March 27, 2013

Pink Squares

Posted in life at 11:54 pm by jimazing

fb redUpdate: When I first posted this, I understood the meaning behind the image, but I didn’t understand some pretty basic things about it… First, it is an equal sign (=). Seems silly now, but I didn’t see that in the beginning. Also, it is a red version of the¬†Human Rights Campaign logo. The name of this blog entry is a testament to my ignorance ūüôā

My version of the image here is a morph of the HRC logo with a photo of my daughter, Kat.

Polarizing topics like same sex marriage stir us and rarely lead to respectful dialog.  We tend to go to our respective poles and shout whatever our side tells us to shout. Yesterday on Facebook, I joined with many who changed their profile photos to a red square with two pink squared contained within. This was to show my support for equal civil rights for same sex couples as I enjoy with my wife. I have written before about how my views about homosexuality were influenced by my daughter, Kat. I stand by those words. If you have not read them, you can find them in this post, Loving Kat, Changing Me.

I am aware that because of the polarization of same sex relationships in general and gay marriage in particular, my recent posts in support of gay marriage probably imply things that I do not mean. So please allow me to explain what I believe today (it will likely change).

  • I do not automatically believe that everyone who disagrees with me about these matters is homophobic¬†or hateful.
  • I believe that marriage should be a religious joining that fits the beliefs of the couple being married.
  • No church or other religious order should be required to perform or sanction marriage that violates their teachings. A church organization should retain the right to hold that homosexuality is a sin and should never be forced to perform same sex marriages.
  • I believe that the government should get out of the business of regulating marriages. ¬†Period.
  • I believe that appropriate legal benefits and consequences should only be administered through legal contracts of domestic partnership agreements.
  • There should be no legal recognition of marriage at all. This is not a state matter.
  • Any two consenting adults… (It should go without saying, but since this is about clarification… I do not advocate any kind of sanction for child sex relationships)… again, Two consenting adults should be able to make a binding legal contract in which they commit to one another no matter whether they are different sexes or the same sex.

I strongly suspect that 50 years from now (or less), our descendants will look back at this debate much as we look back at issues like racial segregation and women’s right to vote today. ¬†They will wonder why we had such a hard time accepting people who were different than the majority.

I am one of a quiet but growing group that is stepping carefully and fearfully into the unknown, asking hard questions of the leaders they have followed unquestioningly all of their lives. I have been on both sides of this “issue”. Kat helped me see it not as an issue, but as a human rights situation involving real humans; humans who deserve the same civil rights as I do, not because of my sexual orientation, but because I am a living breathing human being that deserves respect.

I welcome conversation around this topic from people who disagree with me. I only ask for an agreement up front that we will listen to one another honorably and respectfully and that it is okay to end the conversation with disagreement on the topic.

March 20, 2013

Writing the Illusive Story

Posted in writing at 10:00 pm by jimazing

timid-dog-biteMy stories run up and bite me on the leg – I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.
–Ray Bradbury

Sometimes the dog brings me a finished thought that comes easy. Other times, he is more like the timid little dog in this photo that does not know what he wants.

I am struggling with a topic now. I started writing it the end of February and I am no closer to a finished product than I was then. Like so often happens, I began with a thought. It did not work, so I set it aside. I came back to it a few times, scrapped some thoughts, rewrote others. Thinking I knew what I wanted to say, I started over, but that did not work either. <sigh> Sometimes it works. Often it does not. I guess if I were doing this 25 years ago, I would have a waste basket overflowing with wads of paper.

I decided tonight to write about the writing process. I have a few mind pictures that I use when I talk about it that I wanted to share. They say we should write what we know… this I know.

When a story comes easily, it is like I am sitting in the middle of a huge ball. The ball is a complete story that already exists. I know it completely and intimately. It just needs to be slowly squeezed out through my brain, one word at a time. If I am persistent, it will happen. After it is out, I can polish it up a bit and pretty soon, I am hitting the “Publish” button on my blog. That is not always the case though.

Every story begins as an idea. I login to the blog and begin writing, like I am doing now. I know what I want to say and it just comes out a word at a time. Keeping the whole thought in my mind long enough to squeeze it out can be difficult. I not only have to remember the whole finished idea, I need to remember how much of the story I have already told and what comes next. From his quote (above), I would say that¬†Ray Bradbury’s ideas were more persistent than mine frequently are. His stuck around long enough to ensure they were¬†acknowledged. In contrast, my ideas are shy, impatient and easily bored. If I am not attentive enough to them, they will walk away sulking that I did not care enough to write them down in time.

I read in a biography of Alexander Hamilton, who wrote the lion’s share of the Federalist Papers, that he would take very long walks to think about what to write. Then he would go to bed and sleep, no matter the time of day or night. He would sleep for a number of hours (I forget the details). When he awoke, he began writing and would stay at it for hours until he was done. When he was done, he was done… (at least that is the way I remember it).

It seems to me that his ideas were lumps of dough that needed to rise before being thrown into the oven to be cooked into writings. I have thrown many ideas into the oven too soon.  Every entry that I begin has just as much potential to end up published as it does to be added to the ever growing list of unpublished posts.

I find myself wondering what will happen to this post… will anyone else ever see these words?

Usually one of the last things I will do is find, or create images to go with the posts. I find that visual images add interest to the presentation. Maybe it is the little boy in me that prefers picture books to books with just words. Speaking of which, the book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball is a terrific book about managing to work in corporate life without losing your humanity. The reason I thought of it is that it is full of doodles by the author. Some of them illustrate his topics and some are just doodles.


One more illustration about what writing is like for me. Imagine a huge apple that represents the whole of what happened. As the storyteller, I want you to know what happened, but if I really describe the whole apple, I will have written a text book on apples rather than tell a story. My job is to describe the apple well enough while also telling an interesting story. The thing that actually happened and the story about what happened both have weight. It is no good to bore you with a long, drawn-out story that is perfectly complete and accurate. Likewise focusing solely on the story while ignoring the truth of the thing that happened is to miss the point of telling the story altogether.  The end result feels a bit like I am a worm eating the apple and describing the trip as I go through. There are innumerable ways to get through the apple and be true to it, but I only get to choose one. I leave a lot out, but when I do it well, we are satisfied and we know what an apple tastes like.

I hope this trip through the apple worm hole of this writer’s mind has been enjoyable. ¬†I don’t know if this helped me get any closer to writing the post that is fighting against me, but it was worth a try.