Men

Desire

What makes a person desirable? I’d love to take a poll, but I’m not sure there’s anything new to cover, here. Psychology and evolutionary biology have a lot to say on that subject, and the media chime in as well (especially celebrity culture and pornography–those 2 are *great*, not only for telling us what we find attractive, but shaping our attitudes to same, especially if we’re not paying attention).

To some extent, I think I’m guilty of a sort of reverse-psychology reaction, there. Do I *really* find tall, slim, not particularly muscular guys with dark hair and pale skin attractive; or did I just SO HATE being told muscles, blonde hair, and a tan were attractive (when I was growing up, rather than now) I’ve semi-consciously chosen to find something else beautiful?

Is *that* what it is? Is it that, as a rule, I like men who are a bit androgynous, because it is *beauty* I’m looking for, rather than some stereotypical ideal of masculinity? Most of the men whose faces I like–though not necessarily the men I’ve had sex with, historically–fall into the category of “pretty enough to pass for female”. You know the type: slim, as I’ve said, usually with relatively large eyes and full mouths and not-too-big noses, relatively free of body hair (for a dude, at least) and able to shave away their 5 o’clock shadow (as opposed to men with perma-stubble) and if their skin is soft and smooth and their nails are clean and trimmed and they can fit into my clothing, so much the better. (And if they actively want to *wear* my clothing, that’s cute, too–after all, I rarely pass up the chance to wear the clothing of a man I’m crazy about.)

Is it just the way some men smell? Rather than liking macho, sweaty men, I like men who smell clean or fresh or appetizing–one of my ex-boyfriends smelled like a cross between rainwater and cut grass, and both of my current lovers smell a bit like baked goods to me (brioche and unbaked dough, respectively; brioche-lover smells sweeter, unbaked dough-lover smells more wholesome; both of them smell like something I want to bite).

Or is it the *other* thing they have in common, that really appeals to me? (Not an urge to have sex with me–that’s not so uncommon it would make me notice a man, particularly. I do alright for myself.) No, the *other* thing they have in common, the thing besides the pleasantly yeasty scent, is their unbridled enthusiasm for the things they love. (Which, hopefully, includes me–and that *is* uncommon enough to catch my eye.) They love very different things, generally (they have different careers, different hobbies, different tastes in music, different sexual styles–albeit with some overlap–different morals, different aspirations)… but in either case, what the boy loves, he loves passionately. I can listen (and have done) to either of them talk, sometimes for 20 solid minutes, about something that excites them; and usually, even if it’s something I have little or no interest in, it’s a sincere pleasure.

I love to talk; I love to hear other people talk; I love it when I’m confronted with a *man* who loves to talk. (They don’t all, you know. I mean, there are possibly more of them among the gay population–and God knows I’d have made a fabulous gay man!–but I’m a woman, and I really do prefer a man I can talk to AND shag.) I’m also quite keen on some styles of talking–a lovely turn-of-phrase goes farther than it should, with me–but just the willingness to talk, at length, with enthusiasm, is enough.

Well, no. Thinking about it, a man has to start with enough natural intelligence, before I’ll even give him the chance to wow me with his words… but that’s a subject for another day.

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Resilience

I try not to post other people’s thoughts TOO often (and fail, continually…) but this one was too good to pass up.

My mother always told me I should have a more positive outlook on life.

Kitt O'Malley

RESILIENCE: THE SCIENCE OF MASTERING LIFE’S GREATEST CHALLENGES

by Dennis S. Charney, MD – Dean Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

RESILIENCE PRESCRIPTION

  1. Positive Attitude
    • Optimism is strongly related to resilience
    • Optimism is, in part, genetic but can be learned (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
    • Neurobiological Mechanisms: Reward circuits, converse of learned helplessness
  2. Cognitive Flexibility through Cognitive Reappraisal
    • Traumatic experiences can be re-evaluated by altering the perceived value and meaningfulness of the event
    • One can receive a benefit from stress and trauma: one can reframe, assimilate, accept and recover. These skills can be learned.
    • Failure is an essential ingredient for growth
    • Neurobiological Mechanisms: Memory Reconsolidation, Cognitive Control of Emotion, Memory Suppression
  3. Embrace a Personal Moral Compass
    • Develop a set of core beliefs that very few things can shatter
    • For many, faith in conjunction with strong religious and/or spiritual beliefs is associated with resilience
    • Altruism has been strongly related to resilience. Survivor Mission.

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I Think I’m Captain Kirk, Part 2

Sorry for the delay; I know 6 days is not “coming back tomorrow” but I had an injured child (all fine, a bit of a scare rather than an actual injury, but she still missed some school and I missed some sleep and then it was the weekend and I just didn’t blog).

And *now*, I’m being forced to use this new draft-composing-screen, and I hate it (read: the font is too
small/zoomed out, and I don’t have the dosh for new glasses, so I’m probably going to look for a new blogging platform, rather than ruining my eyesight and giving myself daily headaches).

Or I’ll just type it somewhere else, and copy/paste, because anything else is such a faff…

Anyways, to continue the saga of why I think I’m Captain Kirk:

In my little group of friends (and it *is* a little group; say about the right size for a bridge crew, plus a couple of medics and an engineer) I do tend to call the shots. I’m a great one for asking everyone’s opinion, and then making the decision myself. That’s pretty much the essence of being the captain, right? And I do sometimes make the most wrong, silliest choice (Kirk) and wind up violating some sort of Golden Rule of Behaviour (Prime Directive) because *I* thought it was the right choice (oh, Kirk-Manda. Kanda. Mirk. Moving on). For all his idiocy, Kirk *also* manages to save the day fairly regularly (in spite of a lesser intellect, using his gut rather than his brains, and a general impulsivity that should *never* pay off, but often does) and that’s me, much as I wish it were otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy when my ill-reasoned gambles pay off… I’m just not quite as jolly about it as Kirk is, in spite of being equally as prone to betting on long shots.

I am also–and this is really the basis of my argument, even more than the “calling all the shots even when
someone else has a better idea” thing–a total trouser-hound. The female equivalent of Kirk’s skirt-chasing
modus operandi. “Thirsty”, as a friend of mine has described me. I mean, I don’t shag around *as much* as Kirk does, but hey. That’s the 23rd century. STDs/STIs have been pretty much eradicated, and birth control is automatic and side-effect free. (Plus, Kirk’s having sex with aliens whom he could *never* impregnate, in most cases–and likely, couldn’t catch anything off of them anyway–some guys have all the luck.)

Whereas me, I’m stuck among my own species, being female and of child-bearing age, having to play things quite a bit safer than Captain Kirk ever had to. I’ve potentially snogged as many aliens as he has (technically, Kirk and I are the aliens, in both our cases–I’m in a foreign land, which makes me the foreigner in the equation, and he’s usually far from Earth on a distant planet or out in space) but I’m woefully behind, in terms of actual shaggage… even so, the will is there. I just have the sense not to do anything *too* risky. But as for what we actually get to see, when we watch Kirk romancing all the pretty aliens… that does pretty much look like me at a works’ Christmas Party/general night on the town.

And my final point: I have to be *someone* from Star Trek, and by process of elimination… I mean… 2 of my closest friends are a doctor (McCoy) and an computer ninja who does complex math in his head (Spock). Also, my sister informs me that, as a general science lover and my original right-hand-man, she is *also* Spock (fair, as he was the Science Officer as well as computer-whiz and second-in-command; I’m imagine it *does* typically take 2 humans to do the work of 1 Vulcan). I have brown hair and eyes, a la Kirk, and I’m not bad-looking, in a kind of ordinary, meaty-looking, Midwestern American way (Kirk). I even have some Native American heritage, as Kirk does. I’m a shoe-in for Kirk.

Either that, or I’m actually a villain and just don’t realize… the Romulan Commander from “The Enterprise Incident”, anybody?

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I Think I’m Captain Kirk, Part 1

This requires a little introduction, but I’ll try (try!) to be brief:

In high school… no, I have to start before that.

My mother (my Bible-Belt-based, love of Jesus, turn that Devil music off, mother) grew up watching Star Trek: The Original Series. (Just Star Trek–the one, the only–as it was known in our house.) She passed on that love to me, and I started watching old episodes on VHS and reading unofficial Trek books from the 80s when I was about… 11? (11 was quite the year, really; started my period, read, “Interview with the Vampire” and began waiting for Lestat to bring me the Dark Gift, fell in love with Mr. Spock, started having panic attacks before school… busy busy busy.)

Anyways, by the time I started high school, several years later, I was unashamedly in love with Star Trek (NEVER Next Gen!) and, particularly, Spock and McCoy. I loved them so, so much. I used the phrase, “I am Vulcan; there is no pain,” as a mantra many times, when enduring my difficult transition through adolescence. I altered the phrase, “I’m a doctor, not a ___” and used it where I could, though not as often. I tried to enjoy chess (I hate chess) and only do things if they met certain logical criteria. I started to put on a slight Southern accent (McCoy’s from Georgia, same as me; but unlike me, he naturally has the accent to prove it.)

I bored the shit out of all my close friends (all… 3? 4? of them) by explaining, in detail, both the plots (I used the word loosely) and morals and life lessons contained in my favourite episodes of Star Trek. I imagine I probably got laughed at, for wearing my, “All I Need to Know About Life I Learned from Star Trek” shirt–regularly–to school (I kinda noticed at the time, but fuck them, anyways. They *wish* they loved something with as pure a love as the love I have for Star Trek).

Most importantly of all, right there in the middle of Bible Belt Nowhere, I developed a deep understanding that different colours and races and creeds and beliefs were okay. By the time I was 15-16, I was sitting in the school library (surprisingly progressive, actually) and reading about gender equality and gay rights and religions other than my own and who knows what else. And when I graduated high school–after being unconditionally accepted into Southeastern Bible College, my application to same being the last great flare up of my religious sentiment–I turned the school down, and instead, moved to a far distant land, to pursue a more informal sort of study of other nationalities and cultures.

Truly. I’m not sure it’s everything I *need* to know–I’ve picked up a few more ideas along the way–but everything that informed my choices when I was starting my adult life, I learned from Star Trek.

Complete with the rosily optimistic viewpoint inherent in those episodes, which has at times made me ill-equipped when things don’t just work themselves out, or when people behave consistently churlishly… but still. Star Trek isn’t a bad place to get your morals and ethics (peace, a focus on the greater good over personal gain, free love, the eradication of poverty/hunger/inequality/disease, human advancement without pandering to notions of an Unseen Being judging you, acceptance of ideologies and cultures other than ones own… it’s beautiful).

And of course, Star Trek wouldn’t be Star Trek without that maverick of mavericks, Captain Kirk; but I have things to do *other* than writing this blog, and I have to go now. I’ll try to return tomorrow, to explain why I believe I might be Captain Kirk.

Who, by the by, is easily my least favourite character from TOS, even including most of the guest stars/villains/the characters from the pilot episode which were not used/any character other than a throw-away red shirt.

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Am I An Idiot?

Once, a guy told me (about 2 months after we’d started an intimate relationship–and by intimate, I mean we were banging fairly regularly) that he’d actually sort of just wanted to become friends, at first. As in, the night he took me home, he was willing enough to do the dirty, but actually, what he’d really been hoping for was emotional intimacy, of a more platonic sort.

It took me another 3 months to work out that what he meant was, he wanted to just be friends, like… then.

Without any exaggeration, I imagine that if I sit here and actually tally them up, I can think of 30 or more instances in which I *hugely* misread the situation (but 90% of people I personally know, likely wouldn’t have). These errors in judgment arise mostly where boys are concerned, unsurprisingly… nothing clouds your powers of reason like wishful thinking, at least in my experience. The more I want someone, the more difficult it is for me to imagine that they don’t want me, too; or (more likely) they just don’t want me as much/for as long as I want them.

Of course, as smokescreens go, nothing obscures your view quite like a giant erection, either. I’m maybe not *entirely* to blame, for all of these mistakes. It is a *little* difficult to comprehend the phrase, “I just want to be frie…” when you can still take your shirt off and obliterate their train of thought mid-sentence.

But. But but but. When someone wants you in a way that’s so unlike the way you want them–one of you wants mostly sex, or one of you wants mostly conversation, or one of you wants mostly companionship, etc etc, and the other one wants something else–can it ever really work out? I’d suspect the answer is probably no.

And yet, I keep asking the question, in a variety of ways, with a variety of men, as if, someday, I’m going to be able to be perfectly happy in my romantic relationships… even though I *know* that, in life, we ALL want very different (and often contradictory) things from each other… which leads me back to my original question.

Am I an idiot?

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Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Effingham Again…

Actually, I didn’t. I dreamed I was at the Savannah Mall, which is in Chatham County… but “Effingham” is a better match for “Manderley”, phonetically, and it rolled a bit better off the tongue, so… there we are. (And by the by, if you’ve not read “Rebecca”, you might want to. I enjoyed it, anyway. Moving on.)

Last night, I did dream I was back home generally, if not in the specific county where I was raised… interesting, since those dreams have become fewer and fewer as the years have gone by. When I first moved to the UK, I probably dreamed of home several times a month; and no wonder I stopped *that* shit, since I was sure the pain on waking would kill me. Sometimes, in the dream, I realized I was just dreaming, and that was easier to take–but all those times I woke from sitting with my mother and my sister Julie, heading to church or watching old Star Trek episodes or attending a family reunion, all those times I woke from having a heart-to-heart with my dad, or letting one of my younger brothers (practically grown men, now) take me fishing, or taking my youngest sister to the playground… no, better that I stopped that. Even my subconscious knows there’s a limit to what it can force me to look at.

Last night, though, I did dream of home. I dreamed, not of my family (thank you, Subconscious) but of having a jog around the Savannah Mall parking lot, and then heading inside. I was quick, too; I remember thinking how nice it was, that when I *do* choose to run, even after all these years of sedentary life and not having my bike, I can still move faster than you think I can. And when I got inside, the Food Court was just enough as it really is, and just enough a cross between the Oglethorpe Mall and some random made-up place in my head, that it didn’t sting too much. I was home, but not in the home I left and will never get back to; rather, I was “back home” in a place I’d made for myself, with just enough memories that it felt authentic, and just enough new features that it was comforting, rather than filled with longing and despair.

I ate a cheesy pretzel with bacon (real bacon, not what the British call bacon, what we call Canadian bacon; it was crisp, and didn’t taste like a salt mine) and then I struck up a chat with a group of people sitting around (on the floor, as much as at tables; whatever, there were beanbags, and I like to keep it casual in my dreams). Someone commented on my accent, I think–or maybe I commented on his–and we spent the next 15 minutes, myself and himself and the selves of about 5 other people, having the “What’s England Like?” conversation. I didn’t mind, as I usually don’t, and even more than that, I enjoyed it. One of the highlights of my dream convo was when one of my new friends said something, I burst out laughing, and remarked, “You know, we are so sarcastic. Half of what we say is layered in irony or meant to be taken in some way other than at face value… and an entire country full of people thinks we don’t understand sarcasm at all. Isn’t that the darnedest thing?” And we all shared a grin that was equally knowing (oh, how people always underestimate Americans) and puzzled (why would anyone not see how sarcastic Americans are; how can you miss that?).

That was around the time I woke up, and I’m pleased to say, I felt energized, rather than depleted. It was good to have been home, even for a little while, even if it was just make-believe. I suppose the real question, though, is this: after years of living here, being more or less settled, why start dreaming of home again now?

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Moderately Bad Things, Part 2

So, to return to my post as if I hadn’t left a fat juicy week in between: what, exactly, do I qualify as a Moderately Bad Thing?

In an effort not to ramble on endlessly, I’ll give the example that I thought of, when I was penning my (never posted) comment, on Facebook:

“Moderately Bad Things (i.e. things that, if you did it once, you could live with yourself afterwards, but probably not if you did it twice) are things like hurting an animal, in case you’re wondering. Like, people who think they can whack their dogs when they misbehave are, in my opinion, continually doing a Moderately Bad Thing (but because they do it so often, it becomes a Very Bad Thing). But I think, just once, I’d smack a poor little dog’s rump–hard!–if, afterwards, I could have hair just like yours (hers).”

As the girl I was about to say this to is, as far as I’m aware, a vegetarian by choice (as opposed to people who are intolerant to meat fats, or similar) I figured making that kind of statement could get me blocked. Which is not a huge deal, in a way. After all, I got blocked on Facebook just last week, for saying something less inflammatory and better-thought-out; that was my… 4th or 5th block, in the last year or so?… that I know of. Facebook blocking someone seems, to me, pointless and rather childish, but if people genuinely find me so offensive they cannot live with my disagreeing with them, well, they *should* block me. I’d hate to contribute to someone’s mental ill-health, especially if their emotions are so unstable they can be knocked off-kilter by an online acquaintance’s dissention… yeah, no, block me, by all means. But Hair Girl and myself belong to the same Facebook group, and it makes things awkward when people in there block me; I like to lurk and read threads, and that gets tricky and less fun when you realize you’re missing chunks of the conversation.

And also, it occurred to me; I think it might hurt people, to read something like that. Saying, “I think I would hit a dog/lose an arm/sell my house/etc” when you know you will *never* be asked to follow through seems okay to me, but… sometimes, I say things like that, and wind up blocked on Facebook/blanked at social functions/not invited to someone’s birthday party/etc. And since I don’t know where the line is, I just didn’t say anything, and liked the photo of her hair (which was gorgeous, and I don’t care if it was a humblebrag, she deserves to hear that her hair is nice and she did a good job cutting it) and moved on.

I mean, except for the 1,000 words I’ve written on the subject, all of which lead back to the same question… what is wrong with me/am I evil, for believing I would do a bad thing, for a relatively small pay-off? And for the fact that I have no real desire to *change* that, about myself?

Please, anyone, feel free to chime in; I would absolutely love either arguments or agreements. This is a fun topic.

But it makes other (normal? human?) people hella uncomfortable… right?

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