Wednesday, October 21, 2009
There's been a lot of various junk on my mind lately. I've been thinking about sex and people's attitudes and beliefs on the subject. I've come to the conclusion that most people, if not all of us, do not know of what they are speaking when they discuss their personal opinion or philosophy on the topic. It never fails to puzzle me why people preach one thing and act as if they believed the exact opposite. I think quite a few people cop a "Bohemian attitude," because they believe it's what they should think, or it flatters their own sense of cosmopolitan, "tolerant" worldliness, but then they turn around and practice something entirely different. I think the most glaring example of this behavior is in terms of how people approach sex. So many people I talk to preach the idea that sex is just some biological function, like the ability to sing or dance or play baseball. They would have it that sex, vs. intimacy and love, are two different things, with the former being "merely" a pleasurable experience, like getting a back rub, or perhaps a pat on the head or playing a vigorous round of handball (pardon my double entendre).
- If you loved to play baseball, and were really really good at it, wouldn't you want to get paid for playing baseball?
- If sex is no more than, and often times much less than, any other pleasurable activity that two (or more) people can share then why do the people espousing such an opinion not have "higher mutual pleasures" to which they pledge mutual exclusivity? For example, why do we not see many couples who, while they tolerate, or perhaps even encourage, "extramarital" sex reserve to each other things such "higher" mutually enjoyed pastimes, like perhaps watching a favorite television program, or playing a certain game? Granted, it is possible that some couples do in fact have such an arrangement, but it has never been a couple I have known personally.
- Why is it that such "Bohemians" would frequently end a relationship if they found out that their partner lied to them about sex? They can't say, "It's only the fact that they lied that makes it bad," when they similarly wouldn't disown their significant other, despite how angry they might be, if that significant other were lying about getting a parking ticket, for example.
The sun is shining in the sky, there ain't a cloud in sight, it stopped raining, everybody's in the play, and don't you know it's a beautiful new day
I found out from Google Maps last Friday, on the 16th, that the route through Alameda that I have been walking on my lunch hour is not 4.00 miles, but 4.60 miles. I've done about 200 miles in lunch hour walks since I began to keep track in May. It was a good day for my noon walk. The weather had improved markedly since the rain and overcast of Tuesday and Wednesday. The warmth and sunshine were back as well. I was looking forward to it and felt that if the weather kept up then it ought to be a perfect day Saturday to go on the Apple Hill tour with Crystal and the girls, and company. As of Friday, things were still a go. The condition of Crystal's boys had been improving and they were eating and playing again and neither of our daughters had exhibited any symptoms of nastiness, so we'll see.
That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes and aeroplanes, Lenny Bruce is not afraid
Well, despite threats of a biblical-class disaster to wipe us out I'm still here. It rained a deluge Tuesday, the 13th. It stopped for awhile and then started right back up again. I think this means that fall is officially launched. That evening, around 8:27, there was a 3.8 Richter Scale magnitude quake near here. I felt the house move but nothing was damaged or dislodged from its usual resting place. Whee!
...and the banker never wears a mack, in the pouring rain, very strange
I forgot to set my alarm that Tuesday morning, after getting a bit of insomnia Monday night. I was up until around 4:00AM just surfing and not feeling sleepy. I woke up around 9:30 Tuesday morning and had to call the boss and tell him that I was running late. I don't keep strict hours, and fortunately, everyone knows I tend to work more hours on average, than the 40 official ones. Nevertheless, I don't usually forget to set the alarm and oversleep, even when I've been up all night. I got to work shortly before eleven and got drenched because my umbrella was in the trunk and I didn't get out my trench coat.
The questions run so deep for such a simple man
I've been back-reading a couple of my LJ friends. One of them did a meme-like entry where she asked people to answer a series of questions that she or someone had posed. I got intrigued while reading it. The questions seem perfectly simple on the surface but I find more than a couple of them difficult to answer because they reflect a mindset that is very different than my own. There are many kinds of superlatives with which I am not good. In some cases, this is because I don't think of applying some kind of quantitative score or cardinal evaluation to the activity or experience in question. In other cases, it is because I don't see the activity or experience as being one of superlatives at all and think that to go in search of the superlative example of such an experience or activity blinds one to its uniqueness. The question is, what do you do when you encounter "the best" something-or-other in your experience? What does it say for all of the possible other similar such activities or experiences? I think that evaluating in such a manner tends to cause one to make comparisons which are invalid, in the sense of comparing apples to oranges. At any rate, as an exercise, because it intrigued me, I answered the questions as best as I felt I could and made comments where I was moved to comment on the question itself.
- What door do you wish you never opened?
I generally don't regret what I do to a great extent. There are things which I admit I could have or should have handled differently, but mostly, I don't have deep intractable regrets. I work hard to keep things that way and I tend to chalk up the mistakes I do make as learning experiences.
- What is your most obsessive thought?
I'm not exactly sure what is meant by that. What exactly constitutes obsession? I have tended to get slightly obsess-y about people to whom I have felt or do feel a significant attraction. I tend to keep a good watch on it so that it doesn't get weird or dysfunctional or cause embarrassments for myself or others. I can be a little OC about things but I don't think it's enough of an issue with me to pick out a "most obsessive thought." I don't find my thoughts particularly obsessive. That's a particularly personal question to be asking readers of someone's page though, I should think.
- Where is your favorite place in the world, and why?
People can ask some really difficult questions. I don't tend to think in terms of having a favorite place. There are places I like which have certain attractions for me, but it would be hard to pick just one as my absolute favorite. Places have contexts, for me. I love California, and the why is probably complicated. There are lots of reasons. I like the climate, the culture, the scenery, my job... Growing up I always had a fondness for the parlor of my grandmother's house. There were comfortable armchairs in it, and a couch upholstered in some kind of gold-colored velvet-like material, a fireplace, good reading lights, and a plush white carpet. Most of all, it was quiet, relaxing, and reflected my grandmother's tastes, which I found compatible with mine, for the most part.
- What's the one thing your parents don't understand about you?
How well does anyone understand anyone else? Each of us sees the other in the context of their own understanding. My parents don't understand quite a lot about my personal philosophy, even though their influence is one of the large factors in leading me to it.
- If you could relive a single day or moment, what would it be?
I don't tend to think in terms of "perfect days." It would be difficult to pick such a day. I suppose the first time I had sex with my wife would count as a pretty good day for me but that is just picking something off the top of my head. I remember several fun and beautiful days in my life but I've never though about reliving them. Memory is one thing, and reminiscing is fun, but you cannot go back and have something you once had in the past. We only live in the present and the future is the only time open to possibility.
- What were the strangest circumstances under which you have been intimate?
What constitutes "intimate"? I'm not sure if she means sex or something more broad. I suppose the strangest circumstance of intimacy for me would be the day that one of my long-time friends allowed herself to be seduced, used callously for a quickie fling, and immediately discarded, by one of our mutual acquaintances. We had a very strange and intimate evening, wherein my friend shared with me some things going on with her when she chose to unburden her emotions about what she felt about the situation to me. She'd never told me anything quite that personal before. I was humbled by the idea that she would share such things with me or consider my opinion or support in such an issue worth seeking out. I almost loathe to put the words down outside of my skull because it almost feels like a betrayal to do so, even though I've left out the details. Some things to which we become privy are so powerful and personal one doesn't even want to write them out anonymously for fear of cheapening the experience of having shared them or degrading the memory of doing so. A confidence is a confidence, even if the original confidant wouldn't know their secret had been revealed.
- Under what circumstances have you been closest to death?
Ha. If I have come close to encountering death, I didn't recognize it.
- What is the most gracious act of kindness you have witnessed?
Wow. Do people keep a catalog of stuff like this, like the Guiness Book of Records or something? I suppose that I've seen lots of kindnesses. I would be hard pressed to characterize one as being "the most gracious."
- What is the worst betrayal you have ever experienced?
It would be hard to say. It would have to be one of the times the ex-wife cheated on me.
- What is the most bizarre thing you have seen or done?
Hmm, I'm not one of those people who catalogs and ranks their bizarre experiences, either. I've seen lots of unusual or funny things, but I wouldn't rate them as bizarre, per se. Growing up in a rural environment, I've seen lots of animals having sex but that's pretty ordinary. I've seen a boar pig standing behind the sow drinking her urine as if he were drinking from a fountain but animals do things like that all the time — it's funny but it's not anything I would call bizarre.
- What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
I usually go out of my way to avoid or minimize risks. I guess getting married constitutes a risky decision on my part. Despite the outcome of that risk, I'd say that it was worth it.
- What is your earliest, most vivid memory?
I think I can reliably remember bits and pieces of images and scenes all the way back to about the time when I was three years old. I remember the girl next door and I throwing cherries at one another across the fence between our yards. I remember riding the teeter-totter on the swing set in the back yard of my family's first house with Kelly, a girl down the street. I remember playing in the yard with her and her brother, and drawing with chunks of asphalt on the white-painted cinder block wall of their carport.
- What is the most meaningful "I love you" spoken by you or to you?
Those are dangerous words. I never ever use those words lightly, or if I am unsure. I've never had to retract a prior declaration of love in my life. I trust people to mean what they say when they use those words as well, even though I know that people often do not know what they mean or are unsure when they use them. I don't tend to rank people's intentions and feelings, even when they are expressed as declarations. Declarations are wonderful things, and the ones I receive or have received mean a lot to me, but love is more than just declarations; it is a great many interactions, demonstrations and gifts which exist more in a qualitative space than a quantitative one.
- What was the single most terrifying moment of your life?
Ah, now this is an easy one; I don't even have to consider the question for a moment. My daughters got into a car wreck while riding with their aunt. The car was knocked off the road into a ditch. Coming upon the scene of the accident and wondering about how badly my daughters may have been injured, or worse, easily qualifies as the most terrifying moment of my life.
- If you have experienced a moment of sudden faith or loss of faith, what prompted it?
I'd say that my "loss" of faith was more of a growing realization than a moment of sudden insight.
- If you could take back one thing you have done, what would it be?
Another regrets question? It would be hard to say. As I said, I don't have regrets that gnaw at me. In addition to that, even considering some of the mistakes I've made, I would have to consider if undoing a particular mistake would leave me in a much better position. Everything contributes to what we are and where we are. I wonder if the poser of this question has ever seen the movie, "The Butterfly Effect."
- What is your greatest talent or accomplishment?
I graduated from college. I've become a rather accomplished software engineer. I helped raise two wonderful daughters. I'd consider those among my best accomplishments, in ascending order.
- What is the most joyful moment you have experienced?
As I explained in the subsequent question, I don't see my life as a series of "moments." I live my life; I don't take pictures of it like a stranger watching someone else's story unfold. Undoubtedly, "moments" do happen but how do you rank them into some kind of hierarchy? There's the time I discovered masturbation, the day I had sex for the first time, the days I had sex with particular people for the first time, the day I graduated high school, the day I graduated college, definitely the day I got married, the days I got hired at various jobs, the days I found out my wife was pregnant — the first was more of a shock and the second more of a joy, the day my elder daughter took her first unaided steps (the younger one's progress in this accomplishment was more ambiguous). I'm just not somebody who ranks his experiences hierarchically. The ex wife and I were very different in that regard. I believe my dear ex could quantify and rank darned near any and every experience. It always struck me as a strange way of relating to the world.
- What is the most painful moment you have experienced?
The problem with questions like this one is that I don't tend to see my life as a series of "moments." Life happens as a continuous process. I find it difficult to look at life in a detached fashion, as a series of scenes. Divorce was excruciating, but it didn't happen in "a moment."
- What comes to mind when you hear abortion, addiction, adolescence, break-ups, crime, death, depression, eating disorders, humor, lucky breaks, mental disorders, moral dilemmas, poverty, racism, religion, sex, suicide, turning points, war?
The terms are in alphabetical order. That's an odd grouping of things. They're a hodge-podge of negative, positive, and ambiguous experiences. What ties them together in the questioner's mind? Lists always reveal the mindset and thinking of the list composer. I suppose that they are each, in different or similar ways, consequences of the human condition. I think people look at these things and see some sort of "plan" at work, or rather imagine that they see it. Many of these things, to me, represent various fruits of individual philosophies, often expressed in interactions with others.