Monday, January 26, 2009


It’s been a little while since I wrote. I’m sorry for the absence, but last Wednesday was the first day of school and today marks the beginning of the first full week.

Bare Path in Winter

Major University was closed on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and on Tuesday for the inauguration of Barack Obama, who I still can’t believe is the 44th President of the United States.

Everytime I hear one of the newscasters on television refer to him as “the President” or allude to some comment of his by narrating, “the President said” it gives me a happy shock of surprise. He really is our President, the most powerful person in the world, the leader of our country. It will take some time for the reality of this to set in, certainly longer than the six days he’s been in office for.

Yet already he’s pleased me beyond measure. George W. Bush was necessary to effect the rise of a dominant liberal coalition in this country, as he demonstrated with absolute clarity the outcome of the Republican ideology carried to its logical extreme. As I’ve said before and will say again, Bush’s reelection in 2004 was from a geopolitical standpoint a godsend for this nation, as it broke the long hold of the Reagan conservatives and their imitators over the electorate and ensured the ascent of a brazenly liberal Democratic majority.

I can’t quite believe how far left he is. In less than a week, he’s ordered the closing of Guantanamo Bay, enabled stem cell research to proceed uninhibited by religious dogma, capped White House staffers’ salaries, resumed funding for international aid organizations that promote family planning, disallowed torture, cleared the way for individual states to implement more rigorous environmental standards, and moved the deadline for automobile company compliance with federal efficiency standards back from 2020 to 2011.

I feel like I’ve died and gone to Heaven.

Societies are resistant to change and typically evolve slowly. Every once in a while, though, circumstances create a need for urgent alteration, and, when the forces in power resist as is their nature to do, an individual emerges to push his people forward far more rapidly than normal. Franklin D. Roosevelt was that person in the 1930’s, and I believe that Barack Obama is the catalyst for our own generation.

If the past six days is any indication, civil liberties advocates, including those lobbying equal rights for gays, will find a powerful ally in our President, whose liberalism is the natural byproduct of staunch devotion to the U.S. Constitution, which he obviously respects.

George W. Bush, a far-Right Republican, turned America blue. After years of shallow victories, all of them more short-lived than their perpetrators ever could have imagined, the Democrats are firmly in control of the United States, and, barring a truly catastrophic presidency on the part of Barack Obama, at a decided demographic advantage that extends into the foreseeable future.

My elation with the political world notwithstanding, the dominant emotion I feel regarding my personal life right now is one of frustration on several fronts. I am not, mindful of my New Year’s pledges, complaining about nothing. There are just some things I’m not quite pleased with.

The first of these regards school and my career options following graduation, which will come in either May of 2010 or May of 2011, depending on how my newly-added Journalism minor affects my credit requirements.

Simply put, I’m not sure anymore what I want to do after I graduate. I came to this realization following my internship at the Western City Newspaper, which gave me some insight into the lives of young reporters several years out of college. During my short time at this publication, I wrote stories about a dog park and a fourth-place beauty pageant contestant, all while working alongside underpaid people in a grim place of business.

“God,” I thought to myself, looking at the long hours the reporters put in. “What if I graduated, and this was what I had to look forward to every day?”

This led to the alarming discovery that my career goal had suddenly gone out the window, because now, halfway through my Junior Year, I’m not sure what I’m aiming for. I know what I want to do, what I would do in an ideal world: I want to be a writer, not simply a newspaper correspondent, but a writer in the mold of my cousin, who pens books for a living. The most important component of this, of course, is to write, and I’ve been doing that regularly. In fact, as of last night, when I finished five new pages of material, “Four Cousins” was 111 pages long, a number that will continue to grow. When I think that this time a year ago I had fewer than forty pages done, I’m enormously encouraged. I’ve made so much progress, and as I get farther into the book the plot, which came out in awkward chunks at first, flows much more easily and has become far more intricate in my mind. Transferring it to paper is enjoyable, and watching my characters grow and develop like children is also something to experience. It’s almost like it’s not me doing it, though of course I’ve had basic ideas of their personalities since I made them.

It’s so odd, writing a book, like creating a universe that you alone control. Their fates, though fictional, hang upon my whims. If I say they die, they die. If I say they live, they live. If I say that they rule immense kingdoms, then they shall come to possess extravagant wealth and power. It’s pretty cool.

I should probably take this opportunity to thank the few of you who have gone over to and left your comments. I understand that reading someone else’s book is not for everyone, but I greatly appreciate the feedback from those of you who are following along with William, Amelia, James, and Beatrice. Please feel free to be honest; if you don’t like something, don’t refrain from telling me because we’re friends. Constructive criticism is how we grow.

Unfortunately, however, “Four Cousins” cannot provide me with an income until it is picked up by a major publishing house, something that would be remarkable in any case but all the more so at this point given that the project is not finished and is nowhere close to being completed.

If there’s one thing I’ve realized over the last few months, it’s that this book is going to be very long. Right now, the cousins are on the first of several worlds they must visit, aren’t even leaving yet, and the book is over a hundred pages in length. I may wind up breaking it into two or even more installments, perhaps wrapping up the first part halfway through their journey. All of this is very precarious, dependent upon the will of agents and publishers who don’t even know of my existence yet, but I believe, very firmly, that this novel has vast potential. In my heart of hearts, and as a writer, I think that the story is superb and would delight countless children, and to that belief I will hold. Many people my age set out to write fantasy novels, but few produce any that have substance or broad-based appeal. I believe that I can and am doing that.

In any case, Semi-Famous Cousin has said that, despite his ongoing national book tour, he will take the time out of his hectic schedule to review the first chapter of the book and give me some feedback. I’m happy for it.

In the meantime, I’m a twenty-year-old college student with no clue what he’s going to do when he graduates in a year and a half to two and a half years. It’s scary, which is why I’m going to seek out the advice of one of the Journalism professors at Major University, who, for some reason, appears to have taken a liking to me. Go figure, right?

I think that I could be a political journalism given my obsession with such matters, or that I could possibly have a job with a publishing house, but I’m just not sure. There’s so much uncertainty.

Hoping for Snow

There’s even uncertainty about what my schedule will look like tomorrow; we’re expecting the first snowstorm of the season here tomorrow (I’m sure my Northern readers are astounded by this), and while the area around Major University will surely get no more than an inch of accumulation, my town in the mountains, the slanted roads around which quickly become dangerous when covered in ice, is due to receive nearly four.

Pie and I both wore our pajamas inside out and backwards to help bring on the snow.

Wearing My Pajamas Inside Out and Backwards

If this county is closed tomorrow, I’ll be staying home, but otherwise I’m headed off to school.

I really hope Mountain County is closed, though, that way I could avoid this crowded commute home in snowy weather:

The Commute Home

School is the reason for another bit of discontent. Let me say now, unequivocally, that if at all humanly possible I will be living on campus next year. I enjoy being at home, love the good food and the privacy and seeing my family, but the social isolation is killing me. I long for the social life that, given the number of friends I have at Major University, I would have if only I lived on campus.

Take today, for example. I met up with Dread-Locked Boy, a black Sophomore from one of my Communications courses, to discuss an assignment that we are to present jointly to our class tomorrow. The two of us instantly hit it off, discussing my moves between Native State, Deep South State, and Southern State, the trip I took this summer to Movie State (he’s never been but it dying to go), and how he has spent his whole life in College Town, Southern State, several hours south of Major University. His life seemed as strange and fascinating to me (imagine—people actually move somewhere and then stay there for twenty or thirty years, never once leaving!) as I’m sure mine did to him.

During the course of our conversation, which shifted within five minutes from school work to our personal lives, we were interrupted twice by acquaintances of mine, the first of whom was Finnish Boy.

Finnish Boy is half Finnish and half Filipino, his pseudonym made all the more nonsensical by the fact that I regularly refer to him as “damn Asian.” He’s several years older than me, and we met the first semester of my Freshman and his Junior Year when we had a Communications class together. The two girls we’d hung out with then drifted away once the course was over, but Finnish Boy and I have remained friends. He’s kind, funny, irreverent without being rude, very attractive (though not my type), and a Christian. I’ve often wondered if he’s gay (the girls of Major University would be devastated if he were), but it may be that his religious convictions really are just very strong.

Hair Let Down

He came up to us and, by way of a greeting, seized a handful of my long blonde curls and said, “What’s this? You need a haircut and I’m gonna give it to you.”

I laughed and introduced him to Dread-Locked Boy, with whom he entered into an easy exchange right away. After some banter about politics and my joy for President Obama, Finnish Boy ran off, to be succeeded just minutes later by Black-Haired Boy, who I met last year in a gym class and have since become friends with. He’s so nice to hang around, and his girlfriend is also great fun, but I have few opportunities beyond meet-ups for lunch to spend any time with anyone.

Dread-Locked Boy and I got on so well that I’m adding him on Facebook, and he, like many others, wishes to “hang out.”

“Do you smoke?” he asked me.

“Everybody asks me that!” I exclaimed, not sure whether or not to be insulted. “Do I look like it?”

“Yeah,” he admitted.

“It must be my teeth,” I said, alluding to the slightly-yellow tint given them by a childhood medication, which thankfully is usually not very noticeable.

“Oh, no,” he said slowly. “I meant, do you smoke marijuana?”

“Oh,” I said, laughing at my own obliviousness. “No. I mean, I’ve tried it, but I don’t do it regularly or anything.”

“It’s the hair,” he said with a smile, gesturing to the shoulder-length locks that Finish Boy had so recently threatened to sever.

This is one of the things I genuinely like about college; marijuana use is widespread, yet there’s no overt pressure to smoke. When I said no, my new friend had no problem with or judgement to pass on my decision. Drinking is somewhat different, though, as essential to most university as air is to other people, and I’m comfortable with a few beers now and again. You wouldn’t believe the doors it opens, the barriers broken down. To be twenty years old and not drink is like not listening to music or not liking clothes—it eliminates a whole slew of acquaintances, activities, and social events from your repertoire. My low tolerance won’t allow me to consume more than three beers at a time with several months in between (trust me, I’ve tested this limit), but to eliminate drinking altogether would be social suicide, which I’m not willing to commit.

Now, onto my last bit of frustration. Several posts back, I came out to the blogging world as at least bisexual and very possibly fully homosexual, though several events throughout my life lead me to apply this second label with great caution if at all. For now at least, I’d say that bisexuality with a preference for males best characterizes where I am in life.

That being said, I have suddenly become very aware of the males around me, and it’s driving me absolutely crazy. I’m on a college campus, surrounded every day by young men of dizzying beauty and potent sexuality, some of whom are so stunning they literally catch my breath. It’s like everywhere I look I see someone I want, someone I desire, and the urges are tearing me up.

I was remarkably docile during my teenage years, content to lead a quiet life sitting at home. Now, at the age when most young men’s hormones are said to have peaked, I feel like mine are surging into hyperdrive. I never felt any particularly powerful sexual attractions in high school, but now I’m agitated all the time, provoked into near fits by the boys around me who I want, want, want, so much. Their skin, their hair, their eyes, and their lips, it’s shameful what their lips can do to me. And then I get to thinking about what might be beneath their clothes, and I just want to punch a whole in a wall.

What am I supposed to do? I was never like this before. There’s just so much of this beauty, splayed out everywhere, and I have yet to taste even a drop of it. At twenty years old I am a virgin, and I’ve never felt so eager, not because I worry that I’m getting too old or because I feel behind my peers, to put that to an end.

What gives, anyway? Before I admitted this to myself I was hit on by guys constantly, almost as if some malicious controller of the fates were sending all the disconcerting suitors my way to satisfy his own cruel sense of humor. I was so often the object of other young men’s attentions that it made me uncomfortable, and now that I’m actually open, even if no one knows that (not that it ever stopped them before), I get nothing.

There’s an old adage among women that all of the really cute guys turn out to be gay, and I’d like to know where this comes from, because it seems like every male who makes me sweat is straight as an arrow. It’s so unfair.

And then when there is a guy who seems like he’d probably be up for it, he looks right through me. When did that start?

There is a boy who I had a class with last year who is quite pretty, and if he’s not gay then my name’s George (and it isn’t). Yet any time I’ve been around him, I’ve gotten nothing but curt nods and cold shoulders.


Am I just unattractive or something?

Somebody please explain that.

Okay, maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe he’s taken. Maybe other guys don’t think I’m gay or bi or whatever and don’t want to make me feel uneasy, not that this prevented anyone from coming onto me before.

It’s maddening.

Eventually, I know, I will have to publicly come out, and for my sake sooner rather than later. I can’t even begin to imagine how that will be, though. My mother knows, Anne knows, and that’s it. I can tell you that it’s not a conversation I look forward to having with my father.

It’s not that I think he wouldn’t love me or that he’d be angry, because I know that’s not the case. He’s come a long way from the construction worker who guzzled beers and talked about how disgusting he thought “faggots” were, and the years of our social rise have greatly moderated his sentiments. He sees and understands things now that I don’t think he ever could have when Powell and I were younger, when he was less mature. As a human being, he’s made more progress than most people ever do.

It’s just that he comes from a different school of thought, and I’m sure that a part of him will have a hard time rationalizing how his own son could be whatever it is I am. He’ll love me all the more, he’ll probably hug me and kiss me on the forehead, but the actual telling will be difficult. On one level, what I’m anxious of is pure embarrassment; who wants to talk to their father about things like that, regardless of persuasion?

Speaking with my mother has been much easier, but more than two other people have to know about this if I’m ever to lead a happy and fulfilling life. When, and how? Soon.

Lord, give me strength. I feel guilty asking that, because of the nature of what I’m doing. I have to convince myself that He doesn’t see this as a sin, and, if He does, I have to figure out how to be forgiven. Living a life of celibacy and denial is beyond my threshold, though. I won’t do it. I can’t. I need love and companionship and intimacy as much as anyone else. Living without it would kill me or any other human being with a heart and mind.

I love Him. I want to do right. I’m a very confused person right now.

Well, this is quite a post.

I’ll let you know if I’m going to school tomorrow, and if I’m not, you can bank on pictures.

Bundled Up Against the Cold

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