Category Archives: Queer

Unique by Corby Jaye Roberson

While I was moving things, I found one of my most prized possessions, a poem I wrote when I was in seventh grade. I’m posting it here for the simple fact that if I lose the written copy, I’ll still have this cyber copy. I love how much and how little I’ve changed in 27 years.

Here is the title page:

Unique
by: Corby Jaye
Roberson

Hartford City Junior High
7th grade
April 8th, 1987

Here is the poem:

The world looks down on people like me,
The ones that want to do or be different.
I don’t think that just because I’m different,
That I should be looked down upon, lower
Than people that do the same old thing day after day.

But I don’t really care if the people do look down on me,
Because if I’m what I want to be,
That’s my choice not the world’s.

If everybody did or was the same,
The world would be very dull and boring,
And maybe then people would want to do or be different,
Not the same!

So I’ll just me, because that’s all I can be,
And I don’t care what the world thinks.

Here is the story behind this poem: I totally forgot that it was the last day to submit anything for Young Author’s, so I faked sick during P.E. and went to the nurse’s office. Then I laid on the cot and wrote the poem you have before you. I made the cover during lunch and then turned it in to Mrs. Warner, my English teacher, just after last period. I was as shocked as anyone else when I won the competition at our school and had my poem submitted for the Indiana Young Author’s Anthology, which I never received. I was pretty proud of this poem, and I wasn’t the least embarrassed that I wrote it at the last minute, because it had been rolling around inside of me, since about, oh, kindergarten. Growing up I always felt a bit out of step with everyone else, and I didn’t really care about how out of step I was until the next year, during the same month, when I had a life-altering event happen to me. I don’t really want to divulge that here, now, but I will say that I spent a good portion of the next 25 years trying to get back in step with everyone else. And, well, now I am done with that. So there.

Fiction Friday, On Saturday

This week my students read a couple of texts that are worthy of note: “The Women Men Don’t See” by Alice Bradley Sheldon and the Old Testament book of Job. I’m not saying they are both fiction, but we’re studying the bible as literature, so we discussed how Job is part of the wisdom literature tradition. I’m not really going to say much about Job, except for that it was interesting watching church kids really read that text and try to figure out why their ministers or youth ministers had never mentioned Elihu…

“The Women Men Don’t See” is a strange story that, at first, seems to be your run-of-the-mill adventure story where some folks get plane wrecked and some of them wander away to find water or help while some of them stay at camp just in case they might be rescued. However, this story gets stranger and more awkward as it progresses, because the two people who wander away to get water find some other folks out there in the wilderness. The man, Don, hurts his knee on a weird mangrove root, and then it appears as if he also gets stabbed by one of the other folks, though the way Sheldon describes the stabbing is much similar to the way she describes his knee pain, so I wasn’t sure if it was a new injury or the same, just inflamed. At any rate, Ruth, the woman who is also questing for water, makes friends with the others, who turn out to be aliens that look like tripods. The intriguing part of this is that Ruth can understand their alien language, but Don can’t. In the end, Ruth takes her daughter Althea and leaves with the aliens, dumbfounding Captain Esteban and Don and leaving them there by the plain wreckage. See, it’s weird.

My students had an amazing discussion about the way the women in the story are described throughout the story as aliens or others, so they weren’t bothered by the fact the women could understand the alien language. In fact, my students were interested in the ways in which that then turned the tables and marked the two men in the story as other. Since through the first two thirds of the story women are described as interchangeable (Don can’t remember one of his secretaries from another), Other (as opposed to men), or mundane (they behaved by the manual). Once Ruth meets the aliens, the men then become the Other; they can’t speak the language, nor can they understand the customs. And as such, the women leave the men. I was bothered by the fact that the women only ended up having partial agency, because they were able ot then step out of their “manual” interchangeable roles, but only by the empowering force of the aliens. The students loved the idea that language can help turn the tables. Still, the text was a good one, and we’re going to discuss it some more this week.  They did an excellent job of using the de Beauvoir theory to discuss the text as well; let’s see how they do with “The Cyborg Manifesto” this coming week.

Lent Day 24: Nights Out and Silly Joy

This weekend is ripe with friend connections. Last night I went out with work friends, the colleagues who make teaching bearable. I love my students, so having some colleagues who aren’t dicks is just a bonus.

Getting Ready to Go Out

We did a pre-St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl in good old Muncie, Indiana. We started at the ever trendy, hipster Savage’s Ale House, which is one of my favorite bars, because they have $1 PBRs, of which I had two. I also had the Epic Muncie Burger. Amazing.

$1 Pabst Blue Ribbon

Celebrating the Graduate

From Savage’s we headed to Doc’s Music Hall for all the mixed-drink drinkers. We sat outside at a really long table. There were a whole slew of us! Here’s where I mixed my metaphors and went from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Loretto, Kentucky and stopped south of the border for a few sips of my friend’s, the birthday girl, Muncie-rita, that’s served complete with an upside down bottle of Corona in it. All the traveling must be why I have such a headache this morning!

Maker's with a Splash of Coke

From Doc’s we dropped in next door at the Heorot. I kept on traveling: I had a Strongbow from Ireland and a New Albanian Porter from New Albany, Indiana.

Half-Lit Chandelier at Silo

Then we headed to the Silo (Maker’s and a Fat Tire (Fort Collins, Colorado)), and then to the very haunted Fickle Peach (Bell’s Porter from Kalamazoo, Michigan) where I spilled my beer so hard the marble bar broke the glass. No worries, a friend split her beer with me and then somehow I ended up with another Bell’s Porter. I also played pool for the first time in several years and didn’t do too shabbily, but I didn’t do really well either.

Bell's Porter, not the one I spilled

Outside the Peach: Are those orbs I see?

We ended the night back in Milwaukee with a Miller Lite at the Mark III Tap Room, “the longest gay bar in the world,” but by that time I didn’t trust myself to take my phone out of my pocket for fear that it would go the way of the beer at the Peach and shatter all over the dance floor.

My point in writing about this is that I am a serious person most of the time, but my goal this year was to get my joy back by doing those things I hadn’t been doing, which bring me joy. Surrounding myself with friends brings me joy. Drinking excellent beer and bourbon brings me joy. Walking around town and acting silly and dancing poorly all bring me joy: great joy and a great headache the next morning. I think Jesus wants us to experience joy (maybe not so much the headaches, though he did like his wine); in fact, I think we were designed to be filled with joy. Look at Adam and Eve, they were perfectly content before they ate that dastardly fruit. How could they not have been joyful living in the most perfect place ever? David was so joyful he danced with no clothes. John the Baptist was so joyful in utero that he “leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Peter was so joyful he couldn’t resist calling Jesus out for who he is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” In the end, we’ll all be so filled with joy, we won’t be able to stop singing.

I just want a little bit of that joy here on earth, and one way for me to experience it is by giving myself over to those silly sides of myself that don’t always show, but which always hide there, just beneath the surface aching to get out. And, yeah, in many ways, I am equating fleshly drunkenness with spiritual drunkenness. The spirit and the flesh, they feel really similar to me, which I suppose is because I don’t really buy that mind, spirit, body split nonsense, chalking it up as a patriarchal paradigm foisted upon us by the Enlightenment. So tonight I plan to do it all over again with different friends, in a different place, but with the same goal in mind: gathering the joy that’s swirling around out there waiting for us to take it!

Lent Day 17: Nearing the Death of Little Blue

Today on my way to Anderson to meet my brother, I noticed that the temperature gauge on my dashboard was way up at the red line above the H. This compounds the problem that Little Blue’s engine has had recently. When I idle at a stop light or sign, the engine revs and slows, revs and slows, and I worry that my little car may just decide to stop right then and there, leaving me stranded wherever I am. I’m not afraid to have my car die in the street and have to walk, but for some reason I have become afraid of the idea of being car-less.

I forget that having a car is a privilege for me, not a necessity. I live less than two miles from my place of employment, and there are three different bus routes that go within a quarter of a mile of my house. Not having a car is not a hardship for me, but over the past couple of years, I have become accustomed to being able to go on small trips at my own will. I know I will get used to having no car again, but I also just bought my super cool Indiana Youth Group license plate, so having my car break down is a little heartbreaking.

On my way home from Anderson, I had to pull over at a gas station to let my car cool down before I could continue the trip home. I was sitting there feeling pretty sorry for myself about my car, when I decided to listen to my voice mails. A friend of mine had called to tell me that these reflections were meaningful for her this Lent, and I immediately began to think about how blessed I am, and about how for the first time in a while, I actually feel as if I am allowing God to use all of my gifts and talents. I am teaching English, which I love, and I am spending a considerable amount of time thinking about spirituality and theology, which fills me.

I live under no delusions, though. Just because my spiritual life has taken a drastic turn for the better within the past few weeks, I know that doesn’t mean that everything is coming up roses all the time. I know it doesn’t mean that every time I feel sad or doubtful, God will send an affirmation that I’m doing the right things. And, it doesn’t mean that everything will always work out the right way. But I know it does mean that I have a much better perspective about how to deal with adversity, or at least I am in a better head space. Being in this better place helps me have an assurance that God is with me.

I feel like Asaph in Psalm 73:

When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,

I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

This Psalm resonates with me in so many ways. I want to be continually in a place where I think the “earth has nothing I desire besides [God].” I want to be confident that “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” This sort of goes along with what I was saying yesterday, but it’s a bit different. This struggle of knowing I should desire God constantly is bound by my ability to do so, because I am human. I am bound by my body, by my place in culture, by the necessity to live in the world. My desire should be for the best for my neighbor and the best for my God. I mean, there’s a reason that Jesus said there are only really two commandments: “To love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” And, of course, these two commandments sum up my every struggle, everything I’ve ever written about here or anywhere else. How can we, bound by our earthly bodies, focus so heavily on entities outside of ourselves? To love God with our whole heart and to still have love left over for our neighbors as much as ourselves? Honestly, it wears me out. Sometimes it wears me out even to think about it, let alone do it. Peace.

*

This is how I woke up today with a cat in my face:

Spazabella: The Disgruntled Cat

After morning prayer, I went downstairs for breakfast:

Bacon, Eggs, Strawberries, and Rooibos Tea with Raw Honey

I spent the rest of the day with my super-amazing little brother:

At BD's Mongolian Grill

We went shopping at Old Navy (again with the unethical practices), and I bought some smaller-size clothes, down two sizes from the last time I bought clothes there. We also went to TJ Maxx and Whole Foods. I can’t help myself. I love Whole Foods.

Lent Day 16: Do the Best You Can Where You Are

We are all complicit in the world in which we live. Unless we live completely off the grid, self-sustaining, and 100% independent of anyone else, we are complicit in what US culture (or global culture for that matter) has become. Wealth is made on the backs of the poorest and neediest. We criticize even those who try to make a difference. Perhaps because they aren’t making a big enough difference in our opinions. Or maybe they aren’t making the right difference in the right way.

What I learned in a succession of strange and serendipitous interactions today is that we each have to do the best we can to live our lives in a way that we can live with the choices we make, in a way that we can live with ourselves, in a way that we can look at ourselves in the mirror and not feel ashamed.

For some people, that way of living may be completely and totally morally reprehensible to someone else. For example, my Starbucks habit may make Fair Trade only coffee drinkers cringe. Someone else’s insistence on wearing Nike (or insert other brand) tennis shoes may perk up my sensors for labor abuse. People may look at my Mac and curse my choices, and I may see their copy of The Purpose Driven Life and question were those profits are going. Each of us has a commodity-related Achilles heel. Each of us has a love (or necessity) that is bound up in immoral and unethical practices.

But, if each us will do his or her little part to make the world a more ethical place, instead of continually judging each other for what we’re not doing, then we will see much ethical and moral growth. With each person making small strides, together we’re making great strides, right? I realize this is a little more pie-in-the-sky hopeful and optimistic—and even quite a bit cheesier, possibly a bit preachier—than my usual posts, but we have to start somewhere. If we start somewhere, it’s better than simply sitting around finger pointing, right? Right?

Now I’m respectfully stepping off the soap box.

*

A good portion of the beauty of today (and every day) was in simplicity.

A Twin-Yolked Egg and Yummy Bacon

Little Purple Spring Flowers Growing Up Among the Brown Leaves

A Bridge I Walk Past Every Day, But It Looked Especially Artistic Today

Cod Fish Stir Fry

A Man Fishing, But I Am Not Sure He Caught Anything

Kayaking the White River: Looking at the Ball Mansions

“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”—Toni Morrison in Rita Dove’s Grace Notes

I, too, always feel as if I am trying to get back to where I was. In a way, we are all trying to get back to where we were.