June 5th, 2002

you think you know...

thoughts on being "home," and on a hierarchy of evils

At work yesterday this guy checked out The healing traditions & spiritual practices of Wicca by Debbie Michaud. I was impressed that Norwood had such a book. We have a decent collection of books on aliens, UFOs, etc., but good luck to you finding anything on tarot, palmistry, paganism, and the like. He's a kind of guy we don't get at the library much. He goes to Salem every week and was recommending various stores to this other guy he was with. (The Cat, The Crown, and the something. I forget exactly what it was called. It's run by someone whose name isn't Lara Croft but is something similar.) He had a crystal pendant and a necklace with a Norwegian dragon pendant. Listening to him felt kinda like listening to Allison (yeah, not exactly, but you're the only pagan i really know, dear).

I was talking to someone else that day and he was complaining about this kid who's been really irresponsible and stuff lately. He called the kid a faggot. My brain just sort of froze. I get used to the Smith world where you rarely have to explain certain things (like being vegetarian or bisexual or pagan or whatever) and when you do you know you're talking to someone who's intellectual and will understand what you're saying even if she or he doesn't agree with you. But some people here would just have no understanding of stuff that i take for commonplace. Because i come from the suburban middle-class heteronormative Christian whatever community, i understand where these people are coming from, but a lot of times i don't know how to make them see where i'm coming from. I know this guy wasn't thinking about what he was saying, and an obvious response like "So the fact that he's a loser means that he's a homosexual?" came to me later. On one level i know that i have explanations for what i do (why i'm a vegetarian, why i claim the identity of "queer," and so on) and i know that it's good for me to sometimes have to explain these things, to remind myself of why it is that i'm doing these things, but sometimes i feel like it's hopeless, like the person i'm talking to isn't going to understand or i don't have a good enough explanation (that's a big worry, that i don't know enough about what i'm trying to argue or whatever).

I was talking to Jane after i read that May 16th letter in the Bulletin and she said something about when you're young you can complain about all this stuff but when you get older stuff like that tends to take a back seat to your family and such. I understand where she was coming from, but it upset me a bit, the implication that in the grand scheme stuff like petitioning to use "queer" instead of "gay" (like in "gay pride") when "gay" would be too exclusionary aren't really important in the grand scheme of things. Yes, compared to world hunger and such they're really quite petty, but they're still important. And some of it comes back to what i've talked about with my mom and with Sharon, about living a good life, about doing what you can, about how if everyone did little things, the big things wouldn't be quite so big. I can't rid of homophobia, but i can educate people about how their words hurt. I can't stop all animal abuse, but i can choose to not consume animal products. I can't stop all people from irrationally hating their bodies, but i can choose to not wear makeup, to not shave, to instigate discussions with people when they talk self-loathing or dieting or whatever. I can't change the world, but i can try to change my small part of the world. There's some famous quote i could insert here, but i can't think of what it is. Something like: to change the world, one must first change one's community; to change one's community, one must first change one's family; to change one's family one must first change oneself.

My mom's coworker Susan is all about the evils of the media and stuff, and last night my mom said ever since her mother fell, that has really taken up all of her energy and she's had trouble really caring about the evils of media. "You know what's evil? Evil is little old people in nursing homes that nobody visits," she said last night. "Evil is starving Afghan refugees." She had a third example, but i forget what it was.

I definitely understand where she's coming from, and it's certainly understandable that one can only care about so many things. And Jane definitely has a point. When you have a family to worry about, stuff that's more distant, more abstract, whatever, is harder to care about. And my mom made a good point that the people who work in the media don't exactly come to work and say, "How can we be evil today?" They're just regular people, doing their job.

I was heading somewhere with this, but i've lost it.

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professional me, self

This makes how many posts in one day?

Yup, so i went for my walk today. Saw the display, for Gay Pride Week -- which is May 31 - June 9, longer than a technical week, but whatever. It's actually a three-sided display, and two of the sides looked like someone had mowed the lawn around them. So i wiped the bits of grass off of the glass (or plastic; i don't know what it was) and felt better.

Saw Jonah and Santara on my way back, so we hung out for a while. Then Santara's friend Erica came to pick her up. After introductions Erica asked me what i'm majoring in. I said English and she said, "Oh, are you thinking of going into publishing?" and that just totally endeared her to me, that her assumption wasn't that i was going to go into teaching (like everyone's always is).

I stopped in at the library on my way home and arrived home just in time to leave for Education Night. It was the same as it always was, and i didn't care too much since i didn't know many of the kids who had work displayed or who got awards, but that was okay. Smith got a real work-up when the Smith Book Award was given "committed to educating young women since 1871" and such like. I don't remember such an introduction when i got the award two years ago. Though of course at the time i was a bit anxious trying to guess who would get which award and such, while tonight i could just relax. And of course, Mrs. DeCoste mentioned that i was there in the audience. I think that was part of why she talked a fair amount about the college. Usually they just read the requirements for the award and then read all the accomplishments of the recipient (and then they name the person who got it -- so you can have fun trying to guess while they're reading all the stuff). I didn't know the girl (Kimberly Reardon) who got this year's Smith Book Award, but i knew some of the other juniors who got Book Awards, so that was cool.

Mr. Usevich gave some sort of award to this guy, Bucky Sexton, class of '72 or something. I'm a little unclear on why. That's such a Norwood thing, to give an award to someone who graduated ages ago just for being a good person or whatever. This where i live, townie heaven. Oh well.

And then Joe DaSilva. President of NHS class of 1998, then president of West Point class of 2002. Great guy and all that, i hear. West Point tradition is that when you graduate you give your tarbucket (that funny military hat) to someone who inspired you. He talked about how great NHS was and how much he loved it and everyone and how difficult it was to choose a single person to give it to, so i was beginning to fear that he was going to give it to Mr. Usevich (NHS principal) as symbolic of giving it to everyone who works at the high school. But he gave it to Mr. Powell, who was very surprised but gave a very good speech anyway. He sounded choked up, and i actually cried. Hearing Joe talk and then Mr. Powell reminded me of why i talk seriously about coming back here to live, because there is so much love here. So many people have wonderful experiences here. Yeah, high school will not go down as the greatest 4 years of my life, and i don't expect to maintain close friendships with very many of the people i knew here, but there is a lot of love and support and community and such here. And of course Mr. Powell joked that he hears Joe gave the President a shiny sword (Bush gave the commencement speech at West Point and gave Joe his diploma) and all he gets is a 4-year-old hat. :)

[My mom came over and hugged me while i was IMing tonight and said "Not reading" to indicate that she wasn't reading over my shoulder -- reading over people's shoulders is a BIG no-no in my family -- so she was watching me type and after a little while said, "You're not using homerow are you? That's the fastest I've seen anyone type without homerowing." Go me! (Though of course as she pointed out, "Think how much faster you could type if you did use homerow." I just can't win, huh?)]