Isn’t It Ironic

I hate the word irony.  It just sounds like something terribly mundane that possibly involves laundry.  It is frequently misused and confused with coincidence, which is my second biggest wording pet peeve (If you ever say something about 9am in the morning and are within arms reach you should probably step back).  Maybe the word irony gets under my skin so much because while I hate it as a word I revere it as a concept.

Irony is one of those things that surround us and is so ingrained into our culture that when we see it we often don’t recognize it.  I am not just talking about the antiquated irony of hipster culture where people are pursuing counterculture for fashion, but the true irony of the world.  Hearing “Christians” who celebrate a god that we born in a manger because no one would open their lodgings to him pontificate about how we should not accept Syrian refugees during a week were we celebrate the welcoming that Europeans received from indigenous people is the pinnacle of irony.  But maybe it is coincidental because we did destroy those American Indians who welcomed us with open arms, so maybe I should cut people some slack for interchanging those two words.

Before I started doing comedy on a regular basis my domain was ironic wit.  It was a wonderful area to explore, using my normal quickness to pull out the funny aspects of any conversation.  It was so easy and fun, someone sets up the premise for me, others register and confirm their understanding of the premise and then I swing in with a quick quip to seal the deal and bring the conversation to a boil.  That was my role in the group, I may not be passionate enough to pursue the conversation with conviction, and I may not be great at generating ideas, but I can put things together and tie a bow onto it faster than most, and whenever you bring laughter into a situation you become a welcome addition to a group.  I think that many of my closest friendships have been started or fostered by my ability to make witty off the cuff comments, and I am perfectly fine with that.

Within my storytelling and comedy career my ability to notice irony and absurdities in the world is where I get most of my material.  I notice something and sit on it for a while until it sticks wording and structure work themselves out.  The key to this type of writing is that you need to embrace the ability to not only notice things that others will identify with, but that you need to repackage it and make it your own.  Since comedy is often a monologue you are responsible for the setup, the meat of the joke, and then tying it together into a punchline while also dealing with timing, crowd interaction, and facing expectations which is infinitely more complex than simply adding on a quip.

We all have these constructs of what we expect, and when we see something that doesn’t fit it is either refreshing or jarring, think of it as the Bernie Sanders effect.  Those moments where we are expecting someone to zig when they zag leaves us hanging and vulnerable.  In football it is the pump fake, in fighting it is the feign, in comedy it is the misdirect, and I love all those moments.  That is when you as the performer are completely in charge and as a control freak it makes feel powerful and fulfilled.  As an audience member I love knowing that the misdirect is coming and having that anticipation of having the rug pulled out from under my thought process which always leads to bigger laughter than the punchline that you are walked right into.

My favorite part of irony is the absurdities of our world.  Things are just so crazy and sometimes taking that moment to say “hey guys this thing is fucked up lets all laugh at it” feels great.  It is especially validating when you know that you opened someone’s eyes to something that they have glossed over and that they will never see the world the same way again.  Being that maker point for people’s journeys is one of my favorite things about writing or performing, and one of the motivators to keep doing it.  I have one friend who constantly confirms this theory by reminding me of things that I pointed out or joked about years ago that he still remembers, which validates not only the theory, but my role in our friendship and my attitude in general.

Beyond it’s applications irony is just fun for me.  I am totally against government, but in college every year I participated in legislative day where they thought it was a good idea to give me extra credit to visit with my state senator.  It was like bring your anarchist to the capitol day and I reveled in the absurdity.  In much the same way I did a comedy show in a church last night.  While my comedy is pretty clean it isn’t exactly geared toward hardy Vermont protestants, but I had a great show and the church folks loved me which is especially ironic since I am agnostic at best.

Embracing the ironies in life is sometimes the only way to deal with things.  Laughter is a great coping mechanism and being able to laugh at the absurdities and coincidences and whatever odd terms you want to add on make life a little less bleak.  But I must say that embracing the stereotype of a writer sitting stone faced in a coffeeshop writing an essay about how to have more fun by embracing ironies is more than a little ironic, don’t you think?

 

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Antisocial

This Post was originally published on July 11th, 2014

Some might say that I have a bit of an addictive personality.  Whatever I do I tend to do it often and in large doses and find it hard to quit. Work, beer, and even social media turn from things in my life to things that run my life.  After joining Facebook in 2004 I have become a social media addict where a majority of my interactions were not with people, but with online personas of people.  I branched out into Twitter last fall (waste of time, except for tracking down beer) and snapchat last winter (waste of time, but with pretty pictures) but have mostly quit or cut down.   Having other methods of connecting to social media was nice at first, but I found it to be even more of a productivity sink than Facebook is.  As I have tried in the past I decided to take a break from Facebook for a few days in order to spend a few days living without that tether to the world.  I try to take this break during summer since there are always ample diversions rather than being a shut in all winter.  For a few short days I was able to live free, and it was pretty glorious, but after a week I started to miss my friends, even the ones that are only “friends”.

I have always found that the first 3 days of abstaining from anything are the hardest.  Whenever I went someplace or did something I would think about how I could frame it to fit into the Facebook context.  After the first few days of withdrawal I started to view things differently and was doing things just because with no rhyme or reason.  I found that I enjoyed things more because I was living in the moment instead of worrying about how I would project things to other people.  I like to think of myself as someone who tries to act the same on Facebook as I do in real life, but lets face it who you are in person is never the same.  We all curate our online personas to match our ideals rather than the reality that we face, mostly because reality is boring.  I find that Facebook exemplifies the extremes of everything being either stupendous or absolutely terrible.  If you try to be real and go into the mundane aspects of your everyday life everybody finds it boring.  Nobody wants to see the pictures of every meal that you ate this week, and the oversharing of your daily routine gets old fast.

When you live by yourself and don’t have many friends in the area it is easy to fall into the Facebook void.  Hearing all of the fun adventures and lifetime milestones that your friends are hitting seems like a better alternative than meeting new people.  It is much more comfortable to sit in your own living room and live vicariously through others than it is to get off the couch and and live your own life.  On the flip side Facebook has allowed me to build some amazing friendships with people that I only see once or twice a year and build on the relationships that I had from college or high school.  It has also given me a chance to be heard, which is an addiction in of itself.  As with anything there are always benefits and drawbacks and  far reaching effects on our lives.

Facebook is a very powerful way to build a “brand” and show the best aspects of yourself.  I have developed a few rules over the years to try and keep myself relevant and present the best face.  I learned most of these from my own misadventures or from mistakes that I have seen others make. These are not ironclad rules, but guidelines that I find helpful.  That being said if I start breaking these rules please feel free to call me out on it.

1. Try and keep it light.  I have at times been too self absorbed and depressed and nobody likes a Debbie Downer.  By trying to brighten people’s day you are much better received than someone who tries to bring other people down.  Plus if you say funny things then people will talk about it and then even more people will think you are funny, its a self perpetuating cycle.

2.  Don’t attack people.  I have learned the hard way that bitching about specific individuals is a great way to get people to hate you.  Being a bully doesn’t get you anywhere, and singling out someone for whatever reason makes you look terrible.  That being said making fun of groups of people or celebrities is ok (sorry people of New Jersey, I’m not going to stop now)

3.  Don’t post too much, or too little.   Your kid/dog is pretty cute, but a new picture every 15 minutes gets on my nerves, BLOCK.  Oh you had kale for lunch, and then went on a walk, and then had steak for dinner, then watched Bad Boys II, sounds like you had a pretty epic day but 47 specific posts is a bit of overkill, and didn’t you detail everything that you did each day for the past week, thanks for oversharing, BLOCK.  Thank you for liking every status ever, I’m glad that my life provides you soo much entertainment but you might want to consider joining the conversation, no need to BLOCK because you never post anything anyway.  Another post about how Democrats/Republicans/Guns/Food Stamps/Global Warming is/are the Best/Worst thing in the world, It matches well with the 15 other posts that you did this week, preach on brother, BLOCK.  I am glad that you are in SOOOOO IN WUV with your significant other, know what I need? Another couples selfie, BLOCK.  Oh another Buzzfeed quiz, you somehow managed to score 47% on the how bitchy are you quiz, but wait you also scored 63% on how much of a princess you are quiz, bitch that is 110%, BLOCK.  No I don’t want to join your farm or your guild or whatever else it is that you are hawking, leave me alone, BLOCK.  These are not directed to specific offenders so if you fall into these categories I am not picking on you, hell I may not even have you blocked (but I probably do).

After playing with the ratio I have found it is best to average 1 post per day, with occasional binges or several day breaks.  It keeps you relevant, but keeps you from being annoying.

4.  Don’t say anything you won’t stand behind.  Sometimes people get caught up in what they have to say and don’t realize how it may be heard.  I had an experience this spring where something I posted was taken wrong and used against me.  I stand behind what I had said and was able to explain my reasoning.  It is hard to convey full thoughts through Facebook (or twitter or anything else) so things may get taken out of context, if you put thought behind what you say then sometimes a follow up conversation can resolve any difficulties

5.  As a follow up to #4 don’t overreact.  It is so easy to see what someone had posted and react poorly.  If you have an issue with what someone has to say then open a conversation and try to get to the bottom of things.

6.  Don’t expect that everybody is going to get what you are trying to say.  As you might know by now I am a pretty eclectic guy and have a lot of inside jokes or strange things that I think are funny but sound stupid to everybody else.  I don’t expect everyone to understand what I have to say, but if I target something toward a specific group then I am pretty sure that some people will enjoy it.  If someone is on the outside looking in then it is their loss and they probably shouldn’t take it personally.

7.  Don’t fall victim to your own hype.  Not even I am as awesome as I seem (yes I know you are shocked).  Just because you have a lot of friends or everybody likes what you have to say does not make you better than you are.  Keeping things in perspective stops you from flying too close to the sun, plus people love self deprecating humor.

I like Facebook.  It is a good medium for me to express myself and to keep in touch with people that I don’t see often.  I try to add things to the conversation and hope that I can bring some benefit to everybody else.  Some people might not agree with me but I feel that social media is a very useful tool, but you have to use it wisely and not let it take over your life.  Now I am going to go out and enjoy being outside on this beautiful night, don’t worry there is Facebook on my phone so I won’t be too far away.

As an aside I wrote my first Facebook note two years ago today, it is still available and might make a good read.  My pharmacy was robbed and for the first time in my life I was the victim of something more than my own stupidity.  This was an extremely tough time for me and I was feeling extremely vulnerable.   I found that by expressing myself in more than 140 characters was one of the best thing that I could do, and by using facebook as a tool for more than one liners I was able to do good things.  I was amazed by the outpouring of support and the amount of goodwill that my vulnerability gained me.  I also felt that after wallowing in my sorrows just putting metaphoric pen to paper was able to provide me with a measure of closure that allowed me to move on with my life.  In retrospect getting robbed made me realize some of what was important and helped get me out of a bad job and a terrible place in my life while showing that writing was something that I enjoyed and was pretty good at.  I am sure that I would not be where I am today if getting robbed had not given me the motivation to move on from a job that I hated.  I guess it goes to show you that every cloud can have a silver lining if you look close enough.

Addicted to Workahol

This Post was originally published on June 2nd, 2014

“Why do you work so much?” That is invariably the question that I get whenever I explain my schedule to family or friends for the first time. As with any broad question the answer depends on what whomever is asking wants to hear. I can name any number of factors as to why I work three jobs, mainly money, professional growth, or simply compulsion. I tend to work long stretches of days, today was my 8th day in a row and I was scheduled for 61 hours, but in reality wound up putting in around 70 plus an extra 5 hours of travel. Some people would quit even thinking about that, but I got out of work, jogged 2.5 miles, wrote a 1600 word blog post, and am going to get up tomorrow and work 5 more days in a row. This is my life, this is my compulsion, and I am not sure why I do what I do, or how I am able to get it done.

My parents often joke that they have now clue how old hippies could have raised such a perfect little capitalist. When I was 8 I organized several kids in the neighborhood into a lawn care/snow removal business where even though they were mostly older I was able to convince them to work hard to make cash. By the time I was 12 I started carrying boxes and organizing the stock room at the independent pharmacy down the street, and the week after my 15th birthday I got my working papers and would ride my bike or bum rides to wash dishes at a restaurant. When I was 17 and could drive to work I started at a gas station that sold propane and propane accessories where I would work 13 hour shifts every other weekend in clear violation of child labor laws. I didn’t care, these jobs were a way for me to earn money that I would put toward the things that I enjoyed, and I relished the independence that those purchases symbolized. I was always the one who could afford concert tickets or whatever new CD came out that week, and I even funded my two trips to Europe through hard work. Even then I was laying the groundwork for the work hard to fund lifestyle that you want to live mentality that I still have today.

In college work was a little bit harder to come by because I was supposed to spend more time focusing on my studies. At the same time I discovered that beer was an important reason to work and have cash on hand. I spent 2 years doing the work study building guard job and grabbing shifts from whoever didn’t want to work their own. Instead of the 5 hours a week that I was supposed to get I routinely averaged over 20. I worked that first summer at the SPAC box office doing the best job that at I have ever had. My second summer was harder since I was taking Organic Chem over because I loved it so much the first time. I somehow managed to work full time at SPAC, full time as a pharmacy tech at a hospital while still doing well in my class. I would routinely leave the house at 5am and return at 11pm, but I made it work and apparently a monster was born. The rest of college was spent bouncing between retail pharmacy chains working 10-30 hours a week, picking up shifts whenever other interns had tests or plans. When I was on rotations I kept up the pace and at one point worked 63 consecutive days between rotation and my real job. When people ask me if I am afraid of burning out now I say no, because once you have been through what seems like the worst situation its all downhill from there.

Once I graduated I was thrown right into the fire and worked overtime during my first week as a pharmacist. From there I picked up a overtime shifts like a maniac. For the first time in my life I was making good money and was caught up in a whirlwind of greed. During the first few months I paid off my credit cards and my car while putting money away and starting in on my student loans. At that point it was pure greed that kept me motivated, over time it became a habit instead. During the first three years I worked more than 1000 hours of overtime, plus worked a per diem job on the side. That may not sound like much on paper, but that is roughly an extra 6 months of work during a 36 month period.

Now that I have reviewed my history it is time to review the potential reasons why. As I said I am often motivated by greed, either in the short term or in the long term. I work extra to support a lifestyle that allows me to enjoy myself whenever I have time off. I find that whenever I have days off I spend a lot of money. By working extra I not only make money, but am able to save whatever I would have spent. I took a pretty big pay cut when I left retail, plus I gave up all the overtime that I wanted, and my per diem job. When I switched jobs I wasn’t able to adjust my finances and kept trying to save and pay off debt at the same rate. Obviously this wasn’t possible, but I started picking up per diem shifts at Rite Aid to make up some of the difference. I was also offered a position working one or two days a month at the independent in town. I felt that this would be a good option to branch out and decided to give it a shot. These extra jobs allow me to bring in almost as much as when I was working retail full time. While I admit to greed I don’t feel that this is the whole story, there have to be other reasons.

Every work week I have more professional variety than most pharmacist have in their entire career career. Some days I work split shifts covering both the long term care and the inpatient pharmacy. I also work retail on two different pharmacy systems, often in two different states, and deal with approaches to the practice from both large chain and independent pharmacy perspectives. I like working for Rite Aid because I am comfortable with the system and since they were very good to me after I left Walgreens. If I hadn’t have taken the job working LTC then I would probably still be managing the same store I was last summer. Whenever I have to work a shift it feels comfortable, like putting on your favorite pair of boots that you haven’t worn in a while. Working at Marble Works is completely different, it is a whole new setup and a new computer system, and frankly a whole different ball game. Independents have to play differently, and with 3 stores, a DME store, and a mail order facility I am able to see a lot of different aspects of the profession. When I first became interested in pharmacy my goal was to become a pillar of the community, and working just half a mile from my apartment finally puts me in the position to help people within my own small town. Since everything is new and different I feel that I am able to step outside of my comfort zone and grow more on top of satisfying my need to diversify. I don’t know if I will be able to keep up this variety for much longer, routinely making the changes on computer systems and styles takes a lot of energy, but for now I am going to take that ride and see where it goes.

Maybe all it boils down to is compulsion. I grew up watching my dad get up every morning and drive an hour each way to do a job that he didn’t like. He kept up an attitude that at least it was better than what he did before and he tried to make the best of it. What I am doing isn’t perfect, but it sure beats working in the salt mines. Maybe that plays a role in it too, what I do is mentally taxing and high stress, but it pales in comparison to the manual labor that millions of Americans do every day. Working so much is a cure for idle hands and keeps me motivated and pushing forward instead of sitting around and letting my worries get to me. I like my life better when I am busy and accomplished, when I have downtime I tend to fall apart. I am an example of inertia, I am the energizer bunny personified, as long as I am moving forward nothing can stop me.

From mowing lawns to managing pharmacies my path to absolution has always been through work. People may call me a workaholic, but I wear that badge with pride. I still find time for the things that matter in life and feel that I have more to me than just my job. By diversifying and trying new things I am able to grow as a person and as a professional, plus the money doesn’t hurt either. I may be exhausted, but I am not burnt out. Even if I was then I know from experience that the cure for burnout is a three day weekend and a few drinks with friends and I will be ready to do it all over again. This is my life, and as crazy as it can be I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Didn’t the NBA Playoffs Start About 17 Months Ago?

This Post was originally published on April 29th, 2014

Disclaimer: What I am going to say can very easily be taken the wrong way. These opinions are my own and do not represent any of my employers or any groups that I am associated with. If you take issue with my views please reach out publicly or privately and we can engage in discussions like adults. If you are easily offended or are willing to take extreme action because of my statements or views then please stop reading right now.

Are you still reading? Well let us begin.

Donald Sterling is a 80 year old racist. We got it, lets move on. I know plenty of racists, in fact some people might even consider some of my statements to be racist. If your racist grandmother was a billionaire would anybody make a big deal about it? (note my grandmother not a racist, shes a saint). This recording isn’t new information, this crazy old man has left a train of racially motivated evidence behind him. In our sensationalized 24 hour news coverage this has become the biggest issue in the world. Not the civil war in Syria, or the near civil war in Ukraine, or the tornadoes that are rampaging in the deep south, no a story that TMZ broke. Can’t we just go back to coverage of them searching for the plane, at least all those ocean views were calming.

Racism is terrible. Nobody will ever disagree with me on that. But face It racism is a part of everyday life. I have a large number friends from other races, and three mixed race cousins, but I am willing to admit that I have made racist comments. I am not proud of this, but I am honest enough to admit to myself and the world that I am not perfect, and sometimes those imperfections manifest in poor choices or thoughts. Is it something that should be condoned? No. Is it the end of the world? No. This isn’t a 1st amendment discussion because this man isn’t being tried in anything other than the court of public opinion. Reactionary moves by the NBA trying to appease the public, who by the way generally don’t care about basketball, are only adding fuel to the fire.

What he said was insulting, and insensitive, and yes he should probably suffer some consequences, but should he be forced out of his own team? Hell no. Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for around $12 Million, he has since grown them into a half Billion dollar business. In fact selling the Clippers would be a reward by freeing up the money for him to do other things with it, like fund the gold digger girlfriends he has on the side.

I understand the $2.5 Million fine. If I were an advertiser I would steer clear and terminate all contracts with the team. If I were talented enough to be a player in the smallest professional sports league in the nation I would probably take the millions of dollars because lets face it you probably have had a racist boss at one time or another. If I was a Clippers fan (do the Clippers actually have fans?) I would never attend another game or buy any merchandise. What I don’t understand is the public vilification by millions of people who had never heard of Donald Sterling last week, and I certainly don’t understand how he can be forced to sell a team that he has owned for 33 years. Most sports teams are owned by rich old white men. How the fact that a rich old white man could possibly be recorded without his knowledge making racist statements blows people’s minds simply eludes me.

Are we vilifying this guy more because he owns a sports team in the racially diverse city of LA? Bonus points to whoever read that in your head as “ciiiitttaaay of L. A.” like in California Love. Or are we vilifying him because he owns a team that is predominately full of black players? Or because he directly insulted American hero, HIV activist, and my close personal friend Magic Johnson? Or is just because Paula Dean has been hiding under a rock for long enough that we need a new whipping boy.

This is a symptom on our increased reliance on small amounts of information that is constantly skewed by the mouthpiece that presents it. I am as much of a victim of this as anybody else. Because I don’t have a TV I get all of my news from NPR, timesunion.com, ProFootball Talk, and Deadspin.  Nobody will ever accuse the last three of being paragons of journalistic integrity, but just like those who get their information through the skewed eyes of Fox News or the comedic lens of the Daily Show I simply do not have enough time or motivation to search for information elsewhere. By sacrificing the amount of time that I invest into information gathering I need to rely heavily on what I am told rather than examining the facts. Its a simple tradeoff, hell most of what I have said so far may be all bullshit, but this is the world that we live in. I used to love CNN, back before they cared about Bourdain reality shows and footage of cruise ships. Now even the number one trusted news source has left us with little more than repeated tidbits and interviews with “experts.” Nothing is getting better, we may have more access to information than ever before but in reality it is nothing but shit and cat videos.

This overreaction is nothing new, in fact I don’t think that it is the first public witch hunt in the past few months. Remember the Duck Commander saying that he doesn’t understand homosexuality? Or Paula’s fall from being the happiest bacon lover in America? The one thing that America loves more than discounted Paula Dean cookware is a scandal that can unfold one soundbite at a time during a slow news week.

You can brand me as insensitive, or point out all the ways that my stupid fat white brain can’t understand the implications of racism. But in the end isn’t the goal to treat other human beings as people regardless of their color or beliefs. Setting a double standard where we ask people to be open and speak their minds while vilifying them when they say something that we don’t like gets us nowhere. Nobody will come out beating the drum to have Donald Sterling at their next cocktail party, and I doubt that he will get a Christmas card from the NAACP. Haven’t we seen that the lynch mob isn’t the best way to promote change in America?

Death Before Decaf

This Post was originally published on April 9th, 2014

Disclaimer: Heavy religious material beyond this point, it may piss you off but these are my beliefs and the story behind what I do.  You may not agree with me, but please agree that we can have a conversation about our differences not a shouting match.  I am not and would never try to force my beliefs on you, this is just a statement of my position and an explanation into my thought process.

Every year I have three spring rituals.  First I freeze my balls off and wait diligently for it to warm up, secondly I send my mother tulips on her birthday, and lastly I give something up for Lent.  Why Lent you ask?  Maybe it is because from time to time I like the feeling that there is something bigger out there. This year  I decided to give up caffeine for Lent, something that I really regret at this point.

I am not particularly religious, but I do feel like I am significantly more religious that I was back when I started taking Lent seriously a few years ago.  For some reason about 7 or 8 years ago I decided to revamp my Lenten tradition that I used to take seriously as a kid, no meat on Friday and giving up something important.  I though that it would at least give me a reason to try something different and at worst I would kick a bad habit along the way.  That first year I gave up muffins, the delicious breakfast treat that I love so much. Miraculously I was able to make it through on will power alone, often wandering through the bakery aisle looking longingly at the delicious muffiney goodness presented before me.  After Easter found that once I had lived a few weeks without any muffins in my life I really didn’t have many cravings.  To this day I occasionally go for a muffin or two, but generally don’t find them very appealing, in fact I now mostly shy away from any breakfast baked good.  This was a good lesson, and something that I saw reflected in the things that I gave up over subsequent years.  I wound up giving this a try by giving up energy drinks, bacon, canned or bottled beer, meat, and a few other things that were obviously less memorable (since I cant remember them for the life of me).  Meat was tough, but the others were actually easier than giving up muffins was that first year.

Every catholic I know approaches Lent differently.  Many don’t observe it at all, something that I fully understand.  Growing up catholic but losing touch with that faith is a trademark of my generation.  We lived through the decline of catholic schools, the closure of churches due to not enough priests, and the molestation scandals. It is not surprising that people refer to themselves as lapsed or former Catholics, so I am impressed by the people who actually carry on the traditions that they grew up with.  I have one friend who gives up ice cream every year. It is his tradition, but functionally what kind of ice cream cravings do you get during March in upstate New York? It feels funny to kind of judge this guy, who by the way goes to church almost every week?  Especially since excluding a handful of weddings, funerals, baptisms or holiday masses I haven’t been to church in the past 10 years.  Does my greater commitment 40 days a year make me a better catholic than his greater commitment on Sundays?  Who knows.

My generation has a level of religious freedom that our forefathers could only dream of.  We live in a time where you don’t have to cross the ocean and climb the Himalayas to find Buddhist or Indian philosophies, all you need to do is perform a Google search.  We even have the freedom to have no religion at all.  Probably half of the people I know would classify themselves as atheists or at least agnostics.  While I understand the tendency to revolt against typical theistic though patterns I am kind of baffled because there is so much in this world that we cannot explain.  Not to say that I am going to trust the biblical story word for word, in fact I really dont even think I believe in Jesus.  There is so much out there is it truly impractical to believe in something that we cannot put our finger on?  I have seen some strange things over the years, I feel like my life has been touched in some pretty strange ways that have helped point me in the right direction.  I personally feel better by believing that this was part of some grand plan with a million moving parts rather than just the chance happening of luck.  We are constantly striving to prove or disprove the existence of God but why are we wasting our time.  Science can shine light on a lot of things, but who says that science and God are separate?  Maybe they work together for our betterment, I am just glad that we have the self awareness and the higher thought processes in place that allow us to even have this question, a question that raises great conversation and debate.  A goldfish doesn’t know that we exist in form, but to him we are a god who exists to provide him food and by not being able to think about self subsistence he is unable to evolve, maybe having dissenting voices provides a path to push us forward.

I understand not knowing what Lent is, or not being Catholic and not trying it, or being Catholic but not making it part of your tradition, but I cant deal with people who look down on those with faith.  I know that we live in a world where the Westboro Baptist Church types or even normal everyday Christians are stuffing their view or religion down our throats, but whatever religious beliefs they have are their right to have.  I have one Facebook friend who rips people daily for believing in God, that is his right under free speech, but it is basically the same as the Westboro guys preaching to others against their will.  He has the right to believe or not believe whatever he will , and the right to say it, but starting my day off with hate was part of the reason that I blocked him from showing up in my news feed.  People have a right to believe whatever they choose, simply because you dont feel the same way is not an indictment of their beliefs.  Repeatedly telling them how wrong they are just draws a line in the sand and is never going to win them over.

Now back to the point that I stared off making.  I gave up caffeine for Lent this year.  I don’t often drink coffee, but when I do it is always a pleasure.  With the schedule that I have been working lately I really could use some caffeine to keep me motivated, in fact I have decided that after Easter I am going to drink at least one cup of coffee (or a demitasse of espresso) each day.  I do often eat chocolate, which was my main factor in giving up caffeine.  From chocolate milk to every protein bar ever created, to those god damned Cadbury mini eggs, I basically ate chocolate each day.  The cravings have not yet subsisted, but I think that maybe doing this will cause me to reduce my chocolate intake after this is done, but not chocolate milk, that shit is delicious.

Off the Wagon Again

This Post was originally published on April 4th, 2014


Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been 19 years since my last confession, 2 days since my last Heady Topper, and 26 days since the last time I metaphorically put pen to paper to enlighten and entertain the masses.

We have all been there. You get the good start and begin believing in your self. You start generating a portfolio of work and a measurable sample to measure your achievements by. For the first time in a long time you start feeling like you are moving in the right direction and working toward a goal that has been in your head for a while. Then it all goes to shit.

I was doing well with writing, cranking out one or two pieces per week, having some hit or miss success, but then I went on vacation and who the hell wants to bang on a keyboard when on vacation. While there I talked to some of my friends about how much I enjoy writing and what a release it has become to me. They gave me good feedback and seemed pleased with my progress. I was even told my someone who is not on Facebook that he had seen my writings and how he enjoyed them. I swore that I would start up as soon as I got home and was brimming with ideas about things to write about and projects to tackle. But as you might have seen I dropped the ball on that.

I hate excuses, because excuses are lame bullshit no matter how you slice it. The past few weeks have been crazy because of work. Not just the number of jobs, but the time required in order to pull off a huge project at my primary job have left me sapped of energy. After a tough shift or in the midst of a long stretch of days it is hard to muster the mental energy to sit here and bang out a 1200 word essay. People often point out that since I started at the hospital I work shorter shifts so therefore I should be more rested than when I worked 12 or 14 hour shifts in retail. I actually feel worse because even when I was working 60 or 70 hours a week in retail I still managed to have at least a few days off to relax and get things done. Now I feel like I work every day, in part because I work 6 or 7 days out of every week. This day in day out grueling schedule combined with being on call most nights leave me exhausted. These excuses are still bullshit, I said I was going to write often and I failed myself and other, it may happen again, but I will keep trying.

I have always loved words. I grew up reading everything that I could get my hands on which gave me a great vocabulary and an appreciation of sentence structure. I was always playing with words listening to songs and started changing them around like Weird Al did when I was 8 or 9. As I got older I started writing my own poetry and songs in an attempt to express myself in an original manner. Double entendres were (and still are) my favorite, the idea of a simple word or phrase having two meanings that can only be expressed with a wink and a smile was delightful. My brief teenage foray into music was less about the musical aspects of the songs than having an outlet to express words that I mashed together. I am an avid reader, but lately I have found myself focusing on the flow and the structure rather than just following the subject matter. This was one of the triggers that got me pointed toward trying to create something.

Writing itself has always been hard for me. The only thing more atrocious than my penmanship is my spelling, and that was often enforced by my teachers during the pre personal computer world that I grew up in. Not that I would have done it even if I was encouraged by my teachers. Writing is hard, that is why there are so few successful authors. It takes a lot of work and dedication to keep it up. The several weeks of radio silence from me testify how diligent I can and can’t be. Writing is emotional, you need to have a connection to what you are writing about in order for it to flow, or to have people think what you are writing about is interesting. As exciting as my life seem in 160 character posts in reality it is just a cycle of working and sleeping that everybody else goes through. I live alone, I don’t have many local friends, I don’t have time to accomplish much, so I don’t have much in the way of subject matter. I am also kind of scared about how things will be received. In this overblown world where the minute you say something wrong you wind up getting smeared all over the internet it is tough to put your true feelings out there.

A good friend of mine reminded me last month that it takes 21 days to form a habit. This is a great way to make lifestyle changes. 21 days to work out, or to clean the house, or maybe 21 days to write. Lord knows that I need better habits, maybe breaking them down into 21 day segments will be a way that I can put a few new ones in place. I have tried monthly challenges like Sobruary and the 40 day challenge that is lent, but those are short term goals instead of long term lifestyle changes maybe taking it in smaller intervals will help cement everything easier. Who knows maybe I can use this 21 day rule to change a few of the other things that are screwed up in my life.

I heard that the key to being a writer is writing. As simple as that may sound it is the truth. I have no aspirations to become a novelist or to do anything special, but I just want to put my thoughts down on paper. This release helps to ground me and keep me sane while giving other insights on my life to the people around me. From the feedback that I have gotten from a lot of different sources it also seems to entertain people and maybe even inspire them to look at things just a little bit differently. So here is my challenge. I am going to work my way into it by writing 1-3 things each week for the next 2 weeks. Starting on Monday April 21st I am going to write something each day for 21 days. I may not hit the 1200 word cap that I was looking for. It may not be any good. Hell I might not even post it, but I am going to do it. Hopefully having this commitment will move me forward toward some unknown path, or maybe it will convince me that writing isn’t my forte and cause me to move on. I relish your feedback so if you see me slacking please call me out on it, there is no motivation quite like shame.

One is the Loneliest Number

This Post was originally published on February 14th, 2014

Happy Singles Awareness Day

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Not having anybody to kiss makes New Years less enjoyable, constantly needing a date to weddings is a pain in the ass, but the worst thing about being single has to be Valentines day. I am happy for everyone in my life who is in a relationship, and as much as I appreciated all the pictures of flowers, candle lit dinners, and long walks on the beach that were posted today, being alone on this snowy Friday sucks. I could be ranting about how Valentines day is nothing but a corporate sham forced down our throats by the PR department of Hallmark, or bashing my head against the wall each time I hear a commercial for Christian Mingle, or screaming at the top of my lungs about the fact that they had to spring this holiday during the depths of winter when lack of sunlight and human interaction has resulted in me being nearly homicidal, or merely wallowing in self pity. Instead I am going to highlight the things in my life that would be worse if I had a serious girlfriend.

  • In the short term I would probably be driving through a snow storm to an expensive dinner rather than sitting around writing a facebook blog while listening to Tupac. I probably couldn’t have the delicious diner that I just made (tortellini, maple balsamic beets, and smoky sauteed kale). Maybe I would have cooked Valentines Day dinner but since I apparently can’t get involved with any girl who lives in the same area code I doubt it. This is a double whammy because most places that serve fancy dinners during a snow storm probably don’t let you wear sweat pants (don’t judge me).
  • Relationships are expensive, and I am pretty cheap. Plus all my extra cash winds up going to a lovely lady named Sallie Mae anyway. In fact if I had to worry about spending time with a special lady then I would probably have to cut back on working so much, maybe if she was lenient I could pull of 2 jobs but 3 would be out of the question.
  • Traveling is my favorite hobby, and I especially love to travel solo. I spent all day Saturday wandering around Boston with loose plans that I made up on the go. I don’t ever have an agenda, I just walk around and find out what kind of trouble I could get into. Even when I travel in groups I always tend to wander off and do my own thing, that is pretty impossible to do if you are traveling with that special someone. I don’t know if I can imagine my life without that sense of adventure, what about the places I would miss, or the burritos that I may never try. Side note my burritocentric lifestyle might have to make some changes for obvious burrito related reasons.
  • A lot of my close friends are wonderful ladies… well in some (most) of the cases I use the term “Ladies” loosely. These are people who are integral to my story and I have seen that when someone gets into a relationship they understandably focus their energy into the relationship instead of interacting with their weirdo friends like me. I think that cutting back interactions with these friends would be a huge blow to me because I know some petty fantastic ladies (term used loosely). Many of them are smart, funny, interesting, beautiful, and just about anything else that I could ask for. I enjoy touching base with them about the adventures in their lives, or to tell jokes, or just to see how their day went. You may ask “If you have so many amazing ladies (term used loosely) in your life why don’t you date one of them” and that is a good question. First of all many of them aren’t looking for a giant bearded man who spends his Friday nights listening to Tupac in sweatpants. Secondly I am afraid of rejection, not the getting rejected part, I have plenty of experience in that area, but how getting rejected could change the dynamic of what I think are some pretty special friendships. Maybe I am leaving too much out there and not taking the initiative is hurting me, but unfortunately that is the way it goes.
  • I would probably have to change my decorating scheme. I know my John Goodman poster really ties the room together but for some reason it doesn’t scream “stable relationship”. In fact I would probably have to buy new clothes, non sweatpant type clothes. Fortunately since I drive an Outback I am relationship ready, it has plenty of room for car seats and juice boxes. I am sure that there are lot of other things that would need to change, but why worry about it now? I figure that I can cross that bridge when I come to it.

In the end I want a relationship, but it isn’t the most important thing in my life. I really do want to meet that special someone and start a family and get a house with a white picket fence and all that stuff. I hope that I am going to meet the right person, or if I have met her already she will come around to see how awesome I am. After sitting through weddings for about a dozen of my friends I definitely feel the need to start moving in that direction, but I am just not ready to devote my life to that quest. I am only 28 with many years of adventures in front of me, and hopefully I will find someone who is willing to take this wild ride with me. I’m not just shrugging it off, there is still a burden on me. I need to make myself better at interacting with people, and work out more, and stop being on the go all the time, and many other things, but im not sure that Christian Mingle is the best way to make myself better. In the end I am going to enjoy listening to Tupac on this snowy night while thinking deeply about the ladies in my life. I probably picked the wrong month to stop drinking.

 

Words On A Page

This post was originally published on January 22nd, 2014

Maybe someday I can figure out what it is about Vermont winters that stimulates the mind and makes you want to put pen to paper (metaphorically).  It could be the constant darkness, the frigid temperatures, or the forced confinement combined with time to ruminate on ideas that gives me a kick in the ass every December.  While I won’t claim to be on the same level as Mayer, Frost or Kipling I still feel like I can put down some thoughts in a cohesive manner.  In the past I think that I tried to reach too far out of my comfort zone too fast and fell on my face, either that or an early spring has sprung and next thing I know my motivation wanes like the snow melt.Earlier this week I spent 16 hours in a car driving from Gatlinburg and put some thoughts into motion.  I have some of these saved in reserve and can whip them out in the future, but I will draw off of current events, suggestions from you my loyal fans, and of course the random thoughts that continuously run though my head.  As for frequency I don’t know how often I will update, but I will shoot for at least once a week.

Writing has always been very cathartic for me, a way to get everything down and out of my head, a way to get something off my chest so that I can move on.  The problem is that it has always been freaking hard for me to write.  As much as I love analog ideals and think that a paper and pen are the classic way to get it done, I am plagued by terrible penmanship and the need to fill something more than old notebooks.  Blogs are appealing, and I was able to pull one off during my road trip in 2009, but once I left the confines of roadside hotels I wasn’t able to keep the motivation.  I tried twitter, but except for tracking shipments of Heady Topper and trying to interpret the rambling of 21 year old girls it is just another waste of my time.  If I have 600+ facebook friends why would I waste thoughts on a medium where I have 32 followers?  I may be the only person in the world who likes the Facebook Note feature, but it feels like the best way to combine the ease of a blog with a form of social media which I check multiple times each day.  Please give me feedback, I have enough things in my life that need internal motivation that getting responses and getting pushed by others will only drive me to write better and more often.

I read a lot, generally 3 or 4 books at a time, and normally finishing a book every week to 10 days.  I also read a bunch of blogs on everything from lifestyle design, to finance, to cooking, to beer, to boxing and football.  These are great ways to fill the time and cram extra knowledge into my head, but they at a base level are a passive way to interact with the world.  Im at the point in my life where passive is overrated, I want to go out and make an impact on the world, no matter how insignificant it may be in the grand scheme of things.  We are always told to expect greatness out of our lives and are sometimes let down by the fact that we aren’t always able to make grand gestures, but its really the little things that we can do to influence the lives of people around us that make the best case for greatness.  Maybe this is my chance to make a bigger impact.

So there it is, the beginning of an adventure (maybe the resumption of adventure?) in writing.  Please let me know what you think and get on my case if I slack off.  You might want to save this just in case, it is a first edition after all.