Month: March 2016

Let’s Talk Politics…and Trump… Fuck.

I’m going to swear a bit this post.  I don’t want to talk about politics.  In fact, I really, really don’t like politics.  There’s only one good reason I pay attention to any of it: I’m going to do my duty to vote, and I want to make an informed decision.  But I really hate talking about it.  You know why?  Because politics, along with sports (I’m looking at you Cowboys fans,) online PvP video games, money, sex, and love, have the ability to cause normally rational, intelligent human beings to completely lose their fucking minds.  Granted, in the case of love (and let’s admit… to a lesser degree great sex…) the insanity might be worth it.

But politics… no.  Especially with the oh-so-supportive social media aspect if full-force, politics brings out a shit-ton of negativity that will, for the most part, accomplish absolutely nothing good.  I’m not talking about the people using it to fuel Bernie Sander’s “grassroots” campaign.  That’s “good” social media, and I applaud the proper use of the medium to send a positive message.  Instead I’m referring to the vast majority of armchair patriots that talk endless amounts of shit and spam Facebook with all the baseless, bias, and very likely completely unresearched articles they can find.  The more you argue with them, the more rabid and less reasonable they become.  People who are normally friends say unspeakable things to each other, families are divided, and even the workplace can become tense when you boss’s politics do not align with your own (I’ve had personal experience with this… fortunately not currently.)

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Okay… you got me there…

But this election season, shit is getting real, and it’s damn scary.  I’m not going to be able to progress much further without talking about my stance, so I should tell you that historically I’ve been moderate (you know.. the “grey area” after all..) but I lean toward the democratic side pretty much because I love women and want them to be able to do what they want as equals to men (which… they always have been… why it is taking so long for the world to figure that out is beyond me…)

This season choosing a side between the right and the left is easy.  Because this season the republican side is all kinds of fucked up.  Not since Sarah Palin have we seen a group of candidates so utterly disgraceful and representative of the republican party’s need to dismantle itself and remember what it’s supposed to stand for.  Say what you want about G. W. Bush’s handling of 9/11, the fact is he brutalized the economy and led us into a severe depression.  But that pales in comparison to the potential damage that the current republican candidates could do…  Especially Donald fucking Trump.  All of these guys, especially him.. make Mitt Romney look like a shining, angel-winged beacon of hope if only based on the fact he came across intelligent, articulate and capable of being reasonable.

In fairness, some of the candidates we started with could have proven themselves.  John Kasich hasn’t appeared utterly insane, just too quiet.  And at one point before he dropped out, I was appalled to find myself thinking that Jeb Bush was the most reasonable and feasible of the lot… another fucking Bush…  But none of that matters, because of Trump.

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He actually looked a little less douchy…

A little over  a decade ago (ugh) I liked Trump.  The Apprentice had just gained popularity and my girlfriend (at the time) and I would travel to our friend’s house to watch his tough-guy image and signature hand gesture as he fired that week’s failure.  It was television, but it had some valuable lessons about doing what it takes to survive in the real business world and managing your resources.  At the time you could almost see Trump as a guru-style, hardcore businessman that you could learn from.  Over time, however, the shiny innovation wore off and the gimmicks they attempted to freshen up the show only served to make them look more desperate.  Perhaps that should’ve been an early warning.

Four years ago, Trump talked about possibly running, and people thought it was funny.  He had gained some political notoriety by questioning President Obama’s birth records, but neither he nor anyone else thought it was a serious gesture.  To his credit, he tested the water and perhaps that time he knew it was too cold for his taste.  So he took a back-seat in the political arena for a little while.  Later he said he regretted not running and that he could’ve beaten Obama “easily”.  Sure Donald.  Regardless, it was all a funny “what if”.  Nobody seriously thought he would run, and even if he did there’s no way he’d be successful in the political arena.

Oops.  We completely underestimated the number of racist, xenophobic, hate-filled, ignorant, scared, easily manipulated, complete fucking idiots that populate the supposed “greatest country in the world.” (Yes, I also loved the speech from the opening of the Newsroom… for the 501st time when it was posted on Facebook “new”… again… Aaron Sorkin is a genius… moving on.)  I’ll give Trump credit for this: he knows his audience.  He is preying on all those that are alienated when we try to move ahead as a society.  Equality for people of color?  Fuck you, I’m voting for Trump.  Women are equal to men!?  Fuck you! I’m voting for Trump!  Accept those terrified, starving, fleeing, refugee TERRORISTS into MY country!?  Fuck you!  I’m voting for Trump!  Basically anytime we’ve given a stupid white (often) redneck male a reason to feel like he’s not the king of the world, Trump is stepping in to be their savior.

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When not talking about the size of his peni..err.. hands.

And I only wish that were his only demographic… but there’s a number of other people, who I can only assume are either evil businessmen in league with him or sheep-like people that feel scared and/or weak that are drawn to his strong bravado.  But it’s false bravado, and anyone with a brain can see that.  He talks “YUUUGE”, but anytime he’s asked a question requiring substance… a political plan, or international relations, or even his stance on white supremacy (seriously…) he balks.  If he doesn’t have something offensive and strong to say that will support and fuel his masses, he tries to talk around the question with pure nonsense.

But it doesn’t matter.  Trump has tapped into something primal: hate.  Initially, the republican party got behind it and rode the wave of his popularity.  They assumed he’d ride out his fame and settle into their ranks.  But as is the case with many a horror story, they created a monster, and the monster outgrew them.  Now they are faced with a very difficult choice; Let the monster have his way, or revoke their support and draw the ire of his legion of followers (the majority of whom were originally republican voters.)  They know Trump will turn his followers on them, he has grown very, very good at inspiring and feeding hate… to the point now it has begun to become violent.  So now those that fed him are at his mercy, watching in horror as he strikes down each of their other champions until the only one remaining is as comparably frightening as Trump himself: Ted Cruz.  I wish I could say this is bad as it gets, but it’s still in it’s early stages.

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Or.. you know.. launch nuclear missiles…

If Trump wins the republican nomination, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I will be legitimately afraid of the outcome of the presidential race.  Sure, in the past I haven’t agreed with certain candidates, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt like a candidate represented everything that was wrong with humanity.  If he becomes the leader of the “free world”, then I honestly believe the free world could be doomed.  He will almost certainly destroy our ties with long time allies such as Mexico (you know… the giant wall and all…) and the majority of Europe (who already hate him.)  Further, it’s not unrealistic to see him forging ties with China and Russia, not for the sake of peace or creating a better world, but for the sake of money.  Assuming that doesn’t create conflict through infighting and power struggle,  it could very quickly turn into intimidation, invasion, and oppression of countries that posed any sort of threat to the new “Axis of Evil..err.. Greatness”, and a very ugly, very nuclear third world war that could change life as we know it… forever.

Now I realize that escalated quickly, and it sounds very far fetched, but look at what has been incited by this man so far.  We’ve got him offering to pay the legal fees of his people who attack anti-Trump protesters at his rallies.  The situation I described above is just a massively amplified version of that.  What happens when Canada says “Hey there… you’re being a dick to your people and we are cutting off trade with you.”?  He’ll retaliate, and he’ll encourage his people, his country, to violence.  Here’s the thing folks, as soon as we give him those codes, as soon as we put him in that house, it only takes one moment of defensiveness and false bravado for him to make a decision that will literally change the face of this planet.  That shit is real, and it is scary.

Maybe I’m overstating the situation.  I really hope I am.  Some people say that Trump is just saying all of this to win the popularity contest and as soon as he’s elected he’ll change his tune.  But I don’t think so.  I’ve seen him in the board room when the people are watching him.  As President, he would know the people, most importantly his people, will be watching him, so he’ll act “strong” even if somewhere deep down the last of his moral compass is telling him it’s a bad idea.

q49d7dtThat’s the long and the short of it: Trump is already in over his head.  He doesn’t know how government works, he doesn’t know political leadership, and he sure as hell doesn’t know constitutional law.  All he knows is that the USA is one big business and if he’s the leader he has to keep lying and acting tough.  So he’ll try to dismantle the parts he doesn’t understand and shape it into something that lets him make all the decisions like he has in his (arguably) unsuccessful corporations.

I saw a movie once where another leader came to power and did the same thing.  That leader’s name was Palpatine.  Unfortunately, the real-life version we’re faced with now is just as evil and greedy, but not nearly as powerful or intelligent.

So for the love of god people, vote for anyone other than Trump.  If he wins the republican nomination, and you’re a republican, then I ask that for the sake of your party and your country, you vote for the democratic candidate (either is better… and maybe we’ll get into that in a future post.)  The republican party has already all but denounced Trump unofficially, so if you vote for the opposing candidate, at least you know your party has time to regroup, develop a new strategy, and maybe unify into something that better represents the conservative people of this country.  This round was a disaster, we all know it, but if you vote for Trump on principle (or don’t vote at all…) the country as we know it may very well cease to exist, and the republican party might not get another chance.  How’s that for the lesser of the two evils?

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The Fading Magic Of Love

Admittedly the following thoughts are my own (somewhat emo) individual observations and feelings, so take them with a grain of salt, this has not be researched by any means.  In fact, hopefully I’m very off-base overall… but it occurs to me that a great deal of what traditionally considered “romantic” or proactive in terms of somebody pursuing another person romantically is now considered “creepy”, “stalker-ish”, or “harassment”. (Which, in many cases it actually is, I’m in no way disputing that, and nobody should be harassed regardless.)

Thus is the plight of modern romance. Unless the stars align and you cross paths and are introduced organically through social situations, folks are more or less forced to use social media style apps like Tinder or various dating sites to create a pre-existing context to meeting a stranger.

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Ahh… romance (though points for the HP reference.)

There is no more “love at first sight” for a stranger or acquaintance because nine times out of ten (especially, but not always, if it’s a man pursuing a woman) randomly approaching or attempting to talk to / get to know somebody that you have no (or very limited) preexisting context with will be met with suspicion, scorn and a label of one of the above terms.

Further, even if met with courtesy, attempting to pursue the matter usually breeds discomfort and is quickly reclassified into one of the above categories.

But that said, it’s true that such things (when unwanted, which initially, before people get to know each other, they almost always will be…) ARE in fact harassment and a lot of the tactics that folks in the “old days” used to employ to get a potential partner’s attention ARE in fact a form of stalking. And it’s absolutely correct that nobody should have to put up with harassment or stalking on any level, even with good intentions.

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Stalker!

So I wonder then what the fix is? What if everyone you come across organically isn’t the right one for you? What if you come across a relative stranger and feel the magical pull of what was once love at first sight, but there’s no real way to pursue it? What if all the “dating” apps yield a few great friends but then mostly contribute to losing your faith in humanity?

More and more people are staying single, and that’s okay because we need to be our own strong, independent people… but I feel like romance and whatever magic that love once held is becoming more and more scarce because the rules have changed and people either don’t want to play the game any more, or don’t really know how to operate in the new rule set. Or maybe the new rule set just doesn’t lend itself well to spark of a real, long-term love.

It’s a social evolution in that people’s rights are being respected on equal levels (ideally anyway), but in doing away with the archaic misogyny and religion – based social constructs, we may have also discarded some of the attached old-school charm and courtship that led to a small percentage (among many failed…) of happy, long-term, adorable couples/families. These days I see families and couples, but a large majority of them have settled, I don’t see the love. Some admit it, others don’t and in some cases my observation is wrong… but in others it has been proven to me, through action, confession or simply watching it fall apart.

I suppose it’s too early to tell, and I can only speak for my immediate bubble, but I see even less potential for those true, long-term connections now than I did with the old ways. We reduced the suffering of millions, and there’s no question that it’s worth it, but I think that the increasing rarity of classic, old-school style love actually makes me sad. It’s as easy as it has ever been to find somebody to hook-up with, but the problem is some part of me always wanted the idealized classic, stable, happy family with the “picket fence” or some version of it and I’m beginning to think that for somebody like me in a world like this, I can’t build it. I can build me, but everything else is like playing the social lottery, and the odds are very much not in my favor.

(Note: This wasn’t supposed to be a blog post,  it started out as a facebook post… I guess I just had a lot to say.)

The Value Of Time

When I begin this it was 11:47 PM Friday night and a hot cup of coffee sat in front of me.  I made the mistake of leaning back and dozed away close to ninety minutes.  Later, despite my best efforts, about halfway through writing this (I’ve update this intro,) I closed my eyes again and woke up to four AM.  It is now Tuesday…  As you can see the juggling act of my recent routine has been challenging.  My social life is picking up, many exciting plans have been made, and a number of friends from the past are resurfacing in my life.  On top of that, when I *do* get time at home to work on my (recently resurfaced) photography, play some video games, clean, or write… a log overdue blog post, my body immediately decides to instead use that time to shut down the moment I relax (as it did once again the last few nights…)

Generally speaking this is not a complaint.  The things that are occupying my time are all blessings, and very few professional situations in my recent past have been as respectful of my time as the one I have now.  However, this instantly falling asleep business is troublesome.  I have to watch my willpower, especially on days I run or work out (I’ve returned to consistency there as well) or reclining for a moment will lead to waking up several hours later with nothing to be done beyond returning to bed.  This and my extremely heavy calendar have had me thinking a lot about time.

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That took me three paragraphs to explain….

You’re fortunate, actually, that I ended up passing out, because what I had originally written here was a bunch of sleepy, semi-scientific and philosophical muttering about how time doesn’t actually exist and blah blah blah…  Instead I’m going to focus on the point:  No matter who you are, or where you come from, time is one of the most important concepts in your life.  Young or old, rich or poor, there is nothing we take for granted more than the ever-fleeting instrument we use to measure change, and we often forget that sometimes change doesn’t follow the routine, and your time might be up at any… time.

With that in mind, and as an Executive / Personal Assistant, the importance of prioritizing and managing my professional and personal time is absolutely key.  Professionally, I can compartmentalize and prioritize the large chunk of that time over my personal time. That’s the easy part.  But it’s not that simple either, because if I do that consistently as I have in the past, I will lose the balance that is kept in check by my social life and pursuing my own interests.  If said balance is lost, discontentment and eventual misery follow.  Fortunately in my my current position, my Executive is pretty respectful of my time and the stress level is relatively low.  This allows me the freedom to maintain that balance and pursue my interests… even if it’s a little slow and I have to fight to stay awake.  Admittedly my current (grown-up) priority of sleep probably isn’t helping, but I like to think I’m healthier and happier overall as a result.

Enough about my slow-progressing interests though, that’s only one important aspect of where my important time is spent and for the majority of my readers it probably doesn’t apply.  What should, and does apply for all of us though is in regards to our social time.  As I fight to maintain the balance I’ve elaborated above, I find that literally minutes of my time can be the difference between accomplishing something I wanted today, or not.  The easiest way to be most efficient with that would be to lock myself up in my cave of an apartment and just spend days or weeks (when not working) getting shit done.  Writing, processing photos, cleaning house, gym / running, and taking breaks to get into my sorely neglected MMO would all fall directly into place.  I have done that, and I like doing that, but no man is an island (as they say) and I admit that I get a greater sense of personal satisfaction from my interactions with friends, new and old.

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The Philosopher

Friendship and social life are complicated though.  For one, they can (certainly not always) get financially expensive.  But more importantly different levels of friendship require different levels of time investment.  Key here is that we all have to remember that this is a two-way street.  You know how invaluable your time is to you, so you have to assume it is just as invaluable to whomever is with you.  And they are choosing to spend that time with you.  That’s the core of what that phrase means; to spend time, because that time cannot be repaid.  Ideally, time spent should be an investment from which both parties receive something greater than the time invested. But sometimes (often) we suck at that because we don’t think about the value of everyone’s time.  It takes a level of awareness to think “Hey, this super busy person who could be doing any number of things right now is choosing to engage me instead.”

With all that said, it’s exhausting to even think about being aware of every waking moment of your life.  It is also not reasonable or even healthy to do so.  Relaxation is also time well spent, and if your brain is completely engaged at all times, you are not going to be able to relax.  As with all things there has to be a balance and I think with a few guidelines you can find that balance:

1. Recognize and appreciate time spent on/with you.  Don’t question whether or not you are “worth it” to them, that is their decision.  As long as you want it, accept it and appreciate it.  I think people can subconsciously tell when they are appreciated and you’ll find that your interactions are generally more positive as a result.

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In that moment, she realized the time had been wasted…

2. Only spend personal time on people when you want to.  Ideally the people you spend time with should help, relax, or somehow enrich your life while you do the same for them.  This isn’t just about romantic situations either, I’ve had a couple cups of coffee with old friends recently that were extremely worthwhile.  If you walk away from the interaction with a good memory, a revelation, feeling rejuvenated, or wearing a smile, I say that’s time well spent.

The flip-side of that is spending time with people because they tried to make you feel guilty, or you feel some level of obligation to them… and that should be avoided.  Perhaps if they have done you important favors in the past, you owe it to them to show up and repay the favor, but consolidate that to whatever is needed to appropriately repay them and then get out.  Beyond repayment of a personal debt, don’t let the issues of others cause you to spend time you don’t have or don’t want to give on them.  Doing so will only make you resent them and damage your existing relationship.  Just as people can sense when they are appreciated, often they can sense when they are not wanted.  Do yourself and them a favor, and be strong enough to say no when you don’t want to spend your valuable time.    

3. Minimize your professional time spent on someplace that tears you down or makes you feel “stuck”.  I realize (and have first-hand experience) that sometimes we have to do whatever we can to get by.  But that needs to be as temporary as possible.  My recent stint as an Uber driver was actually really fun at times, but on a deeper level it was having a profound effect on my general state of mind, my confidence, and my attitude.  The only thing that kept me hopeful was the search and development of new opportunities.  So, if you’re doing what you have to do, don’t quit the search for something better, even if takes months or years.

As far as the people go, work is obviously a little different, you’re investing time for money and sometimes people come with it, but you can minimize the time spent with them to whatever is absolutely necessary.

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Some of my “Me Time”

4. When planning your time, be certain to allow “me time”.  I said above that no person is an island.  Well the opposite is true too.  Even the most extroverted person needs time to themselves.  Hopefully you have people with whom you can pursue your mutual interests, but even if that’s the case, you will want time to yourself to think about how it benefits you in the long-term.  Your plan, your goals, your dreams.  Take time to put everything you are doing and want to do in perspective and make them happen.  Even those who are married or in a serious long-term relationship need time to themselves to process and figure everything out as individuals.  Once that’s in perspective, it’s much easier to share those things with our friends and family.

The point of all this is, nothing in this world is more valuable than the moments we are given.  It is up to us to make the most of those moments… actually it’s up to us to simply make those moments.  But it doesn’t need to be a constant labor, it’s more a matter of reminding yourself periodically to appreciate the time that others spend on you, and in turn make sure the people you’re spending your time on are worth it (including, of course, yourself!)  By doing this you can moderate/filter your busy life and make the most your moments.