Some randomness for you today. I have internet at home now, so I will be able to get on line and blog a bit more again, but having said that, I find myself busy/preoccupied with life, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
So driving home from work yesterday afternoon, I stopped at the gas station in Harvey, New Brunswick. I saw a snow man, in a pick up truck. A couple of local lads got creative and mildly inappropriate, but it is only a snowman, so whatever. This snowman had a big hard woody! Yep, a snowman boner!
I’ve never seen anything like it and I had a good laugh. Of course, I had to get a picture. I reckon that’s pretty fucking funny!
It is calm. I am feeling composed, relaxed, balanced and happy.
Previously, it was as if I were a boat on the ocean, battling heavy seas.
Now, the clouds have parted, some welcome sunshine has filtered through, and the morning light is gently caressing calm seas once again.
Relief, that’s the main feeling. Contentment. Happy in my own space, happy to make new work colleagues, to be able to contribute without shadows of speculation and resentment being cast over my contributions.
I am free to engage, to enjoy, to rejoice in the simple things. To pat a friend or colleague on the back, to give some good feedback to others, to say thanks, and to let people know that I really care about them. Because, I really do!
I’ve let go, but in a good way. Let go of resentment. Let go of shame. Let go of the negativity that seemed to surround me and I was trapped like a shopping bag being blown around in a vortex of shit.
I realise that I was just hanging on. Using all my strength to tell myself that I could continue. Some days were really good in spite of the situation, and some days felt absolutely fucking desperate. It was like the rug had been pulled. I was angry. I was frustrated. I kept a positive outlook as much as possible in the situation and I did my best to not get dragged into the whole shit-pile, but in reality, that shit-pile was – my life! I don’t and haven’t blamed anyone else. Like I’ve said before, I was the architect of my own demise!
Life still has its challenges. Things will never be perfect. I can accept that. I watched a Ted talk recently that said that people affected by serious hardship, like a debilitating injury, and those who experience good fortune such as winning the lottery end up at the same place, after a few months, in terms of acceptance and who is happiest. This is counterintuitive because we all think that of course, winning the lottery would just about assure happiness – with all our ‘real’ problems put aside by having lots of money. Right?
Without getting into pop-psychology, the evidence would suggest that those who go through challenging and life altering events do adjust, and are generally content to accept, perhaps even find happiness in their apparent misfortune. I’m not suggesting I’ve suffered misfortune, just saying that the recent events of my life have certainly been challenging and life altering.
For a rough a journey as it has been, I am better for it. Stronger, more self assured, more independent and less resentful of the situation that surrounded me. What I learned is that people will accept you. Ok, some won’t that’s ok. But people will, if you open your heart and be genuine and sincere, no matter who you are.
Hi Bloggers, Sometimes I like to put a musical theme to my blogs. Today, it is ‘More Than’ by East Coast indi rockers from Nova Scotia Wintersleep.
Ok, lets get down to some catch-up blogging. So, living in Fredericton now. Crazy amounts of snow. It’s somewhere between really beautiful and serene, slushy and can be a pain in the arse. I was last living in Saskatchewan, and out there, it often got too cold to snow for extended periods, as well as being in the middle of the continent, it just got a bit less snow. But New Brunswick is coastal. All that ocean moisture is sucked up and dumped along the coastal parts on a regular basis here.
How am I doing? Glad you asked. I had a birthday this week, now I’m 43 (eek!). Work is going well – a great bunch of people. I am learning French. That is a steady process and I’m determined to stick with it until I can string at least a few sentences together. I’ve met some really nice people. NB people seem to be quite friendly which is nice. I joined a gym, I have kept up my work out routine and I swim once or twice a week which is a nice change.
I can feel comfortable in my hot shorts working out too – its always a bit scary going to a new place when you put it out there like I do. I’ve also gotten used to wearing my ergowear mens swimmer tight boxers. They are um, what’s the word… contoured, no. Um, accommodating, yes, made for the male form, yes, aerodymamic (they offer ZERO resistance in the water because there is no loose material to ‘flap around etc). They are basically a boxer tight with a package sock (that protrudes rather than is covered up – hope that makes sense!). Imagine swimming naked. That’s what it feels like! Its like someone took a can of blue lycra and sprayed it on my arse and package. Viola! I love them 😉 I realise that paragraph might appear out of context for new readers to my blog – forgive me, I’m human, and very sensual!
I have an apartment down town. I can walk out my door, and be at a small but well stocked grocery two blocks away, the cafe’s are about 3 blocks away. The library is about a 20 minute walk away. My gym is 1.4 km from where I live.
I rode my bike to gym today (uptown girl – I blogged about her here: Uptown Girl). The temperature was about -8 C. A light snowfall of fast falling light snowflakes was coming from the sky. On the ground there is maybe 5 cm. My bike handles pretty well with the studded snow tires, but occasional (actually, all the time in fresh snow), I find my front tire doing a sideways thing while I wobble the handlebars in what must look like an impromptu bicycle dance routine (complete with long black tights, cause, its me!).
I am yet to eat the pavement but I’m sure at some time I will. Just hoping I don’t dislocate a jaw or fracture and elbow. Geez I’m making it sound bad, but really, riding on ice and snow with good tires is surprisingly easy. It’s just the sandy snow mixture that is a couple of inches deep that gets a bit sketchy.
I walked to the library. I put in my powerbeats3 headphones in (thank you J) and stepped (strutted/shashaid/worked-the-sidewalk???) on out of the apartment. I had Wintersleep in my ears. Feeling good. I was doing some hand movements along with the beat. My hands were doing things. It was like an autistic expression of movement (no disrespect, I am not autistic but my son is so I sometimes like to emulate the gestures, it actually makes me feel good sometimes – kinda like its instinctual, and helps me connect with him on some level (bless you my son, I love you special man!). I felt like doing a little dance at the cross walk, but the sensible adult person inside me said ‘don’t do a fucking dance!’
The library is one of those new modern designs. I thank the city for developing such a wonderful community space. The second floor windows are large – almost the full floor to ceiling is glass for much of the side of the building, and the view is of the Saint John river. An old bridge crossing, built of what looks like granite blocks extends in a series of pylons across the river, with the deck long since subject to demolition.
Large flakes of snow are falling. Cars go by on the road by the river. The soundproofing is such that you don’t hear them at all. There are a few people at the library today, it being Saturday. It is well patronised, but big enough to spread out in. Its not hard to find yourself a quiet spot and not feel crowded here.
possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men:
“handsome, muscled, and driven, he’s a prime example of masculinity”
synonyms: virility · manliness · maleness · machismo · vigor · strength · muscularity · ruggedness · robustness · testosterone
*** It’s all good, but, where is the sensitive, caring, open hearted, kind, loving, sensual part of the masculine description? Oh, that’s right, its not. Kinda the point, right? ***
So I just watched this Ted Talk – It’s Justin Baldoni, an actor who has been portrayed in lots of shirtless and sexy-man kind of roles. Good for him, right? Ok, so the topic of today’s blog is to explore masculinity, and what it means to me personally, and especially in light of the current media climate, and my own personal experiences.
It should be noted, that the Ted Talk was given in a room full of women. That’s relevant because the speech addressed women. Nothing wrong with that, it was a really good speech. Where I differ in my approach is that I am probably less ‘apologetic’ on behalf of all men for whatever has transpired through history. I can only be accountable for my own actions and I can only speak for myself.
I will say, that while I’m not a card carrying feminist, I do believe in equality and all people should be treated with respect and dignity. All people. That includes men, and women, and the undecided.
Ok, so, in today’s society, the term ‘masculinity’ conjures up many meanings, and I’m guessing survey says its not all-good. But I’m here to take affirmative action, to balance the ledger so to speak. A few of the general connotations of perception of men these days might include:
Violent against women.
Unmentionable and questionable conduct in relation to children – especially those in positions of power or authority with access to children.
Disproportionally remunerated in relation to women.
Consumer and supporter of porn.
etc. I think you get the gist of what I’m saying.
Well, here’s what I’ll say about it. Its a bit like shark attacks or bears in the woods – both are much feared but really the actual instance of shark and bear attacks are wayyyyyy fewer than one would expect based on our fear level and cultural expectations around shark and bear attacks.
But, (bear with me ladies), that doesn’t jive, because, I have people close to me in my life who have been (will be, and are being) subject to harassment, and have been abused in the past. Therefore, it could be argued that to dismiss these realities is not reflective of other’s experience.
What I’m saying is, the media reports, and the 1% of men who provide these experiences, cannon fodder for the media and feminist crowd, do not represent the 99% of decent guys out there. Or, maybe I’m in denial, maybe I’m kidding myself, and maybe 99% of men are inherently bad, and 1% have no balls? There I go perpetuating the current media storm.
Ok, I realise that this is going to bring and avalanche of feedback from the #metoo crowd. I understand that, as women, these things happen, and are real.
I have a daughter, and female friends. I don’t want them to be victimized or harassed, period.
Further, I, me, moi, have been perceived as a harasser, a creep, a sleaze, even though, maybe I was not aware, and maybe I was niave, and maybe I was nonchalant. On occasion my actions may have been totally benign, and misinterpreted, while on other occasions, you can bet that I wanted to get something from an interaction from a female, because, guess what? I’m a man. Duh.
If men never pursued women, the species would discontinue, which kinda suggests that harassment on some level is a biological instrument of reproduction. If you have ever seen a stallion go nuts about a mare you know what I am talking about. Again, clarification, there are obvious cases that are just inappropriate. Goes without saying.
To be honest, I’m not even sure what constitutes a general male/female conversation, where flirting starts and ends, and what constitutes harassment. In a confusing sort of twist, the rules seem to be it’s harassment, when a woman says it is. The definition would probably be something like ‘if the attention is unwanted…’ etc. Fair enough.
Ok, you can say its obvious, but really, it’s not. I don’t grab anything I shouldn’t, and I don’t hassle females for the sake of gaining anything, so I think my activities are quite respectful. In fact, I know they are, but its been a learning curve. I guess based on the modern media shit storm, and my own personal experience, I err on the side of caution.
So, what’s the implication of that? What is the effect of that on individual men, and boys in our society? From my perspective, it adds up to a whole lot of guilt and shame. I think that is a kind of sad indictment for how a man or young man should feel.
Here’s a news flash. While we are men, we aren’t all bad. Really.
You don’t have to go far to get sensational news, and feminist propaganda, though.
Enough #metoo already! Please.
Here’s what I’ll say. I like being a man. I like feeling sexy. I like to engage with other people – men and women, and for the vast majority of times, if you are respectful and polite people will respond in turn with equal favour.
For the men out there, here’s what I want to communicate:
Be a proud man. Whatever you are.
It’s ok to be gay, if that’s what you are.
It’s ok to cry, when you need to.
It’s ok to talk to other men – time and a place of course, about what is important to you. Open you mind and open your heart. You will be rewarded.
It’s ok to feel sexy. In fact, I enjoy it and encourage it!
It’s ok to be sensual, in whatever way makes you feel good.
Dress the way you want.
Do the things you want – cast off the shackles of traditional masculinity. If you want to take a sewing class, write poetry, become an aerobics instructor, you go, boy!
It’s ok if sometimes you feel like you are crumbling under the weight of expectations as a man – the protector, the provider, the strong one. We all have our weak moments, and that’s ok.
So in the process of moving, I found a picture of me! This must have been about 1978, or so. I was born in 75 so I figure I was about 3 or 4 years old here. So it got me thinking, if I had to ‘write a letter to my young self’ what would it say? Here’s my attempt…
Hey little man, what’s up? You have no idea of the shit storm you are in for! No, I’m kidding really, you’re gonna have a lot of fun out there. One day, you’ll be approaching 43, sitting in a café in eastern Canada, typing a letter to yourself, which is going to be posted on a blog – It’s an internet thing, don’t worry you’ll figure it out.
So, um, what can I say? Good luck out there. Go with an open heart, and an open mind. Be kind to yourself, and others. Stand up for what you believe in. You’re going to go through a lot of stress and anxiety, but please, let it go, it will not serve you well.
Be true to yourself. Be who you want to be. Travel wide. Love with all your ‘lil heart. You will drift from your family, but don’t drift too far. Family is very important to your identity and even if you are frustrated at times, know that they mean well.
Sometimes, you are going to have to tow the line, to fit in, to just do things because others say you should. Often this is due to social norms that are developed over many generations and sometimes there are very good reasons for these and sometimes they are just stupid conventions that you are going to have to accept.
Don’t be afraid. Be cautious, be aware, but don’t let fear hold you back. Some of your best life experiences will come when you just let go, of fear. Step out of your comfort zone, and be brave, be bold.
Remember that while what others think of you is important, it does not define you, and you will never please everyone. Do your best to be the best you that you can be and allow others to accept you as you are, or leave you be.
Live without regrets, but take heed of your learnings. Its a fool’s endeavour to make the same dumb mistakes more than a few times! You will make plenty, it’s all part of the experience.
Take care, young man, one day, you’re going to be me!!!!
I’ve posted about my bikes before. I couldn’t be bothered finding the link, it was about 10 months ago or something. You can go find it if you like! Its in my archives somewhere.
So, I moved to New Brunswick, and I have three bikes. Given that its winter, (I’ve always avoided winter biking in Canada on account of the ice and snow and frost bite potential etc), I was not thinking about biking.
But something changed, maybe something in me, maybe it was seeing other bike nuts around town. Maybe it was just that I’ve moved, and the moving process helped me see my ‘old bike’ in a kind of a new light.
I was trolling the odd bike shop looking for some handlebars. I wanted those kind of laid back bars that go on bikes that are kind of retro, that seem to be the rage these days. The frame is a 1992 Giant ATX 860. I bought her from Joe’s Cycles in Mt Isa, North West Queensland back in ’92 (like, the other side of the globe!). I am the original owner, and we’ve never been apart.
She kind of took a back seat, so to speak, while I had affairs with my other two bikes, one being a road racer that I enjoyed riding in triathlons, and for pleasure. Then, I had a new love – a Kona Cinder Cone. Geez, I love that bike. If you must know, that bike has a masculine identity. If that makes me bicycle bisexual, I’m good with that!
Ok, so with a new set of handlebars, and a new seat, and some winter studded tires, I have been falling in love with my old gal, once again. I even gave her a name – Uptown Girl.
I swear to god every time I look at it, hop on it or think about her, that song by Billy Joel comes into my head. As I’m peddling away, this is what I hear (in my head):
She’s been living in her uptown world
I bet she’s never had a backstreet guy
I bet her momma never told her why
I’m gonna try for an uptown girl
She’s been living in her white bread world
As long as anyone with hot blood can
And now she’s looking for a downtown man
That’s what I am
And when she knows what
She wants from her time
And when she wakes up
And makes up her mind
So the time has come. The removalist packers were in today. This is happening – now! I went to eat tonight and despite having food in the freezer and fridge, I have no cutlery, or knives and forks. I found myself heating up a frozen veggie packet in the micro wave and a frozen pizza. I don’t even have a tray for the pizza!
I ate by hand, opening the veggie packet up a bit and shoveling into my mouth with fingers. It felt mildly stupid and a bit primal. I had to cut the pizza with my cheap knock off leatherman tool. At least you can feel relatively normal eating pizza by hand.
Tomorrow, the delivery truck will arrive early, and my furniture will begin it’s cross country journey to the Eastern Provinces. I found a place to live last week – a Victorian era two bedroom apartment that used to operate as a lawyers office, and more recently as a quilt shop. It’s got lots of character and history.
I talked to the T bird by phone tonight, it seems we might finally be moving towards making things amicable, but we will wait and see how things pan out. I also talked to my squids. It was nice to hear their voices. Sometimes, that’s enough, that’s all I need.
So snoop dogs, or ‘Sally D’ as I like to call her can’t come and live with me. I will be sad to give her up but I won’t be living in a house with a yard so I am finding her a home locally. She’s a real sweetheart. The removalist packers were all like ‘oh you’re giving your dog up? I’d love to take her… etc’ She melts every heart that she meets.
Ramble on – Led Zeppelin
Leaves are falling all around
It’s time I was on my way
Thanks to you I’m much obliged
For such a pleasant stay
But now it’s time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way
For now I smell the rain
And with it pain
And it’s headed my way
Ah, sometimes I grow so tired
But I know I’ve got one thing I got to do
And now’s the time, the time is now
To sing my song
I’m goin’ ’round the world, I got to find my girl
On my way
I’ve been this way ten years to the day
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams
I don’t cry often, but when I do its normally a big kind of relief. With all the changes in my life I have felt a whole spectrum of emotions – from resentment, to guilt, to shame, to embarrassment, to anger, to love, to lust, to feeling inspired, energetic and optimistic, to the lowest lows I have experienced, such that I have been genuinely fearful for what I might do such was the feeling of rejection and hopelessness.
But don’t worry – this is not a helpless, depressing post, it’s one of release. Healthy release!
There is no one singular theme here, its been an ups and downs kind of a ride. In short, I feel more open, more myself, and more content at this point than I have in years; even if it has essentially cost me my job, contact with my children, a lot of money, and a tremendous amount of turmoil.
In my time in Montreal, I visited the Basilique Marie-Reine-Du-Monde. From the outside it’s impressive, but not really beautiful, at least in the way I like. On the inside, it’s simply magnificent. High ceilings, paintings in every corner and ceiling space, carved columns, and statues. I’m not particularly religious, but I was really taken by the impressive interior. There is a main area where the priests deliver the sermons, and its a four column masterpiece of sculpting and design.
I stayed for the service, ate the flesh of Christ, and took a moment to take it all in. I was overcome by the beauty of this place, and the sense of loneliness I experienced in that moment. I shed a few tears, then took a seat on one of the side pulpits. That’s where I really opened up. I sobbed. For a good long while. The nice thing about churches is that people leave you alone, to grieve or worship or do what you need to do. I probably wept for a good 10 minutes there.
I let my tears fall – a lot of them, onto the marbled floor at my feet. It felt good, knowing that a part of me, would be left there in Montreal, in that sacred space.
Afterwards I took a candle lighting stick and lit two candles. I wept openly. Some other people were doing their own thing – lighting candles or whatever. I found an enormous freedom in letting it out, and I was not ashamed to cry openly.
Now I have the feeling of having resolved some of the immediate issues in my life. I feel like the storm has passed, somewhat. I really needed to let it all out, and the Basilica was the ideal place to allow myself that space.
If there were a themesong for this blogpost, it would be High and Dry by Radiohead. Not really because I feel left high and dry so much as its just poetic and beautiful, because its Radiohead.
Here I am, experiencing life, yet I have made no reservation. It’s like when I turned up in Fredericton this week, no reservation, no idea where I was going to stay. I’d come looking for a place to live. A few days in the city. It was cold. A cold snap. Jesus it was cold. But then, everywhere in Canada and the northern US is experiencing some sort of a polar blast right now.
I parked the rental car in a sort of snowbank-cum-parking lot at the front of the hotel. I didn’t have a reservation for the rental car either. I wasn’t sure if I had made one, so I asked at the first counter. ‘No, we are sold out, have been all week’. She said. Uh-oh I thought to self. Luckily, the second counter had cars to rent. Would have been a long walk into the city.
I slipped and sloshed on the snowy ground as my boots tried for purchase on the uneven surfaces. A gentle breeze more akin to a slap in the face with a bucket of ice whisked past me, maybe more so through me.
I was greeted by a very enthusiastic guy at the Crowne Plaza, actually the first hotel I came across – just about any hotel would have done. I had flown across Canada that day to be here. Luckily, there were rooms available.
The guy was very friendly, and soon he was joined by a work colleague and they both seemed unnaturally happy to be receiving a new guest. It was nice. They referred me to some pubs and I got a card to play an hour of free pool at Dooly’s.
No reservations. That’s how I like to travel sometimes. It can turn out great, and it can be a cluster of disappointments and turn-aways. I’ll take my chances!