Every Day is Precious Part 2

I am standing in the narthex of a church on the near west side, it has great big beautiful stained glass windows.  I am waiting to be seated by one of any number of tall dark Sudanese refugee men.  They are a large group of Lost Boys, assembled to support one of their own as he marries my friend who is an Italian American ELL teacher.  Suddenly a face I recognize appears and she tells me that I must come and sit with her and her siblings.  So I do.  They all hug me but the little boy who solemnly shakes my hand.  They rearrange themselves so that they are sitting with me between the two girls.  A coworker has brought them because their father had to work and the mom is remaining home.  They are beautifully dressed and I am sure that their dresses have been given to them by the coworker.  I am immediately impressed when I see the priest in a vestment that has the silhouettes of the traditional animals of this region appliqued to it.  There is a theme of nature everywhere in this church, and a banner that uses the pronoun SHE in reference to the holy spirit.  The first thing the priest says is that there will not be a wedding mass because  so many religions are present in this wedding, an unheard of Sunday wedding in a Catholic Church but he is doing this ceremony in celebration of these two.  He says and this impresses me so much, there is after all only one God.  HUH?  Wait.  He repeats it and then asks for agreement.  There is, he says ONLY ONE GOD, RIGHT?

He also makes reference to the amazing service work that each of these two are doing.  The Sudanese man with his Hope for Ariang Foundation and my friend in her service to the children in the ELL program.  He asks are there not those among you who have had special teachers, teachers who have inspired you? I am by the way repeating all of this in various terms to the children who are from Eritrea, to help them understand.  To the oldest I say, you have inspired me, you have been a teacher to me, you have taught me that even though the journey is so difficult sometimes, that facing the day with joy and strength every day is so important.  She smiles at me.  To the oldest I also explain, do you know how you walked so far to get to Ethopia?  Yes she says, well I tell her these men walked just as far, or even farther but you know that you have such a very good mother and father and they have led you and cared for you?  Yes she says, and I tell her these men are orphans, they walked alone without their parents.  She stares at me, her mouth open and asks me to repeat my words.

At the wedding I get teary eyed as they talk of the Sudanese tradition of not just joining a man to a woman, but also of joining one family to another.  I like this.  It is how it really should be.  And then as the bride dances with her father I get teary eyed again, no I start to all out cry.  And I see she is crying too.  I miss my dad.  And the stupid silly hopeless romantic in me is wishing I could have a lovely small sweet wedding like this one day.  Because I kind of missed it the first time around.  I eat the delicious Sudanese food, dance with a handsome Sudanese man who tells me maybe one day another wedding of an African with an American.  He tells the bride this later in my presence, she laughs.  I am flattered, kind of, he is at least ten  years younger than me, but my heart is taken.

As soon as I get home I begin to walk the dog and suddenly I hear beeping, and a car pulls up alongside me.  The driver gets out and yelling and calling out in joy she runs to me and throws her arms around me.  I kiss her many times on the cheek and hug her and hug her and she is laughing and hugging me so tightly.  See there are special teachers in everyone’s life who have a profound effect on their students.

Tia has taught me resilience and perseverance in the face of insurmountable odds.  She inspires me.

 

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Every Day is Precious

Gargoyle

He arrives right on time.  He has, of course a coffee, black the way I actually drink it, waiting for me in his truck.  His eyes are so beautiful this morning, he compares them to tiger eyes, but they are not like a tiger, more like a panther.  They are brilliant, golden shining things that I want very much to be looking at me.  It takes him forever to dress and I laugh at him and at my own life telling him how my father would whistle and pace when things dragged on too long.  I tell him I am there lets go, only I clap my hands and say chop chop princess you look lovely.  I love that he is a strong enough man to take being teased.  He has made me a leather strap to hold my brass tankard to my belt, the brass tankard I spent 3 dollars on at the Antique Show and that I spent an additional three dollars for brass cleaner.  I love how it is faceted and sparkles in the brilliant July sun.  I texted him earlier and told him I wanted a boot knife, he has pulled through at the last minute and brought me a lovely prop dagger that is perfect for my boot.  And I also am carrying a muskrat purse attached to my belt.  It was also at the Antique Show, but I did not buy it, instead he went back the second day without me, and he bought it for me.  Today he is dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow and the children follow him around running up to him and saying hi, and the young women blush and cover their faces and ask to have their photos taken with him while their young indulgent boyfriends look on.  And there are also the older women too, who smile with a saucy knowing look and ask for the same.  It is I behind the camera, pleased more or less because I see how it delights the pirate, and the ladies.   I love too that the ladies here dressed in their boostiers and corsets are like me, flirtatious and tossing innuendos out like fallen handkerchiefs.  Three of us most buxom beauties stand abreast, and our pictures are taken, it is a six pack.  We begin to talk to another Capt. Jack Sparrow, a young handsome version, and his father and their friend.  We end up somehow spending much of the day with them, walking away and meeting up again.  The rum, rum jello shots, and secret liquor is passed in silver flasks, try this.  MM.  Try this.

While I am waiting for the long line to pass where my pirate is waiting to obtain beverages, I a plate of pierogies in hand, I am talking to the group from the alternative Capt. Jack.  Are you going to eat those or just stand there holding them, one of them asks.  No I am waiting for my pirate, I say.  I am saucy with these gentlemen.  Flirting cautiously, innuendos abound.  They laugh and smile and one of them says you are a treasure.  Thank you I say, I just want him to think that.  He does, says the gentleman, he just doesn’t want to let on, because he is a man and that is how we do things.  We turn and his back is to us.  Ah I say but he does not glance at me from across the room, so I cannot be too sure.  I turn away.  And the man I am speaking to laughs and says he just looked over here.  I smile big.  Cool.  I say.  Very cool.  And when I turn again, he also turns and I see his panther eyes like the moon shining as he grins at me.

At the end of the day, our bodies are hot and sweaty and we are just a short drive from the lake, so we get in the truck and drive there, I change into my bathing suit in the parking lot, doing what I can discreetly and then he graciously holds a towel up guarding my modesty while he looks on with those panther eyes.  Perfect.  Absolutely Perfect.  The water is so refreshing it is not necessary to stay in it long, ten minutes and then we are on the beach passing the camera back and forth between us, taking pictures of the rocks, the driftwood and the sun as it is setting over Lake Ontario.

And here is where I place my hands on my face, covering my eyes before God.  I give thanks for this precious day, though it has not yet ended.  I remember so many years ago, having days like this, where I awoke early, laughed and grinned and had a most pleasant day, spent time in nature watching the sun set, and that feeling the one that you get when you have had such a perfect day is settling into me right now.  I am so thankful.  When I uncover my eyes he is looking at me, and he gestures for me to come to him, and I run in my muppet like fashion to be with him.  Eager for his kiss.

Later when he helps me bring in my things, he hands me a wrapped package.  And I take it from him.  I knew he had bought something, and he has teased me, not letting on more than the accidentally slipped secret that he had bought two items when I had thought he bought one.  I am unwrapping it expecting a zombie, but instead it is this gargoyle.  I am pleased beyond measure, even more so than if it had been a zombie.  I am touched, deeply, and as I look up from it to him, I see those golden eyes, sparkling at me.

And I feel like I am a precious treasure.

Processing New Information

The phone rings, I do not recognize the number, but when the woman begins speaking I know exactly who she is.  She is nervous and apologetic but I am myself wanting to put her at ease, as open as a french door with gauze curtains in the summer breeze.  Always.  We speak of the slow retreat of life to death, the small treasure of generations passing one on to the next, the desire, the will to heal rifts that are bitter wounds.  I plead my case with a kind of deep sadness that I know I cannot convey the depth of both my guilt and culpability, and also my pity and frustration.  She speaks of standing in my defense, the life that has not grown up, the life of not taking the responsibility necessary to do what is right.  Odd that it comes when the current events of my life, the constant questioning is so strong.  Like gravity in a dark star.  I struggle so.

Later as I am processing the old gloves, and shoes and jewelry and thinking of the blackened face of a raggedy ann, and thinking of books read and unread and of the slow shrinking of the body the crippling effects of scoliosis and the years lost to a bitter feud that leaves me always exhausted.  When will my view be seen?  For I have seen the other point, and yet still I am left with nothing but pity for it is view as though of a hairy spider, lots of eyes, emerging from under some dark thing, but it is not truth, though it is defended like a dragon at it’s lair.  And my own view, the one that says I could not support a child and a man.  Even though I did another man.  The one that says, I will not raise a child with drugs and alcohol and eating out of dumpsters.  The one that says why could you have not been a man when I was full of baby?  Why could you have not been a man even despite our agreements, why couldn’t you be a man when I needed you in my darkest hour?  Why must you always live in pride of your poverty of spirit, your poverty of existence, can you not see how your strict adherence to this poverty of heart has left you bereft of all you could have had?

I tell her of the struggles she has with abandonment.  The struggles that echo in my own life.  Always the bridesmaid, never the bride?  Always the cool chick, never the one you fall hopelessly in love with?  Always the evil one who has wronged you, when my own heart breaks a thousand times a thousand.  Always the one sitting on the front step in the darkness, the cool breeze blowing, I turn to my right and wish for a companion to be seated beside me.  Day upon day night upon night, the lonely days the lonely nights.  I am content as a grasshopper lands on the lit doorway, as a lady bug lights on my arm a sign of good luck and then lifts its beetle wings in the darkness and flies away.  But I want to rest my head on a strong shoulder and comment on the clicking of the bats, and how quiet it is as the cicadas rest.  Who do I turn to?  I am left alone.  I think of the footsteps prayer and wonder if God really is by my side, if he knows that my heart is in love.  As usual he has made my heart too big.  I cannot hate him for it.  I can only chastise myself for falling and not being brave enough to admit it.  I can only sit in the breezy night with my beer and wish for a person who cared enough for me to show up at my door in a surprise, to call me on the off days and tell me that they miss me.  To put their arm around me as I rest my head here.  And whom does she turn to?  She has never really had anyone but me.  And look at me?  What is to be seen here?  I know I am a good mom, a good woman, strong and brave and smart and creative and kind and generous and hardworking but for some reason it isn’t enough.  Just as for her, it wasn’t enough to be born, it wasn’t enough to ask and not receive, it is not enough for her to be expected to know and obey the will and whim of another and yet the expectation exists.  And still in the end it is her that is fatherless, or full of would be fathers who will not pick up the slack.  Not for her, nor apparently for me.

She is far away in the arms of her love.  I am here with my grasshoppers and bats and lady bugs and other flying insects, sirens blaring in the once quiet night, and then naked in my bed with a tear on my cheek.

I open my hands to the heavens.  I know.  I know.  Do not do with the expectation of result.  Ask you shall receive but be careful what you do ask for.  Be patient.  Accept what you have.  Be thankful.  A lifetime of doing this and not asking for results.  And yet still, a yearning for companionship.  Companionship that doesn’t come, or only comes sometimes, on someone else’s terms.  Never on mine.

I feel so so so sad.  This phone call has left me feeling like melted ice in a heat dried dusty lawn.  God please talk to me.  Tonight.  I really could use your advice.  And I really could use the strength of you carrying me for a little while.  Because right now, I am pretty sure, no one else really cares to.  It is the long and unending story of my life.

This is so much to process, particularly when I am so spectacularly alone.

 

 

Character Assassination

It all began with orange juice laced with vodka.  He probably first tasted it on the day he was conceived, before his brain had even formed beyond a one celled organism it tasted the feeling of being drunk, tipsy, altered.  His mother was swirling a glass of vodka with a splash of orange juice all on the rocks when she first felt the pangs of a contraction.  And when her waters broke one could not be sure if it was water or vodka that splashed onto the hospital bed.  She was well drugged and felt almost nothing, just the sensation that she was missing something, perhaps that vodka and orange juice or one of the cigarettes from her three pack a day habit.  She was born in a family in which the sweating pushing swearing violence of childbirth was hidden, fine well bred women didn’t do such things.  And from that moment on, this her oldest son was a resentment to her.  She never forgave him for the smudged mascara and the smeared lipstick, for the days away from her vodka.

He learned to sail, to play tennis, to speak proper and to behave like a gentlemen at the club.  But along with the exclusivity of his belonging there was a sense of never belonging at all.  One night while his mother in her diamond tennis bracelet and vodka perfume left him home alone in charge of his younger siblings, that she also resented.  His father in his boat shoes and izod shirt and pressed slacks, stood at in the door way while mother smoked her cigarette impatiently in front seat of their Lincoln Continental, take care of your brother and sister and call us at the club son if you have any trouble.  Okay dad.  And as soon as they left, the son walked to the ice box, took out a beer and took it to the sofa in the den he cracked it open and savored that first fizzy taste.  When his parents returned three hours later he was well into following mother’s path if not her footsteps, though his drink of choice would always be beer.

It was only one short year later that he stood crying at the exclusive sleep away school that his grandfather had attended.  His mother was disgusted with the snot and tears that had managed to get smeared on her coral suit, and his father was embarrassed by this teenaged boy showing emotion that no one of good standing would dare show in public.  But nonetheless they drove off leaving their son with his Samsonite luggage.  The idea was of course that boarding school would cure his drinking habit, but all it did was add marijuana and mushrooms to his diet of pain killing medications.  The beer was easy to get, the drinking age was still 18 and of course many of the seniors were willing to buy beer for the underclassmen, for the right price.

He met a girl from a very good family and secretly they became engaged.  His whispered I love you’s I want to marry you that came with the rock hard erection of youth, but was like a youth’s erection not just savored for the one he loved but was willing to rise for any occasion, or woman no matter whether she was his secret fiancee or not.  So when he went off to college he was engaged and told every female this small fact as he was unbuttoning his Levis, don’t get attached.  By the end of his freshman year he had decided to drop out, because he wasn’t earning enough money to pay for his case a day drinking habit.  He moved in with his fiancee, but within a year she had left him.  If you asked him why he wouldn’t be able to tell you, but he knew it was for his drinking.  In a pique he returned in the autumn of what would have been his junior year and tried to woo any number of the females he had fucked almost two years before, trying to sleep with at least one, and sleeping with at least two others in the course of a long weekend.  He returned home, packed his bags and moved to a Texas.  He called his female friends whenever he was drunk, telling them about the amazing life he was living, the famous musicians he had met, songs he had written and given to this singer songwriter or that, he met a woman and married her and she supported him while he windsurfed and drank his way through a short lived career as a silicone chip designer.  She worked for a big name computer company in a big position, they spent all their money on fancy guitars, sound equipment, a house in a good neighborhood and crack cocaine.  Soon he was spending all of his credit card advances on crack cocaine until one day when he purchased a large enough amount of crack from an undercover police officer that he found his yuppy behind in a jail cell and that is when the DT’s started.  When he was released from jail his wife had left him for another man, and everything he had was gone.  All he had to do was wait for the court appearance on a felony drug conviction, but instead he skipped bail and took a bus to the fine state of Idaho, where his sister was living.  On the way he had seizures, that were the harbinger of what was to come.

It was only a few short months in Idaho before the other thing he had inherited from his mother came to be in his life.  It didn’t help that he had destroyed his stomach, his liver and any large number of brain cells but the seizures had also weakened the latent brain aneurysm, his boss knocked on his door but he was naked on the floor paralyzed.  Three days passed before his boss finally called the police.  He spent the next several months in rehab, not the kind that took care of his drug and alcohol addiction, he always was able to find someone to bring him a tall boy, or a six pack of beer to hide in his dresser drawer.  His sister finally stopped talking to him because his incessant begging for her to sneak him alcohol wore on her so much she could no longer stand it.  If you asked him way she stopped talking to him he would tell it was because she didn’t want to take care of a cripple, but the biggest crippling he had was that beer habit.  He retained much of his charming well bred sociability but half his brain was gone, along with the dead hand and mostly dead leg.  His liver had abandoned him so long ago that it was no longer even getting junk mail.

He lives in a two room house, under a box wood elder tree, the floor is littered with boxwood elder bugs.  He drinks Black Velvet and beer, while smoking marijuana, his friends are all women who have lost custody of their children, who take pride in their Christianity while drugging themselves to death.  He drinks the cheapest beer he can find or Budweiser, taking his public service check, stocking his cupboards just enough to keep the social workers from committing him, and spending more or less the entire check in less than a week drinking himself into an oblivion until the money is gone.  The remainder of the month is spent, eating frozen pizza drenched in Lowry’s Seasoned Salt attended church services, and watching the same shows over and over again on rabbit ear television.  He carries a can of Raid in under his dead arm, spraying spiders and box elder bugs, what difference does inhaling the neurotoxins matter when he is already walking in the cemetery?  Four legged cane in his one good hand.  A once handsome smile on his face.

This kind of drinking deadens the pain of a life pissed away in a dirty beer can because he is too drunk to limp his way to the toilet.  He pisses in beer glasses at the beer garden, pisses his own pants because he is too drunk to realize he has to pee.  He falls on the ground outside his door step because he has forgotten how to unlock his door, he owns nothing it is only his pride that makes him lock the door.  He sells his seizure meds, and the pills that keep his atrophed muscles from hurting to buy more alcohol.  His female friends the ones who suffer and cry over the loss of their children as they swallow the handfuls of pills he gives them.  Stealing his money to buy more for themselves because he is too drunk to notice that it has cost him 50 dollars for a 12 dollar 12 pack.

It is easy to block out the pain of your life.  To drown yourself in your piss drunk life.  It is easy to blame others for letting you down, your mother for drinking to much vodka.  He lays in his bed, between binges of drinking, and his once spectacular erection is now but a flaccid lump in his boxer shorts.  He does not cry, he just listens to talk radio all night long, and hopes for someone to stop by in the darkest hours, with a six pack, or a fifth of BV.

This is a work of fiction, any resemblance to a real person is completely accidental.

Strong Women Rule!!

Strong Women Rule

I have finished painting the front door at least the outside part.  I will still paint the inside to match the living room, the soft butter yellow.  I added daisy curtains that once hung in the kitchen, throwing away the old, ancient almost, ugly lace curtains that came with the house.  I also am ready to paint the last little bit of shutter that I neglected to do two years ago.  Ahem.  OOPS.  The door needs to be replaced, but first the picture window with the bullet hole and the rotting wood, and the screen with the giant hole in it.  I am stressed for some reason almost overcome with an anxiety that I cannot name.  It is gripping me and I need to let it go.  I decide to take some of this intensity of energy and use it for something worthwhile, something other than the self abuse I do to myself, the self loathing critical voice that always runs on a low volume but when I am anxious, it shouts in my head.  I cannot quiet it.  (Honestly it has not been too bad for a long time but for whatever reason it has been bad for the last couple days (PMS?))  I rake out the dead leaves and sticks from under the rhododendron, clipping off all the maple seedlings that have planted themselves, weeding out the stick tights and weed whacking the last of the violets all leggy and ugly.  I also finally use all my strength to pull off the large broken branch of the arbor vitae that fell last summer.  I really need to buy a hatchet.  I trim off the weeping cherry variety (inedible) and some of the dead and leggy branches of the arbor vitae along the edge where the ivy is thick.  I leave enough of the thick rambling branches around the bird feeder to allow the birds to feel secure in their approach.  Now as I write on the back porch the male cardinal is sitting and looking at me from one of the branches I left intentionally.  There is sumac and more maple and one large oak seedling here hiding under the hedge.  I work to open up the area where the fence blocks the view, but leave the areas above 6 feet.  I like my neighbor I just don’t want her to see me picking at my nose or drinking a third beer.  Call me crazy but I love my privacy even here in the city.  I make a note to talk to Angelo about the ugly fence pieces, I would rather have something matching, than the three pieces of broke down ghetto crap that lives between our yards.  I am covered with stick tights, and something that is making my upper chest itchy, and I sneeze so loudly that the neighbor two doors down shouts God Bless You.

I go inside and sweep and clear away the sandpaper and wire brushes and scrapers, and hang my load of laundry on the line and as I stand hands on my hips, muscles shaking from exertion I feel good.  I am wimpy and would be embarrassed to have someone observe my grunting struggles with the brush, but I did it.  By myself.  And I like that.  I like that I am such a strong woman.  No I will never model in a short skirt, and nail polish lasts about five minutes on my hands.  But I shrug my shoulders.  But I am good with that.  I am good with this girl.  Even if it is hard sometimes.  Yes but there it that voice self critical, why do I even question it?  Ah there it is the rub.  Why do I even question it

Anger Eats Peace

It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.  ~K.T. Jong

A man in passion rides a horse that runs away with him. ~Thomas Fuller

I am like a horse with a bit in its mouth, chewing over the stupidity of my own mind.  I am angry.  I cannot help it.  I walk in the dappled sunlight that sparkles brilliantly through the long shadows of the trees.  I am cold and for a moment the leaf strewn spaces are white and there is nothing here but snow.  Then I am back to reality and I am breathing heavily and sweating in the windy evening.  I smell of bug spray.  My knee hurts and hurts worse as I step badly banging it against a tree that has fallen over the path.  I am not paying attention and I step badly and twist the opposite ankle as well.  I am like a lumbering animal, blind, stupid and ignorant.  I feel the weight of my body, yes if only I ate better or walked more or exercised harder.  Yes that’s it.  But angry I think and what of the if only’s in my own heart.  If only you loved me, if only you were as into me as I you, If only I were thinner, younger, if only I hadn’t spent half the afternoon torturing my stupid self.  I suddenly feel angry for how intelligent I am, this half assed smart enough to think, to wonder for the meaning, to question but not genius enough to have the answers or not care.  And not dumb enough to just go through life with the television on.  Mouth breathing.  Whom am I angry at anyway.  Myself, for all the stupid shit I chew over and over.  And what about meditation.  It helped right?  So why did I stop?   Lazy.

Even being here in this place, I cannot find peace.

Something Like a Perfect Day

I am pleased to discover that there is a pot of coffee made, and beside it a cup sitting empty, ready for me to pour my own.  It may seem rude that it is not poured for me yet, but since my arrival was not assured at any specific time, it actually shows sense, it will be warm still when I put it in the cup myself.  When I have finished two cups we leave and go to the Regional Market, buying rolls for our lunch, baklava, dragon fruit and a molasses cookie for me, a brownie for him.  At some point he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a jack-knife, he cannot know that that simple tool residing in his pocket is like a strange almost metaphysical thing, it draws me in and leaves me feeling right in my place.  It is so hot but he has of course brought water and iced tea and a ginger beer for me, all sitting in a cooler in the trunk.  We go to an Antique Festival, wandering around half the show before going back to the car to sit under the shade of a Cottonwood Tree and eat our lunch.  I tease him, without mercy, and he takes it, laughing and telling me to be quiet all at the same time.  I worry he cannot take me as I am, I tell him, as I point out a sandpiper on the shore of the river, I don’t want to give you all of me because I am afraid I will scare you away.  I don’t think so, he says, I don’t scare easily.

We stop by my house to get dry clothes, it is so hot I have sweat through my cotton capris, my tank shirt and my underclothes.  And then go to swim in the pool at his aunt’s house, after we are both hungry and eat sandwiches and leftover salad, and blueberries with vanilla almond milk.  He holds me close to him as we watch a movie, and I fall asleep in his arms, he rests his chin on my head and he falls asleep too.

I realize I have to stop now and maybe not blog anymore, because it is too much to share, it seems inappropriate.  But at the same time, I want it to be known, how far my heart has come in three years.   We sometimes say that people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps and move on already, but the heart is not a thing to be commanded, for if it was I would have left behind my heartbreak and sorrow a day after I was left.  If the mind were a thing to be whipped into submission, I would have beaten my mind to death with self criticism and wondering why.  I dream of him, his eyes wide open, telling me without blinking that he has not missed me at all.  You are cruel I say to the dream, callow, harsh and mean, and I say angry now, what about this one you “didn’t” leave me for?  Can you honestly say that is true, and he continues to lie.  I do not wake though and that dream hazily falls away as the night passes by moment to moment.  Dr. Cross said, everyone comes in their own time to heal, no one can tell you when it is the right time to be better, Morgan tells me, they say it takes one year to three to get over it.  One year to three and so I am nearly done.

But as I see the jack-knife flip open, and as I taste the last beer shared, and as I savor the coffee cup on the counter and as I feel the kisses on my sunburned back and as I hear the laughter as I bust chops, and as I turn and find his eyes on me, telling me without a word that he wants me to move closer to him, I find that I am done, wholly and completely.  This journey which seemed so difficult, and felt so impossible, suddenly feels so strongly like God’s hand and purpose that I cannot shake being thankful.  I put my hands over my face as the sunlight sparkles on the pool, and I say thank you God.  I turn to him and pat his hand and say thank you God.  I rest my head weary on my own pillow, alone in my bed, and I say thank you God.

What are you going to do with me? he asks, keep you. I say, and what are you going to do with me?  keep you. he says.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/08/the-lost-art-of-masculinity/

This article is wonderful I had to share it.

The Lost Art of Masculinity.

In the heart of the divorce boom (starting in the ‘60s, peaking in the ‘70s) a generation of women ended up parenting (mostly) solo, and a generation of boys ended up being raised (mostly) without a positive father figure, if they had one at all.

Maybe it was partially a reaction to “women’s lib” that lead men to feel less-than-needed. And maybe it was the grey flannel rebellion, personified by the whining tone of the dissatisfaction of the Playboy Men of the ‘50s, that lead women to feel fed up enough to stand up and say “To hell with this!”

How far back this winding battle for self-actualization as war-of-the-sexes goes is a question that can’t be answered. But irrefutably, while entirely necessary, the attempt towards some leveling of the playing field has resulted in some serious casualties.

In the absence of a paternal figure, an inadvertent, angry, faux matriarchy emerged; one that was bound by the confines of the walls of the home, because outside of the home all the old rules still applied.

But in the home, woman ruled. Boys (and girls) grew up with women, angry women, women who were (righteously) angry at men, as the alpha and omega of their young lives. The mother became the sole ruler of the world that is childhood.

A generation of men really did fuck up. They left, fucked around, used women and dumped them. Fathers bailed, leaving an abscess as often as an absence.

And the absence of men, of good men, of real men, of responsible men, left a nasty taste not only in the mouths of overwhelmed mothers, but of boys raised in a world of righteously angry women.

This group of boys would grow into men. Men who still had a bad taste in their mouths. A bad taste about men. Which is hard to live with; especially if you’re a man.

For these reasons and more, a generation (or three) of sensitive and careful men have had to struggle to reclaim their man-parts. And the women of that same generation have had to cultivate the ability to trust men who, themselves, don’t trust men.

The struggle goes on.

As women have defined and redefined feminism, femininity, the feminine, men have seemingly struggled to keep their heads above water in the shifting tides of what it means to find equality. We’ve all had to learn that equal does not mean the same, that sharing responsibility and control means both men and women can be strong and vulnerable, and that there are things – some perhaps genetic, but most almost certainly social conditioning – that women want, and things that men need to step up to.

Vive la differance!

These desired things have come as a surprise to a generation of women who were raised with slogans like, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” batted around. But under the stratum of fear and distrust lies a substrata of desire.

A desire to be desired. A desire to be seduced. A desire to be taken care of.  A desire to be matched and met. And, most surprisingly, a desire to be stood up to, while being stood up with and stood up for.

The Lost Art of Strength

Women want strong men. I’m not talking about a man who can bench press their own weight, I’m talking about men who are not afraid to say yes, and not afraid to say no. I’m talking about men who aren’t afraid to take control of the wheel when the boat is drifting off course.

Strength comes in many forms. And the kind of strength a woman is looking for in a man is rarely, if ever, showy or flashy. That sort of display is more often insecurity masquerading as strength. Yet, most women aren’t looking for the “strong, silent type,” either.

There’s a ground between aloof and overbearing. That’s where most women want to see a man standing. Better yet, it’s where she wants to see a man walking toward her from.

Women are tired of men who are scared to be men. They’re tired of playing mommy.

When a woman says, “You decide!”, she’s most likely not trying to trick a guy. She’s requesting that he make the decision at hand. Too often men of generations X and Y (and some late boomers) would rather say, “No honey, it’s okay. You decide.” In many cases this dynamic leads to the woman feeling like she needs to take responsibility for everything, and the man feeling disempowered. So if you’re a man, next time a woman says, “No, really, you decide!” just do it.

Once a guy gets the hang of that, he may even graduate to the level of being able to take the reins without first receiving permission.

That’s the lost art of strength.

The Lost Art of Chivalry

There was a time not long ago that a man opening a door for a woman may have been met with scorn. For most of us, those days are over.

News flash; it’s safe to offer to pay the check. Offer to take her coat for her. Offer to walk her to her car – not to cash in on a kiss, but just to make sure she’s safe. The kiss may just come naturally as an expression of gratitude.

Furthermore, a man shouldn’t feel afraid to protect a woman’s honor. There’s nothing as sexy as a man speaking up to defend a girl’s reputation.

Whether it’s a stranger, a catty bitch at a party, guy friends, or The Mom who’s speaking ill of the object of a man’s desire, he should decide carefully whose side to take. You can bet that the object of admiration will notice when the chivalrous man admiringly corrects someone’s misconceptions about her personality, attributes, or intents. Not only will she notice it, she’ll remember it fondly.

This attitude should not be abandoned once a man is safely ensconced in a relationship. These proper niceties will go a long way in making a woman feel safe, taken care of, adored. And all of these things are likely to lead to a sense of more stability and more freedom of expression and actualization in any relationship.

The gallantry of a fully expressed man is without compare, and that fully expressed masculinity becomes attractive rather than threatening when a woman knows that her man would not only lay his coat over a puddle for her, or raise his voice to defend her, but that he’d put his body in front of hers to protect her.

The Lost Art of Romance

There is no study that can prove whether men or women are more romantic, but I know very few women who feel that their man is too romantic. Besides, for most of us, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing!

A woman is likely to do a million little things a day to take care of her man. They may be things he doesn’t even notice. She’ll offer subtle romantic gestures like reaching out for his hand when walking side by side. Touching his neck while he drives. Stroking his arm gently while engaged in conversation.

It’s just plain courtesy for a man to offer his lover the same. When he pays attention to her, she notices. If he strokes her, she’s likely to purr.

But it’s the larger gestures that make most women melt; a candle-lit bath drawn for her without request. A massage without the expectation of return. A gift offered for no particular reason. A public display of affection. A surprise romantic celebration of a day that’s special to her.

Needless to say, some of these may be scary to try to pull off. But everyone, male and female alike, wants to be treated like the most important thing on earth every once in a while.

We all want to be someone’s everything. More over, we all want the one who is everything to us to show us that we are everything to them.

Reclaiming Masculinity

There’s more and more being written about the divine masculine and the divine feminine. There’s been plenty written about the wounded woman. There’s little to nothing being written about the wounded man.

It’s time for men to claim their wounds, and in claiming them, start healing themselves into wholeness.  I’m not your mama, but as a friend let me entreat you to take this advice seriously.

Many women are realizing that they want to be with men who are proud to be men. So guys, stand up, hold your head high, own those man-parts, and walk forward into the equal-but-different future of a world beyond the sex and gender wars.

The gift of honoring myself

I am talking to my friend Bill about what is troubling me, he has had enough therapy in his life, I sometimes think, that his advice is usually spot on, and very insightful.  He is also a very intelligent and compassionate man so this helps too.  The problem for me is fear, I am scared sometimes of being in this new relationship.  It is hard when I have been hurt so badly not just by the fact that I put so much work into my marriage ultimately for nothing, but the manner in which he left, with little warning, with no outward signs of remorse, with no further contact whatsoever, cold, heartless and cruel.  The problem for me is that the Pirate is the first man I have met since the end of my marriage, who has a certain something intangible about him that I find extremely attractive.  I hold myself back because I don’t want to fall too hard, I tell Bill the ex husband hurt me and as I say it my voice cracks and the tears well up in my eyes, he hurt me badly I say, like no one ever has, and I cannot allow that to happen again.  I worry about the Pirate I tell Bill, I worry about protecting my heart, I struggle with trust.  We decide, we two that the best thing I can do really is give the Pirate a gift, the gift of trusting him not to be like the ex husband.  The gift of not holding one man’s sins against another.  The gift of allowing it to progress as it progresses, and of letting this man be who he is without my notion of what should be or could be or might be.  It is suddenly easy to face my fears when I look at it this way, it is the gift of honoring this man, the one that is right in front of me.

This is a gift of compassion.

Yesterday in the heat I painted the door to my studio purple.  When Morgan came home I ask her what she thinks and she said do the front door too.  I replace a light bulb that has been out for over three years (read I had asked the ex to do it but he never bothered too), hefting the heavy ladder by myself.  I handle it on my own feeling proud of my strength, taking pleasure in the muscles in my arms.  I hang the deep sound bamboo chimes, a tree of life, a copper sun, and elephants on the wall of the side porch.  I dye two shirts purple for my pirate costume, I clean the bathroom, I am hot and sweaty, but I wait until Morgan is here to move the ladder to the back porch roof.  I clean out a clogged gutter and sweep the shedding bark of the sycamore off the roof.  I feel this thing inside me, as though I treasure myself, nurture myself, and take care of myself.  It is a feeling of deep inner strength, of strength of spirit, of, once again, leaving behind the critical voice of one who clearly thought very little of me, or maybe himself.  And of the person who let him stand in judgment of me, who let him treat me like a servant, who let him dishonor me.

There is a point when you must honor yourself.

This is a gift of compassion.

Purple Door

Channeling my inner dragon.

It is after 4am and I wake up suddenly and instantly, there is much to be done today.  Speaking of cleaning studio’s, speaking of claiming my space, speaking of the add on of screw this I have my own boat (see post from two days ago!)  I was up late caught in a great story by Iain Banks called Matter, I am not sure how I chose this book but it does have a few small steampunk artifacts in it that make me grin as I read them.  The story itself took a couple chapters and a few months really for me to get into, it is not the deliciously decadent read of a Sookie Stackhouse novel, but after The Wasp Factory by the same author I was determined to put some effort into it and that has paid off.  There are many gems in the book that I wish right at this moment that I had bookmarked, but caught in the story I of course did not.

My friend Bill told me in a text a few days ago that I shouldn’t allow myself to get caught up in this one, this man, to let my life circle around him.  It is hard to do that of course, and although I enjoy the freedom from inane text messages like I am working up a sweat now, or rude ones late at night telling me how much smarter he is than I, I wish things were progressing faster.  I laugh as I read this, they are of course progressing at a normal speed right?  Three years of awareness, one mid winter date that had me at hello, and then three months of nada, two months of friendship, and what now?  A month of something more.  What do I expect?  It is progressing as it should, the problem of course is with my expectation.  Right?  And here is the rub for me, I don’t actually know.  That is right read it and scratch your noggin.  I truly don’t know how these things are supposed to progress.  With Morgan’s father it was a couple weeks of intense poetry and love fests while listening to Bobby McFerrin and hiking in Letchworth State Park.  Oh yeah. And look how all that turned out.  With the ex whom I still cannot name. Grr.  It was months of letters back and forth an intense mental connection that in real life was just a freakin’ mess of we really don’t belong together.  But alas we are.  What is normal?  What isn’t normal perhaps is my worry no concern no ______ you fill in the blank, that I am somehow not worthy.  Not worthy?  Why not worthy?  Perhaps when I belch aloud it will offend (as it did the ex) I intentionally do it even when I might actually do it quietly, just to make sure he knows I am not a feigning delicata, I wear my Birkenstocks even when I am wearing my high heeled sandals at home, why? because I want to be sure that I am acceptable in whatever shoes I chose to wear.  I intentionally do not wash when I think he may ? be stopping by, still in my too short older green sundress with a stain on the chest, and I have been working hard in the studio, Why?  so that he will know that I am myself, and sometimes that self is not a perfect little sparkling flower.  I want to be worthy, but I do not want to be worthy by someone else’s standards, I want to be worthy as I am.  I am annoyed so much by the fact that the constant walking has had no effect on my body, and I hate that I am so damn pudgy.  I worry that I will somehow not be physically attractive, which is really so very hard.  I know I was not this to my ex husband, apparently he prefers skinny boobless latinas, whereas I am an German, Irish, Scottish and English lass with hips, and boobs and all exercise does for me is make my muscles thick.  I would have been back in the fields breastfeeding my own and someone else’s bairn within a week of giving birth.  My blood is red, through and through, there isn’t anything blue about it.  I look at a pic of my sister’s friend and I standing side by side, and I realize we are the same size, but as she struggles to get up the steps and the long hill back to the car, I am able to leap up them, and move along at a good pace.  I know I am healthy but by the standards of Hollywood, and the modern man, I got the junk in the trunk.  I wish it weren’t so.  I am annoyed by it.  But what can I do really?  I suppose I could cut out carbs from my diet altogether but why.  I love pasta and bread now and then, and mashed potatoes.

So where is the dragon.  The fierce refusal to let myself get captured by this good knight?  Yeah it isn’t there.  Some people tell me play hard to get, don’t wait around for him and if you are waiting around don’t be available to him.  But what if I want to be?  I even go out and buy his brand of beer to have on hand, although I hesitate for at least a week, afraid he will hit the road at any moment.  Or that he will say something that will be like a punch in my stomach, “I see myself getting married just not to you, but wait for it I may come around eventually”.  I laugh, no instead he uses his aging relatives as an excuse to not spend time with me.  I try to be understanding but I ask myself over and over, is this the I have work to do in the lab ruse that means another woman is in the picture?  Or that he wants any excuse he can find to not spend time with me? And will this pattern continue for the rest of my life, never available to me, but always someone else is the priority.  I feel neurotic a little.  I annoy myself.  But aren’t these good questions?

Here is another good question, if I am getting 20 hits or more a day on this blog why are none of you commenting.  Come on people give this fierce woman some sugar.  Thank you.  ❤