On the culture shock of Wharton, Texas & some of its subsequent charms

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At first arrival, I’ll confess I thought I might not be able to enjoy myself in Wharton. However over the last couple of days Wharton has grown on me just a little bit. It has its dubious charm. In Wharton, Texas I am looked upon as skinny. Repeatedly and much to my jubilation people have asked if I am a model. Whilst I battle the bulge in Scottsdale and Los Angeles, here I could stand to gain a few. This has definitely played a part in my recently improved opinion of the town. 😀

Disclaimer: It is always hard to speak critically or even just observationally about anything from the vantage point of privilege. Automatically shadows of snobbishness, conceit or arrogance are cast on the narrative. I do not think that I am better than anyone because of the advantages afforded to me in life. The place from which my opinions stem is not one of disparagement or disregard, I am aware of the difficulties faced by these areas, aware of why things are as they are, I do not discount the individuals when I speak in generalities, or underestimate the value of their characters and souls.

Although I realize that many areas in the U.S are much like Wharton, and it is by far not the worst or the most rural; to me, it presents with a real culture shock. This experience is akin to that of a person from a developed country visiting a third world country. I cannot help but be slapped in the face by first hand awareness of how different people can be, how varied their priorities, their tastes, their standards of living and ambitions.

Lululemon and Starbucks do not govern the lives of people in Wharton, but neither does what could be conventionally described as “good taste”, moderation, aesthetics, nutrition, fitness, health, education or dental care…etc. To me the lifestyle led by most here is starkly different from what I know. But admittedly, I had lived a somewhat insulated life, without having much need to ever leave my primary comfort zones. Where I thought there was an economic gap between south and north Scottsdale, I think there is a planet gap between Scottsdale and Wharton. Everything from the pace to the motivations of life here is different. In Wharton people seem to either work very hard or barely at all. Farming and fracking are the things putting bread on the tables of a vast majority, as is every fast food franchise known to man. Few here have heard of such luxuries as Trader Joes, Wholefoods,Tofu…. Organic, yoga or Crossfit are not terms widely used or understood. Ordering coffee at the single coffee shop in town is a strange and somewhat frustrating experience, it’s almost as if although we speak the same language we cannot reach an understanding. I realize this is because people here do not alter their orders and do not express arbitrary preparation preferences, like people in LA are accustomed to doing. It is not a realm for the pampered or the particular. I have done my part thus far in giving LA girls a decidedly bad name.

There is no shortage of plump cows, languidly parked under shady trees and in fields, living their lives beneath the Texas sky on God’s green earth. As all animals should. Such sights feel to my heart like hugs. People are extremely nice, kind, polite, they appear to be quite united in their communal humanity. This is the advantage of a small town, without a great socio economic discrepancy. Considerations of wealth, ambition, vanity, competition, city stress, do not afflict these people or divide them in the ways that they do in other areas. It is a simpler world that I think breeds a kinder folk. As far as I can tell racial tensions don’t prevail here, people seem to live on equal footing, healthily intermixed. I can’t be sure, but from my limited observations, humans are less divided by race in this small town than in many other liberal, more cosmopolitan areas on the west coast, which is ironic. On the west coast although equality is a highly esteemed and hailed aspiration, it is not necessarily as much of a reality as it appears to me to be in Wharton. Again I think this is because socio economically everyone is in a somewhat same boat here. They occupy their small world together, they farm the same land, frack the same ground and drink the same beer in the only bar in town.

P.S. Lena, is the little Polo pony I got to ride on the 30000 acre ranch which is home to the Polo farm, and it was a truly beautiful thing. Not only is the scenery expansive and robust, but I have arrived at the conclusion that Polo ponies are perhaps the most fun to ride of all equine athletes. They are alert, very forward, have excellent endurance and listen very closely to their riders.

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Steven Bauer 57 and his 18 year old girlfriend, the world is aghast

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It’s all over the news that a 57 year old is doing it with an 18 year old. That rascal Steven Bauer. Their 39 year age gap got the world in a bona fide tizzy. I might be the only person to, in a way, advocate for this relationship. Oh well. Here goes. It starts with the fact that the audacity of anyone getting involved in the personal affairs of someone else has always baffled me. I know the parallel I am about to draw might seem radical, but this smacks to my mind of the kind of judgment received by mixed race couples or gays or whomever else society deems inappropriate at the time. Why are we still trying to wrangle “Love”.

They have many reasons, all noble of course, to justify their vitriol and their blatant intrusion into these people’s lives. Mostly though they say it’s because they worry for the well being of that impressionable 18 years old, then of course there is the status quo and the impropriety. What’s the world coming to..blah blah bladi blah.

An old man dating a young girl is stomach turning, it is an affront and a perversion? Ah, well the good news is that scenario is as old as time and at least so biologically/anthropologically correct that even Darwin would first approve then blush. Why? Because Steven Bauer has stability, experience, machismo and his 18 year old love has loveliness, some form of purity I imagine, fertility and possibly daddy issues. All that negative blather is just an excuse to judge, to gossip, to make a scandal out of an oddity. The fact that people still think they have a right to comment, to create intrusive, bigoted narratives filled with disdain and suspicion on the subject of others people’s love lives, is outrageous to me. And you wonder why I dislike my species. It is being said, in not so few words, that this couple is basically disgusting, well I heard that said about gay people too, so what’s really disgusting here? People are people, they lust, connect, spend time, learn, nurture and break away…whatever their ages, races, religions, or sexual proclivities. Will there ever be a time, we climb out from under that puritan rock that’s still smashing us into primordial goop? Maybe then I’ll rename my blog “Misanthropist On The Mend”.

There is lots of talking about how they have no common ground, which is why it’s sick or exploitative even.…Well then perhaps it’s just sexual, and how many people in “conventional” relationships have common ground anyways, in fact how many people do in marriages? This is 2014, is having just a sexual relationship suddenly wrong? Are we continuing the antiquated tradition of condemning people for their sexual interests? Whatever the reason for their compatibility, they are both, quite obviously, getting something they want/need out of it. She might just be kinky like that, or damaged like that, whatever it is, she has a right to vote and bang whomever she likes. And though he is old, his attraction to her is not so much perverse as it is honest, sorry, but most 30 year olds and 40 year olds and 50 year olds and 90 years olds are wanking off to videos of “Barely legal” girls, that’s just how it goes. The man is merely living the dream. Not that it matters, but he is not exactly decrepit either.

Then there is the whole age is just a number deal. Isn’t that the mostly popular platitude of all time? Well is it just a number or isn’t it? Are 60 year olds allowed to feel like they are 25 or aren’t they? Say she is mature and he is stunted, that’s how these things usually go between men and women anyways :P. Say they feel like he is a sprightly 40 year old and she is a precocious 25 year old at their hearts, the gap has just lessened, hasn’t it.

 He is corrupting her and taking advantage of a near child? Let’s stop deluding ourselves, most 18 year olds these days are as sexually mature as we’ll never be. The internet alone has made sure of that. So I’ll wager she is not being defiled. Is the healthy alternative for her to be banging college boys her own age, hanging out at keggers, having her heart stomped all over by horny juvenile imbeciles, maybe snapping up a venereal disease or two as a special bonus. Why is that somehow better or healthier? Oh because both parties involved are equally clueless about life and love? Sound logic that is.

The other thing they say to malign this unholy union, to make a story out of it, is that surely it won’t last. News flash, most things don’t, most relationships don’t, most marriages even don’t. Doesn’t make their “relationship” any more contemptible, any less legitimate or real, certainly not to them. Doesn’t mean he isn’t gentle or loving, or that she isn’t feeling loved or appreciated. Essentially it doesn’t mean anything. The fact that we would rather think the worst of them than anything else, tells more about us than it does them.

The truth is this is all about human nature. Humans, as a species are uncomfortable with that which they cannot understand. That which deviates they view as deviant. Deviancy is bad, the word itself denotes evil. Through the ages we have tried our darnest to eradicate it. Deviants break the rules that we have worked so hard to uphold, the rules which guide us through life, and qualify our goodness, our choices, our sacrifices and our morals. In other words when something doesn’t fit into our worldview or disrupts our cozy sense of social order, we feel threatened and respond by attacking it like agitated locusts.

The men who are whining about this situation are Just Jealous, sorry it’s such a cliche, but J.J. can be blamed for about 75% of human negativity. They don’t get to live out their pervy fantasies and neither should anyone else, plus they can feel superior while bashing the guy who does. The women who complain about this situation are simply scared, because if 57 year old men could successfully carry out relationships with 18 years old girls (sexual or otherwise) then what would that mean for woman kind’s already disadvantaged lot in life. Both genders can relax, this romance is not a harbinger of things to come, it is, like I mentioned earlier, a mere oddity. Most 18 year olds wouldn’t touch a 57 year old with a 10 foot poll, except maybe to check if he is dead. Most 57 year olds wouldn’t have the gull to mix it up with an 18 year old either. So all is well in the universe, but do try not to stare.

On Slapping

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To slap or not to slap..Or..Quit your whining, ladies

There are a few different kinds of slaps, the “I can’t believe I gave birth to you” slap, the “you’re a dumbass” slap (commonly applied to the back of head), the “I hate your guts” slap, the venerable and always entertaining “bitch slap”, the “genital slap” (if you never saw one drop by my house on Sunday), and the most culturally acceptable of all, the “lady lover slap”…The latter is on my mind now.

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The “lady lover slap” is usually delivered by a woman’s hand across a man’s face, always preceded or followed by a righteous, burning glare, choice words and either a retaliatory punch, a domestic violence charge or an ardent act of copulation. Either way, I’m gonna be a total stick and the mud, and say that it BOTHERS me. Today I watched two TV shows, Cedar Cove and Dallas (I don’t want to hear any smack, so I have bad taste in TV) lady slaps were delivered on both with the accompanying noise effects. If you watch modern day television, you know that this is completely common, can’t hardly flip through channels without seeing some poor chap get smacked across the face by a rosy palm. I consistently cringe.

What is that? Have any of my MALE readers ever been slapped? Does this still really happen anymore?

On Cedar Cove a boy tried to steal a kiss from a girl who was clearly depicted as having feelings for him, but wasn’t ready to admit it, SLAP. I felt for his face. When I see this flippant propagation of a vintage, backwards behavior from a time long gone, I am offended for both men and women. Some might see a girl slap a guy for stealing a kiss, and think it’s cute, harmless, romantic even. Some women might think it’s a deserved advantage, a concession due a woman, since historically women have been the ones on the receiving end of violence and mistreatment from men. It’s crazy stupid is what it is.

There is an evident cultural acceptance of women slapping men, but I think it’s linked in some way to the cultural expectation of men being cads to women. Let me be clear about my position, men being cads is not ok, (but that’s a whole other post) women slapping them in retaliation, also not ok. In fact, cultural acceptance and popularization of gal on guy slapping sets the feminist movement back decades. It’s not an actual advantage to accept women slapping men while unequivocally opposing men striking women. It’s a placating behavioral handicap (horse racing ref), which continues to place women on a dubious pedestal beneath men. We are weaker, we are more emotional, we are less restrained, so whilst we are flinging around our spurned phalanges, men patiently grin and bare it. To summarize:

  1. A) that’s just how crazy girls are (especially when they are on their period!)
  2. B) it’s not like they can do any damage
  3. C) I probably did something to deserve it, small price to pay

And then we wonder why men don’t see us as equals, why we are at a disadvantage in the work place and why they can’t imagine a lady president. 

Acceptance of slapping as a behavioral norm is in a way an acceptance of the behaviors which inspire the slapping. It’s the restitution offered to women when men do wrong by them. It’s a bribe! Slapping perpetuates the idea that men victimize women in interpersonal relationships. Women cannot take care of themselves & their hearts, so they are granted this one small exemption from the “violence is bad” rule, that’s the placation I spoke of earlier. Slapping is a victim’s reaction. I’ve never felt like a victim. I never felt entitled to hitting anyone, and God knows I dated an asshole or two. If said asshole was an asshole to me, I blamed myself for making a poor choice in man and exited the relationship without degrading myself by physically assaulting said assholeEveryone is just out there trying to get theirs, whether it’s just sex, love, or whatever the heck else. We are all responsible for our own happiness, MEN ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR HAPPINESS < WE ARE. SO WHEN THEY FAIL US, IT DOESN’T ENTITLE US TO A CARD BLANCHE, whether it be one of a small act of violence or destruction of property.

The minute women stop acting like victims, stop exercising the ‘behavioral slack” extended to them by society in recompense for men’s caddish ways and accept responsibility for their unhappiness, the plight for gender equality will get a serious boost. To summarize, quit whining about every douche bag who ever broke your heart, running around with your romantic traumas like a chicken with an egg, and definitely quit slapping men & keying their cars.                                                                                   

The only way to get even is to get equal. 

In practical terms, the popularization of ladies slapping the gents is deeply irresponsible. Domestic violence experts assert that women who inflict minor acts of violence on their male partners have a higher-than-normal probability of being severely assaulted by those partners. Hmm.

Bottom line, I’d like to not see women degrade themselves on television or in life.

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On Blogging for unblocking

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I don’t know yet how I feel about blogging. I certainly find myself having lots and lots of thoughts, I consider myself almost afflicted with too much thinking. Many a nights excess of thinking keeps me up well past my body’s preference, and to the detriment of my ability to function in the following day. There is no real unifying theme to this annoying, unruly thinking surplus. Furthermore, the thoughts are not even cohesive, there is hardly ever a story told, an idea fleshed out or a resolution found. The mind has become increasingly lazy, unwilling to build anything of value. It feels like fishing for say salmon, a nice fat fish that a jolly fat chef will pay handsomely for at the market, but instead all that burdens the fishnets is by-catch. Random, small, unappetizing underwater creatures of not much substance or consequence. My thoughts have lately become mostly by-catch. I have theorized that the sluggish fisherman that is my brain is so because I have failed to exercise him, to nourish him, to love him even. I’ll confess I have stopped reading. Having spent most of my life an avid reader, I now feel quite paralyzed about it. I bought a book at the airport last week, but I can’t bring myself to start reading it. I don’t know what this obdurate resistance is about. It is as if my brain is afraid to be stirred, having settled into a slumber. Is the hibernation so sweet that it won’t allow itself to be roused. I think in some way blogging is perhaps the first step to finding out what has been blocking me. Whatever it is, it feels like an unwinding of a yarn, like an undoing of some kind. If all cells in the body are renewed every seven years, then I think this current version of me is quite different from the other four. I feel like I am evolving and devolving in this 5th cycle, simultaneously.

But I don’t know that I should be quite so candid on a public blog, this is the other thing which has always stopped me from writing in one, I am almost terminally honest, honest about myself. My flaws & weaknesses have never bothered me, and I never cared if they were seen. I am proud to say that I have seldom been governed by my ego. Most people have a shell, it is formed of a survival instinct, which instructs us that it is beneficial to be perceived a certain way. I know the ways I ought to be perceived, the ways which would be most beneficial to me; erudite, educated, sharp, keen, informed, charming, witty. I am not most of those things in my current self assessment, maybe just half of some of them.  I could fake it, although increasingly I find it harder and less rewarding. But if I want to commit to a blog, for the purpose of understanding, exploring and most importantly unblocking, then I have to give in to the potentially dangerous impulse of being even more honest than usual. Expose the by-catch. Radical honesty, although claimed by many, is not at all common or easy, because it’s counter intuitive to that most primal of instincts i.e. survival. Even as I write this, I wonder who comes through between my words, whom would a random person reading this blog see in it, can I be honest and still seem impressive or interesting? I’ll confess, I always found myself interesting, but do less so now, still I have the urge to write with at least that one superfluous consideration, to seem interesting. I’ll be trying not to. My only consideration should be the truth. Although that might be dishonesty already. I can’t self examine this thoroughly just yet. I know however, that I don’t want to construct some careful reflection of who I want people to think I am. If there is any pleasure to be found in this blogging experiment, then it has to be about the truth of things.

I might not be able to start reading again yet…… I think the death of my grandmother has something to do with this by the way, but I can confess that the reading had tapered off long before this earth shattering event. I digressed. I might not be able to start reading again, yet, but I can start writing, start working on that fisherman, on the salmon….or even just the by-catch. I read recently in some article, I still read those on occasion, that there is an increasing trend in fine cuisine to actually use the by-catch as apposed to waste it. Chefs are becoming hip to creating delicious nightly specials out of these random, previously unwanted sea offerings. It’s respectable and trendy, it aligns with the apparent necessity for conservation. The planet can only take so much abuse from its most heinous parasite, the human. Again I digressed. Perhaps I don’t need to catch the salmon to put a good meal on the table, perhaps I can just work my way through the by-catch and cook up something good too. This blog is already making me formulate my thoughts to completion. I feel accomplished. It’s like the equivalent of getting back to the gym after a long hiatus and walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes. It’s not much, but it’s a step in the right direction. Soon enough I’ll be running on that treadmill, or catching big fish…or cooking by-catch. Tonight’s dinner special, a smorgasbord of mixed metaphors. It’s a mess. Welcome back, brain.