Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shop Closed Indefinitely

In case you didn't get the gist of the last rambling post, I'm closing up shop here for a while - while I get some R&R&R&R (Rest, Relaxation, Re-Creation, Recuperation and any other R that might do me some good - not counting on any Remuneration at all, but who knows?)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stream of UnConsciousness - Nothing Sacred - Kill the Buddha - Till Next Time

Poem by College Buddy Dennis Ryan 1968 
As He Went Off To The Peace Corps
A Banner I Made for Dignity - Use a Gay Interpretation of Eph 3:16
"May He Give  You The Power 
Through His Spirit 
For Your Hidden Self To Grow Strong"
I remember the lessons about Holy Communion that I was taught when I was a kid in Catholic grade school. 

The priest was the only one who could touch the Sacred Host because his thumb and index finger had been consecrated (made sacred). To drive home this lesson we were told of a missionary priest whose thumbs and forefingers had been cut off by heathens who were determined to keep him from saying Mass.  He got a special dispensation. 

(what a wonderful "Catholic" word - dispensation - better than "permission" because it implies being able to do something that might otherwise carry the consequences of sin and get away with it without having to go to purgatory or even hell; wouldn't it have been wonderful to get a dispensation to masturbate when we were teenagers? But I digress.) 

The missionary was allowed to have his middle and ring fingers "consecrated" so that he could continue to say Mass and touch the Eucharist.

But of course, I was puzzled because the communion wafer was placed on my tongue, which had not, to the best of my knowledge, ever been consecrated. 

I remember one time when the priest dropped a consecrated Eucharistic wafer on the floor while giving out communion. He stopped what he was doing and covered the host - or the spot where the host fell - with a white linen cloth until the service was over.  He then he returned with an altar boy holding holy water and a prayerbook.  The priest recited several Latin prayers from the book and sprinkled the area with Holy Water - water that had been blessed and made sacred also.  I imagined that this ritual somehow neutralized the spot that the host had touched or neutralized the clumsiness of the priest or made apologies to the Body of Christ that had hit the floor.  

It was kind of cool being in the Catholic Church back then - we were surrounded by things that were holy, blessed, consecrated and sacred. 

Not many years later, communicants were allowed to receive Holy Communion in their own hands, pick it up with their own fingers and place it in their own mouths - hands and fingers mind you, that had not been "consecrated". 

Was this the beginning of the unraveling of the illusion of the Sacred?  Some conservative Catholics might think so and with dismay and consternation.

Personally I think it is most important to hold nothing sacred - to finally hold nothing sacred - in order to perhaps truly experience the sacred.

Not to be rid of the golden calf, the hallowed ground, the flag, the tombs, the scriptures, the relics, the places of worship - but to cease holding such symbols sacred will perhaps free us to experience the sacred.  Because these things are meant to merely point to the sacred, not be held sacred in and of themselves.

I couldn't explain what I mean by that, so I am not even going to try.  Except that I don't think things and symbols and places are sacred - only that if we look more closely we may discover what those things are really pointing to - what it is that we should be in awe of and what is truly greater than.

I am reminded of the admonition to "Kill the Buddha" if you meet him on the road.  Not exactly in the same vein of thought, but somehow similar.  The saying is to remind us that there are impostors in every age.  Perhaps those objects and symbols which we hold sacred are impostors as well.  

*   *   *   *   *

A Zen koan asks "Does a dog have a Buddha nature?" 
I look at my Labrador Retriever. 
I laugh out loud uncontrollably! 

*   *   *   *   *

In his book, If You Meet the Budha on the Road, Kill Him © by psychotherapist and author Sheldon Kopp (1929 – 1999), he lists a number of "truths" - his "Eschatological Laundry List" to which I have made some annotations:

1. This is it!

At least for a while - I need a break

2. There are no hidden meanings.

And we are quite foolish to keep looking

3. You can’t get there from here, and besides there’s no place else to go.

Assuming there is actually a "here" and a "there" - that's why there's no where else to go

4. We are all already dying, and we will be dead for a long time.

Some of us are already dead, but don't know it yet. Amen

5. Nothing lasts.
Just look at mom's special tea cup that you've treasured since forever - a hundred shards on the kitchen floor

6. There is no way of getting all you want.

Yet others keep taking what little you might have in order to prove this wrong

7. You can’t have anything unless you let go of it.

Yeah, like letting the butterfly go . . . I never did get that

8. You only get to keep what you give away.

That has to involve some serious sleight of hand

9. There is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.

Except you were in the wrong place at the right time, or your parents were poor or you were the ugliest kid in school - but those aren't reasons, just excuses

10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune. 

Oh, so that's why I don't have a pension

11. You have a responsibility to do your best nonetheless. 
I try

12. It is a random universe to which we bring meaning. 
"Spinning wheel got to go round"

13. You don’t really control anything. 
But are they controlling you?

14. You can’t make anyone love you. 
So why would you even try?

15. No one is any stronger or any weaker than anyone else. 
But there are plenty of people who would have you believe differently

16. Everyone is, in his own way, vulnerable.

But some can afford better armor

17. There are no great men.

Well, maybe a few, and some great women too

18. If you have a hero, look again: you have diminished yourself in some way.

I never did go in for those Marvel Comics
19. Everyone lies, cheats, pretends (yes, you too, and most certainly I myself).

Well that about covers it

20. All evil is potential vitality in need of transformation.

I think I need to find some pot in order to contemplate this one

21. All of you is worth something, if you will only own it.

If I could afford it, I might own it - for what it's worth

22. Progress is an illusion.

Especially in light of global warming

23. Evil can be displaced but never eradicated, as all solutions breed new problems.

And our illustrious US Congress is such a shining example of this

24. Yet it is necessary to keep on struggling toward solution.

Barring a filibuster

25. Childhood is a nightmare.

I remember the day I got kidnapped and taken to the optometrist to get my first pair of glasses - wearing glasses back then was like wearing a sign that said kick me and laugh

26. But it is so very hard to be an on-your-own-take-care-of-yourself-cause-there-is-no-one-else-to-do-it-for-you grown-up.

Grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, vacuuming, mopping, walking the dog - a woman's work is NEVER done

27. Each of us is ultimately alone.

I am reminded as he snores through the night while I lie awake

28. The most important things, each man must do for himself.

Shit, shower and shave

29. Love is not enough, but it sure helps.

Ditto for sex

30. We have only ourselves, and one another. That may not be much, but that’s all there is.

"Cause you got me, and baby I got you"

31. How strange, that so often, it all seems worth it. 

Remember last Thursday?

32. We must live within the ambiguity of partial freedom, partial power, and partial knowledge. 
That's very intellectual - but I really don't know what you mean by partial freedom and partial power - but I think I understand part of what you're saying

33. All important decisions must be made on the basis of insufficient data.

Back to the illustrious US Congress - talk about insufficient data but no lack of opinion

34. Yet we are responsible for everything we do.

Tell THAT to the US Congress

35. No excuses will be accepted.

You've GOT to be kidding

36. You can run, but you can’t hide.

They ran for Congress and I'll bet there are a good number of them hiding in the bathroom when it's time to explain in front of reporters

37. It is most important to run out of scapegoats.

But, don't worry, there will always be "the gays"

38. We must learn the power of living with our helplessness.

Now that's encouraging and intriguing - just what kind of power are we talking about?
39. The only victory lies in surrender to oneself.

I give up

40. All of the significant battles are waged within the self.

Those white blood cells are fighting mad

41. You are free to do whatever you like. You need only face the consequences.


42. What do you know…for sure…anyway?

I've already told you: grandma said "you don't know nothing yet"

43. Learn to forgive yourself, again and again and again and again…

I'm sorry, no problem, I'm sorry, that's OK, I'm sorry, enough already

So, you see, even Sheldon Kopp's Laundry List isn't sacred.  Back to

1. This is it! 
At least for a while - I need a break. 

Honestly, I think the blogosphere is making me terribly depressed.  It is like an addiction to some nasty downers that never let up - on the one hand, I feel that I must be responsibly informed, yet, on the other,  I do not feel empowered by the knowledge I acquire about our society, our government, our churches.  

The more I read, the more powerless and hopeless I sometimes feel, despite the occasional good news.  And it is time-consuming as well.  The blogosphere sucks up a good part of my day - not so much writing but mostly reading, watching video clips on timely topics, and going from this to that.

Remember, there was a time before internet, a time when things seemed to be in better, or at least a more comfortable, perspective.  A time of innocence...

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was 
A time of innocence, A time of confidences 
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph 
Preserve your memories; They're all that's left you

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Annette Funicello

Growing up in the 50's and 60's with the Mickey Mouse Club and Disney, I was never a great fan of Annette.  I thought she was too popular, too stuck up, a snob and a tease.

The fact that Annette was Italian-American made her more familiar to me - perhaps because I grew up with a slew of female cousins and Annette could have been one of them - and made her more of an icon, a caricature of Italian-American adolescence.

I couldn't articulate it then, but I think Annette represented the entire heterosexual world of teens and preteens - a world I could not relate to in the least - but a world that I envied at some level - not because I wanted to be like them (the straight kids), but because their budding sexuality was being celebrated in movies and music everywhere you looked.  Their "normality" was held up as an ideal, as proof of their inherent potential to fulfill their parents' and society's dreams and visions.

Watching movies and TV, I remained an outsider, looking in at the "normal" world, a world where the likes of Annette made boys weak in the knees and caused them to act like idiots.  That was disturbing.

Annette was sexy in a modest way but wore her virginity belt with a security lock that could stave off even the sexiest and most persistent boys on the beach.  I was not attracted to Annette, but I was attracted to some of the boys she put off.

To be fair, I must admit that over the years I have come to admire and respect the woman that Annette Funicello became.  She was a decent and courageous woman.  I don't know what she thought of the LGBT community and perhaps I don't care.  I do know that in more recent interviews, since she came out with her MS, she has demonstrated that courage and dignity and poise that I admire in strong women - in men as well, but in women especially.

I think Annette should be made an honorary Diva, if she is not one already.  Good-bye Annette and thank you.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

From My File Cabinet - 9 - "Some Letters to TS"


To T.S.
10 April 1972

            Anyhow, you still planning to quit and go back to Ohio?  I guess it’s the spring migration.  Like the swallows (or whatever they are) that return to Capistrano, it’s in our blood to return to the place of our birth.  Being away, we are restless.
            It’s as though we once left something behind.  It’s there, somewhere on a summer afternoon, or perhaps an evening with the sun’s warmth still in our bones.  Not being sure of exactly what it is, we return to search for it . . . until, year after year, it gets farther away, until we’re not really sure there’s anything there or we forget why we came.

            Right now, I think it’s on the sand, among the reeds, like a footprint never to be found after so many years . . .

*   *   *  *   *
To T.S.
March 1973

            Just heard on the radio that the swallows once again returned to Capistrano, as always on the Feast of Saint Joseph, 19 March . . . happened to mention it to a few people – they were unimpressed.  As for me, I think it’s beautiful.  I can’t describe the feeling it gives me to know those swallows return faithfully, while people stand and watch in amazement and delight.

            The sap is running – slowly but steadily filling coffee cans on the sugar maple in the back yard.  Hope to make a cup or so of syrup.  The nights haven’t been very cold but the days have been extremely warm, between 60 and 70.  Yesterday we started a bit of a cold spell.  Perhaps it will be good for sugaring . . .

            The tomato seedlings are sitting in the sunny bedroom window photosynthesizing along with the sweet basil . . . toward a delicious tomato sauce, I’m sure.  The garden awaits the turning and the manure to ready it for tomatoes and squash, peppers and beans, lettuce and chard, parsley, basil and beets, perhaps some eggplant and pumpkin and cucumbers . . . I guess I’ll have to widen the plot by two or three feet and plant the pumpkins in a patch off to the side . . . almost half the backyard would go to garden if I had the time . . . so many good things to plant and nurse and to watch grow and blossom and bear fruit.

            Which reminds me: it’ll soon be time to go off to the green fields and meadows for frest tender dandelions . . . great in salad, better cooked like spinach with oil and garlic (just a little) or with butter; best cooked with white kidney beans and ham hocks and a bit of red pepper, just for taste.  It takes a lot of dandelions for a big pot of greens.

            I’ve made friends with the little brown and white dog next door . . . she’s so timid, but was brave enough to suffer a few pats on the head . . . has since been eager to hear a few words from me on my way to work and again in the evening on my return.  We’re now separated by a greater distance as her master has moved her quarters a few yards: with the fence and her chains she’ll have to forego the occasional pat on the head and settle for a friendly whistle and a few kind words.  Her barking and wagging tail make me smile . . .

            Life should be so simple.  That’s about all the complexity I care to deal with at the moment: swallows and maple syrup, gardens and dogs.  Yet I’m inclined to give some thought to how the cigarette I’m about to light is going to damage my lungs; to how the paper bags from the grocery shopping add to pollution; to how legal abortion affects the psych and sensitivity of our society; to how many people are telling you to write your congressmen about everything; to how everyone talks and no one is worth listening to; to how it is that I’ve gotten to be twenty-five.

            I’ve been meaning to write for several weeks.  Since the sun warmed my face one afternoon and the smell and feeling of spring was in the air: all my senses brought me to another spring, another time.  Fleeting memories like a word on the tip of your tongue.  Memories of having friends near.  Memories of sunshine and warmth, of soft, wet earth beneath your feet, a light and happy step . . . Yet somehow it’s not important.  For today the swallows returned to Capistrano.  Today the brown and white dog next door barked and wagged her tail at my coming.  Today I wrote a letter.

*   *   *  *   *
To T.S.
16 March 1977

            Rummaging through desk drawers, attempting to clear the cobwebs in my head.  found a few letters that you wrote me . . . long, long, ago.   I thank you.

            I sit here alone, watching my supply of cigarettes go up in smoke, smoking the butts from the ashtray in anticipation of a nicotine fit at some later hour.  It has been a rough winter: not so much the weather outside, but the constant storms within.  A feeling that the picnic has been ruined.  Like a child who has not yet learned to be patient with the ways of nature.  And now the fog has set in . . . so thick I cannot see where I am going . . .

            Going . . . not sure I really want to go anywhere.  Take your coat off, sit down, stay awhile.  Like being in gear with one foot on the brakes and the other on the accelerator, getting nowhere, exhausted.

            Thoughts spilling out of my brain like the saliva dribbling from the mouth of the village idiot as he sits mumbling to himself.  What to say next – no matter, no one is listening.  

            Wondering what has happened to my memories: hoping they are safe and well and happy.

            Hoping this message doesn’t arrive at your door like an unwelcome visitor.  We cry only when we know there is hope . . . the sun will shine again.   Thanks.


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