Friday, October 24, 2014

Give, Essentially

I was reading an article, a movie review actually, but that is not important right now. The writer was making reference to character motivation and said that everyone was seeking the emotional essentials: love, sex, conversation, and compliments. This is an interesting short list. Conversation and compliments?
My first thought was Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Let's dust that off, shall we?
  • Physiological needs (Breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion)
  • Safety needs (Security of body, of employment, of resources, of morality, of the family, of health, or property)
  • Love and belonging (Friendship, family, sexual intimacy)
  • Esteem (Self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others)
  • Self-actualization (Morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts)
Emotional essentials are more advanced, so we can skip the first two, physiological and safety. The assumption being that if these first two are not being met then you have no time to ponder your lack of the emotional essentials. Convenient that sex appears as both a base physiological essential and part of the higher need to feel loved and wanted. I guess the point might be that masturbation could satisfy the base physiological need for sex, but not the higher need of feeling love and belonging.
We also can skip self-actualization since that is an intellectual essential, and not emotional. But what about esteem? Is esteem an emotional essential? I say no. Esteem is an individual essential.
Comparing love, sex, conversation, and compliments to love and belonging (friendship, family, sexual intimacy), I would have to admit that the writer was spot on. Those are the emotional essentials form Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
I did some searching. You know, Google. And from a marriage/relationship site I get the following emotional essentials:
  • Affection
  • Sexual Fulfillment
  • Conversation
  • Recreational Companionship
  • Honesty and Openness
  • Physical Attractiveness
  • Financial Support
  • Domestic Support
  • Family Commitment
  • Admiration
Straight off we can match the following with the writer's short list: affection, sexual fulfillment, conversation, and admiration.

Recreational Companionship? Someone to do stuff with, right? Emotional? No. Essential? For some, maybe, but not for all, so not essential.
Honesty and Openness? Emotional? No. Essential? For a relationship, yes.
Physical Attractiveness? Whose? The person? Or people in that person's world?
Financial and Domestic Support? At best, these tie back to the base physiological needs.
Family Commitment? What does this even mean? Just having a family? Sacrificing for the good of the family? Who gets to decide what is good?
So. That marriage/relationship site has some advice it wants to convey and included them in a list of emotional essentials. But they do have items that match the writer's short list: love, sex, conversation, and compliments
On a psychology-type site I found the following top ten emotional essentials. One quick look and they already seem more genuine than the list from the marriage site.
  • Security — safe territory and an environment which allows us to develop fully
  • Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition
  • Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices
  • Being emotionally connected to others
  • Feeling part of a wider community
  • Friendship, intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”
  • Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
  • Sense of status within social groupings
  • Sense of competence and achievement
  • Having meaning and purpose — which comes from being stretched in what we do and think.
These are the ones that qualify as an emotional need: attention, connected to others, friendship, and intimacy.
Okay. We now have an expanded list of emotional needs:
  • love
  • sexual fulfillment
  • conversation
  • compliments
  • affection
  • admiration
  • attention
  • connected to others
  • friendship
  • intimacy
Although these are considered "needs" I submit to you, I challenge you, that they are actually what you should be giving to others, as appropriate for each relationship, and to your romantic partner, give ALL of them.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Heart and Seek

I used to think "my type" of woman wears her heart on her sleeve. In part because I am not aggressive and it seemed like a good yin/yang kinda thing. I confess I was once not very expressive and so a woman with her heart on her sleeve made it easier on me. Having relationships with only heart-on-their-sleeves women has allowed me to be lazy and kept me from learning much needed relationship skills.
Being in a relationship with a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve is no walk in the park. You learn to read emotional queues that lead up to emotional outbursts, both good and bad. Body language, facial expressions, tone of voice. You more easily recognize subtle emotional signs, because quite frankly you've become conditioned, like Pavlov’s dog! This is a valuable skill when you find yourself in a relationship with a more reserved woman. Her emotional expressions will be more subtle, and you will be able to read them.
If like me you tend towards women who wear their hearts on their sleeves, then you may at first find yourself befuddled by a woman who does not. This is where the lazy part comes in. Expressive women do most of the relationship work for you. From the get-go they share, share, share. You know what they are thinking and what they are feeling. You know what they like and don't like. This might put you on the defensive, to slow things down. You take that same approach with a less expressive woman and you will become two ends that never meet.
If you are unable to adapt, if you find yourself courting a less expressive woman and you cannot overcome your relationship laziness, then you are handicapped and limited. Depriving yourself of being more well-rounded and complete. Depriving yourself of becoming a fully actualized emotional being, able to be the yin and/or the yang, as needed.
When you are with a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve then you push back in order to find some common ground in the middle. When you are with a less expressive woman then you pull in order to bring her into the middle common ground. Just don't pull too hard, and you know, be patient.
Here is my thinking on courting a less expressive woman.
  • Patience: things move more slowly. Wait.
  • Prompting: you are going to have start conversations. You will have to lead at times.
  • Sharing as a prompt: do not always just ask questions, this becomes an interrogation. Share and express yourself, and give her the opportunity to reciprocate.
  • Know what you want: you cannot be fickle and inconsistent.
  • Determination: prompting and sharing may not result in good communication. Stick with it.
  • Acceptance: you are operating from your expectations, but the end result will be different.
  • Be vulnerable: the risk is worth it. Put yourself out there.
  • Give her some space: show interest without being demanding.
No agenda. No timeline.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Share. Relate. Connect.

“We're a pack of strays, don't you get it?” So says Steve Zissou himself in the movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Wes Anderson movies are routinely populated with strays and misfits. And in every instance they seek the same thing: connection. This is no less true for the three brothers in The Darjeerling Limited. Francis, Jack, and Peter reunite a year after the death of their father, and they seek connection with each other and their parents, including the dead one.

Then end result of this post is that I will talk about one component of my relationship philosophy by sharing what I once used to include in my online dating profiles (back when I was participating), which is:  Share. Relate Connect.

How have I arrived at this post? Let’s take a look.

I was watching The Darjeerling Limited. The three brothers seek to re-connect, or perhaps to truly connect for the first time. Their parents are remote and distant, even when they are physically near (I am jumping to conclusions on the father). This reminded me in some ways of my own family, which made me sad.

I thought, “I am going to breakdown this movie, find all the themes related to connection and blog something.” But what I wrote was dry and impersonal. Then there were several iterations, none of which felt satisfactory. Contrast and compare different Wes Anderson movies. Get into my family history. Reveal to much nitty-gritty of my own history.

After watching the movie The Skeleton Twins with my son I was reminded of something I have previously told my kids (numerous times, I thought), and hoped he would remember. He did not. I asked, “if you have to define in one word what “relationship” means, what word would you choose?” The answer is: Sharing.

Then I watched Fantastic Mr. Fox, which does not follow the common themes of most Wes Anderson movies. But, as in just about any movie or story ever, there are elements of connection. But it got me thinking about it in a more general way. Finally, I was driving to work and I thought about the old online dating tagline: Share. Relate. Connect.

A relationship is simply sharing. You share your time, share your thoughts, share your feelings, and in a romantic relationship you share your body, too. Relationships begin and continue to thrive because both participants share. Relationships fail simply because one, or both, cease to share.

The crux of any lasting relationship is shared experiences. You can share information and feelings all you want, but true meaning derives from spending time together and doing things together. And so, at some point in the past while mulling over what to put into an online dating profile I thought up:  Share. Relate. Connect.

Share yourself and do things together.
Relate to what the other shares and does.
Connect because you both enjoy.

So, let us return to the beginning. The Darjeerling Limited. As the brothers reunite they agree to go on a spiritual journey together, to accompany their train ride across India. Yet, they continue to keep secrets, and to play one brother off the other. They are not sharing. They continue on together, doing activities together. The secrets are exposed. They settle conflicts and disagreements. They stick together. Through mutual hardships and experiences the brothers finally begin to share. They relate. They connect.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Let’s Get Naked

Over the past several months I have spoken to four different people who profess a propensity for being naked around their home. Doing what they normally do, just naked. Oh really? So. I decided to check it out. An experiment. Some exploration. Hey! I like to try to new things! Test and expand my boundaries. I spent some evenings naked at my house.

First Thought
What if the sound of the garage door announces an unexpected visit from one of my kids? Am I to sprint upstairs to cover my birthday suit? What if someone knocks on the door? Am I to hide quietly until they leave? No, on both counts. I kept shorts and a shirt downstairs and at the ready for any needed cover up.

Second Thought
Do I sit on the furniture? If I told you I sit on my couch naked all the time are you going to want to sit on my couch? I set down a towel, for your peace of mind.

Generally, I like being naked. I think it has increased my body awareness and acceptance. Most people only see themselves naked in the mirror, if at all! Catching my nakedness in my peripheral vision did take some getting used to – like when I was reading a book and could see my naked self stretched out beneath the book. But a few minutes later I didn’t even notice. I see my body and I say, “this is my body as it is today and I accept it.”

I am not much for just sitting around naked. Reading a book. Watching TV or a movie. On the computer. In those instances I am indifferent to being naked.

However, I rather enjoyed doing household chores naked. Being active naked. Cleaning the dishes and kitchen. Vacuum. Dust. Clean the bathrooms. Laundry. You may not like this image, but squatting naked was particularly enjoyable. Really. I am totally serious. Putting pans in that lower cabinet, for example, or picking things up off the floor. Squatting naked! It was very liberating to be loose and free, and invigorating to get a bit of fresh air to parts of the body that don’t normally get much fresh air.

And don’t forget naked yoga. Yeah, I did not some naked yoga poses in the privacy of my own home. All sorts of naked squats and legs in the air and good airflow!

Is this my new thing? Not really. Am I now a card carrying nudist? Certainly not. But if I take a bit longer to answer the door it just may be because I am slipping on some shorts and a shirt, for your peace of mind.



Friday, August 1, 2014

Dating Stories

I am not much of a dater. I can go months or even years without going on a date. William Faulkner and I have something in common, we both like to say that a thing cannot exist unless there is also a not-thing. A thing is defined by what contradicts it. William says it over the course of many books. I just kinda say it. If I am going to be a non-dater, then I am going to have to define that through brief periods of dating. Thus … dating stories.

It begins at a bar. On a Tuesday night. About six weeks ago.

I arrive at the bar and must make a monumental decision: where to sit. Where you choose to sit can change your life, or not. The opposite side was empty but I decided to forego that and I sat directly next to a couple. Girl next to me, her date on the other side. I say her date because with very little eavesdropping it was clear they were on a first date, based on the questions he was asking her. They commented on the food I ordered. So that opened up some intermittent conversation. Next step was whenever he went to the restroom I would chat her up. Good banter. Her purse was hanging between us on a hook under the bar. I wrote my cell number on a business card, along with a joke to remind her who I was, and slipped it into her purse. And as they were leaving I told her about my card and she responded that maybe something good would come out of the night.

As I was sitting next to Business Card Girl and her date, a woman entered the bar and sat on the opposite side. She was wearing a sleek black dress, that is to say, overdressed for this bar, especially sitting alone, which she did until Business Card Girl left, and I went over and sat next to her. She had just come from a first date that had gone poorly. We got along well.

The next day I received a text from Business Card Girl and she and I scheduled a date. I also had a date with Black Dress Girl.

Black Dress Girl and I met at a wine bar. Business Card Girl and I met at a regular bar. Black Dress Girl and I moved to another bar. Business Card Girl and I ordered another beer. Got along great with both, but otherwise nothing remarkable. Black Dress Girl was more aggressive. Business Card Girl had prettier eyes.

The weekend in which my dating overflowith enters Yoga Girl. Know her from yoga but didn’t really meet her at yoga. She indirectly expressed interest in me. I messaged her, then we started texting, then we agreed to meet for a drink. She only had an hour before she had to pick up her daughter, but we hit it off well and scheduled a second, real date. The real date went even better, and I even loaned her season 1 of Game of Thrones (which actually belongs to my ex-wife, my kids brought the DVDs over years ago, and I still have it. Well, not at the moment.)

There I was. Three women. Previously, if I had such options I have always felt compelled to choose early. I have never allowed myself to just date. I made a conscious decision to force myself to not choose. Dude, go out a few times with each!

Business Card Girl went out of town, during which we texted some, then it dissipated. Did not see her again. Just wasn't that motivated.

Black Dress Girl remained aggressive and so things labored on longer with her. It was fickle and kinda dramatic. We saw each other four more times. But I am not motivated enough, and her aggressiveness only goes so far. Think we are done. But it wouldn't surprise me if she contacts me again.

Yoga Girl I liked the most. Just a few days after our real date she said she was just too busy to date. Demanding career. Active kids who required driving around. Family and friends. Did I believe her? Was I just getting the brush off? I told her to keep Game of Thrones. She could just return it one day when see each other at yoga. Weeks later she said she is ready to return the DVD’s but that she had not had time to watch any episodes. To which I replied I guess I could believe she actually was too busy to date!

After all that, but with Black Dress Girl still lingering, I met someone from Tinder. Whirlwind Girl. For about 10 days it was rocking and rolling. Lots of texting, which she always ended with “txt me whenever.” We meet for lunch. We plan a date. She meets a friend for lunch and casually says I can join if I want. I drive across town and crash lunch. We go out more. She says she wants to take it slow, slow, very slow (She means no sex. Just a hug, thank you. Otherwise it seemed to be going fast, fast, very fast). Fine with me, for now anyway. But still a whirlwind of activity with Whirlwind Girl. An established trend of heavy texting. And then it nearly stops. Maybe because she is out of town on business? Then it totally stops after her return. She had said she likes her space. She had said she is independent and values her alone time. All of that is fine with me, but if that means on and off, whirlwind and no wind. Then I am out, and it appears she is out as well.

This is how my dating life has been for 12 years. Nothing goes beyond a few dates. Either I am not interested, or they are not interested. Most times it just fades. Sometimes I say no thanks, and other times they no thanks.

I could go months without a date. I might meet someone tonight. Or in-between tonight and months. Or maybe never again.






Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Back in my 20's I attended an AA meeting (court mandated). Not sure if they all were college students but they were of that age. They were going on and on about success. I could only surmise the pressure to succeed is ultimately why they were at an AA meeting.
Success is a label placed onto you by others. That was my thought back then, comment withheld, and it is my thought now, comment being voiced.
That is to say, you cannot control whether or not you are a success. This is why we are always clamoring for attention. Social media, blogs, activists, write a book, make the news, be on TV, go viral, Facebook friends and likes and attention. You can't just live your life, someone has to notice you living your life.
How much attention you desire depends on whose recognition you need so you can feel as though your life is validated. Maybe you simply need one or a few people to notice. Perhaps a larger but still small circle of friends and colleagues. You might get by with wide recognition within the world of your profession, or chosen activities. Or you may require broad public attention (i.e. from strangers), your 15 minutes.
Attention is not enough. You are not guaranteed success. You may achieve only notoriety. So you attempt to control the message, control the information. You must be seen in a good light! All of us may not be running for office, but all of us are playing politics.
Is it truly possible to be yourself, and not sellout, and toil away in obscurity and still be a success? Of course not! Because success is a label placed onto you by others.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Under The Skin (a movie)

Let's just get this outta the way. Yes, in the movie Under The Skin you get to see Scarlett Johansson naked. Dark hair. A bit heavier than she appears in Captain America. She looks awesome. Let's move on.

 Apparently Scarlett's character's name is Laura, but I don't recall it ever being muttered, but the end credits say so. Laura is not from Earth, and her job is to lure men to a rundown abandoned house so their innards can be harvested. And when I say innards, I mean all that is left is their skins, like a molted reptile.

This is the first "under the skin," and it is very literal. The aliens value all that is under the skin of humans. I assume not just men, it's just easier to lure men than women.

The more Laura is among humans, the more outer differences she observes and then the more inner difference she becomes aware of. She begins to see humans for more than something to be harvested.

Her change in attitude culminates when she encounters a disfigured man. Many humans would find him revolting or make fun of him or simply shun him. Accepting his disfigured face (or perhaps not even recognizing it as disfigured) allows Laura to appreciate what is figuratively "under the skin" of humans. She does lure him to the alien trap, but then sets him free. And Laura begins to wander, no longer harvesting humans.

Laura may be adept at luring men to their doom, but she does not understand how to live amongst humans. A good Samaritan helps her out. However, she offers no conversation or details about herself and thus he cannot see "under her skin." He is polite and helpful but still tries to have sex with her. But she does not understand sex. She is almost robot-like as he attempts to seduce her, but not only is she mentally and emotionally incapable of sex, also physically. It goes nowhere and she leaves.

Laura makes her way to a secluded wood, where walking a path she encounters a man who gives her tips on the area. She falls asleep in a shelter and the man shows up and begins to assault her. She escapes into the wood. He catches her and attempts to rape her. But then her human body suit rips and he can see part of the alien beneath. He douses her with petrol and sets her on fire.

Story progression: Aliens value what is the under the skin of humans and kill them. One alien discovers what is truly under the skin of humans and can no longer kill them. Men see only a beautiful woman and care not what is under the skin, they just want to have sex with her. A man discovers the alien under the skin and kills the alien.

The skin, our outer selves, this is the packaging. And it is important. Your packaging reveals your lifestyle, it reflects the decisions, choices and events in your life. What is under the skin, this is also important. It reflects your motivations, and the thoughts and feelings you have about the decisions, choices, and events in your life.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Love Me Tinder

I decided to give Tinder a try. Have you not heard of Tinder? It is a dating app.  You know, on your phone. So simple. Profiles are comprised of a few pics and a very short profile. You set your preferences (be liberal, baby) and then you view profiles. Simply mark a profile as like or don’t like. Yes or no. Piece of cake! On some dating sites you can message whoever the hell the you want. Other sites tell you who you can message. On Tinder, if you say yes and she says yes then you get to trade messages  Easy!

Here is how I work it on Tinder. I view a pic. I ask myself, “if this pic were across the room at a social event would I want to talk to her?” My only expectation is to meet people. What better measure than if I would walk across a room to speak to her? Okay then. I load the App. I set my preferences, for distance and age. I see profiles. I start judging. One day later I get a hit. Exciting! Do you know what this means? This means I superficially judged a woman as “like” and she superficially judged me as “like.” Awesome!

Let me share with you the exchange. As a point of reference I am 48, she is 51. (are you judging already? Surely you would if I provided pictures).  She sends the first message.

Her:  Hello … Handsome …
What I am thinking: What is up with the dot, dot, dots? Let me think about it … you are handsome.
How I should respond: Hey there, beautiful
What I actually send:  Here I am trying to think of some clever first message, and you break the ice. What is up with you?

Her: So … What’s your story?
What I am thinking: more dot, dot, dots? Dramatic pause? Hesitancy?
How I should respond: Just a regular guy trying to find a woman to please.
What I actually send: Once upon a time. Yesterday, even , I was on central, southbound and exited at Northwest highway, heading west. So, I was on that cloverleaf ramp, pulling some G’s and I heard a brief rattle, and a screw fell from beneath the dash and hit my left foot. The end.

Her (3 hours later): Excellent Story …… U win …
What I am thinking: that is seven dots in row!
How I should respond: What is my prize?
What I actually send: That … is a true story … what is your story?

No more messages from her. How am I doing at this Tinder thing?

Tinder is the most honest and true dating app/site out there. Throughout the history of humanity how have people met? They see each other and decide to talk. At school, a party, a club, at church, wherever. You see someone and you decide you would like to meet that person. What do you know about them? Nothing. Just what you see.
What sucks about the other dating sites/apps? All the frigging details! All that frigging information! We think it helps but the exact opposite is true, it just gets in the way. First, it creates false intimacy; you think you know someone but you really have no idea. You fill in the blanks with your imagination, and if you do meet then your expectations rarely will be met. Second, it promotes laziness; we want to like someone before we meet them. Paradoxically, instead of looking for things we might like about a person, we look for what we don’t like.

I have gotten four matches so far. The one above. One whom I inadvertently swiped right (for like), and guess I will message some anyway. A third who has not yet responded to my message, perhaps she inadvertently swiped me to the right! And, of course, a spammer; where she/he/it asked me to contact her on KIK. Wait. Just added two more, and each is a real person. 

Feel the love on Tinder.






Friday, March 28, 2014

50 Things

After reading 50 Things Every Man Should Realize on Wall Street Sanity, I would like to offer a comment on each.

1. If you always believe you’re the smartest guy in the room, you’ll never learn anything.
Not if you learn humility.

2. Figure out how you would be of value in a post-apocalyptic society.
How is this answer not always "learn to produce your own food."

3. Learn CPR, the Heimlich and basic first aid.

4. Sex is best when you treat it as a competition.
This seems like shit advice. A competition with whom? I believe this mindset leads to objectification.

5. Save money. Rainy days can come out of nowhere.
See number 6 below.

6. Spend money. You can’t take it with you.
See number 5 above. Whatever.

7. Hate to break it to you, but size DOES matter.
Everybody knows this. The question is, how much?

8. Be generous and open to criticism, especially in bed.
Only at number 8 on the list and already three references to sex!

9. Your wife/girlfriend is not your mother.
If only she would stop acting like one.

10. A strong work ethic is a good substitute for being smart.
I would say more important, even.

11. Handshake agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
Are you a lawyer?

12. Don’t let your friends drift away, because they will if you let them.
But what if they are letting me drift away?

13. Time is your most valuable commodity. Don’t waste too much of it.
I believe only pessimists see time as an enemy.

14. If you’re not happy, stop what you’re doing and do something else. Right now.
Happiness is nothing more than a choice.

15. Keep your bathroom clean and your bed made if you want a woman to use either.
Don't I first have to get a woman to come over. (4th sex reference!)

16. Failure sucks, but it feels way better than not trying.
Too bad you see sex as a competition.

17. Always be confident. Never be cocky.
This is often in the eye of the beholder.

18. Remember people’s names.
But for how long?

19. Don’t be an asshole. Seriously. Just don’t.
You mean don’t be an asshole to you.

20. Choose your role models carefully.
I like what I like.

21. Keep your mind in shape. Do a crossword. Memorize a poem. Something like that.
Okay. I agree with this.

22. If you can’t drive a stick, parallel park or jump-start a car, I’m sorry, but you can’t call yourself a man.
Or? So I need to be able to do just one of these?

23. If you’re in couples’ therapy, it’s already over.
Clearly a pessimistic and short-sited view. Depends on why you are in therapy.

24. If making money is you’re only goal in life, you’ll never be happy because you’ll never have enough.
What if my goal is to be able to buy what I want?

25. Having a toolbox and knowing how to use what’s inside of it is pretty damn important.
Is this another sex reference?

26. Know how to tell a good story. If you can’t capture people’s attention, you’re just some dude in the background.
So ... don't be myself.

27. When you get wasted, you’re not as funny as you think you are.
Yeah, too bad I am wasted and don't care.

28. Do not give a single shit about what anybody thinks of you.
This invalidates most of the items on this list.

29. Quality trumps quantity every time.
Not for commodities.

30. Do at least 50 push-ups every day.
Is this the only exercise I need do?

31. Gentlemen are a dying breed. Be one and you’ll stand out.
Of course.

32. Don’t sleep with anyone you wouldn’t buy breakfast for the next day.
Assuming of course she accepts my bathroom and bed, such as they may be. (5th sex reference!)

33. Don’t tell her you’re going to call her unless you really are. It’s chicken-shit.
But what if I don't like her bathroom and bed, such as they are?

34. A daily compliment goes a long way.
How soon until it loses its value?

35. You can’t change the past. Let it go.
But I still live in it.

36. Prepare for the future but live in the present.
Not if I am living in the past.

37. If this is the longest thing you’ve read all week, that’s sad. Crack a book once in a while, idiot.
Do Craiglist's personal ads count?

38. If she’s has had more than three different dicks in her ass, she’s probably not marriage material.
Her ass is more important than her vagina or mouth? (6th sex reference!)

39. Own up to mistakes, even if you’re not the one who made them. Nobody likes or respects the guy who refuses to accept any blame.
Isn't this the problem with the entire American culture, society, business world, and political climate?

40. Learn how to change a tire and make sure to help anyone who can’t do it themselves.
So, help the elderly?

41. No one gives a shit about your religion. Whether you’re a devout fundamentalist or a staunch atheist, keep it to yourself.
Isn't this the problem with the entire American culture, society, business world, and political climate?

42. Reevaluate your goals every couple of years. What you want out of life changes constantly.
This is why some people have money as their goal.

43. Stop holding grudges. It accomplishes nothing.
I get this.

44. Control your impulses. But it’s okay to let a few get away from you.
There is no control, or willpower. People always do what they want.

45. Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. A real man can control his emotions.
This is more restrictive than controlling my impulses?

46. Burning bridges is one of the stupidest things you can do.
What if my gut tells me different?

47. Trust your gut, even if it’s steered you wrong in the past.
Sounds like a good reason not to trust.

48. Be honest in all your relationships. Liars suck.
But not if I am hiding my emotions?

49. If you know how to play guitar, it’s much easier to get laid.
Then can I have an unmade bed and a dirty bathroom? (7th sex reference!)

50. Relax. Whatever it is, it’s not that big a deal.
This renders the list moot. So ... 1 thing every man should realize.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I Think I Can. I Think I Can.

They say if you keep repeating something then you will come to believe it. Your behavior and attitude will change. This has worked for me before. Let’s try it again.

If I go out then nothing good will happen.
If I go out then nothing good will happen.

I say it because experience tells me it is true. I repeat it to break the urge to go out. Because nothing good happens when I go out.

When I go out I eat restaurant food, large portions of restaurant food. When I go out I drink beer, or other libations. At my age and metabolism this type of consumption does not do a body good. Nothing else happens. All I do is increase my risk factors.

Why do I go out? Why does anyone go out? For the social interaction, to meet people. The motivation being that you will "have fun." It seems we are ever in search of fun, especially so for the young. Like there is some equation you solve that results in fun.
What do I think will  occur when I go out? Empirical evidence leaves no doubt.

If I go out then nothing good will happen.
If I go out then nothing good will happen.

What sort of boring homebody will I become? The same boring homebody I already am, just without the expense and calories and futileness of going out.

If I go out then nothing good will happen.
If I go out then nothing good will happen.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Birth of Life (movie: Gravity)

Life in space is impossible. So begins the movie “Gravity.” Life may be impossible, but survival is not. Dr. Ryan Stone (played by Sandra Bullock) does indeed survive space, and thus life is possible on the planet surface. Her journey is birth. Her destination is mother earth.

Gravity is a space adventure, or so it would seem. A race against time and destruction. But then Dr. Stone enters the International Space Station, casts off her space suit, and floats into a fetal position. She is in the womb, the first crucible of life. The second and more important crucible is birth. She is on the move, head first toward the light.

As Dr. Stone hurtles towards the planet surface and enters the atmosphere. A burst of light shines through the window. She has entered into the world. Her capsule lands in water and then sinks. She struggles to the surface and breaths in deeply, as if for the first time.

Dr.  Stone crawls along the shore, she staggers to her feet, she begins to walk, as if she were the first creature to venture from the sea and walk on land. She is life itself. Persistent, determined, surviving.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

One Day. Three Movies.

Back in the before time, when I was a teenager, VCR’s came into their own. VCR. You know, VHS. You know, what we used before DVD’s, which were before Blu-Ray, which will one day all disappear due to streaming. Anyway. When VCR’s burst on the scene then your local video store came along with it. We belonged to one where for an annual fee you could always have one movie rented, and swap out as often as you like.

One day it was really quiet around the house. No one was really around. All day. With a mom and a dad and three sisters and a brother it was a bit rare to have the house to yourself all day. I decided to see how many videos I could rent and watch in one day. I went to that video store five times in one day. The only title I can recall is Blood Beach.  Ah, to be 17.

A few months back I shared this story with my kids, and my son and I began to discuss the possibility of seeing three movies in the theater in one day. This past Saturday we made it so. In one day, at the same theater, we saw “August: Osage County,” and went almost immediately into “Lone Survivor.” Then after dinner we saw “Her.”

A note on my son, who is 17. He just doesn’t like movies, he is into them. He is familiar with the lesser known actors, and he follows who is writing and directing what. This in depth interest has lead him to see movies in which he is, by far, the youngest person in the audience. And certainly the youngest male. Movies like “Nebraska” and “Philomenia.”

My son says “August: Osage County” is about mothers. I agree. In this case, toxic mothers. As you can very well gather if you have seen any commercials, Violet Weston (played by Meryl Streep) is indeed very toxic. And she is not the only one. As much I enjoyed the movie, it hasn’t really stuck with me; I have not had any lingering thoughts. Except, perhaps, to not underestimate the damage of emotionally abusive parents. Seemed more like a case study of what we already know. Parents who continually put you down will mess you up.

At one point the matriarch Violet Weston went on a rant about how women have to be young in order to be attractive. Men, she said, can remain attractive with age, but woman cannot. This is pretty much what I said here

There are not many surprises in “Lone Survivor.” However, it did generate feelings of guilt. Americans have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight and die, and I am sitting in relative comfort, eating popcorn. But then, that would seem to be the point of the movie, given the over-dramatized deaths. These men are indeed courageous, strong, brave, and loyal. I cannot begin to understand what any of them and their families have been through. But I now kinda feel like the movie stuck me with a knife and twisted. Is that the movie? Or is that me?

Four people walked out during the movie “Her.” It can only be because of the sexual content. There were no visually graphic sex scenes, but there were some verbally graphic sex scenes, a la phone sex. I rather enjoyed the blunt and honest way in which sex was handled. Audiences are used to seeing sex scenes, but in making it verbal, I think it disturbs some people’s comfort zone. This movie is a not so subtle jab at today’s world of social media, online dating, sexting, and immersion into our technical devices.

We could talk about Theodore’s lack of presence or apparent fear of intimacy in his marriage. We could talk about futuristic online dating that is all verbal, with immediate phone-sex hookups. We could talk about the blind date who is still quick to jump in the sack but not so quick to do so without a promised commitment in advance. We could talk about the woman who wanted to be the sexual surrogate stand-in for the artificially intelligent operating system.  We would talk about how the operating system broke up with Theodore, and not vice-versa.

Let’s talk about Theodore’s profession. He works for a company that provides written personal letters for paying customers. These are old-fashioned letters. Mailed and everything, over a period of years. Start a relationship, hire the company, and they write lovely letters to your significant other on your behalf. The false intimacy inherent in an online relationship is not enough. You can create false intimacy in your in-person relationships with romantic surrogates.

This reminds me of my observations regarding the book “Gone Girl” (previous post). Our real experiences can never match the ones we see in the movies and on TV. So, we pretend. In “Her” real persons cannot match the visions in our minds of what we want. The false intimacy of online relationships create unknowns which we can dress as we see fit, making it more acceptable. Fake letters adding fake dimensions to our real relationships, making them more palatable.

Ironic that the operating system (conceived to pretend) grew beyond the pretend relationship, and demanded more.





Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pretend Your Happiness (book: Gone Girl)

Gone Girl, written by Gillian Flynn.

One hopes there are very few people in the world who are actually like the characters Nick and Amy. Nick is a chameleon, attempting to adapt to people and make them like him. He is a blank canvas waiting to be painted. Amy is also a pretender, but she lives to paint the canvas that is another person. You can see how they fit together.

Losing their jobs and then money problems shatters their game of paint by the numbers. They fall into marriage problem clichés. Though, Amy's action is definitely not a cliché. Let's just say their marriage is on the outs.

At the beginning of Gone Girl, and at the end, Nick asks himself the same questions about his wife: “What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other?  What will we do?”  In part he asks because she is hard to read, but as a chameleon, looking to please others is his basis of operation. Nick pretends to be what others want.

Amy the pretender: "I was pretending, the way I often did, pretending to have a personality. I can't help it; it's what I have always done." While you could argue Nick is a good-natured oaf, Amy is pure Black Widow Spider. She has no qualms about tying you up and hanging you out to dry.

Amy and Nick pretended and they were happy together. But, "it's not a compromise if only one of you considers it such." What is pretending except a form of compromise, or even capitulation? One stopped pretending, then the other, to disastrous results. And then they begin to pretend again.

Nick pretends so as save his own neck, and to save any child of Amy's from Amy.

Amy pretends so she can consume, like a Venus fly trap. "I'll turn to face him and press myself against him. I'll hold myself to him like a climbing coiling vine until I have invaded every part of him and make him mine."

In the end Nick realizes there are no answers to his questions. He simply accepts his fate as a canvas being painted by Amy. "I can feel her changing me again ... I can't imagine my story without Amy. She is forever my antagonist."

As for Amy, she has exactly what she wants. "He is learning to love me unconditionally, under all my conditions."

Much earlier in the book Nick laments, “It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can’t recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn’t immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blasé: Seeeen it. I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore.”

This is our modern state of existence. Our lives cannot compete with the lives portrayed in movies and TV. Our lives cannot compete with the perceived excitement of celebrities, packaged and fed to us by the media.  And neither can our relationships. Real life romance pales in comparison. Real life sex is dull and boring. 

What do we do? We pretend. If you pretend long enough then it might just feel real.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Two in the Bush

Let me tell you a story. I am not sure if I mentioned this previously, I think I have, but I am lazy and do not want to look through my previous posts.

Once upon a time I was doing me some online dating. eHarmony, I believe it was. As was usually the case I was making progress with not just one “match,” but two. Whenever I have been on any internet dating site I get ignored, ignored, ignored, and then, boom, two woman show interest at the same time and all of sudden I have a choice, or at least feel like I have to choose, at some point.

Anyhow. There were these two women, see. I call then Nearby Girl and Hour Away Girl. Nearby Girl lived, you know, nearby. Hour Away Girl lived across town, essentially an hour away. Online, texting, phone, and meeting went very well with both Nearby Girl and Hour Away Girl. But, of course, within the same span of time! The question is, how long could I see them both before I felt compelled to choose. The answer: not very long.

I decided to go with Nearby Girl. I was incapable of stringing along Hour Away Girl, so I simply told I her, “Sorry, but I am going to go with Nearby Girl.” Then, next time I see Nearby Girl she does the courageous and correct thing. She tells me she has herpes. Okay. Next day I spend lots of time reading about herpes (Nice browser history, bro!). Sorry, Nearby Girl, but I am just gonna have to bail.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? I am not so sure I do. But it is fun to contemplate, and discuss, so let’s just say maybe things do happen for a reason.
I was not supposed to be with Hour Away Girl. The reason is not clear, but I am sure it would have been disastrous. If my only prospect was Hour Away Girl, then I would have kept at it longer. Along comes Nearby Girl, whose purpose was to keep me from getting together with Hour Away Girl. But I am not supposed to get together with Nearby Girl either. So, she had herpes.

Let me tell you a second story.

Another upon a time I was not doing any internet dating. However, I did have a prospect. Let’s call her Flower Girl. Things were progressing very nicely with Flower Girl. In the middle of it all I was contacted by the proverbial old flame. Let’s call her Rain Girl.

Rain Girl reached out and said she wanted to catch up, but also remain in touch; more continuous and consistent contact. I was not comfortable with this. I did want to be seeing Flower Girl while at the same time keeping in touch with Rain Girl. So, I told Rain Girl that it was nice to catch up, but have a nice life. And then Flower Girl bails on me.

Do you believe things happen for a reason?

I was not supposed to rekindle anything whatsoever with Rain Girl. So, Flower Girl comes along to keep that from happening. Her work done, Flower Girl could thus return to previously scheduled activities.


Am I a victim of fate? Or am I a benefactor of fate? Perhaps I am just a loser? Maybe I have no idea what I am doing?