Once in a Lifetime

 

I’ve never made friends quickly. You all should know that by now. At my previous job, my boss told me that I seemed to have put up a shell around myself. That’s not entirely true, but he meant well. I heard recently that he walked out of the store he’d been transferred to because the district manager is a total bitch. I flatter myself that I might have started a bit of a trend by walking out when I did. I wasn’t the first person to walk out, but still. They started a dangerous precedent by pushing good people out, and anyway, I didn’t come here to gloat. I’ve learned by now that what they say about living well being the best revenge is true. It doesn’t mean that the bad guy always gets his comeuppance. Oftentimes, they kinda just drift away. Most of the time, they never learn their lesson. They go on being shitty, and the most you can hope for is that the people around them realize what shits they are and keep their distance. But they don’t ever just go away.

It was a big decision when I decided to be a blogger instead of a vlogger or whatever. I have a very animated speaking style and a rather distinctive voice, but I would prefer not to go on camera. I don’t like having my picture taken. Sometimes I think I might have fit right in in one of those cultures where they believe that having your picture taken robs you of your soul or something like that. Then again, maybe not. I’m not a Luddite (it’s actually a common myth that the Luddites were anti-technology, but never mind); I just try to resist the temptation of going with trends. That’s why I’ve always felt so out of my own time. I know that we all like to think of ourselves as special snowflakes, and that’s great. But there are a lot of people out there who don’t think of themselves as ordinary who, to my eyes, appear rather conventional. I don’t believe that’s entirely subjective. I think that most people are boring, and that interesting people come in all shapes and sizes. There’s nothing wrong with being boring, I suppose. It’s all in what you want out of life.

cybermenIt’s frustrating, working in a medium that doesn’t provide you with any immediate gauge as to what people think. Actually, I think that might be a strength. Facebook has the “like” button, and actually, so does this blog. But it’s not like there are message boards where people discuss my stuff at length. If they did, I probably wouldn’t read it because I need my headspace. That’s the problem with the internet: it’s all just nerds with opinions. I still don’t understand why so many Whovians hate “Nightmare in Silver” so much. I remain convinced that it’s the best Cybermen storyline since “Earthshock”, not that the competition is particularly steep. It’s definitely overstuffed and yeah, the kids are kind of annoying, but it also has some arresting visuals, a great performance by Matt Smith, and some of the snappiest dialogue the show ever produced. (“I trust the Doctor.” “Are you saying he knows what he’s doing?” “I’m not sure I’d go that far.”) For once, the Cybermen act like Cybermen (sort of proto-Borg, although I don’t know if there’s any truth to the rumor that they inspired the Borg) rather than substitute Daleks. Go Gaiman.

There’s nobody I agree with 100% of the time. This leads me to believe that nobody is right 100% of the time except for me. But seriously, I do believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth. I believe in subjectivity as well; I just think that while most human beings might, on some level, be more or less the same, that doesn’t mean you have to get along with everyone, and it’s okay to think somebody’s a shithead if they’ve wronged you. I guarantee that there are folks out there who think I’m a shithead, although I think most of them are shitheads too, so I guess it kind of evens out. There’s no bigger waste of time, in my opinion, than trying to make friends with everyone. A lot of my idols probably wouldn’t have much to say to me if they met me. Then again, maybe they would and I just need to get a little bit better at making overtures.

I’ve always believed that endings aren’t bad so long as you get to end things on your own terms. I talked to an asshole on an online dating site just now who couldn’t believe that I choose to work in retail and customer service jobs despite having degrees from two of the best universities in the world. Well, I am a smart motherfucker. Right now, I need my headspace, that’s all. You can’t get back at everyone who has hurt you. Robert, the near-sociopath who screwed me out of my living situation about two years ago, is probably living quite comfortably now. Whether or not he’s happy is debatable. I’m not very happy, but it’s all in how you define happiness, isn’t it?

In case it’s not obvious, I’m signing off here. I’ve cranked out these last few posts in what could be considered a binge (albeit the tamest binge in the entire history of the word) because sometimes, you just want to get it over with. Oh no, don’t take that the wrong way. I’m glad I did this shit. I used to think that you needed to have all your shit figured out before you ended something, but it turns out you don’t. Is death the only part where that happens? I don’t know. But it’s not as scary as it looks. Not that I plan on doing it anytime soon.

I’ll leave you with something silly. I’m still kind of a funnyman despite spending most of my time here sharing Deep Thoughts. See ya around.

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Water

water

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my mother and I had an argument a little while back in which she told me that she was worried that I was spending too much time alone. That’s probably true, but it’s not my fault. I still have a social life. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve hung out with anyone, but I’ve gone for months at a time like that and while I wouldn’t want to live through it again, it remains that I don’t need to go out partying every night to stay sane. Just every so often. What frustrates me is the feeling of having to go way out of my way to find someone to spend time with. It’s usually I who reach out, not the other way around. That needs to stop. I still don’t know what to do about it.

The irony is that my mother was correct when she said that she thought I might be “venting [my] frustrations on the internet”, but not in the way she thought. What do you picture when you hear that phrase? I see somebody leaving racist comments on YouTube. I’m not a troll. I can be a mouthy bastard, but I don’t say shit just to piss people off. More than likely, I’m the guy who mistakes a troll for somebody who is actually trying to start a discussion. They’re easy to spot on YouTube, less so on Facebook. I don’t use the Book of Faces quite as often as I used to (although I still check it multiple times a day—baby steps, people) because most of the interactions I have tend to be negative. I commented on a friend’s post about something, some friend of hers took exception to what I’d said, and when I said, “Who asked you?”, he said, “I could ask you that same question.” What is this, a fucking playground? I should have known better than to fall for that “I know you are, but what am I?” bullshit, but I hadn’t realized until then what a dbag he was. So I deleted all my responses to anything he’d said so that it looked like he was arguing with himself. Ha ha.

I don’t have to explain why what he said was obnoxious, do I? If you don’t get it, don’t bother to say so. I hate it when people try to resolve an argument by dragging you down to their level. Instead of responding to what you say, they just deflect it, as if both of you being wrong somehow makes them right. It’s the logic used by Aaron Eckhart’s character in Thank You For Smoking, and in case you were still on the fence about it, let me assure you that smoking is very, very bad for you. The person who benefits from stalling rational discussion and preventing anything from getting done is the enemy of the world. (“The Enemy of the World” is my favorite 2nd Doctor storyline. I had to work in a Doctor Who reference.) The tricky part is that nothing is very, very good at masquerading as something. Look at the Keystone XL Pipeline. That’s a whole lot of nothing. No, it’s not something. If you think it is, go away. That, or read a book not written by a right-wing nutjob. Please.

There is one thing that I have learned about relationships despite having never dated anyone: You don’t have to compromise on everything. Maybe I’m an asshole for saying this, but I get a little dose of schadenfreude from watching smug couples fall apart. It’s not that I’m parading around laughing at them or anything, but really, is there anything more irritating than somebody who acts like they’ve got it all figured out because they’ve found someone? They see having a partner as the endpoint, and everything after that is just coasting downhill. Happily partnered people, back me up here: It’s not at all like that, right? Being in a relationship doesn’t mean saying goodbye to all of your problems so much as seeing all of them played out on a larger scale. I’ve heard people say that they think of the period of their life prior to meeting their One and Only as a completely different phase. Of course, you can’t go around auditioning people to be the One; you kind of just find people you’d like to know better and go from there. If you choose the right one, you’ll want to keep knowing them better. I guess.

I refuse to think of what I’m doing these days as “finding myself”. I don’t know what that means. It sounds like something affluent white people do in big cities after graduating college in every TV show ever made. My problems these days are not so very different from the ones that I dealt with as a child. I still suffer from crushing existential dread much of the time, although my attitude might have altered slightly. Things have been a little slow lately. There might be a shakeup in the staff at the restaurant, which could be tough for me to adjust to. Also, we just had the slowest night I’ve ever seen. Nobody came in, except to get takeout. Nobody. I bring a book to read on my downtime and even I think that’s boring.

As Dr. Seuss once said, unslumping yourself is not easily done. I just have to double down on learning how to use my alone time. Because I will take that over being surrounded by the wrong people. I hope I never get desperate enough to let that change. In the meantime, I must ask you all to stay strong and, if you haven’t yet, check out Orphan Black. It’s a really, really, really good show. What’s more, nobody watches it, so you’ll look extra cool once everyone does (which they will). Mazel Tov!

fucks

More Than Human

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEADThere is a difference between mellowing out and losing your edge. Most people mellow out as they get older. That’s natural. Sidley Lumet made a string of good-to-great movies from the late 50s into the mid-70s, from 12 Angry Men to Dog Day Afternoon. His pace slowed after that, but he never lost it completely. His final film was Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, an unflinchingly cynical piece of work that would be impossible to sit through if it weren’t so gripping. A lot of artists have a 10-15 year period relatively early in their careers during which they crank out one classic after the next. Springsteen was like that. So was Akira Kurosawa. John Carpenter, too, although he was a little hit-and-miss even when he was in his prime. Alfred Hitchcock is an outlier. He made two of his best-regarded films, Psycho and Vertigo, when he was pushing 60. I haven’t seen any of his films from the 70s, but I’ve heard some very positive things about Frenzy. If I mellow out, that’s fine. If I lose my edge, kill me. I’m not kidding.

I’ve cried at only a couple of movies in my lifetime. Ikiru is one. If you’ve seen that one, you probably know which scene I’m talking about. Even if you haven’t, the DVD cover gives it away. Dear Zachary is another. It’s one of the most wrenching films ever made, made even more so by the fact that it’s a documentary. The last half hour of that movie will rip your heart out. The most recent one was Mary and Max, a claymation film from Australia. It’s on Netflix, so if you haven’t seen it, hie thee hence over there and watch it immediately. It’s about a New Yorker with Asperger’s who becomes pen pals with a little girl in Australia. As a warning, let me say that though the film is animated, it is not kid-friendly, and it gets dark pretty late into its running time. But it’s worth it. I respond to dark comedies better than most other genres, perhaps because my life is one. That film is hopeful, just unconventionally so. Don’t feel sorry for Max.

There’s a general rule that I’ve observed when it comes to couples. People who are in healthy, fulfilling relationships rarely feel the need to talk about it. You can spend a significant amount of time getting to know them before they say the words, “My girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/partner/whatever….” People who are insecure about their relationship and want to hide behind it as a means of deflecting criticism are the ones who always gush about their partners and how perfect they are. It’s more willful self-delusion than anything else. They want to believe that because of this relationship, they are a totally different person than they were before. This requires that their partner sit still and be objectified to be complicit in maintaining the illusion. It’s a form of co-dependency, an immaturity that tries to pass itself off as maturity. There’s nothing wrong with a little PDA here and there, but if you make YouTube videos consisting entirely of you and your boyfriend kissing and canoodling, I feel justified in saying that your relationship is not long for this world. That is all.

I’ve said before that I never want to work a 9-to-5 job. I’m actually starting to like the feeling of being free when everyone else is at work, even if the flipside is that I often have work when everyone else is out partying. Maybe that’s because I’m a weirdo, or maybe it’s because I like to remind myself that I’m a weirdo. I wonder if other people find me intimidating. Do they hang back from talking to me because I scare them off? As I write this, I’m still doing a slow burn over the events in Ferguson, Missouri. I don’t have the time or the energy to talk about that at length now. But I will reiterate what I have said before: If you are one of those people who insist that this isn’t about race, you’re part of the problem. I hear people tell me that if I were nicer, people would be more willing to listen to me. No, I think the only way I ever get someone to listen to me is by telling them exactly what I think of them. It’s not “I speak my mind, and if you can’t handle it, fuck you” so much as it’s “I speak my mind, and if you can’t handle it, okay then”.

You can’t really get anywhere if you can’t have a discussion. And a lot of discussion gets shortchanged because the instant I say something negative about, say, a movie, somebody says, “It’s just a movie. If you don’t like it, you can watch something else.” That’s…not a response to my criticism, however. Sometimes, I watch/read/listen to stuff that I don’t exactly like. Sometimes I say so just to see what people say back. If all people have to say is, “Why can’t you just let Person X do their own thing and not be so judgmental”, I sorta shrug and roll my eyes at the same time, then walk away. When you put yourself out there in a public forum, you are opening yourself up to criticism. That doesn’t mean you have to like it. It doesn’t even mean you have to listen to it. It just means that you should acknowledge it. Because you can’t make the stuff you don’t like just disappear. And the reason other people exist is not to tell you how wonderful you are.

I’ve been getting more into classic comic strips lately. Does anyone remember Pogo? I had never read it, but then I found out that my main man Bill Watterson is a fan. So I guess I have some reading to do.

pogo

I Want More

There’s been some drama at home lately, but I prefer not to go into that. It’s the same petty domestic nonsense that has been a thorn in my side for years running now. I don’t know if I’ll ever escape it, but I figure I should at least give complaining about it a rest. Anyway, I’m almost done with season six of 30 Rock. It’s very difficult for any show—let alone a sitcom—to keep its edge that long, but I think that even late in its run, that show is (almost) as fresh and funny as it was in its second season. And Jane Krakowski owns every second she’s onscreen.

Rural Juror

This past week has been kinda weird. I’m stuck living at a place I don’t much like, but I can’t find anything better. I wonder if I’ll ever make it back to NYC. I’m starting to get out a little more, which is nice. It’s frustrating how many of the roommate wanted ads I look at specify “light cooking only”. I mean, as long as I clean up after myself, why should it matter how much cooking I like to do? If the kitchen works, I’ll use it, and I’m pretty good at staying out of everyone else’s way. I kinda feel like cooking is something of a lost art anyway. Most people these days know how to microwave shit and get takeout, but that’s about it. To me, a roommate who makes sausage and bow-tie pasta Florentine is a plus. It fills the house with a good smell, and if you’re nice to me, I might even share some. So what’s the downside? People are weird. I mean, I am pretty good at keeping to myself, but I still need my space. And not everybody gets that.

As I wade into the dating scene, I’m starting to wonder if it’s that much like the apartment-hunting or job-hunting scene, in that you have to wade through a zillion assholes to find one who’s worth keeping, and people all bring their own weird little biases and conditions to the table, so you have to deal with that. Or maybe I’m being pessimistic. I’ve had one or two run-ins with assholes now that I’m finally getting serious about the whole thing, and one thing that I have learned is that, just like with looking for a living space or a job, you can’t go looking for a partner just to escape the dating scene. I am reminded, of all things, of that stupid Nia Vardalos movie years ago in which her character refuses to get into relationships, only going on five dates with each of her beaus because that way, you can preserve the fun and excitement of meeting new people forever and avoid feeling trapped. You can see where this is going, right? If you can’t, I’ll give you a hint: the male lead is played by John Corbett, the same dude she married in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In real life, a person like her would end up miserable and alone. And deserve it.

I didn’t actually see that movie; I just read a rather amusing takedown of it. I spend a lot of my spare time reading stuff like that. Nothing wrong with it, really, but I have to wonder just how best to integrate other shit into my lifestyle. The thing about dating is that I’m not sure if most people want what they say they do. Society expects us to get our ya-yas out when we’re young, then meet “the one” and settle down into a boring domestic life with the white picket fence and 2.5 kids and all that bullshit. And a lot of people say they want a committed, long-term monogamous relationship even though they don’t. I don’t like kids, personally, so it’s probably good luck on my part that I didn’t grow up in a part of the country where people are expected to marry at age 20 and start cranking out babies almost immediately. The whole notion that it’s okay to sleep around when you’re young as long as you stop doing that by the time you hit 30 is such nonsense. Some people aren’t made for monogamy. Some people aren’t even made for relationships. Some like relationships, but not marriage. I like all of those things, but that’s just me. I’m not passing judgment. For once.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to settle into your typical 9-to-5 job. For one thing, rush hour traffic makes me murderously angry, and for another, no. Just…no. So while my current job may cut into my social life (not that I had one to begin with), it probably beats the alternative, which seems so dull and stifling. You may say that I’ll change my mind about that someday. Don’t count on that. Not everything I believe can be chalked up to inexperience. Most of the people who say it can didn’t mature so much as stop trying.

I’m trying to wrap this one, so I’ll just say that maybe the reason I get so annoyed by all of those ads that say “light cooking only” is that I thought that learning to cook was a part of growing up, kind of like learning to drive or to tie your shoe. Who wants to eat ramen noodles three times a day anyway? Eating out all the time can be both more expensive and less healthy, and I say that as somebody who eats out regularly. I sometimes feel like I’m both an overachiever and the black sheep at the same time. I dunno, I guess I just do my own thing. I just don’t know what, exactly, I’m working towards. Besides world domination, obviously.

I never saw Pitch Perfect, but I’ve seen a million covers of this song. This one’s my favorite.

These Days

They say that as you get older, you don’t change so much as distill. A lot of the people I knew in high school just bore me these days. I saw Y Tu Mama Tambien when I was fourteen and didn’t get much out of it. The explicit sex wasn’t a problem (for me, it was kind of a turn-on to see Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal going at it), but I just couldn’t feel engaged by the main characters. They just seemed like a pair of sex-obsessed dirtbags. Of course, that’s what most teenagers are, but it took me a while to appreciate that. Even though I was a teenager myself at the time, I somehow couldn’t identify with it. That did change over time, however. Looking back, I think it’s a fine film. It’s weird to think that you could drift apart from your best friend until you realize that you don’t have all that much in common anymore, but it’s happened to me at least a few times so far. And I don’t even have that many friends.

I think the reason I find myself drifting away from some of these people is that I see so many of them “settling down”. I put that in quotes because to some people, that seems to mean finding somebody they want to marry, as if all you have to do is find somebody you want to spend the rest of your life with and then you can spend it with them. But once you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you have to actually spend the rest of your life with them. Deciding that you want to spend the rest of your life with them is only the first step. I always get bugged when I hear people talk about their relationship as something that is going to last the ages, because so far, it’s lasted a couple of fights, maybe a handful of personal and professional setbacks, and that’s it. I’ve said it before, but my future husband had better be tough as nails. It’s not even so much about whether he’ll be able to handle me as whether or not we’ll be able to spend all that time together and not get bored. Seriously, let’s take it one step at a time.

I hate the expression “follow your bliss”. Joseph Campbell originated it, I think, and he’s the one who wrote about the hero’s journey and how certain storytelling tropes can be found in every culture and shit. I know what he means; I just hate the sound of it. It seems almost fatalistic, and I am not a fatalist. There is no “meant to be”, there is only what is and what isn’t. This might seem at odds with my own spiritual beliefs, which are more pantheistic than atheistic, but I don’t think it is. If there is a God, He doesn’t have a plan for you. It’s not a simple as just living the life that was preordained. Instead, you just have to live the best life you can, and maybe if you’re lucky, the Flying Spaghetti Monster will meet you halfway on occasion.

Let’s talk, for a second, about In-N-Out Burger. Actually, let’s talk about Chick Fil-A. A few years ago, CEO Dan Cathy stirred up controversy when he said that he did not support gay marriage. You might reasonably ask what gay marriage has to do with fast food, but that’s exactly the point: Who the fuck asked him what his views on gay marriage were? Obviously, you can continue to eat there even if you don’t share his views, but that leads us to my next point: I really like In-N-Out. It’s the only fast food chain that I patronize on anything more than a once-in-a-blue-moon basis (I honestly can’t remember the last time I ate at McDonald’s or Burger King), but something tells me I don’t share the CEO’s views. The Texas-based family that founded it is, I believe fundamentalist Christian, and if you look on the bottom of their drink cups, you will notice the words “John 3:16” printed on there. But that’s irrelevant. None of the chief executives have, to my knowledge, issued any public statements on gay marriage. They also pay their employees a good starting wage. So even though I brought this up, I think I’ll just call it off. Because nothing beats a double-double animal style.

When my father had cancer, he would take me along to support groups because I was a toddler and there was nowhere else he could leave me. He would tell everybody there that I was “shy”. I don’t think I am. Socially awkward, maybe even withdrawn, but not shy. In the right setting, I can be the life of the party. Ask anybody who’s ever gotten a real conversation out of me. But not when surrounded by people with metal voices and/or missing limbs and shit (my father used to be a smoker). He said that what he got out of this was a sense of perspective: surrounding himself with people who were even more fucked up than he was made him feel better about his own situation. I feel like that’s why I’m on OKCupid. Nobody ever gets everything they want, but I have a nasty feeling that I’m not going to get to be with one of the jocks that I spent all of high school (and most of college and, yes, probably the years after that) lusting after. I suppose I can live with that, but it’s nice to know that there are some folks who are interested in me whose interest I don’t return. Hey, I’m allowed to have standards, too. I just have to figure out what’s reasonable.