Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My True Self

The article "In Search of The True Self" intrigued me.  It begins with this story....

Mark Pierpont used to be an important figure in the evangelical Christian effort to help “cure” gay people of their homosexual desires. He started out just printing up tracts and handing them out in gay bars, but his ministry grew over time, and eventually he was traveling the world and speaking to crowds that sometimes numbered in the thousands. There was just one problem. Mark Pierpont himself was gay. He continued to feel sexual desires toward other men and was constantly engaged in an effort to suppress them. In the documentary film “Protagonist,” Pierpont movingly describes his inner conflict, saying that he sometimes felt an almost physical revulsion at his own desires and would then think: “Good. I hate this.  I hate sin, just like God hates sin.”

The author then asks: Which one is Mark's true self?  The Christian? The Homosexual? 

The first answer is:  both.  He is just as much Christian as homosexual, even though these seem to be in deep opposition to each other within Mark himself.  

The second answer is: if you ask others which one is Mark's true self, they will give the answer in accordance with their own values.  Some will say:  Mark, dude, you're gay.  You'll be much happier if you just accept that that is indeed your true self.  Others will reply: Mark, your Christian self is your essential self, even if being true to your beliefs involves personal struggle.  Both will say the true self is the self that they think is more important.

Now, I don't have a dog in this particular hunt, as I'm about as Christian as I am gay.  Have fun with that one, friends!

But I was reflecting on this while having a lemon mint, a rocket salad, a hamour plate, and a green apple shisha at the local Al Shami Home Restaurant tonight.  I would have taken a picture of my meal, but it looked disappointingly as if I had ordered from Applebee's Home Restaurant.

The view around the room was more interesting. The waitrons -- both men and women -- wore black pants, white shirts, orange striped vests, and black bow ties.  The patrons were wearing, well, who knows what the guys were wearing, various guy stuff, I suppose, but the women were divided into those wearing the traditional black abayas and sheilas, and the Kardashians.  It was the Sisters of Mercy and the Jersey Shore, dining together.  I felt like I was on a highway with some driving 70 and others 30 -- either speed is fine, but having both on the same road made me grip the steering wheel a bit tighter than normal.

Back to the Which Self is the True One?  I think the choice here is not between the "Good" self and the "Bad" self.  Which would be which for Mark, not me Mark, but Mark Pierpont? Evangelical Christians would (mainly) say that the devout Christian is the Good Mark.  Others would say that the Gay Mark is the good Mark, and that the form of Christianity that suppresses homosexuality is itself a force for Evil.  (Myself? I can imagine that God would say: "You don't have to choose between being a Good Christian and a Good Homosexual.") I also don't think the choice of true selves is between the self we "Are" and the self we "Want to Be", but between two different, but equally "true" selves.

Which brings me to Anthony Weiner.  No, what really brings me to AW is that all bloggers everywhere apparently are required to write about him, or at least to have an opinion about him.  It would have been more interesting if he had been sexting Sarah Palin, or Albert Haynesworth, so I could blog (!!!) multiple (!!!) parties (!!!) at the same time.

What is AW's true self?  He may not know, and I'm pretty damn sure no one else knows either, other than (as above) by saying his true self is the one you say it is.  Maybe he is truly a libertine; maybe he is truly a devoted public servant.  Maybe he is both, or maybe he will somehow resolve for himself which self is more true, the obligatory-and-cliche rehab notwithstanding.  

As for me, I like having those multiple selves.  Well, maybe not those multiple selves, but, anyway.  It's more interesting having two selves, at least. I always have someone to talk to -- an amusing person, too, always good for a laugh or an insight or a story! -- even if he never quite fully understands me.

Update: Warning! Highly graphic, explicit political commentary follows.

Should Weiner resign?

The small "d" democratic in me is willing to leave that to his constituents.  I mean, our Congress has historically been loaded with idiots, imbeciles, drunks, thugs, racists, crooks, and that is just Weiner's home district I'm talking about.  (Apologies, NY's fighting 9th District!)  

Senator Vitter, a married, family values Republican was handily reelected after doing hookers.  Laissez les bon temps roulez, Lousiana.  If Vitter's good enough for the good folk of Louisiana, fine.   

Was Vitter, who broke laws while actually having sex worse than the sexting Weiner?

The large "D" Democrat in me said that Weiner should resign.  He was the visible face of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party (Howard Dean reference!), unlike who-the-hell-is-Vitter?, and his continued presence in Congress will harm the Democrats.  Refusing to resign places his own interests above those of his party.  Go away.

Oh, wait.  President Clinton got a blow job in the Oval Office from an intern.  This is worse n every way than what Weiner did, and I didn't want Clinton to resign.  

I'll let my inner selves have a bit of convo about this over breakfast.  Maybe they can work out my internal disagreement.

Meeting Quota

Time is running out: two more nights in Doha.  The first two years I posted 21/22 blogs, and so I'm far behind now....I've got to meet quota somehow.

Here's a glimpse into the new Georgetown campus, where I spend my days.  Usually.  Mainly.  It's fab. Lots of eye candy in the building...Above you can see the corridor I traverse each morning.

I know, trying to catch up on blogging by posting multiple times back-to-back is like trying to floss your teeth numerous times before going to the dentist.

Which I do.

When the dentist's assistant asks me: "Have you been flossing?" I want to reply....

"Can't you tell by looking?  Why are you even asking me?"

Instead, I reply...


The Gtown building has some nice nooks for napping.  Not that I do.

I wish I had napped here!  Very womblike and calm.  I think wombs are calm, at least so far as I recall.

Lots of interior balconies, too.  Here I'm looking down at what I think is the main lobby by the front door, but I've never seen anyone use that door, as I think everyone comes up through the garage.

The garage, in fact, was the topic for one of my student's final presentations.  The topic?  Georgetown should allow students to park in the garage for reasons of equity, efficiency, safety, health and so forth.  Those ideas were pretty interesting, but the guy mainly just wanted to park in the garage, I think.  I seemed to sense rationalizations instead of arguments.

The class was split on this issue into two groups: those with cars, who believed the current policy was inequitable, inefficient, unsafe, and unhealthy; those without cars, who (I sense) thought the first group might just be lazy and, after all, couldn't the money be better spent on other things (that, coincidentally, were those things that appeared to benefit the car-less group).

I don't doubt that both groups were sincere, but it did look self-interest, not public spirit, determines arguments.  Yes, my students are human, too.

The view across the cafeteria towards the library.  Look in the upper right below the flags.  That room jutting out is a lounge area, with a pretty comfy bed.  A nap there is also on my list.  I might have to return next year.

The library is grander than my camera would allow.  It's also a good place to nap.

This is making me sleepy.  But I'll revive: I have more blogs to write!

Monday, June 13, 2011

You Think I Make This Stuff Up?

See, there is a Ferrari Saloon.

Note the air hose on the right of the screen.  This was used in my facial, I believe.

I splurged after my facial, and got a fresh squeeze from the Juice Stall next door....

.....and a shawarma from Al-Ennabi....

Ok, I didn't take that last photo, but the shawarma was so shweeet!

The next photo is mine: I'm delivering these donuts to my class this morning.  Blood sugar spike, here we come! Yes, they are Dunkin.

I Said "Yes"

Feeling a little fluffy Friday, I drove to the barber.  I chose the Ferrarri Saloon, because my head is like that race car (sleek! fast! hot! needs constant care!) and what better place to get a haircut than a drinking establishment?

Oh, right: Ferrari Salon.

My man didn't speak much English, and I didn't speak any of whatever he's speaking (Ferrarish, maybe?) but I made it clear that I needed a haircut.  At any rate, that I wanted a haircut.

Now, Laura usually cuts my hair, and she does a fine job.  But, you know, being able to mow a townhouse lawn doesn't exactly make one a master gardener, if you get my drift, and Ferrari dude was good!  He didn't just run the mower back and forth.  He held the clipper in one hand and a blade in the other, moving both like Edward Scissorhands.  I swear he cut each individual hair, one by one.

Scissorhands now points to my 2 week beard stubble, as in "Let me perform my magic on that, too!"

I said "Yes".

I'm feeling great, my head is even sleeker, fast, hotter than before, so I'm going to keep saying yes to whatever he asks.....

This is usually not a good idea.

But, so, the facial began.  I haven't had a facial before, certainly not one given by a guy speaking Ferrarish, so I didn't know what to expect.

I got various potions and lotions that tingled, or stung, or stunk, or abraded, or sometimes all.  First I think he began with the "asbestos and arsenic" paste (reenacted above).

Then he used a blowtorch to dry it, as if I were the creme he would brulee.

Ok, at this point I'm thinking that he may be doing all this for the amusement of the other six guys in the Saloon, none of whom are either are cutting or being cut.  I'm suspecting he charged admission:

"Come on, come all, see how I can afflict the foreigner, who will still thank me and pay me!"

More potions, more lotions:

I was beginning to feel like a cheeseburger.

A cheeseburger to go, for that matter, after he put my head in the bag.

A steamed cheeseburger, even.  Ferrari dude would stick a hose under the bag, fill it with steam to the point that my eyes were beginning to poached like eggs....

Is that laughter I hear from the audience?

Some of his ministrations struck me as unusual.  But what did I know? I had said yes.

I was becoming more and more suspicious.  My eyes were also beginning to swell shut.

Every so often, he would spritz my face without warning: water-boarding lite.

Two hours later I paid Ferrari dude as much, almost, as Sirish makes in a week.

Was it worth it?  Well: My skin was Oprah-smooth, and remains so, mainly, after a couple days.

Sometimes it's good to say Yes.  The guys applauding the show thought so.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Morning Mosques

This morning I pointed my Civic in the direction of the National Mosque.  My plan?  No real plan, if by plan you imagine that I had any idea of what I was really going to do.  I figured I'd just start at the National, then wander home, turning in the direction of any mosque I saw....

The National Mosque looks lonely to me.  It has a great view of the city, and a large parking lot.  This morning I was the only car there.  I mean, I wasn't the car itself, although I do consider myself pretty much a Civic kind of guy.  The place was deserted.

If it were crowded, and if I was a VIP, then I did discover the Stairway to Heaven:

Mosques are fairly easy to see because they're common and the feature they have in common is their minaret.  Wait a minute.  Perhaps mosques don't all have minarets, although it seems that all minarets have mosques.  So I followed the trail of the minarets.

Most are small, and they're often tucked into commercial areas.

I wished I had a mosquetect in the car to explain the different styles.

Choices: I could make either the minaret vertical or the building vertical, but not both.  Ahh, perspective does shape reality.

All these pictures were taken with a cheap point-and-shoot Kodak.  It was SO bright out I never could see the display screen, so I more-or-less-point-and-shot.

I did edit each picture to chop out the extraneous.  I don't take such care editing my blog.

Can I tell you a secret?

This probably makes me a bad Facebook friend, but it bugs me when a person downloads every picture from their chip, no matter how ill-focused, redundant, redundant, or redundant.  Edit, folks!

The previous sentence should read "ill-focused or redundant".  But now I've added yet more extraneous words....

So now I'll let the pictures speak.

Tomorrow: My smooth skin, and other tales from the neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

People Like You Make Me Sick

My carefully crafted, and artfully illustrated, blog on this topic just got vaporized.

I blame human error.


I'll try again tomorrow, dammit.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Get Out of My Head, and Into My Car

No, not Dreams, as Billy Ocean would have it, even though that is one great old school video....

Scorned lover that I was, I needed to get out of my head, and stop the brooding.

Driving around looking, not thinking, was the tonic I needed.  Photo tour of Doha, here I come!  

It's easy to miss Doha unless you look.  The city is definitely designed to make mass protests hard, which would never happen here, as there is no reason for them, and I most certainly am not advocating them, and that's all I'll say about that.  Doha is criss-crossed with huge highways, that completely separate the smaller neighborhoods: no one is going to walk back and forth between them.

I don't know anything about the neighborhoods here, and you don't either, so I'm going to speak with authority and hope you don't notice.  But, first, I'm going to play that video again.  And turn it up.  

Much better.

As far as I can tell, there are three kinds of "neighborhoods" here.  There are the mansions, which are located wherever the owners damn well want to put them.  They seem to be scattered around, unlike in the US, where you don't really have a mansion unless your neighbors can look at yours and say "Mine's bigger" and you can look back and say "No, mine is".

The mansions are often right next to major roads, so maybe the owners DO want to be seen.  All right, all right, these are not the best mansion pictures, but it was early and I was just wandering around.  You want to do better?  Qatar Airways is awaiting your call.

The second kind of neighborhood is where the ex-pats live, and by ex-pats I mean well-paid foreigners like me.  We mainly live in apartment complexes which, like the mansions, are always behind fairly high walls.  You've seen my pictures of al Samrya, where I live, but if not then do yourself the favor and go back and read the post that contains the pictures. Damn, I couldn't even find that one, so good luck with that.  It does seem like the ratio of pictures-to-words has grown over time, so maybe I'm just getting lazy.  Anyway: I'll post some pictures of ex-pat life soon.

He's still a Pat, I know, but he won't always be.  Then, maybe he'll be an ex-Pat-pat.

Better, if P-Diddy played for the Patriots, and then retired to move here, he could be a P-diddy-Pat-pat.

The third kind of neighborhood houses everyone else, who I suppose are also ex-pats, except it's unlikely that they hang out at ex-pat hangouts, or if they do they are of the sort affordable to those making $350/month.

This is probably not such a place, but I liked the lone air conditioner.  And the lux palaces in the background.

Yeah, I should be writing more, and more eloquently, as you dear reader have come this far without a whole lot of payoff.  So I fear I leave you greatly disappointed, or perhaps I'm still just smarting from being jilted.  Anyway.  Enjoy the pictures. I'm going to go eat ice cream right out of the container.

Congrats! You've made it to the end.  Thanks, and good night.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I loved her, and she loved me.  Sometimes I had ignored her, I regret, but this spring I had rededicated myself to her.  She seemed happy.  Life was good.

Imagine my shock when I opened the note from her last night that read:

I don't love you anymore.
Those endearing little actions of yours?  They annoy the shit out of me.
I can do better than you.  I'm out of here.
PS: You're a lousy kisser.

That's what it really felt like last night when I received my course evaluations for the spring semester.

I felt jilted, blindsided, gut-punched, without warning. My evaluations are usually pretty good.  I have had some bad ones, but those were generally well-deserved.  This spring, I worked exceptionally hard on my courses.  I was attentive and responsive to the students.  I was well-prepared and engaging.  I assessed the students' work in detail and quickly. I did an excellent job. Or so I thought.

My students concluded otherwise.  Sure, I got lots of love in the evaluations, but I'm the anti-Sarah Palin in viewing my audience, as I assume that my critics are right and that my fans are just being nice ("You're a pretty good kisser...").  Sarah and I may be alike in our thin skin, though, as try as I might to ignore my critics their words do hurt.

Some of the words were pretty harsh.  Now, I study politics, and I know harsh words are often used in commenting on public figures, especially on blogs allowing anonymous posts.  Like those blogs, my evaluations are done anonymously, on line, and that no doubt makes for harsher words than would be used face to face.  But, still.

Is it possible not to know that your love is about ready to walk through the door, and to believe that everything between you is good?  That's what this feels like.  Now, when I think about looking into the faces of my students during class, I wonder how many were thinking: When can I walk through that door?  Now, in thinking about my pleasant interactions throughout the semester, I wonder which students were thinking: I can't wait to be rid of you.

The worst part is the PS:  You're a lousy kisser.

If you were told that, and you thought you actually were sort of a pretty good kisser, then what do you do next?

I was in a fog today.  Literally.  A dust fog.  The sun did not penetrate it, and it was tough to breath.  Driving was difficult.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Worth Waiting For!

You've been too busy to catch up on this blog; that's why I haven't written more.

I have been saving up, and now I'm ready to unleash the verbal torrent, but dinner calls.  Should I answer dinner and, if so, what should I tell it?

Coming soon:

Honor Killings

Wanna Get Lucky?

People Like You Make Me Sick

More About Sirish