February 27th, 2007
For awhile there I began to feel like I was the one wearing the red uniform. It didn't matter that I'd trained and read the manuals and knew the protocols backwards and forwards, at some point some big insectisquidoid would grab onto my head with its huge saliva seaping maw and suck the grey matter out my ears. Meanwhile, the holy trinity stands nearby, Spock commenting on how fascinating my experience is, Kirk thrusting his fists out in moral defiance, and McCoy clearing his throat for the moment he can get down on one knee and declare the obvious.
I was the guy with the red uniform. I thought I'd eat a little better and work out an hour every two days only to gain weight and hurt my knee. I thought I'd fix that by going to specialists and physical therapists and their advice only made things worse. For years I would get achy throats and headaches and pains in my shoulders and back and my family doctor would tell me time and time again it was just allergies and give me nasal inhalers. Then I find out no, it's acid reflux and it's gotten terrible due to years of misdiagnosis. So I raise the angle of my bed and change my diet some more and do some more but on those rare occassions it gets really bad I wake up with chapped lips and my chin is red and sometimes the embarrasing signs take weeks to heal. And then I realize I always sleep on my right side to help keep the reflux at bay and then I decided what if I sleep on my left side for a night or two just for the hell of it?
Over a thousand dollars, countless doctor and physical therapy visits, re-adjustments at work, selling my car, and so forth and so on...and my knee pain may have all come down to me sleeping almost exclusively on my right side to keep my stomach from becoming upset while I'm asleep.
So now it's time to up the level of balance in my life. Balance the diet and eat even better than ever before, calm and heal my stomach. Time to excercise more and more regularly...but not so much that I irritate and redamage my knee. Time to practice more meditation before bed, time to recognize caffiene isn't my friend (and stay off it, haven't had coffee for a few weeks actually). It's time to stand on one foot and raise up on my toes and count to thirty then do it on the other foot. Time to get more regular sleep, more regular jaunts out of the house, more moments to improve the house, more balance in friendships, at work, and so forth and so on. No more need to focus on what it might be; time to acknowledge what the problems are and solve them at their source.
Time to heal.
Taking off the red shirt, folding, and placing in the drawer.
February 26, 2007
I admit it, it's past my bedtime. Please don't tell anyone though, I might get in big trouble from "the man". In my defense, though, I had two days of excellent sleep and my knee hasn't felt as good as it has this weekend in, well, nearly a year! I suppose it was just a matter of time before I determined which excercises I should do in what order and how long--what an exhausting process it's been (knock on wood)!
So why am I up so late, you ask? Putting together another video from last August's moto trip. Okay, okay, it's not professional quality or anything but it's for the memories. And yes, the music in the videos is the music I'm listening to while I'm on my hooligan. I know, I know, motorcycles are dangerous but in my defense (again) if I weren't listening to music I'm just hearing a lot of noise and a little bit of the purring between my legs--if someone's going to hit me I'm not going to hear it coming until I've said, "Oh..." and wake up later in the hospital to finish my sentence, "shit!" That said, music deepens the experience for me and really does help my attention and scanning capabilities which, in the long and short run, makes me safer on the road than if I were going loopy to wind noise.
Thanks goes out to The Brazilian Girls, Regina Spektor, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, and Pink. Good company on a thousand mile ride.
Let me know if you have any trouble viewing the videos. I can view them fine using Internet Explorer and Firefox but have not been able to get them to work (yet) on a Vista machine (darn that Microsoft). Oh, and if you're using a Mac (you know who you are, traitors) please let me know if the vids work for ya cause I don't have a Mac to test on.
Take care and goodnight,
February 25th, 2007
It's that time again, time for me to share some links with you that have been sitting on my thumb drive for several months. Enjoy.
Ha Ha Ha America - A satirical propagandish documentary which taunts the American work ethic. Funny, arguably "too close to home" in some ways, and maybe a bit drawn out.
Call For Bush - Remember Who's on First?
Ride Share - Interested is saving a little gas and lowering co2 emmisions? Don't have a car? Then check this site out.
The Outsourcing Report - Link TV's put together a page documenting outsourcing of jobs to slave shops around the work. Are the political leaders in your state facilitating in these human right's abuses?
MIT Open CourseWare - Want knowledge? Short on cash? Check out MIT's Open CourseWare, online classes that are free.
The Girlfriend Trainer - Do you have an out of control girlfriend? Then pick up the phone and call the Girlfriend Trainer.
Happy Slip - My Russian friend sent this site my way. It's a video blog and short sketch site and, like The Temple, the creative effort of one person. Kudos go out to her.
February 24th, 2007
A year or so before his death I had the honor of listening to Carl Sagan speak at the Hult Center in Eugene, Oregon. He was there speaking with his wife who he had co-written a book. The title of the book eludes me but my recollection is that they were talking about the future of the world and the impact of human kind on the environment.
At the end of the lecture a question and answer session was held. Dozens of people lined up in the two isles and worked their way to the microphones to ask these world famous scientists questions about their book. I only remember one. The questioner was probably in his late twenties, had long, tangled hair, and looked like he smelled of patchouli. As he approached the microphone he seemed confident yet nervous. I don't recall his exact words so forgive my imperfect memory; the essence of his question was this: "Can we save the atmosphere if we stop eating meat?"
I understood where the man was coming from having known others that espoused such views but there was a certain if not misguided logic to the question. I knew how I would have answered but was surprised to hear Carl Sagan respond so naturally and logically, almost as if his home planet was Vulcan and not earth.
"Eating meat does not harm the atmosphere," he answered.
When asked if he believed there was life on other planets he said, "I don't know." When criticized for this view he said, "In science 'I don't know' is a valid answer." If he didn't know something he didn't act like he did (as so many of us do). He understood that an opinion without facts doesn't have any more weight coming from one person than it might from another (regardless of the number of degrees one might have). And so I've heard many discount him. I've heard many criticize and slam him as unbending and I've even heard him referred to as a debunker.
And yet he had a place. He was a highly respected scientist. He was a cultural icon. He was an encouragement to many.
I don't know what it's like to have a place, to be part of a well defined group of people. I'm not a scientist or a philosopher. On paper I'm a member of the Pacific Green Party but I'm neither a liberal nor a conservative. I listen to NPR mostly and sometimes Air America and sometimes Rush Limbaugh. I am not a Lutheran. I am not a Baptist. I am not a Buddhist. I believe that the universe is the greatest Bible of all and cannot be imprisoned in the minds and books of humans. I hold a professional full time job yet I don't identify with the daily grind more than is necessary. I am psychic but I don't go to psychic workshops. That's not to say I haven't been included from time to time. I have gone to classrooms, I have worked jobs, I have been parts of families, but always temporary, always on the journey from present understanding to future.
I fit into one group, a diverse group of rare and courageous individuals that consider themselves Truth Seekers. We are not trapped by place or time, color, sex, age, or nationality. We come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds. We are always questioning, always learning, always evolving. We don't conform to the status quo not because we're "non-conformists" but because we don't see the logic in doing something if it makes no damned sense. And we have opinions, crazy opinions, wild opinions, and the tenacity to say our opinions out loud. These crazy-wild opinions make it nearly impossible for us to be accepted for too long by any group that defines its boundaries by creeds of brick and mortar.
We seek out larger truths.
February 22nd, 2007
There's nothing magic about empathy. Psychic empathy, that's another thing, but super amplified run-of-the-mill 5 senses empathy, that's something everyone is capable of.
An advanced sense of Empathy is based on four skill sets: focus, attention, humility, and emotional availability.
To a layman the term empathy describes the ability to internalize the emotional states of others. To some extent most people (yes, there are people incapable of empathizing with others) are able to empathize with other people and yes, even animals (in which case scientists refer to it as anthropomorphizing). If humans weren't able to empathize we wouldn't have movies and our ancestors would not have sat around their campfires joyously exchanging the experiences of that day's glorious hunt. Empath is a healthy and arguably necessary component to the human experience.
Even so, most are not emotionally available, not in a broad sense. Sure, people are available to one or two or maybe even half a dozen others, typically parents, siblings, their children, spouses, best friends, etc., but beyond that there's a wall and a façade that's put between oneself and the external universe. That psychologically projected social boundary serves important functions such as providing oneself with a sense of personal identity and safety as well as protecting one's personal schema (or view of reality) from other competing, sometimes contradictory, and often seemingly unpleasant points of view.
Those interested in an advanced state of empathy must learn to be emotionally available, regardless of positive return. An empath must, for instance, be willing to look at someone as disgustingly "inhuman" as Jeffrey Dahmer, put aside all personal feelings regarding the man's choices and behaviors, and just accept who he is as a human being. What would it be like to walk a mile in Jeff's shoes? That's the question an empath asks themselves and they ask and ask and ask until they can see his point of view (regardless of how socially misaligned it might be).
The same willingness must be extended to those we believe have wronged us. Did an x-partner cheat on you? Then you must be willing to see things from their point of view. Did your spouse do something knowing full well it would upset you? Then you must be willing to ask why. Doing this with a serial murderer is one thing but try being emotionally open to those that have peed on your leg. Home is the hardest place to let your guard down and let people in.
You think you're up to the challenge?
On a related note this doesn't mean emotional promiscuity. The difference between man and animal is the ability to choose our emotional states; to be truly healthy and empathic we must be capable of choosing how and when and who to be open to--not allow our emotions to dictate those times to us.
The second quality necessary for advanced empathy is attention. At the root of this is the idea of attending. What should you be attending to? Someone else's experience, that's what.
This sounds simple and straight forward but think about it. You're sitting at your desk at work and someone comes in because they're angry about something going on. You've heard all this before and frankly think the person is a pain in the ass. In this case what are you attending to? Their feelings and perception of reality? Certainly not, your focus is on your feelings and perception of them which, if you're honest with yourself, doesn't exactly get either of you anywhere.
So the first part of attention is attending to the thoughts and emotions of others and learning to put one's own biases aside.
The second part of attention is (drum roll please) the skill of paying attention. What did that person say? How did they say it? What was their body language? How were they acting before? And after? Every subtly is important and the more you learn to pay attention the easier it becomes until one day even the shortest of seemingly casual glances from someone can communicate a richness of communication you'd never thought possible (using only five senses).
Most people who are highly sensitive, empathically speaking, can usually only get information when they're around the people they're "reading". A true empath can do it over the phone, a letter, or even off of inanimate objects (such as handwriting or the way someone decorates a room).
For instance, you can usually learn more about a person not by the questions they ask or the answers they provide, but how they ask questions and provide answers. Believe it or not, paying attention to these kinds of subtleties can tell you things about a person such as their biggest fears, what their belief systems are, and how they're most likely to respond under stress. It all boils down to paying attention to all available data and letting the data speak for itself.
And that brings me to humility. If you go into this assuming you're good at reading people, then you're already limiting your potential while strutting about like a pompous knit-wit; you will not exceed your current capabilities by much. But with humility, a necessary ingredient for an open mind, you'll get places.
Humility is a necessary component of higher empathy. You must be humble enough to recognize that you are an imperfect being that perceives the world through imperfect eyes. Your reality gets in the way and if you're unable to recognize that, then you're a prisoner inside your box looking out. Go into this with a strong sense of your imperfect abilities and you'll be able to recognize when your perceptions aren't entirely accurate and like a scientist of the heart you'll make a few notes and next time around what you see will make more sense and more and more until you get to the uncanny point you feel other's feelings when you aren't even in the same room with them.
You will never reach this point without humility.
So recognize your faults. Learn to distinguish your own mental and emotional projections from other people's. I won't lie: it's hard. But it's worth it and you'll be amazed at the many areas of your life this skill will become useful.
FocusLast but not least you need focus. If you've got "ADHD", you aren't going to be able to do this. You must be able to focus your intent on being emotionally available--and focus your consciousness so you can choose the how, when, and who. Attention obviously requires focus but they are separate and distinguishable beasts; the first is a conscious choice about what one's mind is pondering, the second is about keeping that pondering going in the right way for the right amount of time. And yes, without focus it's difficult to be humble because our ego's natural inclination is to push anything uncomfortable and challenging (to it) aside--and humility is challenging!--if our focus is in part on recognizing those moments and attending to them as needed, then we're farther along the path towards enhancing our natural empathic abilities.
That's all for tonight.
P.S. All views expressed on this page are the views of the author. That is the claimer. So there.
February 19th, 2007
Two hours ago my eyes felt like they were rolling into the back of my head. I was stairing straight forward but they were pushing back into the knives that someone placed inside my eye sockets while I wasn't looking. Perhaps I was trying to find them. I don't know.
I'm 33 years old. When I don't take tip-top care of myself I get headaches and some of them can be nightmarish. My hands, one of the favourite parts of my body, are starting to show the signs of age. I'm loosing hair, I've got grey, and so on and so forth.
When my daughter graduates high school I will be 40 years old!
And so it's time, it's time to start planning getting back on the road again, spending a few weeks on two tires with the sounds and smells of nature rushing against my skin and into my helmet. Time to say, "To hell with age!" and get out there. In June it's off to the Hell's Canyon Motorcycle Rally. For August it's down to the Redwood Forest then Santa Cruz then Disneyland, a few days rest and entertainment, then back up, up, up the curvy California and Oregon coastlines. In between a few runs to the coast, up to Mount Saint Helens, maybe a jaunt to Eugene for the Saturday Market. Yes, it's time to start planning being young, getting out, having fun, seeing the world, communing with nature, finding myself...all over again.
Until death is here I'm alive.
February 15th, 2007
I can multitask like nothing you've ever seen before. It's not uncommon to find me home late at night winding down for bed. I'm going through a few letters and bills, watching tv, reading e-mail, browsing a few web sites, managing some last minute details on my work machine, playing with my cats, talking with my daughter, and yes, spending a few moments painting on the walls of The Temple.
Tonight the tv is on but I'm sitting in bed with the laptop, one cat stairing over my shoulder and the others half asleep facing me. I worked yet another nine/ten hour day, stopped by the gym for an hour and a half, bought some lunchtime groceries and some sushi for dinner, then came home and started to multitask and while I was multitasking I was thinking about multitasking and now that I'm done multitasking I'm writing about it.
I want to write about changing gears.
So there I am getting in to work at 9:15am. I read through six to a dozen e-mails, deleting those that don't apply to me, responding to those I can very quickly, and flagging those that I need to get to but will take more time. Next I run off to stop by a few co-workers cubes to discuss several bits of work and as I do more issues fly my way so I stick in the back of my mind that when I get back to my desk I need to do X, write Y e-mail, and call Z person. I get back to my desk and log in. I have one primary computer, three monitors. On those monitors I log into my machine then another from there and another and another. I'm logged into 3 different machines then 4 and I'm going back and forth between them making sure I keep up, do everything correctly. Next I log off of those machines and open seven projects on my machine. I just spoke with a coworker regarding the work I needed to do but I have questions so I IM him then call on the phone and later he drops by as we go back and forth messaging these files until we have what we want. My managers drop by. Other managers drop by. Someone needs a blank CD-R. I need to drop by a manager's desk. I need a break, walk to the corner store for something to tide me over then it's back to those three monitors and going, going, going, some on paper, some in e-mail, most of it being mulled about and prioritized and solved in my mind's eye.
And then I'm in the car headed to the gym. It's just me, NPR, and the traffic. My brain is still trying to go a million miles an hour but I won't allow myself to think about work just now so it's as if my brain is more like a mime silently pretending to juggle fifteen battons. Ten minutes later I'm at the gym and in the locker room and changing then up and stretching then situps then bike and...
I'm just sitting on this bike pedaling. Listening to some music, yes, but peddling. You'd think after being burried all day under countless new and scheduled priorities I'd be pleased to have separated myself from all this but I'm not. My brain's sitting there still trying to juggle and I tell it, "Just enjoy the music and pay attention to your body." This continues for 30 minutes on the bike, 10 minutes on the stair climber, and 20 minutes on the hiking thingy majiggy. My mind wants something to play with but all I've got is the excercise machine, the music, my body, and the empathic impressions I try to shut off whenever I'm at the gym.
I wish I knew the trick (for me). It's not stretching. It's not focusing on my breath. Typically it's a matter of time. If I excercise for an hour, after about 50 minutes I'll have changed from overdrive to second gear. If I do dishes by hand for 15 minutes then clean the kitchen, by the time I'm done I can be in second gear. The inverse is also true. On a Saturday morning I might wake up after sleeping in and feel like I'm in reverse so I take a warm shower and go outside and clip roses down for an hour and maybe half an hour into that I'm finally in first gear and ready for second and maybe third.
Maybe this is just the speed at which it takes me to adjust yet I sometimes feel I have a problem with my clutch and the shifter needs an adjustment.
February 14th, 2007
"Remember today is Support Your Local Hallmark Store (because you're too lazy to say anything substantive yourself) day."
If you don't have a partner to love, then love your son or daughter. If you don't have a son or daughter to love then love your brother or sister. If you do not have a brother or sister, love your mother or father. If you don't have a mother or father, love your friends. If you don't have any friends, love the people you see every day. If you do not see anyone, love yourself.
If you don't know what love is it's time to learn. If you think you know what it is, start over. If you've got it, share it. If you don't, love yourself.
Love yourself. Then love others. Let others love you and you love yourself.
P.S. A new video is up on the Visions page from last summer's motorcycle trip!
February 13th, 2007
"The difference between Bill Gates and God is that God's Word works."
them have been interested in little ol' Aslynn. C'est la vie. I stopped chasing the people I wanted to be with long ago when Iy have the energy to be looking anymore. I digress I've been negligent. I have a list of things I was going to write about thely, working in the garage, working at work, watching the tele, and playing Star Wars Legos II on the GameCube. Anyway, for whatke yourself out to be. If you say you're supportive of your friends when they're down then we become friends and you hightail ist person but I catch you in a lie what do you think will happen to my trust? If you make excuses for your lies what do you thiyet to find it 2. Communication Most girls I meet tell me they're "good listeners". And indeed, during the Honeymoon Periodacted. Or they meet another guy. Meanwhile I loose my job or have a kidney stone or am busy with work or distracted and I need [ ( ( € ? ( ( ! € ? ( ( ? + + + + + ? ( ? someone to talk to, to support me, and where oh where is my "good listener"?
Nowhere to be found.
I demand congruity with self from my partner and if they say they're a "good" and "supportive" listener then damn it, I sure as hell expect them to be around when I need a shoulder to lean on.
There's a stereotype in our culture that men are the bad listeners who aren't there for their girlfriends. The reality is there are just as many women who are bad listeners who use the social stereotype of women bein ? ( ~ self descriptions) and they won't be shutting their mouths, opening their ears, and shifting into support mode; on the contrary, they'll suddenly have a headache or be too busy or not be in the mood.
I've heard all the excuses.
And that brings me to something I rant about here from time to time: Crucial Conversations. They're absolutely necessary in a healthy, non-codependent, relationship. You're having sex? You'd better talk birth control, STD's, and family planning. You're sharing a house together? Then you'd better be mature enough to talk finances. And so on and so forth. Call me a nutter but I absolutely require my partner to be a clear, consistent communicator who, when confronted with a misunderstanding, argument, or even a minor concern, is interested in only one thing: a mutually enlightening conversation leading towards a closer and more trusting relationship.
3. Keep your feet on the ground.
I sometimes think I have the world record for fair weather friends. In 33 years of my life I have had hundreds and hundreds of friends but only 3, count them, one, two, three, are there for me in any way, shape, or form (and two of those I hear from rarely due to physical and arguably emotional proximity).
This obviously relates to #1 and #2. If you say you're loyal and you make excuses when I really need someone to talk to, then you're probably a fair-weather friend. If you do sit down to listen but then come back with arguably dishonest cookie cutter responses then fall off the face of the ea ? ( ? ( ? y don't want to have anything to do with me.
Do you have any idea how painful that is?
So obviously for a partner I don't want someone that's flighty and I definitely can't stand someone who promises to be there for me then is mysteriously absent. I'd rather live the rest of my life an eligible bachelor.
I've gotta admit I have a fairly strict opinion of gossiping: If you're talking behind someone's back and there's no positive aspect or reason other than to supplicate your ego, then you're gossiping.
Shut your socially irresponsible cake hole!
That's not to say I'm against talking about people behind their backs. There are reasons to and often it's impossible not to. We may need to talk to get our feelings out in the air, to better understand a situation. We may have to to communicate something going on to someone else that needs to know. We may be doing so to examine and learn something from our experiences (as I do here).
Gossip is socially destructive. I've seen it, I've met a few my god, I don't even know how to explain it but I've met a handful of people that feel perfectly legitimized spreading rumors and lies and insults about everyone about them for absolutely no rational reason--and I've watched as everyone gets hurt. And when someone confronts them they lie like hell then run away as fast as possible.
What insecure contemptible cowards.
"Say no to gossip."
5. Acceptance I wrote in a previous entry how frustrating it is when a woman tries to dress me. I have to share something else with you: I don't recall being able to change my look while with a woman without it having a negative effect on the relationship. Don't you find it somewhat ironic that in a culture where most women claim to value personality over looks the reverse seems to be true? Of the six or seven relationships I've had since moving the Portland I can conclusively say that at the point where I decided to shave my goatee off or grow one or shorten my hair or lengthen or dye it, that was about the N == l
( ?pp ? ? ( ?ll t ? thes every day. My body, my hobbies, my thoughts, and my interests, evolve and grow over time. I also want to be accepted for my intuitive qualities. I think this is not an easy request to make but it's become such an integral part of my life I've come to require it. For one thing, my daily life isn't a five sense experience, it's six, and it can be lonely to be in an intimate relationship with someone when you're limited to talking about only five. Additionally--and this is one of the tougher aspects--I have an uncanny and often frustrating ability to know things about people, especially my partner, including when they're feeling insecure, why they're avoiding something, or, dare I say, when they're seeing someone else. I'm not interested in being an Edgar Cayce, Sylvia Browne, or John Edwards. But I do want my partner to accept and dare I say respect me for the abilities I have. 6. Humility If you think you're perfect then I hate to break this to you: You are and you aren't. You are in the respe you. You know what? We're all in that boat: Deal with it. Humility is important. It allows someone to say something like, "I'm sorry." A little "I'm sorry" is incredibly important. It can build trust and respect. Following that up with congruent behavior demonstrates responsibility and integrity. Believe it or not I've dated girls who weren't able to say something as simple as "I'm sorry"--even after behavior that would have turned most people's stomachs. Worse yet, others used this phrase frequently but would continue the negative behavior over and over and over again, doing nothing to demonstrate their understanding of such a seemingly simple phrase. My daughter, I love her, but she falls into the second group. The other day I talked to her and said the words "I'm sorry" are off limits. I told her that for others to trust you those words must not only come out of your mouth, but your behavior must change to demonstrate you mean what you say. This builds integrity and I want my daughter to grow up to be someone that other's see with integrity. And when she's able to follow those two simple words with congruent action she will demonstrate humility. Without humility from both partners in a relationship it is a lopsided one.
7. Get some balls.
I think the entire time I was going to college I went out on one date. I'm not sure how we met, maybe a UofO bulletin board. I was living on 13th at th ? ( ? _ ? ( ? politely asked if anything was up. I still didn't hear back from her. I finally admitted I thought she was being rude and I deserved to at the very least know if she wanted to see me again or not; call me old fashioned but I think such straight forward now what I thought?
Get some balls.
I once spent a few hundred dollars to visit a friend in San Fran because they begged me to visit. While we were there they avoided spending time with me with the exception of taking me on tours to stalk their x's and to tell me about the thirty or so dates they get in a month. I spent the whole week in a very cold suburban nowhere house without anything but cigarettes and a book; when she was home I got to look at the back of her head and she searched dating sites for ? eople don't understand what co-dependence is. You see, it's very simple to me. It's a relationship without independence. If neither partner has any independence, it's a co-dependent relationship.
For better or worse quite a few relationships are co-dep fake it with the skill of a faux orgasm but put them in a situation where listening is uncomfortable (but congruent with their r but can also be independent without becoming insecure or weakening the relationship.
Example: Both partners like to snuggle and watch CSI: Miami. But partner A also likes to watch football. Partner A does this, B doesn't mind because they go read a b!?A ý ?! ý ?!? ý ?! ý ?!?A ý ?! ý ?!?A ý ?!?` ý ?! ý ?! A ?ve a picnic. Partner A likes parties with lots of their friends around but partner B would prefer to go on a walk through the park. No problem. They do this and later go for a ride to the beach together.
That's a relationship without co-dependence.
9.begun to see how harsh others have been with me, but the state it's left me in. You see, I'm no longer capable of easily going into a relationship much less friendship. Over the years my trust has been greatly abused. I cannot even begin to explain the depth of damage done to it. Second, I've learned to trust my intuition as I've ignored it when it's been spot on and I've only gotten hurt; the more I trust it the less likely I've been to jump into a relationship that's not right for me.
I also want t, psychological or spiritual health. Perhaps I'm being harsh but I do expect my partner to bring some semblance of happiness and stability into my life otherwise their beauty is only something to look at, not so much experience.
I also want to admit I am!?A ý ?!?A ý ?!?A ý ?!?A ý ?!?A ý ?!?A ý ?!?A ý ?!?A ý ?!?A ý ?! A ?
P.S. This jumbled entry was a group effort by myself and Microsoft Word 2002 which corrupted it as I was putting finishing touches on it. Frack and c'est la vie, I say.
P.P.S. Yes, you are now required to read between the lines on this one!
February 9th, 2007
"George, letting my emotions out was the best thing I've ever done. Sure, I'm not funny anymore, but there's more to life than making shallow, fairly obvious observations."
- Jerry SeinfeldI used to watch Seinfeld. You could say I watched it religiously. I've probably seen every single episode at least twice. I know about "shrinkage" and I know not to give lip to the Soup Nazi. I know there's no point trying to explaining to someone that I wasn't picking my nose when they're convinced I am and I know that karma will eventually come around and bite me in the ass. Such are the lessons of the show.
I never understood why my high school sweet heart didn't like the show. She'd drop over to visit sometimes and it would be on and she'd turn around and leave. I asked her about this and she said she couldn't stand George, the way he was always making excuses and whining. "Oh," I argued, "you've gotta overlook it and see the humor!"
Nearly a decade later I find I'm on her side of the fence. I can't stand the show and it's not just George nor is it the dysfunctional relationships these characters have with the world. Why am I so turned off by a show that once brought me laughter?
I know a girl that brought me along to stalk x-boyfriends thinking this was absolutely normal. I know a girl whose reason for loosing weight was to get back at all the men that dumped her. I have known people who see "drama" being created around them left and right but are responsible for creating more destruction with their gossip and lies than I had previously imagined possible. I have known people who think alcoholism and drug abuse aren't a problem, that the labels are in fact what judgmental goody-two-shoes apply to them when they flip out and inflict harm on others. And I have known far too many people that judge others based on their hairstyle, choice in music, job, or level of education.
I liked the show when I knew only a few people who had subtle qualities reminiscent of the characters; I could relate and I didn't think they were all that bad so I had a good laugh over it. I stopped watching when I realized there are really people out there that are completely preoccupied with themselves, socially irresponsible, and lacking in any form of personal integrity. And I've dated a few of them.
February 8th, 2007
"The one who loves the least, controls the relationship."
- Dr. Robert AnthonyIf I were to simplify the pervasive American ideal into a mantra it would be, "Me! Me! Me!" And is it any surprise? Most of us grow up in a world where we can get anything we want (at least in comparison to most people that have ever lived throughout recorded history) at the drop of a hat. Want a fast meal now? Shoot through the drive thru and you've got a warm meal in your hands. Want to find a quick bit of information? Ten seconds on Google should do the trick. Need a quick date? Pick up the phone or log on to the internet. Bored because there's "nothing to do"? Then get in your car and within minutes you can inundate yourself with a billion different options. And that's not enough you can go out and get drunk or high. Your options are endless.
And it doesn't stop there. If you go out for breakfast and it comes with toast you'll be asked what kind of toast you want out of up to a dozen choices at some restaurants. I find this particular example striking because I once had lunch with some Australian friends who were somewhat taken back by the constant barrage of questions, an experience that was much less common in Melbourne.
"Do you want this? How would you like it? Would you like fries with that???"
Because Americans are inundated with options we've come to expect them. We view choice as a "good" thing. And yet numerous studies demonstrate exactly the opposite: that too many choices can and do have negative consequences in our lives. For those curious to learn more here are a few related articles:
- The Mechanics of Choice: More Isn't Always Better
- Happiness not Dependent Upon Freedom of Choice
- Impact of Variety on Consumer Happiness: Marketing and the Tyranny of Freedom
If you grow up in a culture where you always have choices you also become highly concerned with consuming to match your tastes or perception of yourself. Like it or not, that's part of our culture (and if you think you're above that you're probably full of shit). We make choices about what we buy and wear and eat and who we hang around and what crazy ass web journals we read and we call this our identity; one might argue we have identities driven by a consumer environment. My point here is that growing up in a society that's focused on consuming, where we are buried in choices, conditions our brains to expect and demand more and more (and yes more!) from the world.
Me! Me! Me!
When I research the purchase a product it's a straight forward process usually involving one person: me. It was fairly straight forward, for instance, to purchase my first home. First I did the research. Then I found a realtor (an awesome one, I might add). We then came up with list after list of houses I wanted to look at and every other day we'd walk through one or two or three until I found the one I wanted. I then got financing, made an offer, signed the paperwork, and moved in (to be fair it was actually quite a bit more complicated and stressful but the point here is that all I had to do was set a goal, follow the steps, and eventually I had what I wanted in a "Me! Me! Me!" fashion).
Ironically (or not) relationships do not function well under the pretense of "Me! Me! Me!" While we do go into relationships with some idea of what we want, there comes a point where we must acknowledge that the other person isn't a sweater, car, or other exciting product we can lease for six months then simply set aside when we get bored. Others come into relationships with ideas of what they want as well so it only takes one person out of two to destroy the relationship when either's primary focus is on the insatiable desire to satisfy themselves.
Case in point, I once courted a girl who I, after three or four months, confronted because I recognized she was habitually demonstrating the pattern of "Me!" She refuted this but later admitted that it was because she didn't know what I wanted. I was shocked. I, much more so than most, am someone that tries to be up front, clear, and specific about the things I want in a friendship or a relationships and I'd shared these things with her for months. What was going on? So I responded, "Here are some things you could do that would really make me happy. I don't need any of them but it would be nice if you'd do some from time to time."
Her responses include but are not limited to the following:
"I don't want to."
"Someone else has already done that for you so it wouldn't be special (to me)."
"I don't understand why that would make you feel good anyway."
"What do I get out of it?"
"That's not who I am."
And the ubiquitous: "Now that you've told me what you want it wouldn't be spontaneous or special for me to so I can't."
(Bear in mind my requests were simple, free, and straight forward ones such as, "I'd like you to be up front with me when I ask you if you'd like to do something or not" and "I'd like it if we held hands more often.")
In the end she refused to compromise and support me as a human being (much less as a partner). If I suggested X made me happy she'd do a quick 180 and tell me, "No, I'm just stubborn" (to which I thought, "WTF?"). The relationship had never been about two people who loved each other building a life together, it had been, from day one, about what she wanted. While I was the good little boyfriend and quietly fulfilling this function things were great. As soon as I asked for compromise and equity she, well, she started seeing other people behind my back.
Relationships do not blossom when covered with the toxic psychological poison of "Me! Me! ME!" And yet how do we get away from it? We are drowning in a Culture of Me.
Healthy relationships take two mature adults. They are built on the foundation of compromise, communication, understanding, forgiveness, thoughtfulness, acceptance, strength, humility, and love. They do not thrive under the selfish tyranny of "Me!"
February 6th, 2007
"One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated equally to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way you treat a man."
- Marlo Thomas
"When a woman behaves like a man, why doesn't she behave like a nice man?"
- Edith Evans
One of the most dangerous questions a woman can ask a man is, "How do I look?" Although in general I dislike generalizations I have found, to my dismay, that a great many women who ask this question aren't asking because they're interested in my honesty but are instead asking me to become an unwilling participant in their self-image psycho-drama. It is not enough for these people to simply love themselves or accept the compliments of others, it is instead necessary to push and pull the strings of the social fabric around how one looks often until the threads tear at the seams. And so the self-induced drama is played out and projected on everyone else and the clothes and makeup and hair become more important than what's really at issue: the ability to accept oneself.
Now I don't know why (he says sardonically) but these women are always the same ones who will, out of the blue, buy me new clothes saying something like, "I think you'll look good in these." Don't you find it odd? These aren't typically women who'd buy me a book or a card or plan a surprise for me but they'll buy me clothes just because they think I'll look good in them. In this manner I have gained shirts, pants, and on at least one occasion a set of boxer shorts because, "Men look better in them."
If I bought a woman panties and said, "Women look better in them," how do you think she'd respond? If I can't tell the same woman she looks good in the red shirt or her skin tone doesn't quite match the blue shirt without starting World War III then I certainly can't expect to do something as ridiculous as buy her clothing much less expect to co-exist on a level playing field.
From a sociological stand point I find these experiences troubling. A measurable subset of the female population in our culture holds attitudes that treat men as objects (yes, a LOT of women do this too) that are to be molded, manipulated, and tossed aside when they get boring, irritating, or what have you. Women who behave in this manner are no better than their male counterparts.
Having emotional issues and being a woman does not constitute a legitimate reason to treat others poorly any more than it does for a man. An enlightened person, male or female, is above all that. So call me old fashioned, I'd like to meet a woman who doesn't take advantage of her sex to manipulate and use.
Sexism is a social disease.
P.S. I actually enjoy getting clothes as gifts but I must say it's easy to tell the difference between a gift given out of friendship and one given because a grown adult has me confused with a fucking Ken doll.
P.P.S. For those who've been misinformed by our media which has misused these terms for the last two decades: "sex" is a genetic construct, "gender" is a social one.
February 4th, 2007
The natives are superficially agreeable, but they go in for cannibalism, headhunting, infanticide, incest, avoidance and joking relationships, and biting lice in half with their teeth.
- Margaret Mead
I don't have a lot of time to write tonight which is ironic because what I plan to write about is likewise something I don't have enough time for, that being, ostriches, yes ostriches. No, I'm not talking about the animal you see in the zoo standing protectively over its nest. I'm talking about a metaphor I use to describe people who are incapable of engaging in crucial conversations.
I really don't have time for it. I am mortal. My days are numbered. One day I'm going to turn a corner and that's going to be my last day and the last thing I want to think is that I just spent the last few weeks or months on yet another wanker who's tail zips between the legs at the first sign of a difficult but important conversation.
And I've known many, too many.
The denial artist: in the face of overwhelming evidence they will deny, deny, deny. After further evidence is discovered their stories will conveniently change but the underlying state of denial continues.
The gossip: sees drama as something created outside themselves. Their typical response to this is to separate themselves as far from the situation as possible then lie, gossip, and spread rumors.
The false compatriot: says everything's just fine, you don't need to talk, they'll see you tomorrow. You may not hear from then again for weeks, months, or years (if ever).
The holier than thou: is not responsible for anything they do irregardless of the reality, believes they're perfect (will even say this repeatedly) and whatever's going on must be everyone else's fault.
The victim: Resembles the dictionary definition of insecure and reacts defensively to any topic that might possibly maybe view them in anything but a positive light. Often behaves as a holier than thou.
The tourist: They've perfected the art of fishing and can do all types: fly, bait, lure, and when they're especially moody they have no qualms resorting to dynamite. Don't wiggle too much, they'll just throw you back and catch another one.
The emotional addict: They love it when you make them feel good about themselves but watch out, do something as egregious as needing to cope with difficulties like a bad day at work or the death of a friend or family member--well, lets just say if you aren't feeding their emotional monkey their shoulder won't be around for you to cry on. And don't make the mistake of calling them on it, they'll fall into victim mode.
The drug addict: Having a down day? Need to talk? Oh well lets drink or smoke or better yet lets drink and smoke and then we can smoke pot and then maybe do some coke and then lets do some more and if you can't accept me the way I am then go fuck yourself!
I've got a daughter I love, a best friend I cherish, a job that challenges me nearly daily, and when I have chunks of time off (and decent weather) I like to hit the road on the motorcycle. I have time here and there for people of character, people who have the strength and integrity to stick around when things get tough; I don't have time for ostriches.
Nuff said, I'm off to bed.
February 3rd, 2007
"I draw circles and sacred boundaries about me; fewer and fewer climb with me up higher and higher mountains. I am building a mountain chain out of ever-holier mountains."
- Friedrich Nietzsche
Between the land and the ocean there is a beautiful boundary called the beach. Between the earth and the stars there is a boundary called the atmosphere. Between nations there are boundaries to insure civility. Inside these borders there are social boundaries, or laws, to provide a sense of stability. The boundaries of our home, the walls and windows and doors, give us safety and privacy. Boundaries are everywhere.
I once had a simple belief. It seemed to me so pure, so absolute. I did not believe in having boundaries. I choose not to accept that boundaries are a natural and necessary function of the physical universe. Indeed, without boundaries nothing would exist. The reasons I fought this wisdom are many and I could spent the next several hours in explanation but to what end? It is enough to say I did not understand the importance of personal boundaries. For most of my life I let anyone in because I believed everyone deserved a chance. And I suffered for such naïve foolishness.
Sometimes I think I'm a complete fool, a moron, a buffoon. Thirty years? It takes me thirty or so years to start putting up solid personal boundaries? I've spent my life studying the workings of the human experience and in some form or another my soul's been around since before the Egyptians built the pyramids and it takes this fragile brain nearly three decades to realize I can't just open my life to anyone? It takes me that long to accept that I can't allow someone in my home then tell them, "Anything goes"?
I've come to understand the importance of boundaries. I've also learned that I can implement them without giving up the values I most cherish: honestly, fairness, compassion, and friendships. That's not to say it's easy. My experience has been that others are open to hearing about my personal boundaries, often agreeing with them, until the moment I demand they be respected. The typical reactions include but are not limited to denial and aggression.
You can learn everything you need to know about the quality of a person by their reaction to you when defending your boundaries.
That's where honesty and fairness come in. If I have a boundary it does no good to keep it to myself and it's not fair if I react to an event after the fact without prior communication. So I declare my boundaries up front and as clearly as I'm able. That's the way it should be done.
For instance, my family comes first in my life. In particular, I am a parent and I reserve the right to parent in my own way according to my own values without external interference. You might have your own views on parenting and you're absolutely entitled to them. You are not, however, entitled to interfere with my parenting nor am I interested in unsolicited advice in the matter (it actually astounds me that people with no background in psychology criticize a parent with a psychology degree). Though I have frequently communicated this boundary to others I have found that the number of backseat referees outnumber those that are capable of keeping their mouths shut.
Another is honesty. I'm completely honest with every person in my life and I have that same expectations of others. When someone's not honest with me I call them on it. How they react to this tells me a lot about their character. Do they have the humility and integrity to admit to their mistake and make right? Or will they spend their time attempting to rationalize the transgression? I won't even accept white lies, the worst of the breed given that many think they're socially necessary. That is a cultural lie I, for one, don't agree with.
Here are some more that apply directly to relationships:
- Don't see, date, or sleep with someone else while you're with me.
- Don't tell me how I should dress.
- Don't talk behind my back.
- Don't knowingly take advantage or manipulate me.
- Don't abuse me (physically, sexually, or verbally).
- Don't invalidate my feelings.
- Don't blame me for things I haven't done.
- Don't push your desire for a relationship with me if I've expressed that I'm only interested in friendship.
Boundaries such as these were difficult for me to enforce. I spent most of my relationships afraid that if I stood up for myself my partner wouldn't be around the next day. Fear prevented me from drawing lines in the sand and demanding they be respected. Fear of loosing a friend, fear of loosing a lover, fear of loosing a partner. Fear immobilized me and fear caused me to allow others to treat me poorly.
So, are you willing to respect my boundaries?
February 2nd, 2007
I want a girlfriend. There, I've said it. After many years of being an eligible bachelor I've decided to open myself to the possibility of a committed relationship again. Thoughts on this matter started bubbling to the surface of my consciousness last November and though I've spent some energy pushing them aside I find myself unable to ignore them.
So here I am formally openning my door, but not without discretion. I'm all too aware that opening oneself up to others leads to the seemingly inevitable possibilities of getting hurt, being taken advantage of, and being disappointed. That is the gamble we take when we open our heart to others in the most intimate of ways.
With some reluctance I must admit I've signed up with eHarmony. Though I haven't had a personal out for years their television advertisements made me wonder, "What if?" and then there's always the pressure from my mother who suggested I try it which lead me to the next question, "Why not?" Yet after several weeks on the site I've only had one match in the same city (who has not responded to my inquiries) and the next closest is nearly 150 miles away; now this either means there aren't many matches for a strange melon like me or eHarmony isn't quite honest in their advertising and the site should be focused almost exclusively on finding long (and I mean LONG) distance relationships. I could, of course, open myself to the virtual meat markets of places like Match.com but those have the reverse problem: the lack of filtering mechanisms and completely open environment encourages users to say what they want and play the field. After some negative experiences I've had to gently remind myself: STAY AWAY!
So where to look? I'm not interested in the bar scene and I'm not exactly what you'd call a people person so going to parties or singles groups or what have you is out. My dad's always pushing me to "go to church" but not being religiously inclined or willing to put on a false facade that's also out. I'm not interested in blind dates and in fact find the concept of dating repugnant and ethically questionable (later this month I will be publishing a Treatise on Dating as an explanation for this comment). I might ask my friends if they know anyone but the few friends I choose to have know few to no single women, much less ones who would be interested in an odd-ball like me (and Vipassana has set me up before, often with disastrous results--so, as she says, it's time for me to find her a man--now if only I knew any single men!). I could hit on women as many men are forced to in our bass-ackwards culture (where the result is usually to be spurned if not downright spit on) but that's not who I am. I could open myself up to women I've been with in the past and truth is under the right circumstances I would be willing to open a dialog and maybe more--at the same time I must communicate an important point: I'm more clear about my expectations and boundaries now more than ever before and have a shorter tolerance for bullshit, whatever the form.
That leaves me sitting here at my desk with two beautiful wide screen flat panel 20.1" monitors typing away. And that's okay (because I'm good enough and people like me, goddamnit). So for February I'd like to do something a little bold. In part I do this to divulge an aspect of my personality that's evolved over the years. In part I do this as a testament to the knowledge I've gained in relationships, both positive and negative. And maybe, just maybe, Mrs. Right will, through the exploration of my words, think, I'd like to share my life with someone like that.
Now I want you to imagine something. You're sitting in warm sand on the beach at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California, and watching as the sun sets against the sea in striking shades of Technicolor glory. As you watch the blues turn to reds and purples you notice that the sea appears to be rising but only a little at first so it's easily ignored. The waterline continues to rise until the sun is hidden and in a moment your instinct for self-preservation kicks in: a tidal wave is approaching. The obvious course of action is to jump to your feet and start running in the opposite direction yet instead you do something entirely different. You tell yourself you've been hit by waves before and you survived; the sunset is unlike any other, you must see it, you must persevere. So you sit and you watch and your last words end up being, "Oh shit!"
You spend the next six months in a hospital recovering.
This is the down side of being an empath in relationships. You can look at a person and you don't see their clothes or their attitudes or hang-ups well, yes, just like the growing wave you do but your primary focus is on the unique glory of who they are deep down and deep down everyone is beautiful, flawed, and perfect. That's what I see when I look at people, not skin, not clothing, not ideologies, but that inner perfection of spirit that resides within all of us.
My natural inclination over most of my life has been to ignore the wave and trust and love and forgive and support and sacrifice. I would open my door to anyone, anytime. Love conquers all. The consequences of such an outlook, though well intended, have been disastrous and with some reluctance I've spent the last six years or so learning I can't do that anymore. I must look past the inner beauty that is within all people and instead do something that makes me feel sick to the stomach: I must be judgemental of potential partners.
It's not easy. I'd rather simply trust (and wait for my trust to be trampled). I prefer to forgive (when trust has been abused). I want to look past a person's failings and believe that anything can be accomplished with the right effort. Yet I've found that though I have the ability to reach a goal like buying a house, finishing a project at work, or learning to ride a motorcycle: healthy relationships take two.
Seems simple enough but the reality is many people, myself included, go into relationships learning from the previous ones, accepting their own failings, overcoming them, then they say to themselves, "Well, if I just don't do that again and I do this other thing thing this time it'll all work out." I actually spent a good number of years after I moved to Portland in such a mind-set. The reality is that getting into a relationship is easy, finding someone that's interested in a win-win is not. Put another way, you can put everything into being the best damned partner in the world but it's kinda tough to be in a healthy relationship with someone that avoids crucial conversations and is caught seeing an x behind your back.
So allow me to repeat myself: healthy relationships require two people.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing with you what I've learned and in particular where my benchmarks are. I'll be exploring my experiences and at times I may come across as judgmental. I will be honest to the point that it might push the wrong buttons for some but I must be honest with myself if I'm to embark on a genuine exploration of what I want and don't want in a relationship.
I hope we both benefit from this journey,
February 1st, 2007
I had this whole monologue that's been sitting idly in the back of my mind for several weeks waiting for February 1st to come but alas, I am tired, I am spent, and I don't have the energy nor the inclination to share those thoughts tonight.
Until then I share with you a bumper sticker I read this morning on my way into the office:"I am the light at the end of the tunnel."
And some more that my dad sent my way recently:1 (On an infant's shirt): Already smarter than Bush
(OK, not a bumper sticker!)
2 1/20/09: End of an Error
3 That's OK, I Wasn't Using My Civil Liberties Anyway
4 Let's Fix Democracy in This Country First
5 If You Want a Nation Ruled By Religion, Move to Iran
6 Bush. Like a Rock. Only Dumber.
7 You Can't Be Pro-War And Pro-Life At The Same Time
8 If You Can Read This, You're Not Our President
9 Of Course It Hurts: You're Getting Screwed by an Elephant
10 Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?
11 George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight
12 Impeachment: It's Not Just for Blowjobs Anymore
14 America: One Nation, Under Surveillance
15 They Call Him "W" So He Can Spell It
16 Which God Do You Kill For?
17 Cheney/Satan '08
18 Jail to the Chief
19 Whom Would Jesus Torture?
20 No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade?
21 Bush: God's Way of Proving Intelligent Design is Full Of Crap
23 Bad president! No Banana.
24 We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language
25 We're Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them
27 Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Blood
28 Is It Vietnam Yet?
29 Bush Doesn't Care About White People, Either
30 Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Handbasket?
31 You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.
32 Frodo Failed. Bush Has the Ring.
33 Impeach Cheney First
34 Dubya, Your Dad Shoulda Pulled Out Early, Too
35 When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46
36 The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century
37 2004: Embarrassed 2005: Horrified 2006: Terrified