just call me raegen


Month: April, 2012

Living Lies, Losing Heroes

So, I was planning on writing a blog about how to overcome your homicidal tendencies and learn to coexist peacefully with the morons that surround you… but then I realized, “Hey, it’s National Poetry Month, and I haven’t written a single blog about poetry!”

Beatnik stereotype. Beat girl

What my inner child looks like. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This may be it. I make no guarantees.

The news of Adrienne Rich’s death finally reached me this week. I was looking up feminist poetry in the hopes of finding some names I hadn’t heard before — some more contemporary names, potentially of peers my age — and this was one of the first stories that appeared: “Adrienne Rich, Influential Feminist Poet, Dies at 82.” Of course, I had to read it.

But although I was inspired to somehow obtain a copy of “21 Love Poems” — quite the expensive investment at no less than $120 a pop on Amazon — I was more disturbed by something Margalit Fox (the Times writer covering the story) touched on briefly toward the end of the article:

“By 1970, partly because she had begun, inwardly, to acknowledge her erotic love of women, Ms. Rich and her husband had grown estranged. That autumn, he died of a gunshot wound to the head; the death was ruled a suicide. To the end of her life, Ms. Rich rarely spoke of it.”

Now, Adrienne Rich is definitely someone I respect as not only a poet, but a figure in the feminist movement. She repeatedly rejected awards imbued with hypocrisy and impacted not only the literary world, but the one beyond it with her political work and writings. However, I now found myself experiencing some dark sentiment I think may be somewhat unique to me in my generally self-righteous state of mind: I was profoundly disturbed that Adrienne Rich no longer seemed “all right” to me. Here I thought I’d found a crusader for absolute truth and pure justice, someone who could do no wrong, but what if the lie she had lived with her husband was what inspired his suicide?

Things to remember while continuing on in this blog:

1) I have no problem with anyone’s sexual orientation — period — and I will not argue about when anyone becomes aware of his or her true orientation.

2) I do not blame anyone for the actions another takes in his or her life; in other words, I don’t blame one person for another’s suicide.

3) We can only speculate as to why Rich’s husband killed himself; regardless, this will not really be my focus. I mostly intend to explore this happenstance as an example of something that made me question my own thoughts and beliefs about “heroes” and the like.

4) These are all complicated issues about which I’m sure we all have opinions. Here’s mine.

If you’ve seen “Brokeback Mountain,” you may understand where my train of thought is going with this. While certainly this movie highlights the incredible horrors of living in a homophobic and oppressive society, I remember always being struck most by the part where Alma sees Jack and Ennis kissing (forward to 2:40 and keep on mute for the full impact of the acting) in what was intended to be a discreet place. This is the moment where she realizes the whole life she’s built with her husband Ennis is a total fraud. She thought it was real. Her feelings for him were real. And yet he was masquerading with her, using her, yes, somewhat justifiably in the sense that he was protecting himself from what happened to homosexual men of his time (a choice I think we can all to some degree understand), but it doesn’t change the fact that someone else became the fallout of this decision and got majorly hurt — all because the other signed that person on in the lie as the unknowing accomplice.

I’m not saying Ennis never felt any affection or caring for Alma; that’s really not the argument or point here. What is is that choices like these — justifiable reasons behind them or not — have consequences, some of which are pretty severe, some of which others never find ways to recover from. Now, yes, it’s still everyone’s responsibility to heal themselves, ultimately, but in the same way we can understand and justify people’s longing and striving to protect themselves, I think we can understand and provide equal justification for how difficult living a healthy, “normal” life is later made by people who’d wrapped others up in entire lie-lives — and I mean any lie, not just one related to sexual orientation.

I myself have been in such a position. I’m sure to this day I’ll never know the full extent of the lie I was living with one particular ex, whose problem had symptoms but no cause visible to anyone’s eyes. Think about how difficult it must’ve been before modern science and medicine to diagnose a disease from symptoms you had no means of testing or associating with any particular system in the body. You can see the consequences (e.g., bleeding, coughing, lacerations, etc.) of something, but you have no idea what’s causing it (a virus? bacteria? a tumor?). And you don’t even necessarily know the bleeding or coughing isn’t normal to begin with, just something this person has to live with or that everyone experiences at some point. You don’t know until you know. This is what it’s like to live a lie with someone before you realize it’s a lie.

Cancer cells photographed by camera attached t...

"What is this in my life?" you ask yourself. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After you realize the lie, you can’t really un-know what you now know, and life becomes something else entirely. It’s usually not very pretty, either, for quite some time, if it ever gets back to some semblance of normalcy. I’m not saying it can’t be done, that people who’ve experienced something like I or Alma have can’t ever truly be happy; I’m just saying that even if you do heal, even if you do move on, even if — like me — you find a life that truly brings you joy — you’ll always know something dark and despicable about the world and about the everyday lives we all fashion, about people who truly mean nothing when they use words like “love,” about the limitations of trust and each one of us. And then — terrifyingly — you realize you can now spot these things almost a mile away happening to some of those around you, and you try to reach out to them in their time of need, knowing you are uniquely qualified to at the very least be someone who can understand and sympathize with the plight — but this is a club no one really wants to belong to.

Truth is, for some, all of this is just simply too hard to live with. I make no excuses for suicide, but I can understand it to a degree from this perspective. I found myself stepping away from the article about Adrienne Rich thinking mostly of her husband, wondering if this is what he knew, if the truth of his life was just too much for him to bear. None of us will never know, of course. But I see Rich so differently now because of this husband she’d taken in spite of being a lesbian. I can and do still very much admire and respect her work, but I can no longer think of her decisions as wholly benevolent or correct. Granted, no one is perfect, I know, and it’s my own concept of what a champion is or should be that I suppose in my case is limited and limiting. But this is far too gray an issue for me, too ominous and looming a cloud for me to have standing over someone I call a hero. And so it goes I lost one of mine this week.

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5 Things More Effective Than Voting

This will likely be my only blog about politics (which may make you happy or sad; I don’t know). You’ll understand why shortly.


Sorry, I got a little nauseated just thinking about this topic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, with Rick Santorum’s campaign officially resting in peace, one of my coworkers took the opportunity to begin ranting about the media’s blatant misrepresentation — or in this case, flat-out denial — of Ron Paul’s earlier win at the Nevada Caucus in Las Vegas — which is hilarious, coming from a journalism major. She was there, so she knew what had actually happened, and it was just so infuriating to her because even if people like her came out to participate — she was very proud to be one of these highly involved people — whatever got reported on the news later seemed to entirely disregard their voices and create a blatant lie in favor of, in this case, Mitt Romney, who was the “official” declared winner. She then asks me one of my favorite questions:

“Do you vote?”

Uncle Sam BW

Well... do ya, punk? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t even get me started.

Aside from the fact that her experience only serves as a case in point — you’d think to the both of us — that the whole thing is rigged anyway, thereby rendering our votes, should we choose to cast them, entirely meaningless, how can anyone ignore the obvious: No presidential candidate is going to do anything in the interest of people like you and me (because we don’t have the money to pay them to), nor are they really going to act very differently from each other. To say our current system is a failure is like saying Steve Jobs was a decent businessman.

Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone 4 at the...

Meh -- I did OK, I suppose. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Call me cynical if you want. I won’t deny it.

As a woman, I’m especially disappointed that I can’t take voting seriously; after all, this right was only given to uteri across the U.S. a brief not even hundred years ago. But I believe Santa Claus can make more of a difference in our country than our votes.

Santa Claus with a little girl Esperanto: Patr...

What's that, Sally? You want to be able to eat when you become a working adult? Giving you a Barbie doll would be easier, but I'll see what I can do. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People get so bent out of shape about the whole thing, too. I would understand taking it seriously if, again, it weren’t a complete facade — but I fail to see how it isn’t. While your paycheck continues to get smaller (if you’re getting one at all right now) and your loved ones get sick and stay that way (health care will be another blog at some point down the road, I’m sure), you’re running around like Ryan Dunn with a Hot Wheels up his butt pretending there’s a legitimate reason you should be investing this amount of energy in your vote.

I’m not saying don’t care about or pay attention to the way this country’s falling apart. I’m just saying tend to your problems at home first, then start a revolution, because this system ain’t gonna get ‘er done.

Here are some things that do, though.

1. Navy SEALs

More effective than your vote, Navy SEALs can run over 200 miles in 5.5 days on less than 4 total hours of sleep — and this is only Stage 3 of their training. They can extract damsels and dudes in distress anytime they want, thank you very much (see here), and they can take you down — probably with a single pinkie.

Members of a U.S. Navy Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) tea...

I held my breath underwater for an hour with no scuba equipment; what did you do today? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sadly, though, even the Navy SEALs can’t save us from our presidents. They work for them.

2.  Super Glue

Super Glue is effective on plastics, metals, glass, and can even seal human lips shut. In some cases — say, telling your family which candidate you selected — your vote will accomplish the exact opposite.

This is a picture of a tube of The Original Su...

I pwn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember that guy dangling from underneath a pole because the hat he was wearing was Super-Glued to it? You bet your sweet patoot you do. If you ever found yourself in a circumstance like that, would you really leave your fate in the hands of a knock-off product? Accept no substitutes — like your vote, for example.

3. Colon Blow

How many barrels of your vote would it take to accomplish the job one small bowl of Colon Blow can? Let’s find out, shall we?


How many licks does it take to get to the center of ineffectual? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Yo Mama

She raised you, didn’t she? Plus, she’s a good sport about all those “Yo Mama” jokes. She cooks, she cleans, she irons, and she could budget a lot better than our leaders any day of the week.

A coloured voting box

Insert favorite "Yo Mama" joke -- not yo ballot -- here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. The Middle Finger

That stranger in the Audi next to you doesn’t care that you’re talking on your cell, picking your nose, and dropping some mean SBDs in your station wagon. In fact, he doesn’t even care you’re in the lane he’s decided he now wants to be in. Hell, he doesn’t even know you exist — as evidenced by the fact that he nearly clipped your front bumper cutting you off right before the stop sign. Dude-bro has places to go and people to do, and they’re clearly much more important than yours.

Upcoming 2011 Audi R8 Spyder as debuted in Las...

Even this car has better plans than you. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This makes for an awkward moment, though, as there is an empty turn lane with your name all over it right next to him. You have a choice. Do you take the high road, or do you pull up beside him and whip out that bad boy (no, not that bad boy, you freak)?

SVG version of: :Image:Finger.png

This one. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Audi Dude-bro now not only knows you exist, but hates you with the fire of a thousand suns. Your middle finger has summoned the rage of a world-class DB who never would’ve given you the time of day in any other circumstance — unless it was to tell you not to scratch the paint while you were shining the hood.

The best part: You never even had to say a word to elicit such a response. The finger said it all for you. I’d like to see your vote do that.

Participating in politics these days is like going to see Criss Angel’s “Believe”: You’d have to be blind not to see the strings, cables, smoke, and mirrors behind the “magic.” It’s just bad show, folks. Is it really fooling you?

Criss Angel

I used to work with a guy who looked like this. True story. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people like to go to the movies to entertain themselves; others like to go to the polls. Far be it from me to tell you what you should get your kicks from. But I don’t take either too seriously, and I don’t get how anyone else really can, either.

Here’s my magical, mystical prediction about how this whole “election” thing’s going to turn out: Obama’s getting another term. Not because I do or don’t want him to — just because it’s not up to any of us. But don’t worry; when it happens, I promise not to say I told you so.

Call of Duty: Friendship Edition

Call of Duty 3 Español: Call of Duty 3

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog will be an epic tale about being in the trenches of friendship. And to begin, I will quote the immortal Steve Coogan (left), who played David Ershon in one of my all-time favorite movies, “The Other Guys” (0:30 here, if you haven’t seen it):

The Trip

Go see The Other Guys. It’s just the right thing to do. (Photo credit: Mirka23)

“I think the best way to tell the story is by starting at the end, briefly, then going back to the beginning, and then periodically returning to the end, maybe giving different characters’ perspectives throughout — just to give it a bit of dynamism. Otherwise, it’s just sort of a linear story.”

It seems that spring is in the air — and by that, I’m not talking about birds and flowers and sunshine. I’m talking about what a dark, depressing poet sees: Spring reminds us of, yes, a rebirth and renewal but also the beginning of yet another passage of time — one that’s I think somewhat scary for some of my friends now that we’re older.

I have terrific friends who I feel ever closer to as the years go by. They are quirky — I mean, given my eccentricities, could they really be otherwise? — and unique and deep and fun and overall fantastic people I don’t think I could’ve gotten this far in the world not having gone postal without. I know fantastic boys and girls who have grown into fantastic men and women. I’m so lucky and blessed to have in these people in my life, as would anyone else be.

But the years are going by. We are all in our 30s now, or pretty close. This probably wouldn’t mean anything if it weren’t for the culture we’ve grown up in that gives us these incredibly arbitrary mileposts for where we should be in our lives at certain ages. Example 1: 30-year-old men should be raking in at least 100K, having moved up the chain of command at their law firm or financial company. Example 2: 30-year-old women should be happily married and popping out the pups.

Posterior half of uterus and upper part of vag...

This uterus yearns to bear your children — NOT! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, some of these standards may seem a little old-school. They are. But my point is that, even on some sort of bizarre subconscious level, I do believe they’re playing a role in the fears my friends seem to be expressing lately.

Relationships my friends believed would last forever aren’t working out. Or, out of fear, desperation and loneliness, some of my other friends are getting involved with people who control them, mistreat them, and just flat-out use them. One of the saddest things to me is, because my friends are introspective, many of them know exactly what’s going on in these situations; they just choose to carry on with them anyway, in spite of the fact that they’re doomed to fail.

Chris Rock said it best here, at 1:40.

Chris rock at Madagascar 2 premiere in Israel ...

And don’t make me tell you twice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You can’t be like, ‘I’m going to church. Where you goin’?’ ‘To get the pipe.'” Doesn’t work.

As a close friend and confidant, I tend to get extremely defensive regarding the well-being of my pals. I tend to become the Voice of WTF whether asked for or not. I’m doing it again now. And I’m doing it because to me, true friendship means I have a personal responsibility toward my pals to tell them I’m concerned, to tell them I think they may be going in the wrong direction — and to also tell them I love them and want better for them, that they have infinitesimal and inherent value as human spirits to me and to others who truly love them now and will love them down the road.

Jesus is a perfect example of why no one should be afraid that they’re another year older but seemingly no closer to finding the true love they seek.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, don’t worry; this is not one of those blogs. I’m not referring to the Jesus. I’m referring to my Jesus, my significant other who, at age 42, found me. Of course, no one can make 100 percent guarantees about the future of anyone or anything, but I can tell you — as can the people who’ve met him and know me — that we love, cherish and respect each other, and in ways that I never even came close to — not by a long shot — with any other lover I’ve ever had my whole life.

But again, like I mentioned before, my friends aren’t stupid. They know all these things already; I’m not telling them anything revelatory. But there’s a difference between knowing and knowing, between knowing in your head and believing in your heart. And that is something no friend can do for another, no matter how hard she may try.

The question of whether I should be trying, though, is an interesting one to pose. While I consider silence in the face of injustice — chosen or otherwise — an act of both selfishness and cowardice, I’m sure there are other out there who disagree. For me, I have the belief that if I don’t speak up when I’m witnessing destructive behavior — self-induced or otherwise — I am participating in that destruction. Do true friends do that? Not in my book. Acquaintances? Maybe. But that’s another story.

I’ve been lucky to have many friends along the way who’ve reminded me of this when I didn’t believe myself that something better would ever come my way, but I had to fix my wrong thoughts first. Everybody’s up against different demons, of course, and I’m not trying to minimize any of them. I just know from my own experience that I had to be willing to fight for what I truly deserve, fight against all the lies my life had told me about myself and my head repeated, fight for my true happiness. It’s out there for everyone, but only if you’re faithful enough, strong enough in your healthy beliefs and self-esteem not to settle for less. That’s the real Secret.

Cover of "The Secret"

(Cover of The Secret)

I think a lot of people keep their silence when they see these things happening to their friends because they think, “Oh, my friend will get mad and never speak to me again if I tell them something they don’t want to hear.” But I return to the wisdom of Chris Rock on this point, because what he said about relationships applies to friendships, too. You can’t be a born-again and still be buds with a crackhead. Doesn’t work. So if your friend’s going down the path of destruction and you’re not along for the ride, you should be preparing to lose that friend anyway — at least temporarily — whether you say something or not. So really, why are you doing your friend a disservice with your silence? Because it serves your purposes and lets you continue to feel comfortable? Cowardly, if you ask me.

But you didn’t ask me, and here I am, telling you what I think anyway. I guess, cherished friends, you can expect this sort of thing to continue from me. I hope I can expect, though, your continued friendship and love because of it. Every once in a while, one of you will even thank me for these reminders, as I have thanked you in my dark times.

Spring has sprung, my dears. Don’t let this one be a time where you sink back into the old, familiar destructive behaviors that make you feel comfortable yet ultimately keep you miserable. Instead, why not let this be a time where you yourself shed the old skins of what will no longer work for you and rise above them into a new opportunity for happiness? Aren’t you curious, like me, to see what could be in store?