Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I had the honor of being asked to sponsor a cousin for his Confirmation. It's a big deal, and creates a bond that lasts far longer than its immediate religious meaning. Especially amongst Mexican Catholics, the Sacraments are far more traditional than they are religious. I am still very, very close with my own baptismal godmother, my first communion godmother and my Confirmation sponsor.

However, I have since left the Church and, by virtue of not going to confession for sins I don't believe are sinful, I am excommunicated.

So, an odd situation now occurs where I have to explain to this cousin that as flattered, humbled and proud I am that he asked me, I cannot participate. I cannot participate precisely because I respect his faith. However, at his age, I don't know that he'll fully understand my reasoning.

Then again, Confirmation (by tradition, if not by Sacrament) is when a child makes the decision to remain a Catholic for himself and confirms his Baptismal vows (again, this is the traditional, not sacramental understanding). So, if he's old enough and mature enough to make this decision to be Confirmed, then he's old enough to know why I cannot participate.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

ten years in uniform...almost

September marks my ten year anniversary of being in uniform. It's been a long and short ten years which have brought me lots of joy, lots of tears and some accomplishments and failures as well. I'm reflecting upon this now because on the first will be my last milestone before I get out of the Army. I will be pinning Captain, my last promotion.

I've only shared two of my milestones with anyone. The first being the day I made PFC and Lee made my walkie talkie go off in my back pocket as CPT Brian T. Soldon was pinning me (we had walkie talkies back then...long story). The second was the day I commissioned. But since then, I've done everything in the Army alone. I never pinned E4 and just got promoted on paper and when I made First Lieutenant, I was in Iraq and it was done rather hastily. I got my promotion certificate from that about a month ago. It had been shoved in a box somewhere in the corner and when it got to me appeared to be a pirates map with burned edges and moth holes.

Throughout West Point, I never brought a date to a class function. Alex went with me once, and we had a blast, but it wasn't the same as going with someone I wanted to impress (not that I don't want to impress you Alex, but I know uniforms and granite buildings wouldn't ever be as impressive to you as the walk through the cemetery seeing the trees). I've never had the opportunity to "show off" share my pride in what I do with anyone.

When we were at DLI, we used to go down to the farmer's market and buy flowers. We'd walk around until we found a pretty girl to give them to. If we couldn't find one worthy, we'd give them to the girls we worked with back at the barracks.

That's kind of how I feel about my Army experience right now. It's something that has formed who I am and which takes most of my time and energy--it's the bouquet I walk around with all the time. It's something that has influenced who I will become and what I will do. But I share it with no one. Not the pride, not the doubt, none of the celebratory or sad moments. I just keep it all to myself and keep hoping there will be someone to share it with.

But, on the first of next month, when I pin Captain, it will just be me, pinning Captain, and thinking, "well. I guess that's it." And, years from now, if/when I meet someone to share these things with, I will share the emotions and memories the same way I do the memory of my father. They, the Army and my Dad, will be things which formed who I am, but which I will always carry alone. Things which I can try to convey as memories, but which only I will have experienced.

I don't write this to be self-pitying. It's just a reflection upon what the last ten years have cost me. There have been a lot of gains as well as I've met some of the best people I could ever know, got a college degree and gained valuable experience. But, the cost...the cost is higher than I had expected and weighs more heavily now that it ever used to. And every time I have a celebratory moment, there comes a point when the friends are gone and the handshaking stops and I'm alone. And I realize then that I'm not just alone, but I'm alone BECAUSE of what I am celebrating. It's as though every happy moment I've had in a decade is laced with bitterness.

I sometimes think about staying in the Army, but I know now that my bitterness runs too deep. That my resentment at the institution, based upon my experiences, would preclude me from ever fully committing myself to it. That's hard to admit, especially considering that I've still two years left to serve. It's hard to admit when I know I WANT to be a good Officer. But, I must admit it if for no other reason than to finally voice what I've already known for some time. The Army and I, like young lovers, who were once good, but are now toxic, must parts ways for the good of us both.

Monday, May 17, 2010

high top chucks

I forgot my running shoes today. Well, to be exact, I forgot A running shoe today. I saw my shoe in the back seat and assumed that it was half of a pair which were together. I was incorrect. So, I got ready for PT, drove to work in my socks and took a nap as I normally do until the pre-flag bugle goes off. At the bugle, I jumped up, grabbed my shoe and began wildly searching for the second. I had five minutes...I could see the Company formed up on the field.

I saw my high top chucks...

I put them on and ran to formation, sleep streaks across my face in the shape of a seatbelt. The Batallion Executive Officer came up to me with a smile (thankfully) and said, "man, please tell me you just drove in from Austin or something. I haven't seen someone run in those shoes since the eighties."

Yeah, it was a run day. I'm in "A Group"--the fast one. Luckily, I haven't bought new running shoes in years so the rubber is completely shot. Thus, running in high top Chucks, while looking ridiculous, wasn't all that different than my usual running shoes. I still ran a 12:30 two mile.

death for an athiest

Andrew Sullivan has had an ongoing discussion about what an athiest thinks about death. Here is a short sampling of some of what people wrote in.

As for myself, I'm happy there's no life after death. I thought about this quite a bit after my father died, and again recently after my grandmother died. At both funerals, there were were lots of people and stories about the lives they'd lived. At my Grandmother's, there were stories I'd never heard from people I never knew. It was like listening to an epic tale, and it was hard to believe that these stories were all from the life of one woman--she'd lived a life worthy of several! I began to think that when people say things like, "death is only the begining" I disagree. Not only do I disagree, but I disagree and it's because I disagree that I can be unafraid of death.

I don't know if this will make sense to anyone else, but the idea that death IS an end. It's a final end. A period on our lives. And I'm OK with that. After all is said and done, I won't spend an eternity thinking, praying, dancing, praising, burning, swimming or anything. Life will go on without me and around me people will continue to love and live. Hopefully what I will have done will make the lives of those around me better, but for more than that, I cannot hope. For me, to hope for more than that, considering the life I've been able to lead, the people I've been able to love and the experiences I've been able to have--well to me, it would just be selfish to hope for more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Iowa a year in

Gay marriage has been legal in Iowa for a year now.

I just read a rather interesting article about the state of the state (clever huh?) a year later. What I found most interesting was this statistic though: While 92% of Iowans say that gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives, 43% would still vote to ban it.

If I read that in the most flattering of lights and assume that the 8% of Iowans who feel that legalizing gay marriage has affected their lives believe it has done so negatively, that still means the other 35% of people who would vote to amend the state Constitution to ban gay marriage would do so despite the fact it doesn't affect them.

Does anyone else find that semi-ridiculous? Admitting that there are no negative consequences to something, that it doesn't affect your life, but that you'd still be willing to amend the document which protects your freedom to deny someone else his? That's a full third of Iowans AFTER a year when the sky didn't fall.

If I'm mis-reading this or my analysis is wrong, let me know. It's kind of late as I write this.

Kagen vs. Miers

I'll keep this short, but seriously, Republican spin is just so blatantly hypocritical it's hilarious.

Miers was "qualified" but Kagen is not? Miers' lack of experience was "refeshing" but Kagen's "lack of judicial experience" is "troubling"?

Come on now Republicans, at least TRY and remember what you said yesterday.

ethnic studies

Arizona is quickly becoming the lightning rod of ethnic issues. The Governer signed a measure which restricts ethnic studies in the state which, "are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group. It also prohibits classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government." (according to the article I read).

While this sounds on its face to be a simple and obvious law, the outcome may be far more divisive. What worries me is a quote from the AZ Attorney General in which he said that studies, "should not be encouraging students to resent a particular race." What I find worrying is the lack of empathy or understanding of what it means to be a minority in America.

When we turn our backs on the idea the idea of underrepresentation, we risk losing generations of Americans who will not live up to their full potential. What do I mean by that? Well, consider the case of Mexican-Americans. I am mixed, but my upbringing was primarily influenced by the Mexican side of my heritage. I went to private school through sixth grade and public school through high school followed by two years of junior college and then West Point. In those years, I never read a single Mexican author. I was never introduced to Cesar Chavez, and I never had a teacher of Hispanic heritage.

The first time I can remember reading a history of America in which people of Mexican descent had any influence over events was when my mom recomended I read Rain of Gold by Victor Villasenor. I remember reading it and being completely dumbstruck by the fact that an entire history was foreign to me. I read about people who did what my forefathers did (right down to hiding his siblings in a well during the revolution in order to keep his sisters from being raped and his brother from being killed), and it all happened in Southern California. I read the alternate history of the Missions and El Camino Real. I learned about the grape boycot and the Brown Berets.

Like it or not, our current curriculum is still formed around white males. The contributions of minorities are often relegated to a side note in history. Until this situation is remedied, minorities will continue to grow up thinking that their ability to contribute is only ancillary to that of white males. Without a role model to look up to, each of us who is born a minority will think he must forge his own path instead of knowing that we stand upon the shoulders of giants.

The current history, english, art and philosophy taught at most schools
already teaches minority students to resent a certain race--our own. We must teach students to be proud of who they are, brown, black or white. Moreover, the idea that these ethnic studies classes are designed only for minorities is ridiculous. I have read books on feminist theory. I am not a woman, but I'm a better person for having read them. Likewise, ALL Arizona students could benefit from learning about the forgotten American History and Culture which includes the contributions of hyphenated-Americans.

Arizona must realize, sooner rather than later, that these knee-jerk policies are hurting its own citizens and will do far more damage in the long term than the political gains it will create in the short term.

article here

Friday, May 07, 2010

fri sat sun...

I'm glad to be using blogger again. I can write here without seeing all the people who may read this. I think it'll make me a little less cognizant of the audience, so I can be more open and honest (something I'm sure all of you who read this will respond, "yes Adam! More openness is what we were hoping!" because as you know, I've been pretty guarded over the years).

In any case, there's not too much going on today. I really wanted to go to Austin and go dancing because I spent about nineteen thousand hours listening to briefs about the Army today. It was pretty miserable. I didn't even get a good workout this morning even though we had to be at work work out. Go figure. But, sitting through the briefs, all I kept thinking was, "what's the opposite of sitting in uniform listening to someone who sounds like a random-army-cliche generator?? Yes! That's it! Dancing at one of those clubs I derided just the other day!" So, that's what I'd like to do.

The kink in the plan, however, is that I have no one to go to a club with. And, going alone is really out of the question. Why? Because when I break from dancing and I'm all sweaty and want some water, I suddenly realize that I'm alone there and stand awkwardly near the smokers while I drink my over priced bottle of water. When I'm dancing, I don't notice because I tend to dance with my eyes closed anyway. But, standing there with my water, you notice that everyone else is in little groups or couples and you're just...some dude with a water bottle.

So, that being said, I'm desperately trying to find someone to go out with me tonight.

As for the rest of the weekend, tomorrow is a walk for cystic fibrosis followed by kayaking, a party on the roof of Molotov (to which I will wear a skinny tie and new hip jeans) another going away party on the terrace of the Speakeasy and then, in sha allah, more dancing. Sunday will find me tubing on the guadalupe and otherwise enjoying life!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

me, dating vs. single

When I was dating, I had confidence. Why? Because I knew someone wanted me. I would go to bars and clubs and chat it up with whomever struck my fancy. Sometimes, that would mean people who were obviously out of my league, but it didn't matter because I knew I had someone back home so I wasn't flirting anyway, I was just being myself and having a good time. Because of that, I probably got hit on more in the last five months than I had in the first 29.5 years of my life combined. I never took anyone up on that because, again, I was seeing someone.

It was awesome. I could dance and talk and enjoy a drink and just have fun without any of the crap that generally goes on at bars (ie. judging people, giving the once over to anyone you make eye contact with, trying to determine if someone's single or not blah blah blah boring boring shallow shallow). It was awesome.

Now, I'm single. Now, I don't talk to anyone at bars. Why? Because I know that if I do, they're giving me the once over. They're deciding if I'm worth their time or not. Worse yet, I care about the judgement. So, what fun I had when I was NOT single, I'm not having when I am because I'm nervously thinking, "am I being interesting or funny? Am I being pathetic?"

My ex was out of my league. Maybe that's not true. I was told we were a good looking couple. But I also know that if we went out together, one of us definitely turned more heads than the other, and that was not me. When together, I was like a window people saw through in order to see my ex. I was OK with that though, because I knew that I was the one who won at the end of the night.

I don't feel like that any longer, mainly because I didn't win in the end. There are a lot of reasons for that, some of which are good, some of which are bad. But the point is, my self-confidence is shot. It's a vicious cycle. With no self-confidence, you don't attract anyone. The fewer people you attract, the lower your self-confidence plunges.

I don't think I'm an unattractive guy. I'd say on a scale of whatever, I fall somewhere in the middle. But, because I have no confidence, that drops quickly to "whatever". As in, when I go to bars and see someone attractive, I can see the expression in the eyes, and even the glossy, beer induced red color doesn't hide the rating..."whatever."