Monday, June 30, 2014

I Am Me

     I've been sitting here sucking on my electronic cigarette, sipping coffee on a ninety degree day, eating Oreos in my underwear and my Game of Thrones "My Mind is My Weapon" tee shirt, stroking my tangled beard, staring at the blinking cursor on my computer screen, and trying to figure out what to write.  Sometimes I feel like I should write but there are no words.  Sometimes I feel like I should talk but there are no words.
     So I just sit here staring in silence, trying to figure it all out.  I don't sit here wondering how to express myself but instead wondering what parts of myself are worth the risk of expressing.  I know I seem slightly strange to most people and strangely enough not strange enough to other people.  I know that in most of the prepackaged groups it the world, the ready made cliqs, the most I will ever fit in is partially.
     Things could be different for me.  I could be different.  I could pretend.  I write fiction sometimes.  My marriage could have been different.  I could have been someone that she would have been happy with instead of being the man that she married.  I don't have to be single right now, either.  There are a few women I could be with if I just wanted to be the type of man they want.  It wouldn't even be difficult.  It would be easy hiding the real me.
     I have practice at hiding myself or at least parts of myself.  As I said, I only ever partially fit in so I tend to keep the parts of myself that don't fit in, in a given situation, to myself.  I tend to be open about many things so people think they know me but there are very few people who truly do.  As I told someone the other day, just because I'm open doesn't mean I give guided tours.  I didn't tell them I have no idea what that means but it just sounded like a clever thing to say.
     With friends, family, and coworkers this hiding parts of me thing works well.  Most of them suspect there is more but at least know me well enough to know that they probably don't want to know the more.  When I'm with someone, though, it doesn't work so well.  Eventually, and usually sooner rather than later, they get to know all of me because I want to know all of them.  I'm not interested in falling in love with a stranger.
     Not long ago I had someone advise me I'm too upfront too soon about my flaws.  They said I scare women off by showing them what is wrong with me before they get a chance to see how much it is outweighed by what right with me.  I gave them a reasonable and not untrue excuse.  It's an excuse that will probably be the topic of a post on this blog sometime.  I told them that I can't risk falling in love with a woman that wouldn't be right in my son's life so I have to find out about their flaws right away.  The best way to encourage them to be open about their flaws is to be open about mine.
     That's not an untrue excuse but it is still just an excuse.  Mostly women see my flaws right away because I have no desire to hide them.  I don't want to sell myself.  I just want to be honestly and completely me.  That, to me, is intimacy and it's really what I'm after.  If that scares women off so be it.  If I find less intimacy because of my desire for intimacy I can at least enjoy the irony.
    Once I post this I'll get reassurances about how I'm a good man and I'll find someone and blah, blah, blah.  It's not that I don't appreciate those messages because I do.  It's just that I don't need them.  That's not why I write these things.  I write these things, more often than not, just because I started typing and this is what came out.  I might fear being lonely forever but I don't fear being single right now and I don't need reassurances.  Most likely, if I cared to examine my motivations I would find that writing things like this is my way of reassuring myself.  I will happily take criticisms, though.  That way I can discover more of my flaws to scare women away with.  I'm quite sure stubbornness is one of them.
     Since I didn't plan this, or even have the idea rolling around in my head for days like I usually do, I have no idea how to end this.  So I guess I'll just tell a story on myself.  In one of his standup bits Ron White talks about being naked on a beanbag chair eating Cheetos.  Whenever this joke is brought up a friend of mine will usually look at me and smirk because he walked in on me once naked on my couch eating Oreos.  That's me.  He'll usually make some wisecrack about it and I'll just shrug.  That shrug is me too.  Moral of the story, you should probably be happy I didn't say I was naked as I was writing this.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Men and #YesAllWomen

     I don't know much about women.  The ways that their humanity intersects with mine I understand but, like most men, the ways that their humanity is dissimilar from mine are a mystery to me.  There is one thing I know about women, though.  There is one thing I understand and am certain of and it is an unfortunate thing.  Every woman has felt threatened by a man.
     I don't think most men understand what that means.  I don't think most men realize how huge a thing that thing is.  They say but men have felt threatened by women too and sure some of us have ran into women scorned and armed and there are dangerous, violent criminals that are female. Most men, however, have never been scared of a woman.  Most men have never felt physically threatened by a woman.  All women, yes all women, have felt physically threatened by a man.
     The other reaction men have is that not all men are like that and I understand the frustration that response originates from.  I remarked to a friend the other day how sick I was of paying for the things that other men have done.  I was talking more about the emotional baggage from past relationships that people carry with them into potential new relationships but I could have just as easily been talking about fear and the threat of physical violence.  I've had relationships ruined, or never start, because of the evil that other men have done and my inability to understand or help with the lifelong scars caused by it.
     Still, simply saying not all men completely misses the point, men.  Saying not all men are like that does nothing to help all women that have felt that and does nothing to keep our wives and daughters from feeling that way again.  We need to acknowledge the way the world is, accept the roles we've played (even if they've been passive roles) in making the world this way, and begin to figure out what we can do to remake the world.  Most men don't see women as objects that they can take by force if necessary, or beat if they aren't being agreeable, but there are things most men can do to get the world closer to the day that all men don't see or treat women that way.  If we aren't doing them we are at least somewhat responsible the next time our wives or daughters feel threatened by a man or worse are physically hurt by a man.
     That is my first response to the not all men defense.  Like I said, I've been there, I understand it, and I feel the frustration.  There is another response to that defense, though.  Men, if we are honest with each other we must admit that maybe not all men but most men, at one time in our lives or another, have been that man that a woman felt threatened by.  Even us nice guys have made a woman feel physically threatened at some point.
     About six months after my son was born my ex- wife (who wasn't yet an ex at the time) and I were having what my family would call a discussion.  My family usually discusses things at the top of our lungs, however.  I won't get into the details but it wasn't just an argument but it was the kind of argument that ends relationships.  She had dropped a bombshell on me and I felt betrayal and with betrayal comes anger.  My hands clenched and unclenched, seemingly unable to just do nothing, and finally I picked her purse up and threw it against the wall.  It made what was to me at the time, I hate to admit, a satisfying boom.
     I know a thrown purse isn't much to admit in the grand scheme of things but I still remember the look in her eyes.  The woman I was married to was looking at me shocked and scared and trying to decide whether she needed to run or not.  As it is for many men, that look was all it took to bring me back to my senses.  I decide I needed to leave and I walked out before I could do something stupider or worse.
     Masculinity is a confusing thing sometimes.  That's a proud moment in my life.  I was taught that a man doesn't hit a woman ever or he isn't a man and I was able to walk away before more than a purse was hurt.  I was in a situation where many men have become weak and I stayed strong and stayed a man.  Still, that's a shameful moment in my life too.  Why wasn't I able to walk away before I threw that purse?  Why wasn't I able to walk away before I scared her?  Why am I proud of having left before I hit her?  Why did the thought of hitting her even occur to me?
     I know a guy that broke his hand hitting a wall instead of punching a woman who was literally begging him to hit her.  I was proud of him but again why did he have to hit the wall?  Why couldn't he just walk away?  Maybe not all men but most of us have been that guy that scared a woman at least once and I don't want to be too hard on us guys. Throwing a purse instead of throwing her, hitting a wall instead of her, screaming instead of choking, these are all good things to do and you aren't less of a man if you've had to do them.  Still, we have to learn not to have to do them and we have to understand that all women have been through them or worse.
     So that's the dirty little secret of those of us that say not all men; at one time or another yeah, probably all men.  However, if it were just men scaring women sometimes before walking away and leaving them unharmed there probably wouldn't be much discussion of it.  Some men don't walk away, though.  Some men take pride in scaring women, hurting women, treating women as prizes to be claimed and objects to be used. What should the rest of us men do about those men?  We shouldn't tolerate it.
     When you see a man in a bar harassing a woman, pushing up against a woman who clearly doesn't want his touch, say something.  If you hear your neighbor's wife cry out in pain during an argument call the police at the least.  If you hear a friend talking about how he's going to tap that ass or how he did tap that ass don't act impressed instead point out to him that, that is more than an ass.  Even if during an online discussion someone calls a woman a bitch or a cunt speak up or remove that person from the discussion if you can.  Respect women and demand that the men around you do too. That's what we can do.  That's the least we can do.
     I was lucky enough to be taught that a man respects women and I'm teaching my son the same thing.  I was taught that a man who doesn't isn't a man and I'm teaching my son the same thing.  I hope I'm raising a son who will be able to walk away before even throwing the purse but will still be able to step between that guy at the bar and the woman he's harassing.  I said masculinity was a confusing thing and it is but not on this topic.  We should not do this to women because we are men.  We should do our best to see this not happen to women because we are men.
     That's our only acceptable response to #YesAllWomen, men.  It is to say we understand, we are sorry, and we are going to do our best to change the world so women don't have to feel this way because #WeAreMen.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Fear of Loneliness

     People are scared to be alone and they do stupid things because of it.  They get married, stay married, move, have sex, return to an ex, go out with someone they know isn't right for them, get engaged, get drunk and hookup in bars, all just because they're desperate not to be alone.  Mistakes both big and small are made just because of the fear of being by themselves.  I have friends and family that are doing all of those things right now, some are doing more than one of those at the same time, for no other reason than that they're scared to be alone.  They try to convince themselves that they have better reasons but deep down I think they know the truth.
     I've never understood it.  I don't enjoy being lonely.  I don't think anyone does.  I don't get fearing it, though.  I'm not going to change myself or my life just to be with someone especially if that person isn't the right one.  If they person is the right one they won't expect me to change myself or my life.  We'll help each other improve ourselves and our lives.  I guess I just think it's logical that being alone is better than being with the wrong person and I don't understand how anyone else can see it differently.
     I like to try to understand things I don't understand, though.  So I've been searching for an explanation as to why people do these things.  Most of those who study such things attribute it mostly to a biological imperative to be social.  The survival of our species depended on us developing relationships to aid and procreate so they think that there is still something deep down in our DNA that drives us to desire relationships and makes us afraid of loneliness.  It's hard for me to buy that though.  As the days when we had to fight for survival have become longer and longer ago we've left many instincts and fears behind.  Why would we hold onto this one?
     Others claim that the fear of being alone is mostly a product of our modern environment.  They say that living in close quarters, social media, the internet, and many other facets of modern life have not just fostered an expectation of being with someone, and being in constant contact with them, but have actually made people afraid of loneliness.  They also say that our culture is built to support relationships and that can cause those that are single to feel shunned or outcast.  This sounds a little more plausible to be but it doesn't affect me much.  Probably because, while I pay a lot of attention to the people around me, I'm often oblivious to the world around me.
     So I still really don't have an explanation as to why the people around me are so afraid of being alone that they make tremendous mistakes.  I guess it's one of those things that has a thousand different causes and those causes are slightly different for everyone.  I do know one thing about these people in my life though.  If they're reading this right now they're wondering if I'm talking about them.  All I can say is that if you're wondering if I'm talking about you I probably am talking about you.
     It's nothing to be ashamed of.  It's something to realize about yourself and deal with better than you are but it's nothing to be ashamed of.  At least, I hope it isn't because all of those things I mentioned that people do out of fear of being alone; I've done them all because I'm afraid of being alone.  That's really why I seek to understand it.  I recognize that most of the time nothing good comes from acting out of fear of loneliness and I'd don't want to do it.  Maybe if I could understand it, maybe if we all could understand it we could keep ourselves from making those mistakes.
     I'm doing better too.  I haven't made any of those mistakes lately but that could just possibly be because no one wants to make those mistakes with me.  I still want to understand it though so I don't struggle so much with it.  Sometimes I'm close to understanding too.  Nights like tonight, a day after my son went to visit his mom for a while and when a date flakes out on me, I feel that loneliness so deeply and fear it so much that I almost understand it.  I sit outside by myself and stare at the night sky and I almost understand why I'm scared to sit outside by myself and stare at the night sky.  I can feel it so deeply that I almost convince myself I have an understanding.  I don't though.  I think the fear of loneliness just might be like love; the more you feel it the less you can truly understand it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thirty Questions

     Just for fun,and to keep myself awake so I actually make it to work in the morning, if I could ask just one question of various people here's what I would ask them.

Barack Obama
     What is Michelle like in the bedroom?

Stephen Colbert
     How often do you give the Colbert bump to yourself?

Derek Jeter
     What do you think about the fictional diaries of yours that Mark Lisanti writes for Grantland?

My dad
     Looking at your dad, yourself, and your children, do you think it's fair to say that awesomeness skips a generation in the family and if so how do you explain your grandchildren?

My mom
     One does not question my mom.

Stephen King
     If I had the chance to look Stephen King in the eye and ask him a question I wouldn't. Instead, I would kidnap him and force him to write books just for me.  If he tried to escape I would break his ankles.  Eventually he would develop Stockholm Syndrome and together we would kidnap George R. R. Martin and force him to finish the Song of Ice and Fire series.

Abraham Lincoln
     What was Mary Todd like in the bedroom? (She wasn't exactly a looker like Michelle but you know what they say about crazy women and sex)

     How can you call yourself a feminist and still make such sexist jokes?

Steve Jobs
     How much does it amuse you that you were called a genius simply because you figured out that a business can make money by making cool stuff, having it all made by cheap Chinese labor, and then marketing it well so you can charge far more than it's worth?

Anne Rice
     How hard has it been trying to reconcile the side of yourself that is fascinated with human darkness with the side of yourself that was raised Catholic and also what are you like in the bedroom?

Shigeru Miyamoto
     Is it possible for me to inhale your essence and absorb your staggering creative poweress sort of like a real life Kirby's Adventure?

My son
     Where the hell is the remote control?

Lebron James
     Do you ever wish you'd became a ballet dancer instead of a basketball player?

Jesus Christ
     Does it amuse you or depress you that so many of your followers get so bogged down in semantics that they forget about your central philosophical tenet of loving one another and also what was Mary Magdalene like in the bedroom?

     Do you really think this is funny?

Stone Cold Steve Austin

My cat Simba
     How often do you think about killing me in my sleep?

My potential dates
     How much more unlikely does reading this make you to ever go out with me and what are you like in the bedroom?

     Can't you go a little longer without using sex as a crutch for your disabled sense of humor?

Seth MacFarlane
     Was the secret to repeating a joke over and over and still making it funny?

Hank Williams Jr.
     Why must you live out them songs that you wrote?

My brothers
     What has life been like knowing that you can never match the wit and intellect of your younger brother?

Mark Twain
     How pathetic do you find this weak attempt at humorous writing?

My exes
     How often do you find yourselves simultaneously wishing you could sleep with me one more time and wondering what the hell you ever saw in me in the first place?

My friends
     How embarrassed are you by me?

Albert Einstein
     If God does not play dice with the universe how do you explain the existence of fart apps on smartphones?

Hulk Hogan
     Whatcha gonna do, brother?

     If all the world's a stage can you speak to the director for me about giving me a better role?

Tom Cruise
     How do you feel about being a name I picked at random just so I could call the post Thirty Questions and also what are Rebecca De Mornay, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, and Katie Holmes like in the bedroom?

     You just couldn't resist beating that dead horse one more time, could you?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Conversation About What I Want in a Woman

I had an interesting conversation with a friend tonight about what I'm looking for in a woman so I thought I'd share it here. I've removed most of their side of the conversation and any details that could identify them to protect the innocent. Also, to save their reputation from being known as my friend.

Them: What would you describe your type of woman as?

Me: Intelligent, creative, sexual, challenging.

Them: What does challenging mean to you?

Me: Someone I can know but not completely figure out. Someone that is comfortable disagreeing with me. Mostly though I could probably say complex as truthfully as I say challenging because I don't want some that bores me. Or maybe strong. Strong and complex equal challenging I guess.

Them: I think that's a good explanation of your definition of it. And it sounds like you have a good sense of what you want

Me: Something I didn't mention is a sense of humor. You'd think that would come with intelligent and creative but it doesn't always. When I get comfortable with someone the smartass in me comes out and I like a woman that at the very least can deal with that and hopefully participate in and appreciate it. How would you describe your ideal partner?

Them: I think I'm looking for a lot of the things you mentioned. Complex, but compassionate. Also interesting and funny. My ideal partner though.? No idea.

Me: I don't know if anyone has an ideal partner anyway. I try to be open to different people because they may be something I never knew I wanted in someone until I met them. More than anything I just want someone I jibe with. Someone that gets me and I get them. I guess in a way when I describe what I want I'm really describing how I see myself.

Them: I agree that you don't know what you want until you find it sometimes. And that it's not necessarily fun to be with someone who's very simple and doesn't provide a challenge.

Me: This conversation is interesting. I hope you don't mind if I turn it into a blog post.

Them: Blog post? I don't mind. I'm interested what it'll be about though.

Me: Mostly just a transcription of this conversation. It would be about what we're talking about. Basically it occurred to me I just did a lot of writing and some of it was interesting.