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Do We REALLY Have to Work?

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I have a strong tendency towards laziness.

I love to just sit and think or allow my mind to wander in whatever direction it desires.

I’m so lazy that I don’t even give my brain directions about what it should think about. It decides and I just watch and follow. It’s a stream that meanders in all directions with no riverbanks to restrict its flow.

laziness

The other day my brain decided that I’m going to stop working for a living.

Just like that, no job.

I’m not retiring, I’m quitting. And it’s not because I don’t like my job or my boss. My boss is great, and most days my job is pretty good.

So … What’s Up, you ask?

Jesus didn’t have a job.

Well, some say he was a carpenter, but I can’t find any pictures, descriptions, or drawings of his work, and I did a full Google search.

jesus_carpenter

Unlike Muhammad, he didn’t become a Dad, so he wasn’t a stay-at-home working parent while his wife was out making the bacon (she wouldn’t be Jewish I guess). Some suggest he was a bootlegger who turned water into wine and then sold it to his followers who grew in numbers because they liked his stuff, but that’s just idle rumour.

Jesus had a dream job of being a saviour. How many kids tell their Grade 2 class they want to grow up to be a Saviour? None in my school certainly.

But truthfully, I don’t want to be a saviour… too many liability issues and guilt. And then you end up crucified.

I’m seeking out a sunny field of tranquillity. It’s a kind of mid-life crisis of form and understanding, a nighttime retreat into the womb of safety and comfort.  To be childlike and carefree with only the smell of green grass and sand between my toes, swing sets in the park, ice cream on the beach. A job implies responsibility and worry over bills and leaks in the roof.

Engagement and enjoyment of life is defined both by what we do for a paycheque and what we do as passion. Sometimes they coincide and often they run separate roads.

I don’t think I’m alone in my thinking. After all, millions have read the 4 Hour Work Week and The Joy of Not Working . How many of the thousands of people working at WalMart are there because they love to work? –Damn, ANOTHER clean up in Aisle 7. Hell, even the CEO is only really there because he gets a HUGE paycheque that lets him do the things he really wants to do.

Money-spewing lotteries are over-the-top popular because the multitudes hope and pray that a few lucky numbers will give them their dream job of a life of no work. It’s an ubiquitous feeling that work is a penance we pay so that we can eat and have a boat to fish from off a sunny Caribbean beach for 2 weeks every winter.

4-hour-workweek

I’ll admit that jobs have their place. A job is an important source of social capital, it provides daily structure for many, a place to meet friends and kindle romances, a detouring path away from crime and prison for young men, an example of industriousness and duty to children and a source of self-respect for parents.

But really, nobody has a born purpose in life to buy and sell stocks. Or create an ad agency. Or ride a dusty tractor all day long. Or work in a cubicle. Those are tiny side effects of being alive. We’re conditioned in western society from Day 1 to build ourselves into a work machine that produces something of value that others are willing to pay something for.

No matter how much talent and ability and know-how we possess and want the world to beat a path to our personal toll booth, dropping gold coins into our pocket of wealth, unless what we have to offer is desirable at a reasonable price, we starve.

People start up businesses by the hundreds and thousands every week, and then a short year later they shutter the front door forever because their incredible (to them) idea for sponging up currency that couldn’t go wrong, didn’t connect. Dreams are shattered and bankruptcies are born.

The real purpose is to do the things you enjoy, with the people you enjoy and who inspire you, as much as possible. If this happens in a job setting, great. But for the majority in this world of billions of souls, work life is lived as Bob Cratchit under the heavy thumb of their own Scrooge.  Work is a necessity, undertaken as a servitude for a turkey on the table at Christmas and some coal in the winter stove.

So we’ll continue working to survive like we always have. Maybe someday we’ll devise a way to put a million dollars in each baby’s bank account at birth and the work week will become a relic of an ancient era. Robots and technology will run our factories and our supermarkets and our transit and sewage systems.

Robot in home

I wish I could live to see such a day, but I consider myself lucky to see this moment in history when I can push a switch and my house is instantly made cozy warm, or refreshingly cool. In winter, I can fly like a bird to an exotic beach with loads of fresh, juicy fruit and cold bottles of beer laid out for my picking. If I want to read any magazine or book, I can open an electronic gizmo and have it sent instantaneously through the electronic ether to my lap. While I sit in front of a huge entertainment centre in my living room with 1000’s of movies and other media delights at my fingertips.

Most of my weekly blog posts are about 1,000 words long.  It’s a good length that doesn’t usually tax you, the reader, too much.  I was going to quit at 800 words today and just relax on my sunny, warm deck.

But this luxuriously wandering, creating mind that wants me to quit my job just wouldn’t listen and take direction from me.

I guess I’ll go on being lazy, starting tomorrow…

Lazy cat

TWO GUYS WALK INTO A BAR…

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I want to talk to you this week about insecurities, of which I have a few … but FIRST

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The local YELLOWKNIFER newspaper announced that “Mitzi”, the infamous stripper who could propel ping pong balls from her inner girly works was coming to town.

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I was a young, unattached guy and this was northern excitement at its finest; I would not be denied the thrill of a titillating lifetime.

The only stripper bar I’ve ever been inside in my entire life is in Canada’s Arctic in Yellowknife, NWT. Yellowknife is a small’ish (about 20,000 population today)  northern frontier town famously replete with mosquitoes, blackflies, gold mines (when I lived there in the late 1970’s) and diamond mines (today).

I wandered into the dark, shadowy barroom with an old friend and hospital work colleague Jim Collette.

It was the Gold Range bar, although in Yellowknife it was referred to as a tavern. A nauseatingly strong stench of stale beer and years of accumulated cigarette smoke saturated the walls and air surrounding the dark wooden tables, knife-etched with names and phone numbers of past inebriated patrons.

The_Gold_Range

The Gold Range, affectionately called The Strange Range, was a fusion place for aboriginals, sourdoughs and rough-hewn miners. You could see your life coming to an end at the point of a knife blade or the ragged edge of a broken beer bottle at a place like the Gold Range.

It had a reputation and it wasn’t a good one. It was stereotypical Wild West, or in this case, Wild North.

The people populating this place had names like Stinky Pete, or Dirty Dan. They had long, stringy hair; dirty, frayed baseball caps with names like Weaver & Devore Trading or Giant Mine emblazoned on the front; and multi-hued teeth that hadn’t seen a dentist’s chair in … well, maybe ever! I was feeling pretty jangled and nervous sitting there –  the only reason I stayed was because my horny libidinous heart was quixotically stronger than my frayed nerves or common sense.

The Gold Range was not the natural habitat for this soft, southern boy. Jim and I sat and ordered a Pilsner and Alta 3.9 beer and waited with anticipation for the show to start. When it did begin, it was pretty anti-climatic (sorry, bad pun!). The strippers were mostly a bit older and kind of saggy. It wasn’t the erotic “hit” I was expecting, and the shared experience with a bunch of others was just kind of demeaning to us all. Honestly, I don’t even remember the ping pong ball part of it, just the sordid seediness that left a sour taste.

This is what "Good Girls" do with ping pong balls...

This is what “Good Girls” do with ping pong balls…

OK, you’ve been patient so now I’ll come to the part about my insecurities.

Bars come in classes. I was probably too classy for the Gold Range but not really classy enough for the Horseshoe Lounge at the posh Explorer Hotel; my self-esteem wasn’t sufficiently high to stroll into the Horseshoe Lounge. I’m just a middle class mid-range bar kind of guy I suppose.

My friends and my favourite drinking hangout in Yellowknife was called The Gallery. I would consider it a mid-range bar. It was a wide open well-lit watering hole with a shuffleboard table and a jukebox. The Gallery had no art and no shooting other than the drinks that were fired back in large quantity. They served the best kielbasa in hot dog buns with mustard and relish.

I always hated to enter The Gallery alone. There were those few hesitant, uncomfortable moments where I feared I wouldn’t spot anyone I knew, and everyone else in the bar would know that I was a lonesome loser. I’d stroll in with my eyeglasses all fogged and frozen up from walking off the -40 C streets in January and then try to locate a familiar face either through ice-glazed glasses or furry myopic eyeballs.

Either way, the little voice in my head would be saying, “what are you doing here by yourself, everyone else is with a group and having fun … there must be something wrong with you.

It’s crappy when we’re young and insecure (or worse still, older and insecure) and we worry about every little thing that others might think about us. We want to meld into the mix of others, not stand out as different. Conform or die.

Insecurity doesn’t come from an objective view of our ability but an emotional interpretation. Two people with the same capabilities or attributes can have entirely different levels of insecurity.

Hollywood Insecurity...

Hollywood Insecurity…

I know I’m a capable person on a lot of levels and yet even still I have that worried voice in my head that tells me I could be better or different. Fortunately, the voice has grown far quieter as I grow older, but it still talks to me and tries to bring me down. Rationally I know it’s a liar and a deceiver, but it takes a determined ounce or two of positive counteracting thoughts to stuff it away sometimes.

But you can’t outrun insecurity. A sad matter about Yellowknife was that some people came there for their last stand against inner demons. They were lonely, miserable outcasts who thought that when they came to the Arctic somehow there would be a mystical transformation and everything would be different from their life in the south. They would magically fit in. Rarely happens.

Soon after I arrived to work in Yellowknife, a nice guy named Perry came to work in the housekeeping department at Stanton Yellowknife Hospital. He would stop by as he mopped floors and chat with me every morning about cars and guns and other things that interested him. Perry was about 21 years old and seemed pretty normal by all appearances. Perry was sad and miserable inside, only none of us knew it.

I liked Perry but I never asked him to join in with any of our “professional” group of lab techs, nurses, physiotherapists, in whatever Reindeer Games we were playing. You know, he might not have chosen to come along because he wouldn’t have enjoyed our company, but would it have hurt me to just ask him?

One dark, early winter morning I walked into the Microbiology lab section where I worked and ran into John, the senior housekeeper boss guy.

–Perry killed himself last night, John said.

–Put a shotgun to his head and pulled the trigger. The RCMP found him in a ditch on the outskirts of town.

I had spoken with Perry in a normal fashion a day earlier and now his demons and insecurities had won the interior argument. Now he was dead, at his own hands. I was stunned. I was ignorant and stunned.

Insecurities come in different layers and different strengths. I try now to look for signs of insecurities in others, not to make myself feel better in comparison (another sign of insecurity), but so that I can understand their struggles with behaviours such as selfishness, arrogance, sulking, gossiping, over-competitiveness, defensiveness, excessive chatter, people-pleasing, excessive swearing. If there’s some small thing that I can do or say that will soothe someone’s negative inner voice, why not? It’s a Pay It Forward kind of thing, I suppose.

Insecurity wears a lot of different costumes.

Slack Alice’s, the local stripper bar in my area burned down about a year ago. And DAMN, I never saw the inside of it. I guess I was just too insecure to go inside on my own!

But I’m sure that every day there was a whole barroom full of strippers and patrons, nursing a beer or shot glass, and each, just like me, with their own beat-up lifetime suitcase filled with personal insecurities.

insecurity suitcase

Desperately Seeking Marilyn

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crescent moon on new york

I was barely able to make out the waning crescent of the moon in the dark sky.

It was just after midnight on a mild September night when we stepped out into the city lights on Lexington Avenue, just up from 52nd Street. I replaced the felt fedora on my head; it was a perfect match to my tan-coloured suit.

There were the familiar rumbling sounds and underfoot shaking of subway cars beneath the Manhattan city street. The sharp smell of cigarette smoke lingered in the still air as a pair of young lovers passed by along the sidewalk in front of Fleurette’s Jewelry store.

We meandered slowly along, side by side, soulfully talking about how pitiful the sad creature from the movie we had just finished watching was. Then she turned, looked me dead straight in the eyes and in her breathy voice said,

“….he just wanted affection – you know,  a sense of being loved, and needed, and wanted.”

She had such a wide-eyed look of innocence and naivety. Who was she really talking about?

And then she stepped onto the criss-cross metal grating above the subway line:

“Ooo, do you feel the breeze from the subway? Isn’t it delicious?”,

she said, her perfectly smooth legs locked straight at the knees, her feet in high-heeled white strappy sandals placed about a foot apart. And then her ivory-coloured halter-style cocktail dress billowed upwards exposing her legs, her white panties, and the inner pleats of the dress that resembled the underside gills of a mushroom. A look of little-girl innocent pleasure painted her face.

It wasn’t a hot night, but what man wouldn’t feel a burning at this moment? The world stopped and lived only for us two for a precious few seconds.

I wandered a semi-circle around her, cocked my head a bit and smiled, “Sorta cools the ankles, doesn’t it?”

An iconic scene of the 20th Century by an iconic figure of the era.

marilyn monroe over subway grate

The abrupt honking of a passing cab snapped me out of my daydream.

Ambling up Lexington Avenue a couple of summers back, it was a warm Friday morning in Manhattan and we were on the hunt for Norma Jean. Yes, that Norma Jean. You might know her as Marilyn Monroe.

It was a scene from the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch where Marilyn strode out of the Trans-Lux 52nd Street Theatre onto Lexington Avenue with co-star Tom Ewell after having just watched Creature from the Black Lagoon.

We were visiting New York and wanted to see the iconic spot in person and feel the aura of what was but a few seconds from a scene that occurred over 50 years ago. Millions and millions have likely walked this street and across the hundreds of subway grates scattered throughout Manhattan. But we wanted to see THE sidewalk grate where the Hollywood GREAT had stood and purred those famous words in her high-pitched-dripping-sex-all-over-the-place voice.

We asked workers unloading beer cases from trucks, we inquired with hotel doormen, but no one seemed to know the exact grate where Marilyn had cooed and billowed. We wandered back and forth up and down Lexington hoping a sign, a cairn, some marker would pop up saying:

Here, actress Marilyn Monroe captured the world with her engaging smile and undulating white dress while cooling her ankles and naughty bits on her return home from a date in the movie The Seven Year Itch.

But why? Why would this be important? Was I fanatical about Marilyn Monroe? Not at all!

We seek out fame and the famous, the historic, the iconic, the tragic and the momentous. We bookmark our lives by the battlefields and cathedrals and moviestar mansions we visit- we set plaques and monuments as tribute and remembrance. We collect cars, and bubblegum cards, and vinyl record albums, and coins and stamps and vintage wines.

There is a burning desire in so many of us to visit and draw in greatness – both positive and catastrophic –  from the past and feel a part of it within us. We want to walk on the “hallowed” ground and breathe in the air that Julius Caesar absorbed.

No matter our station, there is a feeling of splendour and ownership if we see and touch the same things that others who have achieved much have seen and touched. We want the sensation of being a part of something bigger, grandiose and monumental.

We want to be unique but at the same time we want to feel like a part of the human family. And for many of us too, I think it’s because we want to be fabulous in some way and do something special in our short lives.

fame-star

What could be cooler than to leave a legacy behind; a song that others hum, a story that resonates through time, a grandmother’s iris plant that thrilled, a photographic portrait that mesmerizes 100 years on?

AND SO?

We didn’t ever, to our best knowledge, stand on the famed sidewalk grate we were seeking out on that busy Manhattan avenue.

BUT … we did grab a hot dog from one of New York City’s ubiquitous sidewalk vendors and imagine ourselves solving a stupendously difficult murder case from TV’s Law & Order. Later, we ventured to the top of the Empire State Building and envisioned ourselves as Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr (An Affair to Remember), or Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (Sleepless in Seattle). I may have even daydreamed of seeing myself climbing that building as King Kong while Fay Wray or Naomi Watts screamed in my hairy clenched hand.

And it’s everywhere.

In Paris, I imagine myself in the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, a half-mask covering my face… in Berlin, I stand in front of the Brandenburg Gate giving an address to hundreds of thousands of onlookers as Adolf Hitler, or John F. Kennedy … in Tokyo, I am Hirohito …in Beijing, I am Mao … in Ottawa, I am Trudeaumania … in Washington, I “have a dream” of standing before a huge crowd on the Mall as Dr. Martin Luther King.

No matter who we are, or where we are in time, we stand beneath the dark skies, feel the warm caressing of the night breeze, and gaze dreamily skyward at the same moon that Marilyn and I flirted beneath that late summer night of 1955.

Van Gogh Starry Starry Night

I Want To Be A Prostitute Too!

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Have you ever had the Prostitute dream?

WHOA, what a dream.

For a man (perhaps other than Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, or George Clooney) it’s great to be an object of sexual desire to women. To dream that people might actually want to pay you to get naked and live out the porno world lifestyle? Try as I might, it’s all very hard to imagine and absorb.

Forgive my laughter because PROSTITUTION just isn’t funny.

But the dreams I have about being a male prostitute are.

Fred Garvin Male Prostitute

Women have all the luck…they get to be prostitutes.

Men climb all over each other -so to speak – to pay women to satisfy their carnal needs. And on the plus side, use of prostitutes is an egalitarian sort of activity. Guys paying for sexual services is a class-free, stationless event where the lowest of the low and the highest of the high partake more or less equally. There is a sort of Gucci vs WalMart approach as the price points and quality of services rendered vary tremendously (I’m told!).

It’s a strange quirk of nature that men begin the vigorous hunt of sexual partners from the moment they nudge puberty, looking to sow their seed in any and every flower bed they can find. Most women are taught by their mothers (and maybe even more quizzically so, their fathers) to hold sex as a judicious tool in their quiver, only to be unleashed at rare moments, like Sasquatch or Loch Ness Monster sightings.

It takes a mature man to look at the unfortunate lives of others who shovel in the sexual sandbox to pay their monthly rent bill and still find empathy and deep respect.

In today’s post, I just don’t happen to be that mature man.

You see I’m a typical sort of guy who only sees the romantic shiny veneer of something as dark as prostitution. The ability or opportunity to have sex multiple times each night is like … well it’s like offering sex to a man multiple times each night. I can’t think of a simile/metaphor to top that.

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I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy.”  Steve Martin
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Woman paying for sex

What a peculiar world we live in where women, who as often as not, would prefer to cuddle with a one-and-only and yet have the opportunity and saleability to erotically nosh with just about any mouthbreather going.

So, what is it really like to be a prostitute?

Pay-for-Sex is more often shown in the TV and movie genres as glorious, enjoyable, desirous activity.  Just a few tidbits of fictional examples of prostitutes like Dan Aykroyd’s Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute on Saturday Night Live or shows like Belle de Jour or Secret Diary of a Call Girl show us how remarkably fun and joyous playing with others in the buff can truly be. Just who wouldn’t want to drink champagne and cavort on crisp, clean hotel sheets with another well-toned, libidinous looker, AND get paid all at the same time. 

Secret Diary of A Call Girl

There’s never any thought given to possible pregnancy or brothel sprouts, it’s all just good pristine fun and games shared with a desirable stranger without any clothes or hangups or back stories.

I live a very sheltered existence and rarely if ever encounter someone who is or has used the services of a prostitute. Of course, I did have some teenage male friends who claimed to have regular rendezvous with the fairer (professional) sex in back alleys and massage parlours. But, just as many men enjoy reading sci-fi fantasy novels as adults, I suspect my teenaged buds were living a touch of lustful fantasy world inside their heads at the time … just sayin’ guys.

The only real life moments even remotely close to the concept of prostitution occurred in my early years living in Yellowknife in the far north. I was shocked that “good” girls could be so forthright and forward in asking for sexual partnering. For a young, naive kind of guy, this was simultaneously shocking and splendidly exciting.

Part of my personal self-esteem is tied to the thought that I might be physically desirable to someone… yeah, anyone! It’s nice to be respected and desired for intellect or personality, but there’s a lower base sort of idea inside that says my physical products could still make the sale in the personal section of Craigslist or Cowboys4Angels.

No woman has ever thought to pay me to be her bed buddy! And truthfully, I don’t think that one ever will. This, despite my ability to pose languorously, seductive-like, and lick my lips just like the most expensive seasoned sexual pro.

I guess that my Happy Ending doesn’t involve pay-for-service, except late at night in the private sanctity of my whoring dreams!

Cowboy4angel