Social Media Overdose: a programming note

So, clearly, I haven’t done a very good job of keeping this blog up to date since I’ve been on the road. Partly that’s due to the WordPress software handling large photo albums remarkably poorly, and I’ve found captioned photo albums to be the best way to share the day-to-day details of my life. I’m just not an eloquent enough writer to show readers the beauty of these places without photos!

I’ve been sharing photo albums on Facebook, but that’s not ideal since not everyone has Facebook and their photo compression is pretty severe. And I haven’t been posting on here because, aside from the photo issue, I just haven’t felt like doing long-form writing lately. On the flip side, I’ve become super into Twitter and microblogging. Because it’s so much lower commitment, and I can do it so much faster, it works well with my occasional internet access and lackadaisical approach to writing.

I’m going to try something new. I’ve set up a Tumblr for myself. I’ll be trying to post small updates there on a regular basis, in addition to Twitter. When I post photo albums, I’ll have a few of the best previewed on the Tumblr with a link to a higher-quality Picasa web album that everyone can see. I’ll reserve this blog for less day-to-day stuff and hopefully some more interesting or funny pieces of actual writing rather than journaling.

If you’re just tracking me via Facebook or Twitter then none of this means anything to you; updates will still be posted automagically via those mediums. If you’re trying to track me via the blog, then you might want to start following my Twitter or Tumblr for best results! I’ll try this for a month or so and see how it’s working…

The first step

I gave my notice at work today. My birthday, March 9th, falls on a Friday this year, and that’ll be my last day at work. I’ll spend two weeks jettisoning most of my belongings and fitting what remains into my car, Tetris-style. Then on March 23rd, I head down to Red Rocks with Juan and Bob, kicking off a week long stint for them and a six month or longer road trip for me! The purpose of this blog is to keep people up to speed on where I am and what I’m doing while I’m on the road. Don’t worry though, I’ll probably continue to put up all kinds of weird shit in here.

This was my first serious job, and the first one I’ve quit. I knew I wanted to let my bosses know sometime this week, and I got a pretty bad case of the nerves on Monday–good job security, decent pay, and great benefits are hard to walk away from. I kept wondering what would happen if I got hurt, if I couldn’t climb, if I couldn’t find partners, if I hated being on the road, if I missed my friends. Some of these aren’t even ifs. I’m sure I’ll miss my friends, I bet sometimes I won’t be able to find partners, and I don’t doubt there’ll be moments when I hate being on the road and not having a shower or a real bed at my immediate disposal.

I’ve always liked climbing for its own sake, and some of the supposed spiritual and self-discovery benefits of climbing seem overblown to me. One thing I don’t doubt, though, is that it helps you learn to engage with risks and figure out how to make decisions from a place of happiness, rather than fear, and then follow through on those decisions. When you climb, you assess the route from the ground or from rest stances, and once you move from those positions, you’re committed. You keep going, regardless of how scary it might be, because you’ve already assessed those risks and have decided they’re manageable. You can’t trust yourself to accurately gauge risk during the act, during the most stressful part of the problem. You have to put those worries out of your mind and just focus on the present and the movement and the puzzle as best you can

I was happy to find that those same skills came in handy yesterday when I went to talk to my boss. Just breathe and follow through. I made the decision to do this months ago and I’ve been thinking about it for over a year — it’s a good one. Don’t let your fear stop you.

I realize this seems pretty overblown, but it’s a big first step for me. It’s the first time I’ve ever really strayed from the path that’s been in front of me since high school. I only recently realized that there are actually many paths, and all I need to do to try out a different one is take that first little step.

So here’s to new adventures and a whole fucking lot of fun.

Moto-privilege

A few months ago I was riding my bike into work and pulled up to a red light with no cars ahead of me. The bike lane peters out for the 500 feet preceding and following this intersection, so usually I move into the center of the lane–if I try to stay alongside traffic where the bike lane would be, then I get squeezed off the road on the other side of the intersection. On this day for whatever reason, probably the lack of traffic, I stayed to the right.

As I’m waiting for the light to turn green, a guy in an SUV pulls up alongside me. I look over at him–I’m sure he’s going to try and burn me off the line, which sucks because the road narrows on the other side and as I mentioned, I’ll get run off the road. If he guns it when the light turns green I’ll have to drop behind him to merge with traffic in the intersection, a dangerous maneuver. Continue reading

Masculinity and Sunday tidbits

Clarisse Thorn, one of my favorite feminist writers, has written a number of posts examining how gender roles and traditional views of masculinity affect men. This sort of analysis isn’t anything new, but it’s always fraught with peril since it is often used as a smoke screen for Men’s Rights Advocates to claim that feminism has made society “forget about men” or some other silly nonsense. Thorn does an excellent job of describing the impacts as she sees them, while still calling bullshit on male privilege when it’s needed.

There’s no doubt in my mind that gender essentialism and discrimination hurt women more than men, but it’s useful to point out the ways in which society’s narrowly defined set of acceptable behaviors hurt both men and women–doing so makes arguing against those gender-boxes that much easier.

The piece I want to draw attention to today is on the subject of male sexuality and the toxic double standards that go along with it.

An excerpt:

The pressure put on men to be initiators, yet avoid seeming creepy or aggressive, leads to an unpleasant double bind. After all, the same gross cultural pressures that make women into objects force men into instigators; how many women do you know who proposed to their husbands?

So how can a man express his sexual needs without being tarred as a creep? After all, the point of promoting sex-positive attitudes is for everyone to be able to be open about their needs and desires, right?

This is something I struggle with a lot, personally. It’s tough trying to walk the line between appropriately self-confident and excessively aggressive when male sexuality is generally seen as predatory. Politeness means that it’s fairly rare for anyone, woman or man, to flat-out reject the advances of a stranger. Hell, doing so can be outright dangerous for women in certain situations, so it’s a small wonder.

It seems that the only way to walk that line is to be very, very good at reading subtle clues and body language, but frankly, that’s kind of easy to fuck up. I’m sure I do it pretty often. I know I’ve barreled right over the line into creeper territory by accident more than once, and it’s totally not my intention.

Anyway, all I’m getting at is dating kind of sucks, nobody can communicate with anybody else (including me), and gender roles make everything bad for everybody, all the time.

*****

Speaking of creeping people out: I had to go into downtown today to pick up my bike, so I was waiting at the bus stop decked out in my spandex tights and other cycling kit. I was sharing the bus shelter with a woman who looked to be about 65 or 70. Bored, I started doing some stretches, including some calf stretches. I wasn’t facing her, but apparently I must have really grossed out this lady, because she abruptly stood up while making a sort of “yuck” sound and walked out of the bus shelter rather than watch me stretch in my tights. Oops.

*****

On a more positive note, I did my grocery shopping on my bike today, so I just rode straight from downtown to my grocer down in Lake O. When I arrived I had my facemask on and a little girl asked me if I was a ninja. I told her I was a bike ninja and totally struck a pose, it was awesome and she made my day.

Journals

I started keeping a journal a few months ago, mostly to get into the habit of regular writing so I’d have fodder to put on this blog. I’ve been surprised at just how cathartic it’s been, though–makes me wonder if half the benefit of a therapist isn’t just having the opportunity to vocalize or externalize your thoughts.

I like to think I’m a very open person, a personality trait which has become more pronounced over the past few years. I’m now basically Captain Overshare. What I’ve realized in the past few months of keeping this journal, though, is that although I’m more than willing to tell almost total strangers very personal stories or feelings, I hardly ever let out anything negative, even around friends.

I whine, of course, when I’m getting shut down by a hard route, or I’m injured or sick. But when I’m feeling actual emotional pain, I have a really hard time discussing that even with very close friends. In hard times, I’ve always relied on my family or partner to talk me through stuff. But being out here in Portland, distant from my family and single for the most part, a lot of stuff got bottled up inside without me really realizing it.

Anyway this isn’t to say I’m constantly crawling in my skin or curled up crying “I’M SO ALONE!” My lot in life is pretty damn good! But I don’t think anybody gets through their twenties without some angst, and I’ve found getting it inked in the journal to be a nice way to work through it.

That said, now that I’ve realized this I think I need to make an effort to be more open with my friends about some of this stuff because, hey, that’s what friends are for, right? I try to be there when my friends need it. So buddies: GET READY TO HEAR ALL ABOUT MY LIFE PROBLEMS! Deal with it.