Romance is:

I was asked recently what the most romantic thing I’ve ever done for anyone is.  It’s a tough question — I’m a romantic at heart, and I’m constantly doing things to show the person that I’m seeing / interested in / married to (wow — how many other people would add that to a list of ways to describe “significant other”?) that I’m thinking of them.  I like doing that, both for the obivous reason — that would be to show them that I’m thinking of them, for the mentally incapable at home — as well as to make them smile, and hopefully feel a little better about life in general.

I used to think — as we’re all programmed to do — that it’s all about money, and buying gifts.  That certainly is a valid point, but that line of thinking is dangerous, not only to your credit rating (ask my accountant if you have lingering doubt) but to your ability to be romantic.  Don’t misinterpret — I love to get gifts, small or big.   But sometimes, the best gifts are free.

I love things that are not generic, little things that are geared obviously to me. Flowers are nice, sure (ladies: every guy in the world except for those with tiny tiny penises would love, just once, for the woman in his life to give him flowers.  For the record.) but even better are those things that show that I’m the one in your thoughts.  A friend once made me — by hand — a book, a journal for me to write things like this in, made from printer paper cut in half and duct tape and some of her art (it’s much more attractive than I’m making it sound).  It’s quite possibly the best and most cherished gift that I’ve ever received.

I once wrote a song for Melissa.  I’ve written poetry (you can laugh and point all you want, but don’t knock it until you try it), and even an (award-winning) screenplay (Muckfuppet  – coming soon to a film festival near you).  One of my tattoos was an anniversary gift to Melissa*. I’ve drawn things, and hand-picked bouquets of flowers.

So, maybe you’re poor and utterly uncreative.  You know what’s romantic?  A random email or text message, one or two lines only, something inspired by your significant other (“Remember what I said about your smile?  Well, I guess I meant it about all of you.”). If you’re in the same house as them, walk over to them and give them a hug, or a gentle kiss, suggestive of nothing.  Clean their apartment while they’re out of town with the girls for the weekend.

The best thing about relationships (being in them, specifically) is the chance to show and receive romantic gestures, from the cosmically grand to the everyday and seemingly insignificant. All of it adds up, in the end.

And don’t take these things for granted — when you’re alone again, single and living it up, once all the memories are comfortable again and you’ve finally gotten used to cooking for one and stretching out across your whole bed, it’s these little things that you’ll still miss.  Getting and giving.

I know I do.

* To those who wonder if I regret that tattoo: no. Melissa was a major part of my life for five years, and those five years largely dictated many things about who and where I am.  I make sure that all of my ink means something to me that I want to hold on to for life, and I think that bit of ink is among my favorite, because it keeps me from forgetting a lot of important things.  And it’s a cool design, too. 

On living a stress-free life

If you have always wanted to live a stress-free, dramaless life, there’s just one very simple step:

Drop all people from your life.

Mostly, by and large, I don’t have stress issues. Over time, I’ve adopted a philosophy that has helped me take control over large parts of my life, and that has helped me recognize the things I don’t control (and consequently, to let go of my concern about those things).

Unfortunately, I still have a few human beings as friends and family. Don’t get me wrong — it wouldn’t be any better if I had them as pets. But still.

Some people around me are quite good at keeping their own lives in check. I love those people. And I’m the first to admit I invite my own fair share of drama into my own life — hell, I create some here and there. But I bore easily and have ADD, if anyone needs an excuse.

It’s the shit outside of those parameters that has swarmed into my life this week. And I love the people involved — at least three of them; and I know they’re going to be around for a while, or so I hope. The drama’s not going away — if it’s not in its present form, it’ll be in some other disguise. But this week, of all weeks, for the needless bullshit that could be avoided with a word or a walk in the opposite direction – I would say something about it being Friday and how great that is, but when you work your second job on the weekend, that doesn’t mean as much as it should.

But goddamn, I’m looking forward to this weekend. I’m making absolutely no plans outside of my responsibilities to work, because I’m going to have three days of not being let down or disappointed or dragged into (read: stepping willingly toward) someone else’s wild, wild life. I’m going to catch up on my own things instead of getting bogged down in someone else’s. I may even get drunk. Yeah, that’s right, drunk.

Which of course will lead to me drunk dialing Kasey and telling her that I want to marry her. That’s where problems always begin — drunk dialing leads to Vegas weddings, which in turn lead to tabloid stories, more stalkerazzi, car chases down Sunset Strip, lawsuits, and community service.

Nothing kills the drama like a bright orange jump suit in the Alabama summer. But then divorce is usually right around the corner, and I kinda like Kasey, so maybe I should put this off for a month or two. Or set-up a good prenup, at the least.

Kasey tells me I’m wrong, so I’m calling her out.

I am a male, raised in a western culture that glamorizes violence and demonizes the human body even while we proclaim that we were created in the image of our God. I am unapologetic about the fact that, for whatever core psychological reason, I am fascinated to the point of near-obsession with the female body — especially those parts that you can’t show on network TV without risking boycotts from the people who wouldn’t know a nice body if they paid $100 for a half hour with one.

Yeah, Britney Spears in the Toxic video? Hot. Angelina Jolie in leather? Hot. Scarlett Johansson in oxygen? You had me at “restraining order.”

Now, granted, I’ve got some occasionally odd visions of beauty – at least, this is what my guy friends tell me. I have NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in Paris Hilton, even as a mindless, soulless object of lust (does anyone else find it odd to imagine objectifying her? Don’t you need something beneath the surface to be objectified?). Kate Moss is too thin; I want badly to take her to a buffet before even thinking of her in bed. And I’ve always included (apparently) uncommon women on my “top ten” lists — Maura Tierney, Julia Stiles, Sarah Chalke. Out of all the girls on LOST, who’s my favorite? The psychologist.

There’s this thing that I call nerdsexy, and it’s probably the hottest thing in the world to me, because it works on a physical level and a mental level as well — as opposed to the Maxim marketing department, which goes straight for the libido and not much else. It’s the librarian look — hair pulled up, wearing the glasses. Only I have no need to see her let the hair down, a la every Clairol commercial since 1978.

The nerd part has to do with personality and intelligence, sure, but there’s a sincerity that’s important to me. The current trend — at least as it appears to me, who hasn’t had a run-in with trendiness since about 1984 — is for the emo girls to carry a sort of geek chic look, but that’s so far removed from what I’m talking about. No, the nerdsexy comes from within, and it’s not so much even about being a nerd, but about being so amazingly attractive without having the first clue in the world.

It makes me sad on some levels that these girls, like my friend Kasey, don’t realize how beautiful they are. It tells me that they haven’t heard it enough, and that’s sad. It amazes me, too — how people (guys, girls, friends, family, whatever) can’t take five seconds out of their day to complement the people around them is just weird and alien to me.

But I’m really happy, too, that these girls are out there, carrying themselves meekly and unassumingly as they go about their day. They get self-conscious when they come out in public without a bra, because they don’t want to be stared at (not realizing that so many girls in the past few years have started doing so that no one notices any more). They don’t think twice, on the same hand, about dressing down, because it’s not about the physical — even though it could be, so easily. If these women were aware of how guys look at them, of how sad and pathetic and testosterone controlled we all are, they could have the world in their pocket — and yet they’re not, and so they carry on.

That’s nerdsexy. You place the attitiude of someone who has no interest in using sex as a weapon or gamepiece in the body of one of the most beautiful women you will ever meet, and you’ve got nerdsexy.

If you meet one of these girls, pay attention. Sure, the Angelinas of the world are more apt to stand out in a crowded room, but they’re a dime a dozen next to the nerdsexy. Rare, hard to spot, and impossibly elusive, the nerdsexy is a beast that should be appreciated at every opportunity.

Mein Krampf.

Wade calls me a Grammar Nazi, and the joke spirals rapidly downhill from there.

Sitting here closing out my work day with a package of powdered donuts (thank you, Mr. Overpriced Vending Machine on the ground floor), it hits me that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was, at its heart, a metaphor for marriage. And not a very nice one, at that. Oh, yeah, that ring is pretty, and you really reallyreallyreally feel its pull to put that bastard on and wear it, but then you end up looking like Gollum and eating live fish you snatch out of the nearest aquarium.

I’ve heard reports of people becoming invisible when wearing the ring, too. And I’m fairly sure the agonizing cry of the Nazgul is more pleasant than being nagged to take out the garbage.

I feel certain that this has occured to someone before. For chrissake, the tagline was “One ring to bind them all.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to marriage (the above is just a product of having too much spare time on my brain). On some levels, at least.

I hope that I can one day find the woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with. Having two marriages under my belt, I can tell you that, for the all the inherent problems that stem from combining two individual lives under one roof, that romantic union is wonderful. There are a million things I miss about it.

But the symbolism of the wedding ring is a little intense. For one thing, marriage (as an institution) is a religious thing, and religion is not my game; with a tip of the hat to Marx, I’m drug free since around ’83. There are the legal ramifications – having power of attorney, for instance – but by and large, it’s religiously based.

This is where the romantic in me comes screaming out of the closet for a moment. I like the idea of spending the rest of my life with someone because that’s what we both want, day after day after long and wonderful decade — not because that’s what we feel obligated to do. It’s not so much the case now as it was fifty years ago, but divorce still has a certain stigma attached to it, societally, and I’ve known too many people that remain married largely because they don’t want to bear the label of “divorced.” Hell, the same concerns have crossed my mind a few times (and it doesn’t help when people refer to me as “Ross” — I know nothing about archeology, people!).

Those of us that are divorced are no different from you who have have long-term relationships that have ended, especially if cohabititation was involved, except that we have phone numbers for lawyers in our desks.

It is a nice thought, to imagine waking up next to someone every day and knowing that they are there because they choose to be, because they enjoy my company in spite of all my faults and flaws, that they want to be with me even after last night’s fight about Krispy Kreme versus Dunkin Donuts, because they still are in love with me. That sits so much more pleasantly with me than wondering if they’re only there because they don’t want to disappoint themselves, or because they swore they’d never get divorced, or because they can’t afford the court costs yet, or because I know where the body is buried and I have the 8 1/2″ x 11″ photos to prove it.

But, like I said, I’m a flaming romantic, and most of my ideals are better suited to movie theaters than real life.

Being a flaming romantic, at least doesn’t inspire me to listen to Streisand. It also doesn’t help me dress any better than I do.Sadly, my fashion sense is more tied to the Grammar Nazi in me.

Blog confluence!

Crystal is a really funny writer, but it’s not just the Haha that makes her blog worth reading.  It’s her kids, sometimes, that bring out the great reading.

I would say that kids say the darnedest things, but then I’d feel too much like Bill Cosby, and I’m not rich enough to be comfortable with that.

Go read this post — make sure you get to the last three or four paragraphs.  Those are the important ones — Crystal’s advice to her daughter is good advice for all of us.

A Euphoric Sense

There is a real beauty in meeting someone that steals your breath with every meeting, whose smile can brighten even your darkest thoughts, whose eyes sit like mirrorpools beckoning you to dive in.

The reality of the situation — the bad timing, the obstacles, the anticipation and paranoia, and guesswork — is all secondary to that feeling of lightheartedness.

You never know if it’s going to be the one that you’ve been looking for your whole life, that movie-perfect romance that begins and ends with a bang on both sides.  But it is in these moments that hope is born, and that hope lives, shouting to the world and all who will listen that things can be good and beautiful and right.

I refuse to accept that this is all there is… but I think maybe, at the end of the day, this would be enough.

All appeared new and strange at the first:
Inexpressibly rare, delightful and beautiful.
I felt like one coming out of an upper room
To fret no more and walk abroad confirmed.
The houses shone in silence, and the child in me
Stepped in so deep in this unshaded place;
A fine kingdom that meant to be home.
All things were spotless, pure and alive
Free and immortal
So I didn’t want to know
What I was going to be.

All time was eternity.

Dark Suns, Zer0

Waiting for my real life to begin…

People give me grief for the behavior I exhibit.  Specifically, referring to the overly-intense / obsessive / dive right in behavior that comes with new relationships (or hopes thereof).  They’re perfectly justified in doing so, I suppose, just as I’m perfectly justified in giving them grief about wasting perfectly good oxygen with each breath they take.

The part of growing older that has been a real struggle for me is coming to terms with the fact that there are many ways of doing things, not just the common method.  The interstate may be the fastest or safest or most stable way of getting from point A to point B, but taking the side roads or back streets will get you there, too.  It all depends on what you want out of the journey — wanting the drive to be over as quickly as possible and arriving with no adventure is what most people want, and it’s how most people travel.  But some people want to sight-see, and others crave adventure, and others are simply putting off their arrival as long as possible.  Though not the majority opinion, these are no less valid ways to travel or goals to have while doing so.

And so, I struggle with the idea of dating.  I see so many people that do things the  “right” way — one date, dinner and a movie, maybe, followed by three days of silence (don’t want to appear too eager).  Another phone call, another date, and slowly the cycle collapses on itself.


It’s a short and uncertain amount of time that we have here on this material plane.  Why would you anyone give me grief about wanting to make the most of that time?  If I meet someone that interests me, why shouldn’t I spend every spare moment I have with her, getting to know her better, enjoying her company, wasting time — whatever?

It’s one thing to push all of your friends and family and responsibility aside, sure.  For if the new thing doesn’t work out, then you’ve gotten your priorities twisted around, and it’s probably going to come back to haunt you.  But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about immersion, about throwing yourself into anything that makes you happy, because you never know how long it will last.  Maybe you get lucky, and you’re together forever — who’s going to question that?  No one — at least no one in their right mind; they’ll call you lucky to have been able to do so.  Maybe you only get a week together before you’re hit by a car, or a month before you have a breakdown and decide abruptly to move on, or six months before she discovers that you’re a weekend arsonist or a Bible-thumper and gives you the boot.  And people will say your crazy then, maybe — look at all that time you’ve wasted, they’ll whisper.

But who’s wasted anything?  You’ve been happy, right?  You’ve been living, allowing yourself to get swallowed whole by the moment — and moments like that can be preciously fleeting and rare, as anyone in their right mind can attest.

Yeah, I’m prone to diving in headfirst. Perfectly capable of playing by another clock, if it’s provided for me; I am fully aware that not everyone is the same.  People are more guarded, more cautious, more afraid.  I can accept that – in fact, I’m perfectly okay with it.

But then, I’ve rarely chosen the road most travelled. Not out of spite for the majority, like many, but because this is how i know to do things.  I’ve tried to be the normal guy who follows the normal rules, and it bores me.  Not to mention that it makes no sense — to let moments of happiness pass because “that’s just the way it’s supposed to be done.”

I’ve loved a lot in my life, and will continue to do so, whether with my current crush or a hundred more.  I’ve been loved a lot in return, and can never regret that. So if you’re concerned for my well-being because you’ve got inside information about someone I’ve expressed interest in, please, by all means, say so.  But if you’re worried that I’m not playing by the rules, for whatever reason you might let that worry you:


Do I seem a little angry, or resentful?  Maybe I am, sure.  But that’s the bitch about hitting this age and having to finally deal with the clash of the things that you want — that make total sense, and always have, and have always served me well enough — and the things that everyone else does, that my parents would push for, that society expects.

Perhaps I am refusing to let go of childish things.  But until you can prove to me that these pieces of me can’t capably co-exist with the rest of the world at large, then feel quite free to look the other way while I continue to cling.

Once in a while…

…I miss my siblings. They’ve all gone scattered across the country — two little sisters and a kid brother. New York, Kansas, and North Carolina.

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes it’s overwhelming. Terribly, terribly overwhelming. Not much makes me feel old, except for realizing that these three that I watched over as babies are now out on their own, doing far better in the world than I could ever hope to do myself. I’m so very proud of all of them, all for different reasons.

Hope you guys are all taking over the world one city block at a time right now. Or sleeping, like the normal folk do, I hear.