Monthly Archives: September 2021
My friend and I from Wednesday night did not repeat our “roll in the hay” again last night, and we won’t tonight. Maybe this weekend before he leaves town. We’ll see. Tonight, I am going to the HUMP Film Festival in Burlington. HUMP! is a festival of short erotic films made by real people for real people curated by Dan Savage. The filmmakers and stars make films to show hot and sexy, creative and kinky, ultimate turn-ons and craziest fantasies. Some of them can be a bit wild. I won tickets to it a few years ago, and some friends and I went and had a lot of fun, so we decided to go again this year.
The short films show a cornucopia of body types, shapes, ages, colors, sexualities, genders, kinks, and fetishes—all united by a shared spirit of sex-positivity. HUMP! can shock you. HUMP! can make you laugh. HUMP! can turn you on. HUMP! Film Festival “has been successfully disrupting the way America sees, makes, and shares porn since 2005.” Needless to say, it’s an interesting experience. There are showings all around the country. Have any of y’all ever attended the HUMP! Film Festival? If so, what did you think?
I think sometimes people who grew up like I did in a religious family where sex was a dirty thing and gay sex was unthinkable, we often feel ashamed of exploring our sexuality. I know I’ve often said to people that I was a slut in my twenties, but that is really just sex-shaming myself and being self-deprecating. The truth is, I had fun, and I’m not really ashamed of that. I doubt I’ll ever get married, so if I’m going to have sex, sometimes it’s just a random hook-up. Hell, I hooked up with a guy within days of moving to Vermont. In fact my bed hadn’t even come yet, so we had sex on an air mattress. It was great sex too, and I’d love to get together with him again, it’s just never worked out. I do see him on occasion and he has expressed interest in getting together again. It just hasn’t happened yet.
This brings me to the main topic of this post. A week or so ago a guy messaged me that he was in town and wanted to get together. At the time, I couldn’t, but he said he’d be back this week. We chatted a bit and realized we’d both like to get together, so we made tentative plans for this week. Don’t think this guy was just some random guy off the internet. I knew what he looked like, what his first name was, and why he was in town. With that information, I was able to look him up online, so I knew more about him then he’d probably intended. He’s closeted, or discreet as many guys say these days, and I respect that, even if I wish no one had to be closeted or discreet these days.
Anyway, he’s in town for a big event at the university and wanted to get together. I said sure and was looking forward to it. It wasn’t a major get together, but really just a “fuck and go” as I tend to call it. He only had a limited amount of time before he had another engagement (not another sexual one, I might add), so he came over, we got down to business and had a great time. He said he’d like to see more of me while he’s in town, and I’d like that too. Discreet guys though can be a little skittish, whether it’s because of post-sex guilt, being afraid they might get caught by someone, or any other myriad of reasons. Will I see him again? Yeah, if he wants to. I got what I wanted out of it; he got what he wanted out of it. We had fun! I’d like to repeat the experience.
The thing is, I refuse to feel guilt or shame for hooking up with a guy. I’ve been there done that and wasted too many years doing that. I have a few local guys I get together with occasionally, and if this guy wants to get together when he’s in town (and I think he’s in town a fair amount), then I have no problem with it. You can only do so much by yourself, and while that can be pretty good too, there’s really nothing like having someone else to help you out.
“We are beckoned to see the world through a one-way mirror, as if we are threatened and innocent and the rest of humanity is threatening, or wretched, or expendable. Our memory is struggling to rescue the truth that human rights were not handed down as privileges from a parliament, or a boardroom, or an institution, but that peace is only possible with justice and with information that gives us the power to act justly.”
Australian journalist, writer, scholar, and filmmaker
Are you a glass half-empty or half-full sort of person? Studies have demonstrated that both can impact your physical and mental health and that being a positive thinker is the better of the two. Sometimes, having a positive outlook is one of the hardest things to do. One just needs to look at the news to feel depressed and hopeless. Whether it’s from a natural disaster like a hurricane or a wildfire or it’s the hate filled politics of the current Trumpism of the Republican Party. Every time politics is mentioned especially something done by either the Democrats or those Republicans who opposed the former president, the Republicans trying to find the favor of the former twice impeached and disgraced president seem to be diametrically opposed to it. They don’t seem to care how much it would benefit their constituents, how sensible or scientifically proven it is, or even if it was a policy they previously supported. The current climate is nastier than I can ever remember it. The world continues to see deaths from COVID due to the delta variant, and it seems to go ignored by those who refuse to support science or believe in helping their fellow man simply to follow the lunatic ravings of one madman.
It is all so disheartening and depressing. What can we do about it? If we dwell on it and allow it to consume us, we are only seeing the world through a one-way mirror and the hopelessness consumes us. We must make a change in our outlook before we can make a change in the world. We must turn to positive thinking and heal ourselves first. Jesus reminded those in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:23) of a Greek proverb, “Physician, heal yourself!” The moral of the proverb in general, containing within itself also a criticism of hypocrisy, is to attend to one’s own defects before those in others. If our defect is negative thinking, then we must heal that first. Positive thinking isn’t magic, and it won’t make all of our problems disappear. What it will do is make problems seem more manageable and help us approach hardships in a more positive and productive way.
The first thing we can do is to focus on the good things in our lives. Challenging situations and obstacles are a part of life. When we’re faced with one, focus on the good things no matter how small or seemingly insignificant they seem. If we look for it, we you can always find the proverbial silver lining in every cloud—even if it’s not immediately obvious. To follow this up, we should practice gratitude of what we have. Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and foster resilience even in very difficult times. Think of people, moments, or things that bring you comfort or happiness and try to express your gratitude at least once a day.
Comedians who often tell stories instead of just telling jokes often say that humor is all around them and they find their stories in everyday situations because they open themselves up to the humor of life. Instead of dwelling on what can go wrong, they focus on how to find the humor in the situation. Studies have found that laughter lowers stress, anxiety, and depression. It also improves coping skills, mood, and self-esteem. Be open to humor in all situations, especially the difficult ones, and give yourself permission to laugh. It instantly lightens the mood and makes things seem a little less difficult. Even if you’re not feeling it; pretending or forcing yourself to laugh can improve your mood and lower stress.
One of the most important things, and something I have been doing more of lately, is to spend time with positive people. Negative people will only pull you down into their negativity. Positivity and negativity have been shown to be contagious. Consider the people with whom you’re spending time. Have you noticed how someone in a bad mood can bring down almost everyone in a room? A positive person has the opposite effect on others. Being around positive people has been shown to improve self-esteem and increase our chances of reaching goals. We should surround ourselves with people who will lift us up and help us see the bright side. Two songs come to mind, the jazz classic, “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” and the country/bluegrass classic, “Keep on the Sunny Side.” The latter song tells us, “It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way, if we keep on the sunny side of life.”
We also need to not be so hard on ourselves. We tend to be the hardest on ourselves and be our own worst critic. Over time, this can cause us to form a negative opinion of ourselves that can be hard to shake. To stop this, we need to be mindful of the voice in our head and respond with positive messages. Research shows that even a small shift in the way we talk to ourselves can influence our ability to regulate our feelings, thoughts, and behavior under stress. We need to identify the areas of negativity in our lives. We should take a good look at the different areas of our life and identify the ones in which we tend to be the most negative. If you are not sure what those are? Ask a trusted friend or colleague. Chances are, they’ll be able to offer some insight. A co-worker might notice that you tend to be negative at work. A close friend may notice that you get especially negative while driving. Tackle one area at a time.
We can also drive away the negativity in our lives by starting every day on a positive note. There are several ways we can do this. We can create a ritual in which you start off each day with something uplifting and positive. We can tell ourselves that it’s going to be a great day or any other positive affirmation. We can listen to a happy and positive song or playlist, or we can share some positivity by giving a compliment or doing something nice for someone. We can’t undo years of pessimism and negative thoughts overnight, but with some practice, we can learn how to approach things with a more positive outlook.
The Teller of Tales
By Gabriela Mistral – 1889-1957
translated by Ursula K. Le Guin
When I’m walking, everything
on earth gets up
and stops me and whispers to me,
and what they tell me is their story.
And the people walking
on the road leave me their stories,
I pick them up where they fell
in cocoons of silken thread.
Stories run through my body
or sit purring in my lap.
So many they take my breath away,
buzzing, boiling, humming.
Uncalled they come to me,
and told, they still won’t leave me.
The ones that come down through the trees
weave and unweave themselves,
and knit me up and wind me round
until the sea drives them away.
But the sea that’s always telling stories,
the wearier I am the more it tells me…
The people who cut trees,
the people who break stones,
want stories before they go to sleep.
Women looking for children
who got lost and don’t come home,
women who think they’re alive
and don’t know they’re dead,
every night they ask for stories,
and I return tale for tale.
In the middle of the road, I stand
between rivers that won’t let me go,
and the circle keeps closing
and I’m caught in the wheel.
The riverside people tell me
of the drowned woman sunk in grasses
and her gaze tells her story,
and I graft the tales into my open hands.
To the thumb come stories of animals,
to the index fingers, stories of my dead.
There are so many tales of children
they swarm on my palms like ants.
When my arms held
the one I had, the stories
all ran as a blood-gift
in my arms, all through the night.
Now, turned to the East,
I’m giving them away because I forget them.
Old folks want them to be lies.
Children want them to be true.
All of them want to hear my own story,
which, on my living tongue, is dead.
I’m seeking someone who remembers it
leaf by leaf, thread by thread.
I lend her my breath, I give her my legs,
so that hearing it may waken it for me.
Cuando camino se levantan
todas las cosas de la tierra
y me paran y cuchichean
y es su historia lo que cuentan.
Y las gentes que caminan
en la ruta me la dejan
y la recojo caída
en capullos que son de huella.
Historias corren mi cuerpo
o en mi regazo ronronean.
Tantas son que no dan respiro,
zumban, hierven y abejean.
Sin llamada se me vienen
y contadas tampoco dejan…
Las que bajan por los árboles
se trenzan y se destrenzan,
y me tejen y me envuelvan
hasta que el mar los ahuyenta.
Pero el mar que cuenta siempre
más rendida, más me deja…
Los que están mascando bosque
y los que rompen la piedra,
al dormirse quieren historias.
Mujeres que buscan hijos
perdidos que no regresan,
y las que se creen vivas
y no saben que están muertas,
cada noche piden historias,
y yo me rindo cuenta que cuenta.
A medio camino quedo
entre ríos que no me sueltan,
el corro se va cerrando
y me atrapa en la rueda.
Los ribereños me cuentan
la ahogada sumida en hierbas,
y su mirada cuenta su historia,
y yo las tronco en mis palmas abiertas.
Al pulgar llegan las de animales,
al índice las de mis muertos.
Las de niños, de ser tantas
en las palmas me hormiguean.
Cuando tomaba así mis brazos
el que yo tuve, todas ellas
en regalo de sangre corrieron
mis brazos una noche entera.
Ahora yo, vuelta al Oriente,
se las voy dando porque no recuerdo.
Los viejos las quieren mentidas,
los niños las quieren ciertas.
Todos quieren oír la historia mía
que en mi lengua viva está muerta.
Busco alguna que la recuerde
hoja por hoja, herbra por hebra.
Le presto mi aliento, le doy mi marcha
por si el oírla me la despierta.
This poem is much longer than poems I usually post, but I found it very interesting. I think we are all “Teller of Tales.” We all have a story to tell. Anyone who knows me in real life will tell you that I am a shy person until I get to know you, then I can be quite a talker. I have a story or an obscure fact for most anything. I may not be able to remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can remember that Vermont used to alternate governors according to what side of the Green Mountains they lived on. I can tell you that Alabama Governor Lurleen B. Wallace once was publicized for going turkey hunting and was called Governor Diana (the Roman goddess of the hunt) and that she weighed that turkey on the porch of my grandparents’ store. Telling that story will probably get you a whole dissertation on the governorship of Lurleen Wallace and how running for governor ultimately led to her death. It’s amazing the minutia in my head, yet when I play Trivial Pursuit, I often can’t recall those “trivial” details when I need to.
The point is, we all have stories to tell. One of the things I love about working in a museum is that every object has a story. Every person behind that object has a story. We may not know all the details, and some things may be impossible to know, but the stories existed at one time or another. Can you think of a story or piece of minutia that is in the back of your head that comes up at odd times? What is that story?
About the Author
Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957), pseudonym for Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga, was born in Vicuña, Chile. The daughter of a dilettante poet, she began to write poetry as a village schoolteacher after a passionate romance with a railway employee who committed suicide. She taught elementary and secondary school for many years until her poetry made her famous. She played an important role in the educational systems of Mexico and Chile, was active in cultural committees of the League of Nations, and was Chilean consul in Naples, Madrid, and Lisbon. She held honorary degrees from the Universities of Florence and Guatemala and was an honorary member of various cultural societies in Chile as well as in the United States, Spain, and Cuba. She taught Spanish literature in the United States at Columbia University, Middlebury College, Vassar College, and at the University of Puerto Rico.
The love poems in memory of the dead, Sonetos de la muerte (1914), made her known throughout Latin America, but her first great collection of poems, Desolación [Despair], was not published until 1922. In 1924 appeared Ternura [Tenderness], a volume of poetry dominated by the theme of childhood; the same theme, linked with that of maternity, plays a significant role in Tala, poems published in 1938. Her complete poetry was published in 1958.
Note: I found this poem as part of a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Poets.org, the website of the Academy of American Poets. National Hispanic Heritage Month (Spanish: Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana) is a period from September 15 to October 15 in the United States for recognizing the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.