September 26th, 2001

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Flags and Mourning

I finally finished updating QueerByChoice.com to comment on the whole peace/war/terrorism thing. In a way it feels vaguely inappropriate to be turning a large piece of the Queer by Choice index page into a pacifist page; but it feels even more inappropriate to ignore the issue, so I spoke up. Though unfortunately since I still haven't found an at all decent replacement for my FrontPage Express, it took me ages to achieve this latest bit of coding. I have about 4 layers of tables within tables within tables and so all the different coding marks became distinctly confusing.

You know, my whole status as a queer activist is disturbingly shaken up now that it seems the aspect of my identity that I'm most likely to be murdered for is not queerness after all but Americanness. And I didn't even much choose to be an American - I was just born with it, and haven't found it economically appealing to move anywhere else since I have a job here and I don't have a job in any other country.

It's a terrible thing to die for a cause you hold dear, yet somehow it's even more terrible to die for an aspect of your identity that you've never been terribly proud of in the first place. Maybe that's why all these annoying people have started preaching blind fanatical patriotism and 24-hour-a-day flag-waving - because if they're going to be murdered for being Americans, it feels more comfortable to them if they can at least convince themselves they're dying for something important and meaningful about who they really are.

Not all flags annoy me. I actually do find it moving and meaningful to pass by a flag flying at half mast. I think flying a flag at half-mast is a beautifully mournful expression of real grief. But it's the other flags that bother me. The plastic ones taped to windowpanes, decorating grocery store checkout stands, flying from car TV antennas. Those flags aren't at half-mast, and they don't feel like expressions of grief to me - they're just recycled 4th of July decorations, and they haven't lost their celebratory look. I honestly find them offensive. The people who died didn't die wrapped in flags, and they wouldn't necessarily have identified with the flag or supported such expressions of patriotism. I feel they should be mourned as individuals, with the usual colors we wear to mourn individuals. To mourn in red white and blue obscures their personhood and pretends that the fact of being American was the most or only important part of who they really were as people and how they saw themselves - which is precisely the lie that the terrorists must have believed in order to feel justified in murdering them. We should be refuting this lie, not endorsing it.
  • Current Music
    silence
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I Want to Be an Orphan

I'm falling apart. On Saturday I went to visit my parents for my father's birthday, and left on distinctly unwelcome terms, and since then not a day has passed when I haven't started sobbing. I managed, with considerable difficulty, to write to both of my Franks about the most important parts, but I've been trying to write more background details in a journal entry here and I can't get beyond a paragraph or two before I choke up and can't function anymore. Today at work I wanted to hear nothing but sad wistful clichéd easy listening love songs (amazing how the one time I actually want to hear those, it's suddenly almost impossible to find any) and interpret them as being about my relationship with my parents. Then when I finally found a station that was playing them, they unexpectedly started playing "Cat's in the Cradle" and suddenly I just couldn't handle it anymore and tears started rolling down my cheeks. It's a good thing I have my own office now, but a few minutes later a coworker came in to talk to me and I can only hope my eyes weren't obviously red.

I'm considering informing my parents that I don't wish to see them ever again. The biggest drawback to this plan is that they have my address and phone number and several of my email addresses so it's unlikely I'll ever really escape them. They'll just hang around outside my apartment trying to beat my door down.

What does it mean to love someone? There are some people on earth who I love dearly. When I say "I love you" to someone it can mean a lot of different things, but two of the most basic that are always included even when I say it to almost complete strangers are "I like being with you" and "Your existence is part of what helps keep me sane." Neither of these things is true of my parents. I dread being with them, and their existence is probably the number one most dangerous threat to my sanity I've ever experienced.
  • Current Music
    "Cat's in the Cradle" </i>(still going through my head)
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Flags: An Update

Wouldn't you know it - the moment I express my appreciation for the gesture of flying flags at half mast, every flag in the country goes up to full mast again. Yet nobody's taking down the tacky 4th of July party favors.

I discovered today that the company I work for has purchased little American flag stickers and is affixing them to all the outgoing mail now. I guess I should just be relieved that I'm not among the people assigned to actually stick the damn things on.
  • Current Music
    silence
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(no subject)

Wow. I haven't cried like THAT since I was eight years old and lost a particularly bloody baby tooth. That was not a remotely adult kind of crying. That was utter shrieking slobbering hysterics. And you wouldn't believe what a bright hot pink the whites of my eyes are capable of turning. I don't look remotely human right now. I look like some kind of pink-eyed space alien. It's almost cool in a way, like some new Hollywood makeup artist has finally succeeded in breaking new ground and surpassing all previous scary makeup effects.
  • Current Music
    Elton John: "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" </i>(blasted at top volume)
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