I wasn’t entirely sure how this issue fit into the Batman/Superman story that was in the process of being set up. I understand that it was part of a broader promotional move to have the villains crash the titles, but it happened at an odd moment in the arc in this new series. Issue 3 of a complicated story broke the overall narrative. As a stand-alone story, I thought it was interesting (and I hope it ultimately has some kind of pay-off); I just didn’t carer for its overall timing.
I went to a drag show fundraiser the other day, to support Orange County Dream Team and my friends who preformed. And I was talking with some of my friends before the night really took off, when one of them asked if I thought of them differently since they were in drag. (for a bit of context – this particular part of the conversation included me and 2 male friends, 1 gay and 1 hetero, and it was the gay one who asked the question). And I thought about it a moment (because I can only answer trivial questions without thinking), and I said I didn’t think differently about either of them, because what does it matter to me what clothes they wear?
And this is true, but it is the simple gloss of my thoughts on that situation. Especially, since the way the question was phrased and asked, it felt most like a question about whether I felt differently about my hetero friend dressing in drag.
The longer answer is that seeing my friends in drag helped me better understand them and my thoughts and feelings toward them. I realized that they could’ve been dressed in trash bags, and I would’ve still been standing with them, talking, because they are my friends. Socially, it’s more acceptable for gays to drag, but societal conventions are really the best rules to break, and they both looked phenomenal in their dresses and wigs and makeup. They’re both attractive when they look like the social definition of male, and they were still attractive when they were dressed in the social markers of female.
But their physical attractiveness isn’t even what I saw when my friend asked what I thought. I saw my friends; 2 guys I’ve talked and shared with and worked toward a more just world with and debated ideologies with. And I thought of specific moments in Saga* and Game of Thrones** and realized I finally understood these moments more completely.
There’s a moment in book 2 of Game of Thrones where 1 character, a spy and master of disguise comes to the house where another character has hidden his mistress, a prostitute, to discuss the political situation. The man doesn’t immediately recognize the disguised spy, until his mistress calls the spy by name to offer him a drink. Her lover realizes that she can see beyond the physical distractions of appearance to see the person, and he attributes this to professional necessity.
Saga has a gorgeous moment in Chapter 8 when Alana is talking with Marco’s father, Barr. He is trying to understand why Alana would forsake her own race to run away with Marco, in an effort to understand why his son would willingly sacrifice everything for her. Alana begins by telling Barr that Marco annoyed her when they first met, so Barr asks her why she would risk everything to be with him. Alana says because Marco is “so goddamn beautiful.” Barr assures Alana looks don’t last forever, and Alana explains she wasn’t talking about Marco’s looks.
In a moment where my friends were disguised and asking if I viewed them differently in a context where others might have thought less of them, I saw my friends as they are and thought, through breaking the conventions (1 even more so than others) they were showing those who haven’t had the chance to get to know them like I have what I knew already – how beautiful they are. And sometimes they only way to see the truth of a person is to see through the disguises they wear.
*Saga is the great comic by Brian Wood and Fiona Staples. It’s other-worldly (like literally set on other worlds) and set in the middle of a war no one really understands but is over differences no one can change. I love this series, and highly recommend it, especially if you like comics that deal with issues. **Seriously, if you don’t know what Game of Thrones (I know the real book series goes by Song of Fire and Ice but that’s too long to reference all the time) is, run the Google search and you can catch the drift. Basically it’s an epic fantasy about politics…
I am spectacularly terrible at interpersonal relationships. I have several theories as to why, but I think my primary source for the exquisite ways I manage to damage my relationships stems from my inability to stop thinking.
The very first time I read “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot, my first thought was “That’s me!” I probably should’ve reigned in my enthusiasm because poor Prufrock is a mess. He wanders through the whole poem noticing details that bear no weight in his life and asking himself if he should act to change his course. And at the very end of the poem he hears the mermaids signing and remains so indecisive that he doesn’t act and the moment passes. Prufrock over-thinks his entire life and so ends up caught when the human voices wake him. Which is funny in that sad way funny moments in stories often are when they ring too true.
I also really love Prufrock because of his similarity to another of my favorite characters: Hamlet. But Prufrock doesn’t see himself as the lead in his own life. In fact, Prufrock explicitly states he’s “no Prince Hamlet”. For those of you playing along at home, we call that irony. Because Prufrock is Hamlet in poem form with less blood on the stage. Neither character can make a decision to save their lives. Hamlet just has the weight of the realm on his shoulders, while Prufrock has a dinner party.
Both of these men have to decide but find themselves stuck in their indecisiveness because they are thinking through every possible situation and possible outcome: they over-think.
And this is why I love both of these characters.
Because I frequently find myself stymied when it comes to making a decision. All of the layers of information weighing on my decision slows the process. Just to decide what I want to eat takes evaluating numerous elements, and that’s just for me. I turn the decision over to someone else when I’m with a group, because I’m never able to decide out of fear of making a bad choice. So I think over the question and my many possible answers for a long time. But, most of the time, this thinking ends up wasted because I always second-guess my decisions. The human voices wake us and we drown.
And so, when I read Hamlet and Prufrock my first semester as an underclassmen, I knew I was finally in a place with kindred spirits who take their decisions very seriously. And while this realization that such sad characters reflect such an innate personality trait might lead other to despair, I found comfort in knowing that others have felt like me. Probably less often, but, still, other existed who understood.
It is not, however, all doom and gloom. There is always a pathway for connection through the indecisiveness. I have met some interesting people along the way because I’ve hesitated, which allowed them the space to stop and chat. And, actually, the easiest way I’ve found to get a stranger to stop and talk is to look a little lost.
I’m still not entirely sure what to do when the human voices speak, but I’ve decided to try to look a little lost more often to try to meet those real people who can relate to Prufrock and Hamlet. And I’ve decided that it’s time to start sharing my thoughts on this poem that has so captivated me I want to pin pieces of it around me. I’m sure I could write books on the different meanings the poem has had for me over the years since I first went wandered through the half-deserted streets with Prufrock. But this post will suffice for now. I would love to hear your thoughts on the poem, so please do share in the comments!
My final thought will be to you with the recording of Eliot reading the poem himself below.
This is a fair warning post.
I’ve written a number of posts that are very self-reflective that I’ve never published. They’ve been coalescing in my drafts folder until such a time as I was ready for other people to read them.
Now is that time. For some of them.
Keep in mind you don’t have to read any of the posts. If you think you’ll think of me poorly, or like a real person with flaws, or you just don’t care, or some other take altogether, that’s cool. Don’t read them. I certainly won’t be grading you, and you’ll still be welcome to whichever posts you want to read and comment on.
Please do share your thoughts, questions, anecdotes on posts with comments! Sometimes the idea has to be shared in order to make room for new ideas. And if any of my posts do that for you, feel free to use the comment section!
(Though I will remove all names connected to me from comments, and will remove comments that are simply attacking or belittling me or anyone else along the way. This is my space, and I expect this to be a space of respect (which doesn’t mean agreement).)
I can really only tell that I am in one of these moments when I try to pin my brain down onto one branch instead of the whole tree. Because in those moments I suddenly feel like I’m a small child watching people peruse a candy store, and I’m locked on the outside. But instead of being locked out of a candy store, I’m locked away from the ideas: I can only watch them from the outside without ever interacting.
And the only solution I’ve found for this, as watching my ideas meander is no way for me as a person (particularly when what I rely on for m income and sanity is my ability to interact and modify the ideas in my head) to function is to write about this separation. And then to do something else entirely.
Because acknowledging the gulf helps me see where the bridges lie, and then I can find my way back into the delicious, delicious treats.
I’m not sure when growing up transitions to getting older, but I think I’m in that stage now. Later this year will mark 30 years that I’ve walked the planet, but I think reading this blog post by one of the high school students from my work drove home the realization that soon the joke I have of what I will do when I grow up will move to absurd.
But even when the joke is absurd, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’m grown up. Maybe it’s because I’ve looked pretty much the same (with the exception of the length of and amount of gray in my hair, and the addition of glasses) since my sophomore of high school. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always been told I’m an old soul (though less frequently as I add years).
I don’t really know. How does one every know when they’ve grown up? Based on the social milestones passed? Or do you just wake up one day and realized you’ve finally grown up? Or perhaps you grow up when you realize you aren’t invincible and that death is a part of life. (If that is it, then I think I realized that early enough that it’s part of my life already so perhaps I’ve always been getting older and never growing up.)
I’m not sure that I want to grow up. Not because I have a Peter Pan complex, but because I think that if I felt like I’d grown up, I wouldn’t have any new goal to continue striving for. I’m content with who I am, yet there are still many things I’d like to do. That transition to getting older seems so final, and I’m not ready for final. I don’t even like making solid plans longer than a month or so. And even then, I only solidify what I have to. Like plane tickets to visit friends.
And perhaps this random collection of thoughts stems from nostalgia that comes with age.
Or maybe I’m just getting old.
I love to wander around and explore. But sometimes I get lost. I usually get most lost in an area adjacent to one I’m very familiar with. Like the time I ended up half-way to Vegas trying to get from Rancho Cucamonga (where I was visiting) to Rubidoux (where I lived). 10 minutes away and I could’ve been on the moon, I was so lost.
But I don’t mind being lost, really, because then I never get lost there again. And sometimes I end up in really cool places.
Like the middle of a cholla patch.
(p.s. I wasn’t really lost. (this time) I was at Besh-Ba-Gowah)
On the hike the other day, we ended up at this waterfall. We’d crossed the streams several times, and while watching everyone, including myself, balance on rocks, I had an epiphany.
I am learning how to accept the fragility of beginnings and learning how to give them the space they need to solidify. And though I knew beginnings were tricky, what I learned while navigating the wobbly rocks is that sometimes the second step is sometimes even trickier.
Because the second step requires the first step to have been stable. If the first step crossing the water on slick rocks isn’t solid, it usually results in a fall into the water when you shift your weight to continue your journey. And these falls can result in cuts and bruises or broken bones, if you’re particularly uncoordinated.
Falling and dealing with the resulting pain would normally be enough to keep me from trying (I really hate pain), but if I never take the first step, I miss out on all the fun and adventure on the other side of the river. I don’t want to simply stand in the place where I am or where I was; I want to stand in a new place. I know that the new place might not be better than where I’m currently standing, but I’ll never know if I don’t visit. And sometimes the trick to making the second step successful is making the third step faster to build momentum so that the steps take care of themselves.
And if I fall in the water, at least I’m en route to a new place and on an adventure. The journey begins whenever you step outside your door, and you never know where the second step will take you – possibly to the treasure chamber of a dragon.
So I will take the second step. And the third. And see where I end up, even if it means walking through the Mines of Moria or the Wasteland. Because sometimes the only way home is through a gate that was never there before that requires a second step to reach.
I was wandering through my friends’ quotes, as posted on their profiles, and I decided that was a game I could play, too.
So I culled some of my favorite quotes (and 1 paraphrase) and put them in a list. I left off the authors on purpose to see who could ID the quotes without my assistance. I figured bonus points for getting the paraphrase, too.
And I decided to post them here, because why not? Also, see 1st paragraph. For those of you who share my loathing of the Facebook (or can’t figure out how to see them in the new iteration), I’ve pasted them below. Have fun!
“In a minute there is time / For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”
“Remember your name.”
Trust your hear, and trust your story.”
“‘We all love you. No matter how different you are, no matter if you leave us one day.’ She kissed his cheek. ‘And if and when you die your bones will lie undisturbed, we’ll see to that, you’ll lie at ease forever, and I’ll come see you every All Hallows’ Eve and tuck you in more secure.'”
“I dwell in Possibility –”
“Mother says she prays for me… to learn, away from home and friends, what the heart is and what it means to love.”
“‘You’ve a good heart,’ she told him. ‘Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go.’ Then she shook her head. ‘But mostly, it’s not.'”
“‘Kiss a lover
Dance a measure,
Find your name
And buried treasure…
Face your life
Its pain, its pleasure,
Leave no path untaken”
“These fragments I have shored against my ruins”