On One Hand

October 26, 2006

Love Letters

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 4:34 pm

Challenge:

Write me a short love letter, as a comment here. I will write one back to you. I will let you know which one I think is the best, and maybe if you win we can go for a walk or something. I might pick the best 2 or 3 if they’re all really good. There is no time limit; I reserve the right to hold out on a winner indefinately until I get a really good one. You don’t have to really love me to write me a love letter, I am just looking for creativity and charm. The letters can be anonymous if you want, but an anonymous letters don’t get to go for a walk if they win.

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The Irony of Love

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All our lives we’re taught to suppress the tendencies of jealousy, fear, posessiveness, and competitiveness that millions of years of cutthroat evolution have woven into our psyches. When we are small confused children and our new infant sibling arrives from the hospital bundled in soft blankets, we are taught not to spite our young sibling as we watch our mother, who we love, nurse the infant, though sharps pangs of jealousy pierce our hearts to see her give to someone else what she ones gave only to ourselves. While all the adults fawn over the new baby, we are told to give up the limelight. Though we feel deeply threatened, we are taught not to worry about which one of us mom and dad love more, because they “love us all the same,” they say. We are taught not to hoard our toys and not to fight with those who threaten to become more powerful in social groups. We are taught not to posess our friends; we must allow them to have other friends besides ourselves, and to overcome the “lower emotions” that urge us to do otherwise.

This is not true for romance. We do not share our boyfriends, girlfriends and spouses with other people. We allow our jealous tendencies to dominate, and expect that our loved ones are not betraying us by loving others the way they are supposed to love us alone. If it happens, it is called “cheating,” and it is considered the worst breach possible in a relationship. We essentially allow every “lower emotion” to rise and take hold, and our tendencies to dominate another person are not only permitted but encouraged as ideal.

One-on-one romantic relationships are basically controlled, tempered channels for all our frightened defensive instincts. We are naturally anxious when someone else has sex with those we are having sex with, because years of evolution has favored individuals who scorn a situation in which one’s offspring might not be one’s own. So we prefer to posess our partnerts, just as we posess food and territory, to feel comfortable in a world in which all our other primal instincts are to be surpressed. Rather than overcoming attachment, we create an environment where it’s OK to become attached. Rather than overcoming desire, we create a relationship in which we expect all our desires to be fulfilled.

We become anxious when we don’t get enough affection from the one we love. We get angry when the one we love doesn’t think we’re perfect. We get insecure when we are physically inadequate in bed, or when we don’t ourselves receive the maximum physical pleasure from sex. We demand complete intimacy and confidence from our lovers. And if the one we’re with isn’t good enough, we abandon the one we love, sending him or her through the most awful emotional pain imaginable, and seek out new partners. Because, in the end, we feel little commitment from the people we love, yet expect it from them, because in the end we really love only ourselves and are terrified of the excruciating pain we feel when our lovers betray us before we get them first.

And ironically, this relationship is idealized as the greatest bond between humans. Romantic love is thought to be deeper than any other – most religions say that the yearning between two lovers is modeled after mandkind’s longing for God. Psychologically, we are so close to the ones we love romantically that we feel that we exist inside the other’s head, even if we actually have entirely different personalities.

I think romance can be everything it is idealized to be, but I think people first have to shed stupid ideas about love and admit that it is actually animal and carnal. Attachment and need are not only OK, they are vital. Weave whatever illusions of poetry you want weave to make love meaningful, but admit the facts first. Love is very much about fear, of the big scary world and the comfort that comes from holding someone elses hand when you face it. Love is about the desire to count on another person for a sense of absolute safety, and about the need to fulfil one’s own personal insecurities by providing the ego-extension of the intimate partner who doesn’t have the same faults. Love is also about reliable sex, and about routine, about the desire to place one’s trust in a person who will never take sides with an enemy, about being able to be always put first in another person’s mind, about being able to see another person as perfect and not caring whether or not he or she actually lives up to perfection, and finally, it’s about the desire to have a relationship that will never significantly change or come to an end. When a couple moves to a different house, has children, loses children, changes careers, loses parents, moves to a new city, or experiences any of countless live changes, they are expected to stay married. In a world where nothing is dependable, people hope that love is dependable.

If only people could be worthy of depending on. But they aren’t; they are human, and being human, they are concerned with their own pain first (avoiding pain and finding happiness is what they find love for in the first place). So they’re willing to hurt the person they are so attached to in order to avoid being hurt first, to play the other person and conceal emotion, to leave people they don’t really want to leave, and to hoard and manipulate and create boundaries. It’s been done against me more times than I can count, and I know I’ve witheld myself and been manipulative, or even hurtful, out of fear that the person I was loving was going to hurt me first. And in the end it’s left me with more aches, wounds and fear than I had before I ventured into the whole thing to begin with. But what can I do, except keep trying? I know Karma will bite all my ex boyfriends in the ass, which I’m torn between being happy and sad about. Meanwhile it’s all sort of an unavoidable game, because I’m always going to feel at least a little ache until I finally find the right person, but unless I can get that person to see what I see (which is near impossible) I am going to end up more and more in need of such a thing.

October 24, 2006

Reclaiming Home

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I want to stop walking in arcs around the swings
where we laughed on our first evening together,
stop feeling that the trees and alleys are not my own
but hangover memories of things we shared.

I reclaim these streets;
white porches dipping to meet the river
of cracked asphalt, shaded by stately oaks,
they are now my home
again, flowing smooth to note my passing
tucked under the sweet air of autumn.
I reclaim these buildings;
red brick and sandstone arches looming above
and the cornerstone stoop, statues and old apartments
chipped and worn from years of sun and snow.
I reclaim this bedroom
long filled with the voice of our laugher
now warm with the heat of my body alone.
I reclaim this river;
the iced and twisting boundary between us,
and the bridge I sauntered over to meet you.
I reclaim these clothes;
now folded clean,
no longer smelling of your kisses,

I reclaim my body;
my hands, no longer aching to touch you,
my eyes, admired and admiring others now,
my fingertips, once calloused from writing letters to you,
now calloused instead by the smooth strum of guitar strings
humming the glory of reflection,
I reclaim my palms;
that once came together in celebration of you,
I reclaim my toes;
that once curled at the press of your palm on my belly,
I reclaim my thighs;
that once wove between yours as we slept,
I reclaim my lips;
dry for months forgotten the touch your tongue,
I reclaim my back;
no longer pallete to your caress,
and my sides;
no longer sticky with the press of your soft cock
against me, cozy after hours of love when you
clung like a koala as we drifted off,

I reclaim my heart
that always rememberes;
once punctured with holes of your loss,
that will heal and beat again,
these scars,
marks of the triumph of my Calvary
for you those months
when I cringed in longing,

I reclaim this city
and sidewalk
and dancers throwing batons of fire,
and my mind that wanders
through the green parks here,
through the trail by the river where I kissed you
and I reclaim the movies we watched together
and the books I read in your bed
and the rustle of the leaves under first snow
as we smoked clove cigarettes
arm in arm on your front porch.

October 22, 2006

Photo Update

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I try to add a few pictures here every now and then just to keep people aware of my constant evolution – absent infrequent updates I’d be misleading you all about my identity; you might all still think I’m still the 18-year-old bleach-blonde twink boy I was when I started this journal and first posted pictures, and those who thought that was cute then would perceive me so in error. But this entry is here mostly because I want to get as much leverage as possible out of the sexy in-the-shower photos I took with a friend when she was here a week ago to visit.

The first photo is, left to right: of Shannon, one of my three roommates; my friend Samantha who graduated from CU last spring but stayed with me for a week on a trip back to Colorado to visit; and myself. We are all slightly intoxicated on a Friday night, and being such, were incessant with the narcisistic photo-taking:

Shannon, Samantha, Me
Shannon, Sam, Me.

But drunken narcisism is no island in the continuous exhibitionism Sam and I share when we get together, and ostensibly decide that every minute detail of our lives must be immortalized in images that we can post online. Sam and I are of similar temperments when it comes to that- as Samantha would put it, we are “so gay” together. Photo diaries do not exclude activities that are mostly staged, such as photos of Sam and I getting in the shower together, which, absent a camera, we would never dream of doing:

Don't drop the soap
Don’t drop the soap.

Sort of like a drag show
Sort of like a drag show.

Not Amused
Not amused with whatever Sam is doing.

MMf
No comment.

I gained a lot of weight recently, in fact a total of 20 pounds this summer, and if you look at the photos from my previous photo entries you can tell. (Click on the tag “photos” at the bottom of this entry to easily bring up all photo entries.) Not that I’m not still skinny, but I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come. I have an enormous head, hats rarely fit me, as you may be able to observe in the photos, so it takes a lot of body mass for me to look decently proportioned. Aside from the weight, I look pretty much the same as I did when I first grew the goatee two years ago. My most recent entry containing photos is of photos from about a year and a half ago, July 2005, after a trip to Hawaii. In Hawaii I am demonstrably thin.

Between the two most recent photo entries is an entire romantic relationship that lasted 8 months, descending to total disaster, a period in which I lost about 8 pounds. (I gained them back as part of the 20 I accumulated this summer.) So here you get to see a few of my friends, who will hopefully stick around for a long time, but when it comes to the boys – at least the ones that are currently out of my life – you will have to use your imaginations. It’s sort of funny, and sad, how a person can go from unknown to suddenly the most important person in your life, then descend to nobody-nes again because they disappear. Not that I ever wanted it that way, but most things that happened were out of my control. Clay and I never took a photo together until the night of my 21st birthday – right before he dumped me. As far as image evidence is concerned, he never existed. Meanwhile Samantha is pictured more frequently with me in photos than anyone my own family, making her, according to the crude and casual world of livejournal and facebook.com, the most important person in my life.

I still feel pretty weird about posting photos of myself here. When I was younger it wasn’t such a big deal, but I am more self-aware and that awarness includes that these entries might show tendencies of being self-absorbed, which is all to easy in the Internet-ridden world we live in. So how’s this for making me less self-absorbed – a few pictures of my friends, me not included, so you know who they are as well.

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October 19, 2006

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To Those I’ve Loved

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Here’s to the ones we loved.
One year past as frost tinges tattered leaves,
heaps of brown grass before us,
too young and too selfish to last winter, we.
We caress the dim silhouettes of our blue-pale frames.
Here’s to the boys we loved,
wasting away in our longings
as they turn in the end to be mere shadows
of the men we dreamed they were.

Wednesdays at Bistro

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 7:51 am

Observations – things that suck in poetry readings:

Rhyming poems
Excessively political poems
Poems against the war (Duh, we’re ALL against the war, we get it.)
Poems against America (It’s the same criticisms over, and over, and over again, and you’re 22 years old and America is all you know – poetry is about experience, so quit acting like you understand oppression, white boy. If you want to analyze hegemony, write an essay.)
Political poems, period, especially Marxist poetry (Commercialism is bad, duh, we get it.)
Weird fake accents
Bad jokes
Improv
Musing packaged as poetry
Really long pieces
Criticizing your own poem before you read it (“This one sucks but I’ll read it anyway.”)
Fucking up the exquisite corpse interjecting some unrelated comment

Observations – things that never fail in poetry readings:

Sex
Humor poetry
Full beards
Girls with masculine voices and manner
Crude girls (Vagina Monologue style)
Making fun of sorrority girls
A few beers
MC’s banter; usually more entertaining than the poetry

October 16, 2006

The Funeral

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:09 pm
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One of my cousin’s 3-month-old twin sons was found dead in bed in October 2006. The diagnosis was sudden infant death syndrome. The twins had been born premature in June, deliveries filled with complications and worry, much like my cousin’s own birth twenty-one years earlier when he came into the world months early and weighing less than two pounds. My cousin is just five days older than me – though we were never close, in age we are practically twins ourselves. I have a close family, but my cousin is somewhat estranged from the rest of us, always invited but associating more with his mother’s family. The twins, meanwhile, were closer to the family of their mother – my cousins girlfriend – and I never met the baby who died.

I didn’t know how to feel about the death. It’s hard to mourn someone you knew almost nothing about, and though I could sympathize with my relatives as parents suffering a terrible loss, it was hard to picture my cousin as a father, especially without meeting his sons. I didn’t know much of his girlfriend either – he first introduced her to the family during a past Christmas as his fiance, and soon after we learned she was pregnant. I had seen her a total of maybe four times.

Robert was raised Catholic like the rest of us, and Cassie was “Pagan,” a vague self-description few know how to interpret; the funeral was in a Unitarian Universalist church. For the first time after four years calling myself Unitarian in principle, I stepped into an actual church and attended a service for the funeral.

Also for the first time I saw photographs of the babies, and in the small, glossy images they became real. The surviving brother now seemed incomplete, squirming, small and fragile, without a companion. Another cousin, just thirteen years old, who had only met the twins once was crying; at the most callous and insensitive age a boy will ever pass through, he was sensitive. He always cries at the funerals even if he doesn’t know the people who died.

In general I don’t know how to conduct myself in funerals. That was compounded by the fact that I didn’t know how to conduct myself around my cousin, the father, either. It was easy when we were children – we were rivals, being so close in age, and not knowing what else to do, we mostly fought – and years of that awkwardness had left residue.

Sometimes Robert and I had casual conversation, and sometimes he would rouse bursts of intense affection that I didn’t know how to respond to. Tonight he stood at the church door stoically as we all arrived, his thin, small frame wrapped inside a black jacket, long hair pulled back, and inspite of the recent tragedy he was composed and friendly. Robert and I looked at each other for a minute without talking. He said hey, I said what’s up, we extended our hands to shake and then Robert hugged me instead. I hugged back. The moment lasted a few seconds. Then we went back to not talking, which is how it had been since we were teenagers.

My sister was better with these things. She bubbly and affectionate, using using her flowing femininity to soothe wounds. Angela and I are not like that with each other so I’m always surprised when I see her bring it out. She asked Robert how he was doing, hugged him for a long time, and was respectful and sweet.

I wanted to explain why I wasn’t like that. It would be something to say, I grew up as a sensitive child going to school where showing too much emotion ended in black eyes and bruises, and years of fear has bled that energy out of me. I am not affectionate with people unless it’s trivial. Not with family, not at funerals. The urge to show love may be there but it rarely comes out. In truth I long for connection – which is why I smother my boyfriends until they gasp for air and hate me, them being the only people I know how to show that side of me to. That night I was left standing beside my cousin and sister, wanting to say please understand that I’m not a dick, or at least I don’t mean to be.

My cousin never finished high school, and he was having a hard time getting by. He is intelligent but grew up tossed between two drug-addicted, neglectful parents who were never married and, since Robert was born, never got along. Meanwhile I was a high school honors student and was in college, where I was successful, and sometimes I felt it weave a subtle tension between Robert and I. I wanted to tell Robert I didn’t think I was any better than he was and I thought it was incredible that he was a father. Consider: I was toiling away because someday, in the future, it could be meaningful if things work out. If I got lucky. All stakes were on the future – the job I could get – years of investment were mounting and still I’d given little back to the world. Was all I had to show a few lousy published articles in the campus paper? Robert’s life was meaningful then – he’d created life by fathering children – he had a family – and even if he died that day he would have a purpose in his surviving son. I was jealous that he was in a relationship with someone who loved him. I couldn’t make relationships work that way. I put too much weight on them and they fell apart.

The ride back to my parents’ house was full of bad spirits. My sister was picking apart the family, saying how Cassie was a good mother and why, explaining how Robert was a better father than his own father and why, and I was cringing at the fact that, though she was offering compliments, Angela had no way of knowing anything she judged to be true. I was needlessly but genuinely annoyed, biting my tongue to avoid a fight but in the end starting one anyway.

The funeral was awkward for all of us. We, most of my mom’s family, hadn’t seen the children, so assumed the babies were confined to bed or something, sick and vulnerable since they were born premature. We learned at the funeral that they were being seen and held and coddled and visited by their mother’s family, while we were out of the loop. We found out that babies were named after Robert’s other grandparents on his maternal side.

The twins had been born within two days of deaths of two older relatives in the family, and I know that my grandmother, a devout Catholic but superstitious anyway, was thinking it was reincarnation, that her cousin and brother-in-law died when they did because they wanted to come back and stay with us as the twins. At the funeral my grandmother’s whole theory was destroyed.

My grandmother sat thoughtful during the service, which must have been awkard for her. A Unitarian service is just about the farthest thing possible from the ritualistic Catholic mass she is used to. And though she was surrounded by people in their chairs, my grandmother looked more alone in thought than I had ever seen her before. My whole family was looking awkward and alone among each other during the Unitarain sermon. This is the religion I have chosen for myself – left theirs for – and it works because, for me, talking to God has been awkward and solitary for a long time.

OK, nobody’s perfect. I don’t idealize my family but I find myself putting a lot of weight in them anyway. I like to picture myself fitting nicely in their perfict niche, but I don’t always. I do what I can to find my own, bring my family to the world, the world to my family, but I am young and it never seems to work. Instead I’m watching my cousin struggle to do the same thing, to get everything,but now he’s sitting and bowing his head and being a diplomat, hunched alone and holding hands with his mourning girlfriend at his infant son’s funeral.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:52 am

we are angst we are the walls creeping in we are the dark screen beating out our souls and Jesus on the ouiji board preaching he who never knew love shall not be saved

we are spirit we are wanderers we are the ribbon dunes of the desert creeping in on the wind until they like our hearts are thrust out over the rocks

we are whispers we are poison we are sons of Aaron scarred by the bitter-sweet breath of the dark ones who left us to the barren waste

and until the morning light sings slanted in between us we will beckon for the touch of those who may not come until you are forgotten

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