Labels, Labels, Labels

Well this has been an interesting week.  The fact that I quit smoking at the beginning of it made me moodier and feistier than normal.  But that’s ok, because love it or hate it, change is in the air.

Let me get a show of hands, What happened on November 11th? No, not this year, but in history, in LGBhistory.  Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?  The Mattachine Society held it’s first meeting in 1950.  This was one of the earliest groups for Gay Rights.  Initially for gay men but opened the way for a Lesbian group, Daughters of Bilitis, which opened the way for full on lgbT groups/rights.   

For me personally, I was bar tending in a gay bar when I was 18.  That would be 1980 and 18 was the legal drinking age.  I became friends with gay men, bisexual men and women, married men, lesbians, trannies, transexuals, transvestites and a range of others in-between.  I will not use politically correct terms for what my friends referred to themselves as in 1980.

legislation-social-conditioning-or-education-2-638

A person that is not on my friend list replied to a comment I made, incinuating that now that I got my ‘rights’ it’s ok to let the T community fend for themselves.  I told that person that they had no idea who I was or what my history was.  They continued, literally telling me that my life was a sham.  My last comment was, “You’re an idiot”

What about the group I started in college?  What about my involvement in San Francisco?  What about my leadership and community building in NY?

The reason for the heated discussions was because an Elder signed a petition that was controversial.  My mistake was that I was given the wrong link.  The petition I thought was the problem was to support Malala Yousafzai educate girls up through the 12th grade.  My fault for not reading it because it had negative transgender wording.  The actual petition was, Drop the T in LGBT.

I’ve read it over and over and don’t see why anyone would sign it.  I’d speak up if I had more time, but have been told that because I’m a cis gendered white man, I need to be quiet.  Oh yea, that also happens when it comes to Black lives matter.  Over and over, messages are made, ‘white people don’t talk’.  OK.  Alienate people that care and might be able to influence things in your favor.

So getting back to the person that signed this petition.  We are friends and were coven mates when I lived in San Francisco.  She recently had a stroke and her computer either had a virus or was hacked.  I stood up for her, and 3 people unfriended me and countless others just won’t say anything to me.  I stood up for her because in my heart of hearts do not think she is transphobic.  I stood up for her and am frustrated that there is no explanation for signing the  petition.

While other groups may be voicing their opinion, my main source of information is within the Pagan community.  I personally belong to an all male group, one that does not have space for Transgender.  I ran an all male group in the LGBT community center and for at least 4 or 5 of the 10 years it did not have space for transgender.  I belong to an LGBT group where their are no exclusions.  I belong to an open group where I am working on making it less hetero normative.  I won’t belong to a group that is exclusively hetero normative.  It is a mix and not everyone will get to the same spot at the same time.

On the same token, some of the most vocal people that are protesting this belong to all male groups.  How are you going to ostrasize this women when you are not allowed to have transgender in your own group?

There are all women groups.  Some accept variations, some don’t.  I have a friend that does a Yoni workshop.  Think of the scene from Fried Green Tomatoes.  If you have not gone thru an operation, I do not understand how someone could insist on being in that group of women for that exercise.

I don’t know how to speak for women in this patriarchal society, but don’t tell me to shut up while I try to move the conversation.  There are wounds so deep that only another women (for the most part) can help.  There are fears for some women associated with men, and no matter how far along a person is in their transition it won’t work for that situation.

You know your own fear, what about the fear of others?  Or does what you want trump all others?

I don’t know how to speak for women in this patriarchal society, but when I see a strong woman being attacked I can’t be silent.

and for the record, while I may not have all the terminology, I have always stood for and with Transgendered siblings and would never advocate removing the T.

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The Art of Self Sabotage

52313_artsabotageIn October I started recognizing that my lungs were straining.  not a lot, but a small shift.  I can’t remember the last time I went to the doctor as I don’t have insurance, but I do remember her saying that my lungs sounded like the beginning of COPD.  Without further testing, there is no way to know, however, this has been a nagging thought in the back of my head.  Of course this has to do with smoking.  I smoke around 15 cigarettes a day, sometimes more.  It’s expensive, yet I’ve always seem to find money for it.  It smells.  Even though I only smoke in my bathroom, it still gets to the rest of my apartment.  Recently, when I assisted Diane and Keith move to Tennessee, I got a carton of smokes plus a few extras at an extremely low price.  This will last me to just before Halloween before I have to pay NY prices again. So anyway, Monday November 2nd was to be my quit date.  I didn’t do anything to prepare and the day came and went and continued shelling out money.

Well, in my infinite wisdom, I scheduled a partial payment to help catch up on my Co-op maintenance. (I was a month behind).  All my other scheduled payments happened on the same day.  Like Magic, the automatic message came: You’ve reached your pre-set balance.  When I first got these messages, the balance was set at around $20.  Knowing I needed more time to manage things if I ever got to that point, I raised the pre-set level to $75.   Well, on Friday November 6th, I get the first message that my bills have been sent, followed by the second message that I reached my pre-set balance.  I now have $70 for the next 14 days.  Even if I did have enough food for 2 weeks, that breaks down to $5/day.

Freaking out because I know I have to quit cold turkey, Saturday becomes my last day to smoke.  Cold Turkey means absolutely no nicotine.  Thanks to Puck, I’ve got a box of nicorette gum.  I have my last cigarette at midnight.  For those of you that want to split hairs I technically quit at 12:03 am on Sunday.  Being able to smoke, then sleep, would give me a 6-8 hour head start when I woke up.  I did work that day, so I knew my mind would be occupied with other things.  The way I’ve dealt with cravings and still do has to do with money.  I’ve made a 6 figure salary, but most of career it’s been a more than half of that.  I am annoyed at where I am career wise.  I have years and years of varied types of experience, and yet can’t get a simple advance in my current job (my combined experience in years is more than many of these people have been alive).  So speaking to my anger and ego I say, “you want a cigarette, then find me a 50,000/yr job or a $10,000 commission check”.   So far it’s been working fine because my ego/brain has no response to this.  I’m sure on some level my ego is trying to figure it out, but until then the levels of nicotine have decreased and I am on hour 57 without a cigarette.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

carmen sandiego

To begin my project into Self, I had to decide how to pick Countries to explore.  I followed a thought process that had to do with Tarot cards.  I have a client that likes to work with lots of Gods and Goddesses and she would come to me with pages and pages of names to see who would work with her.  This is extremely time consuming, however, I found a way to streamline it.  I would pull cards until an upright Major Arcana card came up.  1 – 21 would be the equivalent of A – U.  The Fool (Zero card) would represent letters V, W, X, Y, Z.  If the Fool came up, I would individually do a “yes/no spread”* for each of those 5 letters.

tarot clockWith this thought process I decided to use an App that is on my iPhone called TarotClock.  As I get older, it’s getting harder to see the time at the top of the phone and needed a bigger display, lol.  Anyway, it will give you a card a day, either upright or reversed with the meaning.  I decided that I would a similar system, Major Arcana 1-21 for A -U, Fool for V, Y, Z (no countries with W or X on my list).  I will use Minor Arcana with Numerology to pick a country.  As an example, if the 4 of Wands came up, that would be equal to D, M, or V (D is 4th letter, M is 13th letter, V is 22nd letter).  So I ready to start, go to my App, open it up and get the Queen of Wands.  Crap.  LOL.  I didn’t make a plan for the Court Cards.  I go online, find a site that shows countries that have Queens and picked the first country.   Antigua and Barbuda go together and Queen Elizabeth is their reigning Monarch.

As from my previous post, I am looking for stories of making:queen of wands - page
hungry people not hungry,
hurting people not hurt,
lonely people not alone,
victimized people not victimized,
invisible people feel seen.
bullied people feel protected.
grieving people feel comforted.

In addition, I am looking for unjust laws, occult practices (good or bad)  and tourist attractions or reasons to visit. During this time I also want to find volunteer opportunities where I can make a difference.

September 12th, 2015

Antigua and Barbudaantiguan flag

These countries are islands in the West Indies, located east of Puerto Rico and north of Trinidad and Tobago.  Because they are so small, so is the information to be found. My first find, however, was about a women from the West Indies. Felicia-Browne1Her name is Felicia Brown and the article I found is titled, “Felicia Brown really asks: Are women tough enough for the rough and tumble of Politics?”  I quote her as saying, “…differences should be discussed in terms of opinion and political stance, not by bullying because of gender…”  Most of her pictures are head shots, but when I found the above picture, I was delited.lost art of Felica Browne 001 lost art of Felica Browne 002

Other searches on that name came up with surprize.  Not from Antigua, but there was an English woman named Felicia Browne that was the first British casualty in the Spanish Civil War.  There’s also an abstract about her at, The Lost Art of Felicia Browne.

antigua environmentNext article that I found was about climate change.  Antigua has a Botanical Garden and just last week sponsored Climatefest.  In the news, A call to Embrace Renewable Energy.  A quote from this article, “‘We live in a tropical climate where the sun shines just about every day, an inexhaustible source of energy, the technology is available, but the question is, why have we not embrace that technology seriously, in order to reduce the cost of living in Antigua and Barbuda’, Minister Joseph questioned.”

In doing research on the Occult/Witchcraft/Paganism I came across a law created in 1904 that is still in effect.

The Leeward Islands Obeah Act, passed in 1904, was largely modeled on the Jamaican Obeah Law of 1898. It applied to Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, Nevis, St Kitts, and the British Virgin Islands, and remains the basis of the law in several of these territories.

6. Any person who pretends or professes to tell fortunes, or uses any subtle craft, means or device, by palmistry or otherwise, or pretends to cure injuries or disease, to intimidate or effect any purpose by means of any charm, incantation or other pretended supernatural practice, shall be liable to be imprisoned for any period not exceeding six months.

Lastly was my own guilty pleasure, Lobster.  I remember when I was 5 years old, lobstermy grandparents would take me and my brother to Snuffy’s for a Sunday dinner.  Me and my grandmother would share a bucket of steamed clams and then I would order Lobster tail.  Of course I had no idea how much it costs, but it remains one of my favorite meals.  In Antigua, there is a company called Creole Cruises, and they offer a Lobster Lunch Cruise.  This is now on my bucket list.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 5.59.13 PMWith Antigua and Barbuda researched, I began looking for volunteer activities.  I wasn’t having any luck when I received an email from the realty company I work with.  I had the day off, the email came in the morning saying that an event was at 3 pm. I got on my ‘get dirty’ clothes and headed to NYC East Village.  The part of the city I was in really needed a bit of gardening and many people walking that day thanked us for doing it.  They are doing it again next Monday to add Daffodil bulbs.  I think I’ll go.gary nyc park 001

Who are we/Who we are

I wrote the following post on Facebook on 9/11

The below is the end of an article about Christians trying to change Gays, but let’s be honest, it could apply to any religion or person that practices Misogyny, Homophobia, Racism or any number of other ..isms. This also applies to Pagans that boast they have High Degrees, more degrees or studied longer than their counterparts.
When is the last time you got out from behind your computer and actually did something for someone else?

Instead, try spending that time and energy, making:
hungry people not hungry,
hurting people not hurt,
lonely people not alone,
victimized people not victimized,
invisible people feel seen.
bullied people feel protected.
grieving people feel comforted.

I simply was giving my own thoughts in reply to the article.  I was surprised at how many people liked the post and the comments I received.  The most impactful comment came from Suze; “…Gary, in reading what you’ve written, it occurs to me that u have a very special life purpose. Do it!”

A very special life purpose?  With all my failures, loneliness and suicidal thoughts I’ve had over the years I couldn’t imagine anything special about my life and what I do.   That simple sentence struck me and two thoughts came to me.  One had to do with a video from the HBO show, “The Newsroom”.  Jeff Daniels character explains why America is not the greatest country in the world.

 Why are other countries better than the United States?  Why aren’t they?

The second thought that come to me was, what can I do locally making hungry people not hungry, hurting people not hurt, lonely people not alone, victimized people not victimized, invisible people feel seen, bullied people feel protected, grieving people feel comforted.

So my experiment is to research countries in the News and report on what they do well and what they don’t do well.  I also will do something locally on a regular basis and report back on that.  For now, I will use the below list for research.

Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Andorra
Angola
Antigua & Deps
Argentina
Armenia
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Benin
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia Herzegovina
Botswana
Brazil
Brunei
Bulgaria
Burkina
Burundi
Cambodia
Cameroon
Canada
Cape Verde
Central African Rep
Chad
Chile
China
Colombia
Comoros
Congo
Congo {Democratic Rep}
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cuba
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic
East Timor
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Estonia
Ethiopia
Fiji
Finland
France
Gabon
Gambia
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Grenada
Guatemala
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Ireland {Republic}
Israel
Italy
Ivory Coast
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kiribati
Korea North
Korea South
Kosovo
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Latvia
Lebanon
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macedonia
Madagascar
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Micronesia
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar, {Burma}
Namibia
Nauru
Nepal
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Niger
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Palau
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Qatar
Romania
Russian Federation
Rwanda
St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia
Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Sao Tome & Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Serbia
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa
South Sudan
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Swaziland
Sweden
Switzerland
Syria
Taiwan
Tajikistan
Tanzania
Thailand
Togo
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Tuvalu
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Vanuatu
Vatican City
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yemen
Zambia
Zimbabwe