Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Me, Bigoted??!!! (long post)

Most people think of bigotry as the act of judging someone by their ethnicity or the color of their skin. To me, bigotry means simply judging someone because of some small nuance in their looks, behavior, or social class. I have to admit that I am still learning a thing or two about not judging a book by it's cover. This probably seems like a simplistic concept that many of us have had drilled into us since our early years, but many are still quick to pass judgement on someone before they even know them.

About 5 years ago I was still working retail and there was a guy who frequented the store where I worked . I ignored him because he looked, dressed, and acted like a stereotypical redneck and my past experiences dictated that rednecks were all ignorant assholes who should be avoided. At the time I was driving a complete shitbox of a car which seemed to break down every 100-200 miles. My alternator stopped working on a bitterly cold winter night on my way back from work and my car died at a gas station. Dozens of people from all walks of life passed right by me as they pumped gas and paid for it. I pleaded for them to give my car a jump-start, but I was completely ignored because they couldn't be bothered to stop and help someone in such cold weather. I was on the verge of tears. My clothes were not sufficient to protect me from the cold (I think it was about 20 below zero) and I was starting to shiver as well. Well, someone finally stopped in a beat up Chevy truck right in front of my car and offered to give me a jump-start. It was the man who I kept avoiding at work. He saw me shivering and told me to go sit in the cab of his truck to warm up while he tried unsuccessfully for 10 minutes to jump-start my car. After the car refused to start up, he gave me a ride right to my house. I was humbled to the point of complete shame. I got to know this man afterward during his usual visits to the store. I learned that he was a very nice, hard-working, friendly person who had a wife and 2 young children whom he loved and took good care of. He is a better man than I am. I don't see him coming into the store any more, but may God bless him wherever he is. He taught me a valuable life lesson.

Last year, there was a roughneck-looking young man who came into the store. His hair was unkempt & greasy, his clothes were tattered & stained, and he spoke with a slow drawl. I automatically dreaded the prospect of having to deal with him because I thought he would be an ignoramus. After he struck up a conversation with me, my attitude was completely changed. Even though he spoke slowly, he turned out to be very articulate and intelligent. His knowledge of a broad array of subjects impressed me and he had a keen sense of perception. Yet again, I had misjudged someone.

Today an older, middle-aged law enforcement officer with a southern drawl, wearing a cowboy hat, a huge belt-buckle, and various Texan regalia came into the store. It was a little surprising to see someone who appeared to be one of the officers from Dukes of Hazard up here in New England and upon seeing him, I immediately began to think of him as a stereotypical southern good 'ole boy. He struck up a conversation with me and again I was made to realize that I STILL have problems with passing judgement too quickly. He turned out to be a smart, interesting fellow with a lot of cool stories to tell. Why have I not completely learned my lesson yet?

For those of you who don't know me personally, I live in what could be considered a conservative New Hampshire town with a large amount of low-income households. Because I work retail, I frequently run into folks who many would consider to be "white trash." (People who have little or no income, a poor education, and a seeming lack of social decorum). As much as I try to be open-minded and understanding, this is the social group that I have come to dislike the most over the years.

You would think that a gay man living in a conservative environment would know how it feels when people judge you harshly for something you can't control. I am not proud of my attitude and over the past year, I have become acutely aware of this raging hypocrisy within my own life. This has set me to actively working on changing my perception. I need to stay in touch with the fact that we are all human and we are all a product of our environment. Understanding and patience goes a long way toward healing many of society's problems. I hope that as time passes I may learn to embrace these qualities more completely.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lord of The Flies

Apparently, I am the ONLY PERSON ON EARTH who did not have William Golding's Lord of The Flies on my required reading list in high school. I think I got the book from a yard sale many years ago and it has been sitting on my shelf collecting dust until last week. I finally picked it up and read it. Now I understand why it is considered required reading in many schools.

The book is well-written and the symbolism it contains is very powerful. It really does make you wonder what would happen to society if all organized government, rules, and absolutes were removed. Would anyone eventually resort to the kind of savage behavior that occurred amongst the group of boys in this book?

I wonder why there were no female characters?

Oh well, another book finished. Time to start The DaVinci Code.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


OK so I could ramble on and on about my pet peeves or shitty life circumstances, but I never focus enough on what I should be thankful for.... things like SPRINGTIME and VIOLETS :D !!! Other things I am thankful for: friends, books, excellent health, family, my cats, a great job with fun coworkers & a nice boss who treats me well, dark chocolate, an active mind, music, a reliable car, lack of debt, a reliable computer, and even the bad times in life because they always teach me something and help me to grow into a better person.

As of lately, I have been trying to see the beauty in everybody and everything. It is really easy to fall into a pattern of negativity when you've been burned a lot, but really... even during the worst of times in life I have still been blessed, whether I knew it or not.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Desiderata, Wisdom for Everyone

I read this poem a very long time ago in a seemingly forgotten book that I found somewhere. Last year I saw this same piece hanging on the wall in a friend's house and it hit me even more powerfully than it had before. It is beautifully written in free verse and is packed with good, common-sense wisdom. I've since printed it out and hung it on my refrigerator as a reminder of what my attitude and goals should be.

Max Ehrman

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Another Hike, More Pics

I had today off, and after yesterday's experience I needed some time away from home to clear my head and regain focus. So I took another hike... this time I went up over Mt. Arrowhead and took a series of odd side paths and pseudo-dead-ends ("pseudo" because I've found that all the "dead-ends" on the trails around here actually lead somewhere, often somewhere interesting). The final leg of the trail seemed to have been an old carriage road and it looked more exciting than the other trails because it was the least worn. The road less traveled is usually far more engaging than a well-worn path, so I decided to take this route. It reduced to nothing in several areas, but ran parallel to a brook, so it wasn't too hard to pick the path back up again. The scenery was beautiful. It is springtime and all the young hardwoods are starting to bud and there are young green sprouts coming up through the leaves in many places. I covered about 14-16 miles total and ended up in West Unity, where I saw some beautiful backwoods homes and farmlands. I got a lot of exercise and a few nice pictures along the way. Check out these 2...

A macro pic of a wood frog that I spotted beside the trail.

A couple of male wild turkeys who were competing for the attentions of a female (hidden from view in the pic). I regret that I didn't have the camera in hand when I first saw them and I wasn't able to get a shot of them in their full display when I first rounded the bend in the trail. What a sight... a mix of rich brown and brightly colored feathers all spread out and flashing! The picture is a little blurry because it was taken at maximum zoom and I don't have a very steady hand.

Moral and Spiritual Struggle

At the risk of being perceived as effusive, this post deals with my pain.

Yesterday was not a good day... it was a day which forced me into a hard choice. There are a lot of powerful emotions, both negative and positive, which I thought I had burned and buried last year... and they have been dredged up again. The story behind this is a bit complex, so bear with me...

Last year, at about this time. I was in (what I thought was) a happy, committed relationship with a man that I loved. I will call him Tom... Like any other couple Tom and I had our problems, but we were working on them and had been together going on three years. Then he abruptly left. Shortly after he was gone, I began hearing stories filtering back to me that he had been cheating on me by cruising online and finding tricks at the state rest area. Apparently this had been going on for quite a while before we parted company.

I initially didn't believe it because monogamy was our strict guideline from the very beginning, and I thought Tom was a man of his word. I had been completely faithful to him for the entire time we were together. After hearing 3 personal accounts of his infidelity from various sources (and later no less than a dozen) I could not deny it any longer. So I confronted him and he admitted to it. I don't think he ever suspected that I would find out. I was very hurt and broken by this knowledge of him. I thought that after all of my experiences and observation, I had gotten pretty good at reading people and seeing the underlying truth.

After I e-mailed him a few times and we sort of settled things, I needed a lot of space and time to heal. So I pretty much stopped communicating with him in any way (save for the occasional phone call regarding finance arrangements with his car).

Well, that brings us to yesterday... mid-morning he called me from the hospital. He was scared, alone, upset, and feeling horrible... crying and professing apologies, presumably for what he put me through, but it wasn't clear. He just found out that he has a brain tumor and it has been severly affecting his health for the past month. The nature of the tumor is not fully known yet. He faces radiation treatments, and is unsure of his future. I went to visit him at the hospital... cried most of the way there, and some of the way back... received a speeding ticket in the process.

So here is my difficult choice: It seems like he badly needs a friend who knows him well and will be there for him. Why else would he have called me? There is a large part of my soul that still has feelings for him and sees him as a basically good human being who tries to be a good father to his children, cares deeply about the patients he works with (he is a nurse), and is just struggling with his faults like everyone else. He has been through his share of pain and misunderstanding, which I try to take into account. Then there is the paranoid and deeply hurt side of me that remembers his irresponsible behavior, cheating, and lying... and thinks that he is just using me for my emotional support. He has a history of using people, whether he means to or not.

I have decided that I can try to be there for him, but I don't know how well I can keep the darker, paranoid side of me restrained from lashing out. One would hope that for the sake of propriety, I would be able to let bygones be bygones. No matter how much I've hoped and prayed for it, I've not been able to progress to full forgiveness yet, even if I've mouthed the words. It also doesn't help that he managed to replace me with another man (I'll call him Carl) within a week of leaving me (possibly even before leaving me for all I know), and this man is still in his life. I don't hate Carl, regardless of whether or not he knew the situation. I'm sure he has his own set of problems and vices as well as his own version of truth to deal with. Yet I am still human and my bitterness rages whenever I see him.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I just wish that reason was clear to me at this point. I thought I had managed to work through my issues and keep being civil, but the reality is that I am still sort of broken. God bless them all even if I am still angry.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Steve Schalchlin

I was just reading the Ex Gay Watch Blog and stumbled across this article within the personal blog/website of Steve Schalchlin, a gay Christian who struggles with a fundamentalist past & upbringing just like I do. The article encompasses some of his experiences with stereotypical Texas religious zealots, and may I add that he handled them very gracefully... with more composure than I would have been able to muster given the same situation. On top of all this, Steve is HIV positive and does not know how much longer he has. This makes me feel selfish for thinking that I have it rough sometimes.

The video featured above this post was written and produced by Steve. It is minimalistic, poignant, and a lot of food for thought. The music is beautiful too. I'd heavily encourage you to watch it and think about what it says.

Steve, if you ever stumble across this, please know that you are one of my few heroes.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Anyone who has ever seen the inside of my home will attest to the fact that I'm a houseplant nut. I've had a green thumb since I was very young and I've collected quite a few house plants over the years. The first picture is of blooms from my purple "Oxblood" Oxalis. I love the flowers because of their delicate form and subtle pinkish-purple color. The second picture is of a section of my dining room. Again, notice the copious amount of houseplants. Random Brag: I built the bookcase in the background from reclaimed lumber.

.... and yes, I realize that posting pictures of my houseplants on my blog automatically tags me as a pathetic nerd. Get over it. :P

Pet Peeve #2

People who turn the ring on their cell phone up so high that it makes you jump out of your skin when it goes off. This can be especially annoying when the ringtone is a recording of some abrasive noise or a line from a song that has been extremely overplayed on the radio. Life is already filled with too many extraneous noises, so why cause more noise pollution? This would be another reason that I am happy I do not own a cell phone and do not intend to have one any time soon.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


I found this link on Boingboing a while ago and passed it around to some of my friends. It is entirely possible that I am merely showing (or flaunting) my ignorance of the world of fashion, but would somebody please explain to me how this qualifies as, "fashion?"!!! She looks like a freakin' balloon animal for Heaven's sake! Will this be what people in the high society of Paris or Dresden be sporting at social events? What purpose does an ensemble like this serve (besides wearing it to wave at people driving by in front of a gas station or fast food joint). Or is this merely a modeling agent's way of telling her that she either needs to lose weight or that her career is over? Avante garde or embarassing? I'm thinking a bit of the former and a lot of the latter. Decide for yourselves.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Unusual Landlord

OK, so my landlord is now 1 week past due to collect his rent check... this is the latest he's ever gone without collecting. I wake up about an hour and a half earlier than I should today because I hear him banging equipment around down in the basement. I rush to throw on some clothes so I can run down and give him his rent check, but when I get down there he is gone. Then this occurred to me: I've never heard of anyone having to chase down a landlord to give them a rent check. Isn't it usually the other way around? Oh well, par for the course considering how odd my life is sometimes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Cure For Information Overload

For anyone who hasn't heard about it yet, do yourself a favor and check out The Cure for Information Overload. It's potentially life-changing, or not.... you decide >:)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I just barely finished reading,"1984," the famous novel by George Orwell. It was a very good read, but it left me with a bit of a frightfully nihilistic aftertaste. The most unsettling thing about this story would be the numerous comparisons that can be drawn between the fictional world outlined in the book and the plight of the present-day world as we know it. It scares me to contemplate the possibility of society degrading to such a rigid system of thought that excludes all forms of individuality and thrives off of the exploitation/opression of the weak. Pure fiction? Prophecy? Cautionary tale? A little of all of the above? A lot of food for thought. Do yourself a favor and read it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Liars

The title of this post might indicate that I am about to make some sort of scathing commentary on a current political development, but no... I was just barely visiting an independent student film site that hosts some of the work of Nicholas Gurewich, creator of Perry Bible Fellowship (a webcomic which I love because of it's eclectic subject matter and twisted, clever humor). I just viewed one of his best films entitled "The Liars". I like it because it is unpretentious, low-budget, and still very well done considering the amount of resources available to aspiring student directors. In addition to all this, it carries a message that more people should be in touch with, and it is (sort of) a silent film... ballsy considering that the genre is almost dead in favor of CGI & overpaid actors who require a steady supply of nose-candy to pony up their over-rated talents. When this guy makes it as a director, I hope he manages to hold onto his Soul.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Houseplant Picture Studio

While idly surfing the internet a while ago, I came upon Houseplant Picture Studio, an unusually designed & funky (if not slightly graphic-intensive) website. I like the layout of the site as it is reminiscent of a rummage sale, except with some unusual artistic flairs. Well worth a look (unless you are on dial-up, in which case it will take a jillion years to load).

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Today's Hike, Part 2

An interesting little growth of lichens on a rock within a rock wall in the middle of one of the trail-less areas. It caught my eye just as I was stepping over and looking down to avoid tripping

A thorny shrub (grows wild all over here, related to the rose I believe, bears BB-sized red berries) with fresh raindrops still hanging from it. I love how the inverted refraction of the trees in the background appears in the bottom droplets.

A cute little red eft that I saw at the edge of one of the vernal pools.

The tops of some locust bean trees, silhouetted against a dusky grey sky with the moon barely visible through the clouds. I took this pic when it was getting dark, just as I was hiking back into town. The locust bean tree is one of my favorite trees because of the delightfully crooked branches it grows as well as the unusual fern frond-like leaves it develops in the summer.

I went off the trail to do some more in-depth exploring. The woods are filled with atv trails & deer paths. I run into one at least every half mile, so there is very little chance of actually getting lost. I am developing an interest in macro photography, as you will see by the first three photos in this post. I think they came out rather nicely.

Today's Hike, More of The Old Barns

I went on a loo00ong 5 hour hike today up in the woods behind Mt. Arrowhead. Yes, in the rain. No, I'm not insane. Half of my hike was off-trail and it came out at the very dead end of Bible Hill Road, near the Charlestown line. I got to try a new trail that I'd been itching to explore since last year and from what I guess, I think I covered about 12-15 miles. Thankfully, the rain cleared up about an hour into it. I took the camera with me so I could get more photos of the old barns as well as any other curiousity that crossed my path.

The front side of the old red dairy barn which I promised I would get pics of in my previous post, this is the view visible from the main road.

The interior of the old red barn; notice the precariously leaning rotten beams. I was a little worried that the barn would fall in on me while I was in there.

A black & white photo of the front side of the old grey tumbled in barn, pic taken from inside the red barn.

All along the trail, I noticed that the frogs are in the middle of their (very noisy) mating season. I visited several of the vernal pools alongside the path and most of them were full of wiggling, jumping, loudly croaking frogs and their eggs. I have to admit that I enjoy hearing them again, maybe the peepers will be out tonight. It was a beautiful hike, but my legs are very tired. At least I will sleep well tonight.

Skateboarding dog.

Found on Cute Overload, and the video is hosted courtesy of YouTube. I can't believe this... and it doesn't look like it was done with CGI either... considering the natural physics of the situation and the bodily movement required of a quadripedal creature to use a skateboard, the movements are far too fluid & real. It's an actual skateboarding dog. I guess they're gonna start having to change all those signs downtown to include a ban on skateboarding dogs as well as people. Picture a disgruntled old shop owner shaking his fist at some mutt rapidly rolling away with his leg raised after having managed to mark the entire block as his territory in one fell swoop with the aid of his skateboard. Sounds like the makings of a slightly amusing grade B cartoon.