Tag: life

That’s Life. And, It Isn’t Easy

Can we all just get over ourselves a little bit, and admit that life, and relationships are not all black-and-white, or uncomplicated? It doesn't matter what gender you are, or the gender of those whom you love, and/or have sexual relations with. We've been trying to figure this all out for probably well over a million years, and we're just not there. Society changes, the rules change, perceptions change, and with that, we need to make evolutionary level changes to who we are, and how we approach situations with new rules, or no rules at all. It's not easy. It's not something that will change overnight.

Do we each as individuals have the cognitive power in order to make complete changes to our behaviors? Yes, most of us probably do. Can we always fight, and eliminate those instinctual, chemical, emotional responses hard-wired directly into our reptilian brains? No, we can't. And we prove that - everyone proves that, all of the time. Male, and female.

And when I say evolutionary level change, I mean just that. Everything about our sexuality, and the way we have relations with each other has been shaped over millions of years by both biological, and societal evolution, for both men, and women.

This isn't going to devolve into an expose of how women are just as bad as men in terms of how to handle themselves in relationships, or when dealing with emotions. Men obviously in most cases, through evolution, hold a significant physical advantage over women, which is all too often used inappropriately. Men, through socio-economic evolution also tend to hold a social-power advantage in most cases which also is exploited to their own gains. And while women don't frequently spend time cat-calling men (however, I have witnessed it), women do often more subtly, and less frequently, less subtly, do things that are also inappropriate.

I can only speak from a heterosexual perspective. I have less knowledge, and no experience in other lifestyles, orientations, and gender identities.

Regardless, the bottom line is, as a species we have developed these complex forms of communication, and social expectations. We've evolved into these complex beings with completely unique sexual patterns, and behaviors, compared to other mammalian species. We've developed social constructs such as monogamy, which may or may not work for some people, and shun those who don't follow it, based solely on our own acceptance of social, and more often, religious based ideology. We've failed to accept the true natures of our orientations, and what love, and sexual attraction mean, and instead impose social, and theological rules that go against these basic natures. As a society, we squash the sexual development, and maturation processes by sheltering our children from this basic life function, treating it as a taboo, preaching abstinence, and refusing to properly educate, meanwhile using sex, and sexuality to sell product consumption, entertainment, and glorifying it as the potential echelon of the human experience when done right. But who learns to do it right when we are taught to be ashamed of it, taught that it HAS to be THIS ONE WAY or it's wrong, or taught it should always be hidden away in dark rooms, and in private?

Modern day, boys learn sex, and relationships from porn. Girls learn from Disney fairy tales, and romantic comedies. In the most general sense, neither are close to accurate. We fill our heads with fantasies about the way it is supposed to be, and then life continuously fails to live up to those false expectations. Men want to be accepted, and have their sexuality accepted enthusiastically by their partner. Women want romance, and an attentive partner who will connect with her, and be that ideal mate. Men are taught to be soldiers, and warriors, not princes. Women are rarely taught to accept their own sexuality, let alone anyone else's, but are almost demanded that they wait for that "price charming" to come into their life before exploring life for themselves.

We have established rules: the men are the aggressors. They make the first move. They ask for the date. They initiate sex. Women are the sexual gatekeepers. They make the decision as to who to date, and who to mate with. There's pressure on both sides of that, which makes it an unfair dynamic, and an emotional minefield, especially when seeking some kind of equality. Men face the rejection, and most people can't handle rejection. It becomes easier to shout crass comments, and propositions from a moving car, than make eye contact, and face personal rejection, from a real person. Men are taught violence, and conquest. It is everywhere in our society (Media rules: sex is implied, and never shown. Violence in shown, and never implied) Men have always been the warriors, and what do warriors do? They storm the gates. They pillage. They take what they want. And as a man, if you don't see it this way, you're not a man. That is what society tells us. All of this translates into this "don't take no for an answer" response. Physical risks are acceptable - you're a warrior! Emotional risks? You're a man! You're not supposed to feel emotions! But men do, and it's an inescapable battle between disconnecting from, and being overwhelmed by emotional response that often clouds good judgement. You hear women say it all the time: "I wish he could communicate. I wish he could be in touch with his feelings." Men aren't usually in touch with their emotions, because they're taught that it's more necessary to NOT show emotions, and thus, not communicate. After all, 7% of our communication is verbal. 93% is non-verbal cues, often driven by emotional responses. Disconnecting from emotions means losing the vast majority of our ability to effectively communicate.

It's no better for women. Worse in most cases. Women are taught they're the passive participants in sex. Many are taught sex isn't even pleasurable, or their pleasure doesn't matter. Women are taught to wait for their prince charming, which denies them life experiences that would help them figure out who is the real prince, and who is the toad beneath a pleasing appearance. They're slut-shamed if they actually experiment, explore, and god-forbid, enjoy sex, yet shamed equally if they don't explore, or enjoy it. Ask a boy out on a date? The horror! They don't want to face rejection either, but on top of that, society reminds them to wait, and look pretty, and their prince will show up to sweep them off of their feet. All too often women end up in difficult to escape relationships, subjected to physical, and emotional abuse. 34% of women murdered in the United States are killed by their domestic partner. This is unreasonable, horrific, and nauseating, but so often furthered by that social message women receive that they should be able to change him, and if their relationship fails, they're a failure. Get married, and have kids - that is your ultimate goal, and those messages keep being perpetuated throughout our generations. Millennials now see headlines that accuse them of destroying everything from th napkin industry, to the population replacement curve, because their generation is desperately trying to protect their own survival in a world living by rules set by the generations before them. Rules that, in many cases, no longer work, or no longer offer sustainability. Women live their lives constantly on guard against this masculine, violence driven, social platform. It should be no surprise that once women have the slightest bit of empowerment to actually call men out for the things they've done, there is an avalanche of high-profile cases of abuse, and inappropriate behaviors. We've never truly taught anyone that these actions are not OK. They've become part of our culture, and what society deems acceptable, and what society has told women they should accept, becomes the accepted. No single woman dare challenge those established accepted affronts.

But collectively, they can challenge everything, even if change happens slowly. And within this collective power, women are starting to stand up, and say, "No, what you did was NOT right," by the hundreds.

Now, as a society, we're working more on educating, and social awareness. But after thousands of years of accepting what we've had, it is going to be a slow evolution into something new.

As I cite often, you only need to go back five to ten generations to find a time where sex, and marriage with people under the age of 14 was not only acceptable, it was a regular practice within most cultures, including our own. Our species might not have thrived, or even survived without incestuous practices, and rape, as we define it. Throughout history, women were often possessions. Wars were fought over the control of women, and today in our political climate, that is still happening. Even through the 20th century, once a woman was married she often gave up many of her rights to her husband. Most of this didn't change for women until the Equal Rights Amendment passed in 1972, and even after that, women faced sexism, and prejudiced practices - and still do. This was only 45 years ago; quite a short time frame compared to thousands of years of women not having equal rights practically anywhere. On a wider scale, what we consider the "Sanctity of human life" and assigning a value to all people is rarely seen the same in many cultures, and throughout history, has rarely even existed. Today, it still doesn't really exist except in some ideological political, and religious debates.

We're not going to change as a society quickly. There's no erasing the past, and if we compare what we want our current selves to be, with what we've been through history, we're always going to look really shitty in hindsight.

The human species is a very complex thing. We've disconnected from nature, and our natural selves, yet can't escape those violent, resource hoarding instincts that make us fight for dominance, and ownership, and power. We look for balances in things we consider moral topics; sex, procreation, drug use, healthcare, financial equity - while we create weapons to destroy our species by the thousands, and continue to support industries that we recognize as damaging our living environment irreparably. As Americans, we face the frequent threat of a mass shooting happening anywhere, anytime we're gathered with others. Night Clubs, concerts, church, at the bank. Yet our government waffles on taking any real action on this, but still focuses on if women should have birth control covered by private insurance...

Sex is implied, and never shown. Violence is shown, and never implied. Our acceptance of this is part of the problem.

We're segmented, and divided. And we've created, and approved of the very institutions that segment, and divide us.

We've outright refused to evolve, holding on to these outdated, and often irrelevant institutions, yet demand rapid change from each other as individuals without changing how we operate as a society.

This is not a rant excusing the misbehavior of men in terms of their sexual misconducts, or saying the bad parts of us are OK because they've always been there. But on a wider scope, I want this to ask the question, how do we enact the changes that would stop the misconduct? Does it start with the individual, or the gender, or society as a whole? Is there a better way to conduct ourselves in terms of relationships, and sex, or are we saying, "Let's cut down all the trees so we don't have anymore forest fires."

Fixing anything requires an understanding of the root of the problem, not just the symptoms. We can demand men treat others with more respect, and we can enact gun control legislation, but until we make fundamental changes in how our society operates on, and internalizes these systems, those changes won't quickly solve the issues we're currently facing. It goes deeper than that. We have to collectively stand up, and say that we will no longer accept what we have already deemed acceptable. Only as a collective society can fundamental changes occur, and be successful.

Unfortunately, the root of our current problems has grown from deep within our species's collective evolution. We're young. We're learning. We're just not there yet. We have a long way to go.

So don't judge each other too harshly, and keep transgressions in perspective. Forgive when you can. Live the example you hope others will follow. Communicate openly, and directly, and perhaps even more importantly, listen openly, and actively when others communicate with you.

Only as a collective society, everyone included, can we make fundamental changes, and evolve.

Five Foot Two

We watched the documentary on Lady Gaga yesterday, titled Five Foot Two. Turns out that was kind of important for me to see. It helped me realize, when filming a documentary, my videography doesn't have to be flawless. In fact, it can be downright awful, and still work.

I spent half of the documentary saying to myself quietly, "Please focus... please, just for the love of jeebus, please focus the camera..."

Funny How We Listen

Everyone who finds it, finds it in their own way. Everyone who expresses it, expresses it in their own way. But you don’t find it until open your heart, and open your mind, and allow your energy to guide you without allowing those social expectations, and preconceived notions of what life is, and what life should be get in the way.

Vent

It's a sad day when I can't even come up with a decent title for a blog entry. No clever word play. No playful word cleverness. Just bland.

I think once things settle from the movie production I'm going to lock myself in my house for about four days, and write. A screenplay. A novel. Something. What are the stories that last throughout the ages? The struggles of a common man against great adversity? An eternal love spun from the horrors of the violence of humanity? Abstract looks at modern life, love, and the challenges represented by coping with our humanity? Cannibals? Ancient Composers? Marathon Runners? Gladiators!

I guess the point I'm trying to make is comedies, and sci-fi never really win best picture, and comparatively sell fewer books. 50 Shades of Gray has sold 125-million copies of four installments, and it is complete crap. Likewise, Twilight has also sold 120-million in five installments. Star Wars, one of the world's most popular franchises, has had over 300 installments, by various authors, and sources, and collectively has sold 150-million. 50 Shades of Grey which is probably on an even par with trashy paper-back Romance novels ("...her breath quickened as Duke Remington thrust his purple-headed solider into her moist, yet trembling apple pie of love.") except less creative, and poorly written, yet out-sells what is now a Disney franchise by a generously conservative 6:1 ratio per installment. Meanwhile, Star Wars also lost out on Best Picture to the story of an amateur boxer given a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the title, and thustly, was pummeled mercilessly.

So where do I start? A half-baked romance involving a billionaire predator trying to get a college student to be his sex slave? A fake documentary about a woman fighting against social injustices highlighting the socio-political, and religious shortcomings of modern society? I certainly can't write a sci-fi about the intergalactic socio-political struggles of a young man following an ancient religion. Or, the story of a stand-up comedian who just isn't funny. Not if I want it to actually work, and be recognized as a good bit of writing.

Ideas?

Suggestions?

She Said

She said I'm wrong
I said I'm right
She said things are black and white
I said all things can be colored by perspective
She said I have a type
I said my type is people who can love
She said I love too easily
I said love shouldn't be so hard
She said I'm a fixer
I said only for what can be fixed
She said I like to fix people
I said I like to show people how they shine
She said I only love the broken
I said everyone is a little broken
She said I seek out the broken
I said those that need me find me
She said I'll never be happy
I said my happiness grows when others are happy
She said things will never be
I said seeds don't grow if you don't give them water
She said she can't
I said she decided she won't
She said it's impossible
I said she doesn't see the possibilities
She said she is broken
I said everyone is a little broken
She said she is tired
I said sleep and look forward to tomorrow
She said she's afraid
I said she has to face her fears
She said she loves me
I said I love her too
She said I love too easily
I said love shouldn't be so hard

Thank You

“Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wilde

My birthday was Monday, October 16th. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send your well wishes, and to answer back to many of you: Yes, I had a great day. I spent the first half of my day working on a movie, and the second half baking my traditional lasagna, and pumpkin pies, and enjoying it all with my children, my mother, and her husband, and the woman who helps me see the beauty in the world when our world seems to be lacking it.

And to those of you who wished me a happy birthday on Tuesday: all good! If you know me, you know how frequently I'm late for things, so I am far from qualified to hold that against anyone.

I share my birth date of October 16th with Oscar Wilde, the famous, and some would say, infamous author, playwright, and poet. Like many artists who are ahead of their time, the true scope of Wilde's fame didn't become realized until after his death in 1900. Among a controversial life, Wilde disrupted the Victorian societies of his time with brilliant stories such as The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Earnest, and An Ideal Husband. Stories which examined in their time societal morals, norms, hierarchies, and the hypocrisies woven throughout them. Although these stories were written well over a century ago, if written today they would be just as timely, but perhaps less controversial.

Birthdays are often a moment where we pause, and reflect on life. It seems as though most people look upon this reflection in judgment of themselves; their regrets, their mistakes, what they want to change going forward. Like the annual practice of “New Year's Resolutions,” there is a statement of ,“I begin truly living today!” that seems to take place for many. I have never sought to live an ordinary life, I have only sought to live fully. In my past I have let many things prevent me from doing so, but as I've grown, and matured, I find fewer obstacles within myself, fewer inhibitions, fewer reasons to not take risks.

Fewer reasons to not see the good that is all around me, and take in as much of it as I can.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

My reflection is not one of regrets. My life, like every life, has been filled with moments of wonder, and moments of despair. I have struggled, succeeded, failed, risked, lost, and continue to pull myself back to my feet, and push forward. I know I have never been perfect, but I cannot change my past self. I accept who I am, who I once was, and all of the growing that has occurred in between. I continue to work diligently to forgive myself for those imperfections, and sometimes the specters of past mistakes still haunt my mortal consciousness, and scream from their subconscious prisons. But where their voices are silent, I focus on living in the moment, and loving everyone in my life as deeply as I am capable.

Everyone that has entered my life, and that includes the many who have only been temporary tenants of my time, and energy, have taught me valuable lessons about myself, and how I create the world I live in. For that, I am grateful to everyone. And as a life lived, much the same as Mr. Wilde's, I intend to continue living mine to the fullest, through my passions, my love, my art, and my creativity, challenging the things that we accept in our collective lives, and hopefully, seeing the world change for the better before my time here is done.

My growth as a person continues. For my children, I will always strive to be a better father, a better guide, a better mentor, and the lighthearted, loving balance they need to deal with the grim seriousness that often envelopes us in our society.

For my love, and my inspiration, Cortney, I will always strive to be the partner that she deserves, give her the best parts of me, and do my best to reflect how she inspires me, and brings beauty into my world. As I once told her, she is both the Sun, and the Moon – shining a light to help others find their way, and reflecting the light of others when they cannot see how they also shine. For me, she is all of this, and more.

“You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” -- Oscar Wilde

What more can be said? I am looking forward to our every adventure together!

Many thanks, again, to all of you for your warm wishes.

Where Do You Go

Sunflower fields forever

We love to play in summer blooms
In fields of green, under a silver moon
With petals so bright
Shinning stars, and sun light
The bluest of skies
Her crystal blue eyes
Warm skin, warm within
A lover's embrace
Kindness, and grace

But where do you go
When the skies turn to gray
Empty fields where you no longer play
Scattered remains of happier days

Where do you go
When the colors all fade
Summer warm replaced by Autumn's change
When the wind rattles skeletons
Of those happier days

Do you still come to visit
When the sun goes away?
Do you still find the beauty
In these cold autumn days?
Do you still hold tightly
When everything has changed?

Where do you go
When winter's slumber begins
Eyes fade to gray
And the cold bites your skin
Will you still come to visit
And find the beauty within
A colder embrace
Less kindness, and grace

Where will you go
Until it is summer again?

A Story From Days Gone By

Sitting on a flight to Chicago. Flying United is like flying on a school bus…

Waiting for my originating flight in Montreal was a bit odd. There was no non-stop and at every gate CNN feed. Instead they had on a Canadian new feed that was mostly in French. I don’t speak French, at all… yet somehow it was still more informative than CNN.

Someone who will remain nameless… let’s just call him douchebag… asked again tonight if I could meet him in Chicago at 9:00PM when my flight takes off from DC at 9:58PM… logistics are so difficult for him.

It should be an interesting night… and tomorrow. Getting into Chicago late tonight and needing to be up early tomorrow for training. I feel like tomorrow is going to be a day of scrutiny against me… just the way things have been going for me lately. I feel like they’re looking for a reason… any reason, to shove me out the door from this contract. I’m still trying to solve the reason why. I have my suspicions, but I’ll keep them to myself.

Still, I think it’s funny. From the side of the contract I’m on, no one on the team has been doing this longer, or better, in my opinion.

The local sales rep commented, “I can’t believe how quickly and how well this whole project came together this week with no prior IT planning…”

“Well, they sent you the best they had…” was my only response.

And I sincerely believe that. Ok, that might sound a bit conceited, but those that know me know I am anything but. I will be the first person to be disappointed in myself. I have the highest expectations for me and falling anywhere short of those expectations is devastating to me. I have to do better.

But in this case, I am the best they have.

The attitude they’ve taken towards me lately has been more than discouraging in what has already been a very one-sided relationship.

Story of my life, I think.

Now to solve that problem. I don’t know if it will happen tomorrow, or Friday… but it will happen.

I’m set to embark on the next phase.

But the first couple days of this trip were pretty awesome. Montreal, a city I have always wanted to visit but have never done so. I need to make it a more frequent spot to go. Besides Melbourne and Sydney, this was by far the best place I’ve been. I think it’s the European flair and flavor that gets me. The narrow, cobblestone streets. The turn of the century architecture. The language… the people… the fashion… it was all so captivating to me. So much different than the little snow-globe world I grew up and have lived in my whole life in upstate New York.

Now granted growing up only a 15 minute drive from the Canadian boarder, the culture in Buffalo is at least a little more aware of Canada – the differences, the similarities… where it is on a map. Much more aware than the average area in middle-America at least. But the culture in Buffalo is still so much American. Rigid, self-centered, conservative…

Much different than what I have found the places I’ve visited and spent time in further north to be.

And I had a great time with the local rep for the vendor. Someone who actually said, “Hey, your first time in town, let me show you around.” Usually they want little to do with the contractors after the day is done. We went to a restaurant in old Montreal, spoke to beautiful women, watched a Canadiens’ game, had excellent wine. He taught me a little French and I taught him what a Jagerbomb was.

I actually had a really good time.

I was a bit worried about working with the guy after he asked me for the fifth time if I could fly in on Monday night, and I had to answer that Tuesday morning was the best I could offer, yet again. He seemed uptight about the job. I assured him we would be fine with one and a half days to finish what needed to be done. And, of course, we were. He was much more relaxed after the first day when he saw how quickly I could go through what needed to be done.

I’m pushing to get more jobs up there. With more notice and no trip to Chicago right afterwards, it’s a drive, not a flight. I can deal with that.

But I have to sort the issues at hand and get the jobs.

Ahhh… as Joe Walsh has sang, “Lucky I’m sane after all I’ve been through…”

Yeah, for the most part, life’s been good to me so far…

Ironic that I feel I can say that right now… it really is.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

November 20, 2008

Al Fine

The sky darkens around the edges
And the orange glow of the sunset
Blinds the horizon
Clouds cast in red and gray
Obscure the sky
And hide the stars
From lighting the way

The antagonist of my day
The dark night tempts
And mocks
Calling out
Begging for life
And making promises
That it never keeps

Glowing street lights
On empty streets
The distant flashing lights
And cars pass by
Never stopping
No one will take notice
And the lonely night
Will be the same
Like rewinding the tape
This part is played over
And over again

Fixated on what is not
Unable to find the change

The night passes by
And the cars never stop

As through a window
Looking into life
The observer ignores the glass
For what it is
The glares
Are not for want
Nor for pity
For a window when closed
Is only to keep out the bad
While the beauty of the world beyond it
Remains clearly visible

Yet the glass is easily broken
Or dirtied by the sands of time
Only then will the glass be noticed
Broken
Dirty
Failing to provide
A perfect view of the world
While sheltering those behind it
From all that is bad

And in the night
The dark and cold night
The shades are drawn
People turn away
For the glass can expose them

While the night passes by
And the cars never stop

Originally written June, 2008