Saturday, February 28, 2009

Still Blogging...

I'm still here. Don't worry. I know I've been fairly slack the last couple of weeks. I'm still keeping up with things and have a couple blog posts that I will upload and backdate hopefully in the next day or two. Sorry for the inconvenience. I've been getting hooked on the games Word Challenge and Gangster Battle on Facebook for some idiotic reason, but I won't go into that.

Again, if anyone has any ideas why my posts keep vanishing on my page when you scroll down, please let me know. I've been looking around for answers, but no one seems to be having the exact problem that I seem to be having, hence the solutions they've been trying haven't really helped at all.

In the meantime, here's another LOLCat:

Friday, February 27, 2009

The New Face(book) of Old Friends

Ever since I signed up for Facebook I've been surprised by the people who have come out of the woodwork to "friend" me. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that being on Facebook has stretched the definition of the word "friend" beyond a rational level of credulity. I'm now "friends" with people I rarely talk to in the dance community, people I rarely spoke to in high school, people I haven't even seen in 20 years, and people that I rarely talk to but wish I would get a chance to talk to more often.

In fact, while I thought that social networking sites were supposed to bring us closer together, my experience has been that Facebook has actually made me feel farther apart from people by constantly reminding me of relationships which aren't on the level that I wish they were.

Take, for instance, my long time friend Julie. I've known her for a dozen years and yet we've never been as close as I would have liked. That's probably my fault, since I've never really known how to act around her. Julie is someone whom I've always considered far too beautiful, far too successful, and far too socially adept to be connected to me. I had a crush on her for years beginning on the day we met, but that was never meant to be. Nowadays, she's married and living on the other side of the continent. We talk on the phone for about an hour twice a year, during which time she bores the living crap out of me with stories of her friends' lives. For my part, I pretend to listen as much as possible since hearing her voice feels better than not.

I'd like to say that being Julie's "friend" on Facebook has made me feel closer to her, but instead, as is the case with several of my real life friends, I feel like the geek in the corner of the room watching the popular kids joking around and having a good time. Sure, the geek is friends with one or two of the popular kids, but he doesn't want to risk doing or saying the wrong thing and upsetting his "friends" around all of the other popular kids, thereby taking a chance of being de-"friended". You know, it's like being in middle school all over again!

And why do people ask to "friend" me if they have ZERO intention of talking to me? Almost all of the people from high school that have "friended" me haven't messaged me ONCE since I accepted their friend request! Let's face it, we've lived in the same city for 20 freaking years without ever seeing each other. So, unless you actually intend to get caught up with me, don't bother asking to "friend" me! We aren't FRIENDS! Honestly, when I get the request it just forces me to spend 10 minutes trying to remember who the hell you are!

Maybe I'm not the type of person they had in mind when they came up with "social networking" sites!

Have fun and keep living life... But don't "friend" me unless you mean it!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Days of Futures Past

After aiding Chris with his girl problems our discussion somehow turned to my writing. I informed Chris that I currently have two unfinished novels sitting on my hard drive. He asked to read them, so I emailed him the files. Of course, after I sent the files, I immediately began to re-read them for myself. What I read both impressed me and troubled me at the same time.

The longer of the two unfinished works, Pair Bonding, is 94 pages of dense, elaborate, and dark storytelling. I haven't worked on it in earnest for almost a decade. The bulk of it was written during long nights at Waffle House through numerous periods of depression throughout my early 20s. It, along with the second novel, is a part of a time travel series based on a character I created during my junior year in high school.

The second novel, Lessons to Learn, is much more current. In fact, I originally came up with the story after my break up with Ex. I've only written 20 pages of it so far, though the goal, as with Pair Bonding, is to have between 200-250 pages at completion, as I've never been a fan of books longer than 300 pages in length. The tone of Lessons to Learn is far more hopeful and upbeat. Unfortunately, the writing, as a result, isn't at all as good as in the writing in Pair Bonding.

I'm not sure what it is exactly, but I've long observed that some of the best writing comes from depressed people. Authors like Edgar Allen Poe and Ernest Hemingway wrote literature which will be read for generations, all while being depressed alcoholics. And I've read psychological studies in recent years which point to a correlation between depression and hypersensitivity to minute details which could explain how depressed writers are able to paint such vivid pictures with words. So, does this mean that as long as I'm not depressed I'll never be able to write as well as I did when I was trying to escape my pain by withdrawing into my own creative universe?

Of course, that raises a whole other proposition. Is the loss of my best writing ability an equivalent exchange for improved self-efficacy, self-esteem, and overall happiness? I used to think that true happiness could only come from exploiting your natural talents to their fullest. Granted, I can be happy without writing, but there is something special which comes from knowing that people enjoy my work and having them offer validation of my talent.

Nowadays, validation, for me, comes in the form of good grades and new friendships. It's a validation of me as a whole person rather than simply a validation of a specific skill. And perhaps that is the way it should be, because it is too easy to pass my writing off as something separate from me as a person. I can say that writing is a "natural" talent as opposed to something that I am personally responsible for through my own deeds. But good grades and relationships are something which I have to cultivate with my own actions. And each new step is rewarded with a greater sense of personal achievement for which there is no equivalent exchange.

And let's face it... I'm still a pretty good writer!

Have fun and keep living life... and exploit your talents to the fullest!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Doctor is In

I couldn't decide between a picture of Doctor Who, or the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager for this post. Oh well...

In my first post I encouraged anyone who wanted advice from a wannabe therapist psych major to leave comments and I'd try to give responses in my posts. Well, no one took me up on the offer. But, that's okay because I just found my first client. Unfortunately, it's Chris!

We met in my office, a booth in the non-smoking section of Waffle House. It should be noted that Chris is your typical libido driven, non-smoking, non-drinking, 19 year old male with too many opportunities for sex and not enough self-esteem to fully succeed at being a player. The thing is, Chris second guesses his every move with women but then doesn't like, or take, the advice that people give him when he comes calling for help. Much of the time, it seems, he'd be so much better off if he'd actually listen to what other people have to say.

I guess the truth is that Chris doesn't really want advice. Chris wants validation. He wants someone to tell him that he is doing the right thing and that his relationship problems are the fault of the women he dates. I'll grant that the girls he dates aren't exactly the cream of the crop, but, ultimately, he chose them, and he chose to set up situations where they could abuse his boundaries, or lack thereof.

You see, Chris falls repeatedly into the trap that so many young men, myself included, set for themselves and the women they date. Namely, Chris spends exorbitant sums of money on women believing that he is doing it to "treat them like princesses." By the way, guys REALLY do believe this when they're young and stupid. The problem is, of course, that women think the money comes with a price. It does... but not the one they think. Guys, on a deep subconscious level, think that if they spend money it will make women love them. If they spend more money, women will love them even more. Often, it takes years for us to learn that this doesn't actually work. Typically, we don't learn the lesson until after it costs us the one girl we loved the most. That's how I had to learn it, anyway.

I want Chris to learn before it's too late, but I know that he won't. He can't. He has to really hurt in order to learn, and he doesn't know what real hurt feels like, yet. He still lives with his parents and they still bank roll him to a great extent. That's another thing about the lesson, you have to lose YOUR money AND your girl to truly learn it.

Truth be told, while I don't mind doling out free advice to my friends, I don't want to become his therapist, as I've already discussed that I used to use my counselling skills as a tradeable commodity in relationships. Instead, I want Chris to be my friend because he wants to be my friend, and not because he can use me for free therapy. Perhaps now would be a good time for me to practice establishing my own healthy relationship boundaries. Maybe by learning how to keep a friend from taking advantage of me (or, more honestly, enabling them to take advantage of me) I can learn how to be a better--ie., healthier--boyfriend to the next woman I fall in love with.

Have fun and keep living life... And wish us luck!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mo' Money, Mo' Problems

Ah, finally an influx of cash! My financial aid check for this semester came in and I'm now the proud owner of $5400! Well, okay, not really. I owed $400 to the bank, $350 to AT&T, and then my desire to splurge on new toys kicked in.

I ordered a new duel-worthy lightsaber from
Ultrasabers for $90 including shipping, and bought a new 320GB Western Digital SATA drive for my computer, which I somehow failed miserably to install, for $80. I think the drive was dead, but I have no way to be sure unless I take my machine to the shop and pay them $60 to diagnose the problem. Of course, that thought led me back to Best Buy for a 500GB Seagate USB external drive so that I could port all my porn off the old drive before taking the machine in for work. There's nothing illegal on my drive, but I just don't need the guys at the shop knowing of my predilections for hot moms and lusty college girls! And, just for the record, my old drive is only 80GB, and no, it wasn't completely filled with porn... only about 40GB!

After my assorted expenditures, I had a bit over $4000 left, so I decided to begin my earlier financial experiment anew. This time I'm starting with $2000 instead of $1000 like before. This provides me with a couple of benefits over last time. For one thing, with $2000 I should be able to double my initial investment faster than before, and I can also divide my investment over more stocks at once which should provide some added security from the inevitable downturns which come from each stock individually. Also, my investment account was recently changed to allow trading with unsettled funds. Formerly, when this wasn't allowed, it slowed me down considerably because it forced me to wait three days between each buy/sell cycle. Now, I should be able to sell and buy all within the same day.

The thing is, right now I'm feeling antsy for things that cost money. I want to build a new computer so that I'll be ready to upgrade to Windows 7. My current rig was built exactly five years ago and just won't keep up with all the bells and whistles of newer software. Beyond that, little things are going wrong with my car (the AC doesn't work, the interior lights are shorting out, my rear defroster doesn't work, and there is an oil leak from faulty oil sensor switch), and I want to either get them fixed or get a newer, more fuel efficient, car than my 2000 Dodge Neon. And, to top it all off, I'd really like to buy a new bicycle. I haven't ridden a bike for at least 15 years, but I'd like to have a bike for short (under 5 miles) trips to the grocery store, and just general leisure and exercise. Plus, I'd like to be able to save a little gas by not hopping in my car and going for a drive whenever I'm bored. Good quality "city" bikes cost around $800-1000, and I would need a helmet and a bike rack for my car. I haven't even mentioned the fact that I would LOVE to go shopping for new clothes since many of my pants and shirts are wearing out.

Truth be told, I suppose my priority list should be in this order: Car, Clothes, Computer, Bike. Realistically, though, when it comes to money I've never been one for practicality. Knowing me, as soon as I can afford to do so, I'll get the bike, then clothes, then the computer, and I'll just drive my car until it explodes, whether or not I'm actually in it at the time!

Have fun and keep living life... But spend your money wisely!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

I had to make a hard decision today. I chose to drop my British Literature class. I'm not sure why, but rather than feel like I made a good decision I feel like I failed somehow. This is the first time I've ever dropped a class even though there were several in the past that I probably should have in order to protect my GPA. By dropping the class I insure that a low grade will not lower my already injured (2.54) GPA.

Part of the problem comes with the fact that, in order to drop the class, I had to get the professor to sign off on the form for me to drop. I've mentioned that I wasn't really in love with her as a professor (Okay, so, without ANY evidence whatsoever to support this, I called her a Dick Cheney-loving dominatrix... but not to her face!), but when she asked me my reason for dropping the class I actually felt bad for her! I didn't want to hurt her feelings for some reason. Now, understand that I had already planned out that I was going to just go ahead and tell her that I felt she was condescending and that if we were in the corporate world her teaching style would be equivalent to that of a micro-manager who picks at every little detail of his underlings tasks, and how I don't appreciate that level of specificity because it insults my intelligence and gives me the sense that my work and talent isn't being respected, and if she doesn't like how students write papers at this level she should just feel free to give them Ds or Fs rather than laying out every single point that she wants presented in a paper. Instead, I meekly commented that I wasn't enjoying British Literature as much as I had hoped I would, and that I just didn't think her teaching style meshed with how I like to work as a student. For her part, she politely recommended I take a literature course taught by a professor who by coincidence I've had before and is, according to her, "less structured" in his teaching style and looks at everything from a "communist" point of view! I have to admit, the professor in question DOES sort of look at things with a communist point of view, but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing!

I've been trying to figure out why I backed down from telling the professor how I really felt about her. Some might say that I'm "maturing" or "becoming more sensitive to the feelings of others" in my old age, but I think that's a load of bullshit! I think it has something to do with the power differential between us. You see, in normal classroom situations (ones where I feel glad to be there) I am incredibly outspoken with a mix of insightful comments and wry sarcasm. In those environments, I feel as though I'm an equal (perhaps even occasionally superior) to the professor. It would be completely natural to let those professors know EXACTLY how I feel about them because I didn't hold anything back during standard class time. Unfortunately, I never felt at home in my Brit Lit professor's classroom. Rather, I would sit there quietly staring at her PowerPoint presentations, rarely making eye contact, trying to avoid being called on, absolutely never interjecting my own thoughts, and just trying to pretend that I wasn't there while still showing up enough not to go over my allotment of permissible absences. The assignments I did turn in all made As, but I just didn't want to be there. I didn't want to work for her. I didn't want to impress her. And I didn't want to connect with her as a human being.

I guess that's why I feel so bad about dropping her class. In that one brief minute that it took to get her to sign the form I was forced, for once, to consider that she was a person with feelings and a life outside of the classroom. Granted, by tomorrow (certainly by next week) she will likely have forgotten all about me as a student. And perhaps that's the way it should be. Because for her to remember me beyond next week would have meant that I had to make an impact. And to make an impact, at least in that moment, would have meant that I had to be rude and insensitive and try to take away, for a time however brief, another person's sense of self-esteem. In doing so, ultimately, I would have gained nothing but a fleeting sense of ego-inflation. I can get that somewhere else.

By the way, I got my first test grades back from all my other classes and I made an A (90) in Philosophy, a B (88) in Environmental Geology, and a C (76) in Human Development, though Dr. Mike will drop our lowest test grade and I expect to make an A on my paper in the class so I'm still in okay shape there, for now.

Have fun, and keep living life... or some approximation thereof.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Request for Help...

Just a little request.

You may have noticed that, at least in Internet Explorer, if you scroll down the page my blog posts will frequently vanish from view temporarily until you scroll back up to a certain point. I have NO idea why this is happening and the help from the Blogger forums is less than helpful. I've noticed that refreshing the page can help sometimes, but then the problem will just move to other posts for some reason! It is annoying me as much or more than it may have annoyed you.

If you have any ideas about HTML/XML coding (by the way I'm a severe novice at this and have been using online tutorials to learn some basic website editing, so I have no qualms admitting that I may have made an error in coding something even though the problem seems a bit too random to be caused by errant code) feel free to leave me a comment and I'll get back to you so that hopefully we can sort it all out.

Thanks so much for your support.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Picking Up a Spare

I went bowling last night with Chris, the guy who helped me with my spark plugs a few months ago, and two of his friends. I hadn't been bowling since Ex and I were still dating. In fact, the one time we went bowling was actually the last date we went on before breaking up a week later. I'm not an especially great bowler (I can bowl around 100 on a good day), although I do have my own ball from when I took a bowling class in college back in 1993. I have a thing about touching other people's sporting equipment, so any sport I plan on playing more than a few times is one in which I own my own equipment. I have my own pool cue, by the way.

I had a really good time bowling with Chris and his friends, a heavy set guy with a peach-fuzz moustache named Joe, and a tall average sized guy with a shaggy haircut named Beckett. All three of the guys are under twenty years old. None of them were particularly good at bowling, either, although they kept playing as though they knew what they were doing. All were fond of throwing heavy balls and curving them as hard as humanly possible. Consequently, alot of their hooks ended up in the gutter! For my part, I like a lighter ball (mine is only 12 pounds) that I can bowl straight as a laser and better focus on my accuracy. My biggest problem with bowling is that I can never seem to capitalize on a strike or a spare. My next balls after each always seem to gutter or only hit one or two pins. It would be nice to pick up a spare every now and then.

We bowled for over three hours, and during that time Chris and Joe got into an argument about god-only-knows-what that really brought the mood of the evening down. The argument lasted for at least 20 minutes, perhaps as much as 45 minutes before subsiding. We all continued to bowl, regardless, and my score actually improved with me ending the night with a 127 (I beat all the other guys with that). Of course, during the argument, I made attempts at trying to calm the situation down. Trying to pull as much as I could from my psychological studies, and personal experiences in therapy, I attempted to get Chris and Joe to see things from each other's perspectives and try to understand what was motivating the other's behavior. I encouraged each of them to rise above their pettiness and put the argument behind them so that they could enjoy what was left of the evening. Nothing seemed to help, as these two just wanted to keep digging into each other's skin, figuratively speaking. Even though Chris and Joe eventually ended their outward shows of hostility it was clear that, by the end of the night, they were still holding grudges.

This is where it gets interesting, at least to me. As a final bow to the evening, Joe left before the rest of us were ready to go. While doing so, he picked up the bowling tab for ALL OF US. Joe had already sprung $20 for pizza, which mostly he and I ate, and THEN picked up the $30 tab for all of our bowling. Even Chris was flabbergasted by that move. I'm not sure if Joe was trying to show that he was better than Chris by having done that, or if it was one of those angry, spiteful tab pickups that I've been known to do in the distant past. Perhaps you've done something similar. You know those nights where nothing is really going your way, and you just want to get it over with as fast as possible. So, rather than taking the time to behave rationally you just fork over all the cash in your wallet to the service person and leave without even stopping for your change. It's the sort of rash thing that young men are somewhat typical of doing.

At any rate, it was nice to get out of the house and spend time with other people for a change. I'm fairly certain that Joe and Chris will smooth things over in a day or two, since they've known each other for several years. And, even though the guys are all young enough to technically be my sons, I had a good time feeling as though I was, after a long time without this feeling, surrounded by friends. And it's always good to have spare friends around.

Have fun, and keep living life... or some approximation thereof.
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