was about hope, and faith, and peace.  Captain Kirk was a very physical man and often came to fisticuffs with the alien species du jur, but he was never the aggressor.  Violence was never the solution, it was the last resort.  Before Star Trek: Generations was released in theaters there was much discussion of the different temperaments between Captain Kirk and Captain Piccard.  Some speculation suggested there would be a physical altercation between the two men and whether Captain Piccard, he of the peaceful nature, could hold his own against, Captain Kirk.  In the end I think we saw that when pushed, Captain Piccard can hold his own against a good number of people.  But first and foremost these were both peaceful men.

Voyager

Species 8472 from Star Trek: Voyager

Gene Roddenberry once stated that all the aliens in the Star Trek universe would be humanoid, bi-peds.  Of course, this was at least in part due to technological constraints regarding special effects.  In the 1960s it would have been much more difficult and much more costly, not to have the aliens played by actors in costumes and make-up and certainly in the 1990s and 2000s sufficient advancements had been made to make it possible for producers of the shows to use CGI technology to include other types of aliens besides humanoid bi-peds.  Nonetheless, Gene Roddenberry, made the declaration that aliens in the Star Trek universe would always be bi-pedal, humanoids.  So when, in ST: V they introduced “Species 8472”, I was bothered by the disregard for his preference.  Fortunately, Species 8472 had very few appearances on this show and therefore didn’t impact the entire thing.

Star Trek:  Enterprise, started out innocuously enough.  It was “just another” Star Trek series and I enjoyed it for what it was, but many viewers lost interest fairly quickly, and by the end of the second season, there was talk of cancellation.  I guess Paramount, who owns the Star Trek Franchise, and UPN, the now defunct network that aired it, wanted to give it one more shot.  The final episode of the second season, starts with an alien probe dropping out of subspace in orbit of earth and firing on the planet cutting a swath from Florida to Venezuela and in the process killing seven million humans, among them the younger sister of Commander Charles (Trip) Tucker , Chief Engineer.

In that moment the entire series changed and grew dark.  The ship and her crew were no longer on a mission of exploration and diplomacy.  They were out to find the bastards who attacked earth and stop them before they returned.

Enterprise

Xindi, Aquatic Species, from Star Trek: Enterprise

Enterprise

Xindi, Insectoid Species, from Star Trek: Enterprise

The weapon that had fired on earth was but a test, and the next one, would destroy the planet.  The race responsible for the attack was called the Xindi (pronounced ZEN-dee) and they were made up of five species.  Three of those species were traditional, bi-pedal, humanoids.  Two of them were not.  The Aquatics and the Insectoids were CGI and made semi-regular appearances on the show. For me, this detracted greatly as it seemed a blatant slap in the face of Gene Roddenberry’s original intent.

Star Trek:  Enterprise also had very little to offer in the way of positivity and optimism.  Captain Archer became dark and volatile after the attack on Earth (not that I don’t think that a reasonable response.)  As I’m writing this I’m realizing that the story then more closely paralleled our times with the attacks of September 11, 2001, and our desire to see the attackers brought to justice, but where the original series paralleled something that was an on-going (I imagine, though I’m too young to know) threat with no real result, September 11th was a very real attack, with real destruction and real death, and in my opinion, it was very uncomfortable to watch this sort of parallelism.

With the exception of the occasional nod in the TNG films, the other TNG series, DS9 and Voyager, were not deemed film worthy.  Yes, The Doctor from ST: V makes an appearance in Star Trek:  First Contact, and a post-Voyager “Admiral” Janeway, gives Captain Piccard his marching orders in Star Trek: Nemesis, but beyond that those other series might well have never existed as far as the Star Trek Film culture is concerned.

The presumed final Next Generation feature film, Star Trek: Nemesis came out in December, 2002 and while this film included, what appeared to be a lot of finality:  Will and Deana finally got married; Will finally accepted a promotion and his own command, leaving the USS Enterprise; and of course the sacrificial death of Lt. Commander Data, we are left slightly hopeful by the idea that Data’s predecessor, the “cleverly” named B-4, shows signs of being able to learn and make use of Data’s downloaded memory engrams.

Six years later, I’m less hopeful of an additional installment.

Cast of the new Star Trek Movie, due out May, 2009

Cast of the new Star Trek Movie, due out May, 2009

There is another Star Trek movie on the horizon, and while it doesn’t go back as far in history as Star Trek:  Enterprise did, it is still what you’d call a prequel and I’m not really sure why we’re doing it.  This movie will be about James Kirk and his crew in their younger, academy or possibly immediately post-academy days.  I watched a trailer for it the other day and I must say that, as an incarnation of Star Trek, I’m not impressed.  It’s dark and ominous and it doesn’t visually fit the Star Trek motif.  And with the comparatively dismal performance of the last attempt at a prequel, I’m really not sure what we’re hoping for here.  Are they expecting a resurgence of interest with the hopes of starting a whole new theatrical franchise or are they trying to squeeze one final drop of monetary blood out of a dying targ?  If this film flops will this be the end of the Star Trek legacy?  And if it doesn’t flop, then what?

It’s a Star Trek movie, and I will go see it, but a part of me can’t help wondering, shouldn’t we leave well enough alone?  If it must eventually end, and it must eventually end, can’t we let it end with dignity?  Do we have to squeeze and squeeze until we’ve gotten all the quality material out and then keep squeezing to get all the junk out too?  Might we be better off leaving well enough alone?

Earlier this year, Star Trek: The Experience, an all Star Trek themed exhibit at the Las Vegas Hilton ended its nearly eleven year run, an event which made me very sad at it’s closing and, simultaneously happy that I got the opportunity to see it myself.

The Experience, Las Vegas Hilton

Star Trek: The Experience, Las Vegas Hilton

I was never particularly fond of Lwaxana Troi, and I don’t know anything of Majel Barrett besides her Star Trek work.  As for the computer, she was just the voice and of course that’s easily explained away, if not merely replicated.  And yet some how, I have been truly moved by this.  I’m surprised by how sad this makes me, but it does.

With Gene Roddenberry’s death in 1991 the helm changed hands and things started changing.  Today with the announcement of the death of Majel Barrett, I just feel like, on some level, Star Trek has died with her.  Gene Roddenberry is gone.  Scotty is dead.  Dr. McCoy is dead.  William Shatner doesn’t want to play anymore.  Data is dead.  Will and Deana have jumped ship, so to speak.  Star Trek:  The Experience is gone.  And now, the voice of the computer is gone as well.

Lwaxana Troi died yesterday.  And, I think maybe, Star Trek died too.

It’s a Hard-Knock Life For Us

About a month ago I wrote about the Holiday season and how things will start to slow down, quiet down and become more serene around my office.  I wrote that, among other things there would be a decrease in the number of cars in the parking garage in the mornings and in the number of phone calls we’d receive with complaints, etc., as more and more people started taking time off for travel or shopping or whatever.

I have been consistently surprised in the mornings to find that so far this has not happened, but today, as I came down the ramp to the level where I usually park I saw a number of open spaces and I thought to myself, “See this is what I was talking about.”  And then it occurred to me, “Wait–  It’s Friday.  It’s December 19th.  This should have been going on for weeks already.”

And that’s when it hit me.  This is my tangible proof of the recession in progress.  In years past, people have taken more time off at this time of year.  I presume they’ve gone shopping, they’ve gone out of town to visit family, or they’ve taken time off to spend with family visiting them from out of town.

It’s not that taking the time off work costs any money and can’t be afforded, we all have Paid Time Off, but what they were doing with that time does cost money.  I imagine they’re shopping less, spending less money on Christmas gifts.  Spending less (or no money) on travel and therefore have no reason to take the time off.  Only now, that Christmas is upon us, and it’s the Friday before the mid-week holidays people are beginning to take the time.

I’m afraid I have no enlightening commentary or words of wisdom to share.  It’s really just an observation.  The only thing I can figure is that this is my proof that the recession is happening…  Not that I needed much proof to begin with.

Man, Will I Be Glad When This Day Is Over

I hate Thanksgiving.  I always have.  I have virtually nothing but bad memories of Thanksgivings past.  I do not eat traditional Thanksgiving food for the most part, and I grew up in a Christian (Read: NO BOOZE) family so there was nothing to “numb the senses” or “dull the pain.”

I rarely spent Thanksgiving with Dead Beat Dad, and I was never really unhappy about that because the traditional meal at his house was something he learned about when he was a boy and Papa was working for Billy Graham and traveling the world.  I don’t actually know if it’s the official name for it but Dead Beat Dad always referred to it as African Chop but looks nothing like this. No, African Chop in the Dead Beat Dad house is some strange concoction of foods that amounts to a plate of white rice with a thick gravy composed of shredded chicken, chicken stock and peanut butter (yes you read that right) poured over it.  there was also a sickening array of items to top the plate off.  Everything from chopped, raw fresh fruits and vegetables to multiple kinds of nuts and toasted or raw shredded coconut.  Honest to God, I feel like I could barf just describing it and I don’t think I’ve had it in over 20 years.

Thanksgiving at Scornful Mother‘s house wasn’t a whole hell of a lot better.  She always thought that Thanksgiving should be the traditional meal, which I understand but since I don’t really care for any of the food it wasn’t really all that much better.  What it was, for me at least, was an extended week-end of concentrated time with an unhappy family.  Even Ex Con Older Brother who pretty much lived in his bedroom and hated the rest of us would “come out and play”, which to him, usually meant tormenting me.  There would be little or no food to be had for most of the day while Scornful Mother “slaved away” in the kitchen for the big meal which would come around 4:00.

This was a really brilliant strategy on Scornful Mother‘s part as the tradition always started with Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast…and only Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls.  So she’d feed us sugary carbs for breakfast and then expect us to not complain about being hungry and not fight amongst ourselves while she cooked all day and didn’t feed us for six to eight hours.  Then she’d feed us Turkey with Stuffing.  I don’t like Turkey, but I love stuffing (More straight carbs.)  There would be jellied Cranberries out of a can, yuck, yams, double yuck; green bean casserole, yuck and yuck (I don’t like green beans, on their own or in a casserole); and rolls or cornbread, I enjoy those, but again, carbs.  The only thing that I consistently love about Thanksgiving is the Pumpkin Pie.  And if you’re like me, you like a little bit of pumpkin pie with your Cool Whip.  And then as if all this weren’t bad enough, Scornful Mother always used the enormous amount of left overs as an excuse to not make real meals for the rest of the week-end.

The only part of this day that has ever held any kind of appeal to me, beisdes the pumpkin pie, is the cinnamon roll breakfast and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  So you can imagine my surprise, this morning, when I was sitting in my cold apartment, with my blanket over me watching the parade and eating my pan of cinnamon rolls, when I suddenly found myself fighting back tears.  I can’t really explain what happened other than to say that I’m going through a lot of changes in my life and my emotions are starting to rise to the surface a bit more.  It’s not really that I miss my family because I really don’t.  I wish I was able to spend a little more time with CPA Sis and her family, but I’m not really that bothered that about it either.  I do not miss spending time with Dead Beat Dad or Scornful Mother and I know that spending time with any of them on occasions such as this only serve to make family relations more tense.  I definitely do not miss those events.

I guess the tears came from the rush of familiarity.  For a moment I could imagine myself, nine years old, sitting on the floor in front of the television watching the parade and knowing the cinnamon rolls were in the oven.  I could smell them baking and I could imagine what they were going to taste like, and since the only time Scornful Mother ever made them was Thanksgiving and Christmas days, it was special to me.  I used to love to get up and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I don’t know why.  It’s cheesy and the hosts, always the Today Show hosts as I recall, delivered line after corn-ball line about the floats and acts in the parade.  I don’t know what I thought was going to happen but I always watched with excitement and expectation, of what, I do not know.  No one else ever had an interest in the parade but Scornful Mother always made CPA Sis and Ex Con Older Brother leave me alone and let me watch it.  I was still young and naive enough to think that this was going to be a special day, but in reality, I only had until noon, when the parade was over, before the hellishness would really set in.

Watching the parade this morning I realized what ludicrous propagandizing it really is.  It really amounts to a three hour sales pitch for TV shows, and musicians new CDs, etc., interspersed with poorly written comic lines delivered by decidedly unfunny MCs.    Soon I was in sugar shock (living alone there was no one to help eat the cinnamon rolls), over the nostalgia of the moment and the tears were gone.  Gone, but not forgotten.

CPA Sis, Mr. Fixit and Precious Nieces #1 & #2, are visiting Scornful Mother for the holiday and while Mr. Fixit does some more renovations of Scornful Mother‘s house.  Last night I received an e-mail from CPA Sis:

Tomorrow should be interesting.  I had a nice little fight with Scornful Mother this evening.  It’s a fairly long story.  Suffice it to say that Scornful Mother thinks we don’t communicate well enough with her and Mr. Fixit thinks she is judgmental and ungrateful and incapable of accepting any responsibility for problems and I think they both are being difficult and intolerant children. Mr. Fixit is ready to leave and never come back.  I am not far from the same position, but where would we go?  We can’t all stay at Mr. Fixit‘s parents’ apartment for the next 5 or 6 days.  Not to mention the fact that that leaves her with a house that still is unfinished-not that she has the money to finish it.  I really hate feeling like I have to be responsible!

Anyway, I need to get back to Precious Nieces #1 & #2.  I just needed to vent for a few minutes.

Man am I glad I’m not there.  Scornful Mother asked me to come back for Thanksgiving and I declined.  Definitely the right choice.

Despite my lack of desire to spend this time with my family, I can’t help but remember that it is a holiday on which families come together.  It’s a Thursday on which I feel perfectly healthy and I’m not at work, reminds me it’s a holiday.  It’s a Thursday and my otherwise bustling and noisy neighborhood is virtually silent, reminding me that all the people who are normally outside my house making the noise, have gone away or gathered in-doors, to celebrate the day and spend time together.

I receive only one invitation, each year, and it’s to join Green M&M and her family.  When I first moved to California, I accepted this invitation a few times, but I never really enjoyed myself.  It’s a noisy and chaotic environment which I really do not enjoy, and I don’t particularly care for a number of the family members that gather, so now I decline the offer.  Come to think of it, the offer wasn’t even extended this year.  Green M&M knows I’ll decline, so I guess she figures, why bother?

At times like these, I often think about the TV show Friends.  I loved that show.  Six individuals who are friends, with no readily accessible family to speak of (except of course for Ross and Monica) who make a family of themselves and spending the holiday together.  I, of course, would be the Chandler of the group, (doesn’t like thanksgiving food…  oh, and gay) but I would really like to have a handful of close knit friends who view each other as family and who actually enjoy spending these times together.  I’d like to have somewhere to go on days like today where I don’t have to feel like I’m intruding on some other families day, and where I’m not burdened by my own family.  At the vary least, I’d like to be able to feel like I’m alone today, because I chose to be, not because I have to be.

I’ll be glad when this day is over, largely so I won’t have to deal with all of this any more, but even more so because there is one, truly wonderful thing, that I absolutely love about Thanksgiving.  If today is Thanksgiving, then tomorrow is the day I get to spend with Eve, and that, dear blog readers, is what I am the most thankful for!

Holy Daze

OK.  Don’t anybody panic but we seem to have a problem.  The sun seems to be broken.  It’s out of cycle, or in rebellion or something.  It doesn’t seem to realize that it’s mid-November and that we should be cold.  The temperature today, here in Northern California was in the mid 80s!  This is not right.  It’s Autumn for crying out loud!  I have very mixed feelings about this time of year.  Always have had.

When I was a young boy living in Ohio, it was at this time of year that the temperature began to fall.  The nights were longer, the weather colder and we would pull out our sweaters and heavier coats while the children waited and prayed for the snow to fall and the promise of a snow day from school.  As a teenager in Oklahoma, it was around this time of year that the morning ground was sparkly and crunchy with frost and your breath would form clouds of vapor before your eyes. The sun would shine clear and by mid-day it’s back to carrying your coat because it is too warm to wear it, but by late afternoon as the sun is setting it becomes winter once again.  Coats, scarves and sweaters are all must have items even if you don’t want to be wearing them at the moment.  And the children will wait and pray for the snow to fall and the hope of a snow day that will probably never come.

Here in the Bay Area, at this time of year, it’s no surprise if the temperature reaches or exceeds 60 degrees after the sun comes up.  But even with the warmer temperatures, there’s a chill in the air.  It’s called, “the holidays” (and dammit, make sure you call them that, for we may offend someone if we use the Almighty’s name).

In a lot of ways the season started in October.  There’s something truly amusing and simultaneously disturbing about walking through you’re local “Discount Store” and seeing an entire section of Halloween costumes and decorations, only to turn a corner and find rows upon endless rows of Christmas paraphernalia.  But in my mind the frenzy starts this Tuesday.

Tuesday night, I’ll arrive at my humble abode, in the dark and the “cold” all alone.  I’ll slide my truck into my narrow garage and gather my belongings to take inside, and I’ll walk up to the mail box.  Inside, I will find all the sale ads for the coming week, for the local grocery and drug stores. The sale ads will be chock full of holiday specific offerings like turkeys on steroids, cranberries of all varieties (fresh, canned, jellied or juice), green beans and fried onions, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, pumpkin pie and Cool Whip, wine and booze out the ass and cornucopias of all varieties.  And it will be all down hill from there.  This week-end when I go to do my regular bachelor shopping, I’ll fight crowds with their carts flowing over with pastry crusts and assorted greenery of the vegetable kind.  There will be Christmas music assaulting my senses from overhead, and though I’ll be listening to my iPhone whilst I shop, It’ll be virtually impossible to block it out entirely.

The following week is the short week.  For me, that week represents pure bliss!  It’s the week Eve spends in California and even though she’ll be here for days before I get to see her, I revel in the idea that she’s near.  I do love her in a very real way!  This time of year is filled with the conflicting emotions of loneliness, having no family around and no one to share my holidays with; joy, knowing I won’t be enmeshed in any turmoil of family drama which can not be avoided on such occasions; and excitement, getting to spend this time with the love of my life…  Even if she insists on bringing the love of her life with her.  I’m a happier person with her in my life and I only wish she was a constant part of my world.

Soon, “holiday” lights will be strung around the border of Lake Merritt near my office and lit up for the duration of the season.  The lighted Christmas Tree will be put up, appearing to hover above the lake as it occupies that space which normally functions as a fountain.

They finally finished construction on The Cathedral of Christ the Light this Summer.  It’s the ugliest Catholic “Cathedral” you’ll ever see and I have to use the quotes because it doesn’t even resemble a cathedral.  There’s no stained glass anywhere, no steeple or bell tower, and only at the very end as a final touch did they put a cross at the entrance.  Barely an accent, it doesn’t measure up to the original cross designed to tower above the diocese offices to be seen for miles around.  This cross would almost go unnoticed as you walk past to enter the hall.  No, this building resembles a sinking ship, or half a foot ball, or a really odd looking punch bowl turned upside down, perhaps a rotary club fez cap, but not a church.  I can only assume that it will be decorated for the holiday’s as well, adding to the general “festiveness” of the Downtown Oakland District.

As the season progresses, things will quiet down in my office.  More and more, I’ll arrive mornings at the parking garage and find more open spaces to park.  People with families (and money) taking days off to get a head start on their shopping.  Taking weeks off to spend with family as they visit from out of state, or going out of state to visit with family.  The calls for services or to complain will slow until they cease entirely.  There will be office parties and other gatherings where people will pretend to be friends and care about the plans and goings on of others, all the while wishing the pedantic ramblings of the office jabber mouth would come to an end.

In general, things will be in full swing after this week.  Wherever I look there will be decorations and lights and carols and smiling and offerings of good tidings and great cheer, or some horse shit like that. People rushing about with nary a care for their fellow man.  Only the mad dash for the finish line that is December 25th. There will be pressure to find just the right gift for everyone you know and two for your mom.  There will be deadlines to get the job done while still trying to make all the parties and pick the perfect bottles of wine to bring to the hosts.  And there will be no stopping it until late January when the final post holiday sale has ended, and the last straggling black and dying Christmas Tree has been put out to the curb.  And to be honest, that can’t happen soon enough.

Yes the holiday season is upon us.  There’s no stopping it now.  So sit down, shut up, grab something and hold on tight!  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.   I’ve entertained the idea of putting an end to my drinking career this week-end, but now I’m feeling, as they say in the movies, “I’ve picked a bad (month) to quit drinking!