Humans have been debating the definition of “normal” as regards sexuality ever since we climbed dripping wet out of the swamps and looked around in search of intimacy. In between conducting sieges, banging vengefully on each other, and finding other fun ways to be hurtful, our ancestors have loved and lived in a bewildering variety of ways. Look at the ancient Greeks, who practiced homoeroticism openly and with impunity, as their decorated pottery attests. The Romans looked askance at intimate relations between men but it was okay for women to engage in it, I’ve read. They had another hang-up: if women were raped, it humiliated the entire family, especially the male members, and was considered the women’s own fault. (Punish the victim is still a favorite playbook in many Middle Eastern quarters, not to mention closer to home. Sometimes the raped woman is disowned or even killed.) The Egyptian pharaohs reputedly practiced incest, marrying brothers to sisters, or fathers to daughters, to perpetuate the throne within the clan, although some scholars now dispute this in part because incest was frowned on for ordinary folk. The point may be, what was conventional or “normal” depended on where you lived, when you lived, and what your status was on the social ladder.
My mind inevitably goes blank when someone asks me what I did yesterday (or over the weekend, or on Tuesday — wait, isn’t today Tuesday?!). Lately, though, that response has been close to the truth of what I’ve been doing: nothing. At least, nothing that strikes me as worth talking about.
For reasons I won’t go into, I don’t have my own Internet connection. This is usually not a problem, but it has created some awkward situations during this time of a cautious reopening of public spaces. Such was the case the other day when I was invited to attend a short webinar.
We had our own homegrown Juneteenth celebration here in Plain last weekend, in a village known more for its homogeneity than diversity. The party in our neighborhood was ostensibly a birthday party for a one-year-old, but it was charming and inspiring in its inclusion of a wide variety of ages, races, and genders.
I just made a short visit to a place three degrees of latitude farther north. That’s not much for seasoned travelers, but it served to remind me that my home is only halfway to the equator. The farther north you go, the more the spring is compressed into a few fleeting days. (We had our share of frosty weather last month, but at least we don’t have a Great Lake messing with our temperature.)
I had a busy April, but most of that was one-on-one activities with friends (or events with a defined endpoint where I couldn’t linger). Recently, though, I had the pleasure of going to a real live Event. It came complete with kids running across the lawn, adults from outside my “bubble”, delightful vintage items for sale, and lunch served by a local business. It was my new community in miniature, and the energy was infectious.
It feels like I just made the switch to a 2021 calendar, and suddenly I’m turning the page from April to May.
“Fearsome” isn’t a word that people would use to describe me. But it fit the other day when a squirrel, attempting to perch outside my window, became paralyzed with fear by a glimpse of my giant’s face. Not long after, a mourning dove suffered a similar fate. Although I live on the second floor and at the same level as these denizens, I doubt they’ll ever accept me into their community.
When I moved here from Sauk City, I left behind a small volunteer project. A few months into last year’s lockdown, I decided to become the unofficial steward of a Little Free Library two blocks from my apartment.
The riverwalk in Sauk City became crowded earlier this month when the temperature soared, relatively speaking, into the 50s. Although I prefer to walk alone, I found I couldn’t blame my fellow hikers and cyclists. For those of us who didn’t book a spring break trip, these sunny days were a welcome reprieve from the gray depths of winter.