Angie

I don’t like dwelling on the past any more, mostly because it’s too easy to do. I spent a lot of time thinking about crushes, about embarrassing moments, about past failures, and eventually I decided it wasn’t healthy and I tried to do less of it. However, once in a while the past will leap out and take me by surprise. This song reminds me of an ex-girlfriend, and it surprises me I still miss her.

I met her at a friend’s Halloween party, on purpose. My friend’s girlfriend was trying to set me up with one of her friends. I thought I had already blown it, because a year previously I had backed out of our tentative date to go out with another woman (it’s not normal behavior for me; besides, usually it’s all I can do to have just one woman in my life). However, she came there that night knowing what she wanted: a hookup. I was blown away by her intense come-hither eyes, and I didn’t have all that much experience (I had only lost my virginity the previous year… yes, to the same woman I had gone out with instead. Believe me, I never heard the end of that.). She seduced me – not a difficult task really – and then a week later after seeing her a few more times she was surprised when I started thinking we were going out, but she was happy.

We weren’t really good for each other. We had love, at least initially, but I wasn’t really ready to be a father to her son from a previous marriage, though I kept awkwardly growing into the role until I loved him. We were both a bit jealous of each other in terms of trust in the relationship (I learned so many lessons in that relationship I should have learned earlier in life), and we were both very stubborn when it came to arguing. I feel that I can at least compromise though; she seemed to have a need to never lose an argument. None of that makes me miss her less when I remember our love though. For all the many crushes I had, she was real. She accommodated my awkwardness, she got into my hobbies, and she could be very sweet when she let her guard down. My friends remember her less kindly, and as I said, we weren’t really good for each other in the end. Right now I miss her though, even though it’s been a few years. Even though I’ve had a few dates between here and there.

vulnerability
masked in pride
you tried your best
but you didn’t hide
from me;
you said bitter things
when our parting came,
but when I remember
I recall smiles
aquariums, renaissance fairs,
my fingers in your wavy hair
passion’s heat
in the tide of your sea
kinder words you spoke to me

and well I know the tide has turned
the water under the bridge that burned
you’ve cut your ties and now you’re free
you won’t be drifting back
to me
but life is just moments, and it’s no less true
to write a poem for the memory
of you

Cupid’s sense of humor

So, I have an OkCupid account. You don’t know what a strange thing it is for me to say that: I was resistant to getting a cell phone, I waited until 2006. The only reason I have a MySpace page or a Facebook account happened because of women I was interested in; both of those websites I was also late in arriving to. I still don’t have a Twitter account and I doubt I ever will unless I get famous for some reason (I almost always have more to say than the character limit).

So, Cupid’s arrow seems to have a sense of humor. I have looked at quite a few pages and have probably sent out about a dozen messages to different girls so far. My inbox consists of: responses from a friend, and two women that I didn’t try to contact whose entire first message consisted of this: “Hey..”

Sure, I’m glad to have gotten any interest at all, but it seems funny to me since a lot of women on OkCupid have a bold warning somewhere on their profile to this effect: “DON’T MESSAGE ME if all you can say is “Hi” or “wassup beautiful,” if you can’t string a sentence together or think of something to say then this isn’t going to work.” I wondered if there were really that many men who are worse at interactions than I am, but being on the receiving end from women of the same greeting type, I’m inclined to say both genders have their (un)fair share of awkward people (I dread to think they’re just dull).

I gave them the benefit of the doubt, since I know what it’s like to experience that level of awkwardness in face-to-face interactions, and maybe I’ll meet one of them sooner or later. Subsequent messages have also been spartan though, offering little extra to launch a conversation with. My hopes are not high.

Is this a trend, people of the internet? Are people so used to blitzing text messages that a one-word opener is normal since you expect to answer in one- to twelve-word bursts every few seconds? I’m more of the letter-writing type. If this had been an instant message system I wouldn’t be so perplexed by it.

Perhaps now simply isn’t the time, and I’m strangely OK with that. I secretly suspect one of two things: 1.) women want a man who is employed and fully supporting himself; or 2.) mentioning video games or Dungeons & Dragons has scared some of them off. I’m not going to misrepresent myself so I don’t see the situation changing greatly until I graduate. Who knows though? Hope remains as I go about straightening up my life.

Time’s arrow flies
– fun irrelevant –
but only pricks you
once
Cupid’s arrow
– logic irrelevant –
repeatedly strikes
the marrow of
this dunce

if these two archers
had a contest
– an era or a day –
I’d bet that Cupid missed his mark
but hit more anyway;
for Time lets loose a single shaft
to pierce the veil of years
while – caterwauling – Cupid’s targets
erupt in smiles and tears:
he loads ten arrows on at once
and cares not where they veer

but if I chose between the two,
from Cupid or Lord Time,
I’d go with Eros even though
Chronos is more sublime
for I’d rather break a hundred hearts
– and a thousand times break mine –
than see lonesome eternity
along a perfect line.

disregard this post
a madman came running by
breath like Valentines

insidious meh
coiling around my ribcage
don’t settle now: wait

Man, lest ye be judged
avert your heart this autumn
or fall with the leaves

capitalist cad
turns and lingers at her door
money equates dates

stainless steel wristwatch
you cruelly count my mistakes
and match graying hairs

they grow spring flowers;
summer’s heat is ignored, ’til
the first frost arrives

Gender

Something I have given a lot of consideration to is gender. It is a strange topic in that it occupies both the physical world of natural law, and yet it also exists as a set of cultural concepts. Humans may be the only animals capable of stepping back from our instincts and asking ourselves, “Why should men act one way and women another?” I applaud our curiosity and our ability to be more than hormones and meat, but I wonder sometimes how successful or happy we are in doing so.

Of course, the cultural aspect of gender may have had some faulty perceptions for a long while. I find that men, at least as much as women if not more so, are governed by their emotions. Most guys I know are fools for love. I won’t say that girls aren’t, but I have noted that women seem to have better restraint in logically analyzing a relationship. This observation of mine goes against the cultural stereotype that women are more emotional while men are more logical. There is enough inconsistency in my observations that I might conclude men and women are on equal footing in this regard.

If you pictured a random guy and a random girl in your head, which one would you say enjoys horror movies? My first thought might have been the guy some years ago, but experience shows me that a lot of girls really love horror movies, perhaps more than guys do. Personally I like a horror movie if it asks significant questions about human nature or existence, but to entertain myself I would prefer comedy, fantasy or a romantic movie. What I’m getting at is, these aspects of personality may be entirely divorced from gender, and if they aren’t, my experience has been that they aren’t what you’d expect.

So, if I run with the hypothesis that men and women are not that different and don’t act according to conventional wisdom, this leads me to wonder why masculinity is such a touchy subject that isn’t called into question more. Feminism has been going strong for a while now, and the concept of femininity has been looked at in-depth for decades. It seems to me, though, that a lot of men aren’t comfortable asking questions about what it means to be masculine, and if they ask the questions they aren’t comfortable discussing it; indeed, it is the feminist movement that has been left to answer this question.

What do I mean by this? A girl can be named Sam, she can wear jeans, she can play sports, she can like horror movies more than romantic ones, her favorite color can be black (or any other shade) without any real repercussions socially. Now, if I told you a boy was named Jennifer, that he wore dresses, cooked and sewed, loved romantic movies and his favorite color was pink you would probably counter that he was gay. What if he wasn’t? What if he didn’t even feel transgendered? A straight guy, identifying as male, who was as I described Jennifer above. If you’re very open-minded, you would probably say that’s fine or even inspiring. However, realistically a lot of close-minded people would give this man a lot of grief socially.

Why has feminism been working for women, while men are mired in a rapidly diminishing masculine definition?

I say diminishing because feminism has been working so well that women feel free to borrow anything they want from traditional “masculine” roles. Men don’t borrow the same way from “feminine” roles, at least, not at the same speed. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the influx of things that are acceptably “feminine” are eroding the number of things that are acceptably “masculine” if men aren’t willing to broaden our definition of what it is to be masculine. I think of masculinity as a stubborn island that is gradually washing away into the sea of femininity. All we would have to do to is either 1.) get rid of the demarcations “masculine” and “feminine” entirely, 2.) start borrowing things from feminism and allowing them to be masculine, which may eventually have the same effect as #1, or 3.) do nothing and watch as our inability to accept change gradually destroys us.

I think our top-heavy male culture of rich white conservatives has skewed some things in a very weird way. For instance, attractive women (whatever you perceive that to mean) are used in advertising everywhere: “sex sells.” Sometimes I see men used the same way, invariably as an equally unattainable image: the muscle-bound, chiseled-jaw model. This is beginning to change, but the change is slow. Anyhow, my point here is, since rich white men are in power, we tend to idolize the female form culturally. This has repercussions not just for the female ego, but also the male ego. While women are trying in vain to attain an unrealistic physical form, men are internalizing this: “Women are beautiful; the male form is icky.” We see body hair as an embarrassment, and subconsciously the idolatry of the female form has (I would argue) another effect: my male body doesn’t flare at the hips, my body doesn’t have shapely breasts, therefore… my body isn’t beautiful. A lot of men will call my idea absurd, I’m sure, but the same thought process that happens to women subconsciously happens to men.

Really, the only part of a man that’s allowed to be beautiful in pornography is his genitalia. I very seriously wonder if this is why futanari hentai became popular, the combination of the female form with the only part of the male form that is considered beautiful. Women may stop me here and tell me the male form is beautiful, beard and all, but I’m talking from the man’s point of view. The body worship our culture gives to the female form is having a weird backlash in ways we don’t want to admit. Art used to give ample time and attention to the male form, and that was probably healthier (art also used more realistic female forms as the basis of beauty before the Victorian era, but that’s another article).

Now I’ve really said too much, but these thoughts clatter around my head and seek outlet.

a lonely night:
I scoop out too much ice cream
snuggle into a blanket
watch “The Decoy Bride”
to feel better about reality
and dream of past
– or never-been –
loves,
as my heart aches.

The Northern South

For those of you who don’t live in the eastern United States of America, my state Kentucky considers itself a part of the South (that’s a capital S, yes). This has to do with the American Civil War, even though that happened about, oh, 150 years ago. The thing is, Kentucky was a border state… for the Union. Sure, our loyalties were conflicted and there were groups of Kentuckians who fought for the Confederacy, but I find my state’s connection to the South just a little amusing. If you look at a map of the United States, you’ll see that Kentucky is not really all… that… southerly. Frankfort was the only Union state capitol to be captured by Confederate forces, though (very briefly, mostly to be snarky).

I live in the northern Bluegrass region of my state, where we are, in actuality, more like Ohio than the south (blasphemy, I know). This area was settled by French trappers a long time ago and we’ve never quite been like the rest of the state ever since. Louisville is more like Indiana, for that matter. Yet these facts do not diminish the sense of connection I have to the South, oddly enough. Lynyrd Skynyrd, cornbread ‘n grits, pickup trucks, country common-sense wisdom, these are all a part of me despite what I told you just above. The influence is powerful, elemental almost, and it reaches all the way up to the northern bluegrass of Kentucky. I love the folk aspect of my state, I love that I can look out the window or drive down a street and be surrounded by trees, I love the space and familiarity afforded by a small town. Even though I didn’t manage to be a simple man as the song would instruct, I can appreciate the message and get the song stuck in my head for days at a time (hence this post).

Queen Anne’s Lace graces the highway
that lazily flows through the hills like a river
shaggy trees overcome with life
unabashedly bare their manes, barely quiver
in the breeze.

pickup trucks float in this river as boats
taking wide turns to go easy on the dog
who rides in the back like an emperor, head high,
his chariot surveying the wind

the town winds down around 10 PM
as the shadows stretch out and the money wears thin
to journey these roads in embrace of the night
is a Zen master’s moment of pure, calm delight

steel guitar drifts from an open window
as a voice croons of loss and patriotism
I accept the conservatives of the land I love
despite my best judgment, reality’s schism
is part of us

would that a blue moon could cure our ills
or that a fried chicken could pay our bills
or that running horses would bring us respect;
for all of our flaws, though, my heart would select
this land:
I sing Kentucky.

college

So, I started back to college this week. I may not update as frequently as I did during the summer, but the desire to write is still simmering within me.

I’m never quite sure how old the people around me are; I’ve never been a great judge of age. There is a real chance that if I like someone in one of my classes, she might be about 20 to 22. Now, that’s not too much of a gap when I’m 30, but I’m beginning to feel the difference. You know, not growing up watching the same television, not remembering the same music, etc. Of course, in this day and age there are a lot of folks going to college non-traditionally so I’m not alone in that regard. I just have no idea who is what age.

Does it even matter that much? Well, kinda-sorta-no. I prefer the confidence of someone who has already made some mistakes and has been through a couple of relationships, but the young 20-somethings have their perks. Sometimes an energetic solar flare of emotions can be intoxicating. Unfortunately, a lot of young 20-somethings are doing just that: getting intoxicated. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I don’t even like parties most of the time. Of course, there will be some introverted souls who aren’t like that… I am really rambling right now.

So! I guess I’d better get my ass in gear and get done with college before I start feeling any older. It isn’t just relationships or the lack thereof; it’s the worry that all of life is passing by while my hair gets a silver streak. The worry that past failures may become future failures. I must think positively. I must stay on top of things. I must be good to myself.

Wish me luck.

College:
concrete bannisters
fourth-story stairwell
locked doors, glances
an 18 year old girl with perfect 80’s rocker hair
don’t stare
parking permits, asphalt
my fault
books, classes I should have passed before
the company store
familiar faces, professing light:
oh, it’s Mark again
the not-so-prodigal son returns from night
to darken the campus once more
I’d make it out to be a war
but it’s only the ticking
of bio-clocks
and hopes, and doubts,
and mismatched socks.

Chainmail Bikini

in response to http://ronscubadiver.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/renaissance-festival-women-in-chainmail/

on a preset day
in present times
we gird up for war
of the fairy-tale kind
and indulge our dreams
in a PG-13 way
as the sun bathes the skin
on a summer’s day

I’ve seen black tape
crossed in an X
beneath a thin mesh
on a nubile chest;
in medieval times
she might have been stoned
for enjoying her image
or wearing armor alone

yet correct – sometimes –
as anachronism seems
I can’t help but smile
at our modern themes
and enjoy the fact
that our world is not theirs
that a girl can enjoy
a stainless brassiere

these battles will only
take place in the mind
so an unguarded midriff
in this case is fine
we haven’t known famine
we haven’t known plague
a break with tradition
is more than okay

so break out your elf-ears
your bright faerie wings
peacebond your weapons
and let the bard sing;
celebrate freedom
of a fantasy shared
wear whatever you want to
and be unimpaired.

Blockade

In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition there is a spell (printed in the Complete Scoundrel) that conjures up a block of wood 5 ft. on a side named blockade (they tend to use italics to indicate spell names in those books). The spell tickles my fancy, and even though in practice I didn’t end up using it as often as I thought (because most enemies use melee weapons rather than ranged ones), along with grease it has become one of my favorite 1st-level spells. I like spells that have versatility and perhaps a touch of humor about them.

However, the blockade I’m facing for my other blog is less amusing to me: writer’s block. Y’know, the more you decide something is, the fewer other things it can be? I’m beginning to feel like I’m painting myself into a corner. I have the cheese review line of articles, which I’m not willing to give up, yet to continue to get it to grow I need better access to cheese (and more money wouldn’t hurt). I have plain ol’ writer’s block for the Around the House humor articles; I had an idea for one the other day but I wasn’t near a computer or paper and I can’t remember what it was now.

I’m faced with the decision of how many ongoing article series one blog should try to support before it gets meaninglessly broad and difficult to follow, or if, in fact, it would be OK to write singular articles that don’t have anything to do with an entire series of others. Perhaps that’s exactly what I should do, I just wonder if I throw too many things into the Musings that it will lose all sense of cohesion and clarity. Then again, there seem to be some folks who like the journal, and it really has no cohesion whatsoever aside from a poetry theme. I’ve even considered starting a plethora of separate blogs, but the idea is unappealing for some reason.

Hrrmmm. Well, speaking of which, let me re-write an old poem of mine from memory that obviously mirrors Mending Wall by Robert Frost. I’d guess I wrote it sometime around 2006.

Mending Blog

Something there is that doesn’t love a blog
that sends the frosty eye-roll over it
and casts the catchy titles as no fun
and leaves gaps even two can mock in jest
the work of spellchecks is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
where they have left not one “to” as a “too”
but they would have the feelings out of hiding
to please the whelps with blogs. The gaps I mean,
no-one has seen them made or heard them made
but at friendship mending-time we find them there
I let my buddy know beyond the ill
and on a day we meet to say “we’re fine”
and set the blog between us once again.
We keep the blog between us as we go.
To each the hardships that have fallen to each
and some are nice, and some so flatly stall
we have to use a spell to keep our patience:
“Stay where you are until my heart’s returned!”
We wear our fingers rough with typing them.
Oh, just another kind of online game,
one on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the blog:
she is “just fine” and I am “emo” brooding.
My “emo” rants will never get across
and eat the joy within her eyes, I tell her.
She only says, “Not now, try someday later.”
Love is the mischief in me, and I wonder
if I could put a notion in her head:
“Why wait ’til someday later? Isn’t it
where there is pain?
But here there is no pain.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
what I was shutting in or shutting out
and to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a blog,
that wants it down. I could say “Elves” to her,
but she’s not elven-sprightly and I’d rather
she just be herself. I see her there
bringing resolve grasped firmly by the top
in each hand, like a tutting grandma armed.
She moves in darkness as it seems to me –
not of hearts only and mistakes to leave.
She will not go beyond the social saying
and thus afraid (for once before, she fell)
she says again, “Not now, try someday later.”