Archive for May, 2011

the pace of our Days

There are too many big thoughts to be thunk.

There are too many dreams to be dreampt.

There are too many quiet moments to be soaked to keep on livin’ the way we are.

The people that want to live their lives well find that they are stuck between rocks and hard places and tunnels and caves, pidgeon-holed into the pace of our days.  No coffee, no love-making, no living tried-and-true.  Just drudgery and emails and “I’m sorry” to go around the table with too many chairs and not enough food.

Can a parakeet nest or a book finally be read?

Fish swim in circles and people do to, but we don’t expect fish to do anything but swim in circles and people expect each person to make laps of the world—continents not excepted.

Turn out the lights and let me lie—or lay or lie (as in not tell the truth).

Two things I have asked for:

1. Keep deception far from me

2. Feed me the food that’s my portion

Who hears the Amen?

Can my phone even find the moon when it's face to face?

Can my phone even find the moon when it's face to face?

Going After the Players

Yesterday a friend sent me an intriguing article about Yale University’s disciplinary action against a fraternity promulgating a “hostile sexual environment on campus” for women.  I won’t bother summarizing it for you, since a quick scan of the actual article will probably prove more useful.  But what I emailed to my friend in my thank-you response was:

It really encourages me that the symbol of white male status in America (Yale) has taken such a clear and extreme stand against their entitlement mentality (“No means yes”) on behalf of women. This kind of cultural shift is paramount to addressing the root of exploitation.

In that moment, I was so proud of Yale.  I was proud of it for making a big deal out of something that most people might consider innocuous—chanting at a fraternity meeting.  I was proud of it for erring on the side of the severe instead of the side of the lenient when dealing with an issue of sexual threat.  I was proud of it for publishing its disciplinary action—that I found out about it from the NYTimes!

With{out} Make-up

With{out} Make-up

As a woman, I have noticed in my own life that I permit (without reason) certain jokes and advances of sexual hostility in men.  Why should I laugh when a man I hardly know jokes about sitting me on his lap because there are no more seats available in the room?  Why should I accept the tight squeeze in greeting from men that haven’t earned the right (interpersonally) to put their arm around my waist instead of extending a handshake?  Why should I smile along with the group’s plans to get a free drink if I wink at the bartender?  Each one of these scenarios rests on the fact that I as a woman am expected to say “yes” when I want to say “no.”  That I as a woman should be comfortable with being a physical object instead of a moving force.  That I as a woman must learn how to do these things to “make my way in the world.”  And not only I as a woman—-men are also expected to play this game of objectification.

Women are “born knowing” how to play the game, and as such any “skill” they accrue is uncredited.  But the excerpt below is from a blog article on being a better bartender, and it showcases the expected behavior of objectification especially well because it is an action guide from one man to another man (or woman).

Some people think that there is only a certain type of person that has the confidence to talk to the opposite sex, and to talk to them in “that special way”. This isn’t necessarily true when it comes to the drinkslingers of the world – we all have to be at least a little outgoing or we wouldn’t have got the job in the first place!I love to make a girl feel special when she’s at the bar, because hey – she might give you her number. A good way to get into the habit is to have an “alter ego”, someone that is’t accountable for their actions by the light of day. You see this all the time when girls do the Hooters for Shooters, to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. So there’s Me when I’m doing the laundry, walking around the city, and writing for your entertainment, and then there’s Bartender Me, when I’m the cheeky sonovabitch that isn’t afraid to ask for a kiss as payment for that round of shots! A bartender is able to get away with a little more than a “normal” guy at the bar; you shouldn’t be afraid to take this opportunity to flex your flirting muscles! Practice your wink, look into your customer’s eyes (no matter which gender, it implies trust and confidence) – provided it isn’t sleazy, it can speak volumes. [italics mine]

With{out} Glamour

With{out} Glamour

I added the italics because I want you to see the schism that is forced into society, down to the deepest level of an individual psyche.  The schism is between behaving as a person (agent of action) and an object (to be used by another person).  Of course, there are levels of gratification, use and abuse that move back and forth.  The bartender gets better tips when he performs the part of a sexy Romeo; and the customer gets the pleasure of using said sexy Romeo in their own private narrative of conquest.  But beyond the momentary utility of being an object, the act of objectifying either another person (“No means yes”) or yourself (“No means yes”) ultimately divides us from our Selves (agency) and confuses our sense of personal integrity (wholeness).

I don’t want to split myself into parts.  I didn’t audition for the role that our culture has cast for me.  So, in short: thank you, Yale.  And thank you to all the other men and women in America who let our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no.

Parakeet Love

She was so cute and alone in the big parakeet cage at PetsMart.  Bright white, little blue spots under her wings.  A sad, bedraggled, please-love-me aspect.  My younger sister was with me and campaigned vigorously for the tiny thing’s rescue.  Luckily for them both, I had been hoping to bring home a friend for Moxie, my pied parakeet.  And the lovely black deluxe cage was on sale, too.  Damn.

BIjou: Jewel

Bijou: Jewel

Bijou was a skittish little thing.  She and Moxie timidly conversed from across my bedroom during her quarantine.  After about a week, I decided to introduce them.

Moxie was beside himself!  (Yes, I discovered that my earlier suspicions were born out: Moxie was male.)  It was love at first sight, quite literally.  Cooing and clucking and nuzzling and all made of PDA that made my sister exclaim with surprise and laughter.  I chuckled and realized I had graduated from being a parakeet owner to being a parakeet breeder.  Damn.

They spent about 72 hours courting before I let them move in together for good.  They settled into a darling routine of preening, playing, pecking, peeking, and—I’ve run out of p words to describe this parakeet love.  They are cute enough together that they could probably invent another twelve words to describe the nuance of their interactions.

So far, my one complaint: their midnight, 2 a.m., and 4 a.m. games of tag.  Perhaps Moxie is being a bit forward after lights out; perhaps birds simply get bored after two hours of sleep and have to spend some energy.  In any case, I am back to wearing earplugs.  Damn.

Today I looked up how to build nesting boxes.  “Damn.”

The Power of Proximity

In our hyper-real world of interconnectivity, constant access, and unlimited resource (theoretically, almost practically), there is still something that hasn’t changed: proximity means everything.  There is still real distance between people–experientially, emotionally, politically, and all other -lys; we simply have more means at our disposable to manufacture closeness.  (And don’t retailers and lobbyists love this!)

Ten texts per day.  Five emails a week.  Two voicemails a month.  One long, late-night phone call.  It doesn’t take much to create proximity—especially because all those mediums are now conveniently in-hand 24/7.  But, it isn’t the medium that makes the most difference: it’s still the consistency.  Consistency imitates presence.  It exudes an aura of nearness.  If I call you once every three months and we talk about life, love, and the Universe, it may, in that moment, feel like the most intimate friendship.  But if I call you once every three hours and we talk about the jerk that just cut me off in traffic, the bad dream that kept me up last night, and how my parakeets paramour is interrupting my home-office conference calls—that, my friends, is intimacy.  We all want to be heard.  We all want our voice to matter for something.  We all want to be listened to—most especially when what we have to say is embarrassingly un-profound.

the power of proximity: touch

the power of proximity: touch

I think that’s why “hanging out” still trumps the flash mob; why dropping by unexpectedly or crashing on someone’s couch still trumps a pre-paid vacation; why lots of witty tweets about the “nothing” of life garners a huge following; and why your “closest friend” is still the one that drives your drunk self home at the end of the party.  These are the moments when reaching out through text, talk, or touch we find someone on the other side; and the person who is on the other side of our reach the most, they get the most of us.