Paused for the Tilt of an Axis

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Speaking you can’t wait to hit the slopes bruh

What’re you doing right here, now huh?

 

Framed by a full-length mirror sis

Scoping out your brand new bikini fit

 

Independence day’s still months away

 

What exactly is the reason

That yer waiting for better seasons?

Like this moment isn’t worth noting

As if these breaths aren’t worth blowing

While yer waiting for the rain to stop

Kiddies outside do the puddle stomp

 

Too hot

Too cold

Much rain

No snow

 

In stasis

Impatience

 

Get off

Yer ass

Do shit

Spend cash

 

Meteors aren’t stalling

Tsunamis ain’t pausing

You’re rooted in place and still stonewalling?

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Sexual Predation: It’s Not for You to Say

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The cavalcade of accusations continues. Predatory men of power are presently sweating, awaiting the possible reemergence of their past victims of sexual abuse and harassment. Other men are disgusted at best or apathetic at worst.

In the minds of men who are quick to righteously recoil at the onrushing deluge of claims of predatory behavior there lies a component that is essential to their perspective but is also ultimately fragile and tenuous. That component is the belief that they have never been an aggressor towards a woman.

Our lives can span decades and who can remember their every whim or unwanted advance? Men may find that if they delve deep into their own workplace, school and even sexual histories that they too might have taken advantage of, intimidated, or abused another person in some sexual way. No matter how much of a gentlemen a man thinks he is now does not erase or gloss over past grievances.

What I can say is that I personally have been too aggressive, too stupid and too slow in understanding that what I doing was wrong.

My views now don’t resemble the views I used to have. I would like to think I’ve always been respectful and the better of my male peers, but that’s not for me to say.

I most certainly engaged in the crass talk of teenage boys and young men which is to be expected but not excused. I want to say that I didn’t do any damage. That I didn’t strong-arm a woman into doing something she didn’t want to. That I didn’t make unwelcome sexual advances or that I didn’t speak in a way which was untoward. But that’s not for me to say.

It would be great to think that the men in my lives, be they friends, coworkers or relatives, were never prone to the same kind of sexual predation we see in each day’s news headlines. But that’s not for me to say.

What I can say is that I personally have been too aggressive, too stupid and too slow in understanding that what I doing was wrong.


I was still a teenager I think. There was a party at a friend’s apartment and at this party a friend that I had been nursing a crush on was in attendance. At some point in the evening we made out. I was not drinker at the time, nor was she. We slept near each other in the livingroom where several of our friends also slept and we periodically kissed during the night. I put my hand up her shirt and that was that, it went no further.

Oh, the idiocy of it. I was looking for solace when she was the one who had been groped.

The next morning I felt that something was off. She left abruptly in the morning and if we happened to exchange any words or not I can’t be sure. A few days later I went to meet with the same group of friends at a restaurant and was confronted by the friend who had hosted the party. She caught me quite off guard when told me she was pissed at me in front of our gathered friends. I was flabbergasted. I had no idea what she was talking about. Then she told me I had groped the aforementioned crush while she slept.

I rocked back on my heels as my mind reeled. Had I? Yes, I had put my hand up her shirt. Was it over or under her bra? Did that even matter? I flushed red and stammered.

Then I realized that I must not have known she was asleep. The room we were in at the time was perhaps not the pitchest of blacks, but it was entirely conceivable that if one were attempting to observe someone else in the dark you wouldn’t be able to tell if they were sleeping or not. I am as earnest now as I was then, I didn’t know she was sleeping when I did it.

My friend was still angry at me but took me at my word. My pathetic display of confusion perhaps had something to do with it. I don’t remember anything else from that night except that I raced home to instant message our mutual friend to tell her I had no idea and apologized until I was partway comforted by the knowledge that she believed me. Oh, the idiocy of it. I was looking for solace when she was the one who had been groped.

Too many men have been taking current events and weaponizing them for political points or just to give themselves a clear conscience.

Now, here’s the thing: I don’t know what kind of lingering effects, if any, that event had on her. The best-case scenario is that it was just another in a long string of idiot guys doing stuff to her that they shouldn’t be doing and she doesn’t remember it consciously or otherwise. But the thing that makes intentional or unintentional behavior particularly nasty is that more often than not, the man who overstepped his bounds moves on with his life and the woman is left to deal with the consequences, to pick up the pieces so-to-speak.

And many men will likely never know that they at one time or another crossed the line. They will live on in blissful ignorance of their own trespasses, kept secure by a simple lack of empathy.

Here’s another thing: I don’t know if that’s the lowest I’ve ever made a woman feel. I hope beyond hope that it is, that there’s nothing worse in my personal history than that. Not because I want to be free of the culpability of having created a victim, but because I hope no other woman was put in a spot where she thought less of herself because of something I did.

Too many men have been taking current events and weaponizing them for political points or just to give themselves a clear conscience. “Yeah, I said or did some shit I’m not proud of, but at least I’m not Harvey Weinstein.”

If you really want to show people you know what’s what, take a look back and ask yourself if you’ve always been on the right side of someone’s personal space. If you can say with your whole heart and a full throat that you’ve always been respectful, then I hope for your sake and the sake of the women in your past and present that you speak the truth. However, you must bear in mind that it’s not for you to say.


Alex Biscarner is a freelance writer living and teaching English in the Czech Republic. Connect with him on Twitter.

When Our Gods Hit the Ground

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When our gods hit the ground

How hollow we will be

Knowing

Feeling

That we were always going to be

Let down

Pushed around

Cast aside so casually

We lifted them up

On altars neatly buffed

Came to rely

To be denied

Result of supplication

Rendered automation

Fury grows

Delivered blows

Against the font

Under the feet of icons

Marble bursts apart

Slides away

Down in a cascade

And our lords meet the floor

Stomped to smithereens

Whether we erect another totem

Remains to be seen

Not Just My Wife and Never a Bitch

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Everything stopped for a long moment. Flustered, he slapped together an apology and after a few sideways glances the game continued.


I like to think of my wife not as my wife but as my partner. I feel that the idea of what a wife represents is too problematic for me to use on a regular basis. I only refer to her as my wife when speaking with lower-level English speakers to avoid confusion but eschew it in most other circumstances.

And in all ways she is just that, my partner. Whether it’s how we run our home, how we work together or how we make jokes together, we strive to think of each other as equals and that is not a quality that is inherent in the word “wife”. To be a partner is to be a part of something. To be a wife is to be labeled based on where you stand in relation to another person.

But yet I also strive to not speak for her. We are partners but I am not her spokesperson and she is not mine. When a friend of ours called her a “fucking bitch” one sunny weekend afternoon partway through a board game I immediately made it known how I felt, deriding the choice as, “fucking immature.” The action that gave rise to his response was a simple board game maneuver and nothing more, a standard practice in this particular game that she executed without vitriol or malice; just business, nothing personal.

I forced myself through the rest of the weekend-long engagement where we were holed up together amongst other friends at the family cabin of the offender’s girlfriend. That had occurred somewhere around the halfway point of the stay and I could scarcely bring myself to make eye contact with him for the remainder of our time there.

The underpinning of my relationship with my partner would then be a lie because it would have been about me all along and not about equality.

One thing I grappled with was, “Why am I offended?” The word choice certainly had a lot to do with it. If he had called her an asshole, jerk or something similar I’m not sure I would have responded the same if at all. I also tried really hard to dig deep and ask myself if he had said the same to another friend’s partner would I have found it just as despicable? I honestly feel that the answer is a solid, “Yes.”

That was an important step to me in confronting my own feelings on the matter. If what is primarily driving my own repulsion is that he cursed out my partner then it would ring hollow, false. It would mean that I somehow interpreted his transgression as a trespass against me and the things that belong to me. The underpinning of my relationship with my partner would then be a lie because it would have been about me all along and not about equality.

My oldest and dearest friends would never say such a thing to my partner and if someone is capable of saying such things then what, pray tell, are they thinking?

When I finally arrived at the conclusion that I could no longer stand to be around said person I was satisfied with my choice to disassociate with them. After we made it back to town at the end of the weekend and we all went our separate ways I made my intentions known to my partner. She too had obviously been offended and yet was not as upset about it as me. She became concerned that my decision was too rash and that I should think about it some more and weigh the consequences thoroughly. The person in question is a central figure in our social circle here and navigating the scene with such an individual labeled persona non grata would be difficult if not altogether impossible. I relented for the time being to allow for more introspection.

Her analysis seemed to me to be overly shrewd but I had listened and agreed to ruminate on it. In so doing I recalled several instances in my own father’s past where matters of pride had arisen and his mouth interjected on his behalf and subsequently killed a friendship or cost him his job. I openly considered yet again that this could be a motivator for my reaction to the whole ordeal. But I remained steadfast. My oldest and dearest friends would never say such a thing to my partner and if someone is capable of saying such things then what, pray tell, are they thinking?

My partner made an astute observation to me while I mulled things over. This friend, although an extremely fluent English-speaker, is a non-Native English-speaker. Could it be that a cultural knowledge gap or misappropriation was to blame for his choice of words? My counter-arguments were that if he didn’t know it was so bad how come he apologized so quickly and how could he not know it was so offensive? By my measure it was only a hair or two away from the C-word and why choose that particular word when he could’ve chosen an insult more gender-neutral and tame? Because he knew how harsh a thing it would be to say and perhaps lacked the cordiality, self-control or maturity to refrain from spitting it out. The invocation of self-control is not without merit, as this is the same person who once, at a session of Pub Trivia, became so upset about his team not getting a point that he threw a pen which almost hit my partner in the face. So, my assertion that he has the capacity for rage and lacks self-control is not entirely without merit and should be noted.

The experience was altogether new to me and that could have played an outsized role in the shock of the instant. Maybe it wounded me more because as a woman she’s had to grow a callous over where the word lands each time it’s launched.

I made the choice and decided I just didn’t want to be around him. In spite of all of these things which I verbalized, my partner still didn’t think it wise to sever ties. We were in the midst of planning an extended vacation away and when he reached out to her after I made my feelings known to him, she told him that maybe after we returned from our trip I would be more forgiving.

During the course of our time away my partner made her reservations about my decision known and pleaded with me to think it over some more. Eventually I relented and agreed that we wouldn’t put up a proverbial wall and that the next time the opportunity arose we would be open to everyone in our social circle. I acquiesced because I respect her opinion and her feelings. And because, I started to think, perhaps she’d been called a “bitch” before and was used to it by now. She has often told me that she had a lot of guy friends over the years, probably just as many as women perhaps even more. And that one of her ex’s group of friends was not all that classy. For me, this had been the first and only time someone had ever called my partner or even a girlfriend a “bitch” while in my presence. The experience was altogether new to me and that could have played an outsized role in the shock of the instance. Maybe it wounded me more because as a woman she had to grow a callous over where the word lands each time it’s launched.

She’s a modest person, wildly talented and beautiful, and the key reason we live the great life that we do. She’s the planner of most things and my duty is to help her to realize her personal goals and the goals she imagines for the two of us. She is the visionary, not I, and I try to position myself as a tool to be used in the implementation of her aspirations. And so, even though I feel that allowing this person back into our lives flies in the face of what I personally feel, I am not the only person in this relationship. If she is willing to sustain a friendship with someone in spite of what has transpired, then I have only to match her resolve and uphold my end of this partnership.


Alex Biscarner is a freelance writer and English teacher living in the Czech Republic. Follow him on Twitter.

The Burden of Taking Action

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This week has been draining. I don’t even live in the states these days and the news cycle has all but crushed my will to live. It’s hard to imagine what living in the U.S. on a daily basis is like and I can understand why many have already retreated back into their happiness hidey-holes after taking to the streets only months ago. My social media accounts were rife with friends and family sharing pictures of themselves at a march or sharing articles about the current state of affairs. But that has almost dried up and people are back to talking about sports and Netflix.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. You don’t have to be like that.

Whether it’s the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the devastation in Puerto Rico, birth control, transgender protections, the FBI’s targeting of so-called black identity extremists, the standoff with North Korea or whatever particular controversy appeared just as I was writing this, it can be too much for any one person to stomach.

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But let’s be real for a second if we can. Imagine you’re seeing all of these headlines and in addition to that you are a person of color. Imagine you are a woman. Imagine you are transgendered. If you really do want to make America and the world a better, safer, kinder and gentler place for all people, you have to remember that you are not the only one and you are not the only person with struggles in their life. And that if you’re more like me than you’re not (that is, a straight, white male) then please try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you give up on activism or donating to charities. No one has to be alone.

Which brings me to my next point: What can you do? You perhaps have a job and bills to pay so taking off to Washington D.C. every weekend that there’s a march for a cause you believe in is probably not a logistical or economic possibility. And maybe you don’t have an enormous largesse that enables you to write big checks to charities and organizations that exist to help level the playing field or provide disaster relief.

grownup

But there is stuff happening locally and only five dollars can make a difference. If a hundred people read this and agree and they all send five bucks to a charity suddenly there’s an extra five hundred dollars that they didn’t have before. If you attend a local political action you may find yourself feeling more confident and emboldened to create change after rubbing elbows with like-minded citizens. Think globally, act locally as they say. I could have thrown out something hokey but this piece is a bit too sunshine, rainbows and unicorn farts already.

It occurred to me that for many perhaps they’re paralyzed by choice. With all of the various causes and emergencies withdrawing from reality can be a lot easier than putting one’s pride or hopes on the line to bring about social good. Maybe just pick one thing? Choose one lane. If you don’t think you feel like you can help everybody, at least help somebody.

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But kudos abound to you if you show up for every fight. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, don’t pass up an opportunity to bring about change. We have a long way to go and there are people who need help from someone like you. I even left some suggestions below. Get going!

Alex Biscarner is a freelance writer living and teaching English in the Czech Republic. Connect with him on Twitter.