Monday, December 29, 2014

New Year's Resolutions: Cooking, Skiing, Gay History and Mark's History

Mark's drawing of me, made this past fall, that he gave me for Christmas

I have never been one for New Year's resolutions. I always pooh-poohed them, and upon reflection I think this was in large part due to the fact that for so many years, my goal was simply to stay on the bucking bull that was my life. This year, however, it's different. I *think* I have finally gotten to a place where I feel I am in a position to actually shape my life through thoughtful resolution, rather than simply reacting to it.

So, I have several things I want to undertake in the coming year, and perhaps going public with these resolves will help me keep mine.

Resolution #1: Cooking

I have never been a cook. For many years of my adult like, I didn't need to because my ex-wife was good at cooking and enjoyed it. Game. Set. Match. Nor was I even inclined to attempt something because I couldn't stand the stress of trying to do so while the kitchen was full of children. Let's say I never experienced the "joy of cooking."

Mark is not really a cook, either, although he's way, way ahead of me. Because neither one of us particularly liked to cook, however, we have relied heavily on Mother Kirkland (Costco) and salads. 

One of the reasons I never even attempted to find the "joy of cooking" was that my mental construct was such that I had programmed myself to accept others' terms when it came to life in the kitchen. Those terms weren't for me. But the idea has only recently dawned upon me that I can, if I want, pursue learning how to cook on my own terms. Isn’t it true in life that so many problems are caused when someone tries to live his or her life according to someone else’s terms?

And so, I have set this resolution and I have started a new blog to chronicle my progress and what I am learning along the way. It is called "Out of the Closet and Into the Kitchen," and can be found at this link below. It's a lengthy name, but I think it's kinda catchy.

Resolution #2: Skiing

Little Cottonwood Canyon on Christmas morning

This is the year. This is the year that I learn to both ski and to love it.

I was raised in southern Illinois. There are no mountains there. The first time I skied was my junior year in college when a group of guys in my fraternity went on a ski trip to the northern peninsula of Michigan. Over the next couple of years, I skied a few times then put away my (rented) skis in January of 1982 after skiing at Heavenly Valley at Lake Tahoe.

I didn't ski again until I went with my son and the deacons quorum to the bunny hill at Snowbird. That was approximately 2002. I didn't ski again until February of 2012. That was after I had met Mark - a lifelong skier. I went down the free run at Alta a few times that spring. 2013 wasn't much more promising for me. Then last year, I made a few more runs at Snowbird and had a fantastic day at Jackson Hole this past spring.

Mark gave me a midweek season pass at Alta for Christmas. This is the year. We went up Christmas morning and I knew this is the year. 

Resolution #3: Gay History

Statue of Antinous in the Vatican Museum

"A gay man seeks his history in mythic gradients, random as blocks of stone in the ruins covered in Greek characters, gradually being erased in the summer rain ... "
~ Paul Monette

This past fall, when Mark and I were touring the Vatican Museum, I heard the story of Antinous and Hadrian for the first time. The story of how the emperor of Rome fell in love with a young man. Then, we went to Greek Islands. I was introduced to a whole new world in many ways, and perhaps the most revelatory was learning about the Greek concept of male/male love.

I determined that I was going to learn more about "gay" history. I started by reading a book entitled Homosexuality and Civilization by professor Louis Compton. My eyes were opened to a world I never knew existed. I highly recommend this book.

I'm also reading about modern gay history. I recently started an AIDS memoir entitled Borrowed Time, by Paul Monette and read the other day about Paul and his partner Roger visiting Greece for the first time after the epidemic had begun.

Just recently, I have read some passages in a book I am now reading that spoke of this introduction to classical Greece. It resonated with me and my experience there this past September:
"I realize I'm hardly the first to feel it, any more than Byron was, but the moment we set foot in Greece I was home free. Impossible to measure the symbolic weight of the place for a gay man. We grew up with glints and evasions in school about the homoerotic side [of Greek history/culture], but if you're alone and think you're the only one [queer] in the world, the merest glimpse is enough ... But you find that your first bewildered erotic connection at fourteen stays with you, since most of the rest of gay history lies in shallow bachelors' graves [emphasis added] ...  
"A gay man seeks his history in mythic gradients, random as blocks of stone in the ruins covered in Greek characters, gradually being erased in the summer rain ... [Monette writes of visiting Akrotiri, an archeological site on the southern end of Santorini, a site Mark and I visited in September:] They had ... a gymnasium with an outdoor court at the tip of the bluff where the boys danced naked to Apollo. There are inscriptions along the walls, erotic poems to the boys, though the guidebook wouldn't recite a single line ..."
2015 is my year for learning more about gay history and writing about it.

Resolution #4: Writing Mark's History

I am about to embark on a fabulous journey into the story of my husband's life. From the work I have already done on it, I know that I am in for a metaphysical experience. By the end of 2015, I will have written the story of Mark's life to date, and I will be a changed man.

Bring it on.

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