Archive for October, 2012

Welcome to The Manly Issue of my blog, modeled after Magic City Magazine’s seminal Man Issue, published in May, which I just found lying on the bottom shelf of a “Take a Book, Leave a Book” library. I guess The Man Issue‘s an okay title. For non-men.

What’s the “Magic City?” you roar, my curious lions? Well, what is it? (you cry, like birds of the jungle). Why, it’s Billings, Montana! Years ago, a traveling magician was murdered here, by another, more powerful magician, who went on to build an enchanted sugar beet refinery that still stands today!

According to the cover of the magazine, emblazoned in bold type over the face of a ruggedly squinty man(gician?), “THE MOST INTERESTING MEN IN THE WORLD LIVE HERE.”


Montana is where men go to be men. What’s in Montana? (you whisper beseechingly). Men. What do men like? (you implore in the water-language of norwhals). Women. Montana has those, too. They drive trucks sometimes, so that’s hot. They have guns, too. Hot. Hot women. Hot Montana.

Ryan Baer is a man and he lives in Montana. Montana’s a man’s place, hombre.

This is an artistic rendering of Ryan’s chest:

[He wouldn’t let me post it! Men don’t put up with such foolishness.]

Men have hobbies.

Men have pets.

Sometimes men can be vulnerable.

Men have so many hobbies.

Ryan has an absurd number of hobbies. Ryan says, “A New Yorker would collapse under so many hobbies.”

On being a man in Montana, Ryan says, “I have very little to say about it.”


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Marriage Blog

I got married this year, to my longtime boyfriend, Ryan, and we didn’t take each other’s names, or combine them in any way, and we don’t (GASP) have rings. (There has been some gasping about that, calculated to fall just within earshot — as in, NO RING! GASP! —  followed by animated whispering). Sorry folks, not ready to give up our separate and often overlapping strings of affairs quite yet;  in our current practices, rings would just be unsanitary.

Love is great. It should be celebrated, in general. However, the love between two or three or four consenting adults or one adult and an inanimate object should be celebrated only if that’s what those people/objects want. Some couples prefer a barbecue with a few family, friends, and amiable puppy dogs. Some want the dress, bridesmaids, bachelor parties, wedding blogs, the whole deal. Some just really don’t want any of that business at all.

Ryan and I love each other. I’m not going to provide a metaphor for our love. Just take my word that it exists. Anyway, the impetus for our legal union was the fact that I didn’t have health insurance, and he did. We held a private ceremony, in which we were married by a stranger. 

It was exactly what we wanted.

The couples getting married these days, in my experience, tend to be people who’ve been in committed relationships for years. For them, marriage does not mean embarking on a whole new life. For Ryan and me, getting married didn’t mean we were more in love than before, or that we were finally “ready.” I am not a better cook (but thanks for asking!). Our relationship is always changing, because our lives are always changing. We’re an adaptable folk. We like the same movies. We listen to each other. We try to understand. This does not guarantee anything, but we hope we can continue more or less as we are, or better than we are. Someday, we’d like things to be easier. We’re willing to wait. We have faith in each other. We are not perfect.

In private, in a million ways, people express love and are in love, and it’s not always something you can shoot in soft-focus and slap on a card. It’s not a movie starring people with romantic hair, tailored for mass-consumption. It’s not a ceremony. It’s not a certificate. It’s real, and it’s private.

Nobuyoshi Araki, a prolific Japanese photographer whose work merges pornography and high-art, happened to take many extraordinary and moving photos of his wife. He took photos of her on their honeymoon and on the day she died. In the documentary, Arakimentari, he recalls it was the sight of their cat playing in the snow that finally signaled in him an end to his grief.

I think these images — from Sentimental Journey (1971) and Winter Journey (1991) — are beautiful. They are beautiful because, though they’ve been viewed by perhaps millions of people, they preserve a quality of  reverence and intimacy — they communicate love and deep respect.

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My mom and I are the same person.

Just the other day, my mom said, “I don’t need to do anything fun because I enjoy working so much,” after someone said, “We should do something fun.”



My dad and I are the same person.

He had to make a phone call, so he took the phone into the living room and turned on the TV. He cleared his throat one, two, three, four, five times. He found Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the series. He cleared his throat again. He dialed. On the TV, a guy with pointy hair was holding a shard of glass to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s neck. Dad turned up the volume. He cleared his throat a seventh time. Then he hung up the phone.



My brother and I are the same person.

When he was little, he trained his horse to bite people.



This cat and I were the same person.

But he died. 



My husband and I are the same person.

We were watching a show about quantum physics, and the host began explaining something, and my husband said, “This must be old,” and changed the channel.


This is like me.

This, too.

This is me when I was ____.


I’m pretty much that same person as that person who was like those other people and those other, other people who are like them. 

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