My thoughts on Buddhism were pretty simple. I noted that it's the standard religion people go to when they want to say "Yeah religion really sucks, but it's not all bad!" It's because it's nonviolent, nonevangelical, and basically non-judgemental, but it's not like Buddhism's perfect. Asceticism is impractical and not necessarily healthy. Tibetan Buddhism is both heirarchical and arbitrary, with kids being told that they are reincarnations of great heroes and being placed into positions of great spiritual strength for no reason. It's a somewhat benign religion, sure, but it's imperfect, as is any system of belief.
As for my thoughts on women, well I know I promised not to speculate about romance anymore, but that's not what I'm doing here. I'm going to talk about a couple of friends of mine, and then my own opinions on certain matters. I will try not to stray into the realm of the speculative, but if I do, well it's my journal, I want to write this, and I keeps it real like that. (I may be watching the Dave Chapelle show right now.)
You may remember my friend who believed in sexual communism. Well he has ideas about romance in a non-ideal society as well. By romance I mean sex. By ideas I mean he wants it with a super hot chick. This may strike a lot of you as a bit of a dog bites man story so far. Ahh, but what if I told you that this friend, a friend of mine, is a huge geek. He knows Star Trek, videogames, and likes coding. His hygiene is...questionable...he's grown somewhat fat over the past few years (not that I'm one to point fingers when it comes to expanding waistlines, even if mine is currently shrinking) and he has affectations, tics, and the social smoothness of coarse grain sandpaper. Geek wants hot chick may still not seem like a showstopper to some of you, but there are teenagers who read this blog. They might not have seen any Patrick Dempsey movies. Anyway, the interesting thing about my friend is that he doesn't want to make himself cool, or practice up his "game" or even leave the house in order to achieve his goal of having sex with a hot chick. He would like them to come to him, and seems a bit dissappointed that they aren't. It's not like he has a lot going for him, at least in terms of what would appeal to a mate. I mean he's my friend, and I like his personality, but it's not what one would call conventionally attractive. He's let his appearance go. He's smart, some say smarter than me although I dispute that, but it's unapplied. He flunked out of two colleges and he's not particularly interested in going back. He doesn't work, doesn't want to work, and lives with his grandparents.
I've brought up to him that maybe he shouldn't expect to lure in a supermodel with those credentials. He agrees that it's somewhat unlikely, but ultimately his response is pretty simple. He thinks that somewhere out there there's probably a superhot girl or 10 with relatively low, or at least quirky, standards. His job is to find one, or wait for one to come across him. Sex is important to him, and I've asked whether he wouldn't be better off working to improve his appearance so that he could have a wider pool of superhot chicks to fish in (though there probably are some with sufficiently quirky standards, they're unlikely to spend a lot of time on the market if you know what I mean.) He doesn't see that as worthwhile. In his opinion it's easier and better to try and find a gorgeous girl who'll have him how he is, and he doesn't want to have to put in the effort to meet her halfway. Sure she may spend an hour in the morning plucking eyebrows, shaving legs, and applying makeup, but that doesn't mean he has to roll out of bed before noon, or trim his Brillobeard.
There's something pure about that attitude. Something pure and, I don't want to say magical since it's totally explicable, but beautiful nonetheless. I've often told him he should either set his standards, not necessarily lower, but according to different attributes. Women who spend a lot of time focusing on their appearance tend to value attributes other than those he has. There are a lot of very cute girls who like quirky, intelligent, guys but they don't look like supermodels, because they're too busy watching art films or playing around in a physics lab to be anorexic or wear impractical shoes on a regular basis. He'll have none of it, and he isn't interested in improving his attractiveness potential mates either. It's not that he doesn't understand the impracticality of what he's doing, but it's almost that he's taking a stand on a matter of principle. The universe should provide him with a beautiful girl, beautiful women should be more willing to share themselves with anyone and everyone who wants a piece, and damn it he's not going to compromise that view for anyone. Is it megalomaniacal? Irrational? Sexist? A double standard? Yes yes yes yes. On the other hand, it's at least somewhat original to be so explicit about it, and in truth it's a belief system that many men subscribe to. That's part of why so many men are willing to cheat on or dump their girlfriends when someone prettier comes along, because when the universe finally delivers that beauty it owes you, well who cares about your "loaner" chick?
Then there's another friend of mine who is much more conventional. He sees romance (okay, we're really talking about sex again) as a purely commercial transaction. He wants to trade in money and social status for time with a pretty girl, and has a very cynical view of women, believing them to be pretty much interchangable from the skin in (I would say from the neck up, but facial beauty does count.) If I wanted to be vulgar I would say that he'd like to rent a vagina (we could throw in anus and mouth, but that'd just be profane), and thinks it would probably be inappropriate to interact with one that wasn't attached to a live woman. That's overstating things, and there are potential mitigating issues that he probably wouldn't want me to mention (some have argued that he might be something that starts with an h and ends with an omosexual) but it's an old school attitude. I think one of the reasons he's bitter that his future wife will probably have had a lot of sexual partners before him is because of this commodification, do you really want to buy a pair of underwear that 50 other people have tried on before you? It's not what I would call a healthy attitude but neither is it an uncommon one.
So why do I bring this up? To bash my two buddies in a public forum? A little bit, but I have a more useful motive. See I think that their attitudes illuminate two of the issues I have with romance. One is that I don't want to try to date outside my league. I don't want to be one of those guys who 'gets lucky.' I knew a girl once who told me that any guy she went out with should pay for everything on the date because in exchange he was getting the pleasure of her company, and thus making out on the deal. I don't want to be the guy who can't contribute enough of interest or value to a situation that I have to compensate monetarily. Neither do I want to feel like there is something to compensate for, even if the other party does not believe that to be the case. I don't want to be the guy waiting around for the woman who fits my standards and just happens to appreciate whatever substandard combination of qualities I can offer. I'd prefer to focus on improving myself, and working on my issues, of which there are many. I'm fat, I'm a slob, I'm judgemental, I'm unemployed and trying to get involved into a field renowned for a lack of financial and personal stability. My moods are unstable, sometimes even leading to hostility, I have been accused of not enjoying having fun.
I'm sure I have other problems that I don't even see as such.
I have my share of reasonably good qualities too. I'm intelligent by most measurements, I can't remember the last time I scored below the 99th percentile on a standardized test, probably my math SAT II. I am funny, even if it hasn't shown through here recently, and I'm willing to push the boundaries with that (Yesterday my friend and I were walking around downtown and he remarked that he saw a girl wearing a ground zero shirt, and found that offensive. I said "Well, to be fair, it does look like Osama Bin Laden knocked down her towers too." Then I made a few jokes about hoping that Giulianni hadn't closed down her Lincoln Tunnel that I'm not proud of. I also asked another friend whether the Dachau gift shop sold shower caps.) I can be sensative and kind, although that's not my default personality. I am observant, quick-witted, and resourceful. I'm not poor, or deeply in debt. I don't drink, smoke, or gamble. I am ambitious, can be hard working, and am definitely passionate and involved.
But that's not enough. Not for some mythical woman, but for me. I'm unsatisfied with myself at present. I want to get faster, stronger, better, smarter. I want to lose weight, produce writing that satisfies me, and have some sort of fiscal independence and stability.
That's getting away from the topic of women, though, and a young hot blooded American male should never do that for too long. The thing about me (we're back to me again, aren't you glad?) is that I don't really want sex. Now don't get me wrong, orgasms are nice and I've heard that sex is more fun than you can have without a blind man wearing a sandwich board and a magic marker. The thing is, I don't REALLY want it. It doesn't consume me like it does others and I don't feel sorry for myself that I'm not having any. What makes me feel sorry for myself is the lack of intimacy in my life. I would really like a companion. Someone to spend time with and talk to on a regular basis and just be around. Someone smart with a good sense of humor and a skewed vision of the world. Someone who thinks that Coke-a-Cola's new C2 beverage is targetted towards people who want to lose weight, but aren't that serious about it, and that the slogan should be "C2, because sometimes fooling yourself IS enough." I'm not ready for that kind of person yet, though. I'm too immature, have too many self-esteem issues, and am unsettled in my life. Yes I know that if you wait until you're perfect you'll be waiting until you're dead. I also know that a lot of women are involved with far worse prospects, users, abusers, cheaters, even convicted murderers currently incarcerated behind bars. Some of these women are even wonderful people who have made terrible choices in mates, and are looking for someone with more brain than bicep. The thing is, no matter what I have to offer, and I do think it's something, I'm not interested in seeing someone without potential and not ready to see someone who has some. I want someone better than I am, but I don't want to be a poor match for them, so the only answer is to improve myself. I'm working that angle the best that I can.
There are some interesting questions here that deserve further exploration, but won't get it today. For one thing there's the question of whether I need to be looking for attractive women, who get the lions share of attention because men are shallow and predictable creatures. The answer to that is no, although unattractive women often lack confidence and some of them are rather bitter (and I know bitter!) At least I think that's the answer. I don't know, as much as I'd like to resist it I do have some of that masculine shallowness in me, and I'm guilty and resentful towards myself for that, because I sure as hell ain't pretty as a picture myself.
Then there's the even touchier question of whether it has to be a woman. I'm not saying that I'm attracted to men, because I'm not, and by saying that I naturally seem to be over-denying, but I'm not, and by saying that I naturally... Anyway, if sex and the like are not critical, then what about a hetero-lifemate? You know, a skinny Silent Bob to match my Fattie Jay? I don't know, first of all it's not like you can pursue a hetero-lifemate. There's no hetero-lifemate speed dating, and how do you even pop that question? With a boquet of porn and dipping tobacco? Do you call the family afterwards? I don't know the ettiquette, and that's an issue. Then there's the fact that no matter how useful those relationships can be, they're limited. People grow out of them. Sex and intimacy might not be the point but that doesn't mean they'd be disposable. We're entering the realm of speculation here, though, and I did promise. I promised.
One thing I ought to do is figure out what my type is. I'm a very outgoing person who tends to dominate conversations. Does that mean I should match up with a more submissive person, or someone I can butt heads with and produce friction sparks? One might be boring, the other stressful. I guess the only way to figure it out is to try out different combinations, but if you pursue someone who has the wrong mix then are you sending out wrong signals and... Ugh, it's a mess. You know, I was kidding when I said I ought to write Neurotica, but maybe I ought to. Would there be a market?
"Jack stroked his hand along the outline of Sabrina's breast, beneath her sweater. It was soft and firm, the texture of the wool and the give of her bosom reminded him of a sweet, ripe, peach. Was it 100% wool? He hadn't washed his hands thoroughly, what if there was still some motor oil left on it? You can't put a 100% wool sweater in the washing machine. It would have to be dry-cleaned, but who pays for that? They were both enjoying the petting, but as the instigator was it solely his responsibility? She had chosen to wear the sweater, and had been responsive and ready as they proceeded with the foreplay. Wasn't she at least partially responsible for what happened to the sweater? And how would he broach the subject? Should he wait to see if she noticed the stain and then offer to pay? Should he bring it up? That might kill the mood. Of course he ought to offer to pay the whole sum as an opening gambit, it would be rude to only offer half, but what if she offered to dismiss it? Should he insist on paying, or come up with the half offer as a compromise? It wasn't so much the cost of the sweater, but that he felt she should assume at least some of the risk. She knew he'd worked on the car, and she'd chosen the sweater for her own comfort. She could just have easily worn a poly-cotton blend sweatshirt that could be washed in the machine. He didn't want to be a pushover who would accept all the blame when they were clearly both partially responsible for what had happened. He kissed her passionately on her plush lips, the taste of her mango lip gloss strong on his tongue, and glanced over at his palm. Clean, absolutely spotless. He almost exhaled with relief, but stopped himself when he realized it would go right into her mouth. Then, a realization struck him. He hadn't expected her to come home early from the conference. Had he put on a clean pair of underwear that morning? This could be a real disaster. He kissed her gently on the nape of her neck, and tried to come up with an excuse to go to the bathroom and sneak a peek..."
Last night I went over to a friend's house in Williamsberg. It was an interesting building, a converted factory with 5 inches of pigeon shit on the windowsills. We had dinner and hung out, he embarassed the hell out of me by loudly accusing me of oggling women when we went down to the riverside (I was, in fact, looking at the waves and thinking about Rangeley.) Afterwards another friend and I walked over the Williamsberg bridge and to Grand Central. It was a lovely walk and the view off the bridge was outstanding. It's funny, I love New York at night but not for the nightlife. I love it for the little Indian places open at 11:30 PM with the guys getting off late shifts sitting around. For the girls in their late 20's walking around unafraid thanks to the dropping crime rate, and most especially for the little parks and courtyards that give a sense of peace and community in one of the busiest cities in the world.
On the way back we had a good conversation. He told me that he thought that I was a really funny guy, but that a lot of my humor comes from spontaneity and speed, and that writing would reduce the impact because I'd be competing people who weren't nearly as fast or creative, but over the course of months could come up with good comedy. I told him that I didn't want to JUST work in comedy, and came out a little bit about some of the more ambitious stuff that I want to do down the road. I think that's healthy. Then the two of us did a Larry David style riff. We imagined that the reason Larry never got a sketch on the air in SNL was because of a disagreement between him and Lorne Michaels. See Lorne had bought a box of doughnuts for the writers, and Larry had taken out the last chocolate glazed and set it aside for later, but Lorne had eaten it. They had had a conversation like this.
Larry: Why would you eat my doughnut?
Lorne: Well Larry, it wasn't yours. I bought them for everyone. It was a communal doughnut.
Larry: True, it was communal while it was in the box, but once removed it becomes property of whoever took it.
Lorne: It wasn't on your desk.
Larry: It was on a napkin near my desk. That's clearly a claimed doughnut.
Lorne: It was on a napkin, but there was no covering napkin! A claimed doughnut should be covered.
Larry: No. You don't need to cover unless you're going to leave it for more than an hour and a half. I was gone for 25 minutes!
And on and on. It was really funny at the time.
blorky shamed me into reading Arthur Schnitzler's "Night Games" or at least the first half of it. It's really good, and it's reminded me a lot about what makes prose good and fuctional. I'm going to finish it before I get writing on my own fiction, I think, because it's taught me quite a bit about what I want to do and how to do it.