Monday, August 26, 2013

Masculinity musings

So, I am still attempting to finish the epilogue of my thesis while the duties associated with tow boating do their damnedest to pound me into the dirt. Despite this, something approaching a meaningful final thought has shaken free from the cobwebs in my head.
So much of hemingway's life is a case study in threatened masculinity. This is simply a paradigm of what it is to be a man that has failed to develop in any meaningful way since the mid 19th century. In large part in hinges upon our ability as men to provide for a family, dominate a workplace environment, and reign supreme over all threatening groups and social changes. This paradigm is, hopefully obviously, a total joke in our modern society, yet persists in the face of the clear conclusion that it does we men a great disservice.
There are very few if any jobs readily available, nothing that will make we modern men feel like masters of anything. The world is diverse and the heterogeneity rapidly increasing. Try as you might dominating much of anything is a feat approaching the Herculean. Opportunity to feel confident and assertive in any aspect of life is correspondingly waning.
Their is quite simply little if any meaning to be derived from the code and it is in sore need of rejection and reformulation.
Of course my example is going to innvolve boats. My former field of employment was tall ships sailing. In my experience I know of no other field in which so many men, insecure and culturally adrift made more obvious show of demeaning others to alleviate their own feelings of insecurity. This I believe is demonstrated in three basic ways.
1. Clubbing those less experienced and knowledgeable over the head with their experience in a self aggrandizing and callous manner. Little is more problematic to developing self confidence and a healthy, balanced, sense of masculine self worth than to be cut down by someone who obviously should, in light of their background, know and be able to do, much more than you.
2. Attempting to make other men feel inferior due to women outperforming them. Whether or not they should indeed do so based on background and and experience. This also plays directly into  outdated masculine paradigms predication on the idea the women are somehow innately inferior to men and hence you as a man are somehow "failing" at being a man by ever allowing a woman to be better than you at something. I met my girlfriend on my last boat. In one instance I was mocked when  she an able seamen, was assigned to be my assistant cook while I served as an ordinary seamen. The officer who informed me of this laughed and informed me this was funny because she both outranked me and "could probably take you (me) in a fight." I wonder if that was part of his selection process for picking a significant other, must be able beat her in a fist fight. I have to say that had never crossed my mind. Way to be progressive.
3. Isolating the younger and more fit/ attractive to compensatefor the negative effects of aging, ie mocking the reincarnation of what they used to be before they came off deck and got fat, old, and out of touch. Sorry, can't help it you can't diet and do some sit-ups.
These are each male on male crimes of the first order. The biggest hindrance to a positive change in the standards of conduct for being a balanced, confident, healthy male in this world? Tragically other men.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five week hitch

Normally I work two weeks at a time on a Towboat. Then I go home. Due to a confluence of factors I opted to stay out for a five week hitch this time. I am three weeks in and have some observations and thoughts.
This will be the longest I have stayed out on a vessel since last sailing season when one stretch lasted approximately six weeks. From what I can tell at the three week point this will not even come close to being as destructive as those six weeks were for me. Nothing matches the savagery of brute labor combined with verbal and psychological flagellation. Also, five consecutive weeks may be just what was needed to elevate my decking game. Repetition sustained over long periods of time has always been my recipe for excellence.
Despite all the baggage, bullshit, anger, and regret that still crops up from time to time I miss the hell out of wooden boats right now. That may, or may not be almost entirely linked to the deck crew I worked with. I miss all of you. I still contend that the officers should kiss my ass.
I, as well as captains and pilots here, appreciate the level of seamanship I bring to the world of Towboats. So despite the fact I feel like I got short sticked in what I was actually taught, thanks I guess.
Time for a nap, we've been double locking a goodly bit here on the Champion Coal so sleep is at a premium.
Two weeks to go.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Story tidbit

So this is likely going to become part of a larger story, or be converted into a poem.

Sitting on the head of the boat, shrouded in fog that rose interminable from the brown, meandering, serpent Monongahela, I was thousands of miles from what mattered to me with only my memories for company. The last eleven months have been a blur punctuated by notable highlights and the ghosts of the past, their corporal form refusing to fade permanently into the background of a consciousness marred, yet improved by the vagaries of the world and its calous disregard for the men and women that people it.
It is August 2013 and I have three weeks left on the river.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thanks Hank

Sometimes I really have to thank Bukowski for existing.

By Charles Bukowski

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the ****s and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do