Monthly Archives: March 2021
While the end of the pandemic that shook the world to its core is still hanging on, President Biden has surpassed his promise of 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days, and it looks like we will reach double that goal. The success of vaccine distribution has given many of us a bit of hope that life could resume to somewhat normal before 2022. By the end of this year, hopefully we will be heading back to the office, hugging loved ones (I miss hugs), and dating. While I have been on few dates since moving to Vermont, I was optimistic before the pandemic and going out and to gay events in Burlington, hoping to meet someone. As we move closer and closer to normal again, one has to wonder how we will navigate a return to the possibility of romance (and possibly sex) after a global pandemic?
One thing the COVID pandemic did was to give us a lot of free time. For many people, it was too much free time, especially in the beginning. When we weren’t scrambling for toilet paper and sanitizer wipes, we were sitting in our homes with every topic under the sun swirling around in our heads. It meant watching a lot of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+, not to mention way too much online shopping. With more time than usual to sit and think, many of us have reconsidered what we find to be important in our lives. The loneliness of quarantines and lockdowns has made a lot of us realize just how much we would like to have a partner by our side.
As we begin moving forward once COVID is a memory, many of us who are single might be rethinking how to go about not only how we date, but who we date. It won’t be a surprise if people take their time and get to know people more often. I think people might be a little more careful and get to know someone better before moving forward. I think it will be important to think about whether this was a person who diligently wore a mask and observed social distancing because it will tell us whether he cares about the well-being of others or if he is just a selfish asshole. Of course, the alternative of just swiping right and setting up a quick hookup will still be available, but I think the COVID pandemic has taught us a lot about human nature. We’ve spent a year and some change with not much else but ourselves and our thoughts, and that longing for human connection could result in a wave of monogamy, something that technology and smartphones seemed to have left in the past.
As the world starts to reopen and we can return to bars and clubs (I miss the monthly drag shows in Burlington), it’s important to remember that while we were alone during 2020, we should remember that it’s not a bad thing to want a solid foundation in terms of a relationship. However, there is a flip side to this because life is like a coin. There are always two sides to every situation. Yes, the lack of human connection has been dismal, but the nonexistent physical contact has been just as bad for many. Once people are vaccinated, we can once again get together with others without fear of contracting a disease that has killed over half a million people in the US alone. We might see a rise in not only monogamous relationships, but a whole lot of hookups because for a lot of people—that’s been off the table for over a year. I recently downloaded a few dating apps again, mostly to see if anything had changed and if the landscape of available men had changed. Men are definitely horny. I’ve seen a lot more interest than I usually do when I log into those apps, but I am looking for something more than just a quick one night stand.
Relationships are probably going to get deeper and more common but there is also going to be a sexual revolution of sorts with more people (dare I say, desperately) looking for hookups. With that, it’s wise to remain cautious not just because of COVID, but also keeping in mind that STDs have not ceased to exist. If you’re not the type that realized a need for a partner after this and just want to hookup, keep in mind that there are plenty of people exiting the pandemic with the same sexual needs. So, it’s always smart to practice safe sex—more so than ever because people are going to be screwing around like well, they haven’t fucked in over a year.
Throughout history, major events have always had an impact on our romance and sexual lives, and COVID is no different. Whether we’re seeing the reality of having someone close at all times, or the power of sex—the post-COVID world might be a wild one.
This picture is the reason I posted a poem with a theme related to trains this morning, but once I found a poem I wanted to use, this picture was no longer appropriate. So, here it is now.
By Wilfred Owen
Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed,
And lined the train with faces grimly gay.
Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray
As men’s are, dead.
Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp
Stood staring hard,
Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.
Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp
Winked to the guard.
So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went.
They were not ours:
We never heard to which front these were sent.
Nor there if they yet mock what women meant
Who gave them flowers.
Shall they return to beatings of great bells
In wild trainloads?
A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,
May creep back, silent, to still village wells
Up half-known roads.
“The Send-off” describes a group of new soldiers departing for the trenches of the Great War by train, ‘The Send-Off’ was not one of Wilfred Owen’s poems that I was familiar with until I came across it yesterday. Wilfred Owen is most often remembered as one of the more passionate and eloquent voices of the First World War poets. Most of the poems for which he is now famous were written in a period of intense creativity between 1917 and 1918. The poem I am most familiar with is “Dulce et Decorum Est,” which he wrote at Craiglockhart hospital near Edinburgh where he had been sent to recover from neurasthenia, better known as shellshock. While at the hospital, he would meet the poet and novelist, Siegfried Sassoon, who had a major impact upon his life and work and played a crucial role in publishing Owen’s poetry following Owen’s untimely death in 1918, aged 25. Only five of Owen’s poems were published in his lifetime. Owen wrote a number of his most famous poems at Craiglockhart.
“The Send-off” was written at Ripon, where there was a huge army camp. The poem describes a group of soldiers leaving for the Western Front by train. They had just come from a sending-off ceremony—cheering crowds, bells, drums, flowers given by strangers—and they were being packed into trains for an unknown destination. Note the effect of the early use of an oxymoron: the men are said to be “grimly gay.” They sang as they marched gayly from the upland camp to the siding shed, but the use of “grimly” suggests that they know enough about what lies ahead of them to feel somber and anxious.
The poem suggests that they may have been given flowers to celebrate the bravery of their commitment to the cause, but Owen emphatically compares the “wreath and spray” to flowers for the “dead.” Traditionally flowers have a double significance – colorful flowers for a celebration, white flowers for mourning. So, the women who stuck flowers on their breasts thought they were expressing support but were actually garlanding them for the slaughter of the Western Front. One of the things which make “The Send-Off” a masterful piece of poetry is the way in which Owen suggests the cracks already showing beneath the supposedly joyous and celebratory event of a group of soldiers being cheered on as they depart their homes and head for the Western Front.
“The Send-Off” correctly predicts that those soldiers who are lucky enough to return home alive will find their hometowns and villages to be very different (“half-known”) from the ones they left: there will be no crowds of girls to greet them and cheer them as there was to see them off, and no great celebration of their heroism. And many who returned would never be the same again, mentally scarred by shellshock, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the horrors witnessed. During and after the First World War, many people could not bear to watch a train moving away because this reminded them of a last meeting. His work is full of compassion and outrage and technically highly skillful. Perhaps more than any other poet of the First World War he was able to show the reality and horror of war.
Sadly, Owen was killed in action on November 4, 1918, during the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal, exactly one week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice which ended the war and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant the day after his death. His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day, as the church bells in Shrewsbury were ringing out in celebration. Owen is buried at Ors Communal Cemetery, Ors, in northern France. The inscription on his gravestone, chosen by his mother Susan, is based on a quote from his poetry: “SHALL LIFE RENEW THESE BODIES? OF A TRUTH ALL DEATH WILL HE ANNUL” W.O.
When this posts, I will likely be eating breakfast, then taking my shower, and getting ready for work. I don’t have a lot to say today. I don’t have a lot of work to do today. I just hope it will be a mostly headache free day, and I can do what I actually need to do at the museum. I need to work on a presentation for an upcoming program I will be doing with a colleague. I think it will be a fun program, but I need to do some prep work for it. Other than that, most of the work I need to do is stuff to get the program organized and ready to go. It’s in a week, so I really need to get going on it. I hope you all have a great week, and good Monday.
The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!”
— John 12:12-13
Today is Palm Sunday, the Christian holiday that occurs on the Sunday before Easter. The holiday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, mentioned in each of the four Gospels. Jesus entered the city knowing He would be tried and crucified and welcomed His fate to rise from the grave and save us from our sins. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which is a remembrance of Jesus’ last days before being crucified and rising from the dead on the third day.
Jesus’ entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey to the celebration and praise of the gathered crowd. Jesus’ triumphal entry fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus as King and Messiah. Isaiah 62:11 calls for “Daughter of Zion” to watch for the Messiah, and Zechariah 9:9 depicts the King as “Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
While most royal processions feature incredible extravagance, Jesus humbly entered the town on a simple donkey. While kings rode horses during times of war, rulers rode donkeys during times of peace as a sign of humility toward the people (1 Kings 1:38-40). Here, Jesus exemplified the peaceful return of a king to Jerusalem. By riding on a donkey, He showed that He came to bring grace and not judgment. Also, it is significant that Jesus rode a colt, which is a young and untrained donkey. Typically, it would be challenging for someone to ride an unbroken animal through a crowded and jubilant scene with an unfamiliar rider on its back, but Jesus was able to ride the colt easily.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was meant to resemble a peaceful royal procession (2 Kings 9:13), yet up until this point, Jesus had consistently avoided anything resembling royal displays (Matthew 8:4, Matthew 9:30, Matthew 12:16). However, He was now ready to present Himself publicly as the Messiah and King. This was Jesus’ last trip to Jerusalem, and He chose to enter in such a way as to leave no doubt that He was the promised Messiah who had come to save the nation. No one in the city could miss the procession or the prophecy-fulfilling reference Jesus’ entry conveyed.
On Palm Sunday, parishioners are given palm fronds to represent the fronds that worshippers waved as Christ returned to Jerusalem for the final time before His death. Churches usually keep the palm fronds throughout the following year, burning them the day before Ash Wednesday. So, Palm Sunday does more than celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of Holy Week. It has a further significance that happens nearly a year later on Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent, the solemn 40-day period of repentance and fasting that precedes Easter. The ashes used to make crosses on believers’ foreheads for Ash Wednesday come from burning the palms from the preceding year’s Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday began in the Jerusalem Church during the late third century. Observances consisted of hymns, prayers, and Bible readings as people traveled through the many holy places within the city. At the final place, the site of Jesus’ ascent into heaven, the ministry would recite the biblical passage of Jesus’ victorious entrance into Jerusalem. Then as dusk neared, the people would return to the city, declaring: “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9). This tradition continued until the sixth and seventh centuries when the ceremonial blessing of the palms was included. By the eighth century, a morning procession substituted the evening one, and the Western Church was celebrating what we now know as “Palm Sunday.”