Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Owl Says

Here are a few things I don't give a hoot about.  Let's see if you agree.
  1. Beyonce's baby bump.   The only thing I slightly care about here is that the baby doesn't come out looking like it's ugly ass father.  He must be well hung and eager to please, because I can't see any other reason for hopping in the sack with him.
  2. Kim Kardashian's wedding or any other Kardashian activity.
  3. Sarah Palin's opinion on anything.  Well, except when she weighed in on the skyrocketing price of SlimJims earlier this summer, THAT was news.
  4. Daily updates on the fascinating lives of children.  Let me clarify.  I like children. I do.  But, damn, I don't care if little sweet pea farted and sneezed at the same time or smiled funny at you today.  Save the updates for some real news-  like a teen pregnancy or something involving scandal.
  5. Anything 'Twilight.'  I suffered through the first moving at the urging of a niece.  Holy crap.  It was so bad.  And, Bella, get a life, dear.
  6. Any words that come out of Nancy Grace's pie hole.
  7. Steroids use in cycling.  Quit trying to defend yourself, Lance.  Let it rest.  We know you doped. Everyone in cycling does.
  8. Brangelina.
  9. Reading anything by Jonathan Franzen.
  10. Respecting the religious views of those who don't respect mine.
  11. Keeping my opinions to myself in front of #10.
  12. People who say things like "Keep your government hands off my Medicare."
  13. If my neighbors can see me trotting through the house in my underpants.  If you don't like it, pull your blinds.  They've never complained.
  14. Your healthy eating habits.  I really struggle with mine and would appreciate it if you didn't tell me how much you really crave lettuce. 
  15. Green cleaning products.  I've tried them and until they work as well as traditional cleaning products, I won't use them again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sorry folks, it's been a long time...

Hello again, fans and friends, if I have any left at all after this lengthy absence.  I am trying to expunge the first half of 2011 from memory.  Why expunge?  Well, after three rounds of chemotherapy under my belt followed by a twice daily regimen of heavy steroids, immune suppressant drugs, blood pressure medicine, antibiotics and multiple other less infamous drugs for at least the next several years, I am ready to forget this year.  On the up side, the illness that got me there is not progressing at least.  I can always find a silver lining because, as all my friends can tell you, I am an optimist.  A cheerful, head in the clouds optimist.

So, I'm just going to return with a simple list- some rants, some unsolicited advice, some observation.  Please be assured that I will shortly deliver my third and final installment in my series about why boys are stinky and worthless until they're 30 or so.  But for now, this is what you get:

1.  There is person of indeterminate gender working in my building.  I really can't tell if it is dude or lady and it doesn't matter.  In fact, I am a little fascinated by him/her.  Why?  Because we look a lot alike- same haircut, same build (my man boobs are a little smaller than his/hers), same glasses and same general manner of dress.  He/she favors more brightly colored shirts and ties, but over all, we could be brother and sister/brother.  Tell me, and be honest, is it hard to tell what gender I am because now I'm a little paranoid?

2.  Advice to parents who have friends who are not parents-  shut the hell up about your kids and your family activities when talking to your non-parent friends at least long enough to ask us how we are.  That's the minimum you have to contribute to at least acknowledge that you are not just talking to a smiling, life size cutout of your childless friends.  Yes, I adore your children and really do want to know what is going on with them.  BUT, if 15 minutes pass and you observe that I have been only saying "Wow" or "Oh that's neat" or "Really?", then you better throw me a bone.  Just saying.

3.  I have so many needle marks on my hands and arms at this point that I look like a heroin junkie.  If I must suffer this way, can't I at least have the gift of looking thin like a real junkie?

4.  I hate it when people talk about me when I'm not around.  No I don't hate that.  I hate it when people say something cute like "Was your nose itching Saturday night because we were talking all about you?"  I don't even hate that so much.  What I really hate is when I ask them what was said and they say shit like "Oh nothing" or "All good things."  Be specific, motherf*cker.  Be specific or I will cut out your tongue in your sleep.  See how much I hate that?

5.  Related to #4 above, how boring is that conversation ?  Snore.  I haven't caused a good scandal in at least 20 years.  I am an IT systems analyst and project manager.  I live in the suburbs with my husband and two dogs.  I make quilts.  Jesus.  I really should liven it up a little.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Response to A Gentle Reader

In response to my post about bullying, my gentle reader (Sorry, Miss Manners. If you've got that trade marked, I"ll lay off ) Everett gave the following comment that I wanted to address here:

This is preceded by praise, praise, praise for my blog which I LOVE.  I love praise.  Thank you.
...the thing that was a little unsettling about this blog (and many others), is that it seems as if you are saying that it is normal, and that it's sort of a "passage" if you are not the popular person, to get picked on. You advise to avoid the situation, and if one were to arise, to get away as fast as possible. Now of course the best advice anyone could give, is to try and avoid it.... however, I don't believe that we (GLBT, black, handicapped, fat, pink-haired, WHATEVER) should just escape the situation... that does not solve anything.

While I like to encourage people to stand up for themselves, I would NEVER tell anyone to put themselves into a situation that could make things worse. But there are ways of stopping it. Find what works best for you and the situation, and go forth. Don't ever allow for someone to bully you, and don't think it's something that you have to just "deal with". It's not alright. You don't have to put up with it. Just find a healthy alternative to make it stop...
...followed by praise, praise, praise for my blog.  Okay, that's an exaggeration, but some praise followed.
Gentle Everett-
I agree with you that young people should find ways of trying to stop bullying, if those means are available.  And, by all means, kids should seek out adults to help them or develop a blisteringly sharp repertoire of comebacks that will verbally knock the shit out of their victimizers.  However, I think back to my experience and as a kid, I just didn't see any options at all, so avoidance was it.  Why didn't I see any options?
1.  I didn't feel close enough to my parents to tell them.  That, and my dad would have thought I was a giant puss, more than he already did.
2.  I thought that if I told a teacher or another adult, they would have told my parents and my dad, blah, blah, blah.
3.  I was struggling so much to try to feel cool, that I didn't also want to be known as a tattle tale, which would have decreased my cool points by a gazillion.
Your other point about being bullied as a "passage" is interesting.  I don't think that bullying is an inevitable "deal with it" part of being young and geeky, nerdy, gay, etc., though I do think someone is always at the bottom of the pile.  What I do think is inevitable is assholism.  (Thank you John Waters and Pink Flamingos for letting me use that oh so appropriate term.)  You can report bullies and you might be able to curb their behavior, but assholism is forever.  In my thinking, once a mean spirited asshole, always a mean spirited asshole.  So, is it worth it to stick around in a small town after graduation where you are going to perpetually run into these assholes?  Maybe, if you can ignore them, it might be.  However, I think it is a valuable experience to go out somewhere in the world where you arrive with no labels or titles and see how the world treats you.  Then, if you want to go back to your small town with some years of perspective, that's great.  By then the assholes, though still assholes, will just look pathetic.
Keep the comments and thoughts coming. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mystery Solved

I have some Facebook "friends" who are only there because they are in my Vampire Wars clan.  I can actually dump them if I want and still maintain my clan numbers, but they are occasionally entertaining.
Today for instance, one of them takes on life's greatest mysteries and gets what I think my actually be a solid answer.  You decide.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Games MNMom Plays

MNMom has initiated one of these things.  Is it a meme?  I never really knew what that was, even when they were popular.  Here it is:

1. Name one book that has really stuck with you.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.  I love Virginia Woolf and the sort of warm soulful, sorrowful way her worlds shift focus.  The reason this stuck with me is that it is the first book that brought me to tears.  I was reading a section of the book called Time Passes and came across this sentence-  "Mr. Ramsay, stumbling along a passage one dark morning, stretched his arms out, but Mrs. Ramsay having died rather suddenly the night before, his arms, though stretched out, remained empty."  In the context of the book it was such a simple and beautiful image.  I cried for about a half hour.

2. Name one non-family adult who influenced you for the better.
A high school teacher, Mrs. Friest, was always so sweet with me and had a great sense of humor. I credit her with saving my life at a really low point. She was also just a kick ass teacher.

 3. Name one really great thing about today's teens.
I love that most teenagers I know are not obsessed with serious relationships like teens were when I was younger.  They seem to have real boy-girl friendships which has to bode well for their future relationships.

4. If Barack Obama dropped out of the race today, who should be the Democratic nominee?
There are days I wish he would.  I still think Hillary would rock the White House.
5. What would YOU do about Libya?
Give their fugly ass leader a makeover.

6. The perfect Spring Vacation would be:
Mexico, beach, kindle, frozen limonada.

7. You win $50,000 to spend on your house. What do you do?
Remodel our 1950's bathroom sensibly then pay down the mortgage.

8. You win another $50,000 but you have to give it away. What do you do?
Kirelimel gave it to MNMom, so I'm going to donate it to Habitat for Humanity in El Salvador.  One habitat house down there is $7000.  So this would buy 7 houses and some beer for the workers.

9. Your worst guilty pleasure(s) is:
RuPaul's Drag Race.

10. You HAVE to go back to school. What do you study/earn?
Geez.  I've debated going back for years, but have no idea what I want to do.  I don't have a ton of respect for the MBA, but would probably get one with an emphasis on information systems BOOOORING.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Yes, Vagina, I Will Blog Again

Okay, MNMom, I had to put this out here to let you know I haven't completely forgotten about my poor blog.  I've been busy, okay?

One big change in my life recently is that I joined a fitness class at the gym that is 3 evenings a week.  As depressing as it is to realize that not only am I fat, but that the only way I can get to the gym is to pay big bucks for a 3 month long class on top of my membership fees,  I do see the benefits in doing that as opposed to sitting in front of my computer blogging.  And the only thing that keeps me going to class is the SHAME I would feel at wasting the money I put up for the class.  Will I ever reach the point that I just plain WANT to go to the gym?  Sadly probably not.  On the up side, I've lost about 12 lbs and am not huffing and puffing  when I go up the stairs at home.  That was just plain embarrassing.  Ideally, I would like to lose more weight, but I'm trying to reframe my thinking about fitness and focus on what I've accomplished instead of what I haven't accomplished.  I'm veering off into Oprah territory here, so I'll shut up.

The other thing I've been up to is A LOT of family history stuff.  I've been doing it for about 10 years, but have been going full tilt on it for about the last six months. Many of my ancestors settled in a small area of NE Iowa and SE Minnesota.  It has been fascinating to see how many times two or three families could intermarry.  One man marrying two sisters after one had died.  One woman marrying a man from one side of the family then marrying a man from the other side of the family. My great great grandfather married my great grand mother's sister in law (her husband's - my great grandfather- sister)- making her step daughter and sister in law. It's kind of fun.  So far we haven't had any sibling marriages or anything that would produce a pinhead, but we've come close I'm sure with that tiny gene pool.

Enough for now.  I will finish my series on stinky, worthless boys soon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Big Sweet Balls

Several of the lovelies from our MN blogger cookie exchange have expressed how much they enjoyed the taste of my balls.  So, here is the recipe:

Michael's Big Sweet Balls
(You can call them Cherry Date Balls, if you like.)

1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. chopped dates
1/3 c. chopped maraschino cherries
3/4 c. sugar
5 c. Rice Krispies
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Put butter, dates, cherries and sugar into a medium sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat.  Stir constantly once the mixture starts bubbling and stir until it looks like a very soft paste.  (If you've made caramel corn before, you'll know the look.) 
In a large bowl, combine the Rice Krispies and pecans.  Use a spatula to pour the hot mixture over the nuts and Krispies.  Stir until all the Krispies and nuts are well covered.
Then, pour some sugar in a soup bowl.  Take a tablespoon and scoop out some of the mixture, roll into a ball (it helps if you have a little butter on your hands or spray them with Pam or even water), then roll in sugar.  Set balls aside to cool.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Embark On a New Career: Advice Columnist

 In response to my last post, I got an inquiry from a high school student about how to deal with a "situation" involving a girl.  I think it worthy to answer this as a separate post.  Youngsters, if you have any inquiries yourself, please post them in the comments or e-mail me (ask and I shall provide my e-mail.)

Disclaimer:  I am not a licensed therapist, social worker, psychiatrist.  My advice is take it or leave it in nature.  I am a middle aged chubby gay man with no particular credentials except a lifetime of observation and failed relationships before the one I'm in now which has been almost 12 years.  I may be crass and cranky in my responses, but I am right.  Don't forget it.  Okay then.

Dear Tower of Knowledge:  (okay, I added that myself, but it's my blog.)

My best friend is a girl and I have told her all these things many, many times. She recently got over this one guy who myself, and many other friends have told her seems like an "ass-hole."  However, she doesn't seem to listen. She also constantly "falls in love" with guys and gets rejected, then I pick up the mess.

So, any advise that might get me to change her mind about this guy.
P.S. We're in High School. She's a little crazy. Not in a bad way.

Sincerely yours-

Dearest Chris-

You are a great friend to have been honest with this girl about the state of her past boyfriend's assholism (not an official diagnosis, but should be).  You are also a great friend to, as you say, "pick up the mess"-  and by "mess" I may be thinking your girl friend, but don't tell her that.

So here's some thoughts:

1.  Your friend may be a world class drama queen.  This is not a bad thing in high school because these girls will occasionally do some crazy-fun-make-memories-for-a-lifetime-shit. It just isn't a lifestyle choice that one should stick with beyond high school.  After high school, this behavior gets prescribed medication or gets one in to a sorority, both of which should be avoided.  So the deal may be that she picks guys who are going to reject her, so that she can bask in the excitement of her drama around the rejection- all the while looking sad and dejected but secretly loving it.  She's a great actress I'm guessing. 

She also probably LOVES the attention that you give her while cleaning up the emotional mess.   As her friend, you don't always have to pick up the mess (her).  Instead, you can tell her that you observe this pattern of behavior, that you're spending a lot of time supporting her and that you would have a lot more fun together if she just put dating boys on hold so you can enjoy life before you have to go out and get jobs and pay bills and reproduce and be tied to children for the rest of your lives.  (Yes, adulthood has its drawbacks.)  Being a drama queen, she will probably make a scene, but you've said your piece.  Then, the next time she comes to you after being rejected, all you need to say is "Hey, Chickiebawana, we've talked about this.  Now, do you want to go have some fun doing something else?"  If she says "No, I'm too sad," go have fun without her.  She will eventually follow along.

2.  It could be that your friend is filling a hole in her life.  Her life, I said.  She may be getting that hole filled too, but we're not going there.  Who knows what goes on in people's homes?  I used to compare myself constantly to kids that I thought had a way better life than my own, only to find out in adulthood that they had alcoholic, rejecting parents who looked good on the surface but were miserable turds as parents.  So, that's a long way of saying that she might be trying to date these boys to play the role of an absentee father or something.  If this is the case, she needs to find a healthier alternative.  First she needs to recognize the problem, then figure out a way to get the hole filled (hee hee.  I can't even say it without laughing) in a healthier way than getting rejected constantly.  Can she see that getting rejected by boys might be similar to getting rejected by her dad? 
So, again, it is way more important to have fun now while you are both young.  Why all the seriousness about relationships when you're under 25?  Blech.

Now, on a more serious note-  you said that you and several of her other friends told her the boy she was dating had assholism.  This girl may need to be observed closely in her dating relationships.  If she is pining over an asshole who rejected her, odds are she would have stayed with that asshole through even worse behavior on his part.  So, here is what I'm going to say and you MUST take it seriously.  If you ever hear that a boy she's dating has hit her (even once), been sexually abusive with her (gone too far when she said no) or even has been loudly verbally abusive with her, you go right to her parents, a school guidance counselor, your pastor, a trusted teacher and you SPILL ALL THE BEANS TO THEM ABOUT THIS BEHAVIOR!  No questions.  That shit can't happen to anyone and if you stand by while she gets knocked around, raped or emotionally tortured, you are as guilty is the abuser.  I say this because it sounds like your friend has a little low self esteem and wouldn't know for herself when enough is enough.

There you have it, Chris.  Thanks for listening.

Yours truly-
Tower of Knowledge

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Truth About Boys: Part II

In Chapter I, we covered some truths about boys.  In Chapter II, I will tell you some dos and don'ts about the dating world.  Ready?  Let's begin.

DO:  keep yourself open to finding romantic love, but...

DON'T:  be desperate and lonely and print it on a t-shirt or post it to Facebook every fourth minute that you're looking for a boyfriend.  For one thing, you are too young to think that you're going to be alone forever and for another, you will make yourself prey for freaks and stalkers and abusers by being desperate for anyone.

DO:  keep a close circle of friends.  If you don't have a good circle of friends, make friends first before you think about dating seriously.  It doesn't have to be 20 friends, maybe just 2-3 really good friends. Why?  Because, if you start dating seriously and don't have friends, that is all you'll have. 

DON'T: have your boyfriend be your only friend.  Isolation in a relationship is a bad thing.  If he is a creep, there is no one around to tell you and if you are in that position, you likely aren't socially astute enough to figure it out for yourself.  And, if it ends- which if you're 25 or under is likely- you'll have no friends to fall back on.

DO:  listen to your friends when it comes to boys.  If these are good friends, they will be your first warning sign that a boy is a creep.

DON'T:  keep friends who aggressively flirt with or try to steal your boyfriend.  These girls are called skanks and have personal issues that need some work.  You are not their therapist and do not need to keep them around if they won't back off.  These women will grow up to be divorced, bar hopping, cigarette smoking cougars by the time they hit 40.  It is so not worth your time.  Worse yet, if you are the one who is stealing your friends' boyfriends, then you are a skank.  Seek therapy.  Now.

DO: respect yourself.  If a boy says things that hurt your feelings, belittle you, make you feel stupid, confront it right now.  Everyone makes mistakes and it is likely that the boy didn't know that he hurt your feelings or made you feel bad.  So, forgive.  But...

DON'T: allow a boy to consistently make you feel less than the great, valuable, smart, beautiful girl that you are.  A pattern of this behavior cannot be fixed without years of adult therapy and maybe not even then.  A boy who tries to control and diminish you through verbal or physical abuse is a mess and a creep and will likely be one forever.  This behavior in boys does is also unlikely to make them successful adults at work or in other relationships.  This will fuel further resentment, leading to worse behavior and plunge them even further in to the depths of asshole-ism.  Dump these boys fast.

DO:  respect your body.  Every young person wants sex as much as the next.  However, you, young lady, have much, much, much more to lose when you become sexual.  I'm not preaching abstinence here.  I'm saying, be smart, know yourself and be cautious.   As I mentioned in Chapter 1, if you put out, expect boys to talk about it.  That might be okay, however, if you put out a lot with more than one boy, you will quickly get a very hurtful reputation that is unfair and ugly and may take years to overcome.  It is a hideous double standard that girls get called awful names for being sexual while boys are congratulated for it, but it is just plain fact. In this culture, girls just don't get to be as sexually open as boys, or at least as vocal about it. Your mother might have told you that boys don't like loose girls.  Well, that's wrong.  Boys LOVE loose girls.  But, they don't love them in the way that you want to be loved.  Be smart.  Be kind to yourself.

DON'T:  EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER let a boy take a nude picture of you.  EVER!  DO YOU HEAR ME??!!??   I don't care how much you trust him. I don't care how hot you think it is.  A single nude picture WILL come back to haunt you whether it is next weekend or five years from now.  DON'T BE STUPID!  Worse yet, DON'T EVER take a nude picture of yourself and e-mail it to a boy unless you want the entire campus to see it. That is just plain foolish and desperate.  If you have done this and it is too late, change your name and move to another country.

DO:  Be patient.  Enjoy yourself now. A romantic relationship isn't the fix for anything.  It will come.  If you have fun now, focus on building lasting friendships, taking care of your mind, body, studies, career, there will one day be an equally stable, confident, successful, interesting boy that will look at you and say "Damn.  Check out that stable, confident, successful, interesting, sexy chick.  I want to hang with her for the rest of my life."  It will happen for you- maybe not tomorrow, but eventrually.

That's enough for now.  In Chapter III, we will discuss why you need to observe a boy in the world before you get too involved.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Truth About Boys: Part I

Some of you have daughters to whom I've given my advice about dating boys in high school and college.  The very abridged version is this:

Boys are smelly and worthless until they turn 30 or so.  It is true.  Don't argue with me.  I know what I'm talking about.

So, in the interest of public service, here is Chapter 1 of the much less abridged version of my standard talk to young women:

The Truth About Boys: Chapter 1
When it comes to boys, I know a thing or two.  What makes me qualified to talk to you about boys?  Here's the top three:

1. Having been one myself, I can speak from some experience.  I won't always admit to having exhibited the less charming behaviors shared with those of my youthful sub-species, but I can certainly relate. 

2.  I have always had lots of women friends and have observed through their relationship starts and stops the amusing, sickening, endearing and occasionally creepy and dangerous behavior of young men.

3.  I am gay and in my youth dated / mated with other young men and was the young man other young (and not so young) men have dated. 

So, with my qualifications out of the way, let's move on to boy truths:

Boy Truth #1:  Boys smell.  I wish this weren't true, but it is.  Around age 13 when the puberty hormones start surging through a boy's body, the B.O. switch also gets flipped. Sadly, because boys go through puberty at a much slower rate than girls, boys will naturally stink well into their college years.  (Secret:  Boys of all ages LOVE the smell of their own B.O. and when really pitted out will take deep whiffs of their pits. They don't like the B.O. of others, but relish in their own funk.)

Boy Truth #2:  Boys don't understand personal hygiene.  This is the related truth to "boys smell."  The only reason that boys get engaged in personal hygiene is that their mom or female classmates clue them in to the fact that they stink.  So, they begrudgingly sign on to wearing deodorant under their arms and showering more than twice a week.  Eventually, around age 25, it does occur to them that wooing the young ladies is easier when clean.  So, girls, DO NOT SETTLE FOR SMELLY BOYS.  Demand showering, use of hygiene products, clean hair, clean fingernails, etc.

Boy Truth #3:  Boys are sensitive creatures and easily hurt.  Even though they have been trained by society to hide their emotions, boys have them.  They also experience them with the same crazy ass intensity that girls do.  You just might not see them and the boys, depending on how deeply they've been conditioned to believe that masculine mystique, may not even know they are having them.  This is why boys sometimes act like complete dildos in situations where girls might slam a door or have a cry fest or eat chocolate.   So, girls, be nice to boys, but within limits.  We'll talk more about that  in a later chapter.

Boy Truth #4:  When boys are hooked on you, they are hooked.  Hard.  The attachment boys feel to girls (or other boys they date) can be even more deep than what girls feel for boys.  Why?  Boys typically have fewer outlets for their emotions that girls. Once a boy feels safe enough with you to honestly share his feelings and let down his guard, you may be stuck with him for a while.  Boys also confuse this safety, typically found in deep friendship of all types, with love. Unfortunately, boys can also associate this safe feeling with a mommy sort of love.  Uh uh.  Don't let it go there.  Boys need lots of time to mature and figure out how to be equal partners with girls without making them their mommy or their whore. (More on that later too.)  So, girls, be friends with guys, but don't get caught up in the notion that you will find your one true love in high school.  Boys aren't ready.  But if you must go down the path of dating a boy, know what you're in for and be ready for all that comes with a hooked, love struck boy.  This doesn't mean you need to put up with any shit.  And as I said before, we'll talk more about that later.

Boy Truth #5:  Boys are 100% obsessed with sex.  I am not exaggerating here one bit.  From the time they realize around age 13 that touching themselves feels good and an orgasm is this out of this world (and messy) experience, boys think about very little but sex.  And, it is unlikely that they will outgrow this.  It is just that as men age there are a few other things to distract them from thinking about sex all the time-  work, driving, mowing the lawn.  But these are only distractions.  And, girls, you have to be careful with the young man.  EVERYTHING from age 13 to about 25 will give a boy an erection- holding his hand, sitting next to him, putting your arm around his shoulder, EVERYTHING.  So, if a boy gets up awkwardly or covers up his front with his jacket, just try to ignore it. He's got a woodie and he can't help it.

Boy Truth #6:  Boys cannot be trusted with sex.  In my adulthood, I cannot be trusted around a bag of chocolate chips. Curt can hide them, but I will find them and eat them every time, but I do it in shame.  This is sort of like boys and sex.  Given the opportunity, boys will do or say anything to have sex.  They will even pretend to be in love with you.  However, the difference between the chocolate chips and sex comparison is that boys will ALWAYS admit to having had sex, whereas I will lie about having eaten the whole bag of chips.  Yes, girls, even if you think you can trust a boy to be discreet about your sexual experimentation, HE WILL TELL EVERY OTHER BOY HE COMES IN CONTACT WITH and you will get funny, horny looks from all these boys for about the next year.  Even worse, he will exaggerate wildly.  If you let a boy touch your breasts, he will tell his friends you had a threesome with you and your mom, who is a complete cougar.  It's true.  They are pigs about this stuff.  If you choose to put out in any way, it is not unreasonable to threaten to cut the boy's balls off if he tells his friends.  However, he has to believe you in order for this to be effective.  Show him the knife you intend to use.  That will help. 

Enough for now.

Coming up in Chapter 2 of the Truth About Boys.... Dos and Don'ts for Dating Boys

Monday, October 18, 2010

Here's a Little Advice

There has been a lot of talk about bullying in high schools recently.  I can relate.  When I was in middle school and high school, it was like I had a big pink target on my forehead and virtually EVERYONE knew I was gay and tormented me for it.  The problem was that I was still working on trying to be the swinging straight boy.  I was self aware enough to know that I was "in a phase" that I might or might not outgrow.  I tried to take comfort in the fact that I read in a book somewhere that lots of boys go through that phase and don't turn out gay.  Well, that didn't work out.
Not everyone tormented me, of course.  There were the fat kids who got picked on as much as I did.  There were other sort of awkward, strange kids who got picked on.  And, if I was lucky, there might be a kid who was a little gayer than I was who could avert attention away from my big homo self.  Even with the other targets around, the assholes who tormented me seemed to have plenty to go around.  It was a miserable time. 
With the benefit of 25 years under my belt away from high school, I want to share some advice and survival tips for anyone who might be able to relate.

1.  Popular and not popular ends the day you graduate.  When you go to college or into the working world, your high school social status doesn't matter for squat.  The once popular girls (we'll talk more about them later) join sororities with the other formerly popular girls and fight among themselves for queen bee status and boyfriends.  They will not have time to notice you.  Once popular boys join fraternities, if they make it to college at all, and compete for the titles of "He Who Gets Laid Most" and "He Who Can Drink Most."  Guys like you and me, we arrive at college among people who have no knowledge of our high school social standing and are more interested in us if we're fun to hang out with, share the same values or do the same things.  I remember being amazed my freshman year at Luther with the fact that people kind of wanted to spend time with me- for a while  anyway, but that's for another number in this list.  Once you make like minded friends, you'll begin to forget being stuffed in lockers and getting swirlies.

2.  On the subject of popular girls, there are generally two types.  One type is popular because she is outgoing and friendly to just about everyone.  She will cross social strata to a degree.  If you are nice to her, say hi and smile,  she will acknowledge you as a human being.  If you happen to figure out if she is in any activities that interest you, it is worth sitting on the yearbook committee or science club, because she may get to know you and have your back when it counts.  They other type of popular girl is the opposite.  She may be pretty, or not, but she is a hag. She achieved her rank through cruelty to other girls and intimidation to keep all those beneath her in their place.  Beneath the wickedness, she is full of insecurities and secretly hates herself.  All those who cling to her as friends are self loathing morons.  Fully half of these girls will end up bitter and in trailer parks.   Okay, there is no statistic supporting that, but I think it is probably true.  Anyway, here's a tip, don't give this mean chick any information about you.  Smile and say hi with indifference and that's it.  If she tries to talk to you, say you're late for something- a waxing maybe- and walk away.  If she gets you to be even slightly vulnerable, she will turn on you and use what ever tidbit you've given her against you.  Keep in mind, this girl is miserable and likes everyone else to be miserable. 

3.  Virtually the same goes for popular boys as popular girls.  The nice popular boy is handsome, outgoing and genuinely kind.  If he sees you getting beat up, he will actually think about stopping it, but likely won't do anything about it.  He may make a gesture later by making small talk with you when no one else is looking.  It's just a gesture, but take it.  Be cool.  He doesn't want to hang with you, but is just acknowledging that he knows you're a human.  The mean popular boys are the same as the mean popular girls but with a penis.  They typically aren't as cunning as the girls, but high school boys aren't terribly bright generally.  If they give you crap, try not to get in to a verbal sparring match with them. You will always win, but they won't care and will still beat the crap out of you.  Avoid provoking them if you can.  They too will end up miserable.  I also guarantee that they will look like hell at the 20th class reunion. Hell. No really. I promise.

4.  Stay focused on things that make you happy and connect you with other people.  This doesn't mean spending every waking moment playing video games with your one friend or painting your nails black and being morose while listening to depressing music.  Goth is so over done.  You will have to actually work at this, especially if you are a bit of an introvert.  Find something to do outside of school with other people.  Volunteer for something at church or at the animal shelter or stuffing envelopes or raking yards for old people.  Most of all, practice being friendly, opening your mouth to say something and listening to people.  Half the battle of overcoming being shy and awkward is to shut down the voice in your head and listening to people.  If it takes you a second to collect your next response, tough.  It is called a pause.  Conversations have them.  Connect with people.  Practice.  You'll have fun and build up your confidence.

5.  If you choose not to go to college but instead work, leave town. Hell, leave town if you go to college, too. This one is simple. If you are in a small town, go to a bigger town.  If you are in a large city, go to another neighborhood.  Why?  Because the miserable, mean "popular" kids who aren't smart enough to get into college or get pregnant and marry are going to stay in town with you and will be assholes for the rest of their lives.  Leave. Town. As. Soon. As. You. Graduate.

6.  Don't do what I did.  How's that for advice?  I was shy and afraid and miserable.  Instead of following the advice in #4 above, I started drinking and doing drugs excessively.  Lighting up once in a blue moon may not be a bad thing for you, but don't make your life's goal one of being zoned out all the time.  I did this from early high school until I was 21 and it took me years to grow up and left me without a lot of enduring friendships from my youth.  Just trust me.  It is so not worth the money.

7.  Adults are okay. If you have reasonably cool parents who are interested in your day, tell them about your day.  Let's be clear, your parents will always probably be a little uncool because that's how parents should be.  It is a warning sign if you have really cool parents because that might mean they have no boundaries. (A mom who wants to pole dance for your friends? Bad sign.)  But, if you have reasonably cool parents, let them be there for you.  If you're getting shit at school, tell them.  They will probably freak out and try to fix things, but tell them that for now you just want them to listen to you about it.  Don't let your dad go over to your tormentor's home to kick the shit out of your tormentor's father until the day before graduation if he must.  If you don't want to tell your parents, find a cool teacher.  Really.  You can probably find one in the English department- maybe a creative writing or speech teacher, or your band director.  Ask if you can talk and just have them listen.  Adults will help.  I had two teachers that I could talk to a little.  One I think saved my life at a particularly low point.  Thanks, Mrs. Friest.

8.  Always be your best self, even when it is hard.  That is so difficult to do, but if you start practicing it won't be so hard later in life.  Be kind. Just because other people might be mean to you, doesn't make it okay for you to pick on the rung lower than you if there is one.  Be friendly.  This is hard, but more people will have your back if you are pleasant to be around.  You don't have to be giddy and effusive. Just be cool.  Be compassionate.  Usually there is a reason that other kids are jerks.  You don't have to analyze them or approve of their behavior, but if the day comes when the mean popular girl falls on her ass and smacks her head on the icy sidewalk, give her a hand.  Laugh inside.  Laugh really really really hard inside but give her a hand. She might not take it, but at least you've had a good laugh and made the gesture.

9.  It does get better.  Yup.  Lots and lots of people have been saying this lately.  They are saying it because it is true.  Once you graduate from high school, that whole mess is behind you.  There is a whole world of people out there who will think you are fun, interesting and worth spending time with.  It will happen for you, no matter how awkward and odd you are.  It will happen even if you are the mentally challenged twin in the set who gets a 3.85 grade point average, unlike her sister who gets a 4.0.  And I'm not referencing anyone here in particular, Jean.  Really, I'm not.  ;o)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cranberry Festival- The Sequel

Oh boy, oh boy!  It's time for another review of the Cranberry Festival Parade!  This past weekend the tiny village of Stone Lake, WI held it's annual Cranberry Festival.  It was a brisk autumn day but about 25,000 crowded- and I mean crowded- into all 10 or 12 city blocks of Stone Lake. Why?  Because it is FUN!
Here are Curt and our guest Marina eagerly awaiting the parade.  Some of the parade pics are out of order, but I didn't want to reorder them by cutting and pasting HTML.  And will you know the difference?  Probably not.
 Here is Grand Marshall Tuddie Gillette enthusiastically accepting a pair of crocheted panties from one of her adoring fans.  If you don't know who Tuddie Gillette is and what she has done for the town of Stone Lake, join the club.  She looked like she might still be fun at a party.
 Okay, these are the Senior Center King and Queen.  Anything odd about this picture?  What struck me as odd is that the king and queen hardly look old enough to be committed to a senior center.  Maybe they've reached the end of their usefulness on the family cranberry farm.  Maybe they are loony as all get out.  Maybe their children just didn't want them around to burden them when the actually got old and dumped them at the senior center.  In any case, sad.
 These little tykes must have gotten my notes from last year's critique.  They were smiling and waving a lot compared to last year's little duds who looked utterly miserable.  The little gal in front saw me and was trying to give me a jazz hand.  Needs some work, but she'll get there.
What happened to the little cars?  The Shriners now drive scooters in an exciting choreographed ballet.  I personally liked the little cars.  However, with America's obesity epidemic, I suspect today's Shriners no longer fit in the little cars.  Did I ever tell you that I had a former co-worker who grew up in Hayward, let's call her Pamy Phrancis, who stole a Shriner clown car and crashed it into a tree when she was in high school?  She's a folk hero to me.
 Okay, this queen got her picture in my blog for two reasons.  First, this is just a nice well balanced picture-  great colors, action shot, nice.   Second, she was the ONLY queen in the whole parade in a dress who waved and smiled like a queen should wave and smile.  A+ to her.
 This dude was in marching band and trying to be all bad ass with his mohawk.  You're still in band.  Low rung.  Sorry dude.
 Here are two little campaigners for Sean Duffy for Congress.  He's a Republican.  These little girls were indoctrinated early into the cult.  The one driving wants to grow up to marry a rich attorney with a narcissistic personality disorder in hopes that she will one day be a Senator's wife.  The passenger is just hoping she can repress her lesbian tendencies convincingly enough to rise through Republican pundit ranks to become the next Ann Coulter.  Tragic.
 Look who showed up with The Singing Cranberries- my gal Mary Catherine Gallagher.  I worshipped her.
 Here is that creepy closeted scout master marching behind his little troop of gay haters.  Methinks... blah blah blah.  At least ditch the dusty rose neckerchief.  It gives me the willies.
 Seig Heil!  Seig Heil!  These sad queens were doing the synchronized seig heil wave.  They clearly did not get my notes from last year. STOP THE SYNCHRONIZED WAVING ALREADY!  No one likes it.  I want to know what old 1940's washed up beauty queen is still teaching this shit.  Maybe we should put HER in the Stone Lake Senior Center a bit early.
 I was momentarily distracted by a cute dad across the street.  Okay, if every moment between floats counts as momentarily, then yes, I was momentarily distracted.
 Last year these ladies were dressed up as Pink Ladies.  This year they were cross dressing as Danny Zuko.  I'm still convinced there is a fair amount of weed consumption going on here.
I like the percussion section of marching bands.  We were treated to 5 marching bands- 3 high school and 2 middle school.  One middle school band was from a Catholic school and was playing a hymn.  Disqualified.  Only one of the high school bands was properly dressed.  See above.  This boy is thinking "Could I get laid if I wasn't in band?"  You'll never know, young man.  You'll never know.
 Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong.
No one, especially an emotionally fragile 17 year old boy should EVER be cajoled into wearing a white one piece jumper in public.  I don't care that he gets the great authority that comes with being the drum major.  He will never live this down, at least in my mind.  He may be over it, but I, gentle readers, will never be.
My favorite part of the parade.  I wanted to smooch him.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Falling Farther In

I miss my parents today.  I miss them every day, but the last few weeks have had an unusual amount of longing for them.  It could be that they have appeared in my dreams in various roles, as have other departed friends and family.  It could just be the autumn.  According pagan religious traditions, in the autumn the veil between this world and the after world (death?) becomes thinner.   One might be able to more clearly "hear" the words of departed loved ones, catch glimpses of dear spirits in our periphery, talk to God or the gods, as the case may be. Maybe that is why I am missing them- because I can catch something of their essence near me but can't be with them.
Logically it all makes sense that a religious tradition that is based on the rhythms of the earth would have such beliefs.  Look around.  The bounty of summer is coming to a close.  The killing frost will turn the flowers and leaves of our annual garden plants black. Perennial garden plants die back to the ground saving energy in their roots.  Deciduous trees begin to drop their leaves in preparation for the long sleep.  The veil thins to allow easy passage around the circle into death.  This circle, the cycle in and out of life, into death and back into life, is what I rely on to get me through winter.  Like the trees, my mind sort of goes to sleep in a seasonal depression every year.  I just need to trust that the spring will come.
For a person who is not religious, I spend a fair amount of time pondering religion and the spirit.  I steer clear of religion because of the divisiveness of it all.  My god is better than your god.  My sin is less than your sin. My love is better than your love. My celestial underpants (Mormon- for real) are better than your big granny underpants (Lutheran)... and so on.  So many heinous behaviors are done wrapped in the cloak of religion.  Yet, according to what I understand of religion, the god they claim to follow would/should be horrified by what is done in his/her name.
I think it is fine if people choose to be religious.  Most people long to be a part of a community of like minded people.  We just do.  Social is survival.  Its a part of what makes our species successful.  But I question why these communities have to be separate and superior to one another based on ideology that is often more debatable nuance than actual difference in core belief.  It's that kind of thinking that drives me away, but often leaves me just slightly outside of having a strong sense of community in my life.
That is not to say that I feel alone.  Far from it.  I have family and friends aplenty. I have a strong sense and belief that we are all connected by something.  By what I'm not completely sure, but for me there is an undeniable connection between all living things.  I feel it in my body.  I can stand in a sea of people and feel it- a shared common humanness.  I can look into the eyes of my dogs and see it.  I can nurture a plant from spring to fall and sense that the energy and care I put into helping that plant thrive has bonded me to it in some way based on the exchange of care.  I give the plant care.  It blooms and surrounds me with beauty.  I don't think that connection is god with a capital G necessarily.  I'm not sure.  But, I do think that at the very minimum we are bound together by a collective will to first survive.  Plants that are sick will still shoot up a few leaves in an effort to heal.  The human brain in it's most lizard like simplicity will keep the heart beating and lungs breathing while other failing organs send out poison to bring an end to the body.
At the beginning of last month, a former friend of mine killed herself after struggling many years with depression.  We had a falling out many years ago and I only learned of her death through a mutual but distant friend.  Strangely, even though we hadn't communicated or laid eyes on one another in over 10 years, her suicide has haunted me a bit since then.  I'm sad for her.  I'm angry at her.  I'm have compassion for her. I think what she did was cruel to her partner.  Suicide is just so taboo.  It challenges our sense of the basic level of our connectedness- the instinct to survive.  I think that is part of what makes the act seem so violent, so uncomfortable, so confusing, so infuriating.  I saw my mother fight with all her being to rid her body of leukemia, to extend her life.  I've seen many friends with AIDS fight until their bodies gave out.  So this business of choosing one's out is deeply complex for me-  a moment of grave illness of another sort, another kind of "giving out" perhaps?
Maybe my former friend will come to me in a dream, forgiven and forgiving, and explain this to me.  Maybe she will come and tell me that I have to figure this out myself, or that it is none of my damn business.  Not knowing her, or particularly liking her, for 10+ years sort of puts it in to that realm a bit doesn't it?  In the mean time, I'll accept the slide into darkness that happens every year, experience the comfort of memories of friends that are no longer here, and trust that the sun will come back starting on the winter solstice, that the days will get longer and that I'll get easier to live with starting around March or so.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

At the end of a grumpy day..

... I can always find something else to complain about.  Today, it is affected speech carried out by born and bred Midwesterners.  No, not speech impediments - lisps, stutters, or southern drawls.  These are the affectations one adopts into their speech because you think they are nifty and make you sound smart, cool or worldly.  Doing so, however, just makes you annoying to listen to.  It is on par with the college sophomore who comes back from studying in England and asks what the American word for "the tube" is.  Annoying.  So, on with the grumpitude:

Affectation #1:
How do you say the word "false"?  If you tell me it sounds like the word "waltz", you're an affected mess. Someone very high up in the organization I work for uses this one all the time and I want to throw a coffee cup at him every time he says it.  True?  Yes. Faltz?  Not so much.

Affectation #2:
What is something that comes before something else?  Is it a "prelude"? Perhaps, it is if you pronounce it like something in the neighborhood of "prey-lood".  No where in the Midwest do we use the alternate pronunciation of "prell-ewed".  Jesus, make it stop.

Affectation #3:
If you are from Bumfudge, Wisconsin and you pronounce the word rather as "rah-ther" or worse "rahth-er"  I will smack you if you come within arms reach.  Just a warning.  Cut it out now.

Affectation #4:
I know Canadians are cute, but in Iowa there isn't a school teacher in the state that taught you to say the letter Z as "zed."  Just never happened.

Perhaps one day, I'll blog about something important, but I don't see that coming in the next few weeks.  Oh, and one more thing-  the name of the town with the Mayo Clinic it Rochester-  Rah-chester.  Not Rod-chester.  And the name of the suburb east of St. Paul is Woodbury-  Wood-burry.  Not Wood-berry spoken with a sing-song Minnesota accent.  Good god, I need some sleep and an attitude adjustment.  'Night all.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Somewhere in Minnetonka...

...an angry mommy is telling all her friends what an asshole I am. Why? Let me tell you why.

This morning, I'm trying to find a parking spot in the Barnes & Noble / Target parking lot and there were precious few. So, I turned the corner into a new row and see not one but two spots, one each on either side of a mini-van. I see that all four doors are open. On one side is a 12 -13 year old girl assisting a younger sibling in to a car seat. On the other side, the mom is helping another child in to a car seat. No problem, I can wait for that. Shortly, mom is done and hops into the front seat, but doesn't close her door, blocking that side of the van.

Then, 12-13 year old daughter finishes with the car seat business, shuts the back door and proceeds to stand by the front seat where she starts very slowly picking french fries off her seat one by one, and dropping them gingerly into the parking lot. Meanwhile, mom still has her damn door open. So, I make a move to begin pulling in to the parking spot next to the daughter, thinking this might prompt her to pick up the pace or just sweep the fries on to the floor of the van (it was no prize, it could have been done), shut her door and let the nice man in the SUV have his parking spot. Oh no, daughter looks at me, then goes back to slowly picking french fries off her seat.

So, here's where it gets interesting. While the slow french fry picker is trying her damnedest to ignore me, I tap the horn. No, I did not lay on the horn, I tapped it to get the daughter's attention. She looked at me and I gave her a questioning look that communicated nicely "Can I have this spot now?" Well, that didn't go over well with mommy because mommy jumped out of her seat, rushed to my window and screamed "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!! THERE ARE CHILDREN!!!" I calmly but firmly replied "Well, what is wrong is that you are taking up three parking spots between your van and your open doors and neither you or your daughter appear to be courteous enough to share the two that are not occupied by your van." Mommy then did the dumbest thing I've ever seen. She ran to her daughter's side, put her arm around her and looked at me as if to say "See the injury you've inflicted? Poor child." At this point, I shook my head, rolled my eyes at her and gave a low finger out of her eye sight, and took off to hunt for another parking spot, which I found eventually.

This only fueled my long standing opinion that many parents lose their minds at the first sight of their child wet and squirming from the womb and become over-indulgent nut bags for the next 30 -40 years. This is not all parents, mind you. In fact, most parents that I'm acquainted with would have told the slow french fry plucking daughter to hurry her ass up and get in the car and give the nice man his parking spot.

As someone who has chosen not to have children (it would ruin my hips), I am still able to appreciate and respect the desire of those who want children. I also understand completely that parenting is demanding. And of course I believe the children are our future. La la la. However, there are still a few ground rules for parents to follow around those who are not:
1. Your baby stroller does not have the right of way. It would be nice if you pushed it to the side when you stop to look at something in a store aisle or at the farmer's market.
2. When two mommies meet in an aisle, it is impolite to stop your baby strollers side by side and carry on a conversation lasting more than 4 seconds. You are in the way. Make a play date.
3. If I have covered all your duties at work while you are on maternity leave, you had better consider buying me a big damn gift or, at the VERY least, a nice thank you card with some Dairy Queen gift certificates tucked inside. Don't come back and critique my way of carrying on business in your absence. This makes you an asshole and the object of my scorn.
4. When eating out, don't let your darling little children run all over the restaurant and carry on as if it were your home. I don't care how cute they are. I don't want to see their toys, hear their sing-song rhymes or listen to them fight. I once sat in a restaurant with my friend Ruthie and her then 3 1/2 year old son while we received the most horrible service imaginable. After an hour of waiting for our food, her son was still in his seat, behaving like a gentleman and having a conversation with the adults there. Parents, this should be the standard to which you hold your children.
5. Trying to reason with your darling little one in the throes of a temper tantrum is not going to work and, frankly, looks ridiculous. You would do far better to completely ignore them. It won't make it any easier on me to hear the tantrum, but at least I won't need to listen to the additional nonsense of you reasoning with the unreasonable.
6. My out of work plans are just as important as yours. Don't you dare ever play the parent card when trying to determine who will work late or on a weekend. Your child will have another fecking soccer game. I assure you he will. Just because my plans are "only" dinner with friends I haven't seen is six months, doesn't make your darling child any of my interest or concern. Share the load.
That's enough for now. Can't wait to hear from my mom and dad friends. :O)

Friday, September 3, 2010

There are days...

...that I don't feel much unlike our friend Judy in this clip- little hands, high forehead and just a little slow.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Uh, Can I Get One In XXL?

Follow Me. Click on the 2nd picture. Ask yourself "why?'

State Fair Frolicking

As I was lying in bed last night, I came up with something really interesting and engaging to write about on my blog. It was something that would prove that I really do think about things other than what to eat next and where to go and what fun I want to have. This morning, the thought had vanished. So, instead, I will post pictures of our Minnesota State Fair adventure.

Here is Curt, excited about the prospect of getting hot mini cinnamon rolls with extra cream cheese frosting. They are tasty. Trust me and the twenty pounds of them I have hanging around my waist.
Here is a gratuitous knitting shot for Madame Leiderhosen. This thing was at least 12 feet long. Who has the yarn and the time to do that?
This is a corn beauty contest. It doesn't make much sense to me either. Enough said.
CROP ART!!! We love our crop art in Minnesota. For the uninitiated, we have a whole section devoted to crop art at our state fair. Crop art is images constructed entirely of seeds and grain. To really be good, you need to use only crops that can be grown in a Minnesota growing season. There are other categories, like dyed/painted seeds, but they are less prestigious than the traditional, Minnesota grown seeds. I'm embarrassed to have just written that last sentence.
Crop artists are also known for their sense of humor and/or political (left leaning) politics. The latter might be explained by the fact that most right leaning artists are painting Jesus or sunbeams coming through clouds or other tired images that they've been painting for hundreds of years. Oh, and they have no sense of humor. I said it.
Curt and pal, Marina, in front of the growing crowds. We got to the fair at 8:00 a.m.. By 10:30 it was packed with people grazing from one artery clogging concession stand to the next. Count me in!

Butter heads. This is the under-construction butter head of Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Don't ask, but yes, they are creepy.
Sheep judging. I was assured by Marina and Curt that they weren't being judged on the size of their balls. There were some big ones that could have one a ribbon if I had been judging. How-dee boy. Click on the picture to enlarge and see what I'm talking about.

So what did I eat, you ask?
1. Big Fat Bacon with a chipotle orange sauce.
2. Cinni-Minis with extra cream cheese frosting
3. A huge peach (my favorite)
4. Several bites of Curt's raspberry shake from the dairy building
5. Pork chop on a stick
6. Cotton candy
I could have sworn I showed some restraint this year, but I guess not. Better luck next year.