Monday, January 29, 2007

Queen of the Sea

I depart Boston again for another Midwestern locale. Like last week, I will be presenting my research in my own on-the-road version of Spectacular, Spectacular.

Among other things, these trips are useful because they tell me that there is interest in my research. When working in solitary conditions, I can lose sight of that fact. Moreover, I am reminded that there are lots of funky, cool, interesting places in the upper Midwest (except in Indiana – which is a dead zone). The upper Midwest is often overlooked, I think.

In the meantime, I have [reluctantly] upgraded to the new blogger. The changes are subtle, but disorienting. Let's stick together in this -- Nobody gets left behind.

Thanks for the good wishes, whether written or thought, about my January suckitude. I chatted with a wise and sassy friend who helped me get level-headed. In fact, while stress abounds, there are many good things at play right now. It helps to be reminded – but January still sucks.

My last post, however, made me think of other childhood elements that have influenced my adult thinking about the universe. One good thing about [lay] Catholics is that they can hold multiple conceptions about how the cosmos works, some even contradictory, all at the same time. Curanderas coexist along side priests without a great deal of debate (much to the chagrin of priests).

Other good things about Catholics? Did I mention the drinking already? Oh, I did. Well, you know, I really wouldn’t drink at all -- It’s just that I can’t figure out any other way to get the vodka into my blood stream.

Anyway, astrology came to my mind as an influential guide to the universe during my childhood. Like Catholicism, the Zodiac attempts to explain the relationship between individual free-will and destiny in daily life. Within my family, we learned as much about the Zodiac as catechism. Actually, I might have learned more about the Zodiac because it just wasn’t as boring to learn. The Zodiac required less route memorization.

Keep in mind that I am not saying that my family was Nancy-Reagan crazy over astrology. Nobody in my household based career decisions or the fate of nation-states on star charts. If we had our finger on a nuclear arsenal, the sun’s relative position to Virgo probably would not have influenced the decision whether to launch – probably.

Still, we did learn a great deal about the meanings of each Sun Sign. Over time, I have also noticed some trends in the people that I meet based on those signs. Virgo, the Virgin, for instance is often into some darn kinky shit. Unlike their namesake, every Virgo I have ever known really likes the sex – and likes it in as many inventive ways as they can find. Pieces always seem like they have conflicting impulses within themselves, but are also kind hearted. Taurus folk are self-centered, gluttonous, liars (who tell many lies). Okay, that last one might just be based on a sample of one.

“What’s your sign?” I hear you asking, “We must know so that we will arrange to only give birth under that special, sacred, chosen sign.” What? Okay, fine, maybe the last bit is really just my advice to you rather than what you are actually saying.

I am Cancer, the Crab. As a stand-up comic once noted, mine is the only zodiac sign named for two diseases.

Being an inquisitive youth, I learned as much as I could about Cancerian’s basic characteristics. In many ways, I fit the crab shell pretty darn snugly.

What are the basic characteristics of Cancer that I learned to accept as truth in young days? Have you have gone for a walk along the beach? Then you pretty much know what life with Cancer will be like.

We are hard on the outside, but soft and squishy on the inside. As a people, we prefer not to be boiled alive and served with butter. I am not sayin', I am just sayin'. Go kill a bull instead.

Cancers rarely walk in a straight line. Rather, everything is approached at side-angles. If threatened or in fear of losing something, however, suddenly a straight-line appears the shortest distance.

Those claws aren’t just for show. Anything crabs deem worthy of holding in the first place will not be let go of easily. To put a positive spin on that, Cancers are loyal and tenacious. The less rosy image makes Cancers out to be a bit clingy. As a matter of fact, crabs would rather have a claw cut off than let go of things [and people] close to us. If we do lose a claw, it’s a deep wound. We retreat into the water, not to be seen on dry land for months. Eventually, however, we grow our claws back and then clinch again, just as adherently.

Astrologers often say that Cancers’ moods shift according to the changing tide and moon, their planet. What they really mean is that Cancers are one of the moodiest of signs.

Crabs also horde beyond reason. Go into a Cancer house and you will likely find soup cans stored under the bed, “Just in case.” You might ask, in case of what? That’s a foolish question. You never know when the next great soup shortage might occur.

Something else about those crabs? They’re crabby. Personally, I resist the term, mostly because it makes me feel bad. Gravitas, after all, sounds so much more refined. Truth be told, though, Cancers can be darn right crabby, especially if they spent the whole day avoiding the net that would lead them to the boiling pot.

Revenge is not Cancer's usual response. If harmed, retreat is the crab's first instinct. If pushed to extremes, however, only Scorpio rivals the fierceness with which Cancer will retaliate.

Every Cancer, gay or straight, male or female, loves their shell. By shell, I really mean their home. Travel is enjoyable, but only if Cancers know there is a haven that awaits their return. Don’t believe me? Next time you meet a Cancer, of any stripe, ask them about their home. They will have a lot to tell you about it. If they love it, they will tell you all the details of how they found it, what changes they made, and their favorite parts about it. If they, however, hate their current residence or trouble is brewing at home, they will suddenly look like you just stuck them in an eye with a stick.

Cancers also remember almost everything that you tell them. Did you have a conversation with a Cancer about which person to invite as your prom date in high school? Don’t remember? Cancer does. Cancers keep all those detail on neat index cards in their little shell, ready for easy access.

So, those are the basic crabby qualities that I always knew. It does beg the question, though, am I like Cancer because of strange and mysterious powers within the cosmos? Or because I learned that’s what I should be like since birth? The Zodiac does nothing to solve the nature verses nurture debate.


Anonymous said...

Indiana is a dead zone except for Bloomington, which is the coolest thing in the midwest.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea you were a cancer too! Cancers represent.

Arthur Schenck said...

You had me laughing out loud this time, GayProf. As the survivor of relationships with Cancer BFs, I can attest to much of what you say. Another Cancer I lusted after, but never attained, said "You Aquarians like to look after Cancers. We like to let you." I have no idea if that's true, but it certainly seemed to be my experience.

These days, my man is a Virgo and beyond that I simply cannot comment... in polite company, anyway.

I hope you have a good time in the Midwest. As a Midwestern boy, I have a fondness for the region that's beyond all reason. Even Indiana. Although, Brett, Bloomington always makes me think of the film "Breaking Away" and how disappointed I was that Dennis Quaid didn't get naked.

tornwordo said...

All my best friends are cancers. We should get along swimmingly. (And I love the use of the perhaps-made-up word, adherently)

Artistic Soul said...

lol - Cancer sounds like me! But I'm a Libra. Well, part of it sounds like me. The claw part definitely does.

tomvancouver said...

I'm a Capricorn in the closet and try to pass myself off as the much more interesting Saggitarius. Virgo, is my rising sign, which, after reading your post, makes more sense.

pacalaga said...

I am a Libra, and I always thought I was born under the wrong sign. Either that, or I was the Anti-Libra. That was, until I realized that "balance" doesn't mean "flat", it just means that I have as many wild manic episodes as I do depressive ones. It all averages out.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of cool places in the Midwest: Chicago, Ann Arbor (of course), and yes, even Bloomington isn't that bad. :)

Laura Elizabeth said...

Hm. Pondering, pondering... your Super Power is making me think GayProf. I never connected dots between Catholicism and Astrology before. Now I have to go think about that.

"We are hard on the outside, but soft and squishy on the inside. As a people, we prefer not to be boiled alive and served with butter. I am not sayin', I am just sayin'. Go kill a bull instead."

It's not nice to make me laugh out loud when I'm in the office and "working". GayProf, if you get me fired, I'm moving in with you.

Yeah, that's a fate worse than death... but you'll owe me!

I like astrology as a tool for understanding people. I take a Jungian appraoch to it. Why it works I don't understand - 5,000 (plus) years of empirical study perhaps - I don't know. It makes no logical sense that planet x aspecting planet y in sign z has an effect on people. Yet it does and I've watching this for (yikes!) 25 years. But using astrology to rule your life is just silly to me. It's more of a map showing the many options, the many routes, available to someone; it's a tool to help you understand yourself and the people in your life better. It can also be an early warning detector - Moon, Mars and Pluto, conjunct in the 8th, in Scorpio? I'm walking away very, very slowly and then diving under the bed. This person is most likely a serial killer! Or their sex lives have a kink to them I really don't want to know about.

Your description of Cancer is excellent. I have Cancer rising and have many, many Cancer's in my life. Virgo's will not appreciate you "outting" them. They don't want the world to know their kinks. They want the world to know them as only pure and good.

"Taurus folk are self-centered, gluttonous, liars (who tell many lies). Okay, that last one might just be based on a sample of one."

You met a very bad Bull. I love the Bull's. They are also loyal, protective and generous, hard-working and dedicated to their goals. They can also be stubborn and, well... bull-headed.

I think Midwesterners might like being overlooked. And Chakotay? Worth stalking! Check out his older brother: Louie. Now I have to go off someplace and drool.

Bruce said...

Why is astrology so appealing? It implies an irrationally deterministic view of human development that most reasonable people would reject out of hand. Neverthless, I never fail to read my horoscope when I happen by that page in the newspaper. (I have too much intellectual self esteem to purposefully turn to that page.) I've even had my horoscope cast (by a friend at a party; I wouldn't actually pay for such nonsense.) I don't even find much pleasure in divesting myself of responsibility for who I am. But still, I have read with pleasure detailed discriptions of the charateristics of my sun sign. Why?

(Re Bloomington: I taught at Bloomington for a couple of years. It is not the Florence of the mid west. Sure, its better than Indianapolis. So what?)ccp

Earl Cootie said...

In the Astrology = True/Poppycock debate, I've been reluctant to commit. It makes no sense that it would be true, but experience (or amazing coincidence?) dictates otherwise. I've finally (maybe) decided that it doesn't matter. As a self-analytical tool, it can lead you to some interesting discoveries when your subconscious fills in the blanks. And it's fun!

Dorian said...

Yes, but how compatible are Cancers supposed to be with Pisces, that's what I want to know!

vuboq said...

I had no idea that I'm supposed to be internally conflicted but kind-hearted. Wait. Maybe I did know that. Dang. Now I'm not sure.

Want some candy? Or a hug?

Anonymous said...

My roommate hordes soup, though not, to my knowledge, under the bed. But she's not a Cancer. How do you explain that?

Larry said...

One of the big downsides of being a gay man whose closest gay friends are crystal worshipping lesbians is the perpetual casting of every event as a celestial sign. Sometimes the horoscope doesn't hit the nail on the head, and sometimes that plea for help on the fortune cookie is real.

I notice you have a lot of libra readers (at least technically). I'm one too.

dykewife said...

i'm libra,which means that i give every decision serious consideration, balancing the positive and negatives. of course, the counter to that is that i can't make a decision to save my ass because i'm busy thinking about the decision.

there can be one good thing about january. you could lay claim to being orthodox catholic and celebrate your life according to the gregorian calendar. that means that christmas is on jan 7 and new year's eve is january 13. you could be a middle of the road catholic orthodox catholic that celebrates both in december and january. that would double your presents because everyone would have to give you presents on both days because of your awesomeness. you could have two new years as well.

Mike said...

I've never pursued a depth of knowledge when it comes to astrology. I know some surface things. I'm a Scorpio, whose planet is Pluto, but it's not a planet anymore, and his body part are the genitals, which is fine with me. As a fellow exoskeleton, I'm supposed to be hard on the outside, but soft inside, and I don't like to be cornered. I'd rather be one of the cooler signs like Leo, Aquarius (they even have their own song), or Sagittarius. In any case, I'm also (lapsed) Catholic, but more of the Jansenist, dark sort which fits the whole Scorpio thing.

Anonymous said...

This Libra man loves crab ... that delicious meaty center, especially. A few of the people I love best are Cancers. :) They have something else in common besides the traits you mentioned ... a wicked sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

So, where in the upper midwest are you traveling? Inquiring minds want to host you next time.

Kalv1n said...

I think astrology is very interesting. So much of meaning to me is based upon context, context in society, situation, and astrology seems to be the same thing, but within the universe. I'm a pieces (oh curse you spelling I just don't feel like looking it up) and I do feel that I match many of the descriptions. To me, almost everything is a conflict to be deconstructed. I loved your opting for the more lofty gravitas. It's amazing how rich that one little word has been for your blog in terms of humor. Maybe that says something about my own sense of humor. Now you've got me all interested in Astrology again. Oh, and I've been thinking about you while I read Halperin's how to do the history of homosexuality. The idea of multiple presents is really appealing to me.

Anonymous said...

Another Libra here. Quadruple, in fact: sun, moon, rising, and Mercury. And it describes me perfectly.

Many of my best friends are Cancers, as well. Past experience suggests, however, that our fantasy romance has been doomed since before the stalking began.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Okay - tangent time - I notice you are going on a lot of these places where you present research - wow, that's kinda cool - however, how do you find these places - since all the conferences I find are like "19th century gothic themes of nature" and I try to submit, "the development of penis archtypes in gothic villians" - for some reason, I never get accepted? Where exactly do you find your list of "gay male porn as a reflection of southwest American social anxieties" conferences?

GayProf said...

Brett: I have no first-hand knowledge of Bloomington. It seems like it would have the same possibilities as Ann Arbor, but at a different scale.

Chad: You are blessed to be born under the sacred sign.

Arthur: Cancers do like to be protected and treated well. They also, though, are usually a nurturing sign.

TornWordo: You choose your friends wisely. The question is, though, what's your sign?

WiccaChicky: Libras are also loyal -- Unless you disrupt their lives beyond repair.

Pacalaga: Libra are "big picture" people. They see all elements of their lives (and others lives) as interconnected. As a result, they seek balance. Seeking balance and having balance, however, are two different things. Have you ever observed an old-fashioned scale in use? One side usually drops low while the other rises, then the reverse. It takes time before the scale settles at zero.

Alan: We all know that Chicago is my favorite U.S. city (though I also love Boston). Oh, Chicago, when will I live with you?

Laura Elizabeth: The traits you mentioned for bull do exist (I have known more than one). However, when bulls go bad, they go really bad.

Bruce: Newspaper horoscopes are for amateurs. I think we cling to the Zodiac because, back in our mind, we wonder if it just might be true.

Earl: It does generate a lot of coincidences. For instance, why do I have so many Libras in my life? They are disproportionately represented.

Dorian: Pieces and Cancer get along quite well. They are both water signs and both deeply invested in their emotions. Neither can be accused, for instance, of shedding crocodile tears. On the plus side, Cancer can provide stability and direction for Pieces. Likewise, Pieces can provide the emotional reassurance that Cancer craves -- always. The down side, though, is that if both happen to be sad at the same time, they will wrap each other in cold, wet blankets until they shiver to death.

VUBOQ: I always want a hug (see above note of Cancer's need for constant reassurance).

Sarah: Perhaps she has a Cancer moon? Or maybe she is just crazy?

Larry: On a side note, my favorite fortune cookie said "Disregard previous fortune cookie."

DykeWife: Clearly you missed my disdain of New Year's. Making two of them sounds like hell.

I do like presents, though.

Mike: Scorpio is the most powerful sign, IMHO. They are tough, shrewd, and always a force. However, they can also be cruel and vengeful. Real scorpions are known to sting "just for fun."

Cooper: There does seem to be a Libra following at CoG.

Marlan: I have returned to Boston now. Alas, my time in the midwest was very brief.

Kalvin: Hmm -- I wonder what Halprin's sign is.

Jefe: Maybe you just need the right Cancer...

See, this is the problem with my sign. Saying you need the right Cancer is a lot like saying you need the right tumor.

Elizabeth: Well, the easy answer is that I am presenting my research on Latinos, not gay porn. That's a challenge for another day.

To All Libras: I have a keen affinity with Libra. They surround me. My advisor is Libra, several close friends are Libra, and, apparently, many of my bloggy readers are Libra. I wonder why...

Yet, I have not had a romantic relationship with a Libra. It seems like that would be a logical fit...

Anonymous said...

I escaped Indiana, and not too soon. Then again, I was in Armed and Fabulous territory.

Ah, the places where academia leads us!

Anonymous said...

Crap. Armed and Famous, not Armed and Fabulous. The latter would be about washed-up gay celebs.

r said...


It's just so much more fun!

I dunno if it's true, just like I don't know if I'm really a "summer" or a "Spring" when it comes to my colors... I just know I love talking about something having to do with me...

Wait, I'm a Leo... so this wasn't about me... it was about you... but the astrology thing, and the characteristics, and ...

you know.