I’m sure that I don’t know

So what search term finds a Family Values Lesbian?

The last time I looked, it was “lutheran funeral jello“.

This time, it’s, “what does a boston red sox hat mean for the lesbians”.

How does that find the blog of a St Louis Cardinal fan? I’m sure that I don’t know.

 


PS: To this lesbian, it means the wearer is a Red Sox fan.

But my ignorance of lesbian culture (clichés?) is near total. Next month, I’m going to marry the first girl I ever kissed. I’m the first girl she ever kissed. Nobody has taught either of us the secret handshake.

Or what a Boston Red Sox cap means for lesbians.

Faith

I intended this blog to explore my Christian faith, my traditionalist, conservative values and my love for another woman. Instead, it has exclusively addressed the last.

Partly, that’s because life with her has been such a revelation to me. Partly, it’s been that after a dozen utterly unmemorable years, my world is alive with joy and meaning that I never imagined. Partly it’s that everything in the last year has been new to me. I want to babble like a kid coming out of a movie.

But part of it is that I’ve found it difficult to express ideas about faith and values that are probably foreign to most people who read this.


One of the most startling things about New York is its pervasive secularism. Faith is as embarrassing topic as an alcoholic uncle would be back home. My Love warned me about that before I came out here, so I haven’t committed that faux pas at a fancy dinner. Still, it’s disorienting,

So I’m not sure how to address it. I don’t even know if anyone would be interested in it. If New Yorkers are any indication, I suspect most people would just click on after the first couple of sentences.


If that sounds like I’m ashamed of my faith, or afraid of what people will think, or afraid of losing followers – well, I’m not. It’s just honest perplexity.

I’m just not sure how to proceed. We don’t speak a common language. We don’t have a common cultural base.

It may just be my anecdata, but most people – believer and non-believer both – seem to stop thinking critically about God when they’re teenagers, if not before. If they think about God after that, it’s to read something that reinforces their belief – either the latest God-is-love inspirational or the latest Dawkins screed. Neither stands up to critical thought, but people aren’t looking for critical thought. They are looking for something to reinforce their uncritical thought.


I’m not condescending.

I understand that for most people, thinking critically about God isn’t as important as their job, or their kids, or the latest Bond film. It’s just not a part of daily life.

I’ve struggled with faith every day of my life. I had to. I could not accept the Catholic doctrine of my upbringing. But I could see that my argument was with Rome, not with God. It took a long time to find Him, although He was there all the time.

At 15, my fiancée became a thoroughgoing atheist. At 20, she heard the still small voice. She was just too damn self-aware and too damn logical and too damn brilliant to ignore it.

So I’m planning to write about faith. Even if you have none, I would value your attention.

She’s going to sivilize me, and I can’t stand it

I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

I am a challenge to my fiancée. She is the most cultured person on the planet. I don’t know anything about art, literature or music. Unlike Huck, I’m not going to light out for the Territory.


She took me to the opera the second time I visited her in New York. Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. I was hooked. Yes it’s silly. But it’s gorgeous.

She’s taken me to Don GiovanniMacbeth, Don CarloThe Death of Klinghoffer, Ernani and Otello.

Great stuff. I’ve loved every minute. Even when the guy next to me snores.


Which brings us to Friday night.

Game 3 of the World Series.

vs

Turandot.

I was prepared to be grumpy. I wasn’t prepared to be revolted.

Go read the synopsis. It beggars belief. The three main characters:

  • A prince, the son of a deposed king.
  • A servant to the deposed king, who loves the prince because he smiled at her once and has ignored her since.
  • A princess who murders her suitors for sport, reneges on her oaths and tortures the servant to death to get information that would let her murder the prince.

But it’s all OK, because the princess, after torturing the servant to death so that she can murder the prince, falls in love with the prince. Because he’s trying to rape her.

Really. I could not make this up.

Maybe this is just a story to hang music on. Maybe it’s the product of another time and place (even if that time and place is Fascist Italy). Maybe it’s really a man-hating-feminist, smash-the-patriarchy text. But it’s vile. And stupid.

Oh, you say, one must admire the music separate from the drama. But isn’t the point of opera music plus drama? (I deduce from synopses of La Boheme and Madama Butterfly that the coherence and plausibility – even the intelligence – of the drama were not priorities for Puccini.)

The production only makes it worse. It is colossal, garish, tasteless and overripe. I felt as Martin Luther is said to have felt when he saw the opulence of the church in Rome.

Then there’s the racism.

And for this I missed a World Series game?

Am I just an uncultured lout? Is there no hope for me?


Saturday night – Halloween – she doubled down by taking me to the Philharmonic.

I could be handing out tooth-rot to the kids in my building?

I could be watching the World Series? The penultimate game of the season?

What kind of a woman would do that to me?

I’ve listened to Beethoven’s Fifth on CD. Who hasn’t? But a live performance? Extraordinary!

Also on the agenda were Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23. The Mozart was lovely, but I loved the Britten.

Don’t tell her, but it was worth missing the kids and the game.

National Coffee Day

Bumbi’s Mom has a love letter to coffee, which pretty much sums it up.

Until I met my Love, coffee was whatever came out of the urn at a jobsite or a diner nearby.

My Love, on the other hand … “Fanatic” would not be too strong a word.

Just to give you an idea: She has three burr grinders, one set for the filter coffeemaker, one for the French press and one for the espresso machine. The espresso machine is a brass, lever-action Pavoni – a gorgeous work of art.


My Love is NOT a morning person.

On the first morning I stayed in her apartment, I was up first. I made coffee. When she woke up, I brought her a cup in bed.

She took one sip. Without a word, she got up, went to the kitchen, poured the cup down the drain, picked up the pot and poured it down the drain. Then,

Sweetie, I love you more than life itself. But if I have to get up before you to keep you from making ghastly coffee, this is going to be a short romance.

And she showed me how to make coffee. It took me a half-dozen tries before I made a pot that she would even taste.

She wouldn’t let me touch the Pavoni until I’d been in New York for months. It was a month before I could pull an espresso that didn’t taste like hot water soaked in the butts of cheap cigars. It was another month before I could pull an acceptable crema.

Now, she will even drink my espresso. I’ve never been so proud of any accomplishment. I bask in the glow of her favor.

And I’m as fanatic as she is about coffee.

Paradox: The incoherence of common sense

My musings on mathematicians and engineers were provoked by my Love’s reaction to something I saw in a quotes file:

There’s no way to develop an ambitious, broad-ranging, self-consistent metaphysical system without doing serious violence to common sense somewhere.
Eric Schwitzgebel

When I saw that, I laughed. It sums up what I’ve always thought about metaphysics. It sums up what almost everyone thinks about analytic philosophy.

I quoted it to my Love, who was trained as a pure mathematician. (For those of you who have never spent time with a pure mathematician: They make Mr Spock seem illogical.) She smiled and said,

Of course, sweetheart. Everything in mathematics, everything in science, did serious violence to the common sense of its time. That’s why we remember Galileo and Newton and Euler and Einstein. They defied common sense. Common sense is always wrong, unless it’s based on science that did violence to the common sense of its time.


The perils of quotes files: They lack context.

After that conversation with my Love, I read the whole interview with Professor Schwitzgebel. He said essentially the same thing as my Love said. He’s not criticizing metaphysics. He’s criticizing common sense. I still think metaphysics (other than Kant) is mostly silly, but he’s devastatingly right about common sense.

In context, Professor Schwitzgebel says,

Common sense is incoherent in matters of metaphysics. There’s no way to develop an ambitious, broad-ranging, self-consistent metaphysical system without doing serious violence to common sense somewhere. It’s just impossible. Since common sense is an inconsistent system, you can’t respect it all. Every metaphysician will have to violate it somewhere.

Common sense is an acceptable guide to everyday practical interactions with the world. But there’s no reason to think it would be a good guide to the fundamental structure of the universe. Think about all the weirdness of quantum mechanics, all the weirdness of relativity theory. The more we learn about such things, the more it seems we’re forced to leave common sense behind. The same is probably true about metaphysics.

You don’t even need to get into the weirdness of quantum mechanics. The Sun orbits the Earth? Common sense. A heavier stone falls faster than a lighter stone? Common sense. Species were as God created them in the Garden of Eden? Common sense. Newtonian mechanics? Crazy. Invisible animals cause disease? Insane! Send pictures through the air? Get this guy a straitjacket.


Even in the most abstract pursuits, there’s a place for common sense. Professor Schwitzgebel again:

But here’s the catch: Without common sense as a guide, metaphysics is hobbled as an enterprise. You can’t do an empirical study, for example, to determine whether there really is a material world out there or whether everything is instead just ideas in our minds coordinated by god. You can’t do an empirical study to determine whether there really exist an infinite number of universes with different laws of physics, entirely out of causal contact with our own. We’re stuck with common sense, plausibility arguments, and theoretical elegance – and none of these should rightly be regarded as decisive on such matters, whenever there are several very different and yet attractive contender positions, as there always are.

So that’s why they’re called “love apples”

This past weekend, we stopped at a farm stand and got heirloom tomatoes.

I’ve never had a garden. My only experiences with tomatoes are canned tomatoes (delicious for cooking) and supermarket tomatoes (paint them white and use them for baseballs).

I’ve never liked raw tomatoes. I don’t dislike them; I just never got the point.

My Love insisted that we buy a pound of them. I thought she was nuts, but I indulged her.

She showed me how to select tomatoes. I was amazed that they had a nice firm softness, like – well, like something I would describe in a protected post. Her most important advice:

Always get the ugliest tomatoes.


That was Friday afternoon. Saturday for lunch, we had tomato sandwiches.

Oh

My

GOODNESS!


Tomato Sandwich

  • Two slices of slightly stale bread, preferably something that will disintegrate when wet (e.g., Portuguese corn broa)
  • mayonnaise
  • sliced tomato
  • salt
  • bottled beer

Smear mayo on bread. Stack at least 3/4 inch (20mm) of salted tomato slices between mayo’ed bread.

Eat. Drink beer from bottle. Repeat until sick.


Notes:

  1. Don’t bother with a plate. Eat it over the sink. If the tomato is properly ripe, the juice will run down your forearms and off your elbows into the sink.
  2. Don’t wear a white shirt. In fact, don’t wear a shirt at all. Before starting, my Love stripped to her bra and undies and encouraged me to do the same. I wondered why she was wearing her yoga bra and undies. Now I know.
  3. My Love says you can substitute olive oil for mayo.
  4. Don’t drink the beer from a glass. Be careful with the bottle. Your hands will be slick.
  5. Part of the trick is to finish the sandwich before the bread completely disintegrates.

So, if you see two 30-somethings in their worst bras and undies standing over the sink, drooling red, making obscene slurping sounds, swigging beer from the bottle and laughing, you’ll know you’re at the right place.