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Someone took a stick to the clump of majestic Jerusalem artichokes down by the river, raved at them. Who was he burning? What did her parents do that made her hate beauty? Who raped this child? Or was it someone inebriated with generosity, taking for granted the elegance of a sunflower. As if blasting it away makes no difference. Well I have news. If a butterfly fluttering its wings can cause a hurricane a thousand miles away, then the stupid kid who hacked these weeds might as well have ordered the bombing of Iraq. We have children for leaders anyway.
Nothing mattered more than my daughters. The church people convinced you I might sexually assault our beautiful girls, just because I was gay and had bought pornography. What sense does that make? Sex equals abuse? Gay equals paedophilia? Idiots! I have never forgiven you for locking the deadbolt that morning, so I couldn't take my dearest ones out for a couple hours. When I handed the two-year-old back to you, as she passed from my hands to yours, she realized what was happening and started to cry. The four-year-old was yelling,
I want to go with Dad!
I started crying.
This morning a problem that had been nagging the underside of my conscious thoughts for weeks finally rose to the surface. I was fuming. Stupid artistic advisory committee. They took my idea and went running in the opposite direction. None of the songs I suggested got used in the fall's concert program. We were supposed to use music from many different spiritual traditions, but most of what we ended up with is Christian. I'm embarrassed to have been part of the process. Why do I bother getting involved in anything? Nobody listens to me. I want to quit, quit, quit.
My phone went dead yesterday afternoon. I called Sprint from the store downstairs They said they would have it fixed within 24 hours. This morning at 10 I still hadn't heard from them, so I called back. "He's working on it today," she says, "but it might not be fixed until Monday." That's ridiculous! I switched from Bell service for many reasons, but let me tell you, Bell would have been out here right away. If it isn't repaired today, I'm going to seriously consider taking my business somewhere else. "That's understandable," she says. "He is working on it."
Sluggish makes me grumble down dirty groaty. Gotta finda way to wake up. The morning couch is a web. Get away, spiders. Pulling me into a book world, lost in the stars of a Hitchhiker's Guide. I can't afford losing my way in corridors, whispering longtime fantasies. Dreams sucking me under the toe of giant. Get away, ghastly! How to roll out of slumber, if it weren't for the phone call and thoughts of coffee, I don't know where I would be now. Still sleeping probably, not a real sleep, just the hibernation that goes on forever, pissing through February.
Who locked me into this friggin' place? The house with a trash family living upstairs: two adults, a teenager, a toddler, two babies and two pit bulls in a one-bedroom apartment. Why do I have to live with two dogs charging down the hall at 6 a.m., tearing my throat out if I happen to be staggering to the bathroom. The Idiot locking his drunken, abusive baby-factory girlfriend out in the hall at 2 a.m. The house with dog piss coming through the hall ceiling, plaster and tiles falling. The shower stall coming apart. The dryer in the basement doesn't work.
You're letting your penis lead your life, mother said one day. With that she threw all our mutual respect and understanding out the window. Right, I don't care about my daughters, my family, nature, art, life and death, fettucini alfredo, chipmunks or good hiking boots. All I care about is stroking that special bundle of nerves in the frenulum under my cockhead. What a stupid thing to say to a gay son who spent the first half of his twenties saving himself for marriage and the last half trying to make love to a wife who despised him in return.
Yesterday I met Mo for a long walk and coffee. I haven't bitched about my mother that much in ages. I said my parents never abused me, just ignored me. I was invisible as a child. That's abuse, Mo said. Sometimes getting no attention at all is worse than getting the wrong kind of attention. My mother put priority on appearances. I used to be her golden boy, but once I stopped being the model son and father, she lost interest. You should have heard me carry on. Boy, did it ever feel good to be miserable for a change.
I told Mo I'm an atheist and she exclaimed, "Oh, Van, I'm so sorry!" As if I asked for pity. People don't understand. It's not a default position. They ask, "Don't you mean agnostic?" No, I truly believe there are no supernatural powers in the universe. We just happened. What's so sad about that? I think it's fabulous that we happened. And it doesn't mean our lives have no value, or that we shouldn't treat one another with respect. Why does it have to be so friggin' hard to talk to people about what I believe? We need more tolerance.
Why is it we have to be so afraid, that we can't hug or kiss in our own kitchen for fear some delinquents will throw a stone through the window? What makes us, while walking hand in hand in the park late in the evening, break suddenly apart when a solitary woman comes near? We're still hiding our love under a bushel from the darkness of a hateful world. Our lives are tinged with fear and shame. One summer at Elora Quarry, some rednecks threw rocks at us merely because we lay too close to one another on the sand.
I have arrived with Bill in this beautiful place for the Thanksgiving weekend and I can't believe I forgot to bring my camera. Amber Fox is a farm maintained in the Faerie tradition—a bunch of eccentric, earthy, alternative gay men. We camped in the field. This morning we got up and wandered through fall leaves, muted mist, clouds of milkweed fluff and spiderwebs bejewelled with dew. It is a so peaceful. There is so much beauty here. I am such an absent-minded idiot. I put the camera on the pile to pack, but it didn't make it into my bag.
I wake in the cold, dark tent. My friends still haven't returned. Where are they? I knew they had a disagreement. They vanished for a couple hours after dinner and I thought they had gone to the tent, but later I found it empty. So I went to sleep anyway. An hour later I wake still alone. Wild animals run through my head. I envision one of the guys falling in the woods and breaking his leg. I dress hurriedly and head back to the group. I find my friends sitting by the campfire. "I was worried about you!"
I'm sick of working on the chorus's website by myself without anyone understanding the problems. I'm not going to go through another year just because nobody else wants to do it. Wednesday night Bob came up and asked me to update some stuff and I said okay, but I won't do it in November. It just carries on. The website is poorly designed and I don't have the tools or expertise to improve it. Well it looks like a new person named Shannon wants to help. That's good, but I'm feeling cynical about participating in organizational chorus stuff right now.
You come storming in here because you're sick and sore and hurting and start telling us what to do. I can't believe we just sit here, wide-eyed, nodding our heads and taking it, letting you run our lives. You need the feeling of control, so you can stop worrying about all your problems while we creep around the edges of your rage, making you happy. Well I won't live this way. I refuse. One of these days I'll say no to you and then we'll see what happens. I bet you won't like me anymore. Here comes my stupid fear.
Yes smiling peacemaker harmony smooth things over make sure everyone else is fine yes we are all happy now nodding heads like a toy dog in the back window of a car eyes wide like a monkey we're all getting along now no problem no offence taken now I'll just go home and meet the delayed reaction when it all falls apart and I see everyone's true colours glaring red rabid crazy stupid intolerant controlling manipulative selfish abusive aggressive and I don't want to take it anymore I'm going to walk away and have nothing to do with this bullshit.
There's one animal I can't tolerate, a groundhog. The winter we moved into Elmbrae I started broccoli and Brussels sprouts in the window. That spring I dug a garden, planted the seedlings and sowed beans and carrots along with other vegetables. No sooner did a row of hopeful cotyledons emerge than the groundhog mowed them down. All my hours of hard work, the cherished dreams of homegrown feasts, vanished in a few greedy feedings. It made me want to erect an electric fence, not the kind that gives a repellant zap, but one that causes a slow, painful, convulsing death.
They're going to town hall meetings, filling the agenda with their hateful rhetoric. They say we're not fit to be treated as citizens, certainly not capable of raising children. They say lesbians should not be allowed to have babies. I know all about it. They tried to take my daughters away. Fed my wife lies that I would harm them. These right wing church people believe gays are the same as pedophiles and murderers. I heard my pastor preach that in 1995. They talk about Jesus teaching
love but they don't even understand the difference between sex and abuse.
Last night Danny and I went to the dance dressed as lounge lizards. He looked gorgeous in a green leisure suit. He brought tacky clothes for me, and I added my cream fedora. Michelle said my beard made me look like a rabbi vacationing in Lauderdale. Danny and I pulled up chairs to sit with Sylvie who was a bust of Sappho, complete with white pedestal. Jan came around the table and said, "That's my chair." I replied, "Well, there are lots of them." She said, "Make sure you put it back." She wasn't even using it. Bite me, Jan.
Now another tale of horror. Two of my friends took their dog, who serves as a companion to old people, for a blessing service at a local Presbyterian church. Only to hear a pastor's diatribe against same-sex marriage. What has this to do with caring about people? Two middle-aged country fellows, who happen to have been partners for more than two decades, give their spare time to the sick and elderly. And how does this Christian demagogue honour their kindness? Sanctimonious insults and lies, their lives invalidated by some witless bigot who doesn't understand anything about how real love works.
After a weekend with Danny I'm relaxed, happy. It's unusual for me to feel so secure with someone. I know he wants not to possess or control, but simply share good company. So here I am having to pull myself out of harmony and push outward into an undesirable headspace. Why did I give myself this unpleasant assignment? It's all in the name of art, creativity, using my imagination to create more believable, real, three-dimensional characters. But at this moment I don't want to be creative, I just want to be comfortable. I won't do it. You can't make me.
The world keeps spinning and we're supposed to hold on like crazy. Demands people drive themselves mad just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. A little comfort, a little extra something at the end of the week, is the carrot dangling in front of them, but that pleasure is an illusion. They drop their children off at daycare and visit grannie for a couple hours on Sunday. Their lives are lonely, stressed to the max. The vortex keeps tugging, trying to draw me in. I'm sick and tired and just wanna be left alone.
Why do I always set myself up for disappointment, hoping mother will take some genuine interest in my life? Why can't I accept her the way she is? The parents are dropping by and taking me out for lunch today. I'm all worked into a knot. I'm hardly ever alone with them. When other people are around, they manage to make me feel invisible. And when we're alone, well, let's just hope mom talks all about my cousins and the babies they're having and what the children are doing, because I don't feel like talking about my life right now.
Things got tense for a few minutes in rehearsal last night. Bob was lecturing us about the benefits of memorizing our music. We're all feeling under pressure with only five more weeks before the concert. Then somebody opened her big mouth demanding to know why Bob hasn't finished the rest of the rehearsal CDs. As if he isn't overworked already. As if he is getting paid to do them. It was a personal grievance and she had no business bringing it up. You should have felt the hostility in the church sanctuary. I couldn't handle it. I wanted to leave.
My upstairs neighbours are trash. Two adults, a teenager, a toddler, two babies and two pitbulls living in a one-bedroom apartment. They fuckin' swear at each other twice every fuckin' sentence. It's pointless, ignorant, tedious. They get into drunken shouting matches at two in the morning. The guy locks his violent girlfriend in the hall. My hall. Or locks her outside and calls the police. They have to walk through my apartment to get down to the street. I don't know why I put up with it. Sometimes spilt water comes through the ceiling. I hope it isn't dog piss.
How did we move from Sigmund Freud to Jesus Christ to Elizabeth Moberly, the fraud psychologist who says homosexuality is a developmental problem requiring reparative therapy? "I don't want to think about it," I said and the conversation ended. But not in my head. It went on all night, keeping me awake, making me miserable. That noxious little queen is evidently not at peace with his own flambouyance and promiscuity, needing the blood of bigotry and Jesus Christ to redeem his screwed-up life. Fine. He can go and hate himself, but not take me with him, back into that headspace.
I have had enough of this cold. It started Monday and never amounted to more than a tingly throat, but for the past three days it has been in that annoying drainage stage. I'm not even really sick anymore, just waiting for all this phlegm to clear out. My chest is congested and breathing takes extra effort. All I want is to trade in my blasted respiratory system. I'm afraid to go to bed. I'm exhausted from sleeping poorly last night, but the minute I start to drift off to sleep, my throat will tickle and I'll start to cough.
Eyes burning, bones won't budge, heart won't move. Tied to the tracks of a tired day, in the path of an oncoming life. Hear the whistle blow. Who's blowing it? Who puts such idiotic ideas in my head? I am so weary. Just want to go to bed forever and wake up in another life, a brighter spring in the warmth of an innocent sun. I can't stir myself to anything today. I don't like the water leaking from upstairs, people preaching at me or misinterpreting my words. I'm vaguely unhappy, but that's all I feel. Don't push. I'll snap.
What a bitter cup we have received. The worst thing about homophobia is it teaches us intolerance. We have lived with it all our lives. How can we be expected to think differently? We jump at the least provocation and tear each other apart. The gay and lesbian community is writhing with internal prejudice. I'm afraid to tell people I'm an atheist, that I'm polyamorous. We're just as narrow-minded as anyone else. We've learned our lessons well. We claim to be so open-minded. Yeah, right. There's no real diversity in the ghetto anymore. Everyone breaks down into their closed cliques.
My emotions dissolve into blandness. I don't know why nothing riles me when I want to be riled. On a cognitive level, I can see things that should bother me, but none of them rises to the point of disturbing this quiet. Passivity is not a choice. It is a mountainous weight. Underneath I can feel the fires of hell burning, but I'm unable to move or speak. This calls for a fight. With whom? With myself. One month has not been long enough to truly break open these miles of rock that imprison me, separating me from the world.
It's people who remind me of mother who make me mad. Pushy people, the ones who can't let you struggle through things on your own, who can't leave well enough alone. Bullies. Mom nagged me through high school even though I got straight A's, always telling me to do my homework, do my homework. I wasn't supposed slack off for an instant. I had to do everything right. No wonder I went into my bedroom, locked the door and stayed there for an entire summer. She wouldn't leave me alone. Now I'm almost 40 and still closed in my room.
The worst of it is that when something sets me off, it's little. I don't worry about wars, famine, or finding a job. I don't even worry about what's happening to my children. What's the point? I have no input into how they're being raised. I won't make myself sick worrying about something I can't control. Then when something comes along that I can control, and somebody else tries to change it, no matter how minor, I dig in my heals. There's no way some petty perfectionist is going to get in the way of me doing things my way.
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