Monday, August 25, 2008

Say what you mean

There’s a lot of things I really want to get out, so this post may be longer than most. It could probably be made into multiple posts spread out over multiple days, but I really want to get it out so I’m going to do it in one fell swoop.

I’ve had some fairly interesting experiences the last couple days and they’ve really made me think about some things. I’m not quite sure where to start.

I had a BBQ with some friends over the weekend at Sugarhouse Park. I really like that park and I especially like the area we BBQ in. When I got there, under a tree not too far from where we were setting up was a man sleeping. I hoped that he would remain there after we started cooking because I thought that maybe he would like a plate of food. When I looked back at the tree a short time later, he was gone.

We had our BBQ, cooked some good food, played some frisbee, sat around and talked. It was a good time. It started to get dark and my sister needed to use the facilities, so I told her I would walk with her over there. I am a trusting individual, but I’m not dumb. I don’t want my sister walking by herself through a dark park. While I was waiting outside for her, a man approached me and it was obvious that he was going to ask me for some money. He proceeded to give me his story and then asked if I could spare some money. I lied to him and told him that I didn’t have any. I told him that we were cooking and had a lot of food and that he was welcome to it. I half expected him to decline, but he accepted. At just this time, my sister came out so we all walked together over to where we were hanging out. He walked a lot slower than I did and I thought he was doing it so he could just disappear, but he kept on coming. When we got back, we made him a plate of food and he and I talked for a short time. He thanked me for filling his belly and made his way across the park. He was Native American and taught me how to say "thank you" in his native tongue. I thought that was pretty cool.

Then, just yesterday as I was out walking I saw an elderly lady trying to get up some stairs at a house. I thought about helping her but didn’t want to put her in a situation where she might be embarrassed by my asking to help her. I also wasn’t sure how she would react to me with my buzzed hair and beard. I think I look pretty tough (even though my friends say I’m still a softie). I called out and asked if she needed any help She accepted my offer for help and I jogged across the street. I offered her my arm and helped her up the stairs and waited while she knocked on the door. Nobody answered so I helped her down the stairs, down the driveway and across the street to her car. She thanked me and we parted ways.

These two events got me thinking. I could easily have told the man in the park that I had no money and left it at that. I could easily have continued walking past the old lady and not offered any help. Would I have been better off for it? I doubt it, although I don't know that I am better off for helping but that's not the point. Certainly they wouldn’t be. All it took was opening my mouth. That’s it. I’ve decided I’m going to open my mouth more often and try to find ways to help people that may need it.

"To everything there is a season"

I’ve been thinking about seasons a lot lately. Particularly about what season of life I’m in and what the next season will bring. I’ve also been thinking of things I enjoy that I have been able to do and some things that I haven’t been able to. A couple of things that I enjoy doing that I haven’t been able to are waterskiing and hockey. I’ve missed out on waterskiing for two summers and am not sure if a third one is waiting in the wings or not. I can’t remember the last time I’ve played hockey...I think it’s been a year. I also don’t know when the next time I’ll be able to strap on the pads and hit the ice will be.

I’m getting ready to start a new season of life...that of being a grad student. I’m worried that it will consume my time and crowd out the things I enjoy doing. It will definitely take up my entire night on Thursdays. Combine that with my Tuesday night tracking night and I’m down two nights right off the bat. How much time will this program take? Will it eat up my other nights? I don’t know.

I think my hockey and waterskiing seasons are over.

There was a time when I would drop everything to hit the lake for a day. I’ve turned down jobs before because it would infringe on my skiing time. The season for that is definitely over. The changing of spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter and back to spring is something I enjoy. I like the feeling and anticipation of the coming season. There is always a lingering sadness for what is passed, but the anticipation of the future always overcomes the sadness. This is a little different. I’m really sad about it and I’m not looking forward with my usual eager anticipation.

I don’t dread my return to school, I am excited to get through it and have a Master’s degree. I am not excited about the sacrifices it will entail. I don’t know what this season will bring me and I am not sure I’m ready to let go of this last season just yet.

I don’t have much of a choice.


Lastly, and this is probably the hardest for me to put into words...but I’ll try. I feel like I’ve been on a journey the last couple of years trying to find myself, to define who I am. It’s been an adventure in existentialism. I don’t know if I’m done yet or if one ever is truly "done". All I know is that I’ve done it alone. That’s not to say I haven’t had friends or other associates along the way because I surely have. What I’m trying to say is I’ve done it single, unmarried. I can’t figure out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Part of me wants to think it’s a good thing because there’s less pressure to conform to someone else’s ideals and I am thus able to be me for the sake of being me. The other part of me recognizes (hopes) that this will not always be the case and that at some point "I" will not be defined solely by me, but by a spouse, a "we" and that is who I will ultimately become. The part that recognizes this also thinks that the longer "I" go on defining me the less "we" will be able to do and that may cause problems in that I may be more resistant to change. Although, on second thought...maybe the fact that I recognize this will allow me to make the changes I need to. I don't know, I guess only time will tell. (If you haven't figured out, this blog isn't about answers so much as it is about questions, thoughts, impressions, etc.)

At the same time, I’m getting really tired of "the game". I stopped playing it long ago. You know, the whole "I have to wait two or three days before I call her or she’ll know that I like her and I can’t have that" BS. The playing "hard to get" not returning calls, etc. I don’t play it. I hate it when people play it with me. If a girl wants me to be not interested, all she needs to do is play a little and I walk away. It’s not worth it to me. Maybe that’s a bad attitude, but seriously people - we’re adults, not junior high kids writing notes back and forth and telling your friend to tell your crush that you like them because you’re too shy/insecure to do it yourself. If you want a mature, adult relationship then be a mature adult. It’s not difficult to figure out.

I can count the number of times on one hand (two fingers in fact) how many times a girl has been "real" with me. Two.

When I return from a date and am talking with my friends about it and they ask me if we’re going out again my standard response is "I don’t know." Do I know if I want to take the girl out again? Most of the time. Do I know if she wants to go out again? Rarely. Why don’t I know? Because I invariably get the same response, "sure - sounds fun". That’s when the game begins. I will call the next time and usually get the voice mail. When I don’t I am often surprised and taken aback. If I get the voice mail I will leave a message and then the waiting begins. If she calls back, then I know she was being honest and is at least interested in seeing what another date will bring. If she doesn’t call back, do I give her the benefit of the doubt and call again or assume that she would have called if she was interested? I will generally give the girl the benefit of the doubt and call her again in a couple days. That’s when I get the voice mail and know that I’ve been had. I’ll leave a short message letting her know that I’d like to take her out again and will await her response. I don’t think I’ve ever heard back from someone at this point.

The two times I’ve had a girl give me the "you’re a nice guy, but..." routine I’ve been grateful. That’s right, grateful. Why was I grateful I got shut down? Because at least I knew where I stood and there was no guessing game, no runaround. I’ve thanked them for their honesty and bade farewell. Did it sting? Oh sure, I’m not going to pretend it didn’t. Did it hurt? Oh yeah, again I'm not going to pretend it didn't. It definitely stung less than the long drawn out runaround though. Face it, there’s going to be a sting regardless of when you do it. There always is and always will be. The question is whether or not the sting is quick like a good band-aid pull or slow and painful like a sadistic nurse slowly tugging off a bandage. I for one prefer the quick yank. Just pull it off and be done.

I'm tired of playing.

Cat Stevens did a song years ago called "Can’t Keep It In" and I’ve come to absolutely love this song. I’ll play it over and over again on my iPod. It goes a little something like this (the emphasis being mine):

Oh I can't keep it in
I can't keep it in, I've gotta let it out.
I've got to show the world, world's got to see
See all the love, love that's in me.

I said, why walk alone?
Why worry when it's warm over here?
You've got so much to say, say what you mean
Mean what you think and think anything.

Oh why, why must you waste youre life away?
You've got to live for today, then let it go, oh
Lover, I want to spend this time with you
There's nothing I wouldn't do, if you let me know.

And I can't keep it in
I can't hide it and I can't lock it away.
I'm up for your love, love heats my blood
Blood spins my head, and my head falls in love, oh.

No, I can't keep it in
I can't keep it in, I've gotta let it out.
I've gotta show the world, world's got to know
Know of the love, love that lies low

So why can't you say?
If you know, then why can't you say?
You've got too much deceit, deceit kills the light
Light needs to shine, I said shine light, shine light, shine.

Love, that's no way to live your life
You allow too much to go by, and that won't do. No.
Lover I want to have you here by my side
Now don't you run, don't you hide
While I'm with you.

An' I can't keep it in
I can't keep it in, I've gotta let it out.
I've got to show the world, world's got to see
See all the love, love that's in me.

I said, why walk alone?
Why worry when its warm over here?
You've got so much to say, say what you mean
Mean what you're thinking, and think anything.

Why not?
Now why why why not?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Get in my belly!

I think I have a tapeworm.

What? That's not enough information for you? You really want to know more? Alright, you asked for it.

It all started yesterday morning. I'm not usually a breakfast eater. I have a fairly sensitive stomach, always have, and it doesn't like to get into gear soon after waking up. I usually will wait at least a couple hours after I'm up and moving before I will think about eating. Usually I just skip breakfast entirely and go straight to lunch. Although, since I've been working out this habit has been changing and I've been eating more often in the morning.

Well, I went to bed on Monday night shortly after eating a Beto's burrito. If you don't know what those are...they are monstrous burritos and will usually leave a person feeling pretty full. I've actually eaten two of them in a sitting. I wanted to die afterward though. That is entirely too much burrito for one person to consume on a given night. Anyhow, I ate one Monday night before I went to bed.

I woke up Tuesday morning absolutely starving. Eating preoccupied my mind. I could scarcely think of anything else. I was running late so I decided to wait until I got to work because I knew we had leftover food from a training the previous day. When I got to work I was right, there was food. I grabbed a couple donuts and hightailed it to my office to satisfy my hunger. I felt pretty good after eating them and thought I was on the right track. Well, it wasn't long before I was hungry again. I would have to wait until lunch this time though. When lunch finally rolled around I went to Burger King and got a big value meal.

I ate that and literally within two hours was famished again. I grabbed another donut. About thirty minutes later, after a meeting I was again feeling hungry. This isn't the normal hunger that I'm talking about. I was in serious pain and felt like I hadn't eaten in days. I don't get this hungry when I fast. I grabbed a pastry and scarfed it down.

Last night was my tracking night and I knew I was going to need to eat during it or I would never make it all the way through. So, my partner and I stopped at a grocery store and picked up some food. I was able to make it.

When I got home, I ate and ate and ate. Then later last night, I went to Beto's again with some friends. I thought that maybe it was just a yesterday thing. Nope. This morning I was at it again. I've had a couple Oatmeal Creme Pies and a humongous muffin this morning. I'm feeling good right now, but that's because I finished the muffin about 15 minutes ago. I have a box of rapidly depleting Oatmeal Creme Pies stashed in my desk and I'm concerned they may not survive the day.

Where is this food going and why do I need to eat so dang much? It'd be one thing if I would get a little hungry, but I get crazy hungry. Insanely hungry.

I did a quick Google search on tapeworms and have decided that it is extremely unlikely that I have a tapeworm. So, what are my other options? Am I pregnant? Also highly unlikely. Maybe I was abducted by an alien and have a little alien feeding inside me like that one movie. I have fallen deeply asleep after work a couple times recently...I think this is the most feasible option.

All I know is that it sure feels like I'm eating for two right now. What's for lunch?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pink? Really?

I've noticed a disturbing trend growing in our society. Something that strikes at the root of all that is good and holy. I've decided I will no longer sit idly by and allow this pernicious practice to be propagated in our populous.

What I'm talking about is the practice of wearing pink by guys that you would other assume are masculine. What is that all about? Pink is not a color that guys should wear. Period. Throw out all the crap about being secure enough in your sexuality to be able to wear pink. That's crap...pure and simple. Crap. Why does one have to advertise their sexual security? Could it be that they are actually masking an insecurity by acting secure? Hmm...may be on to something here.

Is it an archaic belief and out-dated tradition that males don't wear pink? That's an easy question. No, it's not. Guys don't wear pink. Or salmon, mauve, magenta, lavender, rose, fuchsia, or any variation of any of the above.

There's no good reason for a guy to wear pink. It's not progressive thinking, new age liberality, or being open-minded. I don't care if you think you are one of the few who "look good in pink" or if so many girls have told you that. It's just plain wrong. Remember metrosexuality? I do. I haven't seen too many of them around anymore. Maybe it's just because I haven't spent a lot of time in Provo recently, but maybe that fad has gone the way of mullets. You'll spot someone sporting the look every now and again, but for the most part they've gone by the wayside. One can only hope.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit one thing. I have had a pedicure. Once. I was trying to impress a girl at the time and she went with me. I believe that's excusable. A one time effort to impress a female certainly doesn't call into question my status as a guy. However, wearing a pink shirt to church...yeah it's ringing, answer the call.

Brad Paisley sings a song about this very thing. He says, "These days there's dudes gettin' facials, manicured, waxed and botoxed, With deep spray-on tans and creamy lotiony hands, You can't grip a tackle box, Yeah with all of these men lining up to be neutered, It's hip now to be feminized, But I don't highlight my hair, I've still got a pair, Yeah honey, I'm still a guy."

Sums it up nicely.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Narcissism vs. Confidence

In Greek mythology, Naricissus was a vain young man, who went hunting one day and became thirsty, so he stopped at a stream for a drink. While bending down to drink, he saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with it. He didn't dare drink the water for fear that he would break the reflection. He ended up dying of thirst where he sat staring at his reflection in the water.

From this story, the term narcissistic came to be. It means one who is exceptionally vain, or according to, has an "inordinate fascination with one's self".

Confidence on the other hand is a belief in yourself, or self-assurance.

It can be argued that too much confidence can lead to narcissism, but I don't want to make that argument. Being self-assured and aware of your self, both strength and weaknesses, does not lead to one being preoccupied with one's self or being fascinated with yourself.

In today's society it seems that when one has a high opinion of himself, that person is "cocky" or "arrogant" or another equally derogatory term. Having a high opinion of one's self seems to be distasteful to society. When complimented, it's socially acceptable to downplay or entirely dismiss the compliment. When told, "You look nice" it's not acceptable to say, "I know." Why not? If you know, then why can't you say?

Why is this? Why is it so wrong to have an accurate assessment of your assets? Everyone has good qualities, strengths, things they like about themselves. What is so wrong about stating unequivocally the things that are good about one's self? Why do we feel uncomfortable saying, "I like this about myself" or "I'm good at this"? Why do people feel uncomfortable talking good about themselves, but have no problem pointing out their flaws, weaknesses or shortcomings?

Many of you know about the doozie of a week I had last week. I had plenty of opportunities to think poorly of myself and pay particular attention to negative things about myself and my life - things that I didn't have, things that I wasn't, things I wished were different, things that made me feel bad and so on. I took advantage of those opportunities and made an already difficult week worse for myself.

I woke up this morning and had had enough. On my mirror, I have a vinyl sticker that says simply, "Who will you be today?" I looked at it this morning and thought about it. Who would I be today? I decided I would be happy today. I started thinking of the things that I like about myself. I came up with a couple right off the bat, but as I continued thinking about it, I realized I needed to make a list. I got a little pad of paper and a pen and starting writing. I was a little uncomfortable doing it at first, it's not something that I generally do. But, I decided I would press through the awkwardness and finish my list.

I kept the pad with me throughout church services today and as I would think of something, I would add it to the list. As I was doing this, I thought of the song "Count Your Many Blessings" and realized that I was doing just what the song suggested. I was naming blessings one by one.

I have a high opinion of myself and I believe I have good reason to have such. I believe you do too and I would encourage you to make your own list. Whether or not you share it is up to you, but I found it to be rather therapeutic today. Being honest about my strengths and things I like about myself was an eye-opening experience.

I'm not narcissistic, I have a healthy and positive view of myself.

And there's not a thing wrong with that.