oxymoron67: (dino head)
This memory jarred loose by the LJ Idol topic "Burnt Sienna".
Adventures in being an altar boy. )
oxymoron67: (snoopy)
This April, I was flying into Pittsburgh to attend a conference and to visit the family. While the sky was overcast throughout the flight, the rain actually held off until right when the plane was landing. By the time we got to the gate at the terminal, it was a downpour.

I wasn’t all that surprised. See, I have a superpower. When I travel, I bring bad weather with me. Call me Low Pressure Lad.

My friends spotted the pattern over twenty years ago. Every overnight trip I’d take, be it for work, family or vacation, involved bad weather.

And they’re right. Over the years, I’ve brought an ice storm into Indianapolis with me… the remnants of a tropical storm hit Atlanta the day I flew in for a family get-together… the first tornado to touch down in the city of Pittsburgh in over fifty years hit the night after I arrived in the city for a break from grad school.

The list goes on. I mean, the above examples are championship-level events, and I can’t manage weather that extreme all the time. Sometimes, it’s just drizzle or fog.

You’d think that this would be really useful: I could be called in to douse forest fires or end droughts, for example.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. I can’t control it: sometimes I produce ice storms; other times, just really uncomfortable humidity.

Before you ask, I’ve tried to get this power under control, but I just can’t figure out how. I mean, which muscle do you flex when you want it to rain? Is it different than the one for snow? What if I want some combo-pack of weather, like, say, fog and freezing rain? How many muscles does that require? I haven’t been able to figure it out.

Before you say, “Well, what if this power is psychic in nature?”, I’ve thought of that, too. Do you know how difficult it is to concentrate on CLOUDS? I’ll be sitting at some outdoor café looking at the sky thinking, “C’mon, get cloudier! More clouds! FOG!” and then some really hot guy walks by and I’ll be all, “Oooo… he has a nice ass” and I’ll have to start all over again.

Or I’ll be trying to influence the weather while I’m wearing my headphones, and my taste in music will betray me: “Bring the lightning! Bring the thunder! Make it rain!... It’s raining men! Hallelujah! It’s raining men! Amen!”

As you can imagine, that ruins the whole “weather-controlling” mood.

Even if I COULD manage to concentrate long enough, I have to wonder if I’m concentrating on the correct thing. I mean… do I concentrate on clouds? Temperature? Wind?

So, my powers are likely to remain uncontrolled for the foreseeable future.

Still, I have to wonder why I have this power. I mean, no one else in my family has a superpower. Trust me, I’d know: we’re talkers, all of us. We suck at keeping secrets.

Maybe it’s a queer thing. Maybe Mother Nature gives some of her queer children an extra gift to even things out, and possibly to take vengeance on the homophobic world.

If that’s the case, then Pat Robertson would be right to blame us queers for all the natural disasters that strike the U.S., though he is wrong about the underlying cause. It’s not God saying, “Hate the queers” so much as it is God saying, “Be careful or my queers will FUCK YOU UP!”

That would be cool.

This was in response to the prompt "No Capes." I worked with the delightful [livejournal.com profile] porn_this_way, whose similarly themed entry can be found here.

You can read them in whichever order you please. And... who knew? Queers with superpowers are more common than you'd think.
oxymoron67: (dino head)
My topic is "Chillin' Like a Villain"

This is an intersection entry with [livejournal.com profile] neverletyoupart, whose entry is here.

We did variations on a theme: grandparental death.
Set the wayback machine to 1950 )
oxymoron67: (Gay Army)
I wasn't going to discuss Anderson Cooper's coming out... plenty of other people have, goodness knows, and I didn't think that my thoughts would add anything to the conversation.

Then I remembered that this is the internet... and my opinions would certainly not be as asshole-y as many others'.

So, here I go.

You'd think that coming out would be an easy decision to make: no more secrets, a liberating feeling, no more living a lie or at least not as honestly as you'd like.

It's not that simple.

Coming out is a very risky proposition. Now, according to his e-mail, Cooper is out to family and friends who have no problem with it. That takes time to accomplish. Especially with family. Think about it: even Cher ... CHER, who is remarkably gay friendly, admits that she had problems accepting with Chastity (now Chaz) came out.

It's not that the person coming out has changed... it's that the perspectives of those around him/her have and they frequently need time to adjust.

And that's on the happier scale of reactions. I've discussed my coming out several times, I'm not going into it again. Yet, on the scale of 1 to hate crime, mine is a 7ish: no physical violence (done over the phone, otherwise maybe) LOTS and LOTS of shame and disapproval. I'm lucky compared to many: I can live my life as I wish, but not near my family. Which is okay because I have the education and means to do this.*

My life isn't in the public sphere, so I don't have those added pressures. Cooper's family has been fodder for gossip for well over one hunderd years. If I had that family history, I'd say nothing, ever, about my personal life.

I understood Cooper's choice to live life in a "glass closet". Most people (at least here in NYC) knew he was gay, but given his choice of career, I see why he said nothing. Again, I'm lucky: I work in the (frequently) gay-friendly environment of Academia.

It's great that Anderson Cooper chose to come out. But it's not as simple as "whee, freedom and honesty". The politics (both personal and professional) of coming out are much more complex than that. I wish more people (both gay and straight) would realize it.

Of course, now, this is one step closer to happening.

*Please understand, I genuinely enjoy my life. I'm not trying to be all emo here.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I met [livejournal.com profile] warriorsavant for brunch and museum fun.

We had lunch at Cafe Robert, which is on the top floor of the Museum of Art and Design.

When we were discussing meeting for brunch the night before, and I blanked on the name of the restaurant. I called it "Cafe Some Name That My Family Uses A Lot."

[livejournal.com profile] warriorsavant pointed out that he couldn't exactly google that.

For what it's worth, Robert is my great-grandfather's name, the name of one of his sons, one of his grandsons, my confirmation name, and the confirmation name of my eldest nephew.

Cafe Robert has an amazing view of Columbus Circle and Central Park. The food was good... I loved the parsnip soup, and the crab eggs Benedict were very good.

I mentioned that Robert is my confirmation name, and [livejournal.com profile] warriorsavant asked what confirmation was, which led me to tell my multi-part confirmation story.

A jazz trio was playing. It was good.

From here, we went to a few of the exhibits.

Okay, confession time. I am not a member of the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) (shock!), but I do enjoy visiting it occasionally. MAD does unusual exhibits. The only other museum that I can think of that does exhibitions like this is the Cooper-Hewitt, but it;s closed for renovations for two years.

These exhibits can be really good or so bad they're funny.

The exhibits currently on display? A mix. Several of the pieces in the glassworks exhibit were amazing, especially the one with the blood-red chandelier and the ravens.

The Japanese design exhibit was excellent. Well, except for the chairs. Apparently, if you want to own chairs that NO ONE CAN SIT ON COMFORTABLY, buy Japanese. Seriously, they looked like something you'd see in a deathtrap in the old tv show The Wild, Wild West.

Finally, we sent a short amount of time in the necklaces exhibit. This is a permanent exhibit sponsored by Tiffany's.

Tiffany's sponsors this exhibit so they can get these awful pieces out of their store.

None of the pieces were particularly wearable, though some were interesting looking. But they were funny.

All in all a good trip.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Five years ago today, I started my lj. I've met so many great people, read their stories and told mine. It's been a wonderful experience, and I thank you all for that.

My first entry was a story about my grandma and Aunt Cis.

So, today, let me tell another Aunt Cis story.

It was the year 2000, Aunt Cis had been dead for several years. I was at a family get-together when my grandmother's younger sister, Aunt Jane, pulled out a bag full of photographs that Aunt Cis had entrusted to her care. These were allegedly pictures of my grandmother and her sisters when they were in their teens.

Except... we didn't recognize ANYONE in these photos. For one thing, no one in these photos looked cheerful. My family always smiled for photos, even if we were fighting, you know, for appearances.

Also, these people were seriously homely. Every last one of them had been beaten repeatedly with an ugly stick and all of them wore dour, black clothing.

Aunt Jane and Aunt Teach (my grandma's still-living sisters at the time) were perplexed by these photos. They didn't know these people at all. Until we came across the picture of a homely, vaguely Michelin-man shaped baby sitting on the lap of his cheerless, dour mother.

Aunt Karen (my mom's sister) wondered if this wasn't a picture of Buddy, one of my grandma's brothers, who died at age two. Suddenly Aunt Teach recognized these people. They were their next door neighbors.

This is when I noticed that many of these pictures were singed.

It turns out that the neighbors' family house had burned down in a fire, and Aunt Cis had somehow obtained these photos after the fire.

So, when I think of Aunt Cis, I think "Aunt Cis, octogenarian looter". Because I can absolutely see her picking through the still steaming rubble of a house looking for things like this.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I posted a family story about the Pulitzer, but I should tell you another story about this car, that explains just how "special" it was.
Click for a story of family love and togetherness. )


Dec. 30th, 2011 08:40 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
I haven't been posting lately, mostly because I decided to take time off from my online life while I was visiting the family in Pittsburgh.

Because I'm teaching during the winter mini-term, I only spent nine days there. Normally it's about two or two and a half weeks.

The plane tickets were ridiculously expensive, so I took the train. It was about one third of the cost of the plane tickets. The train was fine: the way to Pittsburgh, it wasn't that crowded. I left the Tuesday before Christmas, before most people were leaving. The trip back yesterday? Sold out.

I spent a lot of time with my eldest nephew, whose ankle hasn't fully healed yet, and will likely need more surgery. There is some sort of medicine that might be able to help, but he'd have to stop smoking to do that, and he's unwilling to do so.

Don't ... just don't.

Meantime, my mom did something to HER ankle, and, between that and her arthritis, was walking like the hunchback of Notre Dame for the few days that I was home. I know she was in pain because the walker was out. She didn't USE it mind you, but it was out.

Normally, as a family, we go out and have geeky fun while I'm home, but none of us had the energy. I was slightly under the weather most of the time I was home, one of my sisters was working, mom and the nephew had their issues... It just didn't happen.

I think my family was more upset about this than I was. Since grad school, when I would travel back and forth to visit, I;ve loosened up about things. I'm genuinely happy to spend time with my family AT ALL*, going out to do any of the amazingly geeky things that one can do in Pittsburgh with them is a bonus.

*Anyone who knew me twenty-ish years ago might be surprised at this sentiment.

Still, it was relaxing. And nice to get away. I love NYC. I absolutely love the city, but living here can be exhausting.

I will likely be back in the Burgh in late March/early April for a conference. I don't understand why a conference would announce a call for papers when everyone was on vacation, but whatever. I'll talk more about the conference when I put together my proposal.

I don't really have New Year's plans, mostly because, right now, I;m dealing with an attack of ... um... intestinal distress. This happens to me sometimes when I travel.
oxymoron67: (Default)
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I'm not sure, but DEFINITELY before third grade.

See, my mom, being a practical woman and living in a house with four children and precious little free space, would put our gifts in green garbage bags, staple them shut and, then, inform us that if we opened our bags (which were clearly labelled)m all the gifts would be returned.

Since mom never (ever) bluffed, we never tried to open them.
oxymoron67: (Default)
“SHE SAID WHAT?!?!" my mother exclaimed as my sisters were crying in the backseat of the car.

“Sister Mary Agnes said that we would have to take our pants off and sit in our underwear if we ever wore pants to CCD class again." One of my sisters replied.

“How dare she?" Mom said. "It’s winter and you have to walk from school to church for CCD." Then, her tone of voice changed to that scary, threatening tone she had when she was angry at us. "We’ll see about this."

Once we got home, mom called grandma to talk to her about it. Grandma suggested that mom make an appointment to see the parish priest. Unfortunately, nothing came from that meeting. Mom and grandma discussed it over dinner a few days later.

Mom: ...even though he agreed that Sister was out of line and had no right to threaten the girls like that, he said that CCD was Sister’s responsibility and he didn’t like to interfere. Then he told me to talk to her myself.

Grandma: He’s scared of her.

Mom: Probably.

Grandma: ...and it takes away from his drinking time. You know he’s a drunk.

Mom: MOTHER. That’s not a nice thing to say.

Grandma: Your Aunt Jane is his secretary. You’ve heard the stories.

Mom: I know... you’re right. Just not in front of the kids. We want them to respect him, even if he was no help. He’s our priest, after all.

Grandma: Don’t worry. He’s leaving: transferring to a different parish. Jane told me so. Maybe you could get Jane to talk to Sister.

Mom: No, that won’t work. She and Sister hate one another. They’ll just scream at one another. Again. Like they did over Confirmation. That won’t fix anything. I have to deal with Sister Mary Agnes myself.

Grandma: Then go kick her ass.

To this day, I don’t know what happened next. I have visions of my mom, in full righteous fury mode, attacking Sister and reducing her to tears. However, mom is decidely vague about what she said at that meeting. I DO remember walking with my pants-wearing sisters to CCD and hearing other kids say, "Those are the girls allowed to wear pants at church." So whatever mom did, it worked.
A few notes: this actually happened. I don’t recall Sister’s name: I know it was something that begn with an "A", so I went with Sister Mary Agnes. Also, while mom and grandma had a conversation, I don’t recall the specifics.

CCD class is a weekly religious class for Catholic kids who go to public school.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Discovery Times Square has just opened an exhibition on The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Holy Land titled Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times.

I will be all over this.

So, I had to e-mail me family to gloat about it. I forwarded them the e-mail announcement and added this message:


Oh, and right across the street is a Junior's, which has reubens so large that you need a knife and fork and amazing cheesecake.

Just so you know.

See, I come from a family of geeks, so I knew I;d get a reaction. Here is what my brtother said:


DEAD SEA SCROLLS?!? You're not even getting sour grapes here, Mister! I'll have to reschedule the Reuben envy, this is so unfair. You MAKE ME SO MAD!


I e-mailed him back "Aw.... I love you, too, big brother!"

oxymoron67: (awesome)
Frank Kameny has died.

This man was AWESOME (hence the icon).

Fired in the 50's for being gay, Kameny started organizing protests and activists, forging the gay rights movement.

Because of Kameny, and other pioneers who stood up to terrible hatred, prison and, of course, being labeled mentally ill just for being GLBT, my life and the lives of other GLBT folks are much better. Perfect? No. But better.

As an example, one of my cousins... in fact, the younger brother of the one my grandmother and great-great-grandfather kidnapped., was a teacher* in rural Pennsylvania in late 40's/early 50's, when the fact that he was gay became public. He had to not just quit his job, but also leave the state.

This also brought great shame to the portion of our family that lived out there and he was estranged from the rest of the family for about a decade. I think. The family is very vague on this.

He ended up in California for a long time, and, I think, is currently living in Kentucky. He also became a raging alcoholic. Now, I am not saying that wouldn't have been an alcoholic had he not had to flee the area: alcoholism runs in the family, goodness knows, but it can't have helped things.

*OF COURSE he was a teacher, it's what my family does.


oxymoron67: (Default)

October 2013

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