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#400 – A Ratty Year Ahead?

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rat year

And another book is complete.

Happy Chinese New Year! Welcome to the Year of the Rat!

I’ve written a book. Sort of.

I’ve written close to 400,000 words in 500 and 1,000 word blog-chunks in the past almost 8 years.

A typical novel is about 50-70,000 words … so actually … I’ve produced the equivalent of 6 or 7 books.

Today is blog post #400 that this Man On The Fringe has pecked out since June of 2012.

I bring this up because I’m a guy who notices numbers.

We all notice numbers in our lives…

… our age, our school grade level, the cost of our house and car, the number of kids or pets we have, our height, our weight, our credit card balance. Everything we care about seems to have a number equivalent. In Genesis, the bible says it all began with Three Dog Night singing, One Is The Loneliest Number (you can fact-check that on the Google).

So… 400 is just a number, right? Or is it?

400

400 is the:

  • number of seconds that it takes to properly hard-boil an egg
  • the number of metres around an Olympic track and field oval
  • the number of days in a Mayan year
  • magical temporary illusion in which the Sun and Moon in Earth’s sky appear as if of similar size … the Sun is approximately 400 times the size of the Moon but also is approximately 400 times further away,
  • sum of multiplying 20 x 20 in the year 2020  – if you consumed enough hallucinogen.

But 400 in China is probably a bad thing…. it contains the number 4, the unluckiest number of all.

Why is the number 4 bad luck in Chinese? Because it sounds like “Si”, death in Chinese.

But in my mind, any number, like a birthday count, maybe isn’t as important as what it signifies… some evidence, a message, a passage… a road-map of our days and lives.

And so 400 for me is more a marker of the days, months and years where I’ve transformed from a mid-50’s aged medical lab worker and barely empty-nester into an early-60’s “retiree” with more irons in the fire than perhaps at any time of my life.

I blog, I run and swim, I yoga and tutor, I write and sing songs, I chop vegetables and wash dishes, I cook and play guitar, I read and grow plants, I toddler wrangle, and the list goes on… I could count up the things that I do and give you a number… ah yes, back to a number…

Seven and a half years ago, this blog began as a regular Joe’s viewpoint into a vaguely unique world surrounded by intelligent women in almost all areas of my life, into a chaotic free-for-all look at anything and everything that catches my eye and ear and imagination. As it moves forward it also takes on shades of my own aging process… gulp!

aging

It’s a blog but it’s also a journal or diary, a chronicle and a confessional, a mess and a masterpiece, a diatribe and a rant, a story of a life in weekly fragments.

It’s an internal dive where I discover (or unearth) ideas and beliefs that may have never surfaced save for the notion of sitting for hours in front of a computer keyboard and producing something from a blank screen and a blank mindspace.

Writing, whether it’s in a blog post or lyrics for a song, is a probing flashlight where I find myself … my past, my present and my future.

OK… #400 – I’m leaving behind the Year of The Pig, and transitioning into this Year of the Rat (I was born in the Rooster Year).

The rat is clever and resourceful and takes advantage of opportunities others might not see. Rats are quick, alert, full of energy, and they adapt to changing environments and circumstances.

It will take some ratt’ish energy to get through my next blog and life “book”.

Thanks for reading and encouraging me along this meandering path and may your 2020 year contain no rat traps!

rats2

 

 

 

 

The Magic of Fingers and WHY

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30

My youngest daughter turned 30 last week. Not oldest… youngest!

I turned 30 just the week before. OK, maybe 2 weeks ago.

No, I’m not a time traveller, but the sensation of time is a fluid, rapid thing like warm sand slip-sliding between your toes at the beach.

Being 30 means you’re not middle-aged yet, but you’ve definitely boarded the ocean liner that carries you over the seas from childhood and the orbit of your parents into the grown-up world with most of the trappings of adulthood.

Job. Home. Maybe kids.

You should can wander around your house naked if you want to and your Mom won’t scream at you.

It’s mostly fun and exciting but scary and jammed with worries too.

I worry about my kids because I’ve lived through the years that are to come for them.

The time between say, 30 and 60, is where you strap on your seatbelt and buckle in for the bumpy ride. Some cope well and fly to the stars, others flounder and drown beneath the weight.

Either trip is filled with challenges.

Family, jobs and responsibilities grow and multiply, and then somewhere in there… most of us exchange the solid ground that is our parents beneath us, and find we’re freefloating with a parachute attached to nothing but cool, thin air.

It’s like we’ve thrown away our diaper now and hope like hell we don’t sh*t our pants.

why.jpg

After 30 is also when we begin to discover if the directions we’ve chosen are where we truly saw our dreams… our WHY… or perhaps if it’s someone else’s dream we’re pursuing.

We all develop a definition of success – in it’s myriad forms – in our heads… the WHY is hopefully what leads us down that path.

WHY is a million questions, but it’s the answers that tell us who we really are.

A small example… I ask myself WHY do I write a blog post every week with no attempt or hope of ever making a livelihood from the effort expended.

My readership (thank you for being in that group) is small and swamped in a expansive world of words and thoughts from every direction.

The voice that ponders and then answers my WHY question is the one that finds expression in writing where it can’t seem to find it in spoken words.

Things happen when I sit to write, just as they do when I sit and play my guitar.

I THINK IT’S ABOUT MY FINGERS.

There are guidelines, understanding, and points of view that reside somewhere deep inside me and refuse to come to the surface until my fingers are moving… it’s like my brain and fingers have a mystical connection… I don’t even try to look behind the curtain for the Wizard, because a wizard, a muse if you prefer… is magic.

Perhaps you find that same wonder through your religious beliefs, or it could be that you have a connection between your brain and your tongue that I lack.

I like the illusion of magic and wonder so I don’t question. I accept. It’s pretty childlike really.

Maybe that’s why I like children’s books.

They engage our imagination and sense of wonder whether we’re 3 or 30 or even 60-something.

Writing this blog draws out my own wonder about myself, you, and the cosmos surrounding us.

Talk about magic in my fingers… ABRACADABRA

 

guitar magic

Photographs and Memories Are Silly

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family photo 1960.jpg

You know how you enjoy going through old photo albums and reminiscing about your friends and family and your bizarre hairstyle – and OMG those clothes you were wearing?  Why did your mother let you wear THAT skirt? What the hell were you thinking?

So silly.

I’ve been writing this “Fringe” blog for 7+ years now and after 384 posts, I’ve packed up a suitcase load of words and shared mercilessly.

I’ve filled buckets of seriousness and barrels of silliness… it’s a recipe that kind of sums up life, doesn’t it?

And for anyone who thinks that workplace retirement is a time of total relaxation and leisure, there’s another door you might want to look behind in your own Oz-World that contains a few dozen time-consumers…

Which brings me to this blog post… I have a closet-full of items to be attending to this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (cutting down monster hedges and music practice and tutoring and meal prep for a large gang) … and so I’ve given myself permission (thank you Larry) to recycle and reuse… no, not my favourite old and well-worn Calvin Klein boxers… nope… today I’m recycling/reposting a blog post from this month 5 years ago.

Speaking of Oz-World, I took in the film JUDY this week… Ms. Garland was trapped in a world of sadness mixed with ecstasy and way too much drugs and alcohol. Perhaps a dose of silliness like I’ve described below would have de-stressed her days a tiny bit… maybe silliness would have allowed Judy to spend a bit more time on this planet amongst us… but alas, she’s over the rainbow now…

On this Canuck Thanksgiving weekend, I hope you find a few moments of silliness to tickle your inner self … cuz, Thanksgiving is… In Your Pants!

 

Silly is … In My Pants

October 4, 2015

PEI Autumn

I’m just beginning to see millions of leaves succumb to their slow, colourful deaths as we pass the fall equinox. It makes dying a beautiful thing.

And it got me to thinking about changes, and seasons, and those things that are predictable in our lives and other things that change and surprise us.

Take the moon for example. We all know that full moons contribute to the “surprise” factor.

Full moons make crazy things happen, things we’d never expect. This past week’s Harvest “Blood” Moon – wasn’t it stunning? – probably had more impact than usual.

Something that surprised me? Maybe it was full moon inspired?

Singer/Songwriter James Taylor got really silly on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show the other night.

Yup, James Taylor. I love his music but he isn’t normally a silly kind of guy.

“You’ve Got A Friend” and “Fire and Rain” are beautiful, deep, hardly silly songs. He croons serious songs that melt into our hearts and our heads.

Silly? Adding the words, “in my pants…” at the end of each line of Taylor’s music definitely qualifies as silly. ” … But I always thought that I’d see you again… in my pants

So it must have been the moon. Right? Must have been.

Thank you James for reminding me that we all need to be silly sometimes.

Silliness can be an important part of our humanity, our ability to cope when times grow tough. Norman Cousins (Anatomy of an Illness) wrote all about finding humour and laughter in life when confronted with serious pain or illness.

Sometimes I find myself slipping into an earnest seriousness. I have to slap myself on the side of the head to remember to be silly, not to take everything so damned humourlessly. Then I feel better.

Fix the mood and everyone dances like feathers …

There’s a guy who is my age that I work with in the Greek restaurant where I’m a bartender … he’s a server/waiter. Let’s call him Fred.

When everything is calm and quiet, he’s sweet and charming. Full of light humour and smiles. Mr. Congeniality.

But once lineups form at the door, tables in the restaurant fill up, and the hum of activity snarls into a roar, Fred turns into a yelling monstrosity of an animal. He becomes a toddler that only knows “ME“!

It’s like he might just throw himself to the floor and begin crying and stamping his feet unless everyone does everything for him … RIGHT NOW!!

Cosby as Dr. Jeykll

I don’t like Fred much at these moments. His blood pressure readings must be reaching into the clouds way above us.

Later, when customers begin shuffling out of the restaurant, sated and satisfied and a teensy bit tipsy from the delicious libations I’ve poured, Fred sloughs off his nasty mask and returns to his “resting pulse” rate of friendly and charming.

He’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a serving tray and a menu pad.

I can’t blame the moon for Fred’s tantrums. This is his normal reaction, the way he copes when stress begins to pile on.

I feel badly for him and badly for those around him who have to do their jobs despite his vile behaviour. Fred should try singing, “… in my pants“.

But let me tell you about another server I work with – let’s call him Mark – somewhat younger, who always finds a way to laugh and giggle through the busiest times.

He’s smart and good at his job, just like Fred, but Mark always finds a way to stay calm and goofy.

Mark gets the same work accomplished as Fred but everyone around him is more relaxed and smiley as he does his thing.

Mark works two jobs most days and is on his feet for hours and hours at a time, always with a smile and a goofy laugh. I like working with and being around Mark. He makes me calmer and sillier.

We all have our own unique personalities and ways of coping when things turn tough. It’s hard to smile sometimes.

I know I can stress out and get tense and humourless.

But I’m trying really hard to find the silliness, the humour in every situation. Really good or really bad.

Humour is like air … you can’t always see it with your eyes but it’s blowing and floating around us, helping us survive the tough stuff.

Maybe humour is like a religious tonic for non-believers, soothing us when times get rough, a bridge over troubled waters.

When things get busy in the restaurant this evening … while Fred is flailing disruptively, I figure Mark and I will be hearing “…in my pants” dancing in our heads.

... in my pants ... and I ain't afraid to show it ...

 

I’m Marvellous, Almost Mrs. Maisel Marvellous

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Mrs Maisel 2

I love Mrs. Maisel.

She’s Marvellous, don’t you think?

You know who I’m talking about, right? That Amazon-Prime-lady Rachel Brosnahan who plays a young, separated Jewish mom in 1958 New York City.

She works a department store gig by day and then hits the nightclub stand-up stage most evenings.

Her comedy routine on stage is a bit like watching Seinfeld … actually, I think she is Jerry Seinfeld in a dress. Master of her own domain…

Mrs. Maisel (“Midge”) blathers on about her day’s routines and the crazy things her parents say or her ex-husband does, but in a charming and funny, occasionally profane, way. Snapshots of nothing and everything all at the same time.

The dialogue for the show is reminiscent of watching anything written by Aaron Sorkin (yeah, I’m a fan boy of his) … The West Wing, The Social Network, A Few Good Men, Moneyball … or Nora Ephron (yeah, I’m a groupie of her’s too)… Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally.

The creator/writer/director for The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel is the marvellous herself Amy Sherman-Palladino who in years past created The Gilmore Girls.

It takes incredible talent to write comedy, sharp, and fast, but there is always humanity and emotion too. Comedy is best when it shoots an arrow to the heart sometimes. Tears and laughter are fine bedfellows.

Her rapid-fire, witty dialogue requires your strict attention because the fun lines zip by so rapidly.

But truly, I love Mrs. Maisel mainly because I’m very different (yes, she is much cuter than me) from her.

I could never be a stand-up comic. I would SUCK!

stand up comic

How does someone stand at a microphone for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes … an hour … and relate stories, tell jokes… sometimes rehearsed, often improvised on the spot? I can’t riff a good knee-slapper about the underwear I’m wearing (or not!) today even if my life depends on it (get it… DEPENDS!.. OMG, there’s hope for me).

Nope, that’s not me. I’m not so marvellous at that stuff.

I struggle to remember the lyrics for a 3 minute song I’m playing. I can’t remember your name within 10 milliseconds of our introduction.

But I can give a prepared speech in fine fashion (or so I think). Why?

Why thanks for asking.

I write these blog posts (kind of like a prepared speech) because I can ruminate – like a cow chewing its cud in the pasture – over my words for hours, days if necessary. And I do.

I even write amazingly erudite paragraphs in my night-dreams, and the day I can remember them when I awake, I can die happy, although I don’t think I’ll be happy when I die, but who knows, do you? And there I go talking like Mrs. Maisel …

The pairing of supreme writing and verbal skills are like oil and water, pasta and sushi, forks and power outlets, my testicles and a sharp knee jab… you get the gist. Not an easy combination. Most of us channel the muse in one OR the other, if we’re lucky.

Verbally I stumble and stammer and look befuddled like Robert Mueller… oy vay, don’t get me started.

With writing, I can parse and edit … edit and parse … so that I come up with a (hopefully) well thought-out and comprehensible phrase or two.

The delay I get in writing (like the 7 second TV broadcast delay) helps me avoid the quicksand that my lack of filters (of which I’m constantly reminded!), sadistically, maniacally, tosses me into without my really trying.

And so Mrs. Maisel… I humbly bow to your skill-set, your humour, your smiles, your bravery in a man’s world… perhaps Aaron Sorkin wrote deftly about A Few Good Men …  but Amy Sherman-Palladino? … you’ve nailed it here with One Good Woman.

Brava!

DSC00208.ARW

This Song’s for You

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Version 3

Next month marks 7 years of this weekly diatribe, this wordy assault of inner thought in my character of MAN ON THE FRINGE.

In June of 2012 … I began a meandering reflection totalling 365 weekly posts (with the rarest of exceptions) to date.

My intent at the time was to personalize the differences, the commonalities, the challenges and beauties and frustrations between men and women. All from the viewpoint of a guy who doesn’t fit neatly into a box of manly genderociousness.

But as I’ve learned over these years, as you probably have too, gender labels are fluid and there is danger in categorizing and putting lives into tidy little boxes.

Yes, nothing in human relations is simple. When I think I’m smart, I’m actually stupid.

Over time I’m realizing that perhaps I should re-brand, re-label as PERSON ON THE FRINGE.

But that’s just a touch of lint-gazing into my not-so-pretty navel (who designed belly buttons for God’s sake?). Let’s move forward, shall we?

Given that I’m a guy who has a mixed relationship with routine, I’m patting myself on the back for staying with this diurnal habit – this diarrhea of words with no seeming end – and I plan to carry on for a wee bit longer… but … but …

… perhaps with a slight twist to my “norm”.

There is a price to be paid for attempting to absorb too much of the vigour and energy that surrounds us.

Diversification in investing is admirable, smart even, but too much diversification in real-life can become deworsification.

The dilution of what we really appreciate and want, dilution of what drives us becomes a painful irritation of casting about in a huge ocean.

I need to spend more time on the things I love.

For the past few years I’ve been focussing more on music, and one of my desires… my goals … is to write music … meaningful lyrics, melodies and harmonies.

It’s narcissistic and self-aggrandizing to some extent to believe we have something important and meaningful to add, but it’s a draw into humanity that refuses to be ignored… it just is.

Every spring I plant flowers that I know will return to composted soil in a few short months for another season, and still I return each year to the seeds of growth because the ephemeral beauty is too luscious, too sweet, to turn away from.

I’ve said more than once that I use you as a juicy, delicious Bugs Bunny carrot of motivation in writing this blog. You are my personal assistant sans pay!

My proposal is to use you (again) as my motivator … my muse … the fire at my feet to take my disciplined approach in writing this blog every week and carry it over into the passion of songwriting.

Guitar music.jpg

So going forward I’ll take a break from my every week yada yada yada posts to morph into regular lyric writing, an internal friendly exchange of prose for poetry.

No, not every post will become a tuneful poetic ode but I see it as a refresh and a push to spend more time on something I love … the personal expression that comes out of my head and my mouth in harmony.

You’re welcome to comment on my writings and also to share your lyrical thoughts back if you care to “expose” your inner expressive words for others to enjoy.

So… here’s a song I’ve had in process for a little while now, not complete yet but so be it … a nod to those who struggle with interior thoughts of suicide… I’ve used the late Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade as a means of personalizing the unbearable pain many suffer:

THIS IS WHO HE WAS (Anthony & Kate’s Song)

Camera catches amber light
that last bite was great he said
giggling of a child with bread
smiling host whose face was red  
eyes just a little wide and wild
This is who he was

Sad can’t be the sun in sky
When setting at the end of day
maybe clouds will always stay
when you fly a million miles
blindness hides the fragile eyes
This is who he was

CHORUS
His Days were numbered
our days are numbered too
sometimes we choose to count them down
sometimes they’re counted down for you
smiles within a smokescreen
sun comes shining through the clouds
yet there’s nothing left but rain

Born a Christmas Valentine
In a castle with your schoolboy prince
Cast your eyes on Central Park
Colours helped you make your mark
For every girl who wanted to be you
This is who she was

Whispers in your playful smile
Like snowflakes ‘cross your spirit while
The ones you’d helped to come of age
Blinded by your hidden pain
Or the one you left behind who carries on
This is who she was

BRIDGE 
Our loss has no end
Listen to the mystic hymns that guide us back to life

CHORUS-
Her days were numbered
Our days are numbered too
sometimes we choose to count them down
at times they’re counted down for you
the smiles are just a smokescreen
of normalcy through pain
the sun comes shining thru the clouds 
yet there’s nothing left but rain

… nothing left but rain… nothing left but rain…

anthony-bourdain-kate-spade.jpg

 

I SHOULD Write A Thousand Words Today…

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1,000 words

… but I won’t this time because I’m ultra-focussed.

Totally narcissistic. Self-indulgent. Hungry.

Each day I write out a To-Do List. You too?

And then I fail…

Each day I remind myself that focussing on 2 or 3 items is the life-blood to making real headway on the things that are extra important to me, my writing and music… the creative existence.

Each day I listen to a new song on YouTube or Apple Music, seeking a theme song of inspiration for the day… then silently ponder the beauty outside my window, urging calmness like a quiet meditation into my sense of focus. OOOoooooommmmmm…

Each day I begin with this short list of the critical, the important, the passion-filled.

And here’s where I fail. Again and again. No motivational gurus like Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy have come to my rescue.

Despite my best intentions I look down at my sheet of paper squished in the narrow space beneath my computer keyboard and the edge of my desk… and realize that my shortlist of 2 or 3 items has mystically and maniacally expanded to 8 … 10 … even 15 items.

Where is my focus?

Sigh.

I’m a refugee inside my own world… an outcast from the creativity urgings that seek updrafts of warm air.

I look around at people like Stephen King or Paul Simon or Carole King, JK Rowling or Brian Wilson or Joni Mitchell, and marvel at the focus and drive that brought them to a God-kissed magnificence. I drool and desire like a 13 year-old boy with unlimited access to porn!

I lust after their nucleus of theme and priority.

1,000

1,000

Numbers. My blog posts have talked a lot about the power of 10,000 hours in practice…. or even 1,000 hours in practice and preparation.

And each week I write down about 1,000 words in this blog that I’ve been playing with for more than 6 years now. 340 blog posts.

It’s been the chronicler of me – to me – that I share with you because I think we all contribute pieces of ourselves to a common existence and inner understanding. And when I write I magically discover pieces of me that I never knew existed.

I read others’ writing to add to my work of understanding life and history and my place in it.

I hope that sharing my words with you may occasionally give you a tiny nugget of insight into your own motivations and understanding of who you are. Maybe even an occasional smile. Maybe.

Priority

I’ve added some shiny new features to my world since I “retired” 4 years ago. Bartending, tutoring, soup kitchen, grandparenting are all part of the cutting edge in my days. Music has always been there too but – like my new grandson – is growing and expanding and filling me with enthusiasm and excitement that refuses to be contained.

So as part of my journey going forward, I’m looking to carve a small slice of additional time and focus that can be re-allocated to this continually new and hopefully improving me.

OK… I know I’m me.

I suspect the numbers of items on my daily To-Do List may still end up as long, but going forward, I’ll slide a small portion of the hours I spend each week writing these posts over and spend some more quality time on a revised list of priorities.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

Maybe I SHOULD write a thousand words today. BUT, 500 will just have to do.

Instead, I hear a super sexy tune in my head that needs to be captured before it gets lost in a whiteout featherstorm of lost time.

featherstorm.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

300… The Vagenda Continues

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300

300 blog posts. 300,000 words. On my way to 10,000 hours and mastery.

HOLY SMOKES! I’ve been writing these weekly missives for almost 6 years now. Thank you for your help in pushing me along this winsome winding road. I appreciate your generous Samaritanism.

One sunny day in June 2012 I sat and pecked out my first blog article .

Genesis began with the obvious hint that I would be exploring and commenting on the Mars vs Venus tangle we find ourselves amidst in the world of men and women.

I know. It’s lunatic foolish of me to think that I – a tiny bobbing boat – could find an understanding where other brighter ships have crashed on the rocks.

My foolishness persists to this day. Go figure.

But let’s be clear. It’s not one-sided although it is unbalanced. Men misunderstand women and women misunderstand men. Human math says it should be an equal equation x=y. That day is not yet today.

And to add to the doggy-pile of confusion is intra-gender misunderstanding. Hell, I’m a man and I frequently don’t get men.

men group.jpg

Yeah, I get frustrated with my own gender. Bigly.

Only last night I was playing my guitar at an Open Mic, watching a couple of middle-aged men guzzle down entire over-sized bottles of beer in one gulp and yelling loudly so that none of us could hear other performers giving their heartfelt best on stage. SHUT UP A**holes !! (Aside: They were kindly quiet for the first 2 of my songs, but couldn’t contain their boisterousness for the 3rd piece I played!)

That doesn’t mean we should throw our hands up and walk away. Attempts at understanding in all directions is what propels us forward. That’s why we should all travel and immerse ourselves in other cultures and religions and beliefs.

It seems kind of fitting today to return to the topic that I began musing on those 6 years back with the maelstrom of news and comment regarding #MeToo and #TimesUp

Women are an unstoppable force driving us forward in the new world of brains vs brawn. The crystal ball is as clear as the chill ice I see on the lakes in the nearby mountains.

The fleeting rise of TrumpWorld has merely highlighted the schism that exists and which will inevitably tumble avalanche-like in a totally new direction. HUGE.

Dinosaurs died out many millennia ago and sadly, men are today’s dinosaurs… of course we won’t die out but we are having to accept, adapt and change our “DNA”. The metamorphosis needed has to occur a hell of a lot more quickly than what Darwin observed on the Galapagos.

darwin.png

Happily, I feel confident it will.

On the flip-side, I know that I… yes, even little me… contain some fragments of that outdated dinosaur DNA just as I’m filled with the brawny DNA that drives my attraction to the female gender and not my own male brethren.

Like you, I’m a product of the generation and the culture in which I was raised.

Adapting to new social realities is like trying to maintain currency with the advances in the software and apps that flood my tech world on a daily basis. Am I the last one left to own a paper printer? I can only absorb and redesign myself so much over a short time frame. For sure I feel the dogs snapping at my heels.

So maybe you’ll understand that while I’m fully supportive of the feminist movements zooming up in my rear view mirror – I condemn the crass stupidity of men where sexuality and harassment are concerned – I’m also fearful of what I say and where I step.

My funny-bone misfires. My explanations sometimes lack nuance or sensitivity. Those times I don’t step on a landmine with my words, generally mean that at best I’ve trod in some stinky shit on the pathway. Some choice, eh?

This is my daily reality now… my emotion, my motivation, my personal experience.

 

  • I’ve never lived a world of gender-linked cruelty or suffering… the infuriating or fearful experience of sexual pressure (not on a true physical or financial level anyways).
  • I’ve never been callously subjugated because of the tint of my skin.
  • I’ve never felt heartless persecution because of some God I do or don’t believe in.
  • I’ve never encountered a curb or a building I couldn’t enter because my legs weren’t capable of lifting me up.

discrimination-fish.jpg

That’s not my reality. Those aren’t my tears.

The best that I can do is to try to empathize and imagine those experiences by observing and understanding what others pass through.

It’s never enough but it’s all I have. This is what I want women to know when I mess up.

#MeToo and #TimesUp are movements I enthusiastically support but will not for a moment be a real part of and will never viscerally know from my own involvement.

So I’ll keep trying to understand.

300 posts down… I’ll continue (until I don’t) writing my weekly words despite the chaos and chatter between my ears… words, sentences, and paragraphs where I’ve chatted about positivity and inspiration and aspiration and music and movies and writing and exercise and creativity… and the lyrical poetry and wonder that exists between men and women… things that I believe to be true in my vision of the world.

… until My Times Up.

Thanks for joining me and the 300 club today.

woman and man

Yes, Women WILL Dominate In The Years To Come…

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What did God say after he created man?

“I can do better.”

God created women

I have a meandering mind, so today, I’ll wander around and about and hopefully you can trace my convoluted trail … or trial!

I’ve been writing this MAN ON THE FRINGE blog for almost 5 years now.

I’ve posted close to … well, let’s have a look… exactly 258 entries. That’s the equivalent of about 3 average-sized fiction books.

And because I’m a stock market and numbers guru/geek I usually look at my return on investment – how much am I being paid for the time invested.

In this case, I’ve calculated that return as …. drum roll…. $0.

And I just don’t care. Writing blog posts makes me happy, which is a pretty good ROI in my books.

I read and look at a lot of blogs.

There are millions out there, many of them birthed by mere ordinary people like me who have this urge, an inner compulsion to write and share.

When you write a blog, it’s important to read quality books and blogs to know what others write about and how they write to keep an audience interested.

When a friend or relative says they like a post I’ve written on any particular week, I’m always happy. Like a toddler, I love it when mommy says I’ve done good. There’s still a piece of me that craves validation. Everyone wants to be the hero of their own story. I know I do.

And when a stranger writes and says they like my post then I’m really happy because it’s truly about the quality of writing or something in the message that was meaningful for them.

Writing these missives each week is a narcissistic indulgence I look forward to because I’m never sure what little morsel in the news that passes my way, or in my memory hard drive, or in the sex-addled recesses of my mind, will insist on being expounded upon.

Blog writing is a continual discovery of the things that are meaningful for me… so usually it’s about sex, music, religion, food, investing, travel… or… interesting people I encounter. The folks I’m surrounded by intrigue me and teach me.

Blogging is a white cane that helps me uncover the hidden messages that surround me.

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After these 5 years of weekly posts, the most viewed article I’ve written is called Your Castration Awaits – 8 Reasons Women Will Dominate Men In The 21st Century

It was written in the summer of 2014 and boiled down to these bullet points:

  1. Women don’t waste time playing video games and watching porn. Girls just grow up and get on with life…well, and obsess over shoes but that’s a minor pastime on the way to the corner office.
  2. Women excel at communication and conciliation, whereas mens’ authoritarian style of coercion is outdated. Women are attuned to social dynamics and know the benefits of collaboration vs. competition.
  3. Women are getting educated and at higher levels. In just about every field, women are either in the lead or are charging hard to take the lead. It’s like China vs the U.S.. Get lazy, and complacent and watch the competition overtake you.
  4. Women know how to balance career and family. Both career and social worlds can thrive simultaneously. Men can’t pull off multi-tasking unless beer and a TV remote are involved.
  5. Men persist in thinking they can rise through manual labour. The world has changed and many men refuse to believe or acknowledge it. If men don’t excel and women do, don’t blame women. Wake up and smell that coffee boys!
  6. Womens’ self-definition is changing. Women don’t feel the need to acquiesce to men to sooth their egos. If a job needs doing, women will just jump in and do it. Damsels in distress are so yesterday.
  7. Allowing women to vote, fight wars, run businesses, and play sports levels the field. Women may never be able to build the physical strength of a man, but can equal or better him in every other facet of life if they choose to.
  8. Men want to get rich quick but don’t want to work or wait for it. Men are too impatient and unwilling to take the longer, slower route to a better solution. Too many impetuous mistakes are made by wanting everything now.

 

It’s still true today.

I can see the writing on the wall. And the black/whiteboards.

When I tutor at the local college, I wander past classrooms filled with far more girls than guys. Even the science and math classes.

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TV newsrooms and political halls are swelling in serious female presence with each year that floats by.

Even I can see that I’m a relic of a previous age.

I tell myself that I’m enlightened but underneath the progressive exterior I present, I remain a man raised in a male-dominant society…. a man with just a smidgen-holding of the sick Trump notion that I have the power to grab a woman by the pussy whenever I want.

Our planet is in a tsunami flux with metamorphosis coming our way from every direction.

The one direction I’m most tuned into? Slowly but inevitably… the Women’s March on Dominance… a feminine evolution/revolution.

Now I don’t want to totally dump on my own gender.

Men are a fair group as these things go, but after some millennia, we’ve had our time, for a time. We’ve overseen huge calamities and also huge progress. Yes, we’ve made a million blunders.

But is there anyone who would realistically prefer to live in a 19th century world of poor hygiene, high infant and maternal mortality, lack of antibiotics, no voting rights for women? I can go on and on.

Now we need to step back and reflect on where WE want to be in 100 years.

Women have done just that over the past century, and I like, with maybe a few hesitations, where the female gender is heading.

The world of “might is right” is rapidly fading like morning stars at sunrise.

In the bible book of Genesis, it’s stated, “God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night“.

The sun and the moon, perhaps the metaphor that speaks to men and women in historic terms.

For millennia, from the dawn of civilization, in most of our world, men have ruled the day. Simple brute force and testosterone held the upper hand.

The dawn has grown elderly and tired, even tiresome, now.

Sunset is approaching, growing nearer and nearer and soon… soon… the lesser light, the moon, women, will rise in the starlit evening sky where the quiet and peace of nightfall will be taken gently by the feminine hand.

The shift of momentum is whispering softly in our ears.

moon whispers

 

 

 

200 x Scary … Would You Leap With Me?

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My friend Bill was an airline pilot. When asked to describe his job, he always answers, “hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror.” (Hmmm… he must order the Economy Class lunch).

In my life, the same can sometimes be said for stock market investing (taking just the last month for example) AND writing blog posts …

NUMBERS.

I’m a Numbers Guy. Investing Numbers. Date Numbers. Lab Result Numbers. Age Numbers. Weight Numbers. Cooking Numbers. Spanish Numbers …

Numbers are solid and real and maybe they are the counterbalance to my desires to be creative and off in my luminous dream world.

Numbers are unambiguous and tangible. Numbers don’t melt away like fluffy snowflakes and disappear while you’re sleeping (unless, once again, you’ve been investing in the stock market this past month!).

Today my favourite number is 200. Writing one blog post each week (more or less) for 3 and a half years has brought me to my 200th post.

I confess. I lied above about those things boring and terror-filled. Writing blog posts isn’t boring. Not at all. Terror?  Not really.

Fearful nervousness? Sure!

200

200.

200 blog posts. 200,000 words, more or less. The equivalent of two hardbound books.

200 creative opportunities.

200 internal investigations within my labyrinthine mind.

In June 2012 I began pecking out words and ideas, trying to capture the essence of my world … what it was like to be a man breathing feminine-scented air.

An XY living in an XX milieu: in my lab work, at gyms, at theatres.

I don’t tend to hang out where most men in this world hang out. I prefer music and cooking to auto repair and hunting.

As blogging weeks and months and years slipped along, a personal evolution occurred and I began writing about whatever itch felt the need to be scratched. I’ve been flying off, a bird on the wing, on tangents all over the map ever since.

I didn’t anticipate what writing would mean to me in terms of self-examination. I’ve confronted the sunshine and the darkness inside.  With each post I cobble together I discover a little bit more about myself, and my own personal beliefs, not the ones necessarily sold to me in the noisy marketplace of society expectation.

It’s not always pretty. Looking closely at yourself can be scary. I’ve unearthed many beautiful Valentine’s bouquets within, but also insecurities and worries that swim along the ocean bottom.

And further still I realized that when you share your inner world with the outside world it’s even scarier. I know that I’m different from you but I’m also the same as you.

Two hundred posts back I didn’t know where I was heading in writing a blog and that kind of sums me up.

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My way in life is to push myself, taking action and forging forwards without always knowing the precise direction I’m headed.

Life is like that.

You can stay static and unmoving, sphinx-like – until you know exactly what you want or where you’re headed. But for me, this would mean, playing a Christmas Grinch statue in the cold, never moving toward anything.

Total inertia and sloth-like existence. Fine for a few hours but not a lifetime.

Alternately, I can take a blurry, almost inebriated step forward, then another, then another… I like the sensation of movement, ripples on the lake in the rising sun, and eventually I know I’ll discover if I’m heading in a direction I like.

If I don’t like what I see, I re-assess and do an about face. Either way, I’m at ease because I’m doing something. And for me, doing something is ALWAYS better than doing NOTHING.

Writing blog posts was a scary thing to begin. I wanted badly to say things that were more often kept silent in my head and maybe inside yours too.

Not hurtful things, I hate hurting people. But truthful thoughts, scratching and clawing beneath the surface things. Funny things, sexy things, sad things.

And I’ve confirmed to myself that most of us are entwined in our own existence.  Most things we believe others say and think about us just don’t happen because we’re all too busy drowning in our own inner voices to be worried about anyone else’s.

That’s what I’m doing in this 200th blog post… drowning in my own inner voices. Narcissus looking at my own reflection.

But if you can shussssshhhh your inner voice for just a minute let me tell you something.

LEAP.

When we jump from a height, in that cinematic slow-motion moment while we free-fall we think, “Oh no!” in 100% of the cases.

Faecal creep takes hold for a second before we squeeze the blessed sphincter shut.

Then we hit the cold water and remember that we learned how to swim when we were little. The instinct to survive and thrive is there.

LEAP into the void. It’s only a void for a moment.

OK, not every opportunity that comes along. But enough to remind yourself that you’re breathing – participating – and not just a spectator or a reporter of a life.

LEAP into something that scares you, yet exhilarates you.

Write a blog post. Backpack through Thailand. Treat the sick who need you on St. Lawrence Island in the Arctic. Teach a yoga or fitness class. Eat a guinea pig. Organize a refugee support group. Start a new career. Sing acapella.

LEAP into the mosh pit of life and inhale a reassuring breath when the crowd sets you down gently.

Almost guaranteed you’ll get a smile that will waft you gently to the heavenly gates or carry you compassionately through the burning rings of hell … depending on what you did with the rest of your life. I can only help you so far.

200 Smiles.

See. There’s another NUMBER from this NUMBER’S guy.

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What’s This Blog About? A Breath in the Life …

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One minute he was sitting in his car … breathing … just like you and me, perhaps laughing, maybe scared, maybe just sitting quietly thinking about things.

Then, the next he was a blood-spattered mess like we might see in a TV cop drama. DEAD.

On one hand, in the pretend world, we watch for “entertainment”, while on the other hand we cry because it’s real life and we don’t like seeing real people killed.

I know I don’t. I feel the pain.

Today I harbour dark thoughts and nauseous feelings about a cat I hit with my car in Quesnel in 1981. Yeah, 1981… 35 years ago and it still bothers me.

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…………

People who don’t know that I have an alter-ego known as The Man on the Fringe and that I write a blog are bit surprised and curious when I mention it.

People don’t see these alter-egos, the “super-hero capes” and masks we don’t prominently wear in day-to-day life.

We all have aspects to our lives that many acquaintances have no insight into.

I write blogs, you raise equestrian horses or Golden Retrievers, the lady you met behind the deli counter supports a Syrian refugee family and is a massage therapist on weekends.

People almost always ask, “What is your blog about?”.

Well, initially they make snide comments like, “Are you sure it’s not The Man With The Fringes, or The Man in the Fridge?” before they ask the more serious question.

And it used to be the answer was simple. The words just flowed like warm blossom honey off my tongue.

  • Men and Women
  • Venus and Mars
  • XX and XY
  • Penis and Vagina
  • The Similarities and Confusions 

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Now it’s harder to define. Partly it’s because a year and a half back, the FRINGE Man retired from his lab job.

37 years a lab tech.

For 37 years this white-coat occupation defined my life. I was an almost solitary man in a sea of women …

… a teaspoon of testosterone swirling in a large, steaming cauldron of estrogen.

A blood-testing laboratory served me up my own inner laboratory of gender observation.

It was a fun position and I enjoyed it.

And there were times I admittedly pushed the limits of acceptability … often approaching the edge of gender-inappropriateness before easing back on the throttle to stay just inside the lines of propriety.

Most times I think I succeeded in not jumping over the line, although, I confess a few might disagree. Veni Vidi Aberravi (I came I saw I flubbed).

Anyway… the lights have gone dark on that gender-based observational lab now.

It was just like this every day!!

It was just like this every day!!

So at this point in time I write about those things that interest me – just the stuff I feel inspired or bothered or excited by.

I’ve turned the microscope into my own navel, not the flesh-eating bacteria that once occupied my gaze.

For example, this week I’m bothered and saddened to hear that a 22 year-old local man whom I knew when he was a youngster – a child adopted from Nigeria to a local family here in Canada – was found murdered in a car a few days ago.

He was a cute, smiley, enthusiastic little guy who would come and watch his older brother play soccer alongside my son who was a teammate.

Almost a team mascot, he played the role of parent entertainer during unexciting moments of the match.

In my mind, I ask what events and forks in the road in the last dozen or so years brought this happy-go-lucky kid to become the victim of a “targeted” murder, as the police have described it.

What heat and pressure created an apparent lump of coal instead of the envisaged diamond?

Where had he been, what had he seen, who did he hang out with that brought him to his sad, premature, violent ending?

It reinforces in my mind that all of us change over years.

We encounter people and ideas and activities that shape who we are and where we’re going. It’s like global warming on a personal level. We barely recognize the glacial pace of change but it’s there nonetheless.

I’m a slightly different person today than I was 6 years ago. You are too.

I know the shape and dimension of who I am was altered when we spent 4 months living in Cusco, Peru those 6 years back. Learning Spanish and interacting with beautiful, generous local folks and enthusiastic, young international travellers moulded this lump of clay that I am.

Maybe it was eating guinea pig that brought about change, maybe it was the spiritual magic that emanates from Machu Picchu. I don’t know, it’s that insidious.

Every day we’re sculpted and whittled tiny-bit by tiny-bit, the canvas of our art transformed.

But that’s just an aside.

I’m writing now to explore my inner mind, to develop creative thought processes that influence not just my writing but my music and my personal interactions with the world in general. Each week is just a breath in my life.

I’ve lived most of my breaths by “rational” rules and I’m now at a time where I’m truly enjoying living my days more across the “creative” side of the tracks.

For 37 years it was pretty important to a lot of sick people that I never explored a sense of creative in my laboratory job. Creative thinking in such a scientific and rationality-based career would be dangerous, and … most likely illegal too.

Next week I’ll inhale a deep breath and another 1,000 words will exhale. Hopefully, I’ll unearth something creative buried inside.

I don’t know what that breath will look like, not yet …

… who knows … maybe I’ll write a whole blog post about the word:

SAVVOCITY

… just because it’s a cool word.

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