Friday, September 30, 2011

The Friday Sex Blog [Slut]

¡Hola! Everybody…
It just never ceases to amaze me, though I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t have some form of abuse in her past.

Not one.

* * *

Why I’m Marching in SlutWalk NYC

Rapists rape people, not outfits.


I was at the Occupy Wall St. protest the other day, when a young woman handed me a flyer with the words “Marcha de las Putas” emblazoned at the top. I started laughing and called her back and asked her if she knew what the words meant. She laughed and asked me to turn the flyer over, and there it was, a flyer promoting “Slut Walk NYC.” I thought the idea was so fuckin’ cool and I wanted to know more.

I learned that Slut Walk (click here) is a global movement to end sexual violence that began in Toronto. After a rash of sexual assaults across the York University campus a police officer told a group of college-aged women that in order to avoid being victimized they “should stop dressing like sluts.” This set off a wave of marches across the globe dubbed: SlutWalk. SlutWalk means many different things to many different people.

Some might object to the word “slut.” I happen to believe it’s a great response. A huge diversity of women, men and trans people marching under the banner of SlutWalk ridicules the term ‘slut’, makes it devoid of meaning. It questions what it means to be slutty and tears down the barriers between women that our sexist society attempts to erect. Rather than attempting to reclaim the language of misogyny, the SlutWalk phenomenon has the potential to pose a direct challenge to the idea of the “deserving victim.” The truth is that one in four women is raped in their lifetime -- regardless of dress or behavior. The majority of women who are raped are subjected to it by a partner, friend, family member or a person previously known to them -- not a seedy stranger in a dark alley.

The premise is simple: anyone who is raped did not deserve it and certainly doesn’t deserve to be blamed for the attack. To suggest it is a woman’s fault that she was raped because of a dress she may have worn is utterly disgusting and disrespectful to humanity. There have been over 70 SlutWalk marches worldwide since April and now it has come to the Center of the Known Universe, the greatest city.

I’m marching because no woman, no human being, experiencing the horrible violation of a sexual assault should have to stand alone.

I’m marching because living in a society in which 1 in 4 women get raped is unacceptable.

I’m marching because slut-shaming and anti-sex values have no place in an evolved society.

I’m marching because no woman should be afraid to give voice and to stand up to sexual predators.

I’m marching because I am sick to my core of all the stories I hear -- the so many women who tell me they’ve been raped, many of whom have never shared that with anyone else.

I’m marching because I don’t want to live in a rape culture that teaches sexual predation is a form of love.

But most of all, I’m marching because the following, written so many years ago, is still, tragically, relevant today…

Missoula Rape Poem

-- by Marge Piercy


There s no difference between being raped
and being pushed down a flight of cement steps
except that wounds also bleed inside.

There s no difference between being raped
and being run over by a truck
except that afterward men as if you
enjoyed it.

There s no difference between being raped
and losing a hand in a mowing machine
except the doctors don't want to get involved,
the police wear a knowing smirk,
and in small towns you become a veteran whore.

There s no difference between being raped
and being bitten by a rattlesnake
except that people ask if your skirt was short
and why you were out anyway.

There s no difference between being raped
and going head first through windshield
except that afterwards you are not afraid of cars
but half the human race.

Fear of rape is a cold wind blowing all the time
on a woman's hunched back.
Never to stroll alone a sand road
through pine woods;
Never to climb a trail across a bald
without that aluminum in the mouth
when I see a man climbing towards me.

Never to open the door to a knock
without that razor just grazing the throat.
The fear of the dark side of hedges,
the back seat of the car,
the empty house rattling keys like a snake's warning.
The fear of the smiling man
in whose pocket is a knife.
The fear of the serious man
in whose fist is locked hatred.

* * *

Info:

COME JOIN US FOR SLUTWALK NYC ON OCTOBER 1, 2011! SEE YOU AT UNION SQUARE AT NOON FOR THE MARCH!

THIS EVENT IS RAIN OR SHINE!

11:00 AM: SIGN MAKING AT UNION SQUARE (BRING YOUR OWN MATERIALS)
12:00 PM: MARCH STARTING AT UNION SQUARE
1:00 PM: PERFORMANCES AT UNION SQUARE
2:00 PM: RALLY AT UNION SQUARE!


MARCH ROUTE: UNION SQUARE TO BROADWAY, BROADWAY TO 8TH STREET, 8TH STREET TO TO 2ND AVENUE, 2ND AVENUE TO THIRD STREET, THIRD STREET TO LAFAYETTE AVENUE, LAFAYETTE AVENUE BACK TO UNION SQUARE

Thursday, September 29, 2011

UPDATE: Occupy Wall St. [Day 13]

¡Hola! Everybody…
I know you think I spend all my time on Facebook and blogging, but that’s just your perception.
For example, today, on top of all my FB updates, shenanigans, blog post and all the other insanity, I facilitated two women’s workshops, attended a steering committee meeting for a campaign against racial profiling and police brutality, and stopped by Occupy Wall St. for an hour or so before heading home.

Yeah… fuck you. LOL!

* * *

Update: Occupy Wall St., Day 13

Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.
-- Frantz Fanon,
The Wretched of the Earth


I want to do a more far-ranging, in-depth “participant/ observer” report on Occupy Wall St., but things are moving so quickly, and this movement is gaining so much traction just as rapidly, that I can’t afford to wait and write the longer, more in-depth piece I have in mind. So here goes…

As most of you know, on the tenth day of the Occupy Wall St. action, I decided to join in. Some of my activist friends have been there since the beginning with one getting arrested. To be honest, I thought the action wouldn’t last because it wasn’t well thought-out, there was no coherent message, no goals.

Just goes to show you how much I fuckin’ know. What I didn’t foresee is that the mostly young people occupying Wall St. have two principles necessary for impactful, meaningful action: commitment and courage.

It’s now Day Thirteen and it seems that the movement instead of dying out is instead defying all odds and growing.

Breaking News

Today, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) has voted to officially support Occupy Wall St. (here) TWU local 100 has 33,000 members in New York and 200,000 members nationally. There’s talk at the Occupy Wall St. site that the United Auto Workers (UAW) will also come on board. Critical Mass will join with a protest starting at Union Square and moving down to Liberty Park to join with the people at Occupy Wall St.

This is only natural, as I had run into and spoken with many union members at Occupy Wall St. One union member even pointed out to me the fact that members of one of the most powerful city unions, the police, were there to suppress protest. Hmmmmm…

On October 5, there will be a huge gathering of all these stakeholders staging a mass protest. This will be a huge shot in the arm and will guarantee that Occupy Wall St. won’t be going away.

Media Coverage

For the most part, the mainstream media outlets (MSM), after initially ignoring the protests, are now reporting on it, but only from a corporate-friendly, misinformed perspective. In fact, if it weren’t for the blatant police brutality, I doubt they would have covered it at all. Of course, if it had been four or five dumb-fuck teabaggers, the corporate press would’ve outnumbered the protestors.

I’ll have more to say on that later, but I want to illustrate my perspective through the use of a New York Times article. To put it simply the MSM is so out of the loop, so clueless, about the social dynamics undergirding Occupy Wall St because it is a repudiation -- a reconceptualization -- of the status quo. The New York Times, in an attempt to connect the protests to other uprisings around the globe, makes a subtle (and misleading) point that there’s something anti-democratic about popular protest. Check it out:

“… But from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.

They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box.

“Our parents are grateful because they’re voting,” said Marta Solanas, 27, referring to older Spaniards’ decades spent under the Franco dictatorship. “We’re the first generation to say that voting is worthless.”

Even in an attempt to connect the dots, they get it wrong.

Whether or not you believe that voting is worthless -- and only an idiot would deny money has supplanted free speech and free elections -- protests and demonstrations are part of the history of the United States and the world. They’re as much a part of one’s civic participation, and has been much more effective than, heading to the ballot box.

More Actions/ Future Posts

I have more on my talks with various activists and my conversations with Cornell West and Amy Goodman, but that will have to wait.

I had to work today, so I was at Occupy Wall St. briefly in the evening. But I will be there tomorrow. A fellow activist who works with me in a campaign against police brutality and racial profiling (it’s called PROP here), has called for a demonstration tomorrow (Friday at 5 PM) to protest the way the NYPD has treated the Occupy Wall St. activists (here).

I’ll be there and I’ll also be marching in Saturday’s SlutWalk (here).

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Always Wear Underwear

¡Hola! Everybody…
I had some great experiences over at the Occupy Wall St
movement. There’s been a lack of coverage and what coverage there has been has been misleading. I will be sharing more on that this coming week. Yesterday and today, I couldn’t participate because I was called to do some paid work.

Speaking of which… I was called to interview for a position that comes close to what I see as a “dream job.” It will engage skill sets that have been neglected in the past and takes me away from the direct service aspect of the work to the advocacy/ social policy side. Oddly enough, sometimes I can be a horrible interviewee, but I’m really hoping I can ace this. Think good thoughts for me (even if you don’t like me! LOL)

Speaking of interviews…

* * *

-=[ Your Mother was Wrong ]=-

Or: Why you should always wear underwear... period.


As most of you who know me, or have ever followed this blog, already know, I had managed to make of my life a fuck up of epic proportions. In fact, even after all these years, there’s still wreckage I’m attending to. The only way I keep what little sanity I can claim, is that I take it one day (sometimes one breath) at a time.

It’s like the “starfish” story in which a man comes across a young woman trying to save starfish. Early one morning this man was walking along the beach, watching the ocean waves breaking on the shore, and he saw a most unusual thing. He saw that the beach was littered with tens of thousands of starfish that had washed up on shore and were dying in the sun. Far down the beach in the distance, he could see a young woman picking up starfish and throwing them back in the ocean, one at a time.

When he was close enough to her to be heard above the waves the man said, “You’re wasting your time. There are thousands of starfish here. You can’t possibly make any difference.” Without pausing, the young woman reached down, picked up a starfish, and threw it as far as she could back into the sea. “I made a difference to that one,” she said, as she reached down to pick up another.

In that way, I patiently, often painstakingly, attend to the pieces of my life that have washed up on the shoals of my life. It’s not always easy, but a measure of gratitude goes a long way and sometimes I can even make a dance of the whole process (on my good days). LOL

There was one particularly challenging period in which everything I had worked toward seemed to be imploding: my relationships, school, work -- everything seemed to be shifting, disintegrating, and, to compound matters, I couldn’t get a J-O-B to save my life. I had been out of work for almost two years and after months of rejection after rejection, my confidence had suffered and morale was at a low point.

I had an interview for a position that I really wanted. It was perfect for me, a way to break into my chosen field in a meaningful way. I was very low on funds and had to borrow for carfare. Also, I didn’t have money to wash my clothes at the laundry and I had no clean underwear. I figured, what the fuck, I can go without underwear, my mother’s admonition of always wearing clean underwear (You never know when you might get hit by a car!) echoing at the back of my mind somewhere.

I got to the interview with time to spare and while I was waiting I used the restroom to take a good piss. I was very anxious, but I had researched the organization well and I was well-prepared and that took the edge off the anxiety somewhat.

And damn if I wasn’t kicking some major ass during the interview! The interviewers were two women, one an African-American sitting next to me, and the other a Puerto Rican sitting across from me at this huge conference table. Half-way into the interview I knew I had the Puerto Rican woman sold. I even caught her from the corner of my eye nodding affirmatively to her colleague sitting next to me.

But for some reason, I wasn’t connecting with the African American woman. She wouldn’t make direct eye contact with me, and seemed extremely uncomfortable and conflicted. And no matter how well I responded to her inquiries, she didn’t seem satisfied. Something was clearly wrong and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Well, you probably know where I’m going with this, right? When I used the restroom, I forgot to zip my zipper, and as I sat in the interview chair I rested the ankle of one leg across the knee of the other, so my cock had apparently made its presence a part of the interview process. I didn’t realize my fly was open until I went outside and felt the cold wind caress my balls.

And no, I didn’t get the job. My cock, it seems, wasn’t up to the woman’s standards.

And as usual with shit that happens in my life, that’s not the end of the story. Years later, I was recruited for another (really great position) and who was on the board of that organization? Yup, you guessed it. When I was introduced to her (I had to meet with the full board), I wanted to make myself invisible -- crawl underneath the carpet and do a "time out." But then I thought to myself, She probably doesn’t remember me.

Wrong!

She approached me later in the evening and asked if she had ever interviewed me. I guess that while my cock couldn’t get me a job, it at least left a lasting impression.

The moral of the story? I don’t know if there is one except that your mother was wrong -- even dirty underwear is better than none if you’re at an interview.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Occupy Wall St!

¡Hola! Everybody...
So... after watching the heavy-handed treatment of the Wall St. protestors...

I decided to join in.

I have friends/ former colleagues who have been Occupying Wall St. from the get, and early on I had decided not to get involved. Being involved in two other campaigns (one confronting racial profiling by the NYPD), forced me to consider it would be best if I didn't spread myself too thin. The reality is that being an activist these days sometimes means being sympathetic to many causes, but learning when and where to pick and choose ones battles.

I'm going to “cheat,” as I will not be sleeping there, but I will be adding my presence to the Occupy Wall St. political action/ movement; adding my voice. Initially, I was skeptical: the organizing, IMO, was too informal and there didn't seem to be a clear, concise, coherent message, but, you what? That’s all bullshit. This action is how it starts, and these people, with almost no financial support, almost no media exposure (here), and powerful interests attempting to stymie their message (here), have demonstrated a resolve that can only be admired. They're still there, and have been inspired and have inspired similar “occupations” across the nation and the world.

My biggest concern is avoiding arrest. Because of my past, an arrest for me can result in an indefinite detention and some fucked up legal complications. But, hey, nothing worthwhile is ever easy, right? And the issue here is about freedom, people. I hope you will consider joining, or at least donating to the cause. There is need for food and other articles, so anything you can donate, even something like $5, would go a long way (click here)

I was called a few minutes ago regarding temporary paid work for a few days, so that might fuck up my plans for Wednesday through Friday, but I will be back at Liberty Plaza on the weekend.

I will be posting daily updates, so stay tuned and if you don’t hear from me, make sure you try to look for me, I might be swallowed up in the system…

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Get Up/ Fight Back

If you’re interested in getting involved, or want to support this movement, please visit the Occupy Wall Street Website (click here). There you can get all the latest information, updates on activities and information to other actions across the nation.

If you’re paranoid about online financial interactions, you can send donations and supplies to:

The UPS Store

Re: Occupy Wall Street

118A Fulton St. #205

New York, NY 10038

Money orders only please, we cannot cash checks yet. Non-perishable goods only. We can accept packages of any size. We’re currently low on food.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

If I could...

¡Hola! Everybody... I actually love disagreement, or rather, debate. But much of what transpires on the internet and IRL, is not debate, but exhausting bullshit. Let me put it this way: you cannot disagree with a point of contention if you have failed to demonstrate you understand it first. ::sigh::
* * *
Nows [no. 15]


If I could
I would guarantee you

bright sunny days
and soft, dry breezes

for all your Summers.

If I could
I would give you clear cold days
and clean snow

for the Winters you love.


If I could
I would give you Autumn,

dressed to the teeth,
at that most precious moment

when you most need change.


But if I want you

to remember me
as I will always remember you,

I will send you,

naked,

unadorned,

Spring.


Friday, September 23, 2011

The Friday Sex Blog [Opening Imperfectly]

¡Hola! Everybody…
Just in case you haven’t noticed, Facebook has undergone a major upgrade (there’s more to come). All I wanna know is: why the fuck hasn’t anyone subscribed to my Facebook insanity?!! LOL!

It’s Friday and it’s all about sex (kinda)…

* * *

-=[ Perfectly Opening ]=-

I hunger for your surrender
I yearn to have you splayed
and vulnerable.
Radiating please like
light from the Sun.

I am currently experiencing a whole slew of challenges and the almost natural impulse is to close down -- to contract. I mean, I don’t have the space, the time, nor the little patience I could claim in the first place (or at least I sometimes allow my filters to tell me so). I find myself having to be vigilant about what or how I say things, my reactions, my thought constellations, because contraction means something fucked up is going to come out of my mouth and I will rationalize it by correctly observing that the shit is all fucked up right now. LOL!

And if I hear one more asshole talk about “it will be alright,” “you will prevail,” and that fucker of all clich├ęs, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” -- if I hear one more bullshit line like that, I’m going to explode. It’s bullshit, people. Some things will not turn out for the better, and, while I’m at it, your god is a fuckin' sadistic sociopath. Some people will not recover from an illness, some people will not get better, and having you standing there telling them that they’re basically fucked up for knowing this is a fucked up thing to do. It’s compassion, yes, but it’s an idiot’s compassion.

I realize that it’s a superficial, unthinking attempt to assure another, but such empty encouragements have the unintended effect of communicating that not feeling good is a bad thing, and that’s superficial. If you truly love life, you don’t pick and choose which parts. If you love someone, you love them, warts and all (well, in my book at least). You don’t pick and choose which parts to love, which parts to ignore, and which parts to honor. True love, love without strings attached, is an act of constant opening. And that is the challenge of life: that no matter how sick you are in body and mind, no matter how much you’re suffering, you can still open. Deep, loving, healing opening encompasses all states of body and mind.

And you know? I don’t know if you got the memo, but opening to it all won’t cure all your pathologies and neuroses. If you inherited nearsightedness from your parents, then opening the fuck up probably won’t change your need to wear glasses. If your mind has been conditioned by years of traumatic abuse, then spiritual openness won’t eliminate your need to bite your lover’s cock (I’m kidding, but you get my drift).

However, the point of all this that you can be a fuckin’ myopic neurotic and still remain open with the freedom of boundless love. You may squint and become anxious as your lover undresses, but the humor of your response can carry the moment. You can offer your love, laughter and openness to the emotional tics that are the natural consequences of your history. You can’t stop the waves, dearest, but you can learn to surf (and really now: who wants to surf only small waves?). You can be open even as you shriek while I attempt to enter your … never mind! What I mean to say is that the only power you have is the option to choose to respond with love and openness.

That’s your only card, baby.

Even as you open, laugh, fuck, and love, the karmic patterns of your body and mind have their own momentum. Heart disease, cancer, and even addiction have existed in many profoundly open men and women. Every kind of sexual style and twist can be found in the biographies of spiritual teachers. Your openness and mine, dearest, can be real and deep, and still your mind/ body ripples, patterning itself according to the past and present habits.

If you were sexually molested by a significant adult figure, then now as an adult you may react to your lover’s advances with numbness or trepidation. You may contract and your pelvis may lock. The patterning of your body/ mind is what it is. You can change it to some degree, but the important fact is that you can always open as it is, even now. Open now, offering your heart’s gift, and also do your best to live skillfully in the present moment (opening and skillful living are connected).

We all have done things we have later regretted. We can learn from our mistakes and try to do better next time. If your body/ mind pattern causes undue suffering, in your life or the lives of others, you can work to transform these patterns, heal them as much as possible, and grow more fully, realizing the full potential of your humanity. But this growth, important as it is, is not the same as spiritual openness and depth. An actualized individual may serve to create positive change in the world and yet not be able to be open and feel fully. One of the hand, someone may be wide open and feeling all, yet appear to be a raving lunatic, lustful, and drug addicted. In fact, such a person just might be crazy, lustful, and drug addicted -- and yet be open sp deeply their heart feels more than you can ever realize or know, their love extending to you without limits or boundaries.

What I’m trying to say is that your body may remain bent and your mind warped, but love can extend through all your spectacular distortions and character defects. Even in your imperfections, there exists the great gift of openness, love, and awakening -- all this can be given and have been given, through arthritic fingers and alcohol drenched minds.

Yeah, it might not get better, motherfuckers. I might lose my apartment, be unable to feed myself, get sick and not be able to afford a fuckin' doctor or clinic visit, but that’s not the point -- sometimes that’s life on life’s terms, bitches. The point isn’t whether it will get better (whatever the fuck that means); the point is that living large is really about opening to it all -- the full catastrophe of life. Even as sadness, anger, lust, greed, continues to arise in your emotional patterns formed by years of mammalian struggle, parental and spousal abuse, and self torture, you can still practice opening without bounds. You can practice opening and giving in every present moment regardless of the circumstances -- even circumstances that will not get better. Fuck getting better, feel whatever love you can in this moment, however small. Do this and you can withstand and even welcome whatever waves come your way.

Love,

Eddie

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Friday Sex Blog [In Praise of Darkness]

¡Hola! Everybody…
The nip is in the air: the message that autumn will arrive, dressed to the teeth, at that moment when you most need change… I’m going to get dressed just because I feel like it. LOL

* * *

-=[ Doing it in the Dark ]=-

Cuddle up baby
Keep it all out of sight

Undercover of the night
.
-- Rolling Stones

I'm guilty. I am guilty of equating sex in the dark with shame. Truth be told, sex is the only game we play in the dark. Are we ashamed to watch what we’re doing, or does darkness offer a way to free our most intimate passions?

Darkness offers a safe haven. In the darkness, lovers are safe from each other’s unrelenting gaze, and the prying eyes of others -- children, parents, and neighbors. To the extent that you want to deny others knowledge of you as a sexual person, you will welcome the protection of the dark.

Under the cover of darkness, we are all beautiful. Flab, cellulite, sags, spots, and wrinkles are all mercifully hidden. Out of focus, the often comical contortions and grimaces of sexual exertion become a graceful ballet. If you find down-to-earth images of skin and sweat distracting, you will welcome the camouflage of the dark.

Darkness confers permission and in the permissive darkness, sin and taboo are softened. Transgressions transpire without witness. If your upbringing and social conditioning stressed sexual inhibitions, you might seek, even require, the tolerance that comes with the dark.

Obscured by the darkness, the cracks in your life -- or the ceiling -- lose their urgency. Right here, right now, under the covers, in the half-dark with air as still as held breath, close together, more connected, more alive, the details of everyday existence a faded memory. In the dark it’s just the two of you, two streams of crackling energy knitting together, entwining, tightening, forming a kind of growing liquid knot that becomes more complex, twisting in and of itself, the focus limited to completing that knot, to finding its ultimate expression, until you’re immersed into a blaze of sexuality.

We live in an image-obsessed culture, and once we are blinded by the darkness we are forced to use our other senses. We rediscover touch, sound, aroma. Encumbered by clothing, we are chronically deprived of the variety and possibilities of the pleasures and comforts available through touch.

Emboldened by the darkness, we become audacious, our words and rhythms betraying a lusty eagerness we might otherwise deny. Shyness can be slain in the dark. In the unconditional privacy of the darkness, we can exaggerate and improve our actual experience through our imagination. Our deeper wishes fulfilled, we feel deeper love and greater passion. Through our imagination, we become more engaged in reality. To those of us who cherish our fantasies, darkness is an ally.

The trouble with darkness, it seems to me, that you can’t see what you’re doing. You can’t really see how your partner is reacting. You can’t gaze into each other’s eyes. Travelers afraid of the sexual territory tend to stick to the familiar and sex in the dark often becomes a routine and dry exercise. I think the biggest objection is that people tend to see nudity or nakedness as a sin of immodesty. But c’mon people, we’re talking here of a candle and some moonlight, not film shoot spotlight. But many of us have a hard time believing that anyone would enjoy seeing our genitals. This is especially true of women who have been repeatedly told they are cursed, or dirty. Many women are so paralyzed by shame they even avoid medical examination “down there.” Modesty, my brothers and sisters is often shame in disguise.

Perhaps because of the taboos put upon showing and looking, such acts can be slowly introduced as a final revelation of trust between two lovers. Perhaps the darkness can soften the way a little, so that full openness is something natural and not forced. Otherwise our nakedness becomes a sham -- empty gestures of intimacy.

Love,

Eddie

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Relationship Thursdays [Relationship, Honesty, Trust]

¡Hola! Everybody…
You Will Know
, by Stevie Wonder, is probably one his less-known compositions, but it has to be one of his best…

* * *

-=[ Honesty, Trust, and Relationships ]=-

You will know
Troubled heart you'll know
Problems have solutions
Trust and I will show.
-- Steveland Wonder


I post these “Relationship Thursdays” rants with not a little trepidation because it would seem that I’m attempting to project this aura of a “relationship guru” and I am far from that. I don’t even own a fuckin' cat. And, trust me, I will fuckin’ drive you crazy in a heartbeat. I am insecure and possess little impulse control. I’m 56 chronologically, but 16 in everything else. I say shit I have no business saying. Like, out of nowhere I’ll say, “Damn, I’m fuckin horny today,” and you’ll be, like, “By the way, Eddie, meet my grandmother.” LOL!

I am stubborn, moody, and, hard as it is to admit, sometimes I can be downright mean. In addition, I have little regard for rules, often cross boundaries, and suffer from what I call “Relationship Tourrettes”: that embarrassing tendency to do and say things that often bring regret.

Yup. I’m a prize, ladies, so line up!

I guess what motivates me most on going on about relationships is that I see so much wrong done in the name of love and relationships. Plus, I get more page hits when people see “relationships” tags. LOL

I would have to add in my defense, I do have a few worthwhile qualities. Not many, just a few. Life with me, for example, would be one of discovery and you will definitely experience a lot of intellectual and creative stimulation (or so I’ve been told). I like to think I’m a considerate, passionate, and experienced lover. I will make you laugh a lot, and sometimes you will feel as if you’re the only woman in the world when you’re around me amd there will never be a dull moment (that's a good and bad thing!). While all that might sound good, the only thing I can say with complete confidence is that I am honest. I’m not talking about the “Gee, honey, your ass is too big” honest. That really isn’t honesty, it’s sadism. A woman pointed out to me once that there’s a difference between being honest and honesty and I have to agree. The honesty I try to exemplify is about me being as transparent as possible. It’s not honesty about you or someone else -- externalized honesty. I don’t know if you have noticed but being “honest” about other people is a lot easier than being honest about yourself, isn’t it? No, I’m talking about honesty that engenders trust and for me trust is everything. In terms of relationships, nothing is more important than trust.

Nothing -- not love, nor “attraction,” nor any of that other bullshit. Trust is all.

That’s it. That’s my one card, that I am trustworthy -- I can be trusted and I develop that trust through my actions, my life’s direction, and the consistency between what I say and what I do. To me it’s interesting that quite a few women I meet would probably rather I be “normal” (i.e., not be clingy, immature, or psychotic *grin*) than trustworthy or honest. Sure, many blah blah blah about trust and honesty, but that’s just talk. Very few people even know what trust is. From my perspective, most people tend to see trust from a selfish perspective. They have no clue what a genuine trusting relationship entails.

I’m not making a judgment call here; I’m stating an observation.

For a few years not too long ago, I had the good fortune to share office space with a remarkable woman. She was married, but she and I developed a unique and close friendship. And what was really cool was that her husband actually supported our friendship. She was an avid mountain climber and I used to think that shit was crazy. One day, after months of cajoling, she finally convinced to accompany her on a climbing trip. I had no intention of climbing, but being a city boy, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to go into the country for a weekend.

Of course, she convinced me to scale this fuckin’ wall and it was an exhilarating experience. I think rock or mountain climbing is an appropriate metaphor for relationships. I had to trust in her knowledge and ability and she had to trust that I wouldn’t shit in my pants, panic, and cause us both to fall. In the same way, intimacy is an adventure in which two individuals work to bring together their needs, goals, and desires and to maintain the balance needed to keep the relationship intact.

I’ll abuse the metaphor even further and state that as the relationship deepens in involvement -- as the climbers go higher up -- the risk associated with depending on another increases. At first, the level of interdependence is more casual but becomes more intense the stakes higher. In addition, it becomes clear that the efforts of one partner alone cannot achieve the balance needed to maintain the relationship. A solo climber is often a foolish or dead climber, and if either partner loses their grip both will plunge to the depths beneath.

My analogy highlights the important elements in understanding the relationship between trust and risk. Trust is not for pussies. It's not some bullshit fairy tale, ladies. Every day we make decisions in our relationships: decisions to commit further or to withdraw, or what course of action to take (or not take) in the face of a conflict, or to make use of an opportunity or to let it pass by.

Oftentimes, these decisions are difficult and full of risk, in the process forcing us to confront our primal fears and hopes when it comes to depending on another for our needs to be met. In the same way that mutual trust enables climbers to conquer the mountain, it provides the crucial foundation from which relationship partners can confidently approach the task of making decisions. This provides the explicit contract of commitment to good intentions that makes everything else run more smoothly.

During one difficult moment, a woman once asked me, “What can I do to make this better for you?” That blew me away. (No, I didn’t say, “Gimme that ass!” Get your mind out the gutter! LOL) In that moment, all my anxieties about the situation (and the relationship) and the decisions I was contemplating disappeared. Her question communicated to me in a very honest and direct manner that she was there with me and that she was willing to move the relationship forward. Unfortunately, that relationship was stillborn -- it never worked out because I felt the values she expressed weren’t in line with her actions, but it was still a powerful thing to say -- a powerful lesson.

This brings me to matter of how to build trust in a relationship. I’ve already mentioned one: responsiveness. When that former lover expressed her willingness, she was also expressing a responsiveness, acknowledging and being respectful of my disposition. In other words, feelings of security are strengthened when a partner’s actions are geared toward a person’s particular needs. For example, when that woman asked me what she could do to make a situation better, it signaled to me a special consideration of my needs and preferences. Sometimes by choosing to put aside for a moment, his or her own preferences in order to satisfy those of the other, a partner demonstrates genuine care about the person and is fundamentally motivated in the relationship.

There are other factors in building trust in relationships, of course. There’s dependability, which is the most fundamental way of establishing trustworthiness. Dependability is like showing up (fully present) consistently. A trustworthy partner is one on whom you can depend, who can be relied upon time and time again, to act honestly and with consideration.

There’s also the all-important capacity to resolve conflict in a manner that doesn’t neglect a person’s needs or jeopardize the relationship. Most of all this entails allowing everything to be on the table -- the good parts and the bad and, not necessarily condoning, but accepting our "bad" aspects as well as our good. Too many people are addicted to being "positive" whatever the fuck that means, and that's a bullshit fairy tale. Life is more than the nice shit. And if you can't deal with the bad shit, then get yourself a fuckin cat! LOL If you can feel that it is safe to be you -- the good and the bad -- then there's trust, or at least the ground upon which trust can be built.

If there is a sense of confidence in the couple’s ability to resolve conflict, the trust grows. I think that the belief that it is safe to depend on the integrity and compassion on the other’s motives is essential to conflict resolution. If I’m not questioning your motives, if I have taken hold of the rope trusting that you’re there for me, trusting implicitly, then there’s that transparency that allows the light of shared love to shine through us with as that becomes our unshakable bond. If we have that, we can conquer the world, let alone our conflicts.

Finally, there is faith. Faith in this sense means a sense of closure with a lot of emotion in it: there is a sense of closure regarding the partner’s trustworthiness and the future of the relationship. Faith in this sense is connected to an individual’s view of the partner of that takes in the good with the bad. That is the extent to which a partner can come to terms with a partner’s faults.

I guess women need a lot of “faith” when it comes to yours truly. LOL!

My Name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Monday, September 12, 2011

Captial Punishment is Wrong

Hola Everybody,
The following is in reference to the case of Troy Davis, an unfairly convicted human being who is scheduled to be executed in two weeks… If you’re not familiar with the story, Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991. Nearly twenty years later, Davis remains on death row -- even though the case against him has fallen apart.

The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony.

Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

In addition, nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles, the leading alternative suspect.

* * *

-=[ Capital Punishment: Immoral and Ineffective ]=-


The other night, during the GOP debate, the biggest applause line came when Texas Governor Rick Perry, a man who has sanctioned the deaths of 234 people (more than any other governor in US history), admitted he has never lost a wink of sleep over the matter. There was a couple of telling moments. Earlier in the debate a question about 9/11, and President Obama's decision to attack and execute Osama bin Laden drew not a single clap. The other occurred the following night during President Obama's speech on a proposed jobs bill, when not one single conservative applauded for teachers, firemen, policemen, and collective bargaining.

I can’t say I am surprised by such reactions, since it is well-known that the conservative mindset tends toward authoritarianism. Still, these reactions, I thought to myself, make it entirely possible that today’s conservatives was what Shirley Jackson envisioned when she wrote The Lottery.

Today I am not going into details about the Troy Davis case, though, whatever your feelings about state-sanctioned murder, his case should worry you because it’s likely we’re murdering an innocent man for a crime he didn’t commit. I think we might disagree on the pros and cons of capital punishment, but we should all be in agreement that justice should be, well, just. His case is almost lost but if you care, please sign a petition for the Georgia Board of pardons to consider (click here)

Not long ago, I witnessed a frustrated mother physically punishing one child for hitting his sibling. “You. Don’t. Hit. Your. Bro-ther,” she railed loudly, punctuating each syllable with a hard slap to the head, hand, and butt. It amazes me how many parents, claiming to teach respect and dignity, make no connection to the fact that by hitting a child, you’re also teaching them that the way to get your way is through physical aggression and dominance. I’m not surprised these two children fought incessantly for their mother was reinforcing their behavior.

Since as far back as the nineteenth century, evidence has shown that there is no relationship between severity of punishment and crime rate. Would Americans do the same today if it were demonstrated to them that killing criminals doesn’t make the streets any safer? It’s hard to say, but I seriously doubt it. We’re a vengeful group that worships a vengeful god.

To be sure, many support capital punishment for other reasons. For example, many individuals support electrocuting, poisoning, or shooting people who fail to respect the sacredness of human life. Because you killed someone, we will kill you seems to be the rationale. This is somewhat analogous to the mother teaching her children non-violence by demonstrating violent behavior.

The United States is nearly alone developed nations: Most industrialized nations have come to regard death penalty in the same most regard slavery: it’s morally wrong.

Opponents against the death penalty have more than morality on their side as arguments, however. For example, there is the very real possibility of executing someone innocent and the fact that race (of both convicted and victim) and class is a deciding factor in who actually gets executed. One Texas defendant was executed though his legal counsel fell asleep numerous times during the proceedings. Overwhelmingly, the color of one’s skin is the leading factor in who gets executed (click here). Two of the country’s foremost researchers on race and capital punishment, law professor David Baldus and statistician George Woodworth, along with colleagues in Philadelphia, conducted a careful analysis of race and the death penalty in Philadelphia, for example, which revealed that the odds of receiving a death sentence are nearly four times (3.9) higher if the defendant is black. These results were obtained after analyzing and controlling for case differences such as the severity of the crime and the background of the defendant. The data were subjected to various forms of analysis, but the conclusion was clear: blacks were being sentenced to death far in excess of other defendants for similar crimes (click here).

But that’s a topic I won’t get into at this moment. Right now, let’s just look at capital punishment’s effects on crime. The question I’m putting forth here is whether capital punishment is a better deterrent than life imprisonment. The answer, according to the evidence, is that the two penalties are both equally ineffective.

At first glance, it seems like common sense that the looming threat of losing one’s life would keep would-be criminals in line. However, a closer, more intelligent, look reveals the majority of murders are committed 1) during a moment of rage, 2) under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or 3) unexpectedly, in the course of committing another crime, such as a robbery. In any of these cases, the killer doesn’t sit down and rationally weigh the pros and cons of what will happen when he is apprehended, so a consideration of the death penalty isn’t going to stop him.

In fact, critical, careful thought about why people break the law not only leads us to question the effectiveness of capital punishment in particular, but also presents a challenge to the idea that incarcerating more people for longer periods of time is a rational response to crime in general. Want proof? Well, put this in your pipe and smoke it for a bit: Despite the fact that the US already incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation in the world, crimes rates are far higher than in most other countries. The conservative/ neoconservative assumption that crime rates were rising because the “costs” of crime in America were too low, is simply put, wrong. In fact, there is credible evidence that shows that too much incarceration serves to destabilize communities, therefore making those communities less safe (click here)

But I digress, the question at hand is whether capital punishment is a better deterrent than life imprisonment. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that capital punishment isn’t a deterrent since criminologists have never found any crime-reducing advantage correlated to capital punishment. Actually, there was one (much-celebrated) study by an economist, Isaac Ehrlich, that claimed to find support for the “fact” that each additional execution resulted in eight prevented homicides. The problem was Ehrlich's study was seriously flawed. It hinged on the on the fact that more murders were committed in the 1960s, when fewer executions were taking place. Of course, he ignored regional differences in the murder rate and other possible reasons for the increase in homicides (the easier availability of guns, for one). In addition, it turns out that other crimes of violence -- the kind that had never been punishable by death -- increased even more rapidly than homicides. Hmmmm...

In any case, other researchers have since tried to look for and failed to find the effects that Ehrlich arrived at. This makes sense considering the fact that economists have a long-standing poor record in research, and this particular study contradicted everything done before then. In 1978, the National Academy of Sciences studied and rejected Ehrlich's methodology (he used a technique known as regression analysis) and concluded that there was no useful evidence on the deterrent effect of capital punishment. In other words, we don’t know. And surely a practice as drastic as killing someone should be considered only if we do know that it makes our lives better and our communities safer.

But researchers being the dense people they are, two leading criminologists decided that just in case regression analyses did make sense in this context, it was worth giving it another shot. They studied homicides and executions in New York State from every month from 1907 to 1963 and found that the death penalty not only failed to reduce the murder rate but actually seemed to increase it. On average, two additional murders occurred during the month following the execution. These researchers extrapolated that the death penalty had what they termed a “brutalizing effect” that was most likely due to criminals taking their cue from the state and imitating its violence. Sounds like parents who beat their children to me!

The researchers summarized, “The lesson of the execution, then, may be to devalue life [and to teach] that it is correct and appropriate to kill those who have gravely offended us.” Another writer put it more succinctly in the Journal of Law and Criminology, “Use of the death penalty by the state, despite an intention to convey the message that killing is unacceptable, may convey the opposite message to the public.” In other words (and as all parents should already know): action speaks louder than words.

Of course, the methodology used by these researchers is as equally debatable as it was when Ehrlich used it. However, it still follows that, using the same methodology, the conclusion remains the same: the death penalty does not act as a deterrent against homicides. In fact, there has never been a case where homicides went up after a state abolished capital punishment. In addition, the states with the highest murder rates tend to be those where the death penalty is used. Other research has found that the same is true globally. One study combed through old crime records to what happened in twelve countries that had abolished capital punishment between 1890 and 1968 and found that “abolition was followed more often than not by absolute decreases in homicide rates.” [emphasis added]

Anyone seriously concerned in making our cities safer would do better to look into the real root causes of crime. The consensus among those who have looked at this issue is that capital punishment is not a deterrent to murder. Anyone claiming to be pro death under the guise of being pro “law and order,” should probably reconsider their beliefs. And any human being who states they can sleep peacefully after ordering the murder of another human being is quite possibly a sociopath. But we seem to like to elect those into office.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization… Love,

Resources

If you would like to experience a compelling look at the issue moral of capital punishment, check out the film, The Exonerated (click here)

If you're interested in studying crime and punishment without the academic jargon, check out Elliott Currie's Crime and Punishment in America (click here). Prepare to have your opinions, biases, and assumptions challenged.

Not too long ago, the NY Times published an article on how exonerations through the use of DNA are forcing state lawmakers across to the country to change laws (click here).

Headlines

[un]Common Sense