Thursday, September 28, 2006

Walking East into Autumn

The other morning I walked the few blocks from my home to the train station. It was just about six and the first Monday of Autumn. The sun, not yet risen, was tinting the dark morning sky with patches of deep blue behind silhouettes of cloud.

Autumn is furthest away from my favorite season, and the smell of 'back to school' in the air always used to pull me into an emotional funk. Inexplicably, I would be overcome with the blahs. An apathetic, everything-is-dying, there is no future, why-am-I-here sort of existence.

Fortunately, years ago, I recognized that funk and began to question and think about it rather than wallow in it.

"Okay, I feel yucky.
Why do I feel yucky?
Is there any good reason to feel this way?
Yes? What can I do about it? Something? Okay I will.
No? Nothing? Okay, then I'll suck it up and ride it out."

Add to the blahs the ravages of time. Here I am at 40, (pleasantly surprised I made it past 30), walking through the dark, deserted, leave-ridden, Autumn streets, thinking these sort of thoughts, "I hate Autumn. My arm hurts. It smells like 'back to school' and it's getting cold. I'm old. I leave home in the dark and come home in the dark. . . . .

. . . Stop it, Chuck! It's just a season. Adapt yourself to nature. You need to change with the season. Become attuned. Your future awaits."

As I chose to think and not wallow, I noticed the striking blue in the sky, and thought of the promise of morning and a new and potential-filled day and the days that lay beyond. I remembered that, although I'm entering Autumn myself, I'm still learning and experiencing new things.

I had just learned to knit and started a rectangle the night before. It's symbolic, I thought then, of new beginnings. Here I am, an aging dog, learning new tricks. (I learned to purl today.)

Yes, it's the end of the bright growing seasons of light and the beginning of long patches of darkness, cold and damp. It's a new moon too. (New beginnings!) It's a season to try my acting ability in a non-musical, courtroom drama. I know I can sing, but can my acting carry me too? Let's find out. I will be assisting in a friend's art opening this weekend, I'll be painting my house, going to a show or two, drinking and playing cards with friends.

What is so freakin' bad about Autumn?

I tell you, it can be freakin' great. The key is to consciously make it freakin' great. If you are like me, I know I'm not alone, and this season sucks you down - just wrap your mind around it. Turn depression or apathy into introspection and self-knowledge.

The first day of Autumn is Mabon, the second harvest. Use Autumn to reap your abundant harvest (tangible and intangible) and think about your next garden.

How are you?
Where are you?
How's your family?
How are your friends?
Where have you been?
What's important to you?
Where do you want to go?

What would you like to do?

Monday, September 25, 2006

To Governor Joe Manchin, III (West Virginia)

I just finished writing a note to my Senator asking why he opposes same-sex marriages and a note (below) to my Governor asking why I'm denied basic rights of marriage.

If I get anything beyond a form letter, I'll keep you updated.

My letter to the Governor of West Virginia.

A thoughtful, personal response would be appreciated.

I am a man, married to a man. We married in Massachusetts and later moved to West Virginia.

A recognized marriage provides state protection to married couples in many important ways, including allowing hospital visitation, the right to make medical emergency decisions and the right to inherit without a will.

Put simply, if my husband were gravely injured or died, I could not visit without his family's permission, have no participation in the decisions of his medical treatment and would have no legal stance regarding his burial or the fate of his estate.

What is your stance, Governor, on same-sex marriages and why does West Virginia deny my family even the most basic rights and privileges of marriage?

My note generated this automated response.

Thank you very much for contacting me by e-mail. As always, it's good to hear your concerns and comments.

Please also be sure to visit my web site at for information on some of the most important issues I am working on right now.

If you did not include a U.S. Postal mailing address in your e-mail, please re-send your original email message and include your address so that I may respond to you directly.

Thanks again for getting in touch, and I look forward to responding more fully to your e-mail in the future.

Gov. Joe Manchin III

West Virginia State Capitol
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, E
Charleston, WV 25305
Toll-Free: 1-888-438-2731

Friday, September 22, 2006

. . . For I Have Sneezed . . .

I understand (kind of) the archaic practice of saying "Bless you" when someone sneezes.

If memory serves, it stems from plague-ridden times where if someone sneezed, obviously they had or were contracting the plague, so a quick "bless you" before they died would be quite welcome.

Nowadays, with modern medicine, plagues aren't as prevalent and diversity renders a "bless you" a throwaway phrase that's potentially offensive.

First of all, you don't mean it, but you feel compelled to say it. It's a socially expected, sort of habitual Tourette syndrome. If you truly WANT to express vocal concern for a sneezer's wellbeing, personalize it, and don't tack any sort of religious meaning to it -- Because, secondly, are you a priest - priestess - shaman - monk - warlock - friar - nun - witch - etc.? And do we attend the same rituals? Your unthinking blessing could be received as well as holy water to a wampyr - and that means you're crossing the line.

As I type this, my neighbor just sneezed! (How timely.) And I sit here thinking "I really should say something." "Must . . . acknowledge . . . sneeze."

Why do I feel this? It is purely only habit and tradition. But NO MORE! I'm going to break the pointless cycle and ignore the sneeze.

Now, when I sneeze, I'm sure I will experience a thoughtless blessing. What should I do?

Bless you.
Yeh, whatever.
Acchoo !
Gesundheit !
God Bless.
Which god? Bless what?

God bless you.