Pride in Kidlessness

I met this guy at a party, and he was boasting that soon after getting married he’d gotten a vasectomy.  His newlywed wife was all for it.  And they’d been married happily for many years.

But aren't they toooooo cute?

They are smart, well-traveled, fairly funny, and have a good life.  Why not want to share that with some little copies of themselves?

Here’s a few easy reasons.

  1. Perhaps one or both had a rough childhood, and don’t want to pass on those bad memories.
  2. Perhaps they are surrounded by enough children owned by relatives, they feel safe not contributing to the family.
  3. They could be so selfish that the idea of sharing any of their fun times with anyone else is abhorrent.  Why choose to share it with someone you are legally liable for?

I’m sure you can think of a few more, but the other day I realized there was a big one that I hadn’t considered.  It is very similar to thoughts I shared regarding suicide some time ago.

It goes like this:

This couple isn’t happy with the world as they know it.  There’s pollution, overcrowding, uncertainty, and increasing expenses.

They Choose No Children because they are afraid of the future.  The joy they might feel in raising a child is offset by the pain of exposing them to a frightening world.

In a way, we are seeing a form of species suicide.  For if the members don’t have enough children, the species will shrink.  Shrink enough and it dies.

So the next time you meet a couple that is childless, try to cheer them up.  The future can’t be that bad.

Can it?

 

 

Emily Dickinson is a cheap date

Rocking your World since 1884

As the oldest of five children, my upbringing differed considerably from the others.

Frugality is part of my earliest memories.  Conservation and efficiency were part of every lecture when I was old enough.  As a result, even to this day, I am not above eating everything on my plate and saving things that my younger siblings willingly throw away.

As you can imagine, frugality is not the easiest way to impress someone of the opposite sex.  Lucky for me, I met a wonderful woman, also the oldest, brought up similarly to me, and understanding of my ways.  In fact, to this day, she is even more frugal, so that I have to toss things when she’s not looking!  I’m sure she knows.

Which brings us to Emily.  Being a tough New England chick, she also would have eschewed anything having to do with frills and waste.  Which is why she was so happy taking long walks, tending her garden, or reading a book.

That’s why I can imagine walking with her, aimlessly, through the woods until we found a small glade, and then, sitting together, read to each other.  I wouldn’t choose anything too heady, no sermon or improving literature.  No, it would be something whimsical, even poetic.  We’d laugh, we’d talk, and then we’d walk home.

She sums all of this up right here.

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry—
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without opress of Toll—
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul

 

 

Pride and Prejudice: Decompressed

Great Novel, Great Novelist

Jane Austen compressed a lot of action into her prose.  The incredible part isn’t just the compression, after all, other great writers have done that.

What makes Jane the MASTER is that her compression is hidden among ordinary text.  The compressed information gets into your head, and slowly unspools into a much larger story.

That’s beyond great.

By way of illustration, I’m going to grab a semi-random paragraph and unspool it for you before your eyes.

Chapter 21.  Fairly innocuous, not much happens, even by P&P standards.

First Paragraph.  Why not?  Here it is.

The discussion of Mr. Collins’s offer was now nearly at an end, and Elizabeth had only to suffer from the uncomfortable feelings necessarily attending it, and occasionally from some peevish allusions of her mother. As for the gentleman himself, his feelings were chiefly expressed, not by embarrassment or dejection, or by trying to avoid her, but by stiffness of manner and resentful silence. He scarcely ever spoke to her, and the assiduous attentions which he had been so sensible of himself were transferred for the rest of the day to Miss Lucas, whose civility in listening to him was a seasonable relief to them all, and especially to her friend.

Here comes the decompressed story. (begin expansion)

To the extent any discussion was possible in the household, they had nearly exhausted the subject as well as the energy of those most passionate about its subject.  All that was left from Elizabeth’s emotional point of view was to bear the uncomfortable feelings that can be assumed to accompany such a spirited offer and its refusal, particularly in the face of such strong opposition to her own wishes.  It didn’t help that her mother would continue, on occasion, reintroduce her feelings by alluding to the situation Elizabeth had created.

This, of course, reintroduces the concept of how Elizabeth’s mother was cast by the narrator of the story to be something of a simpleton.  However, we have here yet another example of a frustrated mother, but one who is disciplined enough to know that a frontal assault upon Elizabeth’s sensibilities would be ineffectual.  Instead she pushed through allusion, and not incessantly at that.  This shows that Mom was both intelligent and restrained, despite the narrator’s attempts to have us believe otherwise.

Strangely enough, as if he wasn’t strange already, Mr. Collins does not appear to feel the need to express himself as being embarrassed, rejected in any form, or for that matter, any possible appearance of avoiding the former object of his alleged affections.  In a manner that is most familiar to today’s armchair psychologists, Mr. Collins is showing his aggression passively.  He is decidedly silent towards Elizabeth, and he is extra “stiff” in expressing his manners.  Something like a resentful robot, allowing those angry thoughts to remain suppressed and easily interpreted through childish actions.  Everything he does only reinforces Elizabeth’s original impressions of him.

The fact that he hardly speaks to her is greatly appreciated, particularly as he originally had such assiduous attentions in mind.  That they have been transferred to her best friend, Charlotte Lucas, is also appreciated.  Elizabeth feel particularly close to Charlotte, and feels to a large extent that her friend is “taking one for the team.”  The last phrase, however, is an incredible sleight of hand as far as foreshadowing the story is concerned.

For not only is this a relief to Elizabeth, but “especially” to her friend.

(end expansion)

There.  Of course, I haven’t tried my best to polish this expansion.  However, the text above is not unheard of in this day and age.  I’ve seen what passes for “modern” writing.

Jane’s excerpt comes to 110 words.

My explanation comes to 363.  Easily tripled.

Is this conclusive proof?  Of course not.

But I hope it intrigues you enough such that the next time you dig into the rich story that is P&P, you’ll ponder the incredible talent that puts so much information into such a small space.

When you do, perhaps you will react much the same way as when Elizabeth read Darcy’s letter for the upteenth time.

 Till this moment I never knew myself.

Decompress that!

 

The “Other” Other Woman

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The other day my super politically reactionary cousin was defending Herr Drumpf as being a good example of a leader and gentleman.

You are.

 

I do my best to stay calm and level headed, so I asked what she thought about all the women who have come out and made statements about things that he has done to them?  Most of the things he’s alleged to have done were unwanted harrassment.

But there were also quite a few women who attested that they were quite happy “Doing the Dude” for any number of reasons.

My cousin’s reaction?

“They are all lying.  Women will do or say anything to get attention, especially at the expense of a famous man.”

This caught me by surprise.  There have been, and still are, quite a few famous men that don’t have a dozen women chasing them around with sexual allegations.

There also have been, and still are, quite a few women who generally tell the truth.

There also have been, and still are, quite a few men who are well known to make a habit of preying on women.

Finally, there is absolute evidence that Der Drumpf has cheated on his previous wives, evidence that was presented in divorce court.

So what’s the deal with my cousin?

I figured it out the other day, and here’s an article that helps lead us in the right direction.

It must have happened to her.

The only way my cousin would discount ALL women as liars, is if she has to believe that ONE women in particular, is also a liar.

Who is that woman?

Someone who threatened to come between her and her husband.

In order to save her own peace of mind, my cousin had to consider that “other” woman as a liar.  That means her husband was still faithful to herself, and that means that her marriage is sound.

It also means that my cousin has become the other other woman.  For it is she who is fooling herself about a relationship that no longer exists.

It also means that, of all the other women out there who stand by His Hole-ness for all his alleged sexual exploits, there’s a chance they are reacting like my cousin for similar reasons.

Is it possible that there is such a large population of “other” other women?

What do you think?

 

Sex Assault Drill

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Fire drill?  Line up and file out!

Or turning the other cheek?

Nuclear war drill?  Duck and cover!

Sexual harassment drill?  Huh?

That’s right.  What happens next?  I don’t know.  So I looked it up.

I got these links, and read all of them.  Guess what?  There’s no right answer.

I was sitting by Alice, a charming young woman.  Bob sat on the other side, a large older married man.  She was scheduling a meeting with Bob at a local pub after work.  It was certainly innocent enough until he started making jokes about making sure they didn’t drink too much on a weekday.  Then he made a “joke” about her sitting in his lap.  And finally there was the “joke” about not staying out too late.

Nothing is clear cut in the real world.  First off, Bob was making bad jokes throughout the meeting.  Alice had been encouraging those jokes by laughing, or at least chuckling.  Trust me, the jokes weren’t that good.  Bob has no work authority over Alice, but as an older man she may have some respect for him.

Here’s my problem, and I’m asking you for help.

What is with Bob?  Why is he effectively hitting on Alice?  Hasn’t he heard of the #MeToo movement?  Hasn’t he ever been introduced to good taste?  At the very least, can’t he learn to tell better jokes?

Alice has a boyfriend, I heard her telling Bob that at least once.  But I can’t be sure she was offended by his “moves.”

I would have liked to confront Bob and ask him if he’d like me to sit in his lap for a change.  (I’m a big enough guy, by the way, I wouldn’t care.)  I have to be careful, he might say yes.

Or maybe I should act all coy and ask him to help me with a hypothetical situation, and then describe him in detail.  With my luck he probably wouldn’t get it.

Maybe I should just file a police report.  Ha.  Good luck with that.  They’re busy enough chasing overdoses and crooked politicians.  Well, overdoses.

Perhaps the best place to start is to ask Alice what she thinks.  I don’t mind telling her how I felt (UNcomfortable!) but if it’s some kind of game she plays with Bob, then who am I to judge?

Why can’t people make it simple?  Perhaps everyone really wishes we lived back in tribal times, where those with the biggest sticks got their way.  Everyone else simply got out of their way.

Oh well.  If you have any advice I’d love to hear it.  The only other suggestion I can think of is that we change society so that we are all far more respectful of each other.

Talk about dreaming!

Emily Dickinson Makes Me Dream

Rocking your World since 1884

Hello Gentle Reader,

My big news is that I finished the book!  As finished as it can be without the insights of critical readers.  It’s in the hands of critical reader number one, and I’m biting my nails waiting for her verdict.  And her red pen marks.  I hope she likes it.  I don’t want to keep asking her, because I want her to enjoy it without any additional pressures.  She’s also fighting cancer, and other ailments, so there’s slightly higher priorities in her life.  But she’s had it a whole week!  What’s taking her so long?

Anyway, writing the book has allowed me to become intimate with Jane Austen.  I don’t have a problem telling you that I have a thing for Jane.  If she showed up at the door, I’d take her out for ice cream.  My wife might get jealous, but she’s invited as well.  I hope Jane has her flesh on.

In order to start relaxing after this 18 month ordeal, I’ve been doing all sorts of fun stuff.  Including picking up a childhood poetry book edited by Louis Untermeyer.  Great stuff.  In it I came across this poem about a narrow fellow who parted grass like a comb.  And I was hooked.

Since then I’ve been “dating” Emily.  I hope Jane won’t mind.  True, she is a slightly younger woman, but she’s still older than me.  Oh, but what incredible insights.  I’m going to share some of my new enthusiasm with you here, and we’ll start with this:

In this short Life
That only lasts an hour
How much — how little — is
Within our power

This immediately reminds me of Blake’s “To see a World…” yet with greater feeling.  There’s a cold audacity in Blake, while Emily is humble and vulnerable.  Blake inspires us, but Emily consoles.  There is something that she captures in words, an empathy, an assurance, an embrace that Blake will never achieve.  That she did this using tiny scratches upon a bit of paper is awe inspiring.  That it still communicates her emotions, tugging at my heart some 150 years later, is breath-taking.

So, my apologies to Jane Austen, my girl-friend for the last two years.  I will always honor you and never forget you.

But I’m going to be spending time with a slightly younger lady; for a while anyway.  Emily wrote almost 1800 poems, and it’s going to take some time working through those.  Add in strolling through the park, picnics, the odd romantic dinner, and tea parties, this is a relationship that I’m going to be enjoying for many years.

Stay tuned for updates!

 

Yoga and Active Asana

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Getting into yoga means different things to everyone.  For most Americans, it means going into a hot room with lots of other beautiful people, moving about rather quickly.  Women in yoga pants, men without shirts, and lots of sweat.

For others, it can mean slow quiet movements, focusing on precise tuning of each muscle and muscle group so that internal stresses are in balance.  Sweat is optional, endurance and concentration are not.

However, if we go to what the original yoga master said about “sitting postures” it reads something like this:

I think...

And it made me realize something.

If I want to go for a long walk, or even a run…

Or if I want to jump rope, or do some crunches…

… I can still meet this definition of an asana.

Breathing?  Heart rate?  Concentration?

That’s right.  Up to a certain point, I can be doing all these crazy “aerobic” exercises and still be doing yoga.  Why not?

True confessions.  Let’s face it.  I’m a self-pusher.  I’m not happy unless I go a little bit harder, a little bit further, every time I exercise.  So after a while I’m not doing yoga anymore – I’m running, or jumping, or crunching.  And I’m probably grunting, breathing hard, and sweating.  Definitely sweating.

That’s not the point.  Even these non-sitting non-peaceful postures can themselves be yoga.  In point of fact, no single exact posture is called out by the ancient yoga masters.  Nada.

Everything we are doing today is an add-on invention.  And that’s a good thing.

So if you come up with an asana that works for you, use it.  Work it.  Own it.

As long as you can do it with precision, concentration, and peace, it’s yoga.

Enjoy it while you can, because the more you enjoy it, the longer you can enjoy it.

It’s time for me to jump some rope.

 

Man Tongue

Sorry, this isn’t what you may think.  Tongue has to do with language.  Not sure why we call languages, tongues, but maybe it’s because the tongue has a lot to do with it.

I’m working to learn French.  It’s not easy.  They really make your lips and ears work hard.  The tongue?  Not so much.

One big thing that was hard for me to understand was this: Groups are either girls or guys.  In French it’s << elles >> or << ils >>.  (Sorry, the whole double carat is French as well.)

Anyway, say there’s a group of five women walking down the street.  You’d say, “women walking down the street.”

What about five men doing the same thing?  You’d say, “men walking down the street.”

Here’s the fun part.

What if the group is four women and one man?  You’d say, “men walking down the street.”

Yup.  I know, it seems crazy.  Wait.

What if it’s an entire stadium of women watching a football match?  “Women watch football.”

Now, put a single man (he might be married, I meant one person) into the crowd, and guess what you have to say?  That’s right.  “Men watch football.”  Yes, even if the ENTIRE crowd but one has freudian-based penis-envy, you have to say, “men.”

For the longest time this drove me nuts.  It still drives people nuts, because it purposely marginalizes women.  I don’t like marginalizing women.  I like women.

But why does the language do this?

Remember, languages have been around a long time.  Even French.  And there’s a good chance that the French didn’t invent the whole gender bias thingy.  So we have to go back thousands of years to the source.

What was going on thousands of years ago?

Murder.  Mayhem.  Massacres.  Maybe.

In short, it was quite the heyday of times.  Possibly like game of thrones.

If you were a guy, and very sensitive to not dying, and someone was describing a crowd of people to you, what might be of great interest to you?

If it was me, I’d want to know if there were any men in that group.  Specifically, men who might want to hurt me.  If the group is all women, I’d feel better.  Not really.  I know what women are capable of, because I’ve been happily married for a long time.

But if sword thrusting and mace wielding are your concern, then you want to know if men are around.

Result?  You use your language as an early warning system.

It’s only an idea, don’t go ballistic.  But for a real answer, I’d look to this guy.  I enjoy his videos.  In the meantime,

Bonne journée!

 

Happy Birthday Story

Stories reveal our humanity.  We can use them to learn more about each other, and how to better ourselves.

And sometimes, they are simply a good story.

My friend is celebrating her birthday around now, and was taking a walk to relax and reflect.

She came across a neighbor’s pond, and stopped.  There stood a Great Blue Heron.  And it was only ten paces away.

Around these parts, the heron is famously shy.  The fact that it was facing away from her may have helped.  Regardless, the fact that it didn’t notice her was incredible.

What made this chance encounter so much more poignant was that her late father’s birthday was also around this time.  And she missed him terribly.

What made this chance encounter so incredibly poignant was that her father’s favorite bird was the Great Blue Heron.

My friend stood, frozen, for quite some time.  Then she started singing happy birthday to her father.

It’s important to understand that my friend has a singing voice that is angelic.  She sings in the symphony.  Even her silly ditties are a joy to hear.  So when she started singing to the heron, there’s a good chance even the heron could tell it was something special.

Then my friend got to the part where you mention the name, “Happy Birthday dear Daddy…”

And the heron turned its head to look at her.

She froze, only for a second, her heart in her throat.  Then she finished the song.

And the heron flew away.

Stories reveal our humanity.  We can learn from them.

And sometimes, they are simply a good story.

Happy Birthday, Friend.

 

Valuing Your Virginity

Virginiest of them all.

I came across a wonderful post written by a talented young woman today, and must salute her courage.

She made a point about being a virgin, and how that was a gift she intended for her future husband.  It’s a wonderful sentiment, its value is certainly recognized by society, and almost every culture and religion reinforces the idea.

But it’s misplaced.

To understand why, let’s go back a few years.  Back when the term was first used, almost a thousand years ago.

Society was climbing out of the dark ages, and needed more ways to help categorize people as life became a bit more complex.  Every time a holy book needed to be translated, it didn’t hurt to update the fundamental concepts with new terms.  That’s why, for followers of Christianity, Mary the Mom of Jesus eventually became Virgin Mary.

Over time we started valuing the concept of “virgin” itself instead of the more fundamental concept those translators were trying to describe.

What was that fundamental concept?  It’s the same thing our courageous young lady wants to give to her husband.

It’s the gift of commitment.

It’s a way of telling someone that you are willing to stick by their side, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part.

Our young warrior (for that is what she is) worries that she will be inexperienced, or incapable of adequately pleasing her husband in that way.  Nonsense.  This is what she’ll need to keep him happy, and it’s what he will need as well.

That’s the value of “virginity” and it has nothing to do with sex.

As for the greater questions she raises about pornography and how it hurts young men and society, I may have covered that already.  If not, let me know.