Monday, May 06, 2013
In April, the Community of Christ, a church that I have been a member of all my life and being a fifth generation member, had its World Conference and the first ever USA National Conference. We've had a World Conference for as long as I remember and in the past, it occurred every even numbered year, where delegates representing congregations from all over the world would meet in Independence, Missouri to discuss and vote on church government legislation. I attended one as a child in the 1970s (either 1976 or 1978) and in 1996. I had wanted to attend this year, but its hard to get time off from work when I only have 5 vacation days (God, I hate American corporations and their stinginess regarding vacation days and benefits). I hope to attend the next one in 2016. World Conference is now once every three years, which I hate. I loved the even numbered thing. We can thank the controversial resignation of the previous church president / prophet for messing up our schedule. We had a World Conference in 2006 and then he resigned in 2007 (for reasons that have never been made public, leading some people to speculate on the salacious reason), so we had to have a special conference to pick a new president for our church (we are no Catholic conclave for sure). The next conference was in 2010 and now here we are in 2013 with TWO conferences, back to back.
The USA National Conference was specifically for the issue of what to do about church members who are gay / bisexual / transgendered. The reason why they have to decide this issue on a national basis (Australia and Canada church congregations already had their national conferences on these issues) is because homosexual rights is a growing reality in the Western industrialized nations, while the topic is still quite taboo for the church congregations in African nations in particular. It presents a problem, because in the past, church policy has been universal. Which means that in 1984, when the priesthood offices were opened up for women to be called and to serve, that meant women in the church anywhere, whether in Missouri or Malawi. Now, though, due to the dangers posed to any sexual minority in an African country, it makes it difficult to have such a universal policy.
What the delegates to the National Conference decided was a pleasant surprise. More than 70% of the delegates supported a policy change that allows the church to recognize and perform same-sex marriages in states where it is legal, or civil unions in states where it is now; and for priesthood calls to be allowed for members who are homosexual / lesbian / bisexual / transgendered. This is a significant change. I wasn't sure that the majority of the church members were quite there yet, as I know quite a few people from my home congregation in Atlanta who are troubled by this development and have threatened to leave the church over this issue (the church lost 50,000 members after 1984's decision allowing women to be called to priesthood offices). I'll be sad to see anyone leave the church over this issue, but what can you do? Society has experienced a seachange since 2004 when so many gay marriage bans were voted on in ballot initiatives. Now, Time magazine had a cover article recently about how the majority of Americans now support marriage equality (not banning gay people from marriage) and the Boy Scouts organization plans to make a decision regarding their ban this month, and the Supreme Court will release their decision on gay marriage in June (just in time for Pride parades?). Society is moving towards equality and tolerance, so it would have been damaging to the church's future authenticity among young people if they continued down the archaic path.
When I heard the wonderful news out of Independence MO one beautiful Sunday morning a few weeks ago, I was proud of my church for once again doing the right thing. Out of all of the churches that grew out of the shared Latter Day Saints history, we remain the most liberal church (and the second largest). I love Community of Christ!
The above video was played at World Conference. It shows the universal nature of our church, as it features singers in Africa, Latin America, America, and Polynesia. The words are pretty simple and comes across as a beautiful mantra. "Peace, Salaam, Shalom." This is the essence of our church and yes, I'm pretty proud to be a member of such a faith community. It is my extended family and my tribe. If you're curious about the Community of Christ, please see if there is one in your part of the world and stop in and say hello.
Saturday, April 06, 2013
Recently on Facebook, I posted a comment that I had seen on a celebrity gossip magazine while waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store that Bachelor Sean Lowe's relationship with the lady he gave the final rose to, along with a marriage proposal and an engagement ring, is on the rocks. I don't know if it is true or not, but it would come as no surprise to me. There has not been one single bachelor on that series who has married the woman he chose. You would think that starting with the odds of 25 women all pining for you would be an excellent way of finding someone to marry. But, I think the superficiality of the show encourages personal dramas, shallowness, and cattiness among women. No one wants to be rejected, especially not on national television.
My post sparked a debate with a co-worker, who said that the reason why it doesn't work is because when the reality of living together away from the cameras sets in, they see a whole new side to their significant other. I agree with that, but I still think one could gauge a woman's sincerity through conversations during the show. For example, I thought Desiree was really genuine and if I was the bachelor, I would have chosen her (good thing she is getting her own show in which to pick a husband). In fact, if I was the bachelor, I would ask every single lady what she thought the purpose of life was and what her thoughts on spirituality might be. This would easily winnow down the group and have all the shallow ones running for the limo out of there. But, I don't have the all-American hunkiness and charisma of Sean Lowe, so I won't ever be in such a situation.
As I discussed with the co-worker about this show during my lunch break, another co-worker whom I view as a snake, chimed in. I don't really like this guy because he always talks about sex and he thinks that's the only motive that guys have in life. He's always trying to get me to sleep with my boss, but I'm not even attracted to her and even if I was, I wouldn't do something like that because I have healthy boundaries (I won't even date co-workers, though there is one Hispanic lady that I find quite attractive). Anyhow, this horn dog of a co-worker actually asked me this: "If you could choose between sleeping with three different hot women every week for a year or to be in a relationship with one woman, which would you choose?"
I responded, "I'm a relationship guy. I am looking for just one lady to make a lifetime commitment to." He thinks I'm crazy, but c'mon! I'm 41 now and wanted to be married in my mid-30s. I've always viewed myself as a monogamous, relationship-focused guy. In fact, the character Eric "E" in the TV show Entourage is a lot like me. Even in my Navy days, I never felt comfortable around guys who used women for their sexual pleasure. I love the friendship and relationship aspect, first and foremost. Sex is great when you can get it and when there's love involved, but I've also had an experience that was even greater than sex.
This co-worker is a decade older than me and has never been married. In fact, the last girlfriend he had, she wanted a child and her biological clock was ticking. He kept stringing her along and stringing her along until she came to a point where she needed a secure future. He dumped her (she was in her mid-30s) after a several year relationship. You can't do that to a woman in her 30s who wants a child. It is truly a selfish thing to do.
I've seen a lot of selfish males up close and way too personal. As my previous posts have pointed out, I recently got out of a living situation in which the homeowner converted a shared open space into his bedroom, with only minimal levels of privacy, and what made me ultimately decide to look for a new place to live was his having three different women stay at the house for long periods of time, in which he engaged in some pretty loud and not-so-private sexual escapades to the point where I actually felt like I was living in a brothel. Another housemate, whose bedroom was next to the washer and dryer, was into S&M sex and when I was loading up the washer once, I heard him beat the living tar out of some woman and had to restrain myself from busting down the door. I do not like hearing a woman cry or get a beating. Even though in this woman's case, it was likely consensual, it's still something I prefer not hearing because my natural instinct is to be the white knight on the horse rescuing her from the douche bag men who are not worthy of her.
The lady from church who let me stay in her house for the time being is just the latest woman I know to have a husband in mid-life leave her for another woman. It makes me mad when I hear about men doing this and all seems to boil down to sex. Its our gender's natural obsession. The counselor I've been seeing has told me that she was once married to a muscular, good looking Alpha male and now does not find them attractive. She's trying to help me through my dating frustrations, because I really don't understand why I'm still single and why so many of the women I meet are so messed up. Why do people pick the wrong person to mate with? Why can't people override their biological impulse? We've all read about the "Bad Boy fixation" (there was even a recent article on the Huffington Post about it). What is it about women that seek the kind of men who are not likely to be faithful?
For me, I know I'm faithful. I like knowing people at a deep level. It takes a longer period of time for me to get to know people and feel comfortable enough to share parts of myself with. When I'm in a relationship with a woman, she will never have to worry about me running off with another woman. That just wouldn't happen because my loyalty gene is too strong. Plus, I live by a chivalrous code of honor (which includes not sleeping with my boss or dating co-workers). The five different housemates I've had in the past couple of years have all been married and divorced. I'm like the rare species of male who has not been married yet. Everyone's on their second or third marriages and I'm at the point where all that's left for me are the discards and left-overs.
I read another article in The Atlantic magazine, which was about online dating and how that is becoming a major threat to long-term relationships. The easy way of meeting prospective partners online means that more and more people are no longer willing to work hard to salvage their relationships. They are willing to discard the person they are with for the exciting and new. This disgusts me, actually. My values of loyalty and long-term commitment seem so old fashioned.
If any women are reading this post, please please listen to me. I'm a guy who served on two all male ships in the Navy and lived with about 20 various male housemates over the years (in college, mostly). The guy you want for a long term relationship is the one who will be your friend first. If sex comes too easily or is expected too early on, you can bet that you won't be the last person your man will have sex with. Develop a friendship first and watch it blossom into something more. It will save you grief years down the road. I actually agree with feminists on this point: most men really are pigs. The sex always gets us in trouble.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
I had been wanting out of that intolerable living situation since January, after the third woman he had for a houseguest. But it has been a frustrating search on Craigslist due to the high number of flaky people or downright strange people. Fortunately, a lady from my church asked me if I wanted to stay in her house at least until mid-August, giving me more time to find a long term living situation. So, on March 9th, two guys from church helped me move out. I hadn't spoken to the homeowner for the last two weeks, after he had asked me to leave. I also did not pay him rent after February 15th. As we were moving stuff out of the house onto the truck, the homeowner walks in with his sex toy who spent a weekend before Thanksgiving at the house. They proceeded to his little den of iniquity and had sex while my friends and I were moving things out of my bedroom and down the stairs. It was truly awkward. Oh well. I'm out of there and a lot happier now. I'm also certain that the homeowner is a sex addict who will probably find himself in hell when he dies because he's a user and an abuser. I hope karma will catch up with him eventually.
Unfortunately, my Netbook is having issues, so I won't be able to blog for awhile until I get it looked at.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
This is the latest I've ever done a year end "Best of" list. This is due in large part to my not seeing the film Les Miserables when I wanted to. I had wanted to see it over my birthday weekend but I decided to wait until one lady was able to see it. We could never coordinate a time and I ended up seeing Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, and six films at the Portland International Film Festival. I finally saw Les Miserables yesterday, so now I can do my year end best of list (I have not seen Argo yet and it looks like it has the momentum to steal Best Picture away from Lincoln even though the last time the Academy awarded Best Picture to a film that did not get a Best Director nomination was in 1990 for Driving Miss Daisy). Enjoy!
Best Quote of the Year
"President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college...What a snob.”
by Rick Santorum
In a year that gave us so many memorable quote from Republican presidential candidates and Republican candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives, it was almost hard to choose which quote represents to the most hilarious of the year. I decided to go with the Rick Santorum quote above because it illustrates how clueless conservatives are about the meanings of words and is so absurd that you wonder how he could say it with a straight face. If you have a chance, check out a recording of Rick Santorum saying it, because his delivery is hilarious, particularly when he says "What a snob!" Usually, a snob is someone who is arrogant and proud of his or her intellect, so for a president who wants everyone in America to go to college, that's not a sign of being a snob. A snob would not want other people to have the same education or to reach the same level of intellect, because a snob thinks he's better than other people. Even more crazy, Santorum said this to a roomful of conservatives and they applauded him! You mean to tell me that conservatives don't want everyone to go to college? Isn't that what being a snob is all about?
The Mirage by Matt Ruff
Last year, I went to a booksigning and lecture at Powell's City of Books for this intriguing novel. Novelist Matt Ruff wrote one of the most fascinatingly creative novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It falls under the "alternative history" genre. In this novel, the Arab countries of the Middle East make up the "United Arab States", a democratic superpower, while the United States is fractured into different countries in open hostility with one another. The United Kingdom plays the role of Iran in this alternative universe, and the Jewish state of Israel is Germany, which has to deal with hostility from fundamentalist Christians and neo-Nazis who aren't pleased with having their homeland run by Jews. In this novel, the Jews of Israel (in Germany) are aligned with the United Arab States. Other interesting details include references to a former action movie star being the governor of Lebanon, Gadhafi is the governor of an eco-paradise state of Libya, and Saddam Hussein is a gangster warlord. The novel begins with a 9/11 incident (which takes place on November 9th) in which twin towers in Baghdad are destroyed by fundamentalist Christian terrorists. Once you start reading this novel, you simply won't be able to put it down. Though I was not happy about the ending, I still believe it is well worth reading and deserves a lot of credit for originality and inspiring a lot of thinking outside of the box.
Best Song / Best Music Video
"Some Nights" by fun.
In my job, I have to research songs on the Internet to find the writer and publisher in order to contact them for the right of the company to use these songs on products that they sell. Well, last summer, as I was researching a song on a website, I kept getting a link to the song "Some Nights" while the website played this song. I was completely hooked on it. When I looked for a music video on YouTube, I was blown away by the clever use of setting the storyline in the Civil War. Just like the band's name, this song and video is simply "fun." I love the melody shifts and it has a very high charge melody, too. Simply put, "Some Nights" is the best song I heard in 2012.
Best Album / Artist of the Year
Born Under The Star of Change by Kaya
When Bruce Springsteen's political anthem zeitgeist Wrecking Ball came out a year ago, I thought for sure that it would end up as my favorite album of the year. He had captured the anger of our times, regarding our dismal economy and a condemnation of those whose greed put our economy in the toilet. That album stands next to his classic masterpieces Born in the U.S.A. and The Rising albums. However, that was before I discovered Kaya's spiritual album, Born Under the Star of Change. Again, my exposure to this album is due to my job, as this artist is distributed by the company I work for. He performed at our annual conference last year and I listened to his album out of curiosity at first and the more I listened to it, the more I loved it. I also loved the way I felt after listening to it. I could feel a positive energy shift. So many of his songs have a deep spiritual meaning and cover a wide range of topics. I wrote about the album twice last year, so I don't need to repeat myself here. Of all the CDs I heard last year, this one is the absolute best.
The reason why I am naming Kaya as my choice of "Artist of the Year" is because this album represents a "come-back" for him, after a 15 year absence from the music scene. In the 1990s, he was being marketed as a teen idol and was a well known pop star in Canada. After meeting a young lady who died of leukemia, he decided to walk away from it all: the wealth, the adulation, the tours, the records, and just pursue a spiritual path. Now, he decided to return to music making spiritually enhanced music. I consider him the male Enya and I hope that he will become just as successful as her in this genre of music.
Best Foreign Language Film
A Separation (Iran)
This was the first film from Iran that I have ever seen and it won the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award last year. A well deserved win! I saw it last year with the "Movies and Meaning" discussion group and it was quite the discussion (there was a new guy in the group who came across as a snob by commenting that none of us knew or understood what the film was really about, which annoyed everyone because we actually love hearing the different perspectives people take away from the film). The film is intense and well worth seeing. It deals with lies, class, religion, and misogyny. I've read before that of all the countries in the world, the United States is more similar to Iran than we actually are to the socialist and very secular countries of Western Europe. I don't agree with that view, but I can understand the comparison because both Iran and the United States have a very strong element of religious conservatives who seem to hate secular liberals more than they hate foreigners. In this film, we see the divide which is similar to the United States: an upper class, educated family is not religious, while the poor, working class live by religious authority and conformity. This film deserved its Oscar and it was great to get a glimpse of life in Iran, even though it is fiction, and to hear Persian spoken in a film.
Best Television Show
Though I wish this show would be more traditional in terms of the characters and storylines, I think it is fantastic that there is a TV show that showcases the People's Republic of Portland, in all our ironic, hipster glory. There are some interesting sketches and a friend once asked me how accurate this show was regarding life in Portland. I told her that it was a satire, which requires a bit of exaggeration, but some of the ideas are pretty right on. For example, the episode where a couple go to a restaurant and ask about their meal being organic or free range...this is typical Portland culture. Where the satire goes into absurdity for the sake of comedy is that the couple actually gets a complete biography on the animals they are about to eat. It's funny because its absurd and it makes fun of Portland in a loving way. The unfortunate aspect of the show is that it supposedly has caused an uptick in young people moving here, despite our dismal job market and expensive housing options. Seriously, if you love this show and are wanting to move here because of it, DON'T!! At least get a job offer before you move. A better idea is to find a hipster neighborhood in your city and create your own "Portlandia" experience.
Best Song from a Motion Picture
"Skyfall" by Adele
Theme songs from movies are slim pickings these days. I don't know why. Back in the 80s, it seemed like every movie wanted its own cool theme song and soundtrack. The James Bond series gave us plenty of memorable songs: "Goldfinger", "Live and Let Die", "You Only Live Twice", "The Man With the Golden Gun", "Diamonds Are Forever", "Nobody Does It Better", "For Your Eyes Only", "A View To A Kill", "The Living Daylights", and "Licence To Kill". The Bond theme songs for the Brosnan films of the 1990s were disappointing and not radio friendly. They totally wasted the talents of Tina Turner and Sheryl Crow in lackluster Bond theme songs. Madonna's "Die Another Day" was a welcome relief, but then they went into another slump with the theme songs to Daniel Craig's Bond films. Until Adele, that is. Her "Skyfall" is a welcome return to the Bond-sound, utilizing a few familiar notes to indicate that this is most definitely a Bond song and what an incredible song, too.
Best Costume Design
One of the aspects I loved about the film version of the popular musical, Les Miserables, is the clothing styles worn by the men. This is my kind of style and I really do wish that this would come back in style again. I particularly love the look of Inspector Javert's blue jacket with black neck collar and silver fleur-de-lis. I would absolutely wear something like that. The vests worn by the men also represents my style. I have a few vests but I prefer the 1800s style. The costume designers did a fantastic job in this film.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
For me, Anne Hathaway wins the honor hands down with her devastatingly heartbreaking performance of "I Dreamed a Dream." I was completely stunned when I watched that scene in the movie theater. She conveys all the heartbreak and despair in her face and voice during the singing of that achingly beautiful song. Though her role of Fantine in the film is small, her impact is huge. I hope it will be felt tomorrow night at the Academy Awards.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Robert DeNiro is always a joy to watch in any film. He strikes me as the kind of father-in-law you'd want to have. In this film, he plays a father with a gambling problem, whose temper has caused him to be banned from ever attending a Philadelphia Eagles game in person. He imposes on his son, played by Bradley Cooper. Wanting his son to watch the game with him is less about father-son bonding than it is about his superstitions (he considers his son watching the game with him to be "good luck" for the Eagles to win the game). He does a great job in the film, along with Jennifer Lawrence (the likely winner of this year's Best Actress Oscar) and Bradley Cooper.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Michelle Yeoh, The Lady
The most beautiful Asian actress playing the beautiful dissident in Burma? Now that's perfect casting! It's a shame that Michelle Yeoh was not given a Best Actress nomination for this role, for she did a phenomenal job of disappearing into Aung San Suu Kyi. I did not see Michelle Yeoh at all in this film. She was Aung San Suu Kyi. Yeoh has been among my favorite actresses since I first saw her in the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997. I wish that she was in more films. I loved her in Memoirs of a Geisha, and I hope that Amy Chua has sold the rights to her controversial best-seller, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother to Michelle Yeoh. There are so few acting opportunities for Asian actresses and while I believe Yeoh could play a wide number of roles (not just Asian-specific characters), I really would love to see her play Amy Chua in the film version of the demanding Chinese mother and the battles she has with her youngest daughter. No matter what films she makes in the future, though, I believe that her portrayal of Aung San Suu Kyi was phenomenal and worth of the "Best Actress" distinction for 2012. She was born to play that role.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis may be receiving his third Best Actor Oscar award tomorrow night for his portrayal of America's 16th and greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, but this is the first time he has won that distinction in my Carroll Awards (which goes back to 1980. You can see my previous best actor selections in an old blog post). He did a fantastic job in this role, to the point where I could not see Day-Lewis at all. He was Abraham Lincoln come to life and it has been long overdue for this beloved president to be seen on the big screen. When it comes to selecting the single best acting performance in each of the four categories, I have a preference for actors and actresses who play real or historical people over invented characters. I think it takes a lot more work to convincingly portray a real life or historical person. One has to disappear into the role and for a famous actor, this is hard to pull off. Tom Cruise has difficulty with it, because when I see a Tom Cruise film, I'm aware that I'm watching Tom Cruise playing a character. This was especially distracting in a film like Valkyrie, where he played a Nazi officer attempting to assassinate Hitler. But, Daniel Day-Lewis is probably the best actor of the Baby Boomer generation. It will be difficult to watch any potential future movies about Abraham Lincoln without Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal.
Luc Besson, The Lady
French director Luc Besson captured my attention with 1991's film La Femme Nikita, which was the first foreign language film that I liked. Actress Anne Parillaud was my Best Actress choice for 1991 for her role in that film as a street gang member who becomes an assassin for the government. Besson has made quite a few films over the years, but none have interested me much until he decided to bring Burmese dissident and political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi's life story to the big screen. It was a story worth telling and he told it well. I still have no idea why it did not capture the acclaim of film critics and all the award nominations. The film was far better than some previous Best Motion Picture award winners, such as The King's Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, Crash, Shakespeare in Love, and American Beauty. I mean, seriously...those film win the top honors but The Lady did not garner any such nomination?
I have a tendency to split the honors between Best Director and Best Picture, but this year, I have to credit Monsieur Besson for the difficulties and dedication he took on for this important film project. I'm not certain that any other director could do as great of a job. It'll be interesting to see where his career goes from here.
Best Motion Picture
Best Film Score
This should come to no surprise to anyone who knows me. I've been a big admirer of Aung San Suu Kyi for about 18 years now and a few years ago, I had made a wish to the universe that a film biography would be made of her life and that it would star Michelle Yeoh. The universe granted my wish in a beautiful and moving motion picture. This film covers the most important parts of Aung San Suu Kyi's public life, with a prologue of her as a young girl whose father is assassinated and an epilogue of her a few years after her husband's death when the Buddhist monks protested en masse against the brutality of the military dictatorship. In between, we see a woman who did her family duties by returning to Burma to care for her ailing mother, which happened to coincide with the upheaval in the country when the college students protested against the government. She becomes a symbol of democracy for the nation that never experienced it. She endures the loneliness of separation from her English husband and their two sons for the sake of winning democracy for the people of Burma. Of all the movies I've seen in 2012, The Lady has touched me the most, at the deepest level of my being. It is truly a great motion picture experience and thus why it is named as my favorite and the best film released in 2012. In second place is Lincoln and in third place is Les Miserables. Those three movies were simply phenomenal and the other two deserve the top spot as well, but no film hit me at such a deep emotional level as The Lady, so it deserves the top honor.
Monday, February 11, 2013
This week's music video is by Duran Duran, which was my favorite band back in 1984. Their song "Union of the Snake" is the perfect song to usher in the Chinese Year of the Snake. I always loved their cinematic quality of their music videos. They, along with Michael Jackson and Madonna helped to make MTV the #1 station among teenagers in the 1980s.
Last week at work, I had to product review yet another upcoming DVD release that has about 6 "documentaries" dealing with various conspiracies. One of the more interesting documentaries on the DVD is about they symbolism and long history of "serpent worship". I watched it, quite riveted. I had no idea. The narrator claimed that once you are aware of how the snake is used in all kinds of mythologies and religious stories, you'll begin to see them everywhere. In the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, there was the talking snake that convinced Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge (of good and evil). There's also the story of Moses turning a snake into a staff. From Greek mythology, there's Medusa with her head full of snakes. Cleopatra committed suicide with Marc Anthony with a snake bite (an asp). In Meso-American culture, there's Quatzalcoatl, the plumed serpent. In some Southern Baptist or Assemblies of God churches in the South, there are snake handlers, who grab poisonous snakes as a testament of faith.
One of the best advice I've ever gotten was from a Navy chaplain when I was stationed in Italy. He would say to me often, "Be as wise as a serpent and appear harmless of a dove." I had no idea what he was talking about at the time. It wasn't until years later, when dealing with office gossip that I learned just how true those words are. I have learned that people seem threatened by someone they consider to be intelligent. The common misperception of me is that people seem to think I'm much smarter than I really am (one lady on Facebook thought I was smart enough to join MENSA, which I know that I am not). To de-emphasize this, I often play the clown or say something people think is stupid, just to take their impression of me down a notch or two. When people think you aren't bright, you can fly under the radar. I like that.
Anyhow, it will be interesting to see how the Year of the Snake will play out. Hopefully, it will be a great year...especially for me, personally. There's stuff that I want to do this year.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
For 2013, I am keeping with my tradition of the past few years of giving a theme to my year as well as a theme song to my year. This year's theme is a rather simple: "Lucky 2013." I will focus on good luck this year. My year of good luck. As a kid, I used to fear the number 13. I suppose a certain hockey mask wearing psycho on the Silver Screen had something to do with it. I remember being afraid of turning 13. But once I turned 14, I realized that I had a great 13th year, so that number no longer carries any stigma with me (I'm actually disappointed that buildings don't have an official 13th floor, even though floor 14 is in reality the 13th floor). Anyhow, I will be playing with the idea of luck and examining it and thinking about it. In consistency with that theme, I have chosen the song "Lucky" by Greg Kihn to be my theme song this year. I love this song from the 1980s. Other songs under consideration were "Wishing I Was Lucky" by Wet Wet Wet and "I Should Be So Lucky" by Kylie Minogue. However, I found that those were too wishful and according to the principles of the Universal Law of Attraction, I need to be more in the mindset of thinking that the things I am hoping for this year have already come to past. Greg Kihn's song was the perfect choice because of its upbeat melody and the positive lyrics.
Every year, I like to try something new. Last year, it was flotation tanks. I did it twice (including on my birthday weekend). This year, I decided to try an experiment by living my life according to my astrological chart. In January, I went to a session given by an astrologer who explained the basic mechanics of this "New Agey" belief system that gets much ridicule in the general public and among science types and logic / left brained folks. I'm not convinced that there is anything to astrology, but after hearing the astrologer give good and easy-to-comprehend background on the basics of reading a chart and how to plan one's year, I decided to give it a try. My biggest problem has been timing and I need a good system of timing for myself. I feel like I wasted the last two years. In 2011, my focus was finding the love of my life that will lead to marriage. I struck out badly that year. In 2012, my focus was on finding a living wage career in government or college. I did have 4 interviews last year, which I believe is a personal record for most interviews in a single year since I moved to Portland in 2006. Something is improving! However, in the past, while it has been difficult landing an interview, I had a great track record of being hired from those interviews. This didn't happen for my last year, so now I enter 2013 wanting both a living wage career and a lady love by year's end. Thus, 2013 is my lucky year. It will happen this year.
January was a busy month for me, as well, in my search for a new place to live. Unfortunately, I have met freaks or had to deal with flakes. I don't know why it was easier to find a room to rent when I was not happy about giving up my studio apartment in 2010 (the apartment complex would not allow month to month so I decided to vacate, a decision that I have come to regret), but now that I am desperate to move, I have run into brick walls. I have no idea why people are so flaky. My God, it does not hurt to meet people...especially if you keep running your ad for housemates every day for weeks on end! Anyhow, according to one astrological book I read, I need to make the move in March, so I am not wasting a day in February thinking about it. Besides, this is the month of the Portland International Film Festival, which is far and away my favorite Portland tradition. I have tickets to see six films (narrowed down from my list of 18 films that I wanted to see out of the 135 films being shown), but I may splurge for two more. I love getting the booklet and reading through the descriptions of the films and making a list and then narrowing it down to what I can afford. My preferences on subject matter tend to be: anything dealing with life under totalitarian governments, communism, or Nazism / fascism goes to the top of my list. Any film from France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand gets first consideration. And finally, any film that is set in a location that I'm curious about or want to see, I will go to that film. Among this year's offering is a film from North Korea and another one from Taiwan. Since I'm very curious about those two places, those films went to the top of my list.
Also this month, I have decided to see a counselor to help with my career search and lady search. Saturday was our first official session (the week before that was our intro session to see if we were a right fit). Interestingly, the counselor asked why I needed to see her because she thinks I'm smart and don't need help. I informed her that 12 years of my life went by without my accomplishing one of my three major goals. I need to do something drastic because I feel like I'm losing momentum in life. She offers a very affordable rate that I did not think was possible. Had I known it was this inexpensive, I would have gotten counseling in 2009 when I needed it the most. What I hope to get out of it is some kind of momentum. I didn't make any three or six month commitment. I'd play it by ear. It's just nice to talk to someone who really listens and offers suggestions.
Since I never did my "Best of 2012" list, that will be in Friday's post. I'll include my choice for 2012's Nonconformist of the Year since I never made that known on my blog last December. I also never got around to writing movie reviews for "Lincoln", "Skyfall", "Zero Dark Thirty", "Life of Pi", and "Silver Linings Playbook", so look for that this month, as well. If I really want to play catch up, though, I should probably write my album reviews of Bruce Springsteen's and Madonna's 2012 releases.
Thanks for checking out my blog. Happy Year of the Snake, Have a great Mardi Gras, and here's to a great year of blogging (I will be continuing my series of analyzing personal ads).
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
A year ago around this time, the homeowner decided to give up one of the bedrooms to get another renter because three renters of the three bedrooms will pay his mortgage and he gets to use that money for whatever he wants. The problem with this situation is that he decided to turn the landing area between the three bedrooms, bathroom, and stairs to the lower level of the townhouse into his own bedroom. He accomplished this by installing two five-shelf bookcases on one side and Japanese style folding screens on the longer side. This makes it more "crowded" and leaves little walking space. He recently added a dresser, which takes up even more space. The truth is, had I known that he would do this, I never would have moved to this place in August 2010. I liked the extra space that the landing area offered. Whenever I cleaned my room, I could move things out to the landing area and clean the room and then return things neatly to my room.
What makes this situation worse is that the homeowner has invited several women over the past year to spend the night or week with him and late at night, when I'm going to the bathroom or downstairs to fix my lunch for work, I have to hear the sounds of his sex life, which makes me feel very uncomfortable. At least a closed room would offer a little more privacy, even if the walls aren't sound proof. But an open air "den of iniquity" that only offers bookcases and shoji screens as walls is just unacceptable.
Back in October, the homeowner took a three week vacation to Japan, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. This is what he does with the money he saves on his mortgage. Must be nice! It was during that time when I decided how great it would be to move out while he was still out of the country. I found a place that was just a 10 minute walk from my work. A woman in her 60s was renting out a bedroom in her home and she liked me. I paid $100 non-refundable deposit for her to run a background check on me. I made arrangements to move in when she agreed to have me as a tenet. On the third visit to her home to discuss my move-in, I was finished eating the meal she had prepared for me (part of the deal included cooked meals), I had asked about nearby gyms because I want to join one in 2013 and make a serious commitment to fitness to improve my energy (and thus ability to manifest my dream life into reality). All of a sudden, I felt her hand slide across my stomach and she said, "You don't need to work out at the gym!"
I was stunned, but didn't say anything. That weekend, I was packing my things and not feeling excited and kept asking myself why I was not feeling excited about the move. I kept coming back to that incident where she "violated" my personal space. For me, touch is an issue. People just don't do that to me. For me, it signifies a closeness and comfortability, thus why I feel that only close friends and family can touch me. Anyone else does so and it will likely make me recoil. My mom has said that since I was a little boy, I always seemed to hate people hugging me. I would make wiggly movements to get out of it. I believe it is because I feel trapped and I hate feeling trapped. Others say that I have a strange way of hugging, and it's probably true. It is done in a way that doesn't "smother" me. So, I did not know how to take this older woman's unpredictable gesture of touching my stomach. The reason it is an issue is because I don't know her and I was in the vulnerable position of sitting at the table with my back to her and she was walking behind me, so she was in a powerful position and violated a "trust" by doing that when I was sitting with my back to her.
At work, I told a guy about what happened and wanted to know what he thought of it. I trust his advice and knowledge. He asked me, "What would you do if she showed up in your room at night?" I did not even think of that scenario, so it freaked me out that it could be a situation that I had not considered in my desire to move to a new place. I responded, "Well, I'd ask her to leave." He then told me that some women don't handle rejection very well and if I did that, she might not feel comfortable with me in her house and then ask me to move out. Then what would I do? I thought about what he said and responded, "Then I would have screwed myself out of my current living situation."
After that conversation, I called the woman and told her that I was not moving in after all. She asked me why and thought it was because she had "revealed too much" about her personal life (she told me that she was in a loveless 20 year marriage that produced 3 sons who are all in their 20s now, and she had been divorced for 12 years and has not been able to find a man; also she had met her ex-husband in the Unification Church and their relationship was more brother-sister than romantic / passionate). I told her that was not the case. I said that it was because she had asked me to switch from my credit union to her Chase bank (I thought this request was inappropriate and displayed potential "control freak tendencies") and that she had touched my stomach. When I told her that, she played it off as, "Oh, but I'm Lebanese and we are touchy-feely people and it just meant that I felt comfortable with you and see you as a younger brother."
I told her, "I understand how that might be true from your perspective, but that's not how I viewed it. To me, it was a huge red flag and ultimately a deal breaker."
She said, "I'm disappointed to hear this."
I said, "I am too, but you shouldn't have touched me."
I bet that she will never make that mistake again!
My move in date was supposed to be the weekend before Halloween. I knew that if I did not move out before Halloween, that I would have to stay at my current place through the end of the year, due to the hassles of the holidays, such as the mail. I was okay with that.
Until the housemate had invited some lady from Connecticut to spend the week with him, where they had sex several times a night during the entire time she stayed here.
The past week and a half, he has had a different woman than the one who visited him in November. In the two years I've lived here, I have seen him bring home one Asian woman after another. One of them happened to be a Mormon woman who rejected his sexual advances, so he dropped her pretty quickly. If the woman won't have sex with him after he goes through the trouble of making dinner for them, he dumps them. He also dumps them when he's had his fill of them and someone else has come along. It's always an Asian woman, and this is part of the reason why I feel so angry about it. The homeowner is a white guy with an "Asian fetish." I say fetish because he only dates Asian women and I have a pretty good idea why. All the ones I've met are shy, soft-spoken, submissive women who act like little girls. I don't understand the attraction at all.
I have a Caucasian father and an Asian mother, so I feel a little defensive about guys who look upon Asian women as "submissive sex slaves." I find this view to be very demeaning, as there are plenty of Asian women who are strong, opinionated, outspoken, and intelligent: Aung San Suu Kyi, Michelle Yeoh, Lucy Liu, and a few others that are media personalities. When this homeowner dates the same type, I know its a fetish. I also know that he has a sex addiction, as he has told me about how he would date a woman he wasn't attracted to just because he needed sex every day. He's a user who has no interest in a real relationship with any of these women and I hate being a witness to it. He is the epitome of a male pig and makes it difficult for guys like me, because in my search for a relationship, I see plenty of ads by women who are broken and mistrustful of men. Why aren't women smart? Why do I have to be a witness to women falling for the wrong men and becoming victimized by it? It's disgusting to me. It angers me. Women who are being used for their vaginas, wake the fuck up!!!
So, the latest came when the homeowner volunteered to take me to Fred Meyers to get some groceries. He's usually in and out faster than I am. This time, though, he bought two bags full of groceries. That should have been a warning sign to me. He did not tell me that he had a houseguest coming for the holidays. He also did not tell me where she was coming from and how long she would be here. He's also not taking time off from work, so when he was gone for three days at his job on the coast, his houseguest was living here like it was her own place, cooking food, surfing the Net. All day. She has no car, so she's housebound in a neighborhood that is on the low class redneck side of things. Even stranger, she won't even say hi or strike up a conversation. I don't even know if she speaks English. On Sunday night, when he happened to be here making dinner with her, the oddest thing happened. She would talk to him and he would talk to me. She won't even acknowledge me at all. I find that to be really strange. I learned that she had broken one of my drinking glasses. But she couldn't tell me. She had to tell him and then he told me. Weird.
Because the homeowner is an atheist and hates holidays and loves any opportunity to make more money, I knew that he would be working the Christmas holiday, which he did. He's usually in Portland from Saturday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon. This time, though, he was gone on Monday and Christmas day. But the woman is still here. On Christmas!!! Does she not have family? I just don't understand it. Why would she feel comfortable being in some stranger's house with tenets she won't even talk to while her sex partner is away at the coast working for extra bucks? He can't even bother to take time off to be with her on Christmas and she has no car to go anywhere in Portland. If she's a foreigner (her nationality / ethnicity is Japanese, I know that much), why wouldn't she want to see what Portland has to offer while her sex partner is working on the coast? It is strange strange strange that she is willing to spend days alone waiting for him and not talk to anyone else. I have no respect for any woman who allows a man to treat her this way. I don't understand why any woman would put up with it. If it were me, I would not feel comfortable visiting some woman who had tenets renting rooms in her house and being alone there while she worked elsewhere over the holidays. I certainly would not give the tenets the silent treatment. I would want to get to know them and see what they might tell me about the lady they were renting a room from.
There were times when I wanted to tell this mute houseguest: "I hope you know that he is using your vagina and you're just the latest flavor of the month. Don't get too attached!" One lady that he saw for several months actually said to me that she was sad that he was dumping her. I wasn't shocked. She wasn't attractive at all and he had told me that her personality was annoying. He was only using her vagina because it is an effort to find new vagina to fuck and if she kept giving hers up, it worked well for him until she moved away for school and wanted to maintain a long distance relationship. Even though he broke up with that woman, he did fly her up for two weekends earlier this year, just for a sex holiday. And yes, I did have to hear their wild passion. I feel like I live in a whorehouse.
For me, the most telling thing about the homeowner was the one day a year or more ago when we happened to be in Goodwill. It was a Monday. He saw an attractive woman and wanted to ask her out. I overheard him say this monologue to himself: "Let's see...if I make dinner for her on Wednesday, I should have her legs open by Friday." I was stunned when I heard him say that. That does not sound like a man who is interested in getting to know a woman for her mind or her heart. He's only interested in the one body part that benefits him.
It is insulting to me to have to witness this. I want a loving and deep relationship with a woman and to see a constant parade of women allowing themselves to be used by this man and dumped when its no longer convenient for him is an insult. If anyone deserves to go to hell, I think its this homeowner for what he does to women. Thanks to him, I now understand why misogynists are thought to hate women. They only view women as a means to serving their pleasure. There is nothing else that they value or want. I feel sorry for people like him.
To signal to the universe my intention to move early in the new year, I have made an appointment to open a storage facility this weekend to store my belongings and make it easier for me to move out when I find a place. Hopefully, I will find a better place for my soul. I have not been happy with my living situation ever since the homeowner turned the landing area into his den of iniquity. I should've moved out earlier this year, but I wanted to find a better paying job first, which would determine where I might live. But, I can no longer wait for a job to determine my living situation. I have to move and then hopefully, the change will bring about new, positive energy that allows me to find a new career. I can always move again, so long as most of my things are in storage until that day arrives.