Am I a Lumbersexual?

lumbersexualAm I a Lumbersexual?
By Evan Kingston

When I first heard some folks chatting about this new hip term, I was like, “Oh for sure, I’m a lumbarsexual. The lumbar region is one of the most delectably curvaceous regions of the female form. I’m a lumbar-lover, no denying it.”

But then I saw one of the hundred Internet articles that have popped up over the past few months and was disappointed that it was spelled with an “e”—and that it featured a picture of a guy that looked just like me!

But how could they know that I was a lumbersexual? Did my sextape finally leak, exposing to the world how much lumbering is involved in my bedroom maneuvers? (“Wait now… hold on… just let me get settled… Uh, oh–I’m going to tip over!”)

Once I finally worked up the nerve to click and read one of the articles, I realized it was actually about men with beards, describing their motives for growing facial hair as a sort of cultural movement to reclaim traditional masculinity (or at least the sort of masculinity that is tradition in logging camps).

Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but ever since I turned 22, I haven’t needed a motive for growing facial hair—it just happens on my face. My motive for keeping it the past few years has been mostly laziness, rationalized as needed with vain blathering about not wanting to look like I was trying to hard.

But now, finding that I look exactly the same as the guys who are trying hard, I am left wondering if I should join the movement…. Am I a lumbersexual?

I guess, in the end, the answer has to be no, because I just wasn’t born that way: I don’t get any erotic charge out of whether or not and to what extent I look like a fancy lumberjack. It’s only my wife’s lovely lumbar region that gets me going enough to tip me over. I guess I’m just a lumbarsexual for life.

photo credit: 43 via photopin (license)

Why I Support Black Lives Matter

black lives matterWhy I support Black Lives Matter
by David Stein

Black Lives Matter MN first came to my attention when protests shut down I35. My initial reaction was similar to that around the water cooler at work. Ferguson had happened a few hundred miles away from liberal, progressive and certainly un-racist Minneapolis. We didn’t get it. We didn’t think that it was necessary. We were exempt.

I pulled out my iPhone and spent a few minutes finding another way home. Once of the nice things about the Twin Cities is that there’s always three different ways to get anywhere. But I felt irritated, annoyed and inconvenienced. “Shutting down the highways aren’t going to make a difference. This isn’t going to change anyone’s mind” I thought.

My next thought was of Tamir Rice’s mother. I wondered how inconvenienced she felt after she was cuffed by the cops that shot her child. I wondered if Eric Garner’s family felt annoyed when they got the call that Eric had died. It was that moment that I knew why they were marching. From that point on I started paying more attention to what they were marching for.

The status quo is never going to work for everyone. As a realist and pragmatist I recognize that some people are going to be born into privilege and some are people are going to be dealt a tougher hand from day one. That will always be the way of the world to some extent. But when a disparity of equity is as great and as arbitrary of racism and sexism are today I feel that we have a moral imperative to exhaust all reasonable efforts to promote equality before claiming “victory” and calling it a day.

So far we have failed to do so as a culture. There is more we can do, even more that we should do, and I believe a vast majority recognize that in principle even if we differ on the degree. I understand the criticism, concern and even outrage that many of my friends and colleagues expressed over blocking of I35 and organizing at MOA without permission. “They should try something else” is a common sentiment, but it’s rarely expounded. Whenever I hear “why can’t they just x, y or z?” the answer that almost always pops into my head is that they tried that already and it didn’t work.

If you have any degree of commitment to combating cultural racism you have a duty to provide an alternative to any course of action that you criticize. If you criticize something without providing an alternative idea, it’s not criticism at all it’s whining.

Civil disobedience does not offend my value system. My personal value system recognizes honesty and pacifism over cultural obedience and legal compliance. The conditions of civil disobedience are that your actions are not violent and that you are fully open and honest about what you are doing and why you are doing it. The U.S.A. has had a proud history and tradition of pacifist activism and civil disobedience ranging from Henry David Thoreau to Martin Luther King Jr.

I have the greatest respect for Black Lives Matter Minneapolis because they carry on the spirit of that tradition. They’ve reminded me that acting with integrity sometimes means stepping outside the cultural norms of “good behavior.”  I understand that any group that challenges the established comfort zones of a population is going to be reprimanded, opposed, and even demonized. But I believe that real progress and productive change, both personally and culturally, can only be achieved in the unfamiliar realm of disquiet that lies just beyond the guarded borders our comfort zone. Contentment will never create new meaning for our lives or our character. Without challenging ourselves there can be no element of bravery.

So next time you hear the phrase “no one is going to change their mind over these protests” I present myself as evidence to the contrary. I am a different mind than I was as a direct result of the protests. I am thankful for Black Lives Matters movement for the difference they have made in my life. They have my full support and I stand will all protesters around the country that make personal sacrifices to continue the longstanding American tradition of activism in the name of equity and integrity.

photo credit: you don’t have to be Black to be outraged via photopin (license)

I Ended Up on my Tush

i ended up on my tushI ended up on my tush
by Jefferson Hansen

 

to start again or again
to startle against the pressure
of a thick white sky
some birds forgot to sing today

but some others didn’t
which ones are which
beyond my desires to know
or care today

a car without a driver
warms beneath my window
on this sub-zero morning
its exhaust hovers long

and spindles up
up as I am this morning
going on two hours now
too cold to enter

right now, although later I will
lift weights to the tunes
they pipe into the gym,
then shower in a stall

because that is what I do
these days, watch cars warm
then exercise, which isn’t bad
I lose weight

for the sake of self-satisfaction
and to follow the orders of
self-help television gurus,
they do know some things

you know
not unlike the absence of squirrels
in a winter too cold even for
them, and the point of an end

really
as if strings going every which way
could be gathered into a knot
me, to present at a conference

of disaffected journalists
all posing a hope for a better day
as a way of furthering their
way into a careerist niche

although they must have believed
it at one time in some way
in order to end up there
in the first place

don’t you think
my cynicism lasts only as long
as my lack of faith in
humanity which can carry

you only so far
did you ever consider how often
and how much you must trust
others just to drive down

the street
just to get through the day
consider how many clerks you trust
with your debit card numbers

desperate people, perhaps,
living at minimum wage
and pressing buttons and being pleasant
on cue just for a lousy buck

it’s a wonder sometimes
we don’t all jump up and down four times
then go for each
others’ exposed throats

I suppose the impracticality of it all
prevents us from relying
on such measures
the threat of the police

have you ever wanted to hurt someone
I’m not sure if I ever
seriously did or not although
I have gone for the emotional

jugular on occasion as have
we all I suppose
and I did hop in the ring
once to nail another

guy in white collar boxing
I ended up on my tush
photo credit: Poterne des peupliers via photopin (license)

“Schwantz!”

schwantz“Schwantz!”
by Evan Kingston

My grandma traveled up to Canada to visit a few times when I was young, but it was only once I was seven, when we moved to Minnesota to be closer to my mom’s family after my dad died, that I came to spend time enough with her to know who she was besides my mom’s mom. We moved in with her for the summer and, while my mom was out job- and house-hunting, Grandma watched and entertained my brother and me.

And we needed entertainment: still devastated from losing our father, we were confused and afraid, not knowing what it really meant; and as we gradually figured it out, each new revelation was a fresh source of anxiety, grief, or anger; and then on top of it all, we moved to America, which seemed like a louder, meaner version of Canada, all the worse because it was away from every memory we had of our father.

So my grandma taught us German curses while we played board games. She must have learned them from her German-speaking parents, cursing in earnest at their own card games, but we learned to do it in jest. Whenever something bad happened to her in the game, she’d cuss with glee. A favorite was “shist auf der loof,” which I’m sure, if I’m even remembering it perfectly, isn’t proper German. Regardless, we were told it meant “poo on the roof”—a phrase whose meaning is every bit as obvious and mysterious to me today as it was then. My grandma made it clear that saying it was the funest way to lose, though, so soon we were joining in and learning new ones for variety. Being boys, “schwantz”—meaning penis, or as we said then “wiener” or “goo goo”—was soon our favorite, and it quickly became family tradition to say it, not when loosing, but before every dice roll for good luck.

When I think of why I love my grandma, past the general reasons we all love our grandmas, I think of that transformation: back then I was so scared of life that I used to stay awake in bed for as long as I could, as silently as I could, listening to my heartbeat so that, if it stopped, I could tell my mom before I died.

But with grandma, I was jumping out of my chair to joyfully scream German penis at the top of my lungs.

I’m sure that is where I learned to joke my way through tough times, an instinct that has helped me ever since. So as things got harder for my grandma with age, it was heartening to see that she always held on to her humor. Even this last Thanksgiving, when getting around was becoming more and more difficult, painful, and exhausting, she had us all laughing on several occasions. Carol had always been proficient with non sequiturs, so it was sometimes hard over the past few years to tell if she was changing the subject to be funny, because she couldn’t hear what was just said, or if she’d just gotten bored of sober conversation. Regardless of why, as conversation flagged towards the end of dessert, she announced to the whole room: “I have a confession to make.”

We all stopped to listen, and she started telling a story about a night shift she’d once worked in the hospital. She’d been a nurse her whole life, but this took place back when she was still a young woman. Mr. Wilkinson, one of her patients, however, was old.

“Oh Lord, he was old,” she explained. “Old as dirt: he was older than I am now. So old he could hardly do anything. Couldn’t walk around, or push his own wheel chair, couldn’t even sit up in bed without some help. He was old, old, old—but at night,he slept as a young man…”

I think we were all a little confused by this turn of phrase, but a mischievous glimmer in her eyes gave me a clue as to what it might mean. Still, I could barely believe she was talking about what I thought she was talking about, even as she continued.

“Every night, making the rounds, I’d walk by his room to check on him, and there old Mr. Wilkinson would be: sleeping as a young man. All us nurses joked about it. It was terrible, one of those things you didn’t want to look at but couldn’t help it: there he was, every night, tenting the sheet.”

She was! She was talking about Mr. Wilkinson’s schwantz!

“And then one night, it was worse than ever before. It had tipped the sheet onto the floor and even parted his gown. And I couldn’t help it: I ran out to the break room, peeled a sticker off a Chiquita banana, and snuck back into his room to put it on him. Then I told Eileen to go check on Mr. Wilkinson. She laughed so hard she could barely make it out of the room before she doubled over onto the floor.”

In addition to raising some fine jokers, Carol raised some incredible health care professionals, so there was a bit of an outcry in the family about losing your license for playing the same prank today, but I just laughed. Or laughed and thought, as I usually do, about why we joke. This wasn’t just some crass anecdote, but a chance to talk about what we were all afraid to talk about, a way to simultaneously look at and let go of that which had been haunting the whole evening: the pains and humiliations of aging.

Whether you’re missing your dad or worried about your health, while laughing, all your sufferings and anxieties are briefly obliterated. Joking is a way for us to look at what we don’t want to see but know we can’t ignore; it is a way to put a bright sticker on the wrinkled schwantz we have to stare down every night. Joking keeps us whole. So thank you, Grandma, for teaching me how.

Through nearly a century of loss, pain, disappointment, and conflict, Carol Mae managed to not just keep a smile on her face, but put one on the faces of nearly everyone she met. So, if you’ll excuse the turn of phrase, I’ll end by saying that though she is now at rest, I know she rests as a young woman: full of love, hope, compassion, and mischief.

 

photo credit: Giant Spectacular: Wake up Grandma via photopin (license)