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Hope is the only universal liar who never loses his reputation for veracity. ~ Robert G. Ingersoll

livingontheedgeI am not a control freak. I easily delegate, happily let others get on with whatever their thang happens to be, accept the changing tides and times. Heck, I’m even happy enough grasping the idea that comfort zones need a slap upside the head from time-to-time and change can be a good thing.

I’ve lived long enough to get that bumps in the road make sense when looking back on the journey, that time heals wounds (or vice versa), that good things come to those who wait, and all those other aphorisms routinely trotted out when life is crappy.

 

But …

When the list of things I have absolutely zero control, influence, even minor sway over is thirty times more impressive than the couple of bulls whose horns I can manage to take … well …

I try to grow hope.

Hope: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design; optimism, expectation, expectancy; confidence, conviction, assurance; promise, possibility. Yeah, there more versions of hope than there are shards of broken glass on a beach, and although forming an aspiration or two is easy enough, expectations that plans or designs will provide assurance, or even possibility, rather lack conviction. As Robert Burns so well put it, albeit most likely with a touch of whiskey and haggis on his breath … which may account for all Scots talking funny …

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Having found my bootstraps on many occasions and tugging fiercely, often for years, I am well practiced. My kids’ lives are sorted safely, securely and happily, so I can put down the lead umbrella I’ve been holding since the age of seventeen. I can take care of myself. I don’t need saving or completing and I’m okay with seeing to my own daily needs.

Ain’t life grand?

Compared to some, mine is pretty great — roof overhead, wine in the fridge — and I’m not knocking what I have, what I have worked for, or the plans I’ve made that actually almost worked out. Neither am I regretting … anything.

I am, however, doubting an adage I once trusted; that things happen for reasons and in their own time.

Another relationship ending disappointingly, thousands of miles between me and my kids, a tenacious tether to property, advancing age that has done jack shit to lower my desires or expectations … all beyond any jurisdiction I find in my realm.

Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent.                              ~ Mignon McLaughlin

I know I don’t have many years left, more behind me than ahead, and very much want to live fully, but am feeling restraints it seems I have no power to loosen. Doing what I can … involving myself in endeavors I find worthy, learning stuff I’ve not paused to cozy up to in the past, conversing with those I like, admire or disagree with … fills time and brings some relief, but I’m frustrated as I feel days and weeks and months and years flash past … and don’t mind.

Some would call it ‘being at loose ends’, but it feels more like the tank is running low, and although I’d like a refill there doesn’t seem to be fuel around and I don’t know where to even look anymore.

The free-floating anxiety I’ve experienced in the past is returning and I find myself again constantly checking the sky for shit asteroids, even though I know damned well you never see them coming.

I have been, however, gently nurturing a few seeds of hope. I’ll see my small kids in a couple of months — always a bright light that warms. I’ll continue to try to sell my place to free myself up for more travel, more adventures. I’ll finish that fuckin’ book I’ve been working on. I’ll continue to lend my voice to those who think it will help.

I’m not 80 … part of the hill is still before me … and a quarter tank just might get me further than I think.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. ~ Anne Lamott

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I am so confused …

Apparently we now live in a world where men are so impressed with balls they have their dogs fitted with fake ones so the world can see their stuff wag, yet women can’t seem to decide if their lips should be bigger (see photo) or smaller.

While those stuck to a woman’s face are seen to need invasive plumping, trimming the lower lips is the nip-du-jour for the tuck down under

Dr Sarah Creighton and colleagues believe the future demand for so-called “designer vagina” operations or labial reductions is potentially infinite and is driven by society’s wider and growing desire for cosmetic surgery in general and changing expectations about what is a desirable appearance for women.

“It’s shocking, particularly because we are seeing girls who are really young. They are asking for surgery that is irreversible and we do not know what the long-term risks of the procedure might be.”

She said latest figures for England show about 2,000 of the procedures are paid for by the NHS each year.

“That’s probably just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a massive boom industry in the private sector.”

According to the BBC, girls as young as 11 are lining up to have their lines lined up.

Sigh …

It has long been the case that while people are starving to death in some parts of the world, others are busily clogging their arteries every day with stuff containing enough calories to sustain entire villages for a month, but this idea that women in flourishing societies are queuing and paying for a version of the cut that can be called mutilation in the ‘developing world’ is also appalling.

Female genital mutilation is the removal of part or all of the external female genitalia. In its most severe form, a woman or girl has all of her genitalia removed and then stitched together, leaving a small opening for intercourse and menstruation. It is practiced in 28 African countries on the pretext of cultural tradition or hygiene.

Sure, FGM should be considered brutal abuse, but it is at root a cultural dictate that demands women’s bits conform to whatever it is a culture decides the form must take. Are we now moving toward the same, albeit with surgical blades instead of broken shards of glass?

While men so proudly dangle and fondle the holy scrotum no matter how unbalanced the hang, how hairy and wrinkly and bumpy and squishy the bag, it seems women have come to the thought that anything excess of what they had about age five is somehow obscene and in need of surgical intervention.

Really now, Ladies, it’s 2011! Did we not fight long and hard for the right not to have to be tight-lipped?

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There are times when I truly can’t figure out whether I’m losing my battle with depression or life really does suck, not that it matters, since I can’t do much about either and both piss me off.

The down-and-outness of being down-and-out for so long makes it difficult to rise above the ever-mounting shit and even I am bored with my pathetic attempts to climb. I hate this wimpy, beaten me, but my hands are so shredded from grasping at straws, pulling at bootstraps and clinging to hope that it’s hard to concoct oomph from ack, yikes and not again.

I’m not unfamiliar with the layout of this tunnel, but the repeated encounters where light at the end of it turned out to be nothing but a rapidly approaching train have have set me to cowering along the moldy walls, and with retreat not an option, advancing unlikely and standing still dangerous it doesn’t help much that I know where the exits are since they are locked tight.

Recent flickers of brightness were mere tricks of the eye that proved to be annoyingly less than nothing and only served to emphasize the darkness, but that’s actually okay; I’m not afraid of the dark, just of what lurks in it. You’d think by now I’d have stopped paying attention to to gleams cast by fool’s gold, yet I I still tend to stumble in their direction, knowing all along that I’m bound to fall on my face … again.

I know the old adage that says, “Sometimes the only thing one can change is attitude”, and I can wear that for a while. It’s easy enough to count my blessings, revel in the good fortune that brought me my children, my friends, the creative outlet I have, the beauty around me … and be grateful.

In so many ways I am a very lucky woman. I’m not starving in Sudan or in danger of freezing on the streets of St. Petersburg. I have a house and a view and a car and a fridge, shoes and shirts and shorts, books … even an iPad, FFS. Three out of four of my kids are alive … wonderful, smart and healthy … blessings every one. I have great friends, interesting conversation, and laugh often.

So what’s my problem?

See?

I can see the glass as half full while at the same time knowing how close to empty it is. It just takes effort.

I have problems. I suffer from depression, impetuosity, rotten taste, generosity, hope, pride, a wide range of faults, fear. I live on a small island, am a 60-year-old single-parent with limited prospects and energy, few resources and am running out of ideas. People expect a lot from me, and I rarely let them down. Demands mount daily while nothing presents that might allow me to meet them.

I need help, don’t know where to look for it and would be reluctant to ask if I did.

Consider this post blather. I’ll get over it.

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The Mutt’s Nuts

image credit: Biro.comAlthough I have been known to find testes tasty … and not just chopped and salted … a hairy, dangling sack is hardly the most fetching bit of male bits. No matter the angle of presentation, that bag of balls seems a silly globule, comical even, and I’m still not sure how men manage to cross their legs without bursting into tears.

That they come in various shapes and sizes and with very differing dangles does make them interesting, but those two veg need the meat for context and viewed on their own would be quite alarming items … rather like finding a bumpy, hairy octopus head sans tentacles just hanging around for no particular reason.

In other words, they’re not exactly the dog’s bollocks.

Dog’s bollocks
Meaning: Excellent – the absolute apex.

The reasons why the ‘dog’s bollocks’ are considered to be the top of the tree aren’t clear. It may be linked to an associated phrase – ‘stand out like a dog’s balls’, i.e. ‘outstanding’, although I can find no evidence to indicate that phrase as being earlier than the ‘dog’s bollocks’. Dogs do enjoy licking their genitals of course but again, there’s no evidence that links the coining of this phrase to that.

The word bollocks, meaning testicles has been part of the language since the 18th century, but didn’t become used to mean nonsense until the early 20th century. The ‘dog’s bollocks’ seems to have originated in Britain in the first half of the 20th century.

Apparently, however, some do pay homage to the holy scrotum, even to the point of considering dogs’ bollocks the mutt’s nuts, so much so that they’re happy to put up the dosh to get their pups kitted out with an artificial set if theirs have gone missing …

Munson, a burly 7-year-old English bulldog, has a secret: His testicles are fake.

Neutered as a puppy, Munson (named after Larry Munson of Georgia Bulldog fame) got a pair of synthetic stand-ins to preserve his manly pride. Not his idea, of course, but his owner’s.

Yep. Welcome to the world where “Neuticles” are a hot item.

Over 425,000 caring pet owners Worldwide have selected Neuticles as a safe, practical and inexpensive option when neutering their beloved pet.

Neuticles allows your pet to retain his natural look, self esteem and aids in the trauma associated with altering.

With Neuticles®
“It’s like nothing ever changed”

(Check out the site for a look at one guy concerned enough about his Dachshund’s butchness he bought the dog — at least — a pair.)

The size and price page prompts the deeper voices in my head to imagine the dialog for placing an order …

XXL.
Two, please.
Hold the mayo …

And that’s a dog’s self esteem sorted, heh?

I’m wondering, though, how owners will explain why their best friend can’t get it up …

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Communication this morning with my friend Paul Leslie has sent me on a breadcrumb chase down memory lane.

An upcoming interview he has scheduled with Peter Noone takes me back to the early days of puberty, that transforming time of budding and busting out of childhood more formative in solid fashion than the proceeding years.

Like most young girls at the time and place, the “British Invasion” took me by a storm of hormones and set the tone for a lifelong predilection for musicians that’s plunged me into more trouble that I’m admitting today.

So many of those mop-headed young men were compelling in so many ways, and … GAWD! … were they cute! FFS, even Keith Richards was pretty at the time.

As King of Cute Mountain, Peter Noone … whose full name — Peter Blair Dennis Bernard Noone — I committed to memory … was an easy crush.

Okay, ‘Herman’s Hermits’ has a hokier-than-hell ring now, but back in the day when monikers like Beatles and Moby Grape were sigh prompters and Steppenwolf was almost OTT intellectual no one was a quick critic of band names. And it was cute.

Cute equalled perfection as estrogen production began; too much “manly” was off-putting, frightening even, for a 14-year-old whose fantasy life was still limited to snogging and maybe the occasional slow dance.

And Peter Noone was such safe fodder. With the widest, warmest smile in Pop and songs like “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”, welcoming him into the imagination was like a slide into a warm bath with a kind of hush.

As I grew up, I lost much of my taste for sugar in my tea and learned to prefer the harsh bite of lemon in tequila and men and music that could scare me just a bit, but pretty men still turn my head and a nice smile still generates heat.

Paul asked if I had a question I’d like him to pose to Peter. I can’t think of one, but it would be nice to pass along how I appreciate his contribution of sweetness to my youth.

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I’m not much in the mood for blogging this week, but can’t let it be said I don’t rise to an occasion when a topic rears its ugly head. Not that I’m throbbing with any desire to stand at attention, nor to prostrate myself in order to take in the hard issues, but do feel it apt to take it in hand to act as an organ of communication, to attempt to erect some sort of rigid structure from which to dangle a thought or two since I’ve yet to go either soft or squishy when it comes to items in the news, no matter how resistant I may be to swallowing what’s rammed down my throat.

Yes, peeps, it’s Penis on Parade Week, an event designed to illustrate for once (or a whole bunch of times) and for all (within a certain age range) that the brain is actually a superfluous body part undamaged by redirection of blood flow.

I know by now it’s a case of flogging a deceased well-endowed equine, but REALLY! Could anyone have written a tale of a guy named Weiner taking his sausage social? If something like that had come across the desk of someone other than a teacher of twelve-year-olds it would have been tossed straightaway.

As fodder, of course, the story is quite the tempting mouthful, as Andy Borowitz reveals in his usual kinda-like-a-twelve-year-old fashion as he slides in his jabs:

Traffic snarled for miles around the Capitol building as the streets filled with the penis-photo recipients, whom police sources said ranged in age from 21 to 22.

While there was no official count of the marchers, Fox News estimated the size of the crowd at twenty million while MSNBC said the number was closer to fourteen.

But seriously, folks …

I am rubbing up against a hard issue today, too.

It’s this business over taking tips that has me grabbing for the tissues.

Those San Franciscans may not be the only ones voting on whether or not to make circumcision illegal for minors.

The New York Times reports “intactivists” are fighting for a similar ballot issue in Santa Monica, arguing that the procedure is “male genital mutilation.”

“This is the furthest we’ve gotten, and it is a huge step for us,” Matthew Hess, who wrote both bills, tells the newspaper, adding that folks in other cities have been calling for help, as well. “This is a conversation we are long overdue to have in this country. The end goal for us is making cutting boys’ foreskin a federal crime.”

Although I am all in favor of moving past the point where baby boys were all but automatically circumcised … and that was the case in America for many years … this palaver seems misguided, at best, perhaps racist and possibly a dangerous diversion.

Esthetically, it’s neither here nor there to me since flaccid form seems to have no influence over function, but I do know some men long for their lost foreskin … a few with the same passion they carry resentments for stolen toys. I suppose it does give a bit more to play with, and a bit more can make all the difference in the world to some guys and the idea that they should have had some say in the matter does have merit.

From a medical perspective, phimosis must be considered. Although this super-tight foreskin problem can sometimes be stretched away, very often the only solution is surgical.

Given the drastic reduction in rates of HIV transmission circumcision offers, there also seems to be a more general advantage.

Not particularly tolerant of religious dictates, especially those involving a blade, ritual circumcision seems an unnecessary harkening back to ancient times when bathing was unusual and cheesy foreskins invited infection, then passed those along.

Cutting your kid so he looks like you seems another silly reason, and any guy who spent time in the locker room checking out the extra bit at the end the quarterback’s dick and found it unattractive was doing too much peepee peeking and should make the decision on their own sons out of more solid objectives.

The main reason, however, I’m going at it on the topic is that diversion thing I mentioned. Making a big thing out of the business of mohels … and, by the way, I understand they aren’t paid; they only take tips … is a muddying of the waters that run between removal of penile foreskin and the horrors of what is euphemistically known as female circumcision.

No matter how often the “Intactivists” toss around the words “genital mutilation” what is done to boys is NOTHING like what happens to millions of girls around the world.

From WHO:

Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.

Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.

It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.

In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.

FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

If a bunch of people in Santa Monica want to go all high and mighty over the issue of circumcising boys, so be it, but I won’t respect them in the morning.

By the way, is Weiner with, or without?

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Caution: do NOT click on the link to the ref to this post unless you are of age and prepared to see images that some may find disturbing … if real women’s bodies can be found to be disturbing. I offer a half-assed apology to any who may be offended by this post, the subject matter being considered taboo in some quarters, but suggest those who find it a bit unsavory get the fuck over it …

With a recent post prompting a spate of speculation over the possible reasons women subject themselves to all sorts of painful and expensive surgeries in hopes of somehow improving their … what? … looks? … chances? … futures? … whatevahhh … this article, “Why Australian law demands all vaginas be digitally altered”, really got my knickers in a twist.

Although there’s a flap in the comments over the writer’s terminology, she does admit that out of some drive for easier digestion she uses “vagina” when she should be calling the parts to be altered “vulva” and I’m not bothered.

A couple of things do bother me, though, and a lot! First, the fact that I’ve gone through my whole life having NO idea that some of what went on in the world of pornographic images of women was happening. Second, the impact on the generations of women who’ve been living during the time of this ruse.

Although familiar with the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, I must admit to being completely surprised by the fact that women in “civilized” countries have been lining up for not only boob jobs, but labiaplasty, and for many of the same reasons.

Porn, apparently, not only touts plastic tits, but altered twats. No shit?

Pardon my naiveté, please, but quite honestly I’ve never been in a position to examine another woman’s private parts, and even on the occasions I have seen pornographic images … and there have been many of those since no few men I’ve been around have found porn “entertaining” … I found myself paying more attention to the pestles than the mortars, and absolutely none to the dialog. Given the issue of location, I’ve rarely even checked out my own all that often or thoroughly, so it’s safe to say I’ve given little thought to vulvas.

I am appalled, however, to learn that even that most girly of girl parts has been subject to the airbrush, the tidy-up, the alteration.

If I handed you a pencil and paper and asked you to draw a vagina*, odds are you would come up with something like this:

Which is interesting, considering only a small minority of mature females actually have fannies that look like that. Little girls – yes, that’s pretty much what they all look like. But grown women? The vast majority have a least a peep of their ‘inner lips’ showing, even when standing upright with their legs together while sipping Earl Grey from gold-rimmed Royal Doulton and nibbling on homemade shortbread. For many women, it’s more than just a ‘peep’ – some have full-blown dangly blossoms on display. This has nothing to do with how much sex they’ve had, their state of arousal or whether they’ve borne children (although, so what if it was?). It’s simply the way they are built.

So, getting this straight … men are being taught through the handbooks most end up learning from that women should look like little girls. That sucks!

And that’s not all that sucks …

Girls are also given one more fucking thing to feel insecure, different, weird about. Another impossible Barbie image … Great. Just great.

And the terminology!

Many of those models actually have outies in real life, which have been ‘healed to a single crease’ …

Healed?

Don’t mean to pull a tit-for-twat here, but … REALLY NOW … is there anything esthetically pleasing about a pair of hairy, puckered testicles? Yet, as pointed out in the article:

Imagine for a moment if someone in the censor’s office had decided that testicles were too ‘explicit’. Imagine that to be sold over the counter at a normal newsagent, your naked pictures of men had to have their testicles digitally removed.

Yes, digital castration. Think there might be an outcry?

I know Ken has no balls, but how many men ever felt pressure to be anything like that bit of plastic?

If someone had told me there was something else to be shocked about in the world of sex, I’d have thought them underestimating my scope, but this has really thrown me, and I’d not suspected labia to be a flash point for women’s rights.

Yes, I do know there are legions of straight men who would rather not spend time looking, up close and personal, at what they consider heaven … and, quite frankly, I’ve always rather doubted the commitment to the female form in guys not totally immersed … but the knowledge that they’ve been led down some trimmed rose path has come as a surprise.

Perhaps it’s time women developed a bit of the overblown pride men sport when it comes to their sexy parts, some of that fall-to-the-knees fascination glorifying every lift and tilt and ooze that can occupy a man for hours on end.

Sure, we won’t be able to wag it over the fence with a “Lookie what I’ve got for you, Baby!”, but we don’t have to hide ours away just because it doesn’t stand quite so high and shout for attention.

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