This is something that has been tempting me for a long while...
To all the men in my life who can:
Change a tire
Put up a shelf
Win a fight
Play a mean hand of poker
Stand up for a lady
Catch a fish
Sharpen a knife
Throw a punch
Start a fire
Toss a football
Fight a bear
Etc, etc (okay, maybe not the bear part...)
To the rest of you, please take off your flannel shirts and retire your cowboy boots. Just because you can grow a beard and throw on some plaid doesn't make you a man.
Okay, so this is the beginning of a long-standing rant about gender in my neck of the woods. We're at that age where we we aren't quite ready to be men and women yet but we can't be boys and girls anymore. We occupy that special middle-ground of chicks and dudes. It's functional, at least temporarily until we settle down. Lord knows I'm still trying to figure out what being a woman means after so many years hiding in bro-dom. So many city-dwelling ladies I know have the same end of raging days fantasy. Meet a fella, fall in love move outta town but still within reach of the city, get a house on a piece of land, get a big ole dog, and settle down with or without the eventual babies.
Surprisingly traditional, no? The older I get the more comfortable I become with traditional gender roles. When I was younger I would think my current behavior was selling out. I went seven years without shaving my legs or armpits, about four of those years not wearing deodorant (that's total, it went in phases.) Now I'm well groomed, my eyebrows are tweezed, my hair is long, and my nails finally painted and unbitten. The realities of aging have begun to set in. My body has started to change and so has my energy level. My wants and needs have metamorphosised and it's a scary prospect. Is this what growing up feels like?
Living here a lot of us fall into a prolonged state of adolescence. Thirties are the new twenties, so all the magazines say, but are we really just so youth oriented that we need to redefine what's young and what's old now? Are we lifting the standards for the age of accomplishment because we are afraid of not accomplishing things in time? Surely it's a good thing not to be expected to be married with kids before the age of thirty. Lord knows I doubt I will be, I'm 27 and don't have a boyfriend much less a prospective mate. But when do we start thinking of ourselves as men and women?
I told a friend the list I had in my head about the ideal man and he jokingly replied, "Who are you looking for, Tim Allen?" Home Improvement jokes aside, I sincerely hope the fact that I snuck in many an episode of Married with Children didn't somehow warp my brain into an attraction to the mythical men and their manly exploits. I doubt it. There is a distinction when gender is used as a tool to marginalize and when it is used as a form of expression. I would like to think I use my femininity as a mode of self-expression. My womanly ways are an essential part of my being and I don't want to be punished for them. I am not drawn to the No Ma'am mentality, where manhood is a boy's club, no girls allowed.
My parents raised me to be independent and to fend for myself, but at the same point, my mom did the cooking (except for taco night and grilling or smoking meats which was dad's role) and my dad did the eating. He watched sports and the History Channel while my mom played bridge and watched ER. He wrote academic articles and she painted Christmas ornaments. Had our family's financial situation been different she would have been a stay-at-home mom which was her dream when she first got married. That is not the life for me. However, growing up in Nebraska my childhood male friends became men who can re-tile a bathroom floor, rewire a light fixture, and drive trucks, they play in country or metal bands, are loyal to a fault drink hard, work harder, battle douchebags with MBAs on the weekends, and are artists at the same time. That's my model for manhood.
Here I feel like so many of us are floundering. The concept of drink hard, work harder has been switched. Or maybe it's just drink hard, work whenever. In a city where creativity is an industry it affords us the liberty of using our creative skills as a means to make a living but in the same manner it also enables us to spend most of the work day reading blogs or looking at videos on YouTube. And after 8 hours of semi-creative work too many of us come home and just want to drink instead of pursuing the passions that brought us here hopeful in the first place. We don't have the energy to be humans much less men and women. All we become are bodies on bar stools looking for other bodies with the desired set of holes or appendages.
People ask me why I don't try to write for fashion blogs or magazines and it's because, while I like clothing and dressing myself, ultimately I don't care about the magazines or the blogs. My heart wouldn't be in it and I don't want to compromise the one thing holy to me. And as a woman, is that what I'm supposed to have to write about? Fashion? I guess it has a broader appeal than just writing about myself, and I am sure you all are aware that this blog is primarily an exercise in self-indulgence. Thank you for reading by the way, I never thought anyone would.
I hate to think that adulthood is necessarily a negotiation of passion and reality. Maybe it is for some, but I hope that I can become an adult or rightfully call myself a woman (and I think I am almost there) without compromising my desires. Maybe that is what makes a woman and a man, not compromising desires. Reality isn't necessarily a buzz-kill. Sometimes reality can be everything you wanted it to be, or everything you needed without even realizing it. Or maybe I'm an optimist. Strangely I do have faith, something lacking around these parts. I can't think of the world as an entirely cold cruel place where you have to lie, cheat, and steal to survive. Maybe it's the Midwestern gal in me. Maybe I'm right and I'll get that house outside of the city with the big dog and a man who can do a few of the things on that list. Or maybe I'm wrong and life will give me a big old slap in the face. Do reality checks inherently have to be harsh?
Then again, I call this blog Reality No Show so who am I to talk.