On One Hand

October 31, 2004

HA!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:07 pm

Just like last year, I was a Republican for halloween. I parted my hair on the left side and combed it over toward the Right. I wore a white button shirt, gray tie, gray pants, black belt, and black shoes. I made buttons out of paper that said “Peace is for Pansies,” “Moving America Forward” (on a picture of a tank moving forward), “I Believe In Supply-Side Jesus,” and “Is Your Child’s Teacher A Terrorist?” There was a pin with a donkey crossed out. I decided not to wear “The Terrorists Want You To Defend Your Civil Liberties” deciding it was too mean. The party I went to was thrown by a friend from high school, and she’s a youth leader at a non-denominational Christian church (the mega-box suburban conglomerate kind) so most of her friends are conservative. There was no alcohol. It was on my friend’s request that I wore the Republican outfit to begin with, because she was excited by the prospect of pissing her friends off. As a rule of thumb, young conservatives know shit about poltics, and some said “what are you, a mayor? Are you John Kerry?” Yeah, John Kerry would TOTALLY wear a “Peace is for Pansies” pin. A guy at the party refused to associate with me because I was a Kerry fan, saying that he can’t tolerate Kerry’s morally bankrupt stance on gay marriage and stem cell research. A few others said they hate Democrats but didn’t direct it at me specifically. But I didn’t act straight at the party. And I had fun with the more moderate people, who laughed at my un-Christian gay jokes. I didn’t draw attention to my sexuality but didn’t hide it, and a closeted Christian guy there started flirting with me when he realized I was gay. I am not making a wild assumption about the flirting, it was pretty obvious, and he gave me his number.

Because they were Christian, the party ended when everyone went to bed early, leaving me to use the rest of the night as I pleased. Three of us from the party went up to Boulder just in time to be tear gassed during the riots.

Kerry
You preferred Kerry’s statements 100% of the time

Voting purely on the issues you should vote Kerry

Who would you vote for if you voted on the issues?

Find out now!

Riots.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:56 am

After going to a friend’s party the night before Halloween, three of us came back to Boulder to see if there were any better parties going on. As it turns out, there was a party in just about every other house, with drunken costumed young people running back and forth between houses like some citywide carnival. We found an interesting party and got a small group together.

As the five of us were going back to the car, we saw a crowd gathering up the street from where we were. We wandered in that direction and saw a bunch of cops and more crowds. An arrest had taken place. Off in another direction, some guys were lighting a chair on fire in the street. We laughed and lingered around, as if a burning chair was some sort of big deal. A good Samaratin started to stamp the fire out, and as he did, a cop car pulled up and arrested him. Everyone started laughing again, at the stupidity of the cops and in sympathy with the guy who got arrested trying to put out a fire. A few guys started booing and throwing more stuff on the fire after the cops left.

A guy dressed as Jesus or Moses or some bearded biblical figure stood behind the fire and raised his arms, and everybody laughed. We laughed at the fact that the news was probably going to make a big deal about this even though the small fire in the street was a non-event. Two of the girls in the group were tired and scared of more mischief, so we got back in the car and started to drive off. Everyone except for the two scared girls was sober, so driving was safe.

We dropped the girls off at home, as they requested, and started to drive away. We got to what can be considered the downtown area of the student-dominated part of Boulder, right off the edge of campus, known as The Hill. A crowd was gathering so we parked the car up the street and got out to walk around and see what was going on. As we approached the event, we could see a few guys start kicking newspaper stands around and yelling things at the cops. Chris had his digital camera and was taking pictures, running up close to the action and then coming back to Shidiah and I. Shidiah and I wanted to get out of there, but we couldn’t leave Chris behind, so we waited at the corner at what we thought was a safe distance.

We turned around and found a few cops behind us with nightsticks and riot gear. They were casually standing at the corner right across from us, not seeming to be very involved in the situation. A few bottles flew in their direction and one crashed on the sidewalk within fifteen feet of Shidiah and I. We called for Chris and decided to go back to the car, but then the cops fanned out and blocked us from going the direction of the car. The cops looked more intimidating than the crowd, so we went the only way we could, which was toward the mob.

But as we were going down the street, things started heating up. The group of about ten guys was slowly growing, and getting more passionate. They had gotten the paper out of a newspaper stand and started a small fire. A car had been caught between the mob and the cops and was trying to make its way out of the area, and a group of guys started throwing the newspaper stands at it and beating up the car with sticks. Then some guys lit a trash can on fire and pilied the newspaper stands on top of the trash can, hoping it would all burn, then kicked the stack over when it didn’t. Another group was standing back in the direction we had come from, chanting fuck the cops! fuck the cops! and throwing bottles. Shidiah was not a fast runner so she and I picked up our pace, working our way out of the area while Chris was having a good time with the camera. Rioters pushed newspaper pages into a small tree and lit the tree on fire. The cops raised their pellet guns and started shooting at those who confronted them. Chris finally gave up on taking pictures and joined the crowd standing farther back on the side of the street, slowly moving down the street to stay ahead of the police barricade. There were three or four hundred people in the crowd we were in. We were all scared of the pellet guns, but not so much afraid of the rioters. People were yelling “they’re getting awfully close!” “The cops are almost here, we don’t want to get tear gassed.” “Dude please lets get out of here!” Then everyone was running. I didn’t want to leave Shidiah so fell toward the back of the group with her, and fleeing people were flowing around us like leaves caught up in a stream. My heart was racing. I was scared, but it was exciting – I had never seen anything like this before. We were ducking behind cars, crouching as we ran because we didn’t know when the cops were going to open up. Guys were putting their girlfriends behind cars to protect them. I went with the girls. We kept running down the street and finally got to a place where we could run around the corner.

We stopped running once we were around the corner because we assumed the action would work its way down the street and pass us by. But the riot only fanned out and started filling more streets. Since the large group had split three ways, there were now only sixty or so people where we were. Guys were still yelling at the cops and confronting them, and people were coming into the area from other parts of the city, chanting fuck the police! We heard a few explosions, and only found out later that they were tear gas canisters, not bombs. People pulled their shirts over their mouths and noses as if it could protect them from the tear gas, which gave the air an oniony smell and burned a little. I saw a journalist in the crowd, protected with a gas mask and full-body armor, taking photographs with an armored camera. Police officers were using stun guns on the people who got close enough to them to reach. The cops turned the corner and pointed their guns at us. We started running again. Then there were cops ahead of us. We turned another corner into an alley. We wanted to make our way back down the alley in the general direction where our car was parked, but people were coming down the alley saying “don’t go that way! There are cops up there!” We turned another direction and people warned us that there were cops there too. A few guys were telling us all to stop running because it provokes the cops to shoot. It reminded me of what they told us in Boy Scouts about not running from bears because then they’ll chase you down. The police were supposedly there to protect everyone, but we were more afraid of the police than anyone else.

We finally made our way back to the street where the car was parked, running with our hands in the air to show we were not confrontational. But a few guys were standing between us and the car and cussing at another group of police, and we wanted to be careful not to provoke them, either, because many cars had already been smashed. While we were running the cops started shooting pellets. I was the farthest behind, and didn’t know if I was going to be hit. I ducked behind a car until the police stopped shooting. They probably weren’t shooting right at me anyway, but I didn’t know that at the time. I probably only imagined feeling rubber bullets whizz by inches from my body. The police stopped shooting, but still had their guns raised at the group of guys while the guys jeered back. My friends and I got to the car and waited for the standoff to pass, but nothing passed. Deciding that the police probably weren’t going to shoot at a car, we peeled out and made our way away from there, driving betweent the cops and the crowd. My heart was pounding. I was terrified. But I was laughing, too.

We got caught in another skirmish, but felt safer from inside the car. A rioter hit the car but only with his hand. A rubber bullet or pellet or paint ball or whatever the cops were shooting hit the car, but I could never figure out where because it didn’t leave an obvious mark. It sounded like it hit a window. While we were driving off, we saw what had happened to others: an SUV was completely destroyed and beside it was another vehicle that had been completely flipped over. People were shouting about police cars being overturned as well, but I don’t know if those rumors were true. People were limping away, saying that they had been hit by pellets, and some had been beaten up. We saw police cars from the city of Boulder, the county, the campus police, and several surrounding cities, called in to reinforce the original riot officers. While we drove away, I was feeling sad that this whole thing happened. Every trash can, flower pot, street sign, or newspaper stand was ripped down or overturned. Cars were banged up and tires were slashed. In the past, riots have started civil rights movements or shown the power of all sorts of disenfranchised minority groups. The American Revolution started with a riot, as did the gay rights movement. Riots have called attention to hidden issues and are the most democratic form of violence, maybe not to be condoned but still very powerful. But this riot didn’t happen for any good reason. It was for fun, because students were pissed off about parties being broken up, and served only the egos and vanity of the participants. But I’ll have a great story to remember. My throat is still burning from the tear gas. I was in a real riot.

I think I realized from this that being in a crowd watching a riot is just important to the existence of the riot as the rioters. The crowd feeds the riot, by giving the rioters attention and egging them on, and as rioters fall from bullets or tear gas fresh new bodies leave the sidelines and go into the action to take the places of the fallen. I also realized how democratic riots really are. If someone started knocking over trash cans and smashing cars on any Sunday morning, they would not get very far before being tackled. Because the event escalated slowly, most people in the crowd were more excited than anything else. Here were hundreds of people divided about the events of the evening: some were having fun, supporting it, cheering the rioters and booing the cops, others were scared, maybe enjoying the rush but wanting to get out of the area. A few others were freaking out about their property being damaged or opposed to all the violence. Whenever the numbers of scared people overcame the numbers of the angry and excited, the crowd split up and fled. But the biggest thrill of the evening was the most terrifying part: running away from the cops in some huge cinematic mass stampede down the street. It was surreal, like some gigantic game of lazer tag, and even those who wanted nothing to do with it felt like it was us versus the cops. You saw the uniformed officers and felt safe and scared at the same time. It was crazy.

October 29, 2004

Compassion

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:59 pm

read

October 27, 2004

Prospects

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:39 pm

The other night I attended a panel of four “experts” discussing the effects of the 2004 election on the United States and on the world. There was an economist, two different types of historian, and a fourth professor who didn’t explicitly state what his specialty was but it seemed to be something along the lines of sociologist/political analyst.

The most poignant statement I heard the whole evening came from one of the historians before the formal discussion even began. She commented after overhearing a discussion between my friends and I about overconsumption, and her comment seemed to have deep sociological insight, though she wans’t the sociologist of the panel. She addressed the very American perception (misperception, if you will,) that environmental conservation is unnecessary because whenever we exhaust a resource we can figure out how to appropriate and then exhaust an endless supply of alternative resources. Under this philosophy there is really no need for efficiency because there is no limit to what we can take advantage of next. Such people cite the past to map the future, in an argument that I like to call the because-nothing-has-killed-me-yet-nothing-ever-will philosophy. The professor said that the Americans are so prone to this philosophy because of the Manifest Destiny ideals of our past. Because American population was historically low in relation to the natural resources here, she argues, we got the idea that the land just goes on and on. Indeed, the United States did enjoy a long period of seemingly endless space for physical and economic expansion. But this expansion did not come without a price: as we all know, huge tracts of land were stolen from the Native Americans, the entire Southwest was taken from Mexico in a war that would have been considered ridiculously immoral by today’s standards, and Native populations were decimated in the violent onslaught of American “fronteirsmanship.” In retrospect we pay little attention to all of that, and the American sense of the Endless Frontier continues to have its remnants among our culture’s conflicting ideologies. Come to think of it, I think heard that connection once or twice before the professor’s comment.

The bulk of American consumption (based on dollars spent per capita) falls under a category called conspicuous consumption, as opposed to consumption for the enjoyment of wealth that a neoclassical economic perspective would consider. Therefore, I think that the argument about Manifest Destiny can only be considered a piece of the true reason Americans often value economic expansion over economic sustainability. (For those who don’t know, conspicuous consumption, as a broader category including both conspicuous waste and conspicuous leisure, is consumption for the SAKE of waste used express wealth to others. For example, an American might choose the big SUV over the small, efficient compact car because perceived material wealth represents status and therefore the owner of the SUV conveys to others that s/he can afford to spend a lot on large vehicles that take a lot of expensive gas when s/he buys the SUV. Unfortunately, conspicuous consumption creates a large societal urge for everyone to one-up each other (a.k.a. “keeping up with the Jones'”) because members of society evaluate status-as-material-wealth relative to others, not an objective scale. Thus individuals attempt conspicuous consumption even when it is not economically wise for individuals to do so, which is why the United States is a largely debt-based economy. It’s also why we throw things away, long before they’ve worn out, simply because they’ve gone out of style. Needing the latest style is one of the most obvious cases of conspicuous consumption; dressing in new clothes from all the top brand names represents the ability to afford the latest clothes and not need to hang on to them as they become out of date. Ultimately, conspicuous consumption leads to the hyper-consumer society, and means a lot of us will work many more hours than we need to in life to increase our perceived wealth, even to the point of working for more hours than spending to enjoy the products of work. It’s one of the reasons why Americans in general, despite having far more economic wealth than any other large economy, have higher levels of stress, have more anxiety over money and social status, know their neighbors less, and have more nostalgia for the past than any other Western nation according to psychologists. [We have a your-ultimate-goal-in-life-is-to-get-rich mentality that other nations simply don’t have to the same degree. Obviously, because the percieved wealth that is important to conspicuous consumption is based on relation to others, the majority of people who want to get rich are NOT going to be able to get rich – more people will fail than succeed under this system.] That’s not to say there is no conspicuous consumption in other places, but it manifests itself in different ways in different cultures, and I am not going to get into that right now.)

So I went to the panel to hear the discussion on the 2004 election results. What they basically said is what I tend to believe no matter what – that everything will probably be OK in any situation. We can fix our problems if we have to. We got through the Cold War, for Christ’s Sake. But that’s not to say we shoudln’t still be careful. Which brings me to the second most poignant statement of the evening, made by one of the historians: “when society makes mistakes, they can be corrected. But the longer we wait to correct our mistakes, the harder it is to correct them.” Take, for example, oil reserves: (Oil was not mentioned in the discussion, but it has been discussed in many of my classes ranging from geology to sociology, and I am using this as an excuse to bring it up.) world oil reserves, banking largely on undiscovered reserves that are projected but not proven to exist, are set to run out in forty years. Sixty if we get lucky. (I know that this page is very outdated, but the numbers are consistent with the current graphs, though the website underestimates the potential found in fuel cells. When I say 40 years I am not including Oil Shale and Tar Sands, because I am assuming that no one seriously wants to strip the millions of acres of land bare which would be required to get at those reserves. I doubt it would be thermodynamically economical anyway, since the energy expended in lifting and moving the rock is nearly as high as the energy found in its oil. Note that the scientific community is at odds with the business community about how much unknown oil is there to be discovered, and I personally consider geologists to be more objective and knowledgable on the matter.) We can wait until five years before the point where all oil runs out to worry about it, and have a very hard and very expensive transition to alternative fuels (what environmental economists would call “the hard path.” OR governments can intervene today, encouraging the use of alternative fuels and efficient consumption now, ensuring not only that reserves will last longer but also that the transition to other fuels is smooth when oil does ultimately run out (called “the soft path”). Of course some oil companies are investing in alternative fuels now, but to a very minimal degree; though the industry as a whole needs to change, no single company wants to be the ONE to spend the money and begin. I will add that oil will never completely run out. It will become so scarce it is obsolete before oil reserves are tapped dry, which has practically the same effect from the consumer’s standpoint.

During the discussion, everyone in the room was for the most part skeptical of tax-cut economics. Tax cuts can be beneficial to the economy, but only under certain circumstances. Those who favor tax cuts ideologically are certainly entitled to do so, but it would be fallacious for those people to insist that tax cuts always boost the economy. Tax cuts help when they are made strategically and when particular economic circumstances are present (i.e. supply-side cut early 60’s).

I am getting the impression that if Bush wins, Democrats might benefit in the long run. Whoever wins, I gathered, will have one hell of a time navigating the next four years. Democrats are currently winning on domestic issues, and Republicans can’t count on terrorism distracting us from them forever, not even in just four years. If Bush is re-elected, whoever the Democrats put up in 2008 (look for Edwards-Obama or Richardson-Spitzer) will have excellent prospects. The President’s fans may be die-hard but the vast majority of Americans do not like Bush, and will only like him less in four years.

However, if Bush is re-elected, he is expected to shift only to the right and act even more recklessly than he is acting now. This may not be bad for the Democratic Party but it is bad for the Democrats’ ideals. Unlike Reagan, who changed his conservative rhetoric to embrace more openness and moderacy while campaigning for a second term, Bush is only hyperbolizing his most controversial stances.

If Kerry wins the election, don’t expect rosy days for Democrats ahead. Kerry will have a hard time navigating the first few months of his presidency, and is likely to see approval ratings below 50% for much of his first year. He will have to turn the economy around in no small way if he wants to be re-elected. He has to do visibly and unequivocally better than Bush, and he has to have luck on his side. The deficit won’t go away. The Iraq war will still go badly. Terrorists will still hate us. The only real plus side is that there is a much smaller chance that new bad things will happen with Kerry.

Because of the way that urban/suburban/rural voters are distributed, Republicans have an incredible advantage on winning the majority of the House of Representatives. This is because the nation’s Liberals are concentrated in tight urban areas forming a few congressional districts, while the rest of the country’s districts are more balanced but each one tends to slightly favor Conservatives. With Liberals voting Democrat as they do and Conservatives voting Republican, this means Republicans have a clear advantage, as they do in the Electoral College as well.

The Senate, however, is up for grabs, and I expect it to drift Democratic, especially if Bush is re-elected.

For those of you who are interested about what I said about oil and want to know about energy policy, here’s a great article on energy. It discusses fossil fuels and the alternatives to fossil fuels, and basically leaves the reader with the conclusion that reducing consumption is much safer than betting on the Endless Fronteir paradigm for energy.

Scars

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:57 am

Last time I counted, I had twelve scars on my body. Doctors tell me I scar well, whatever that means, and even the worst ones are hard to see unless you look close.
The most obvious scar is on my upper left arm, relic from getting a mole removed a few years ago. The doctor was terrible, the wound got infected and then I had an allergic reaction to the local antibiotics that were put on the infection. I was left with a small circular scar that everyone says looks like a cigarette burn.

I had a scar on my knee once but it faded. I got it before I can remember, and it completely disappeared a few years ago. My oldest remaining scar is on the knuckle of my left index finger. I don’t even remember where it came from because it’s so old. The next is a scar on the tip of the same finger, forming a disharmonious ridge that offsets the print. The knife slipped while I was cutting oranges. I was thirteen years old, laughing at the irony that I cut myself badly less than a month after teaching the younger boy scouts knife safety. While I was rinsing my finger off in the sink, my mother came by, saying “oh, don’t let it close up! You have to wash out the inside! Here, let me open it up to make sure the soap gets all the way in!” I resolved to be more discreet next time I cut myself.

A few months later I betrayed my boy scout principles again. I was stabbing a plastic bottle with a pocketknife and it closed on my finger. I heard a faint clicking sound when I pulled the blade out of the shallow bone. The rusty knife demanded I get a tetanus shot, which did not amuse me. I’m due for another in 2006.

I just found a tiny, barely visible scar on that knuckle, mirroring the one on my other index finger, but much smaller. I don’t know where I got it from. It’s so small, I can hardly say it counts.

I have a scar across the top of my head – a lesson about haste. As a child I used to jump down the staircase between the kitchen and the family room because it was faster than going one step at a time. One day I learned I was getting too tall, cracking my head on the ceiling, leaving a three-inch gash that got blood everywhere and ruined my denim shorts. Dad asked “are you okay?” from upstairs. I said “I don’t know,” clutching my head on the bottom stair. Dad came downstairs and asked “what happened?” just as the rush of blood reached my forehead and I realized I was bleeding. Later I put a sign up above the stairs that read “DO NOT JUMP.” It was more of a joke than anything, but it might have saved me more stitches, too. I can hardly tell where the scar is now. Reaching up with my hands I can barely locate the long, thin ridge through my hair, which is a good thing in case I ever go bald. As the doctors say, I scar well.

I have two scars on my neck and collar bone, each about an inch and a half long. They’re my favorites, for the look of them if not the story behind them. I got the two scars at the same time while getting more moles removed, this time by a better doctor who did a good job cutting them out. They hadn’t been moles so much as freckles, striking the dermatologist as odd because each tiny dot was completely and utterly black. They turned out not cancerous, which is what we were expecting.

I have a scar on my penis because I was circumcised as an infant. Every other circumcised person has it too. I can’t really tell where the scar is, and I’m curious to see an uncircumcised person so I can see just what was cut off. A few years ago my mom officially apologized for getting me circumcised when we were watching an article about circumcision on TV, and I blushed. When I got a little older I could talk about those things without blushing, and one day I told my parents my views on the matter, about how I don’t really get why people do it. My mom said that if my younger sister had been a boy, they would have known better. But I don’t really mind being circumcized that much; it’s been this way for as long as I can remember.

I have a small scar on my abdomen, barely visible, another mole which was scraped off when I was climbing out of a swimming pool. In its new, disfigured, scarred state it looked more dangerous. I had it removed.

I have a thin scar forming a half-ring around my right nipple, from a surgery I’ve talked about here. I would have preferred that the scar was straight, but it’s a nice scar nonetheless.

I have a small lemon-shaped scar under my right armpit. There was once a tiny mole there, and I was doing an experiment in self-surgery at fourteen years old and cut the mole off myself with scissors. I pinched the skin in the area between thumb and forefinger and cut off the whole pinch. It healed nicely, and the scar it left behind is not bad at all. On my other arm I have two features that are half-scar half-mole from when I didn’t do such a good job getting it all off. They still look cool.

I have a scar on my hip from a bad fall. I was running along a cement wall and jumped across a four-foot gap, expecting to land firmly on the other side. I did land right, and had balance for a moment, but my shoes were old and the soles had been worn slippery. My feet came out from under me and I was flung headfirst off the wall. I nearly cracked my head open but saved it with my elbow, giving me a bad case of whiplash in my back and neck. My hip took the brunt of my lower body’s weight, and I’m left with a large scarred area where the bone sticks out the most. It was an exciting fall, and the endorphin rush resulting from the injury was stronger than the pain.

Those are my scars at age nineteen. None of them are particularly obnoxious or obvious. We’ll see what happens in years to come.

October 25, 2004

On Holiday

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:49 pm

I lost the energy. It slipped away the way a weak buzz does when you sober up. The lights go on, your consciousness that was woozing around the room returns to its tight little bundle inside your brain. The flow of verbs and adjectives and the concentration needed to weave them into passages has been cut off, leaving me standing alone naked in front of a minimalistic backdrop. The flair is gone in the head of a pin.

So now I must change focus. From words to images. From ideas to activities. From screens, keyboards, pencils, and paper to cameras and bare hands pressing against bare flesh.

The leaves lost their romance. Swirling around trunks and treetops, they’ve gone from messengers of the season of love and stories to bits of plant cellulose caught up in nitrogen air. They’re dying, and in death they utter to me their last message: You tried too hard. A million tiny voices whisper in unison. You tried too hard, you pulled at space for feelings and it gave you more than you could find words to describe. You felt the feelings and you got caught in their fixation. You got caught using the same words over and over again, the same thoughts over and over again. How many times in the last month did you talk about “a new energy” or stars or planets being aligned? How many times did you paint the spirit of the day as the search for an intellectual romance? You described the same feelings with the same metaphors in the same context despite the spectrum of connections you could have made, because your mind was caught up in the flow of a swift current that traps you in and turns you around, turning in place and moving around fast without moving at all. It’s true.

There has been an image in my head for a month and it’s all that I’ve spoken of. In it is me, walking in an autumn attire through a swirl of brown oak leaves, surrounded by campus buildings, down a concrete path with browning grass and transitioning trees on either side. I’m walking toward another boy, some kind of close romantic friend. The love between us is obvious, and mental playfulness the predominant energy that keeps us there. He’s holding a book. We laugh. We kiss. The image is limited but the feeling is expansive, encompassing the whole campus and the whole city and the whole world moving in a certain way, invisible over the edge of the image’s finite field of view.

The image never came true. I wanted it to. I wanted it so bad I got addicted to the fantasy, and now it has grown stagnant in my mind. The image must move out, letting me move on and forcing me start over from scratch, because there may be no romantics like me to come any time soon. God do I want that, for someone who thinks like me; a boy willing to hook up or fool around not because he’s horny, not because he’s in lust and seeks the carnal nature of things, but for the experience, for the knowledge and wisdom to keep for later, found in exploring the depths of passion and contours of each others’ bodies. We connect.

I may find someone, but chances are he won’t be into it for the same reasons as I am. I’m having my need for experience met only with myself as he’s having a different need met with his own self, and we’re each having sex only with ourselves and just happen to be in the same room and touching each other.

The essence of my personality seeks connections with other people. This is the deepest level of what I need in life. It’s how I define my life, my experience – the factor of review by which I look back at each day and ask if it was worthwhile. I may have to accept a better union with myself instead, or perhaps turn back to God – who is always reaching back – invisible and undetectable to me.

I have to stop writing for a while. I think it would be good for me to take a break. The phases of my mind form a clear pattern: spend one month writing, one month gathering the experiences with which to write. I’ll still be around, saying things, but I won’t be making a point to say it pretty.

October 23, 2004

Movies

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:30 am

I still get caught up in horror movies. And though it causes me discomfort when I do, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I get scared on purpose, pale fingers clenched, eyes wide, feeling one with the main character and trembling as he does when the dark force growls from behind a tree. I often try to pull my mind away, thinking I’m going to lead myself over the edge if I follow the plot too close, but I can never seem to escape the deadly grasp of empathy. He’s just an actor. She’s just a part of the plot. But no, I know that’s not true; they are obviously more than that. When you read or watch a story, somewhere in the Universe it is really happening, if only just in your mind.
Horror films should be watched by multiples of two. You and I are huddled cringing on the couch, queasy at the thought of imminent death, but I’m happy with your arm around my shoulders and you feel better if I let you squeeze tighter. And I do let you. God help me if I agreed to put myself through such a terrible thing and that wasn’t part of the plan to begin with.
Of course to say this is cliche – there isn’t a young person in America who hasn’t used a scary flick as a tool trying to get close to someone. But the ubiquity of the story only comes as a plus to me; I know that when I get there he’ll be thinking the same thing, and he won’t be caught off guard when I go for the pants.

October 21, 2004

Today’s Thoughts:

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 7:36 pm

read

October 19, 2004

Today’s Thoughts:

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 9:59 pm

read

Cummon!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:43 am
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I was once watching a porn clip when the thought struck me how short guys’ orgasms really are. I’d been aware of that fact since I first understood what it meant to have an orgasm, but somehow the thought morphed into an utterly new revelation as I watched the video, the body heaving on the pixilated screen, tanned muscles flexing and face contorting in that fleeting moment of ecstasy.

Consider this, what I acknowledge is an exaggeration but is as close to truth as an exaggeration ever was: guys spend pretty much their whole lives thinking about sex. Being a guy, I know it all to well: we think about who we want it with, where we would find it, how we could get it to happen, and under what circumstances we would like it best. We think about how we can find the person who best satisfies our sexual needs. We think about whether we’re getting enough of or how awesome it would be to get more than enough. We make life choices like where we’re going to live and what career we’re going to follow based on what offers satisfactory sexual opportunity. If we worry about getting HIV or some other STD, it’s not because it might kill us, but because it inhibits us from having sex in good conscience for the rest of our lives or as long as we have the infection. If we’re pro-relationship, we think about getting into a relationship because it’s when we’re in love with someone that sex is really, really good.

And what is sex? Is it foreplay? Kissing? Hell no! To a guy, sex all comes down to one thing: an orgasm. We might love cuddling, we might love foreplay, we might love kissing, we might love a whole spectrum of pre-coitus sexual activity, but all attention is really focused on the buildup to that one, glorious moment. It’s not like any of us would ever stop before we get there! It’s about the build and build and build, and then you’re there.

So I was watching the porn clip, which I used to think was absolutely fantastic. It’s a guy jerking off solo on a bed, which seems a little boring, almost softcore, but there are good reasons this kind of video is interesting to me. I like short clips with good cumshots because you can click back and forth to watch the guy get off over and over again, and you can see the actor’s stomach tense up when it all shoots out.

This particular clip was especially exciting because the subject of the video made a lot of noise, writhed around on his back, and seemed like he was really having a good time. “I’m gonna cum,” he said in a low, breathy voice, that obligatory line that enhances any experience, and then he did just that, he came, all over himself. First his head thrust back, then his torso tensed up so his abs and chest muscles were sharply defined, then he moaned like the sky was falling. Finally a few beautiful spurts of pearly jizz leapt out of his penis like doves, and landed, graceful as feathers, on his chest. (Then he licked his hand, not so much my thing but nice for those who would enjoy that.) The moment, and I say “moment” because that’s as long as it lasted, was about six seconds. And it was exhilarating.

It was the moment after that moment that brought my world of coitus crashing down. Our subject did some forced post-cum moaning to offer the audience some extra pleasure, and lay back and smiled, peering up at the camera out of the corner of his eye to make sure it was still on. He breathed, deeply and enthusiastically: “God, that was GREAT. God, that felt SOOOOO good. God.” as if he was praying, as if he was calling to his cruel captors for mercy, as if now his purpose in life was fulfilled. And as far as I am concerned, it was.

And that was it. It actually wasn’t until about the sixty-fifth time watching that moment that it hit me – the way this guy hyperbolized the sensation of an orgasm – it’s what made me realize how ridiculous the whole sexual experience really is for men. In truth it’s always a disappointment. Guys spend so much time anticipating a feeling that is over in a blink of an eye, then lay back and pretend that they’re fulfilled by it. But guys, admit it, we’re always a little bit disappointed after we cum.

Why? I guess because of the plain fact that we’re still alive. Something carrying so much lifelong hope and anticipation, now past fruition, simply should have been so good it killed us. Or at the very least, it should magically last weeks on end. I mean, come on, we spend our lives dreaming about this.

Once I was walking home from class and passed an apartment near mine in which a couple (at least I assume it was a couple) was having sex. I couldn’t see anything, but man, could I hear it. The tenants had left the window open and had perhaps forgotten that other people actually live in that city; all I could hear was a young girl’s voice, moaning loudly, dramatic and skillful enough to be in an Herbal Essences commercial.

“YES!” she shouted. “Uuuh, yes, oh oh OHHHHH…” she went on longer, vocalizing her purported ecstasy for a good thirty seconds, which ended not because she settled down or caught her breath but because I eventually passed beyond of hearing range. Whether or not that was a real orgasm I will never know, but what I do know was that it was LONG.

And it seemed perfectly natural to me that it would last that long. Why shouldn’t orgasms be afternoon experiences for women? That’s how it works in the MOVIES, which are picture-perfect represations of hard reality. Girls can do it any number of times in a row, so many different ways, and for ridiculous lengths of time – guys get a lousy six seconds and a tablespoon-blob of goo no matter what the circumstances.

The Tao of Pooh has taught me a principle in Taoism explaining that anticipation is more rewarding than gratification. It is the moment just before the moment of reward that is most enjoyable. Applying that to sex, I have to believe that Pooh is really on to something. When buildup and aftermath are so close together that they practically meet, it must be for something other than climax that we’re in the game.

Six seconds a day, once a day, and even fewer times for most men, adds up to no more than a few hours of orgasm at most over the span of our lives. The way we anticipate cumming is like spending every waking moment of every day from August to June thinking about the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. We’d all have better lives if we spent that much time fantasizing about something that happens more often or lasts a longer amount of time than a blink: say, what we’re going to eat for dinner, who we’re going to get drunk with tonight, or what we’re going to laugh about when we watch a fantasticly poignant sitcom about sex on TV.

Anyway, that’s just a thought on my part, it’s not like the world for me is going to change. If you’ll excuse me I have a video clip to get back to.

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