Monday, April 30, 2012

Meetings & Positive Business

Meetings. I think I can count the number of useful pieces of information I have gleaned from meetings in the past year on two hands. That may be generous. I have one meeting a week that I enjoy, but it isn’t because of the quality of information. It is more the way the information is delivered and the general level of amusement I attain through various degrees of banter and facetious remarks regarding the topics at hand.

I think I am pretty lucky that I only have three meetings a week, when some others around here have them almost daily. I could, however, cut two of those meetings out of my week and not really lose anything. I wonder if that couldn’t be said for most people here. The standard ways of communicating information seem to work pretty well. E-mail, telephones and the classic face-to-face conversation accomplish as much. As great as it is to sit around in a multi-departmental group and discuss the calendar, I am literate and know how to access it on the server. A half hour meeting on Monday morning isn’t going to make it any easier.

There are certainly companies that function with few to no meetings at all. People at these companies, (many of which are Results Only Work Environments), are expected to know what they’re doing and how to do it. In the ROWE business, they aren’t even required to show up from 9-5. An employee can arrive whenever, leave whenever. As long as their work gets done, there’s never an issue. Businesses that have taken this route show improved employee performance and have almost no turnover. How can that be, we ask no one in particular, astounded by this revelation and skeptical.

Well, no-one-in-particular replies, it works because the current business paradigm is more outdated than the 6 year old Dell computers downstairs in all the non-creative departments here. The standard business paradigm is to offer incentives and punishments, or, as we like to describe it more simply, carrots and sticks. The problem with that is carrots and sticks, they don’t work. Not unless you’re dealing with extremely linear professions that require little to no creative independent thought. If you’re paying someone to perform mechanical or mathematical functions (see, accounting), then you can certainly pay more someone to work harder and longer crunching numbers. The problem with that is it’s cheaper to pay someone in India to do it then pay an American. We outsourced our manufacturing and now we’re outsourcing our number crunching. (Drive, Daniel Pink).

If you are having a hard time with this concept, try this image on for size: imagine you are on your hands and knees, your boss straddling you with a bundle of cash tied to a string. He convinces you to keep moving forward by always dangling a little more of that cash out of reach. When you get tired and won’t go for the cash anymore, he smacks you with a little riding crop he’s carrying for some reason. How do you feel, imagining this? Belittled? Patronized? Insulted, perhaps? It’s a pretty offensive idea, and that’s how a lot of companies work.

On the other hand, businesses like those who operate on the ROWE system, their boss stands on his own two feet and helps the employee to his. Then the boss hands the employee that wad of cash, a task and says, “Go out and do good deeds.” Imagine yourself, given the money you need to live comfortably and the freedom to approach your work as a man (or woman) on your own two feet. Which of those two images do you find more bearable?

The reason this works so well is because creative people really only want to be paid what they feel they need/deserve. After a person has reached that point of individual comfort, bills paid, money for vacation, etc, more money actually lowers performance. Compare two pieces by an artist, one made for pleasure, for the sake of the art itself and the one you commissioned after seeing the first. Chances are, the first one is a much better piece.
This is because the work involved in the first painting had intrinsic value. Whether the artist sells it later or not, it wasn’t made with time nor money as a part of the goal. The art was the goal.

Most creative people work the same way, but one must understand first that the word, creative, describes anyone who must use some kind of creativity for their job. It is not just a term for artists, actors, novelists, and musicians. The engineer designing a bridge, the programmer designing a website, the fashion designer sketching new clothing, the allocations analyst who figures out a new way to track product, all these are working in creative positions. In general, most enjoy the kind of work they’re doing, if not the work itself. The goal, then, is to create a work environment in which they do enjoy their work.

There are three things to keep in mind while moving toward this kind of positive work environment. First, people want autonomy. They don’t want a manager riding on their back, looking over their shoulder, making sure they’re on schedule every 15 minutes. Second, they want mastery. People are happier when their job challenges them, though not so much that they can’t accomplish their work. They need to be able to learn new things that help them do their job better and give them the final of the three items, a sense of accomplishment.

It is these three areas that allow for improved productivity and employee well-being, which leads to increased profits. By focus on these areas, employees find intrinsic motivation to do their work and it has been shown that they do it better.

There is one thing that I think could help us all, here at work. Less meetings. More autonomy and less wasting the time I would happily spend working on the projects you’re talking about. The question you wanted to ask me took 30 seconds, tops. The meeting I had to sit through lasted ten minutes, at least. Remind me why my presence was necessary?

If you’re interested in reading much more detailed information about the science and studies involved in what I’ve been talking about, I recommend starting with Daniel Pink’s books, Drive and A Whole New Mind. They’re amazing books, and it’s because of them that I am hooked on Positive Psychology. Enjoy.

And a thousand words, goodnight.

Friday, April 27, 2012

It’s Friday. . . and I’ll take The Cure over Rebecca Black any century. I express this in excessive degrees of the passage of time because even if there is no afterlife my corpse will be rolling in its grave every time that song plays. Of course, I would take Rebecca Black over the current Republican government congress any day too. At least her inane creations don’t torment the children of America with pizza-vegetables just so some corporation can continue to make loads of money off of government contracts to supply the nation with overweight 8 year olds.

Really, vote your values, not your party. And spend some time figuring out what YOUR values are, not what Fox News and the Grand Ole Fuck-Ups tell you to believe. I have some real news for you: Fox News is legally allowed to partake in yellow journalism, thanks to the fact that they were recently ruled an entertainment station and thus can’t be held to the same standards. This comes as no surprise to me, as they clearly don’t have any. Moral decency would be a good start. Accurate, unbiased, objective news would be a good second. Firing Bill O’Reilly would be a third. Hmm. . . That may fall under one & two. That man is a sick, vehement, vicious fucktard. Yes, today is one of those days where I appreciate the irony.

While we are at it, let’s revisit our education and use all those useful tools that have been around since ancient Greece, the ones that show us where the fallacies in both our own argument and the arguments of others. I realize the babble box is doing most of our thinking for our these days, but I encourage everyone to do a little thinking for themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully support differing beliefs. I am just of the opinion that in order to have an opinion worth bringing to the table you should have developed it on your own via an unbiased source of information. This means one must be educated enough to recognize what biased versus unbiased sources are. A good, well-rounded education means not having people who have never heard of the different fallacies, nor incapable of recognizing Michelangelo’s David when they see it, or, for the love of God, staring blankly when someone makes a joke that refers to Gregory Mendel. How about Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Einstein. Know any of them? It means being aware that Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello weren’t just turtles.

You will have to forgive me if I don’t think Jersey Shore, So You Think You Can Dance, Real Housewives, Antique Road Show, Maury, Survivor, et fucking cetera are worth anyone’s time. Ok. Maybe you might learn something about history on Antique Road Show, but I couldn’t say for certain. . . I dislike listening to people talk about trite TV shows even more than I despise watching them. And I won’t even bother mentioning commercials, because I am already ranting enough as it is.

Another thing that has started bugging me recently. Just because I have little respect for Republican politics, doesn’t mean I’m a liberal. A man I know apparently thought it was necessary to point out that he is a “gun-waving politician.” As if I cared. I am not concerned with the status of the Second Amendment. It wouldn’t do me any harm if someone got rid of it. But most people I know own guns, including my dad, who owns more than most people I know. And he openly admits that he carries one on him because he’s more worried about people than dangerous animals. I even own a gun, technically. It’s just not in my house.

For all those people who are worried about the Second Amendment, which isn’t going anywhere, it amazes me how much it blinds people to all the other attempts to trample on your rights is going on. Corporations being recognized as people, CISPA and SOPA, LGBT rights, women’s rights.

People get so mad at Obama, as if he weren’t just the most visible person being held in contrast to a group of people, CONGRESS who are really out to fuck us all over. Do we know what a scapegoat is? How about sleight of hand? Because the Republican party and its supporters, like Fox News, are using one hand to point at the Big Bad Wolf while the other hand is jacking up your basic human rights and much of what else makes America great with other hand like a kleptomaniac in Scrooge McDuck’s mansion.

If you can’t tell, I live in the middle of territory controlled by the Religious Right. These things start to boil up inside after a while.

And a thousand words, goodnight

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Step by Step Down the Road Less Traveled By

Indeed, I have not given up, mes amis! I have simply spent the last few days writing creative copy for women’s clothing. While not exactly the same as writing for myself, at least I have still been writing. I wrote a post, or most of one, but decided it had too many critiques of corporate practices to actually post.

Speaking of corporate practices, I have interviews for my new position on Friday. My interviews are with the manager whose response to my expression of interest a month ago was, “Can you start tomorrow?”; with the two web copywriters, one who runs the theatre company that has produced the last two plays I have been in as well as the one I am in now while the other runs the website and facebook for the same; and finally, a Japanese woman in our web department whose position I am uncertain of. I saw her today and she asked me, “Do I have an interview with you on Friday?” I responded, “Yes.” “What for?” “I applied for one of the web copywriter’s positions.” “Oh.” “We’ll just hang out for half an hour.” “Ok, we can go down to the café.”

While I am still going to dress to the occasion, (one rule here, don’t wear a suit to your interviews), I am totally unconcerned about the results. Even if the unlikely worst case scenario happens, life goes on. As things stand, however, I don’t know how it could go wrong. I am already doing the work, to “help out” and “for training”. Not to mention I will have completed an assignment I had a month to do in a week. I am actually goofing off as much as I can convince myself too; the work is getting done too fast and I don’t want to be left back where I started, reading books to make the day go by.

It turns out, as much as I am not a fan of the world of currency, I could really use the improvement in salary. Considering my lifestyle, it would make a big difference. Currently I spend about one paycheck a month on student loans, pay rent and bills. Somehow I still manage to live fairly comfortably on what’s left over. To be fair, I make a little extra on the side teaching dance classes, but this month that’s only been $6-$12 once a week plus $40 a month for private lessons. Over the winter it was more like $24 once a week. Worth it either way. I don’t do it for the money, but I do appreciate the little boost it gives to the rougher financial moments.

Once I am out of debt, I am going to fairly sail through life. Literally and figuratively, though I don’t intend to wait until I am debt free to buy my sailboat. Once I find a reasonably priced Hobie 16’ and I can afford one, I am buying it. Then I am going to strap a tent, cooler, backpack and someday a girlfriend to the tarp and disappear on the weekends. When that becomes reality instead of just a dream, I will probably pick up a waterproof backpack, too. It is only practical, after all. Alright, alright, I won’t actually strap a woman to the tarp. I will find someone I can coerce into getting on the boat willingly. ;)

A Hobie 16’, if you are one of the many people who don’t know sailboats, is a 16 foot catamaran. The hull consists of two pontoons and the sailors sit on a tarp, much like that of a trampoline, stretch across a metal frame. A Hobie cat has both a jib, the smaller sail in front, and a main sail. In my experience with them, they sail easily even in a light breeze. One of the downsides of a Hobie is that in a strong wind you might have to hike out over the water to keep the boat from tipping over. This is why I am strapping things to the boat. Just in case.

In the meantime, my life mostly consists of keeping myself fed and read. Acting, it turns out, is an extremely cheap and time consuming hobby, as is playing guitar and writing songs. I haven’t spent any serious time playing video games since I beat Mass Effect 3. Between acting, writing, swimming, playing Dungeons and Dragons and everything else I have been doing, I haven’t had much interest in spending time with them. I’m sure something new will come out and suck me in, but I can’t think of anything right now. Which reminds me, I need to cancel my Star Wars: Old Republic account. That is $15 a month I don’t need to be spending.

Life. The simpler, the better. Credit cards? Don’t need or want them. Huge television and fancy speakers? Don’t need or want them. Smart phones? Don’t need or want one until it can replace my unlimited cable internet completely. Coffee, wine, beer, books, friends, dancing? Any time.

I wouldn’t say no to a little more intimacy in my life. In the meantime, life is pretty good. It is only going to get better.

And a thousand-ish words, goodnight.


Friday, April 20, 2012

I Hold My Head Up In the Rain

Ella, what do you have
against taking chances?
I’d be happy to risk
getting what I wish for
if you would only give me one.

Ella, why is it so hard
to have a little patience
I’d move the moon and stars for you
and demand nothing in return

Just one chance and a little bit of patience
doesn’t seem too much to ask
if in a while our paths diverge
as we travel through this yellow wood
at least we could say we tried
going down the road less traveled by

Ella, what do you say
you rethink your final answer?
It’s easy for me to see us
still walking and laughing
a long way over that bright horizon

Ella, is there something
you don’t like
about a guy who treats you right?
I won’t bother to apologize
‘cause I’d be happy to do the same again

Just one chance and a little bit of patience
doesn’t seem too much to ask
if in a while our paths diverge
as we travel through this yellow wood
at least we could say we tried
going down the road less traveled by

Ella, you’re a chance I’d take
if you’d just give me one
Ella, I’d do my best to be
no less than you deserve
if you’d just take a chance on me

Just one chance and a little bit of patience . . .

I haven’t had a chance to get much prose done the last couple of days. That isn’t to say I haven’t been doing creative writing, however. The manager of the web copy team gave me a writing assignment and so I am now working on a project that will actually keep me busy at work. It’s pretty nice so far. I get to make up little poetic lines about products in order to sell them. I technically have until May 21 to write 118 copy blocks so I’m not in any particular rush. I imagine I will have them all done by the end of next week. I wrote about 13 or so yesterday. It is at once the easiest thing I have ever done and still challenging, creative and kind of fun. Especially when the product is an item I wouldn’t give to my grandmother even if I could get it free. In a satirical copy block I sent to a co-worker I described one as “Nothing says ‘hunting’ like this shirt reminiscent of a pheasant on a date with a shotgun.”

As you can see from the lyrics I posted, I still have my date from Monday on my mind. It is about her, to her, but also about dating in general. She is hardly the first woman who I have felt didn’t even bother to give herself a chance to get to know me. It doesn’t help that I don’t really think I’m a very easy person to get to know. I am fairly complex and often feel two separate ways about one thing at the same time. People often can’t tell when I am being serious and when I am being playful or sarcastic either. 

My yoga teacher said something good today that I think I am going to add to the traits I look for in a woman. I told her about what happened and her thought was that sometimes people can’t handle what they don’t feel like they deserve. If someone doesn’t respect or love themselves enough, it can hard to accept too much positive treatment from another. Whether that was the case with Key or not, a woman who is confident enough in herself to want and accept a man who treats her like a person, lady, princess, goddess, and a person again, that’s the kind of woman I want.

Ella, I have decided, is the name of the female character I am going to write my songs to. She is a kind of Everywoman, all the women who have been part of my life, are part of my life, or have yet to be. Her name comes from the German word for ‘all’ as well as sounding very similar to the French word ‘elle’, which means “she, her, herself”. I decided to do this because I really don’t like writing “Hey, girl,” “Woman,” “Lady,” or “Babe” or any form of the word. And I am sure as hell not going to start using “shorty”. So Ella it is. If I ever produced an album I intended to call it Simple Songs, but if I stick with the Ella thing maybe I will call it Songs for Ella instead. M0RG4N, of course, is the name of the “band”.

Random thought. Why did it take me 29 years to bother to put an actual Foo Fighters album on? So freaking good.

Well, between the copy writing, the lyrics, this little thought blurb, and the next little piece, I have achieved my goal. I will leave you with a thought I had this morning as I walked to the building from my car.

I hold my head up in the rain
because I am not afraid.
Let the raindrops drown the sky
for my dreams are built of sturdier things.

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012



She’s on, she’s off
she’s a lightning strike
coursing through
the wires in my walls.

She’s on, she’s off
I looked up to see just who
was playing peekaboo with the sun
now I’m seeing spots and she’s got the stars
as well as my wires crossed

She’s on, she’s off
I thought for a moment
her light was more May flowers
than just a break in April showers
but that’s not how the world is wired

She’s on, she’s off
she’s the flicker before the lights go out
She’s on, she’s off
she’s the surge that melts the wires
and sets the house on fire

Not the words I was expecting to be inspired to write after an awesome date on Monday. Yet, when I texted Key the next morning to tell her again that I had a great time I received the following: “My morning was good! Got a lot of cleaning done! I had a good time too! But I need to tell you something. I don’t think we should see each other romantically again. You are a great guy and I had fun last night. But I would really like to be just friends. I’m very sorry I led you on.”

The part that I don’t understand is why. We went on one date, a good one. It started well, it ended well. We both expressed interest in doing so again soon. Yet 12 hours later, that had changed. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and not having an explanation bothers me more than the sentiment itself.

To me, it seems like the point of dating is to get to know someone. I had no intention of rushing things or pushing her into a relationship. We had, after all, just met. If she was uncomfortable with the kissing, it would have been nice if she had simply said so and we could have continued going on dates and spending time getting to know each other without it. We’re both adults. It seems pretty reasonable to me.

It bothers me a little, I admit, that after such a positive experience she flipped off like a light switch. That’s the way it feels, at least. It’s also somewhat ironic that she expressed several times during the evening how she was used to being in the situation in which she just put me.

Furthermore, I’m a little confused as to why, if someone is not used to being taken out to dinner, treated like a lady, respected and not have any physical boundaries pushed or even tested, they wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to get to know someone who does all those things. Yes, I kissed her, but she also kissed me back and even took initiative to do so multiple times.

She said I am a great guy and without wanting to sound full of myself, I think that’s true. I am friendly and generous, I respect women and admire strong, intelligent women. I can hold an intelligent conversation, I’m a good listener, and I’m honest, almost to a fault. I make an effort to be a gentleman toward everyone, because it’s important to me. I’m playful and serious in their own moments, practical and romantic. I not only know how to dance, but I love dancing and you should have seen her staring into my eyes while I played guitar for her. In her specific case, she’s a theatre person and I’m not only an actor, but I love musical theatre. So it boggles my mind that after one date, which hardly implies or demands any kind of romantic commitment, that she wouldn’t want to do so again. I feel like there’s some giant missing piece of information and once more, that’s what is really getting under my skin, the lack of explanation. I’m disappointed that she didn’t have enough respect to explain, especially when I politely asked her to.

I suppose I will just have to see if she is sincere about wanting to be friends. It was pretty obvious that we could get along easily and well. Yet how many people who throw that line out there mean it? I am almost positive that I can count the number of women who have told me they just wanted to be friends who I am still close to on a fist.

In the end, my life is not really any different than it was last Friday or even Saturday before 10 PM. I still had a great time Monday night and I have no regret about the time, effort or money spent. She was a wonderful companion and seems like a woman who would be great to get to know. If I don’t get that opportunity, well, life goes on. I hope she finds someone who will treat her the way she deserves, whether that is me or someone else.

It would be nice, however, if for once someone would just give me an honest chance. The disappointment wears on me.

Close enough to my daily goal and I’m tired of the topic.

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Great Evening

Last night went very well. I left work early to go do my taxes, which I may not have bothered to do before. Shortly before I got home, Key texted me with some bad news. Her car broke down, so she couldn’t meet me at Little Olive. But she still wanted to go if I was willing to make the trek out to her place and pick her up. We had a fun, bantery conversation in which I made jokes about white horses, getting lost and ending up in Canada, and whether or not I was going to get clearer directions than “Evergreen Street”. Since I was home, I told her it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if we went to dinner earlier than 7:30 and to let me know when she was done getting ready. (Since I had asked her to dress up and all.)

When she was ready I drove out to pick her up. I didn’t quite make it to Canada, but I did go past her house about a half-mile before turning around. The numbers I could read on her mailbox did not match the address she gave me. She texted me again just as I turned around to let me know if I went up the small hill I had gone too far. I called and got her to describe the house. Her father is apparently a construction worker/plumb/electrician/Jack of all trades and built their home and another house on the property where her brother lives. Her brother’s house is a tall, curious looking building that looks like someone collected log cabins and stacked them on top of each other. It almost reminds me of Howl’s Moving Castle, now that I think about it. On the second story are two strange French doors with geometrical designs that are totally juxtaposed against the log home look.

Her parent’s house is a one story sprawling affair that still looks somewhat patchwork and defies the standard of what one expects a house to look like. I like that, though I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve seen more of it. Lumber and building materials were stacked all over alongside the outside of the home and garage. If nothing else, both buildings have a lot of character, which is more than can be said for what we like to call “modern” architecture.

Key wore grey tights, 3-4 inch grey heels and a white cashmere sweater tunic. It wasn’t what I had expected, (though I was prepared for that, since what is?), but it was a pleasant surprise. I am a fan of the look and I have never dated a woman who liked that style. I could see it also blending easily into what I call the “equestrian look,” which is similar, but with calf high boots. Another style I like. I was dressed in a dark grey suit with a blue and white striped no-iron button-up shirt underneath.

As soon as we got on the road she admitted to Facebook stalking me and declared she had two questions. The first escapes my mind at the moment, but the second doesn’t, since it was a statement. “You ballroom dance!” she stated excitedly. “Yes, but that’s not a question,” I pointed out. We continued talking for the twenty minutes it took to get to the restaurant from her house.

Coincidentally, Monday happens to be half-off bottle of wine night at Little Olive, a Mediterranean restaurant close to downtown. We were seated at a tiny, intimate, corner table with two huge windows and chairs perpendicular to each other. After getting Key a taste of the malbec, which she had never tried, we order a bottle and settled down to figure out what we wanted. I was very pleasantly distracted and found it hard to focus on anything on the menu. I glimpsed at the titles of all the items several times but I don’t know that I actually read any of them. I read that menu the way most people listen. I saw the words, but the meaning didn’t really register. I blame her eyes and the conversation.

Key, if you are curious, is 5’4”, with dark hair and dark eyes and light skin. She has that almost Oriental look to her eyes that some European mixes have. I have encountered similar features in a couple women I have known, though they were of Spanish/German heritage where Key is French/Scot-Irish/English/German. The other women I have met with these features were pretty and Key is no exception. Underneath her right eye on her cheek she has two beauty marks, one smaller and lighter than the one above. They almost look like a tear tattoo. It is another endearing feature.

Dinner was fantastic. Key ordered the gyro while I let the waitress convince me that I should order their chicken kabob. Between the excellent malbec, the chicken that had been marinated for 24 hours before it was grilled, and the lovely, charming company, the next two hours went by easily. When it came time for dessert I remembered my manners, (not that I’d forgotten them), and all the dating advice columns I have ever read and encouraged her to order dessert. She was tentative about making a choice even though it was obvious what she wanted, so I continued my current tradition of being decisive. We had a light, sweet Kahlua brownie. It was as pleasant a surprise as the rest of the evening. Brownies are usually too rich for me to truly enjoy.

After dinner we went back to my apartment for a while. I played a few of my songs for Key, which were well received. She was an attentive and appreciative audience. Rapt might be the most appropriate word. I felt like she listened to every word in all four songs, which is a good feeling. Not to mention she was staring directly into my eyes and made me smile like an idiot. In the best way. When I was done playing we sat and talked for a while longer. I tickled her knee, then admitted after she was done protesting that while, yes, sometimes I do tickle people to make them squirm, I am a very physical person and sometimes it is just an excuse to touch someone.

Having made that confession, I laid back with my head in her lap while I told her about the world my novel takes place in. If you mixed post-American civil war racial sentiments, the French revolution, a dash of steampunk, Peter Pan, and Narnia, you would be starting to get the picture. As that conversation came to a close, I decided to take action on something I’d been thinking about for a couple hours at least, sat up and kissed her. This also went very well, but that is all you get.

About 10:30, I took her home. We talked more on the ride, kissed goodnight and agreed that we should do something again, sooner rather than later. I am as fond of the kiss she planted on my cheek as the one I silently demanded for my lips.

All in all, I would call the night a success. Hopefully we will be able to get together again before the end of the week. I am going to call her a bit later and see what we can arrange. This could be good.

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Monday, April 16, 2012

A Party, A Date Tonight, A Couple Rated-R Pointers

I am going to pretend that the urge to write first thing on a Monday morning is an improvement. In reality, I have had the urge to write this particular entry, or parts of it, since a couple conversations that came up at a birthday party Saturday night. I just have not had the time. My weekend was fairly full again, though I did manage to write a letter to a friend of mine on Saturday. (I spent about 10 minutes determining whether or not “of mine” was redundant in that sentence. I am trying to keep my sentences free of unnecessary fluff. It is one of those things authors are supposed to do. I decided to leave it simply for the way it flows with the prepositional phrase. Yes, I am an “English nerd”.)

Before I go into the R-ish rated portion of the discussion, I wanted to mention that I have a date tonight! Let me share the story with you. I enjoyed it.

The birthday part on Saturday was touted as a murder mystery party and the first eight or so people to accept the invitation were given roles to play. It was a gothic horror theme and all the characters were based on famous monsters. We had Angela, the psychotic dentist; Balihi, the Rogersandhammerstein monster; Aldrinktotat, the Mummy; and so on. I was given the role of Asthmadeus, the Prince of Dimness, little brother of the Prince of Darkness. My friends call me Az. I dressed up in a herringbone Marshall Fields suit with a black dress shirt underneath and spiked the front of my hair into two small devil’s horns. I pulled my London Fog overcoat out of the closet for the first time in years to wear over it. I think I need to find a black silk ascot for such ensembles. Particularly since most of my dress shirts aren’t actually sized to fit my neck.

After arriving at the part I was almost immediately introduced to the only two people I didn’t know: two women clearly in their twenties, a blonde dressed as a nurse (psychotic dentist) and a brunette in civilian clothing. Normal, I mean normal clothing. Sorry, my army brat heritage was showing through there. Both women were attractive, though Key, the brunette, was a little moreso as far as my tastes are considered. One of my friends described her as, “hot as sin.” Those aren’t the words I would use, but she is pretty.

As the evening wore gently on, I was standing at the table while Key chatted my friend Liv. A local restaurant Key hadn’t had the chance to try came up in conversation and Liv told her she should get someone to take her to dinner there. Key responded, “The last five years have all been duds.” I said, “I’ll take you.” No one heard me.

Later, Liv went into the living room and I took her place around the dining table with many of the other partygoers. Said place happened to be a tall stool next to Key, who put her phone down on the table at some point. On a whim, I took it, programmed my number into it and called myself. She asked what I was doing and I said, “You’ll see.” Then, a short while later, I playfully texted her, “Look left.” She appreciated the humor.

Key left the party early, as she had to work the next morning. As she made to leave, she told me, “You have my number, feel free to use it.” To which I said, “Maybe I’ll take you to Little Olive sometime.” I don’t remember what she said verbatim, but it was a positive response.

The next morning, since I was downtown for coffee and breakfast anyway, (a Sunday tradition, recently), I decided not to wait. I went down to the clothing store where she works and found her. I greeted her and asked if I could borrow her for a minute.
“Sure, what’s up?” she asked.
I started to lead her to a more deserted part of the store and promptly ran into a clothing rack. “I’ll tell you, if I can make it past the clothes,” I said.
“Yeah, you have to watch out, they like to attack people,” she quipped.
Awkward moment past, I asked her what her schedule was like on Monday, to which she replied that she had the day off.
“Well, would you like to go to Little Olive tomorrow night?” I asked. “Say, 7:30.”
She agreed easily and offered to meet me there at 7:30. She moved to go back to work and I said as she turned to leave, “I have one request.”
“What’s that?” she asked curiously.
“Dress up,” I said.
She smiled. “Alright,” she said with a playful twinkle in her eye. “I’ll wear heels.”

Which brings me back around to the other topics I wanted to touch on today. They’re related to sex, so if you buy into the American ideals of modesty, you may want to stop now. However, I’m not going to be graphic and I am going to discuss at least a couple things about what I find sexy and wish more women did/knew as general rules of thumb, so you’re welcome to stay and satisfy your. . . curiosity.

To quote a friend, “SEX! I mean, hello.”

To begin, I have never understood why, in a sexy situation, women take off their heels with their clothes. I’m not saying it’s something to leave on every time she happens to have strapped a pair on, but I think we can all generally agree that heels are sexy. As a man, let me also tell you that having sex with a woman who is in varying degrees of undress but still wearing her heels is hot. Naked except for her heels? Hot. Still in that LBD and heels with her panties history? Hot. You get the picture.

The subject came up at the same party where I met Kay. The birthday cake was a Barbie, with the cake designed to look like a ball gown while an actual Barbie stood in the center. You have to understand that while the birthday person was a 35 year-old man, nobody thinks twice about these things when the room is full of actors. At some point Barbie was removed from the cake and, unsurprisingly, stripped naked. It was at this point at a table full of people I commented, “Well, at least she’s still wearing her heels.” This sparked a round of discussion, mostly from women who had never realized that a guy might like that. Well, I can’t really speak for any other guys, but I’ll tell you right now, this one does. If the heels are sexy enough, I would happily wait if she had to take them off to get her jeans off and put them back on afterward.

No, I don’t have a fetish. They’re just sexy, much like lingerie.

When the evening was dying out, the conversation was brought up again by one of the women who prides herself on her sexuality and had apparently been astounded by this revelation. I commented this time that it’s a lot like the fact that there are women out there who have no idea on which side of a garter belt to wear their panties. If you happen to be one of those women, the answer, my dear, is the outside. One generally assumes if you’re wearing a garter belt it’s because you intend someone to see it and are planning on having your clothing removed at some point. While I am certain this is not always the case, let us assume it is generally thus.

I think it’s a good fact for a woman planning on having sex to know. There’s a good chance a woman will wear a garter belt at least once in her life in such a situation. If not, well, more’s the pity. If I am with a woman who dresses up for me with such intentions, no matter what else I take off her or leave on, I am definitely leaving the garter belt and sundry on. At least for a while. What items find their way to the floor as the night wears on, so be it. But when the event commences, I want to slide her panties off without having to unclasp and reclasp the fastenings. It’s kind of a mood killer. However, if I have to slip them off her ankles and over her heels before I return to claiming her lips with a kiss that shows her just how much I appreciate her accessories, overall appearance, ‘fashion’ sense, and what all those things do to my brain, well, so much the better.

So there you have the two points I wanted to make. Ladies, consider leaving your heels on from time to time when you’re stripping away everything else. I’ll appreciate your good taste, even if whoever you do it for doesn’t. And when you slide on that garter set, put that sexy little piece on last, because of all the lingerie you have on tonight, that’s the only part that really needs to come off. . . and even then, maybe not all the time.

Enough said. Wish me luck with my lovely, dressed up date.

And a thousand words, goodnight.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

On My Soapbox - Viewer Discretion Advised

It may seem strange, but some of my favorite twenty-five minutes of the day are the five minute intervals after my alarm goes off. If I’m dreaming when it happens, I hit snooze and go back to my dreams, only they’re brighter, more intense, more real. Time has a fascinating way of dilating and shrinking depending on the morning, the interval, the dream. Sometimes it is as if I blinked and the alarm is going off again. Sometimes it seems like I have lived an entire lifetime before my cell phone vibrates again. I love that fluidity of time. It makes that first half hour of morning so interesting that I’ve come to enjoy it.

That does not mean I want to get up. I would happily go back to sleep after that brief interruption, most mornings. I go through it because I have to, not because I want to, no matter how fascinating it is. I am not a morning person. Given the choice, I will sleep until my body simply no longer allows me to do so. Especially if I haven’t been getting as much sleep as I would like, which is pretty regularly these days. My social events often keep me out until midnight even when I have to  work the next day. It’s no wonder that I often push myself to the limits of my time and get up at 7:25 when I have to at work by 8:00. Fortunately, I still find that I arrive at least a few minutes early. Being male is such a blessing.

It’s always interesting to me when I say things like that. I often use words and phrases like “blessing,” “Lord knows,” or “Thank god.” I also cross myself with some regularity. I’m pretty certain that I use them more than some professed Christians. In the end, I think they’re usually just filler with no more real meaning to me than their more crass alternatives, which also make their way into my speech with some regularity. The latter two in particular. Blessing isn’t filler, especially the way I used it in the last paragraph, but it doesn’t have the religious connotation for me. Convenience doesn’t convey the same sense of thankfulness I have for being born a man.
Don’t take that the wrong way. My appreciation for being born male is not misogynistic. My delight in everything that is woman is one of the reasons I like being a man. Being able to get ready and getting to work with time to spare in 35 minutes just happens to be another. ;)

I had a few topics I wanted to write about when I started and some of my views on religion were actually one of them. Apparently I have some more work to do before I can discuss my obsession with the snooze feature for 1,000 words. The segue to religion actually happened pretty organically. It wasn’t intentional, at least consciously.

I was actually able to have an open discussion about my beliefs recently, and with an attractive woman. Her name is K and I’ve known her for years through dancing. While I don’t know that I’m going to court her, it was still nice to talk about my viewpoint without worrying about offending someone. Non-christians are rare here. They’re even rare in Spokane, where she leaves, but less so than this small town. I find it makes dating frustrating.

It’s actually been quite a while since I spoke with someone I knew who was like minded on the subject. I think it’s important to be able to share ideas in such a way. In spite of the phrase, “preaching to the choir,” I think we need to at times. What a relief it is to speak my mind without a concern that someone might be offended or judge me a terrible person because I don’t share the same views on morality.

In fact, I’m going to spend some time discussing what I believe here. Viewer discretion is advised and if you’re the easily offended type, don’t read on. Some of what I’m going to say comes across as pretty unforgiving. I’m going to pick on Christianity, because it’s the most prevalent religion in my life. You’ve been warned.

First, let’s imagine you’re an outside observer who has never heard of Christianity. You attend a church service, which seems pretty mild mannered at first. As a group, the people greet each other in the name of an invisible being that has no physical presence in the room you’re in. Many of them wear the symbol of the cross, which you know historically was a method the Romans used to punish and execute criminals. That’s when, depending on the church, you notice the cross above the altar has a wounded, bleeding man on it. No one told you this wasn’t rated G. You gather yourself and wait to see what happens. On a good day you get to hear a story about an invisible, incorporeal man who somehow magically impregnates a woman without her knowledge. She apparently hallucinates a supernatural being called an “angel” who tells her it’s all ok. Sounds like a rufie and date rape to you, but clearly she bought it and she’s not going to the police.

If you happened to go on one of the less appealing days, you hear stories about anything from the people who believe in this being conning an entire population of a city into circumcising themselves before massacring them, to condoning the sacrifice of a man’s own children because the voice of the invisible being told them to do so to test his “faith”. As a whole, it sounds like the dark fantasy novel you picked up from the local bookstore yesterday.

But that’s just part of it. You’re a bit uncomfortable, but it doesn’t get really disturbing until you realize that the ritual the priest just performed is believed to -literally- transform the wine and bread they have on the stage into the flesh and blood of the dying man on the cross. In an ideal world, they do what most cultures do and either bury or burn the remnants of the poor guy. But no, instead they eat him. This, my friends, is at best symbolic cannibalism, at worst (in some sects), actual cannibalism. If you weren’t aware, cannibalism is almost universally frowned upon in the modern world. It’s not expressly illegal, but anyone caught goes to jail for either murder or desecration of a corpse. Semantics.

After this. . . peculiar. . . feast, the group goes on to celebrate the life of this man, who they believe was the child of the earlier date rape. . . err, immaculate conception, as they call it. They profess to believing that the man was capable of magic, which the Christian’s call miracles. If a man walked up to you today and claimed that without the use of a crash cart, drugs or any other “miracle” of modern that he had raised a man from the dead, what would you honestly think? What if he claimed he could walk on water or turn one loaf of bread into ten? I don’t think I need to say much more. Anyone literate is capable of providing further examples and putting them into a modern context and arriving at the same conclusion.

So there are some of my issues: the worship of death and dying, the symbolic cannibalism, and the belief in magic and magical creatures. That’s only the start of it and the only reason that I haven’t mentioned the delusion of a magical world in the sky is because I prefer to use heaven as an example of why I have no taste for what Christians call morality.

In my opinion the Christian view of morality is actually immoral in and of itself. It is a morality of the carrot and the stick. Science has shown that with the exception of jobs that are formulaic, carrots and sticks don’t work. In fact, performance levels actually deteriorate in these cases. It works the same way for morality. Offer a person a chance at heaven or hell and it’s easy for someone to shrug off. I don’t have to worry about it until tomorrow. Or, if you’re Catholic, just confess and it is all forgiven anyway. How is that okay? Feeling guilty doesn’t make your immorality less wrong. No amount of penance undoes what you did if you fuck up someone else’s life. I’m not saying forgiveness is wrong, by any means. But there’s no reason to let someone off so easy.

There is only one good reason to be a moral person and that’s not as a form of currency to buy your way into the magical kingdom in the sky that your consciousness supposedly goes to when you die as a good person and a believer. No, the only reason to be a good person is because it is the right thing to do. Morality should be intrinsic. Be good for its own sake. And who judges good? Well there are some pretty simple rules, one of them even comes from Christianity itself. The Wiccans have a pretty good one: “An it harm none, do as you will.” The Christians: “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself.” That sounds pretty good to me. I know I’d be hurt and pissed if someone stole from me, killed someone I knew, or treated me like I was a piece of shit. So why would I do it to anyone else? Live and let live. And let people have sex with whomever they want. What a stupid thing to treat as immoral. As long as it is consensual, fun and friendly sex is the business of the two people having it. I am fairly certain your mother taught you it was rude to stick your nose into someone else’s business. Why would you think your religion gives you permission to? Sorry, still rude.

I could, and will, say a lot more, but another day. There’s a reason people write books about the subject. Maybe one day I will. I need a lot more practice staying on one subject, first. ;)

And way over a thousand words, goodnight.