When September 11th happened, I was in middle school. I was young and New York was far away. I didn’t hear the Twin Towers break, but I felt my America break. I grew up with this post-Vietnam war American vision of people as people, due process for all, and compassion as a virtue. Going to war was at war with what I thought America stood for. I thought we were good. We were always the good guys, weren’t we? I was wrong.
Paris happened, and I got angry. I think Jesse had something to do with it. Never before have I had something I want to defend as much as this man I call mine. I also was (and still am) in the Coast Guard at the time of the Paris attacks, where whether through guns or gravity, my life and my shipmates lives are put at risk. It’s our job. I always knew I was willing to die for someone else, but now I had friends who, I think, would take a bullet for me. It’s their job. I have found that I can be a little… defensive of people who have my back. Military people, as well as persons of Jewish faith like Jesse, are targets for ISIS. ISIS will have to get through me. I’ve ditched a whole slew of athletic dreams because of Paris, in favor of more weights and more self-defense training. I realize that I may not be much to go through, but at least I can train to be all that I can. I will not meet a gunman and go “I wish I learned how to defend those I care about.” I will rip his head off instead.
Two days before Orlando, I was at my boxing gym. I was working with a guy and kind of beating the crap out of him. Jokingly he asked me
“Why do you come here? You want to beat someone up?”
I smiled and said, “Yes, if they try to beat me up. And I’m in the military. It will happen sooner or later.”
Orlando happened, and I realized that it might be sooner rather than later. A very important part of my life was spent at an arts school, surrounded by gay artists and outcasts. It was where I fell in love for the first time, discovered I was bi, and felt… happy. At least for a while. I miss that atmosphere. I miss the people. I may be dating a man, but I love going to gay clubs and soaking up the atmosphere. It feels like home to me. People who are used to being hated, sometimes find it easier to not hate others. When you are all outcasts, who can organize a clique? Who can say who is better than who? At that moment, we all belong there, and we all belong to each other.
So Orlando hit me hard. Military, bi, Jewish. It’ll be sooner rather than later. Semper paratus the Coast Guard says, and semper paratus is what it looks like I have to be. And the sad part is, this is not a feeling that is regulated just to me. From Stonewall to The Upstairs Lounge, the gay community has been forged in fire. I find it stunning that with all the focus on the Muslim community, LGBT people currently experience the most hate crime. As an aviation military member, I’ve had to deal emotionally with the knowledge that dying is a clear and real possibility. Odds are, I won’t even see it coming. Jesse makes it even harder, and I cope by trying to live every day without leaving anything on the table. I try to always say I love you, just in case, so he knows that I never stopped until the end. I think sometimes being proud of who you are takes a similar amount of coping skills, and sacrifice. What if the history of people like you showed time and time again, that the loudest ones were shot, stabbed, and silenced? For a brief while, I feel like the LGBT community felt safe. Maybe it was just my college, or my area, but it felt like we were over this nonsense. I guess not. I chose the Coast Guard, I chose to put myself at risk, but people can’t choose who they fall in love with. You shouldn’t have to be brave because of who you love.
My last reaction is perhaps the most unusual for me. Sadness without direction. I saw the below video, or a preacher in my home town, and I almost couldn’t believe it. There is so much hate.
It is beyond my understanding. I want to do something, but I feel the need to grieve first, not only for those lost, but for those who will be lost in the future. We have a long way to go, and we have to learn to deal with this constant threat that hangs over us. We have to learn how to make something like this bring us together, and not tear us apart. I just don’t know how to do that. But I plan on reaching out to friends. Reaching out to Jesse. Doing some crying. Doing some writing. And doing some living, because San Fran pride is coming up, and I’ve been waiting for this like a kid at Christmas! Maybe I can take this grief to the streets, and make it something wonderful.
This Week in Updates: …
So at the end of this week, I’m just kind of tired. It was a long week at work, I flew three days in a row, Orlando happened, my motorcycle broke/magically fixed itself, my kitchen got completely messed up because the roach exterminators were coming, and I’m just a little tired. Victim Advocate school is coming up (which is why the motorcycle being broken was extra stressful) and I had 11 hours of online training to do for that this week, on top of work, my calculus classes on Coursera, and my usual blogging. Perhaps the most exhaustion is just from the anger. The below rant happened before I could actually think straight enough to write the above post.
I was at work Sunday during the day. My motorcycle broke, again, so I was preoccupied with that. I had to coordinate hitching a ride to a friend’s house to watch the Sharks versus the Penguins game in the evening. I had dog sat for two dogs the night before and they had kept me up. So I was tired. Really tired. Orlando was just a headline on my New York times feed, and a face of a man who decided to vent his frustrations at his own meaningless life, by taking the lives of others. My first reaction was what a stupid looking loser. What an idiot. Look at that picture he put up on Myspace. Who even uses that anymore? I was angry at religion in general. This desire of people to make themselves feel better by giving themselves a sort of divine purpose. That shit is getting really old. You’re not special. You don’t have your own little plan that was made for you. A higher power isn’t giving you tests to make you stronger. If you are a loser, it is because you chose to be one. It is because you chose to not mean anything of merit to the world and to other people. Life, the beautiful things in life that make it worthwhile, are not given to anyone. They take WORK. They take SWEAT EQUITY. They take courage, and strength, resolve and stamina. Buying a gun and pretending that in destroying others you will enter paradise is an action of the weak willed. It means you don’t have the courage to make something of yourself every day and face the consequences when you fail. It means that you don’t have the courage to ask your own questions, and find you’re your own answers. Instead of facing the demon that is you, and learning to make yourself better, you decide to die and take others with you.
Being angry makes me tired. At least I just got a new ice cream machine. That’s nice.
The Recipes: Olive Oil Blueberry Crisp and Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats
So with Orlando go on, I was happy for all the comfort food I made this week. I discovered Spend With Pennies Quick and Easy Blueberry crisp. Being me, I had to try substituting olive oil for butter. Why? Because it’s cheaper, that’s why! Olive oil is also mad good for you. Some call it the healthiest fat on earth. I can also buy it in bulk (less waste) and it is local unlike coconut oil. The raw batter didn’t taste too great, but magic happened in the oven. Thus this blueberry crisp (if you add the equivalent amount of olive oil) is awesomely healthy and not too bad for your wallet.
In regards to the pumpkin pie overnight oats, wow what a yummy breakfast! Pumpkin pie filling (make sure you get the healthy kind with just a little bit of sugar and spices to go with the all organic pumpkin puree) is very cheap right now and very good for you. Canned pumpkin, like squash, is actually better for you than fresh thanks to some weird chemical magic. Thus, whip up these overnight oats and feel very good about yourself. Extra points for being hip and putting it in a mason jar.
1/2 cup oats
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie filling
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a covered container overnight. In the morning, open up and enjoy!