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Freedom 29

October 6th, 2014

I’ve been around the world and I have seen your love…

Mykonos, Greece When you travel as often as I do, it’s very easy to start taking it for granted. It’s very easy to forget that most people will not do the things or see the places in their lifetime that I will in a single year. And I’m not just saying that to be a dick! I mean, I’d like to think I’m pretty good about being grateful for my current circumstances, and of course, my world-spanning 74 hockey rinks, too. However, leading up to this particular journey to Greece, I was really starting to view going away as more of a burden than anything else.

It was probably the fact that I had just come off an exhausting finale to the offseason. I was just getting over my west coast roadie and adjusting to life back in the desert, when it was already time to leave again. I was uncharacteristically lazy about preparing for my 13 days in Greece. I couldn’t be bothered to research anything to do or even book my hotel rooms. I decided to do the whole thing off-the-cuff, likely because I wasn’t viewing this vacation as a totally-awesome-super-fun Greek adventure, but rather a necessary commute to bacon, bathtubs, hair salons and abaya-free living.

My first two days in Athens were spent in bed. I have no idea why, but I crashed. Maybe it was the fact that I had been working double for 4 weeks straight, and once I arrived in the sanctity of my hotel room my body determined it was safe to finally shutdown and recharge. I kept trying to will myself to get out and do something, but I learned pretty fast that forcing it wasn’t going to make it happen. At one point I did manage to get myself out of bed and out onto the streets in search of water and supplies, but I was like a zombie, or in the very least a drunkard trying to walk a straight line unsuccessfully. I just needed sleep, and as a result I didn’t do a fraction of the things I wanted to do in such an interesting city.

Next I was off to the islands a.k.a. the land of honeymooners and romantic getaways. Don’t get me wrong, the sights and the beaches were amazing, but there was a serious lack of excitement going on in my life. I was (and am) still holding firm on the resolution I made on the Southern California portion of my west coast roadie to swear off all naughtiness of the meaningless variety, which basically meant that I was eating early dinners for one, and finding myself in bed alone by 9 every night! I was starting to think that my Greek adventure (if you can even call it that) was going to be one of the first trips I have taken where I didn’t come away with an interesting story at the end of it all. But then tonight it finally hit me – the story to come from this experience wasn’t actually my own.

Perhaps it was the fact that they were the only demographic of people whose stories could rival my own, or perhaps it was the simple fact that we shared the same dinner and bedtimes, but I found myself spending a lot of time in the company of retirees and seniors over the course of this trip. They managed to put a couple things in perspective for me, namely that in a lifetime we actually have many lives to live.

If there’s one thing I realized in my late 20’s, it’s that I really should have listened to my elders. No matter how old fashioned or out of touch my crazy Spanish grandmother always seemed to be, looking back she was always right. I remember my first week of university. She made a point to give me some serious advice about attracting a man because if I didn’t land one by the time I finished my degree, then I was basically fucked. “Let me tell you what you do. You see a nice looking man, then you go to him, ‘Excuse meeeeee do you know where is the library?’ Very sweetly, always sweet. Even if you know where the library is, you pretend you don’t! You pretend you don’t know anything!” Then she tossed her head in a ditzy manner that I assume was supposed to be flirtatious.

Of course, I just rolled my eyes at her and thought that the men of my generation didn’t actually fall for (or go for) the stupid female routine. But as my 20’s came around, and then my mid-20’s, it became painfully clear that my crazy Spanish grandmother wasn’t so crazy after all, and that a surprisingly large number of men actually prefer their women to be airheads. Yes, even the smart guys! Sadly, some women give in and dumb it down, while the rest of us hope that there is an Adonis or two floating around out there, who actually considers it a measure of his own worth to earn the respect and affection of a woman he regards as strong and intelligent (which it is).

So you’re probably wondering what shitty guys and dumb broads have to do with my new membership to the 65+ club. Well, society and even “science” like to promote that women are no longer attractive to men once they hit 30. Yes, there are “studies” that “prove” this, which naturally causes a lot of women to buckle under the social pressure of not being tied down at an early age. As a result, life choices are made out of haste and for the wrong reasons. And for those of us who refuse to bat our eyelashes and pretend we don’t know how to get to the library, the outlook is much worse. We are basically programmed to believe that if we haven’t locked down a man by our early 30’s, we need to start making other arrangements, like cat ownership. Many fear that romantic happiness and having a life is a one-or-the-other decision – and even I half believed it too!

That’s what I found so interesting about the 4 retired couples I spent time with in Greece. They all had one thing in common – they had only been together for 2 or 3 years! There was the couple from Belgium who had just been married on Crete and were making their way around the islands as part of their honeymoon. The couple from Texas who met doing amateur dance competitions as a hobby. There was a couple from Oregon, who had taken a chance on match.com two years before, and were now traveling through the Mediterranean together. And there was a fellow Torontonian, who decided to better herself after retirement and moved to Italy to learn the language, only to fall in love with her billet – how romantic! He doesn’t speak English, so I don’t have much to say about him. Anyway, here were 8 people who had multiple lives, multiple careers and multiple loves, and I found myself a lot more excited and positive about my own future just from meeting them and hearing their stories.

Imagine how amazing life could be if we would all get it into our heads to just fucking listen to old people when they are speaking and learn from their mistakes instead of making our own. Imagine if we could live our adult lives not caring (and I mean really, truly not caring) about what people think about us or our choices. What if we didn’t make decisions based on our “image,” and just knew (and truly believed) that the people who sincerely love us will support us no matter what? But, of course, youth is stubborn, and we will continue to make poor decisions, do the wrong things, worry about our image and reputation, and sleep with the wrong people. Hey, there’s a lot of fun to be had making mistakes! So, if I was to take away one thing from my trip to Greece and share it with you, it would be this – life doesn’t end when you fuck up or when your heart breaks. Life goes on and sometimes even starts over. Over the past two weeks I was lucky enough to meet 8 amazing people who were living proof that the best days of your life are always, always, always ahead of you, and never behind you. I don’t know about you, but that makes me pretty damn excited about where my life could be going because I have some epic days behind me as it is! Of course, you already knew that, though… ;)

P.S. Happy Opening Night Eve, hockey fans! (It’s October 7th in Greece)

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How about you try using your prick for good instead of evil…

September 13th, 2014

A couple days ago I had a bit of a startling revelation. While doing my usual Thursday night grocery shop, I had caught the attention of a local man (as I so often do), and it wasn’t long before he flat out groped me as I passed him in the kitchenware aisle. The startling revelation was not that I had been grabbed in a sexual manner, but rather that I had hit the point in my Middle Eastern adventure where incidences like this no longer fazed me. Instead of yelling at him or thinking to do anything about it, the whole thing just seemed comical, “Yep, here we go again.” And that, I realized, was the most fucked up thing of all.

My usual line of defense in these situations is to pretend to take a photo of the men who attempt to “sin” with me with my iPhone. Usually this causes them to panic and run away, as a photo would be proof that they were not being virtuous…but not this time. It wasn’t long before the man was fully stalking me throughout the store as he planned his next attack. This time my friend saw him coming and attempted to head him off at the pass by wedging her shopping cart between us as she screamed, “DON’T TOUCH HER!” The cart, however, was no match for a man possessed by lust, and he honest-to-god Olympic-style dove over the cart in a successful attempt to grab me again.

After the second attack, we managed to find a group of the store’s employees so we could report the situation. As you may have guessed (if you know anything about this country), the employees simply waved us off saying, “We’re sure it was just an accident.”

You see, this is a society that believes first and foremost that men cannot control themselves. This is why all these restrictions are placed on women who live in this country. This is why we can’t try on clothes inside stores at the shopping malls. This is why we are forced to drape our bodies in shapeless, sexless cloaks before we step out our front doors. Men can’t help themselves, so women must restrict their lives and movements to keep the men from sinning against their will.

Of course, this way of thinking is more than a little fucked up, but before you blame their culture, country, or even religion, you should probably take a look in the mirror. Since I have moved here I have seen a lot of disgusting parallels between this way of thinking and the way many idiots continue to think at home. For some reason, at 29 years of age, I am still often met with outdated ideas about what women’s sexuality is supposed to be like. At home, if I’m not interested in sleeping with a particular guy it is because I’m uppity, full of myself, or a prude. If I’m not interested in sleeping with a particular guy because I’m sleeping with a guy that I actually like it is because I’m damaged, loose, or a huge slut. Either way, it shocks me that guys my age still believe that women aren’t allowed to choose who they want to fuck and when they want to do it.

Sure, you can say they try to knock us down because that feels better than sexual rejection, and I’d believe that. The biggest thing that alarms me is not that I’m (we’re) called names for things (read: men) I did or did not do, but rather that the “men just can’t help themselves” mentality in this region is also the popular mantra of the western male.

Maybe it seems crazy to you that a man would see me (in full sexless robe) and lose his mind like what happened on Thursday, but how is that any different from the guys at home who instantly go gaga for ice girls, models, or anyone else showing even a tiny bit of skin. What do you say to your date when she catches you checking out every girl who walks passed your table on what was supposed to be your romantic evening out? Oh, I know. “Babe, I’m a guy. I can’t help it.” Actually, you can.

Some of the expats I meet in this country are actually worse than the local guys who grope in grocery stores. I’ve met American guys here who have straight up told me within seconds of meeting me that they had the means to get away with fucking me in the desert, like that didn’t sound rapey at all, and totally would make me want to go out with them. And pretty much every guy has come here with the fantasy of taking down (read: taking advantage of) a local woman, which probably doesn’t seem fucked up to you at all because they’re guys and can’t help it, right? “Yeah… my dick is god’s gift to oppressed women.”

I’ve never quite understood why, in 2014, the outdated fantasy of the virgin is still a thing back home. I’m not quite sure why men believe that women are somehow better in bed when they have absolutely no experience whatsoever. That’s like giving someone who has never picked up a hockey stick an NHL contract. Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being a virgin, just that there is no logic in that fantasy. Just like there is no logic in saying a sexually experienced woman is damaged goods and somehow worse in bed for her experience.

Anyway, that is the end of my rant for this weekend. I will close by saying that I urge all men to start using their dicks for good instead of evil. If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Oh, and sorry to burst your bubble, but the next time you see a woman wearing a niqab (veil), I need you to remember one thing. She’s not “eye-fucking” you, she’s just looking at you. Don’t let the eyeliner fool you. I also don’t think I need to tell you that sexualizing these women is no different than how my grocery store groper sexualized me and probably other women just like me. Yeah…let that sink in for a minute.

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