Monthly Archives: March 2012

Feeling Helpless

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My friend is sick. She has diabetes and it is causing her frequent dizzy spells which are interfering with her life. I talked to her briefly on the phone but she obviously didn’t want to talk. She shuts me out, not answering my email. She hasn’t talked to her relatives either. She prefers to be miserable alone. It worries me. I wish I could do something for her, but what? I don’t want to pester her. I respect her desire to be alone in this, but also feel terrible about the whole thing. I feel so helpless. I lost my brother a few years ago, and he sounded much the same over the phone before he died, as my friend does now. It is so painful to hear about the difficulties your friends are having and having no real recourse but to hope they get better. I can pray and I just did as I was typing this.

I have a tendency to shut people out myself so I can definitely sympathize with her desire. In fact, before I met her, I only had one real friend. I don’t make friends easily. During the time I have known her she has been so kind to me. I miss the times we’ve spent together, and I wonder if those times will ever return. She is in bad shape. and there is nothing I can do. It is also ironic that all of this is happening just when things are just beginning to change for me. Friends are precious, I don’t want to lose this one.

One of the things that has been beneficial about this blog for me has been the opportunity to speak my mind, sometimes quite personally. As I last blogged, I will be doing this less and less frequently as I am working and don’t want to deprive myself of sleep. I had a bad health episode this morning. Sometimes I get a gastro-intestinal attack which is very uncomfortable. I keep feeling like I have to pee or do the other thing, but if I do I experience even more discomfort, sometimes intense discomfort accompanied with nausea. This can last for two or three hours unless I cut it short by ignoring it. That is very difficult to do, at first, almost impossible, but I manage it. Over time, I slowly recover and lose the urge to go to the bathroom. It interferes with my life in a major way and I have to find a way to prevent it. Again, in the face of this problem, I feel helpless. The doctor tells me to drink more water, and not to strain. I have paid closer attention to that, but sometimes it still happens.

I feel helpless when it comes to my vision problem. I will get my cataracts removed, but I am completely at the mercy of the surgeon. That frightens me. There are many things in life over which I feel helpless, but I try to focus on what I can control, what I can actually do something about, or it drives me crazy. I know many of you experience the same helplessness at times. It is really horrible isn’t it? All you can say to this person you care about who is in pain, is that you hope things will get better, you really really want them to get to feeling better. And they say they have to hang up now. You are left feeling miserable, but not as miserable as they feel. When I am in that kind of state of mind I just have to ride it out to the end. And I also push people away when I am truly hurting, in fact I can be quite ruthless about it. So I can understand some of what my friend feels.

Such is life. It gets better for you, but not entirely, because you still suffer at times, and you can’t solve all of the problems which plague yourself, your friends, or the world. That sucks. But it is the cards we are dealt. I just wanted to write about some of my frustrations, and my sadness. My friend’s situation makes me very sad. My own growing older makes me sad sometimes. On the other hand, I have just started a new job and it seems like a good one. I will need to overcome physical challenges to do well at this job. I don’t feel helpless in these regards. I just wish I could rectify the world, but I can’t. That is a tough pill to swallow sometimes.

My Brain Hurts

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I can't do this anymore! My brain hurts!

LESS FREQUENT BLOGGING IN THE FUTURE DUE TO MY JOB TAKING ALL MY ENERGY

I finished my third day of work today. I was unbelievably tired afterward. I walk two miles there in the morning and after work I walk two miles back. I get really sore from repeated motions all day long, pricing merchandize. But this will only last for a few weeks, then I will be helping customers all day long. But it is quite an adjustment going from all that free time before I had a job and now, in which all I do is work. Needless to say, I don’t feel like blogging right now, and I won’t most evenings. If I try to write it won’t come out well. So I won’t be blogging as frequently in the future. I will definitely try to post something on my day’s off, when I have the energy to do it. I want to continue my ongoing fiction series Stock Photo Woman Fantasy and post other things as well. But my usual habit of blogging every day isn’t going to work unless I have a sudden burst of energy, But now I am dog tired and just need to go to bed, so I can get up early tomorrow. So please don’t think that I have given up blogging because you don’t see posts as frequently. It’s just that my brain hurts.

 

New Job

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While it is only a temporary job lasting until October, it is still a job. I started it today. I think I will like it. The people I work with are very friendly and very good at what they do. All of us new hires (about eight of us) were complimented as being super fast and efficient. I left my apartment at 7:15 am and walked about two miles from the Hayes valley area of SF to the Bayview warehouse district. It was cold out and I walked briskly getting there in an hour and a half. The supervisor called out my name as I arrived at the building. She remembered my name! That impressed me. I will be wearing a nifty uniform which needs to be kept nice. I don’t want to say where I work, because I don’t know that they would appreciate it, but they seem like a good nonprofit to work for. They have a good attitude toward the employees and the regular people there seem quite happy. The only downside is the distance from my apartment. I can’t afford to take public transportation right now. Everything is very tight.

But what I wanted to post about is the joy of having a purpose. I like working because I am fulfilling a purpose beyond myself. It feels good to be part of something. The worst part of unemployment besides the fear of eviction is the feeling of isolation. When you are working, particularly if it is a place that appreciates you, you feel a part of society, the economy. I gained more of a sense of how things fare in San Francisco these days from my interactions with my coworkers today than I do from watching the local news. Although I enjoy the contact I get through facebook and my blog, there is no replacement for face to face communication. As humans, we need that or things can get very weird.

There is also the joy of just doing something. It really doesn’t matter a heck of a lot what it is, just the act of staying busy is healthy. I am easily bored and these past three months I have spent almost every available minute at my computer, checking craigslist for jobs, or blogging. Having a job is great if for no other reason than the exercise. Unemployment is the mind destroyer. We need to find jobs for everyone, because the cost is enormous. It erodes a reservoir of talent that we could be putting to use. So anyhow, I hope this job becomes permanent, but in the meantime it feels so good to be doing something that is not totally centered on my survival, and to be interacting with actual human beings once again. I hope also, that I maintain this positive attitude for the next six months, because I am going to have plenty more human contact, as much as I can handle.

I also want to continue blogging, but I have to watch that because when I get going on something I lose track of time and soon it is midnight or 1 am. I can’t do that and get up at 5 am. New experiences refresh the soul. I am happy for this one.

Coming to Terms With Racism

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Why don't I have any African-American characters in my stories?

I was touched by the beauty of this photograph and put it in my collection of interesting or captivating photos in iPhoto. But mainly I put it in there because I realized I had no photos of attractive black women. Not celebrities. I had photos of Vanessa Williams, Beyonce, Rihanna, and many other beautiful black celebrities, but no non-celebrities. I have noticed a couple of African-American women who follow my blogs, and I think about how I could make my work more relevant to them. Of course they don’t expect some old white guy to speak to the black experience. But it got me to thinking. Why don’t I have any African-American characters in my stories? I have Hispanics and Asians, but no Blacks. That is because I was raised a racist. In my childhood I was taught a lot of garbage which lies in my subconscious. I am afraid that some of that prejudice might show up in my writing unwittingly. Or I might convey a stereotype, instead of creating a real human being. I was afraid I might have done that with my Asian characters, but one was based on an actual friend. Still, I suspect there was more than a bit of stereotypical behavior in my stories. Therefore I have shied away from portrayal of blacks, especially men. I have to immerse myself in black culture and understand it before creating a believable black male character. I used to despise hip-hop and rap, I mean I would actually get angry over it. Now I have about twenty hip-hop or rap albums or more on iTunes. I love it now. Some of it is funny, some of it is angry, some of it is sad. But I have learned how to relate to it, Given that I have always been very poor, I understand the perspective and because I tend to be brutally honest and down to earth, I can relate to the humor and the ‘word’. I can think of at least two black women in my past, who were attracted to me. I know this because unlike white women, these women were not very subtle in expressing their attraction. A black woman isn’t afraid to look you in the eye, or touch you. As a result of those experiences I am attracted to black women. So why haven’t I written about them? Good damn question. I feel considerable guilt over things I did when I was six years old. My parents were totally racist, and I’m sure I got my ideas from them. When I was on the bus one morning, I asked the little black girl next to me why she smelled bad. I noticed an odor that was different from anything I’d smelt before, but then I must have recalled something my father said about blacks smelling bad. Even though that probably happened in 1959 or 1960, and I was only six, I still remember the way that girl looked at me. It was awful. She hated me, and I’m sure she felt horrible. Here she was on the bus dressed in her nice pink dress, and some kid asks why she smells bad. That stayed with me. Even though I was a kid, I knew I had done something terrible. I remember I apologized, and she wouldn’t look at me, but said “that’s ok” or something. I’m not sure she responded, and my memory may have added the apology to make myself feel better, but I think I did apologize because I remember how awful I felt. That early experience has shaped my feelings towards black people ever since. I feel ashamed of myself, and think that there is no way to make amends. I have no difficulty understanding why black people hate white people. I don’t like to think about race, but it is a fact of life. It enters into every relationship between races. I think my Vietnamese friend has a charming accent, but she is very self-conscious about it and thinks I am being racist when I imitate it. I worked with a Filipino and once I got upset with him. He thought I was angry with him because he was Filipino. I clarified by saying “I don’t dislike Filipinos, I dislike you!”. Later we became friends, but there was always an undercurrent of suspected prejudice that I had to stay aware of. I have often felt that I was treated differently because I was white. Conversely, I have had many friends that I think of as individuals first and their race second. Their ethnicity isn’t a huge part of our relationship. But it bothers me that I haven’t welcomed blacks into my imaginary universe, so I will think about what sort of black character or characters I want to introduce. It is my feeling that all of us are not that far apart. We can appreciate each others’ perspective. I love to immerse myself in cultures other than my own. As a matter of fact, to be honest, white culture is my least favorite, because I grew up in it, and saw it’s ugliest side.

Sex Death

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Just look at her and think, I mean really think. This is the face of death, not the face of pleasure, or of sex, just Sex Death.

This is a difficult piece to write. I noticed that stellamarr was following stockphotogirl, one of my other blogs. If you haven’t checked out that blog you should do so before finishing this piece so you will know what I am going on about. And so I checked out her blog, and in turn I checked out the secret diary of a Dublin call girl. This is not easy reading, especially for a man. Stella Marr is an ex-call girl, now a writer. I know next to nothing about the sex industry to be honest, although I have very liberal views about sex, and about women. I am dead set against the exploitation of women in any form, and yet am I exploiting stock photo woman? When she posed for those photos she understood that her image would be used for advertising, but not to illustrate a work of fiction. I wonder how she would feel about my whole series. Would she feel abused? But more about that later, my focus for this post is on the horror of prostitution, and the world of call girls. The photo above says it all as far as street prostitution is concerned. She is anorexic either due to drug use or just because she thinks she needs to be super thin to be a suitable commodity. Whatever is the case, I am literally sickened by the fact that sex has become a means for demeaning and destroying the lives of millions of women, and actually, to a lesser extent, the men who prey on them. When I read blogs like the secret diary of a Dublin call girl I want my penis to shrivel up to the size of a pea and then fall off. It makes me ashamed of my sexuality. Young women are perceived as sex objects every minute of their lives, usually in more subtle ways than what is involved in outright prostitution. I think it comes as a shocking discovery to many young men that women are in fact human like themselves, and exist for reasons other than sexually satisfying men. A lot of young and older men never make this discovery. I have a very hard time of it, because I have unwittingly used women. I try to redeem it with the writing itself, transforming stock photo girl into an actual human being. At least, I hope I have succeeded in doing this. But that whole thing is based on an infatuation I had with that model, so sex is it’s underpinning. I would not want to demean or embarrass that model. But am I anyway? Am I being demeaning in ways I don’t understand or detect? This is the problem for many men. We can’t always tell when we are being thoughtless towards women. Or am I being unduly harsh on myself? In the one sexual scene I wrote with stock photo girl, she was not used or abused in any way. He didn’t pay for sex, the fantasy was consensual, in fact it had been her idea. Plus I deliberately stood on it’s head the usual expectations of a male reader regarding sexual encounters. Women being in awe of a man’s sexual prowess just isn’t my bag, I can’t write that crap.

I would recommend that men read secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress, which is Stella Marr’s blog, as well as the secret diary of a Dublin callgirl. Because we need that perspective. When we get caught up in our sexual fantasies this provides a bit of realism. Women do not exist for our sexual pleasure. They have lives which have nothing to do with us, which we should familarize ourselves with. Some guys get really pissed off by these women, if you are the sort of man who can’t handle ‘uppity’ women, you should steer clear. Now, as I have made clear on several occasions, I am a bit of a pervert, I have a perverse imagination to be sure, so don’t think from what I have written here that I am some kind of holy saint. Or that I am a feminist. No. My misogynist roots are deep, and it takes blogs like Stella Marr’s blog or Margaret Cho’s blog to help dig those roots out. In a word, dear reader, you have no idea, really no idea just how degrading prostitution is for all concerned, but especially for the prostitute. It is Sex Death as far as I am concerned. It kills all the pleasure anyone might obtain from sex. Now I recognize that there may be exceptions to this, but they are exceptions that prove the rule. I’m talking about the scummy underbelly of the sex industry. The part that industry prefers you not know about. Now I am not a psychologist and I can’t examine what causes women to take that road, sometimes they really have no choice in the matter. They may be literal sex slaves, prostitutes because they would be killed otherwise, or it may be because they see no other option. Sex is the most powerful drug on Earth, when you harness sex to other needs it is damn near impossible to deal with. It takes over your life, It ceases to be a source of pleasure, and empowerment, and becomes an agony, a sex death. It makes me want to be celibate, and never write pieces like “An Indecent Proposal” again. But after a bit, I gain some perspective.

I should not be ashamed of my love of sex. But I should keep a good eye (my one good eye), on my intention. What am I trying to achieve with sex? Is a woman’s body a commodity? Am I redeeming myself when I take an obvious commodity such as a Stock Photo Woman and attempt to make her a real character? While I definitely have the hots for that model, I also wonder about what she is like as a person. Am I exploiting her? I would like to think I’m not by virtue of how I have used her image. To be honest, the entire fashion industry is founded upon women as sex objects, and very particular sex objects at that. If a woman doesn’t look like the beautiful, perfectly crafted stock photo women they see everywhere, then a man is sorely disappointed. Guys????? Hello????? These women are pure product, as far as the image is concerned. They don’t exist in real life. Take a look at the actual women you see every day, in the flesh. My intention with Stock Photo Woman was to repurpose all of that nonsense. Far from making her an empty shell, I have endeavored to sabotage male expectations. But I am a flawed man. I do not pretend to be free of male chauvinism. I am not a champion for women’s rights necessarily, although I do support that. I am just an older man with a crush on a stock photo woman. Does this make me a punter?, I wonder. A punter is a john in case you were wondering. And if you don’t know what a john is, then you are too young to be reading this material, go back to bed young man!

It is hard to have a sense of humor about these matters. I have to admit, I wonder why Stella Marr would want to follow my stockphotogirl blog. Does she genuinely enjoy it? or does she want to see how this punter exploits an innocent model who didn’t ask to be in his story. If I ever get a complaint from this model, believe you me, the posts disappear just like that. I have no desire to hurt anyone. Or am I just full of shit, as usual? Let me know. Especially you, Stella Marr.

Whatever……

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What do you do when a young boy dies because he is wearing a hoodie? Have we become so paranoid, so filled with fear that we strike out blindly? The news is telling us relentlessly, Yes! Absolutely! It doesn’t matter. Nothing does. Why not murder? Of what worth am I? Or you? These are the kinds of questions that possess the people who kill for no real reason except that they can. It is right that there is outrage over the death of Treyvon Martin. In the face of the kind of unreasoning fear which filled George Zimmerman’s mind that night, Treyvon didn’t have a chance. There is a general coarsening, a cheapening of life nowadays. I see it every day out on the streets. Everyone is afraid of strangers, and ready to strike out against imaginary threats. I am not sure how to deal with this problem. I tend to curl up in my internet cocoon and ignore the death outside my door. Just like everybody else.

But we need to care about this, because it is only going to get worse. Why does everything just turn to crap in spite of our best efforts and intentions? I believe scientists call this entropy. Christians call it sin. For most people it is just how things are, the inevitable disappointment of everyday existence. It dulls the senses and robs us of our emotions. I was reminded of this when I watched the news report about several people discovered dead right across the street from the community college where I had taken classes recently. A neighbor says: “it’s really crazy!” and kind of chuckles to himself. What does this guy think? That it was a little show put on for his entertainment? Wow man! People dead. It’s crazy! no man, it is real life, wake up from your slumber, moron. But I shouldn’t be so harsh on him, he didn’t know what to say to the reporter when a microphone was shoved in his face.

But all of this is illusory. This attitude which turns everything to crap is a sickness. I believe the mass media encourages it. Reality is treated as though it is unreal. Everything is ironic. Listen to how people talk. Every experience is ‘like’ something, instead of being that experience. So what are you saying? That you are checked out somewhere and dumbly and numbly watching all this stuff happen around you as if it were on a tv screen and like something real but not really. Are you that schizophrenic? Do we live in a schizophrenic society that refuses to take ownership of it’s own experience? Such a person can commit murder because it isn’t actually murder, it is ‘like’ murder. When I hear teenagers talking that way it makes my skin crawl. Whoever thought that was cool? I guess the idea is to be totally not present, unreal. Then all of the pain of life cannot reach you.

I find the recent news reports very disturbing. The soldier who killed all those civilians. Why not? What difference could it possibly make? Whatever…..That is another expression which is unexamined for what it represents. It means nothing matters. It means that one thing is as good as another to someone who is as good as dead already. It destroys all experience and turns everything to crap. Youth is poisoned by it. I can remember the unspoken code of coolness. Don’t ever let yourself be thrilled by life, taken away by it’s beauty and promise. Be cool. Yeah,  a corpse is pretty cool I guess. Just when you are best equipped to live life to it’s fullest, you are encouraged to sabotage it. You are encouraged to treat life as something to endure. Anyone who shows enthusiasm or makes good grades and genuinely enjoys learning is rejected. He or she just doesn’t get it. What is there to get? That life sucks, of course. That nothing actually matters, everything turns to crap and who the fuck cares anyway. This is the credo of the killer. This is the underlying disease which plagues not only the young but all ages. You can see this kind of uselessness in the trailer parks, breeding monsters. You can see it in the wealthy who don’t have a clue about how to use their wealth except to squander it. So many people despise life and themselves, and I don’t think popular culture is giving them much reason to feel otherwise.

There is a need to look inside our own experience and discover how we really feel inside. It is very different from the way we have unwittingly been taught to feel and think by our culture. Our culture is fucked, except I don’t like to put it that way. Fuck is beautiful and sacred, and our sick culture has transformed it into the opposite, as a weapon to destroy anything good and worthwhile. Don’t let that twisted philosophy dictate how you speak. If we can look to ourselves and be true to that, we discover something very different. We all want love, as uncool as that is. And we want acceptance for who we are, whatever that is, without judgement. We are all victims although we haven’t been murdered yet. We are victims of our callous uncaring attitudes which worship ironic hipness at the expense of our ability to even experience life. The best we can hope for is to have something ‘like’ life.

I wanted this post to be about more than just the usual outrage over these senseless murders. Rather than finding someone to blame, let’s blame us all. For the malaise that breeds these outrages is endemic to our entire culture, worldwide. The solution lies within ourselves and our courage to truly be ourselves regardless of it’s cultural implications.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

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A shot inside the bookstore I talked myself out of managing.

I talked myself out of being hired as the manager of a used book store, this afternoon. I already have a job. I was hired a couple of days ago for a temporary job lasting until October. So I didn’t have that additional pressure of unemployment hanging over me when I arrived for my interview. I did have an upset stomach, and as usual my cataracts made everyone blurry. Some customers came into the store and I realized that if I worked there I wouldn’t see their faces if they tried to get my attention. This bothered me a great deal. I consoled myself with the knowledge that my vision will very likely be improved after surgery which would hopefully occur next month. Not the right state of mind to be in going into an interview.

I was just honest with them. They were nice people, very honest and straight-forward themselves. I could see myself working for them. But I sold myself short. I gave them all the reasons they shouldn’t hire me, instead of the reasons they should. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I did say that I would be very enthusiastic about the job, and devote myself to it, and that I was very good with people. All true. But I was apprehensive, thinking I would be getting in over my head. They appreciated my saying that. But the truth was they needed someone they wouldn’t have to spend too much time training. They also wanted someone well versed in used books, and I had just a small bit of used book experience. I felt out of place, when I should have been finding reasons to feel at home there. I emailed them afterward saying how they couldn’t find a more dependable and committed manager than myself. Which isn’t bragging, when I take on a job I care about I put all of myself into it. It becomes my life. All things I should have pointed out in the interview. Alas.

So here is the lesson. Don’t sell yourself short. Go into an interview upbeat and giving them all the reasons to hire you. If you have reservations about the job keep them to yourself. Because an interview isn’t just a conversation, it is about selling yourself. I failed this afternoon at selling myself. I guess I didn’t really want the job because I was afraid I would be overwhelmed and do a terrible job. I wanted to spare these nice people and myself that experience. Fair enough. But it didn’t need to be like that. I could also have looked at it entirely differently. I would have a lot to learn, but I could have handled it after a few stressful months of on the job training. As I said, I have a job already, so all is not lost. Still, I wish I had approached the interview differently, Let this be a lesson to you. Don’t sell yourself short! or you will beat yourself up afterward just like I am.