Month: December 2014

The Holiday Magic – Version 2.0

Notes:  Most of the graphics in the post come from one of my favorite comic cartoonists: The Oatmeal.  To go see the full version of his work and much more, click here: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/christmas  I have absolutely zero to do with him and take NO credit for any of his work.

So, I had already completed a post of over 1500 words for you guys about my holiday experiences, but while attempting to upload supporting graphics, an error of some sort occurred, and I reloaded to find only 200 of them remaining.  No auto-saves, no reversions, nothing.  Just the first paragraph.  Needless to say, especially because it’s supposed to be Christmas (and therefore illogically special or something…) I’m feeling a bit unmotivated to write again.  However, I’m going to go, relax, take a shower, and give this another shot.  Fortunately I’m stubborn.  

A few hours later… *ahem* let’s try this again… Version 2.0  

This may or may not have been me at recent holiday party... I won't tell you which one...

This may or may not have been me at recent holiday party… I won’t tell you which one…

So, even before WordPress decided to wipe out my previous holiday post, I was really close to not doing a “Christmas” or “Holiday” post anyway because, to be honest, it’s not really that special in my life right now.  I’ve been alone all day, and as I sit here drinking scotch and listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Pandora, I know that for now, this is it.  Any family I speak to is far away, the majority of my friends won’t be getting anything for me and likewise I’m not concerned about them.  The very few people that have made themselves important parts of my life will probably exchange gifts with me at some point (though to be honest, I would give regardless of receiving.. I kinda suck at receiving… but only in regards to gifts from those I care about… I mean.. yeah.. let’s just leave that there. )  Anyway, the holiday season for me is more about a little time off (it IS a miracle I have time to write finally!), parties and giving somebody as selfish as I am a little excuse to be giving (similar to Ramadan I suppose… and ironically the two are often compared.)

With all that said it wasn’t always like this for me, I’m grown now but when I was young there was magic.  In “the lost Christmas post” (that’s what we shall call it now) I shared some of my Christmas morning memories; things like my father always getting “Soap on a Rope” or my love of the original Transformers action figures before the advent of video games.  Of course there were always the big things like bicycles, big wheels or air hockey tables (yeah.. my brother got one I think…) that eventually gave way to game consoles as I grew older and the magic faded.  It was less about the time and more about how expensive your item was.

Ohh the magic!

Ohh the magic!

But what was the magic when I was little?  Was it the happy, fat man that supposedly brought me new things? The anticipation when I got up that morning and raced to the tree to see the newly appeared presents glimmering in the tree lights?  The two days of feasts back when my family did it’s best to pretend it was a cohesive unit?  It was all of it.  The magic of Christmas has never had anything to do with Jesus for me, they did their best to try and educate me, but he was always an afterthought at most.  The magic of Christmas was having a day when everything was right with the world.  When everyone seemed happy and there were no strings.  No school, no work, new things, happy family and an abundance of food.  It didn’t matter that it was chaos or messy because nobody was stressing about it (or rather, if they were I was not made aware of it) and everyone was happy.

Naturally, as an adult, I’m fully aware that these are both embellished memories and that there were many underlying things that I didn’t see then.  But the magic was there because I was a kid at Christmas and everyone was on the same page: That Christmas should be a good day, especially for the kids.  So for one day my whole family seemed to set aside bills, drama and whatever stresses they had, and focus on making Christmas… Christmas.  It was all about trying to live up to the ideal, and it worked for us, or for me anyway.

Even I try harder than this though.  I love trick-wrapping!

Even I try harder than this though. I love trick-wrapping!

Now, the one part I can feel a little is what I mentioned earlier: giving.  I only got presents for a couple of people this year, but I enjoyed shopping for them and giving to them.  It seems like maybe some of them where underwhelmed by what I got them, but the process was worth it anyway.  I even tipped the folks where I normally eat lunch a $20 because they were bored, and slow and had to work on Christmas Eve.  But that was worth it simply by the genuine reactions I got.  I guess maybe it’s the unexpected giving that really breeds gratitude.  For adults I think that genuine gratitude from each other is the reward, especially when you can get somebody just what you know they want.  The surprise.  Maybe that’s a little of the magic when you’re a kid too.

That’s what it comes down to.  If anything will ever bring back the holiday magic, it’s the children.  Children are innocent and excited and not yet disillusioned by the realities of this world.  They are pure, and with that innocence they create the magic of Christmas that we can all feel.  Some people really do celebrate in the name of Jesus, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.  But when I celebrate with my family it will be to help create and feel that magic again.  It will be to be woken up at 6 AM after two hours of sleep because the kid(s) couldn’t wait any longer.  It will be to stumble out to the kitchen for the coffee needed to make it through the morning.  It will be to watch their faces light up as they unwrap their skillfully trick-wrapped presents and realize Santa got them exactly what they wanted (because Santa’s a boss.)  It will be the mid-afternoon nap (if we’re lucky) and the prepping of the evening feast before we get dressed nicely and come together to celebrate this day.  Christmas day is one of the few days of the year when we try just a little harder to make it good for ourselves, and especially for the little ones. Whether it be religion, tradition or decision, as long as it’s all going in the same direction it’s a good thing.  I think that’s what makes the holiday magic on this or any day.

And that was V1...

And that was Version 1…

Merry Christmas.

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I wish I could help you all.

Everyday I see you.  On Social media, passing by while I eat lunch and even interacting with me on various levels.  Everyday I see a new reminder of somebody that feels like they are missing something, somebody, anything to fill that hole they feel.  They feel trapped, restrained or empty.  I get it, because I feel it too sometimes.  But what makes me sad is that you’re wandering, searching, and you don’t have the slightest idea for what.  You grasp at straws over and over thinking “Maybe this will fix it!”  “Maybe this will make me feel better!”  Sometimes it does.  But it’s usually only temporary.

2014-03-26-alone_man1440x9001When I read, see, hear or otherwise encounter you… it’s one of the few times I wish that I could say “I’m sorry.”  I’m arrogant enough to think I know what you need, and I believe that if in some cases you knew me, and trusted me… or in other cases I was willing to compromise myself, I could give it to you.  But in those cases you do not, and in other cases I cannot.

I am fortunate that the universe moves me along the path to intervene in the lives of those where it sees fit.  It is, in fact, an honor to have a lasting effect on any individual’s life.  But when I see so many others suffering, not because they deserve it, but because they believe they do… it makes me angry.  I don’t want to talk down to those people.  I, too, have a darkness and emptiness I wrestle with regularly,  so it’s not pity I feel… it’s kindrid.. and it’s resentment toward the hard lessons people have to sometimes spend their whole lives learning.  It’s not fair.

Ahhh.. but as I said, I am arrogant.  To speak as if there isn’t a reason.  I believe there is, a greater reason to a greater system.  But that doesn’t mean that now, in this moment they deserve to feel like this.  These are good people who only hurt themselves (not literally.. most of the time) and harm nobody.  They have good hearts, better than mine, and yet are subjected to harsh lessons and robbed of their ability to flourish.  Now, perhaps it will make them stronger and they will flourish even more down the road. I like that hope… I like to think everyone gets theirs in the end…In this life.

3620046579_d56a212c10

This isn’t them, it’s the fear and hate of the ones before them, but they may never escape it.

But they don’t.  That’s the reality of this world.  In order to get what you deserve in this world, you must first believe you deserve it.  But often those closest to you rob you of that belief, that hope, from day one.  This too makes me angry.  Society is broken, humanity is broken.  From generation to generation scars are passed down often in the forms of blessings.  Repression, restraint, control, greed, helplessness, wrong.. “you’re wrong because…” This is what assaults you from the womb, from day one, and often from those you’re supposed to trust the most.  Their wounds bleed on to you and you suffer their sins as they suffered the sins of those before them because from the beginning you’ve always be taught that if you don’t do what they think is right, whatever they’ve been programmed to think is right… then you’re wrong.

THAT is where that hole comes from.  THAT is where the emptiness begins.  The ego is chipped away and insecurity wreaks havoc on your soul.  This damage keeps you from feeling complete because you can’t be complete if you don’t feel right being you.  It doesn’t go away either.  It resurfaces over and over again and if you can’t fight, it consumes you.  Sometimes the people who helped put it there tell you that they know what you need to fix it.  But you don’t need to be fixed.  You’re not actually broken, you’re just afraid of who you are, so you can’t be who you are.

I believe in love.  I believe in people that belong together and compliment each other’s lives perhaps even into the next life.  But I don’t ever believe that a relationship is two halves.  It’s two wholes.  And the best way to find your other whole is to do your best to make yourself as whole as possible.  But you’re really, really afraid of that.  In fact, you may not even realize it’s what you Over-Parentingneed.  But I promise you, no matter where you come from, what your beliefs are, or what your heritage is, the one thing you need more than anything or anyone in this world, is to be you.  And be the you that you were born to be, and be so fucking happy about who you are and what you represent that nothing anyone can say or do will convince you that you need to be anything but who you are.

Don’t ever let your family, friends, teachers, pastors, boyfriends, girlfriends, strangers or (for the love of god..) media tell you who you are or what you should be.  Don’t let ME tell you who you should be.  Nobody has to, because way deep down you already know.  And THAT is all you need to listen to.  That is the voice of you in the universe telling you that you’re perfect being you (flaws and all.)

I don’t care about a lot of things… or maybe on a different level I do.  But what makes me feel… what makes me sad, is when I see good hearted, talented, intelligent, amazing people restrained, self-loathing, depressed, repressed, hurt or otherwise abused because they’ve been infected by this thing we call society.  What’s supposed to help people by bringing them together now traps them in shallow lies, evil intentions and empty promises.  It makes them scared to be who they are, and makes them hate themselves because they don’t fit what only a small percentage of people in this world believe is ideal.  These people who could potentially save the world… the entire human race… are squandered because of false pride, rampant ego, and the fear and insecurity that has controlled those before them since nearly the beginning of civilization.

Most of us have been there.

Most of us have been there.

I see it.  It makes me angry.  It makes me sad.  Even though I am privileged enough to know that in a very large picture, even suffering has it’s place, it’s reasons… it doesn’t mean that it’s fair.  The system is balanced, and it will balance itself and we are only a part of a much greater system.   But I see the individual lights.  I see you, there at night alone and afraid to face yourself.  But you have to face yourself, you have to fight all the wrong that been crammed in your head that tells you you’re anything but magnificent.  And I wish i could help you.  I wish I could help you all.  I wish I could help you be you.

Grateful Relationships

Five+ days later I finally get a moment to (hopefully) finish this.  A lot has happened, I drank entirely too much scotch at my company party (though I maintained my composure to the very end!)  I’m also now cat-sitting for some friends of mine who live a ways from me (some 30 min… not too bad), so the logistics are interesting.  But what’s been in my head recently is the idea of gratitude, and how a lot of people (including myself these days…) take important things for granted.  Especially in terms of your relationships (generally speaking, not just romantic) sometimes it’s hard to draw the line where you’re being grateful, or allowing somebody to take advantage of you, but I think if you can step back and try to see things objectively, it all boils down to the situation, and what you feel you owe somebody.  The fact of the matter is that personal debt (not financial) is just that: personal.  What has any particular relationship done for you, and what do you owe that relationship as a result of it?

Some relationships aren't about people...

Some relationships aren’t about people…

See what I did there?  I took it away from the people, and made it about the whole relationship.  I think this is important because the individuals in a relationship are two (or more…) major parts, but they are not the whole at any given moment. There are circumstances and history that come into play that contribute to a greater sum.  Very often extremely beneficial connections are damaged because somebody is angry or hurt in the moment and forgets to look at the big picture.  Though many of the strongest relationships involve very strong emotions, it’s those same emotions that threaten to undermine your gratitude for all that specific people or relationships have done for you.  Remembering your gratitude can save a lot of positive relationships.

I suppose key to this is remembering the times you’ve been indebted to any specific relationship.  When you get your paycheck, it’s because you indebted the company to you through your actions for them.  On a baseline level this is the core of a healthy personal relationship (whether it be friendship or something more.)  Naturally you are usually happy to help your friends, family or (some of…) your lovers.  For this you tell yourself you need no repayment, perhaps you’re simply grateful to have such a great friend, but it’s actually not that simple.  If this attitude is reciprocal, then you’re automatically getting your repayment in the from of their gratitude and generally equivalent actions towards you.  But if over time you give in this manner and you receive no gratitude, resentment naturally begins to build.63b1afb6e21cf632dc7bdffa2fb418c7

Some people accept this, they bury their resentment because they fear damaging the relationship.  They continue to do as much, or more, for less.  This is when somebody is being taken for granted.  One of the most damaging aspects of any relationship are when somebody involved stops feeling grateful for the same things they’ve been consistently receiving and (sometimes unknowingly) reduces what they return.  Perhaps it means a change is needed, and that can be brought about by communication, but even when that’s the case it’s very difficult for a relationship to break down when both parties are truly grateful for each other.   The unfortunate thing is, when you’re being taken for granted, that resentment doesn’t go anywhere, it builds and if it’s not addressed it will instead attack the person causing it.  Unfortunately, by allowing the relationship to continue in this manner the fault also shifts to you.  Now, you resent the person who is not grateful for you AND you resent yourself for continuing to show your gratitude when perhaps it is not deserved.  This is what sets nearly any relationship: friendship, professional and even love on a path to destruction.

The underlying issue is two-fold: First, the hedonic treadmill (elaborated in a previous post) applies to your relationships too, so over time the high they may have once given you returns to a base level of happiness if the routine stays the same.  So when once all you had to do was walk into your new office to feel fulfilled at work, now you need something more, and your appreciation for that office diminishes.   Second, along with routine and comfort often comes a breakdown of deep communication.  Surface communication is abundant, but many lose the talks about how people are feeling or what their personal priorities are.  Dreams, goals, feelings and life give away to routine, what to pick up at the store, what report to finish and what social media you need to update.  Your appreciation for surface communication diminishes quickly, and just talking about nothing loses it’s appeal.  The solutions to these things are simple and obvious, but not easy.

You really don't want to lose that...

You really don’t want to lose that…

The most obvious and direct way to appreciate anything again, is to lose it.  Human nature is very reliable in always wanting what you can’t have, especially if you already considered it yours and feel you deserve it.  However, this is also highly destructive and doesn’t fix anything in the long term.

Instead, to keep a relationship (again, on any level) alive, you have to invest in it.  Keep it fresh, positive, alive.  When most living things in this world go “stale”, they are dying or decaying.  The status of a relationship can be associated with that.  Individual lives can easily begin to feel stale and routine if they are not tended to, and it’s only natural that this will spill into the relationship if it’s not helping to fix the problem.  Comfort is a wonderful thing, but people lose their appreciation for all comfort all the time very quickly.  They get bored and take a good situation for granted.   But to keep it fresh, you have to have ideas, and those ideas come from real, deep communication.  I want to stress that though this absolutely applies to to romantic relationships, it is equally important in friendships and associates at work.  The best bosses are the ones that know who you are, where you want to be and allow you to be straightforward with them.  This helps keep them from taking you for granted.monday-quotes-gratitude-quotes-111

It’s easy to think “I just need to appreciate everything more, all the time!”  That’s absolutely right!  But it’s much, much harder than it sounds.  So while you’re reminding yourself to appreciate every little thing, actively to do things that help that appreciation happen naturally as well.  Change it up, try not to be bored (the world is too big!), and above all communicate so that you’re grateful to those around you that communicate back.  If you can do this and you’re still being taken for granted, then you might be in a toxic situation and you honestly might need to distance yourself.  But first, try, be the best you can be, do your part, be grateful for everything you can and see if maybe your appreciation will rub off on those around you.  Even if it doesn’t work for the relationship you want, it might just make some other great ones.

Thank You

So I’m still relatively new to this blogging thing, and I do it as much for myself as I do anyone else.  I think I do okay as far as consistency and even content (though I run much longer than many…)  What I don’t do, however, is network much in the blogging world.  It’s mostly a time issue, I do actually go and check out some of your blogs when you follow / favorite me, but I have yet to really spend time diving in.  It’s all about instant gratification I suppose.  I’ll work on that.

In the meantime though, I want to say thank you, and that I’m grateful that you’re willing to take your time to read what I put down here.  Hopefully somehow you take something from it.  What I lack in external interactivity I will make up for through my interactions here.  I’ll happily answer comments or questions, and if you have something specific you’d like me to write about, comment on one of my posts or send me a tweet @JordanCascata and I’ll do my best to give you something worth reading.

I think that gratitude is extremely important for somebody as selfish as I am.  When you are grateful for what you receive, you naturally get more of it.  Gratitude has the dual purpose of both reinforcing positive bonds and making you feel good about yourself.  There’s no downside.

So thank you, for both reading what I write, and being patient when real life becomes exhausting and I don’t have time or energy to write a proper post.  I promise you minimum one a week on average, but it has been and should continue to be much more often then that.  Now though, I’ve been awake over eighteen hours straight on four and a half hours sleep and I have an awards party to run tomorrow for my company.  I should be back with something substantial on Sunday.

Thank You!

~ Jordan in the Grey Area

The Double Stand-Up

-or- “How the universe saved my ass from the curse of Sea World.”

I make mistakes sometimes.  As I’ve mentioned before, one of my best friends observed that the worst thing I can be is alone for long periods of time, and bored.  When this combination happens I begin to reach, or at least occupy my time with things that are better left alone.  This is the story of one of those times, and how the universe essentially bailed me out of something that could’ve been so much worse.

In my endless search for “the one” with “it”, I pursue many avenues including a now well-known “dating” site known as “OkCupid”.  I’ve had a profile on there since before it had anything to do with dating, when it was a simple quiz site called “TheSpark” that evolved into “SparkMatch” and eventually to the “OKCupid” we know today.  Originally the appeal was takingthe many tests and seeing how you compared to other members, I suppose turning it to compatibility and dating was the next logical step.

No, I'm not linking my profile, go find it. :P

No, I’m not linking my profile, go find it. 😛

I’ve had very little success on the site.  Those I get messages from, I’m generally not interested in.  Those I am interested enough to put forth the effort of messaging respond *very* rarely.  In fact, I don’t recall the last time they did.  I have overhauled the descriptions on my profile many times, to no avail (perhaps because the information doesn’t change much, it’s just presented differently.)  But on VERY rare occasions, something worth at least looking into surfaces… or I’m just at the point where I’m feeling particularly… open-minded (aka alone and bored.)

One such experience happened a little over five years ago…  I had spent weeks corresponding back and fourth with a seemingly attractive and intelligent girl.  I don’t honestly recall if I expected it to go anywhere, but I can assume (especially considering my state of mind at that point…) not anywhere other than perhaps to bed.  Regardless I was interested enough to go and meet up with her.  The thing is, at THAT point I hadn’t got my shit together yet either.  I was either unemployed or just coming off being so, and I was driving a crappy, older VW Cabrio with a number of issues (and… standing water that later earned it the name “Swamp Car”.)  Among these issues was the fact that the breaks were all but failing.  They had been manageable but were getting progressively worse.

This + Florida Storm = Swamp Car.

This + Florida Storm = Swamp Car.

So the day came that this girl and I decided to meet up.  She was a manager at Discovery Cove (the upscale park owned by Sea World where you get to interact with dolphins and such) and offered to get me into Sea World for free as our first meeting.  I’d never been, so it seemed like a good idea whether the day went well or not.  From the get-go I was in trouble.  She wanted to meet earlier in the morning so we had time to do a full itinerary (she was an expert at catching all the shows!)  I arrived pretty close to on time, and was supposed to meet her in the parking lot, but my brakes had been really bad on the way there, and when I finally made it to my parking spot… I couldn’t stop.  Instead my car barreled over the curb and up on the dirt before I managed to use the E-Brake to stop it and allow it to roll back down.  Needless to say I was already embarrassed.  When I apologized to her and tried to explain, she said she didn’t see it anyway, but I think perhaps she was just trying to preserve my ego.  Regardless, off we went into the park.

Have you ever met somebody of whom nothing was wrong with them at all, they were perfectly nice and physically attractive, and yet you had absolutely ZERO chemistry?  To the point it made everything really, really awkward?  Well, long story short, that was this day.  We went from show to show, I got splashed by a Sea Lion as a volunteer to impress her, and I got a photo of it for free because she was connected.  But that was the only connection that day.  That night I think I recall sending her a message that essentially thanked her, and (from her reactions) said that I thought we agreed that nothing was there.  Naturally, I never heard from her again, but I still have the photo of myself and the sea lion.

If only I could blame this...

If only I could blame this…

Now, fast forward to about nine days ago, and a potentially bigger mistake.  It began similarly to the last one, but there were some notable differences.  I received a message from a girl on OKCupid.  This in itself is pretty rare, but then the message wasconfident, straightforward and articulate.  So, I was impressed.  I went to check out her profile and found very little to go off of.  A single photo that was… okay.  Physically she is in great shape being very athletic and vegan (there is nothing wrong with this.. but for me!?  Have you met me?!)  Her face was.. not ugly.  That’s about the most I could say.  Now, normally I’m honest with myself and know better than to bother.  Normally I would’ve simply not responded because of the potential to pretty much go nowhere.  However, this day was one of those days.. I was feeling adventurous and “open-minded.”  I was alone and bored.

I wrote a message back saying something along the lines of: “Alright, I’ll bite.  But to be honest I don’t know how we’re in any way compatible.”  This was apparently enough for her.  She suggested Gatorland (which was cool because I’d never been and frankly it’s cheap.)  Numbers were exchanged and plans were made for the following (this most recent) Saturday.  All seemed fine.  If nothing else it “should be fun” I thought.

But as the week went on I came to dread the upcoming Saturday more and more.  Her text messages came across daily with horrible shorthand writing (I hate that…) and she ended up applying to work for my company (she’s nowhere near qualified so it’s not a concern.)  Finally Saturday arrived and we had plans to hang out after she got off work at 2 pm.  At this point I was hoping she would be late, or stand me up, or something would happen.  But she did text, and I responded because I do try to do the things I say I’m going to do (I’m just usually better at saying “no.”)

Then came complication number one: she decided it was too hot for Gatorland, and instead decided (I bet you guessed it) we should go to Sea World!  Immediately I felt the irony of the universe closing in.  Things were different this time though, my nearly new Prius has no brake issues whatsoever and I had to pay my own way in.  I got online and ended up just buying myself an annual pass for $15 a month (resident special!)  My alternative was $90 for a day pass and not including parking, and meeting her just wasn’t worth that in my mind.  At least with the annual I can go back with friends of mine (or see the ones that work there!)

Siri.. this doesn't seem right...

Siri.. this doesn’t seem right…

Despite the purchase of the pass, my motivation was very low.  However, I managed to drag myself out and eventually was on my way… just a little late.  I had told her that the change from Gatorland to the farther Sea World would make me a few min late, but thanks to my lack of motivation, and (honestly) Siri deciding to take me a VERY out of the way route, I arrived about thirty minutes late.  I texted her and told her I had to pick up my pass and I would be along.  Fifteen minutes later I was in the park and sent her another text message asking where I could meet her.  She hadn’t responded to my previous text message, and now, after a few minutes I didn’t get a reply.  Obviously, I normally would be concerned… but in this case I decided to just let it go for a while.

I wandered to the seal exhibit and found a pretty bird to take a photo of.  Who knew seals could give such good puppy dog eyes!?  They are masters of their craft (suckering the tourists!) but the birds too are excellent goal keepers, capable of swiping feed out of mid-air.  I really wished I had a professional camera on me (thankfully I have a pass now!)  At least another half hour passed and no response came from my texts.  I resolved that I had done my part and honestly hoped she had simply stood me up for being late.  Next I proceeded to the sky tower and fourty-five minutes later the sun was setting with no message in sight. It was the happiest I’d been about being blown off pretty much ever.

Pretty Bird.  NASTY Goalkeeper.

Pretty Bird. MEAN Goalkeeper.

I DID get a message, but not from her.  It turns out another old friend of mine who is in the Blue Horizons show was performing and she wanted me to go see.  Finally, somebody I was excited about seeing! (To clarify she’s an old friend and it’s never been like that.)  I got a fantastic seat in the stadium and was snapping instagrams of my friend airborne when finally I got the call from the girl I was supposed to meet.  Well…shit.  Naturally I immediately ignored this call, because pictures, a live performance and loud music wouldn’t make for a good conversation anyway.  But I wasn’t going to just ignore her.  When I had suitable pictures I sent her a text message saying hello, and that I hadn’t been sure I was going to hear from her.  She explained that her phone had die and she’d been unable to turn it on to send me a meeting place.  Since we hadn’t connected she’d seen a show and then left, and was on her way home now. Yessssss!

Feeling properly off the hook I texted her lightheartedly that I had ironically bad luck at Sea World when it came to meeting people, but she was upset and replied that it was “really stupid, or really shitty of me to not bother calling.”   Unfortunately for her, especially at this point, I didn’t care that she was angry and sent a rather curt message back saying I texted her twice, and for all I known she was pissed I was late or gotten cold feet and chosen to ignore me.  Calling would do no good with a dead phone anyway. For a long while she didn’t respond.

In the meantime I met up with my friend after the show and traded stories with her.  She told me dating sites like that would probably never produce anyone worthwhile, and that I needed to get out, do things and meet people situationally.  She backed it up by telling me the adorable and serendipitous story of  how she met her current partner, whom she’d been with only two weeks and was uncharacteristically swooning over.  It was adorable.  I knew her message was pretty on point too.  After a selfie an some hugs I was off to see the penguins of the Antarctica exhibit (It was later and dark, so I was hoping for shorter lines.)

Because Penguins!

Because Penguins!

It was 10AM the next day before she wrote back.  A three-part tirade about how I was inconsiderate and hadn’t been thoughtful.  I didn’t respond to it until around four that afternoon. I was way beyond caring and was just happy I had escaped and had a good time without investing any more time in a situation I never should’ve gotten myself into to begin with.  The universe had bailed me out of this one.. and I was grateful.  Because I was feeling grateful I sent a friendly message back with the honesty I should’ve shown at the get-go.  I explained that after looking at her profile, I couldn’t imagine that we’d have been compatible anyway (had she even read mine!? It’s a NOVEL!)   I told her that I try to be open-minded, but our lifestyles were completely different and that she was looking for something long term that I couldn’t see happening.  I wished her good luck in her search thanked her for giving me a good reason to pick up an annual pass.  Overall it was an amiable message meant to leave things civil and straight forward.

Her response was three words: “who is this” 

Perfect.

A Hedonist Prayer If I Ever Heard One…

This is not mine.  I kinda wish it was because I really love this, but a friend of mine shared it with me after hearing it live the other night.  These are great, (dirty) words (and not for those of you who might be offended by such things.)  I had to share it with you because the entire time I read it I smiled and actually laughed out loud a few times…  in some ways it’s similar to how I feel about such a sacred act. 😉

Enjoy…

Saying Grace Before Eating Pussy

Copyright © 2013 By Curtis X Meyer

– See more at:

http://allpoetry.com/poem/10462757-Saying-Grace-Before-Eating-Pussy-by-Curtis-X-Meyer

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Let us gather now. Bow our heads before this feast,

knowing all food tastes better seasoned by praise: Praise

the arc of back. The holy reservoir. Fountain

spouting at the mouth of pipes. Praise delta.

Briar-patch of surging vessels. Praise toes

that curl in remembrance of the fires they’ve walked through.

In recognition of fires to come. Praise eyes that roll back

beyond reach of her skull, to behold the blackest night of her mind

so that she too, may glimpse you at last, O Lord. Praise hairs

stuck between teeth: Each follicle a codex of genes. Unseen potential.

Script used to sculpt future generations. Each one rising

from our breath shared now as a field of hosannas. Creator,

I stand alone at the gates of Your palace. If it is here

where life is born, then as I gaze through the keyhole

at The Nexus of Creation, I say praise the hand

that grips the back of scalp, pulling me in

so that I may kiss Your face,  Lord. For it is here

results appear instantly. Here alone

I am made worthy. Here alone I know

my efforts are appreciated. Here alone I know

appreciation as it drips off my chin. It is here,

beyond the night, beyond the eyes of every conceivable mob,

I know my cause is just. Her cries tell me

I am doing right. Here, all cheques come back early.

Cashed in advance. Returns arrive accelerated. Pulsing

in waves. Here, physical reward becomes actualized. Gratitude

cannot be contained in insincere whispers, nor faked

in the form of two-faced gossip. Gratitude, like laughter, knows only

how to break down floodgates, gushing out relentless and howling. I know

I must do unto others, Lord. I’ve laid armies to waste just to get here.

God spare those denied such privilege. Mercy on those forbidden the taste

of lover’s mouths and bodies. Grace upon those starving, robbed

of their privacy by the will of tyrants. God spare the lonely further judgment

at the hands of that ravenous congregation: They who don’t know

all bedrooms become churches in the dark. Forgive those

who boast they got lucky because they stood still long enough

to reap the benefits. Triumphant in their crusade. As if patience

has anything to do with luck. Let me to eat knowing

others starve,  Lord. I take no such food for granted. Forgive

those so callous as say they got lucky. Luck has nothing to do

with meeting objective. Forgive those whose objective is release

without first doing unto others. Our bodies are gifts to ourselves

and a privilege for others. Forgive them

the fruits of orchards they take for granted. Woman,

if you’ve never been made to feel miracle; if you’ve never

been told your body is a temple, I will do things

to you that will make you swear you’re catching The Holy Ghost

in surround-sound. I will dip my hands inside

your holy water. Make The Sign of The Cross upon my brow.

My lips. My heart. Father, I kneel before Your temple a broken man.

Praise challenge. Suffering keeping me alive. Praise asthma

reminding me each breath be precious. Praise the devils

that haunt my lungs, grind my weary bones to dust. I beg you:

Let her scent be what stitches me whole. All these shards

of collapsed armor. Father, sew me back together with her screams.

Praise senses given so that they may be put to good use: Sight. Smell. Taste.

Touch. Praise ears turned outward to welcome choirs

erupting from her throat. Praise sheets turned oasis. The nails

that grip the sheets. Tears that race down cheeks. Pillows grasped and thrown.

Praise the stains that gather. Praise the rain that floods the valley. Praise tears

that race down cheeks, cascading off her chin. Praise thighs

that close tight around ears, drowning out the sounds of bosses.

Sirens. Gunshots. Bombs going off outside our window. Praise distance.

The darkness that bides us time. Praise body. This bed. This sofa.

This backseat. Wherever it is we now conduct our ceremony.

For all feasts are ceremony. All feasts are holy. This

is what communion was always meant to taste like. A feast

is someone else’s famine. Someone else’s excommunication. All feasts

are sanctuary, and I am not yet cast out of the garden.

Bodies are gifts to ourselves. A privilege for others.

Our bodies are cities made of prayer. Let us bow

to feast upon this body. For it is not my name she calls,

but Yours, O Lord. It is not my name she calls,

but Her own. For Yours is The Power and The Glory

now and forever — or at least until morning.

Amen.

Copyright © 2013 By Curtis X Meyer

From:  http://allpoetry.com/poem/10462757-Saying-Grace-Before-Eating-Pussy-by-Curtis-X-Meyer

Work / Life (Im)Balance

I’ve struggled with the concept of a good work/life balance for many years now.  I’ve always been a very firm believer in the line between personal life and what we do for work.  As the saying goes, we “work to live”, not “live to work.”  But then there’s the other philosophy that says if you love what you do, then it won’t feel like work.  To this day I struggle with where the right balance is, and what sort of lifestyle is worth the work you put in.  Can you really love what you do so much that it doesn’t feel like work?  (Especially when you’re as inherantly lazy as I am?)

As an Executive Assistant (what I do when I’m not writing long-winded blogs) my hours can be fairly erratic.  When I was serving my last Chairman I was salary (the norm for this sort of position) which made the extended hours a bit upsetting at times.  Now, I’m hourly (no overtime pay but still a step up…) and my current CEO demands (as nicely as possible) I put extra time in.  This last week especially I’ve had a lot on my plate and found myself taking it home.  Great for my paycheck, but not so great for having any downtime.  Downtime and decompression time are very important to me to the point I often take extended lunches to remove my brain and start on my blogs.  But when you find yourself struggling to get enough sleep and having little “you” time, at what point do you decide if it’s worth it or not?  There’s no real standard, and I’m NOT complaining about where I am in life, but I do seek the balance for the sake of myself and my employer as I believe many people do.

Executive Assistant Life

Executive Assistant Life

So what’s the solution?  It’s said that you have to work hard and put in your time in order to improve your lifestyle and make money. But is the money worth it if you don’t have time to enjoy it?  I know that I’m not willing to give up my lifestyle at this point, and I want to build on it, so the most logical conclusion is to keep my nose to the grindstone, kick ass, work the long hours and reap the rewards….eventually.  But I’ve always believed it’s a mistake to put your happiness into a far off goal or dream.  It must be a balancing act that involves working toward your eventual dream (I’m not even sure I have one…) while taking the time and providing yourself with the experiences that make your life worth living now.  Regardless of how much you work, you have to be happy!  Sometimes that means pulling yourself away from the grindstone and investing time in you or those you love.  If only it were as easy for us to be as happy at work as many company founders want us to be!  But you can’t blame them for not understanding why you aren’t.   

I’ve spent years working for company founders now.  One thing many of them don’t understand, and that you may not realize is that it is psychologically extremely difficult (if not impossible) for you to have the same level of connection / ownership to the company that they do.  You may care deeply about your company, you may even “love your job”, but the person who brought that idea into the world built it out of their experiences, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and even some of their imbalances that you will never have.  It is an extension of them, and therefore when they are investing time in the company, they feel fulfilled in a way you essentially can’t because they are actually investing time in themselves.  It’s not impossible to try and mimic this mindset, but when you go home and open that laptop at night, neglecting personal time to catch up on your e-mails, it simply won’t feel the same to you, because for them, even if they would rather be doing something else, catching up on those e-mails IS personal time.

So, assuming you don’t want to give up your lifestyle and become a wanderer, your options boil down to four or five situations:

If you can't stay rich on that, you made some bad choices.

If you can’t stay rich on that, you made some bad choices.

1.  You win the powerball or get rich quick somehow.  Come find me so I can help you think of awesome ways to both manage and make the most of the money while using it to perpetuate your own happiness and that of others.  Thank you and your welcome!

2. Start your own business.  This is the only way to experience the “founder” level of ownership and satisfaction in your work. However, the founders that I speak of and who are employing you have already “made it” to some extent, and thus are in the phase where they can actually enjoy it on some level because they (obviously) have employees and income.  I never said they didn’t earn it (in most cases anyway) by working harder, smarter or both.  In the beginning and even well into the green (profit,) owning your own business can come with huge levels of stress that can make that personal connection to your company very difficult to handle.  There is a reason many of the very successful founders and CEOs you hear of are often quirky, odd, eccentric or sometimes straight-up batshit insane.  They have to be in order to be obsessed enough with themselves and their company to push it to astronomical levels.

3. Do something easy that you “love”.  When we’re teens and young adults we often joke about doing what we perceive as super fun to get paid for.  Acting, starting a band or writing a best selling book (or god forbid.. being a reality show “star”.) Obviously, some people really do achieve this, but it’s not easy at all and often requires a lot of sacrifice.  For instance: a lot of late teens/early twenties (especially but not exclusively guys) joke about doing porn because who doesn’t want to get paid to have sex!?  But naturally the industry often doesn’t live up to the fantasy image in some people’s head.  Beyond that, many quickly find that once they are forced to do whatever hobby/activity they really enjoy casually under “professional” guidelines/circumstances (another example: Video Game Tester,) it loses it’s fun pretty fast.  A few weeks later it’s no longer a dream career, it’s just another job that’s making you not want to have sex or play video games on your own time any more.  That said, some types people are cut out for those respective industries and it doesn’t ruin it for them (usually because they can drastically differentiate the two in their head,) But either way,  work is still very much work and for those average people it will put a damper on their outside life too.  So, while “doing what you love” is a great idea, it’s harder than it sounds, takes a lot more work than one would think and is usually tough to find/break into.  Even after you get there, it is impossible to know if it will be as fulfilling as you hope. That said, for some people it IS worth it, IF you can really make it.

Literal.

Literal.

4. Set a goal to become something difficult that you “love”.  This falls a little in line with starting your own business in that it really can pay off the way you hope it will, but you will have to go through hell and high water to get there (and I mean years of it.)  As an example I have several friends who grew up wanting to be veterinarians.  I’m happy to report I personally watched some of these people become the 1% of 1% of 1% or something like that.  They achieved their “dream” to some extent.  I say it like that because some didn’t end up doing what they envisioned themselves doing, some fell massively into debt and the others that really made it did so by sacrificing years of their time working and studying (long AFTER the hell that is Vet School) at really odd hours under immense amounts of stress and pressure to finally, finally emerge somewhere close to where they wanted to be.  The reward is that yeah, they are most often better off financially and more fulfilled than your average Walgreen’s clerk.  But it’s still work, and sometimes they get up in the morning (12:01 AM) and don’t want to do it,  but they still have to.  I should also point out that some of these people end up owning their own business.  So, essentially a different path to option 2.  That said though, if you can make the investment early on, this is arguably the best, most consistent outcome beyond the powerball option.

5. The rest of us.  Circumstances happened, and we’re not where we wanted to be or thought we would be by now.  Hell, some of us didn’t even know where we wanted to be and still don’t know where we’re going.  But we’re still adults, and we haven’t given up and become vagrants just yet, so work happens and bills gotta get paid.  This brings me back to the importance of enjoying your life along the way.  Because with this option, if you don’t, you’re probably miserable.  The work/life balance in this situation is essential because you don’t have the ownership and you don’t have the long-term dream that you achieved.  You are working to live.  That’s really okay so long as you don’t lose sight of why.  The balance isn’t always about a set amount of hours, it’s about whether or not your work allows you to do what you enjoy.  That means both the time, and the resources to be happy in your life outside of work.  It doesn’t have to be everything you dreamed just yet, it just has to be enough to have fun, be happy, and make progress.  So working those extra hours is totally worth it if it makes you feel better about your work and gives you the extra funds to treat yourself and/or those important to you.  But if you feel like a slave to your job and go home miserable only to crash and repeat the next day; get out.  No amount of money will save you from that, and the more you make, the more of that scarce life they will ask for.

Don't be THOSE guys.

Don’t be THOSE guys.

This brings me to a few guidelines for maintaining that balance (be realistic):

1. Don’t be afraid to say no.  Draw your lines, draw your boundaries and don’t back down from them.  Do NOT allow a job to corner you into making compromises that will make you miserable.

2. Know what you are worth and ask for it.  If you research and feel you deserve a specific wage, ask for it.  If they won’t work with you to at least make a plan to get there, move on.  The same goes for benefits you need for you and your family.  Often these are arguably more important than base wage.

3. Ask for the time you want in advance. Know what you are willing to give and not to give and barter that time as needed to be certain you have the time that is most important to you.  This can be a specific schedule or specific days.

4. Along with number one, be honest and communicate about all the above needs.  If you aren’t seeing what you want, give your employer a chance to accommodate you before you just get fed up and leave.  It looks better on both parties even if something can’t be worked out.

5. Have a contingency plan.  We’d all like to be “lifers” with a great company, but shit happens, and it happens fast.  Make sure that you have the cards up your sleeve to be willing to walk away from the table if you need to.  Feeling trapped in a job you don’t want to be in is a very quick way to demoralize yourself.

Finally (and yeah.. this post got long…)

6. Make sure whatever you are doing for work leaves room for you to BE HAPPY about your life outside of work.  This means having time to have a life outside of work, having enough money to enjoy your life outside of work and having a job that doesn’t make you feel bad about you your life inside or outside of work.  The work/life balance isn’t about a specific number of hours per week or a wage you make, it’s about how it enables you to live, and how happy you can be in the process.

Errr...Maybe Allen is hollow inside? ^.^;;

Errr…Maybe Allen is hollow inside? ^.^;;