Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Moon Landing Launch Day 2019

I am pretty sure I know now when my fall from grace began… It involved the NASA Space Program and a summer church camp. 

Let me explain.

From the very beginning, the space launches were very much part of my psyche - and still are. 
In those days the world stopped every time an astronaut was sent into space. Like most kids my age, I begged my parents to buy me the plastic  models of each rocket and spent countless hours in my bedroom gluing pieces together and patently applying paint and decals to each model... Mercury, Gemini and then a huge almost 1m high Saturn V, with a tiny little LM that you could detach and connect to the Apollo spaceship. Later I made Enterprises and Jupiter spaceships to mess around with in my own little universe. When I left the USA, I still had that Saturn V in a box, it went to the estate sale, I hope someone is taking great care of it.
It was an age of promise with a few air raid drills (mostly 2nd and 3rd grade) in between. Moonshots, atomic menace, giant  monsters on the 4 o´clock KTVU after school movie. Our games on long summer evenings with kids on the block were hide n seek plus duck n cover. 
In 6th grade my family uprooted us from San José and moved to my father´s boyhood town of Grants Pass, Oregon. It was my first experience with travel, adventure and new friends, new beginnings. We were closer to Grandmother, Aunts and Uncles on the ranch in Northern California, and soon my parents would send my sister and I on the Greyhound for long weekends…
Neighbors got new tv´s, big things in fancy consoles – with hi fidelity record players with the TV in front. Once, a neighbor invited everyone over to see the Wizard of Oz in color. My students and my own kids think I am crazy, but it WAS a big deal.
So it was that Mrs. Olsen, who lived next door and brought us her homemade Swedish pastries every Saturday morning, invited us to watch the launch of Apollo 11 with her and on her TV. Though it was 50 years ago today, I remember sitting on the rug and counting down with almost everyone in the world as the rocket motors engaged and the thing took off.  Everyone was proud and listened to every last communication, I had followed every step of the program since it began, I was a nerd, and this was religious. Soon we were going to have moon and Mars bases. 2001 had come out, and I was going to work in space for sure!
By accident, I was headed to a Church Camp, the next day or so.
I was so anxious to see them land, and a couple of us snuck up to the camp counselor´s house to look in the window. Yet the owners of the camp shooed us away from their window while watching the landing themselves.
And, that was the beginning of the end of my Christianity. 
To this very day, I can´t for the life of me understand why the  reverend couldn´t have moved his tv to the window of his house and allowed all off us to watch something so massively mind-bendingly world changing. The reverend could have used that as topic for his evening campfire sermons and had me forever in his congregation. Nope. 
That week away, though was also the first time I developed a crush on a guy, a kid from Medford, dark Italian features… don´t remember his name. He looked great in his swimsuit, and me a gangly skinny kid he invited me with two girls he knew to make out in one of the abandoned cabins. He and his girl on one bed, me the other on another bed. Nothing more than kissing, I wouldn´t have known n what to do anyway at that stage. I remember that the young lady  and I got shushed by the other couple, as were giggling hysterically with fear that our braces would get caught. Nothing really happened, but it was my first make out session, and also my wondering began as to what was so great about it. I mean I liked girls as people, still do, the other stuff not so much. In those days no one knew anything about LGBTQ anything.
So it was that 50 years ago my first questioning of organized religion and sexuality happened (it wasn´t until 25 or so years later,  a series of uncomfortable relationships with good women, trying to like  heterosex while not knowing what was gay sex, marriage that ended in a train wreck with an extraordinary son) that I discovered what was bugging me. 
So, both spiritually and sexually - a giant 30 story Saturn V rocket and its phallic representation and all - this is how and why I have such deep appreciation for NASA and for everything that is good in my life.
Freud explica tudo...

P.S. just as I was shutting down my computer I heard whisps of the Blue Danube playing somewhere...


Via Daily Dharma: Consuming With Wisdom

Mindful consumption requires us to pay attention to the whole multitude of causes and effects that result from our lives as consumers. It asks us to learn about the issues, inform ourselves, and adjust our behavior accordingly.

—Interview with Allan Hunt Badiner by Peter Alsop, “Spending Wisely