Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Irish Albatross and other Ancient Anomalies, or SSIAW, Single Strong Irish American Woman

My father was an imposing man.  He was large and at times loud.  Intimidating and strong.  In a time and place far away and long ago, he was a presence to take notice of.  He and I together created quite a contrasting pairing.  I was slight and wiry (in my prepubescent hipless form at least) he was over 6 feet tall and 300+ pounds of mammoth proportions.  He championed me and valued me and held before me this concept that I could challenge adversity and have a shot at coming out ahead.  When you are raised up with a giant believing in you, it’s hard to imagine you can’t achieve great things or at least, take on gigantic problems.

I learned how to banter and barb and at times maybe, swagger under his tutelage.  I could at one time long ago, drink a few men under the bar.  In that time and place long ago and far away, where such a skill might be valued. I could remain standing with a devil may care glance and a wicked smile.  I could dish the wit and wipe it clean.  I could discuss politics, and world issues and tell you the quickest way from Manhattan to Queens, Long Island to the Bronx and back again.  I could quietly observe and take it all in and speak when it was necessary and not a moment sooner or a word minced.  I imagined I would grow up and old in much the same way.  I have only very recently come to terms with the reality that I have been channeling a 50 year old man for most of my life with very little success or acceptance.  My thoughts and perspective don’t match my packaging.  It is perhaps, unsettling, to say the least.  I seem to occasionally believe that posturing myself and speaking with directness while limiting my word usage is the way to operate.  Instead, I am known as cryptic.  By several.  Many.  OK… Most.  

A while back, as I moved further away from the home and community of my youth, and then away from my family, I started putting my  “Irish” down as opposed to getting it up.  I felt it best to contain or conceal it.   I questioned the Irish pride I had always taken for granted.  I wanted to know what we were so proud of.  I was let down by what I saw as “false advertising”.  And I was struggling to see the accomplishments and in turn pride of those closest to me.  It seemed for a time we were mostly embattled and intoxicated and struggling.   I was tired of it and weighed down by it.

I now believe turning my back on it may be my largest regret in life, thus far.  I have spent far too long attempting to find my way because I lost myself in attempting to quiet or alter the core of who I am, my cellular being, my cultural truth.  It  seemed my “Irish” was up a great deal, and it seemed that many around me didn’t recognize this aspect of me as my “Irish”, didn’t relate to it, and didn’t enjoy it.  Even some that proclaimed to be Irish, go figure!  I had believed it my birth rite and duty to speak the truth with directness and no apology.  Not quite brutal honesty, that hurtful variety, but honesty and directness.   I have not typically been thought of as subtle.  I have tried to quiet this, at least in some areas of my life or for some time. 

In spite of my attempts to quiet and conceal this Irishness about me, I have occasionally taken something on, an issue, or perhaps a man, or man-sized problem and imagined myself to be a six foot tall, 300+ pound trooper.  Only I am not.  And so I could not.  Instead, I have lead some to the false conclusion that I am hostile or aggressive or crazed. I have been told, directly, I can be intimidating.  I have merely been attempting to be heard and I had falsely concluded and was trained up in the idea that the way to be heard, was to be direct and loud.  Physically posturing myself in close proximity to whoever I believed was in need of hearing what I had to say has not been so effective.  It might have been daunting.  Last year I was told to “relinquish the power”.  It kinda sounded like I was perceived to be a six foot tall 300+ pound man in tights in the days of King Arthur, or a swashbuckler… Relinquish?  Really?  Only I was a 5 foot 5 and a 1/2 inch, 130 pound frustrated girl-woman attempting to get a large imposing man to stop disregarding me and my authority as a professional.  Silly girl, me, I didn’t have any authority, and so I couldn’t understand how to relinquish a damn thing….or that I might be required to.

In my personal life I have wanted what we all want, to be able to be loved and accepted, or at least most recently, grab a beer with a 50 some-odd year old Irish bloke.  Irish!  The real deal.  Practically the man of my dreams, I think, I thought.  I proclaimed thrillingly.  This should have been easy.  Except, I had such a difficult time calmly presenting myself and allowing the fates to intervene in one way or another.   I was elated and excited and nervous.  Almost girly!  Shy and anxious but wanting!  The hives and hysteria would not stop me, I wanted a go at this and bad!  I had attempted to alter who I am in an effort to attract.  I tried on more girly, or my concept of it.  Giddy, girly, gabby garishness. Followed by forgetting the fact that I’m not really a 50 year old man, when I tried to just ask him out on a date, it didn't go over well.   Girls aren’t supposed to do this, and I didn't do it very girly. I tried to go back to the girliness thing.  Only this time it was overboard and overly zealous.  The 50 year old man I have channeled for much of my life, couldn’t grasp that I couldn’t just be direct. The Irish bloke had stated he was interested, appeared as such, hinted, and asserted as much.  “WTF, we’re attracted to each other, we’re both available, why make this harder than it needs to be- beer, pizza, laugh a little, get to know each other, hit the sack?  No?”  No.  My manly attempt didn't go over.  My girly attempts? Well, I don't even want to know, they were a big hot mess of nothing like me, back to my manly-like frustration, girly attempts again…. I couldn’t keep up with what I was putting out there, or what was coming in.

It’s a little tough to convey that I am a spicy little girly-packaged woman with a matter of fact 50 year old Irish man-brain.   Is that a choice on the sexuality continuum?   I’m not sure who I am going to match up with or when.   I am seeking a man, strong and big.  One that can cut me down to the size of the girly-packaged woman that I am, and tolerate my false bravado and imagined manliness with an eye roll, a nose snorting smile and a knowing head shake.   A strong grasp would be handy, too.  In case I feel the need to rumble or do something physical and manly-like, or to hold me tight and remind me that I am simply a woman. 

Feminine and girly is a bit harder to manage than I had thought.  Almost as easy as giving up my Irish.  I have been making some progress.  I did find my bosoms last spring and projected them, highlighted them, featured them for this Irishman and anyone else who noticed.   I surprised myself here.  I’m going to keep this going as long as I can, age and gravity notwithstanding.  I had been downplaying and ignoring and guarding this aspect of girlishness.  I no longer feel the need.  I’m going to rid myself of the other concept of girlishness I had attempted to project and failed miserably at.  Giddy and gabby and garish.  Gruesomely out of my comfort zone. I’ll keep the gam-featuring, hip hugging pencil skirts.  It’s not going to be easy to promote all that I have to offer and find someone that can appreciate my feminine side and my masculine side, but c’mon, I’m available, I’m not too shabby on the attract-o-meter, age and gravity notwithstanding.   I like beer and pizza and WTF (as in feck,) Botta Bing, Botta Boom, what’s not to like?  

I can be a bit much at times, I suppose.  I could have seemed pushy…. annoying…. and overbearing during my last quest.  Initially, I  might have simply been operating from a man-centric mindset.  Direct.  Efficient. Not mincing of words or time.  Followed by what I thought to be girly, filling up space and time with an “all about me” unfiltered account of minutia and a miasma of meaningless maelstrom.   I couldn’t figure out whether to be alluring or assertive.  I ended up being neither.  In the end, it didn’t much matter, our paths did not cross. Truth is, I was in need of divorce distraction, pointing out the glaring discrepancies and distortions would not serve me well.  I wasn’t interested in just a roll in the hay, or hitting the sack, but I wasn’t ready for anything more and at the same time I wanted it all!   Another area of my life that, for the time being, could not be merged with any finesse. In the scheme of wildly erratic post divorce behavior, this was perhaps my albatross and it was fortunately rather contained, albeit quite a nuisance at times I'm sure.  It lead to much discovery and at times it was provocative and powerful, and playful, at least to my mind, which remains the only one I can speak of.   

A couple of recent interactions and observations keep me hopeful.  A night out at an AOH* event had me bellied up to the bar, quick witted and charming-like, all banter and a bit bosomy.  The brawny bartender attempting to buy more beers than being paid for, waved good-bye at the end of the evening with a great big smile and a fluttery wave, almost….maybe…… feminine-like in it’s flourish, giddy and overly-zealous.  And all those skirt wearing bag-pipers…manly in skirts, very.    Maybe there’s more to being Irish than I had realized. What the hell is a Hibernian?????   The Irish are known for many things. Patriarchic by custom, Matriarchic by circumstance.  (This could explain my masculine/feminine bearing.)   Lyrical, creative, quick-witted, strong and physical.  This really can’t be so difficult….. can it?   Maybe I need to relinquish a few more thoughts and ideas…

*AOH- Ancient Order of Hibernians- a private man club for the Irish. Hey, isn’t that illegal?  Sexist and discriminatory and such?  …fine, …..I’m relinquishing…

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