Friday, June 1, 2012

A Bear on Books: "Raise Your Glass"

A Bear on Books: "Raise Your Glass": Review - "Raise Your Glass" by John Goode Superb third book in the Foster High series Very Highly Recommended It's not a prerequisite to h...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homophobia is natural.

Watch this shit. I am about to show you some social kung fu.

Homophobia is natural.

Yep, you didn't read that wrong. Disliking or fearing gay people if you are straight is a completely natural thing. It is inbred to us. As living organisms and more importantly mammals, we have been genetically encoded to fear and hate what is not like us. It comes from a distant time when things that were not like us did silly things like attack, maim and sometimes eat us. It is an evolutionary mechanism and exists in almost all areas of the animal kingdom.

Ever bring a new cat into your house when you have cats that have lived there? It's not a pretty sight, I know my cats have attacked each other when one of the cats they were born and raised from is away for an extended period of time. Which tells me that either cats are not great at recognizing their own kind of my cats are dicks. Dogs will growl and bark to protect their territory, they will bark at anything. Any fucking thing. I mean a car, a bird, a cat, a shadow, a car, a plane, another car. If it is not dog, guy I know or food, forget it. Even the most laid back of dogs will lose their shit at the sight at some thing or people, they just can't avoid it.

The problem of course is our brain.

Our brain is so developed that it sees and forms patterns where there aren't any. For example, what is the next number in this list? 1,5,13,22,47,99. I will give you the answer when I am done talking.

So we see these patterns, these waves of things that we identify with. White, Black, Christian, Jewish, Democrat, Coke drinker, Right Handed, Trekkie, etc etc etc. We group ourselves into these social groups so we have a tribe an identity, a place to belong.

Then we hate everyone else.

Which is kinda stupid because it is a waste of a perfectly good hate. We invent these bunkers to hole up in all Waco style, daring someone to drag us out of, and then just radiate mistrust like a space heater. Do you know what the difference is between a Caucasian, a Negro, an Asian, a Hispanic and a Native American is? Biologically nothing, the only difference is the words I used to describe them. As a race we are a fantastic creation. Full of wonder and amazement and capable of so many incredible feats. We have split the atom, moved mountains and walked on another planet. We have dreamt infinity, cured the plague and at times have startled ourselves with our own capacity to love.

But inside we are all still frightened cave dwellers cringing from the thunder, hating all that is not us because it is one day going to kill us.

Homophobia is a natural reaction to a natural condition. Humans are not the only race to have these feelings, we are the only race that shuns other members of our tribe because of it. There is no real cure for homophobia, none that is going to quickly work. People will always be uneasy around us and there will always be those few that cannot tolerate us. I'm ok with that, because I know a few things they don't.

I know that God loves everyone. Not some, not a few, but everyone. He is a push over when it comes to fucking up and like every good father out there all he ever asks of you is to apologize and to do better next time. I know that the Bible was written by man to control man. It is from a time when people needed to know that their actions had consequences, when they had to believe there was an angry god looking down on them screaming at them to do right. It is a guide book for an age that has long passed, and though the sentiment of it endures, the specifics of everyday life today cannot be taken from that book. And I know the truth. The big surprise that in the end, is going to wipe out homophobia and one day let us all live as one.

Sooner or later those people will die.

Evolution takes care of its own and the same way I don't piss on things to claim them mine or growl at people as I walk by, I know that we, as a race, will one day outgrow that reaction and move onto something else. Maybe we will hate hybrid humans, maybe we will hate clones or maybe we will hate aliens. But one day the human race will look around and not see several different camps of people, they will see one race. And it won't matter what your skin color is or your sexuality or even who you pray to, because we all will know its going to the same place.

You might say I’m a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope one day you'll join us...

See? You figured out what I was going to say before I ever finished it. Patterns, it's all just patterns in the end.

We will endure as a race, and we will survive together. We will outlive this hated and intolerance, leaving the haters to die a lonely and miserable death. We will not remain huddled in that cave, because we came out of it. And we found fire. And we sailed the seas. And we went to the moon. This is how I know we will get past this, because no matter how scared we are as individuals...

As a race, we are incredible.

So next time you see homophobia, don't get angry, don't let them hurt you. Know you are looking at a dying race and this is their last gasp of air as they sink deeper and deeper into the tar pits. You can take some pleasure as you watch them drown in their own darkness, but try not to gloat ok? We need to be better than that. So one chuckle and move on.

Nothing to see here, just the future.

PS: There is no next number, I typed them at random. If you found a pattern, congratulations. You made something out of nothing. Now you know how bigots come up with the rational for their behavior.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Raw sneak peek of Book Three: Raise Your Glass

You know what I hate?
Okay, that's a vague and open ended question, so before you answer let me clarify it some. You know what I hate about teenage movies? They never show the next day. I mean, sure, maybe the princess did indeed date the criminal, but how exactly did they make that work? Her friends would never talk to her again once they found out she was actually kissing some low life like him. His friends would disgust her with their rude and suggestive talk. Within a week they would be arguing about what to do with their weekend. She would want to go hang out at the mall and maybe see some chick flick and he'd want to get burnt with his friends and maybe play some Xbox. Fighting within two weeks, broken up in a month.
The movie didn't show that did it?
So Jake gets her a birthday cake and they blow the candles out on their rather flimsy looking glass table. What's next? Does he think his friends aren't going to be very vocal in their confusion about who the hell this Samantha chick was in the first place? Even though they didn't show many, you know she had to have friends too. Do you think any of them would constantly be asking her what he was like? What were they going to do for fun? She would go to two of his friends' parties before she got fed up with the dirty looks that most of the girls shot her throughout the night. He would insist that she wasn't giving them a fair chance and she would argue that they were horrible people.
They might even stay together until the topic of colleges came up. Obviously, Jake was headed for an Ivy league college, and Samantha wasn't. They'd try a long distance thing until the freshman mixer during Orientation. Jake would be swamped by the first dozen girls who saw him and offered to help him with his homework and anything else he needed help with. When he came home for Christmas he'd break it to her that they weren't working out and she'd spend the rest of their life wondering what she had done wrong.
Kind of makes the idea of a sequel pretty dismal, doesn't it?
In the real world Harry may have met Sally; but the movie doesn't cover exactly how they made it work once the camera was off. Opposites may attract (which I do not believe by the way) but they don't make for an easy relationship, let me tell you. I may have had the hottest guy in school to say he liked me; but I didn't have any faith we were going to be a "we"for any amount of time. We had side stepped the whole going to school and facing the music problem that Friday by cutting school.
The fact that we hadn't even decided to date before we had our first actual fight only seemed to drive home the point that our being together was an incredibly bad idea.
I mean. sure he came back and apologized and the whole thing with the ring and the change? Yeah, the boy has game; but now it's Monday morning and things are different. I don't mean my gown turned back into a sack of flour and the carriage ended up as pumpkin soup but things between us could not, obviously, be the same because there were other things that remained the same.
Foster High was still in the middle of nowhere; and the students and their teachers and administration were barely a step above the zombies in a Romero movie. I had images of being chased through the quad by a pack of villagers wielding pitchforks and torches while I stumbled forward in horrible lesbian boots with bolts in my neck.
It has been said more than once I have an overactive imagination.
I paced my small room as I envisioned just about every blood laden outcome if we were insane enough to show our faces at school again. I was used to being at the bottom of the social ladder. Actually I was lower than the bottom, I usually hung out in the room next to the place they stored the ladder because people like me weren't allowed to see it. Brad was a different story altogether. He was used to being so far up that I'm sure there were only clouds when he looked down. I had no idea how people were going to react to him coming out.
If what he did counted as coming out.
I mean, he could just say he had been defending me against Kelly, who is a raging asshole. There were ways for him to take what had happened back if he wanted; and that scared me. We had spent the weekend talking about him telling everyone he was gay , about how this wasn't just a phase for him or a knee jerk reaction to seeing someone get bullied. He had said he was falling for me. I wanted to believe that but..
But. It always comes down to buts doesn't it?
I could be ok with being gay but I lived in Foster, Texas which meant me being gay constituted a mortal sin. I could be normal if my mom wasn't clinically insane so that was out of the question. And Brad might be falling in love with me; but I didn't even like myself so how could he think being in love with me was positive?
I heard two horn blasts and knew I had run out of time to worry.
I grabbed my backpack and ran out the front door, hoping the noise didn't wake up my mother, the sleeping dragon. As I rushed outside I saw him sitting behind the wheel of his brand new yellow mustang and felt my heart skip a beat in response to the sight. In my world there are precious few things that can be considered flawless. A weekend where my mother and I missed seeing each other because of our sleeping schedules was perfect. The Notebook is a perfect movie, in my opinion. Seasons Two and Three of One Tree Hill were perfect television. And Brad behind the wheel of his car was the perfect boy.
He kept his hair slightly long. Though it was kept in place with product, it always seemed to be one step away from being disheveled. His eyes sparkled with might be a dangerous energy:he looked like he was half a second from telling someone the punch line to a joke.
And though he had several different smiles at his command, the one he flashed when I walked up to his car so far had been the only actual expression of happiness I'd seen from him since we'd met.
“Well, well, well.” he said as I got into the passenger seat. “If it isn't Mr. Stilleno?”
I fastened my seat belt and looked over at him. “Are you feeling ok? Cause you sound a little drunk.”
His laughter filled the interior of the car and surrounded me like a blanket. “If I was drunk I'd have hell to pay at practice this afternoon.” He leaned over towards me and I felt his mouth touch mine and the world stopped spinning for a second. All of the air in my lungs escaped me as I leaned in and curled my hand around his head. I ran my fingers through his hair and tried to experience as much happiness I could in the moment. I was the brave little ant storing food away for the winter; I had no illusions that what came next was going to suck; but right now he was kissing me. And that was awesome.
He leaned his forehead against mine as we sat there, of our closed in the closest to prayer we got. “You ready?” he asked after a second.
“I'm scared.” I said in a tiny voice that didn't sound like me.
“Me too.” he answered. I opened my eyes when I felt him move back. His eyes stared into mine. “But you know what?” I shook my head. “I know things are going to be ok.”
I tried not to give him a look of complete shock. “Why do yo think that?” He might as well as said that Deep Impact was better than Armageddon or that Lindsay Lohan was better than Hillary Duff. I mean things were not going to be ok, he had to know that right?
“Because I got you.” he said with grin number 4, the one he used when he was trying to look all Ocean's 11 about a situation. It looked good on him. But what we were facing wasn't something as simple as breaking into a casino vault. We were in high school in Foster, freakin-Texas and we had just unmasked ourselves as alien invaders.
Okay existed nowhere near where we were.
But I knew Brad and I knew what he was doing.
This was where he tried to assure me that my concerns were valid while actually trying to calm himself down. The voices inside of my head screaming at me that this was a bad idea echoed in his own. But I was afraid he might not be as adept at dealing with them as I had grown to be. My entire life was a horror movie where I was chased by my doubts and insecurities through my head while that annoying cha cha cha sound plays in the background. I was willing to play the victim when I was the only one in danger of being made kibbles and bits but I could see the real fear right behind that grin and he wasn't telling me it was going to be okay as much as he was asking me if it was going to be ok.
Behind every strong man is a scared little boy wanting people to tell him it was going to be ok. Remember that and men will no longer seem as stupid as you think they are.
I gave him a wide grin and grabbed his hand. “Of course you have me. We do this together:” which seemed to assure him some. He took a deep breath and turned back towards the steering wheel. “You ready?”
Not even close
“Always.” I lied, sounding completely sure.
He pulled the gear shift and we began to head towards school and our future.

You know what I hate?
Besides the designated hitter and AstroTurf, the thing that most pisses me off is waiting. The only thing worse than being whaled on by your drunken old man is waiting for your old man to beat you. Anticipation is one of the most destructive forces I knew of in the universe and that was for good and bad things. It was the feeling you couldn't wait to open your presents on Christmas morning so bad that by the time everyone has woken up you are so spazzed that you can't help but bug the shit out of everyone. Then you realize how much you are annoying people and you start to panic because you know it's just a matter of time before you get smacked by your dad which only makes the panic worse so now you're trying to overcompensate by being super helpful which is just as if not more annoying than you were acting before and you just end up freezing up with no idea what the right thing to do was.
It's like when you're playing the outfield thinking the game was mostly over. You're out there counting the seconds before you can get your cup off and take a damn shower. You're hot, tired, sweaty and to be honest ready to go home. Your uniform is too tight, it's riding up in places that no guy wants to adjust in front of five hundred clapping fans (including your mom!) and you are just done with it. Sure you are ahead by one and there is a guy on base but all the pitcher needs to do is strike this jackass out and it's over. What could possibly go wrong?
By the way, if you didn't know the quickest way to fuck up your day, night or whatever time it was, think to yourself “What could possibly go wrong?” Fate is a total bitch and she loves to show off.
And that's when the batter actually gets behind the ball and pops one up into sky.
Now we've all seen this play. The ball sails up like it is on fire and then starts to fall in a short arc. It's called a rocket because it moves like a jet engine but really goes nowhere but up. So the ball hovers there, looking like it's a mile above your head, defying gravity while it takes in the whole stadium in all its glory. All you can see is a speck of white way up there. Then, it begins to grow larger.
And here is where anticipation sucks balls.
If you're playing shortstop and the guy smacks one between second and third, everything moves so fast that you have no time to think about it. You catch the crack of the bat against the ball and catch just the hint of something in your vision before your body begins to move. You scoop the ball up and are into your windup towards second before you even know happening. More than once, I've been patted on the back for an awesome play before I even knew what I'd done. Whether you make the play or not, a line drive happens so fast you have no time to stress about it.
The fly ball?
All the time in the fucking world.
You've waved the guy next to you off of it--because no one wants to be the asshole who slams into his own guy in the outfield- and claimed the play as your own. At that moment, time slows to a crawl as that dot becomes bigger and bigger. Now, some guys will tell you this is a routine play and that it there is nothing to it .Let me tell you, there is no such thing as a routine play. Balls like doing strange things when they make contact with a glove, doubly so if the ball senses fear from the catcher. They are like animals waiting for that one chance to race past your legs and out into traffic. Every baseball wants to hit your glove and then jump out so you can be the fucktard who lost the game.
You know your dad is watching you. Your mom. Your friends. Your girlfriend. The girl you wish was your girlfriend. Your buddies. Your buddies' families. Everyone. If they're on your side, they're holding their breath praying for you to catch it. If they're for the other side, they're cursing you with every bit of energy they have. The guy on first is halfway to second watching to see if you're going to lose your shit. The hitter has been on first since the late 50's praying to every god he knows for you to flub. Suddenly your shoes are five sizes too large and your cover fits you like you're a four year old wearing your dad's worn out Rangers cap. You don't want to glance at the runners because that is admitting you are going to drop the ball and want to be ready to cut the guy off at third. Also, you never want to take your eyes off the ball because you know from long experience that the second you do, it will spin violently in any direction it can, just so when you and the fans look back everyone wonders “Why the hell was he so far away from the ball?”
So basically, this ball has been falling for like an hour and a half.
You feel like you have been out there long enough to go, grab a burger and get back before it falls. Yet it's been seconds. You have imagined catching the ball and the team hoisting you on their shoulders in celebration and you have seen the ball fall through your catch and people in the stands are throwing food at you. All of this and more runs through your head as that ball swells larger and larger in the sky.
As we drove to school, all I could see was that ball hurtling at me and I just knew I was going to drop it.
Kyle had no idea how freaked out I was.
Least I hope he didn't. It's hard to read Kyle sometimes. He's smarter than any five guys I knew, so knowing what was going on in that head of his is always a tricky proposition. He's always thinking and that might have been cool if he was a computer or something. For Kyle thinking can just end up being destructive. It's like he was always playing chess in his mind for stakes that were so high they were damned frightening.
He clung to my hand as we drove, which I had to admit, helped me relax more than a little. I had already bolted from doing this last Friday and I wanted to do the same all over again.
Kyle was nervous, I mean who wouldn't be? But if he knew these people like I did he'd be pissing himself. I'm sure that, to outsiders, the Popular People might seem like they have it made but the reality is much different. And a lot darker.
As I park the car let me break it down for you so you can be prepared.
Only so many people can be popular in a given place at any particular time. I just figured out, by the way, that isn't just for high school. The Rule of Popularity Limitation is pretty much universal. As far as I know, it applies all the way to Hollywood and the world in general. There is always a hot girl and then the ones around her. Doesn't matter if you are talking about Marilyn Monroe or Megan Fox, there is always an It girl who captures the boys' attention and the girls' envy. There isn't a rhyme or reason of why this happens but there is just a something that people see and are attracted to. It isn't about tits or ass or any of that. I mean, sure the physical stuff helps but what grabs the attention is attitude more than actual physical looks in the end. And there is only one spot that can be filled by one Girl –or Guy -of the Moment. One.
Like Britney Spears: when she was hot she was so hot. I mean, I remember being seven and thinking I was going to lose it when I saw her videos. She was It and everyone knew that. And then there were the girls around her. Christina Aguilar, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson-the list goes on and on. Now there is nothing wrong with those girls. If you were to break it down attribute by attribute, there were better singers, better bodies, better dancing, better everything. Yet in the minds of everyone else all those girls were just second to Britney. And they were girls. Brittany was It.
And that is that is how people are. They fixate on that person. Everyone else is compared to them and always found wanting. I'm sure what I'm saying is nothing earth shattering to anyone. It's not like I have the launch codes or anything. But here is the rest of that reality.
The people who are popular know they are too.
You either know you are It or that you are not It. Knowing that simple fact changes who you are inside for the rest of your life. And not in a sunshine and flowers way, either. Knowing that you're It also means you know you have a shelf life. From the second that someone tags you and you become "It", a timer starts counting down down over your head. If you're not "It", you just stare at that clock and wait. There is only a finite amount of attention that people can focus on one person and only for so long before their attention shifts. That means if someone becomes more popular someone else just became less popular. It sounds stupid but it's the way it is for those of us who live on the adoration of others.
Once you enter that race to the top you are forever looking around you to see if there is someone you can pull down on your way. You wonder why pretty girls are so bitchy? Because they know for every slur that the other girl takes means one step closer to the top of the food chain. You ever ask yourself why jocks always seem to be fighting? It's because we are just a few IQ points away from pissing on stuff to claim it as our own. We are all sharks swimming in the same small tank wondering who was going to fall asleep first so the rest of us can have lunch. Not everyone thinks like this, they simply act like this out of survival and most of it is subconscious behavior.
I always knew that there was something inside of me that, if it came out, would make me the very opposite of everything that makes up a popular person. So I guess I was always aware of how cutthroat popularity was because it was just a matter of time before it was taken away from me. I could, or I at least hoped I could handle what part of me had always known might happen.
Kyle was the one that I was worried about.
He wasn't used to any kind of attention; he'd been careful to avoid any attention at all, for pete's sake. For someone to go from school unknown to school pariah over a weekend was a lot to ask from anyone.
I hadn't realized how long I had been sitting lost in thought until Kyle squeezed my hand and asked. “You ok?”
I looked over at him and felt an ache in my chest when I realized how much I liked him. I had never felt like I did with Kyle. Not Kelly, not Jennifer, not with any of the people I had dated. I had liked them, sure, and they had even turned me on; but when I looked at this boy, my mind lost the ability to comprehend simple concepts like breathing and speech. I couldn't get close enough to him and knowing how much I needed to be with him scared the bejeesus out of me. But that fear always ran like a bitch every time he smiled at me. The sincerity in everything he felt and said made me feel like a fraud in comparison.. Then I saw Julie Benson walk by the car with one of her friends and laugh when they saw who I was in the car with.
Just like that the fear was back.
I slipped my hand out of his and tried to ready myself for this. I could see the uncertainty in his eyes and I felt horrible because there was nothing I could do about it. “Look Kyle, this is going to suck pretty badly; and I can't imagine it's going to get better any time soon. So let's make a promise. No matter what happens, we don't take it out on each other. It's going to be us against everybody else and the last thing we need is this turning us against each other okay?”
I could tell he didn't understand exactly what I was talking about but I thought I knew the danger of the next few weeks. We were going to have no one else but each other to rely on and if we alienated each other, we were truly fucked.
He just nodded and looked as frightened as I had ever seen him.
“Ready or not.” I said trying to show him my most confident grin before we got out of the car.
After I swung the door shut, I forced myself not to look up to see how close the ball was to me.