Friends

2016 Retrospective and 2017: 希望

Well holy shit.  I just read through my 2015 recap and it was all kinds of hopeful.  Needless to say, 2016 was another shit year but in totally different ways.

Before I get started allow me to explain my months of absence: I sold out.  Yes, in what was one of the positive developments this year, I’m currently a Staff Writer for a website called http://www.List25.com.  I’ve been there for about four months now and I meant to let y’all know officially much sooner, but I wanted to get some posts under my belt and then, life got really, really busy, and I haven’t been back.  Obviously I am back at the moment, but I can’t promise much consistency here because, frankly, I have a hard enough time keeping up with my post requirement over there.  However, I’m not quitting here.  I’m just not going to commit to frequent posts for now.  That being the case, you should subscribe, so when I do post, you can come look!  And meantime go visit me on List25.com and check out my ultra-cool bio on the “about” page ( http://list25.com/about/ .)

screenshot-2016-12-31-23-22-58Enough shameless pluggery, let’s talk about sucky years.  2015, as mentioned in last year’s post, was a hard, hard year.  Uber was fun but I barely got by.  By the end I had found my new workplace, and was feeling pretty good.  Well, 2016 continued the workplace success,
and then some.  Not only am I writing part-time, but my full-time job is paying for accounting classes to further expand and refine my skills.  This is a great benefit, and I’m grateful for it.  It’s also probably a good thing my social life is more or less nonexistent.

Yeah, for just under half of the year I was something I really, really shouldn’t be for long periods of time: Alone.  While you all know I’ve been single for literally a decade (as of this last November,)  I have, for most of those years benefitted from either a relatively close-knit friend group, or a somewhat regular “companion”, or both.  But as of around July this last year, both got very quiet, and I honestly grew pretty bitter about it.

I’ll vent, briefly, and then move on because this is not meant to be a rant.  But I feel like some people use words like “friend”, “always”, and especially “love” far too loosely.  I don’t, and I understand that individuals assign different levels of meaning to them.  But when somebody promises they’ll always be there, part of me tried to believe a couple years later they still will be.  And if they tell me they love me… well, if I’ve ever said that to anyone, they could more or less call on me years later and I would do my best to accommodate.   So I guess coming out of 2014-2015, when my life made its first major shift before shifting again in 2106 and finally settling down, I just expected some of those friendships that had been built over years to endure more.  When many didn’t, and I had already grown dark because life had worn me down, it just made me more resentful and bitter towards those that made claims they simply weren’t willing to back up.

I get it.  People grow, and change and move on to new phases, but that doesn’t mean you forget who your friends were.  What they meant to you and what they did for you.  You don’t get to just write off years of experiences without reason.

2016-12-22-23-43-58

Not totally alone. 🙂

That’s not to say there weren’t those who didn’t have their reasons, myself included.  That’s also not to say that some people didn’t step up (or at least try.)  I’ve joked in person that I have like… two friends now.  But when I think about it, that’s not true.  I still have a ton of friends, we’re just distant, and spread out, and belong to different groups.  All of that is okay, and if any of you are reading this, I probably think about you, and I would probably, very easily pick up right where we left off.  I’ve been busy too, so I haven’t been super proactive in social settings.  (Even tonight a friend invited me out to a New Year’s party last minute and I declined.  I’m exhausted.  But it’s nice to know you’ve got somewhere to go.)

Speaking of, I really do appreciate those people who have hung in there through the years, and who came back on radar, whether randomly or because they knew I needed company.  It was because of them, my job going well,  and a few new people that have recently popped up, that I’ve been able to make it through the remaining months of the shit-show that’s been 2016 and not move away to a distant mountain in New Zealand (that was a very serious consideration post-election night…)

Speaking of the election.  Fucking humans.  I KNEW he would be elected.  Hell, I knew it before he even officially announced he was running.  But I prayed, and begged, and pleaded that just this once I could be wrong about something like that.  That people would recognize the absolutely horrible and absurd concepts that are becoming disturbingly normalized and think that no matter HOW much they bought into the carefully-crafted hatred of Hillary, they couldn’t possibly elect an insecure, belligerent, hateful, lying, monster of a man like Trump to lead and represent the United States on the world scene.  YOU HAD ONE JOB.  And now, a very large shadow looms over the incoming year(s).

hollowhalf

He’s had a lot of playtime.

There were, I think, three times this year, when I did my best to stifle the disdain and contempt for humanity that has steadily grown in me.  When things felt like they might be okay, and I could try to discard my emotionless, robotic manner in order to have a better attitude about things and maybe have a little hope.   Election time was one of those times, and obviously it was swiftly and utterly crushed.  There was another time before that, and one since then in which it lasted a day or two at most before I felt it was a lost cause and retreated back to the all too familiar darkness that’s grown comfortable.

But now a new year is upon us and I’m going to try again, and I’m going to try harder.  My foundation finally appears to be set, and those who have stuck by are being joined by a few new faces that will undoubtedly multiply.  The path for this year can initially go one of two different ways, and the first few days of 2017 will decide which of those paths I will start down.  Either is a path of growth and personal development, and more importantly; 希望 cheers(kibō) the Japanese word for hope.  With Carrie Fisher among the last of the many icons 2016 took from us, it seems appropriate that this is my sole, general resolution.  I’m going to try to be, and remain, hopeful in the face of whatever setbacks and obstacles come at me in 2017.

“When you defend your ideas in public, you then have to make an effort to  live accordingly.”  – The Manual of The Warrior of the Light. (Paulo Coelho)

Happy New Year Everyone!

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A Week On the West Side

Show season is upon us.  In the business of creative communications it means that my boss (the CEO) has a lot for me to do. Unfortunately that means my chances to post are much less frequent, but on the upside the travel makes for some interesting stories and adventures.

2015-03-05 11.31.02So I spent a week on the west side of Washington state.  Mostly in Bellevue where our show was and then with a bit of touring.  The show was a typical mix of crazy circumstances and long hours that make up nearly every live production.  Though our sleep suffered, everything came together in the end and the client and audience were both pleased and impressed.  When everything was said and done, I was running off about twelve hours of sleep over four days, one of which involved a heavy night of drinking and dance.  Yes, dance.

So it was that we had a later call-time the next day (which my boss eventually sabotaged for me… more on that later) and found ourselves bar-hopping in downtown Bellevue.  Among our stops was a Karaoke bar called Stone, in which I encountered a strange, tall man standing before me and crossing his arms.  For a moment I thought I might have to fight somebody, but then I realized this was my High School best friend’s little brother.  I had literally known him since he was eight.  Now, he was huge and apparently helped run this bar.  Unfortunately we decided to leave before I could ask for any specials, but I said my farewells and gave my regards to his brother.  It was a pleasant surprise for sure.

Immediately before my move to Orlando years ago, I lived in the area of Seattle know as “Capital Hill”.  It has for a long time been called the “gay” area of Seattle as it is a very liberal and homosexual-friendly neighborhood.  Over the last few years, as our culture has evolved to accept more and label less, it has become less about “gay” and more about anyone.  It’s the place where you can simply be yourself and be accepted regardless of where you fall on the sexual spectrum.  That’s not to say that the rest of the city isn’t of that mindset anyway, but I would wager to say that Capital Hill is still one of the most open-minded places in the city.

One of my drinks at Q after many others that night...

One of my drinks at Q after many others that night…

When the bar-hopping eventually got boring and the night threatened to come to a close, it was decided we would take the party into Seattle by taxi.  And it came to pass that we found our way to a nightclub called Q.  I’m not much of a dancer.  Years ago I would go with my ex and her friends on the weekends… but you don’t have to be impressive when you’re taken (that said.. I think I did okay.)  I’m also not generally a huge fan of House / EDM music.  However, on this night, years after I moved away, I was back in my old hood and many drinks / shots past sober.  So we danced, and I danced, and had a really really really good time.  It was a good group because we were all just doing our thing (goofy or otherwise) and it made it easy to cut loose.  I looked terrible. I had worn my suit from earlier that day and since taken off my button down to reveal a grey tee shirt that showed every ounce of sweat on me.   Fortunately, I wasn’t trying to impress anyone and that in itself made the night.  I was in that perfect spot of intoxication that allowed me to let the music fill me.  I felt the bass in my chest and tones in my brain so that I simply moved with it… and let it move me.

The night ended fun and happy with me eventually escorting my sleepy boss back into the hotel before we retired for the night.  Call time wasn’t until two the next afternoon, but he insisted I be ready to go by 10 AM.  That gave me less than six hours of sleep to shake the night off.  It wasn’t enough.  Though I sobered up nicely, when I rose around nine in the morning, I had a near-deafening ringing in my ears that faded throughout the day but never completely went away.  The kicker was that my boss didn’t get in touch with me until shortly after one in the afternoon.  However, given the choice I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Sometimes you just have to dance.

The following days were a lot less party, a lot less sleep and a lot more work.  But when it was all said and done, the show was well received and our clients were happy.  The day of strike most of the crew flew back, and those of us that remained went out for a much mellower and still yummy night of dinner and drinks.  That night, finally, I got to pass out for a good eight to ten hours.

The mountains I miss.

The mountains I miss.

With the show over and the crew having departed I had the next 48 hours to myself.  I used the time to pick up my rental car and tour western Washington.  I refer to it as “ghosting”; visiting the sites of your past life(s) to remember and gain perspective on where you are now.  The power of place is important, and can reinforce memories that have long since faded.  I visited a hardware store where I worked retail for many years from cashier to various sales positions.  While there I messaged with a longtime friend of mine who, back then, had been a young, sassy girl I met at the hot dog stand out front.  She’s one of the few people who made it through some really terrible versions of me and found me worth keeping in touch with.  When I returned to Seattle after the breakup, she made a point to come and visit me and did her best to bring me back from a pretty dark place.

Then it was on to Burgermaster which is an old school drive-in that (obviously) makes amazing burgers.  That place has existed longer than I have and makes the same burger today I ate when I was in high school.  I traveled north to Juanita, where I had lived with my father after having been homeless with him for many months.  This place in particular has a lot of emotions attached to it.. it was the site of my first kiss and that of my eventual depression that lead to my near(ish) death (a long, wierd story in itself.)

Then a block away where I had lived with my mother before and after my time in Japan.  The preceded the time I spent as a furniture hauler traveling across the country as the co-driver of an 18-speed semi-truck.  Then I traveled north, the Snohomish.  The same driver of that Semi-truck had asked me to be a nanny to his then son-in-law.  By now I had been with my ex, and I put a major strain on our relationship with my lack of real income and uncertainty about wanting to be with her.  We eventually recovered, but not before I had put her through a lot of unnecessary hardship (and a crap-ton of shitty Jack in the Box meals.)  One great memory from Snohomish was the view of the mountains from the valley.  I had to show the people back in Florida what they were missing.  On that same note I needed to get closer, so I traveled east through Monroe and the fairgrounds where I had first seen my ex, on to Sultan where I got a great photo of the mountains that fed a river whose bridge I stood upon.

There is no way to convey the awesomeness in picture or prose...

There is no way to convey the awesomeness in picture or prose…

Then evening came and I got in touch with my father.  He wasn’t up to a lot of activity due to a back injury, so I resolved that this night would be my mizithra night! I was passing through Lynnwood on my way back anyway, so I stopped at the Old Spaghetti Factory and had the bartender whip up a Bailey’s Irish Creme shake to go with my Mizithra cheese spaghetti.  It was wonderful.  Full and satisfied I then traveled south for about an hour to my father’s home in Lakeland.  He was ready to turn in for the night, so I caught up on my shows using his fancy cable service and promptly passed out.  The following day was spent simply catching up with my father.  We watched some shows together, talked and he made the best wings on earth for me despite his back still bothering him (thanks Aleve!)  After dinner it was time for me to catch my red-eye back to Orlando and end my all-too-short mini-vacation from show season.  Though I planned to either work or blog on the flights, I found that I was indeed quite tired, and ended up resolving to sleep as I had both plans and work the following day.

And it came to pass that I returned to Orlando and resumed this life as it is.  I don’t know if I feel any different, but I remember wandering around Bellevue during a little time off and thinking that I felt better.  Maybe it was being back where I grew up, maybe is was the dance, maybe it was remembering all the versions of me that have come and gone.  But wether it has a lasting effect or not has yet to be seen.  I feel something.  Like a phantom tapping me on the shoulder.  In the meantime it’s show season, and less than a week until the trek to Georgia.  I’ll do my best to write before then.

The Case for Being Selfish

“Being good doesn’t mean good things will happen to you…” -Rumplestiltskin (Once Upon A Time)

A long time ago in a land far far away… I was a villain.  Some days I think I still am.  I share a lot of the same traits:  selfishness, narcissism, disregard for a lot of the “rules” and a general distain towards humanity as a whole.  There’s some things that changed as I grew and if I am still a bad guy, I might be a bit more honorable… if only by my own code.  I actively try to be better anyway.

Yay for ironic double-meanings!

Yay for ironic double-meanings!

One thing I can’t seem to make it around though, is my own selfishness.  But I think I know why.  The fact of the matter is, generally speaking the world is selfish.  Humans, by nature are selfish.  People find all kinds of ways to sugar-coat it and feel better about themselves, but at the end of the day almost everyone places higher value on themselves and those more important to themselves.  What this also means, is that those who decide to try not to be selfish will never receive their due.  At the very least they will generally receive less appreciation than they are due, and at most (and probably far too often) they will be completely and utterly taken advantage of.  They are rewarded by being stripped bare and left with nothing because people took with malice, carelessness or simply didn’t think about the affect their actions would have on the giver.  When a tree bears fruit, there are proper times and ways to harvest the fruit so that it can bear fruit again easily.  The same can be said for those willing to give selflessly, but all too often the right way is ignored for the sake of personal gain.

I have, in the past, attempted to be a “better” person, by acting selflessly, giving without expectation and trying not to judge those who seem ignorant to plight of those around them.

Well, fuck that.

Though now I still occasionally, (even often) give, no longer is it without strings. It is no longer selfless.  Those I give to I either owe, or want them to owe me.  I suppose in some cases I do so simply for the feeling of making them happy and, in turn, making myself happy.  But even then it’s a form of “brownie points” with them or -at the very least- my own personal satisfaction.  I contribute to the system, I show respect to those around me on the surface and I don’t go out of my way to mess with anyone else’s world (unless they do so with mine…)  But I don’t feel I owe the world anything, and I don’t have any desire to give to it without expectation of return.  Maybe that makes me a part of the problem, but the truth is the real problem is the system and society that encourages selfishness.
Bill-Gates-about-money
Those at the top are selfish, they look after themselves and their own before others.  Even the modern-day great philanthropists: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Bono, etc. are businessmen and celebrities who amassed fortunes most average people cannot even dream of before spending fractions of those fortunes to try and make the world a better place.  Meanwhile famous “selfless” humanitarians such as Mother Teresa are loaded with contradiction and agenda (often religious) over the actual care of the people. (I’m not going into it, but head over to google and do some research, especially the last 50 years or so of her life are said to have been quite contradictory to her image.)

So what’s the lesson here?  I’m not saying “don’t give” or “don’t be selfless ever”.  Remember that moderation is necessary in all things!  I’m saying be okay with being selfish first.  Look after yourself and don’t be afraid to say no to those who ask for things unless they earn it.  Just because you have, doesn’t mean you have to give.  Many of the people mentioned above had a lot before they really began to give.  Now, you don’t have to be the asshole that I admittedly am sometimes, as I said, it’s often questionable whether or not I’m still a bad guy. But people will try to make you feel guilty about having and not giving, which is ridiculous because they are all too eager to take from you and give much less in return.

Try it sometime, if you’re a natural nice person and giver and you feel you have a lot of great friends around all the time who value you, test it.  For a little while, for whatever reason, just stop giving whatever it is you freely put out there; be it attention, money, things, affection, what have you.  For a short time, keep these things to yourself and see what happens.  I am willing to bet that a large percentage of those friends will give you less as well.  Some will call less, visit less or even disappear.  Do you know why?  Because their relationship with you was never unconditional just as you have to face that yours probably wasn’t with them either.  Even our relationships are selfish, so it’s okay for us to decide what we’re going to give, what not to give and what it’s worth.  Relationships in any form are usually some sort of unwritten contract, and when you change the terms, what you get will also change.

People like him for his selflessness...

People like him for his selflessness…

I tend to lean toward the Liberal side of politics; I think Norway has it right in terms of taxes and public systems and I believe the concepts of socialism and even communism in it’s purest forms are great ideas.  But humans can’t pull it off because they are too inherently selfish and greedy.  Even if some can reason past it for the greater good, it only takes a small percentage to ruin an otherwise perfect system.  That’s why such things only work in limited degrees when properly implemented by government, and only when there’s enough reasonable people to overrule the many that are blindly selfish.

But this isn’t about politics, this is about individuals.  This is about me.  Someday I would love to have the resources to be a humanitarian like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or even (to a lesser degree) George Clooney.  But if I am, I’m going to get mine first and I’m going to give to and look after those who earn it first.  Show me you deserve it, and I will enjoy feeling obligated to give to you.  But make me feel as though I’m being taken for granted, and I will withdraw as quickly as I put myself out there.  Whether it be attention, money, time or even love.. I will give to the right people,I  but I have to look after myself before I can give to anyone else.  That might be selfish, but that’s what this world has shown me and given me, that’s how the game is played.  Until the majority of this world decides the change the rules for the better of us all, I’ll play the hand I’ve been dealt, and win.