Monday, October 31, 2011

Brief Thoughts on an Introvert Halloween.

I am a little disappointed this Halloween. I had no Halloween party to go to. You know me. I am not a huge party person, and indeed I would have only gone to any for Halloween had it been of a certain size and attended by certain types of people. Yet no such event took place, and I am a bit let down by it.

Not because I need an excuse to buy candy or beer or play games. I can do all of that at any party. But this year I was going to try something new. I bought some face paint and was going to work up an interesting design to paint on for a party, as opposed to dressing up as something particular. (Every year I say I am going to go all out and get a mega-fancy costume, but it never happens. I usually end up as an NFL referee because someone once gave me a ref shirt as a gag gift.)

I'm not sure, but I think my plan was to paint my face black and white only. Either a black face with white tears running down, or vice-verca. Symbolism? Kind of. Not so much that I am always crying on the inside, but that being an introvert, most things for me are on the inside most of the time, not just tears. A "mask", even a painted one, that expresses emotions so plainly would have been an interesting experiment. The one time when perhaps an expression of the internal could be made to the external world.

Halloween of course is a time for masks. Disguises. Make-believe. People of almost all stripes become something else on Halloween. Many of them gory. Or goofy. Cute or sexy. Some fancy, some minimalist. All sorts of ways to be something else for a night. Something with which your regular persona may have little in common.

Yet with an introvert, I think the potential for one of the greatest ironies comes about on Halloween. If, like I was planning, an introvert were to wear a costume or mask that accurately depicted in a very public manner how they were feeling and what they were thinking inside their heads, then Halloween could in some ways be the polar opposite of what it is to many others. While the world tries to be as creative as possible in designing a costume that transforms them into something far removed from their real selves, an introvert could use Halloween to actually show more of their real selves right away than ever before.

Yet would people recognize this? Most would not, I dare say. Most would either miss the point, or would even ask "what are you supposed to be?" But then again, introverts are used to that, so maybe Halloween wouldn't be so different when it comes to that.

At any rate, Happy Halloween to all of the introvert and extroverts who do have parties and events to go to!

Do you think modern Halloween has different uses and meanings for different people? What is Halloween to you?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Introverts and Extroverts: Ten Dating Tips

Dating, and expressing interest in someone can be a tricky, depressing business for anyone. Yet I feel bold enough to declare that it is easier for extroverts than it is for introverts in most cases. And extrovert's gregarious, energetic nature lends itself well to the way the dating scene works these days.

At least with other extroverts. If they begin to pine for an introvert, they may find themselves up against certain challenges. When this happens, they may feel just as clumsy and out in the cold about dating as introverts tend to do much of the time.

Yet neither introverts no extroverts should fret. Here I offer two sets of five dating tips. The first is a set of tips to make dating easier for introverts. (Who face some of the same challenges dating one another as they do trying to date extroverts.) The second set of tips is designed specifically for extroverts who may be pining for that certain introvert in their lives.

Extroverts already know how to date extroverts, and introverts already know this stuff about themselves. So no separate list was needed for extrovert-on-extrovert action. And while it may not always be clear right away if someone is an introvert or extrovert, let's pretend at this point, you have already determined that about your potential hunka-burning love for the time being, shall we?

Dating Tips for Introverts 

1) Find something, anything you can stomach doing in a group outside of the house.

You love your bed, your books, your lap top. Your warm tea. The quiet and the solitude. Believe me, I am the last person who would ever take those things from you. But chances are, you want intimacy at some point as well. So you will have to interact with people at some point.

Relax. I don't mean small talk. I am one of you, remember? But if you find an activity that suits your preferences that involves interacting with other people, the conversation can right away become focused on what you are doing. Join a bowling league, a yoga group, a book club. Doesn't much matter, so long as the exchange of ideas is the main vehicle by which you get to know someone. I can promise that relationships of all kinds will form more organically for you than at a bar or club, romance or not.

2) Group Dating

No, this isn't quite the same as the first tip. What I mean is to get together with groups of people you already know and go out to eat, see a movie, or whatever. People you know mixed in with people you don't know. Let your current friends know you are interested in meeting some new people the next time you get together, and then perhaps they can invite someone you have not yet met. So you can get to know some more people, without the pressure of actual dating. At least not yet. You get the benefit of meeting someone new wrapped in the comfort of being with people you already know.

3) Use the internet...the RIGHT way.

There is nothing wrong with a dating site. I have used them here and there. No shocker that it didn't ever lead anywhere. Dating sites, despite being online, are still essentially an extroverted environment. Just because it is an online platform that you can explore from the comfort of your home doesn't mean it is introvert friendly. And I find most dating sites are not. There is just as much of an expectation of pandering and bullshit and small talk on dating sites as there is in offline life. It may be easier to stomach for a while, with the shield of anonymity, but if you are an introvert, you will still get tired of it quickly, and still not appeal to most people who use such sites.

Instead, read blogs. Join Twitter. Visit message boards. I am not even going to specify what kind, because it doesn't matter. What matters is that you engage in them directly. Leave comments. Ask questions. If possible, send a private email to the author if you liked what they say. Participate in threads that interest you. Much like number one, it allows you to get right to the task of discussing ideas, as most blogs or message boards are centered on a certain topic. From there, relationships, even romantic ones, can evolve. It might be a gamble, but to me, no more so than asking someone for a date every time you bump into an attractive person at the post office. Plus, until you are ready, there is no added pressure to pretty up before the conversations you have.

4) A little mystery is good stuff.

We introverts can get some mileage out of this one. Not forever, of course, but let's face it, many people, introverts and extroverts alike, are intrigued by a little mystery. And to be frank and fair about it, introverts are a bit better at this one, even when they are not trying to be. Our natural tendency to observe much and say little in social situations can be taken the wrong way, but it can also work a little bit of magic. But only if we make the effort to break that mold at the right times. Being quiet and mysterious doesn't work to your advantage unless you on occasion say something. (I have blown this part more than once.)

So, even if you don't think it is the most clever thing you could offer, throw in a comment from the corner of the room once in a while. Surprise those around you that don't know you as well with your attention to detail of the conversation. 

You get extra points if you quietly share with that "special" someone across the room a comment just for them based on something they said to which you were paying attention, while others passed it over in the extroverted mess of the gathering. It won't get you everything, but it is one of the few advantages in dating/attraction introverts have over extroverts right from the start.

5) Do not, I repeat do NOT try to be an extrovert.

As I often remind my readers, being an introvert is a spectrum. Some are more so than others. And introverts have their extroverted moments. Yet we mustn't confuse this truth with the notion that we can become "former introverts". The internet is replete with articles that teach you how to do this, and it cannot be done. Period. No need to discuss it further. End of movie, roll credits. Your are the temperament that you have always been. So embrace it and use it. Don't run from it. You don't need to. Because if you do, and try instead to be an extrovert, you are going to not only be uncomfortable, but you won't be yourself. You need to be yourself in the dating world.

Improve your weaknesses, of course, but remember that being introverted is not a weakness in and of itself. Anyone worth your time and effort will accept your introversion, and not expect you to become extroverts just to be "datable".

And now, from the other side of the table...

Tips for Extroverts Wishing to Date an Introvert

1) Ask them to teach you about one of their interests.

Introverts crave discussion of ideas, passions and observations. It is just that most small talk dulls our senses before we can get to that. But you can peak our interest with our interests. By that I mean if you want to get to know us as people, explore our passions with us right off the bat. Find out what moves us, and ask us about it. Even if you don't know us yet. Most introverts will not recoil from, and in fact many will appreciate your built in conversation topic.

Don't pretend, though. We detect bullshit well. Have a genuine interest in learning more about our passion. Or keep looking until you find something we like that you may also like, and discuss your own opinions about it with us. Just make extra sure you give us enough time to respond with our own views!

2) Compliment them on something they said, wrote, or an idea they had.

Look, introverts like to look good too. We like to know this, and hear it from others. Compliments about what we are wearing or our eyes are not anathema to us. Yet if you want to score quick points, and prove you are not a superficial cad, compliment us on something we created. Again, most introverts are idea oriented. Many of us write about our ideas. And we almost never express an idea in a group unless asked or until we have thought about it quite a bit. When you show an interest in that expression, it opens a door for us. It won't get you in right away, of course, but you will have responded to the deeper part of us from the start.

3) Try enjoying an event the way we do, instead of trying to convince us to enjoy it your way.

If you meet us at a party or other social gathering, respect our desire to not get up and dance or mingle. We rarely do these things, but in most cases it isn't because we are shy or because we are not having a good time. It's because we process the party differently. When you insist we need to get up and dance, or ask us if we are okay all the time, you will annoy us. That is stamping your version of a good time on us. Ask once, and then leave it at that.

You may or may not be able to understand how we are having a good time, but if you really want an introvert at a party to open up to you, sit nearby (not too close =) ) and converse with us. Quiet. Calm. Take in the party like we do. We'll feel less of a need to be on guard then, and you'll get to learn more. Plus it shows that we are worthy of your extra attention, despite everything else happening around us. That's kind of nice for anyone.

4) Make dates conversation oriented.

Are you sensing a pattern yet? Yes, we like to converse about ideas, and explore topics. Deep thinking. Remember, it is probably what we were doing when you first approached us, what we were doing while we were getting ready for this date, and to a certain extent, something we will be doing during the date. Yet that doesn't have to be a negative. Tap into our deep, imaginative minds. First dates to a museum, a short film viewing, a play, and other such things that will just beg all involved to share their thoughts afterwards, or during, will really set many introverts at ease. Despite it being a date, most of us hate "tell me about yourself" conversations. That isn't to say we will never do so, but if that is why we are out with you, we won't have a good time. But if we can get to know you through your views on something, we will be more relaxed earlier. Often, ideas and opinions are intimate to us. Think about that.

5) You don't have to understand.

Even if you want to with every fiber of your being. That's noble of you, but if you are an extrovert, that may not always be possible.

But we introverts know how infuriating we can be. We don't say much, except when we do. How can we enjoy a party more, the smaller it is? Why do we go out in public if we are not always trying to meet people? Just what the hell could we possibly be thinking about all the time?  It can be hard to understand for an extrovert. And some of the questions you may have about us, we have about ourselves. But being who we are, we have learned over time to just accept our unique take on the world. Usually...

And that's all you need to do. Accept us. We don't expect you to know why, even if you are in love with us.  Yet it's really okay. We can still find you attractive, and eventually fall in love with you even if you don't have the slightest idea why we need to vanish into our room for hours at a time, need time to think about an answer to your question, or don't chat up the people around us at the bus stop. Our need to be alone is usually not a reflection on you. It is how we are wired. And we no more expect you to become like us, than hopefully, you expect us to become like you.


As much as I love being an introvert, I still recognize some of the difficulties, both in being one and for those extroverts who love us. Yet I have always believed that such a difficulty is not insurmountable. It just requires, as it does with all human relationships, acceptance of the differences between two types of people, willingness to change if we can, and a greater focus on that which about the other person we appreciate the most. In most cases, those fine qualities we seek in others are present in both introverts an extroverts if we allow ourselves to look for them.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Silence Between the Notes

Have you ever been to a gathering wherein somebody strikes some kind of humor cord and says/does something that gets the group roaring, but then ruins it by making the story, joke, or stunt go on far longer than it should have? To the point it becomes stale, predictable, annoying, and of course unfunny? Can't you just feel the "entertainer" milking the room for more laughs, more clapping, more attention? Isn't it pathetic? Wouldn't it have been much better if that person had just stopped about five minutes ago, when the laughter was filling the room, instead of now, when half the room has moved on, and the half still laughing is doing so mostly out of nervous politeness?

I think you know this person. And the term "quit while you're ahead" means nothing to them.

Nor do any of the following proverbs which, though slightly different on the surface do in fact advise the same thing:

"Brevity is the soul of wit."

"It is the silence between the notes that makes the music."

"The space between the bars keeps the tiger in."

"Bow out gracefully."

I am sure you sense the pattern now, and can think of even more examples of this sentiment. That sentiment being one of perfectly timed restraint.

Believe it or not, my friends consider me quite a funny person at times. This may come as a shock to some of you, because you may not be able to imagine me working a room for laughs. And you would be correct. I never work a room for laughs. I don't say things that are even intended to be funny or witty every chance I get, and even when I do, I say them and leave it at that. If a whole room is laughing at something I say, I don't feel the need to keep saying it, or adding on to it to get even more laughs. Not that I have never went on a sustained presentation that others found continuously amusing, but in those cases the story or stunt had on obvious beginning, middle and end. People laughed at the journey. But in most cases, I am content with the knowledge that at a given moment, I made several people laugh and that a moment in the future will come when I do so again.

Even though I could probably coax more laughs out of whatever group of people I find laughing at my antics, hitting them over the head with how funny I am being feels like an insult to the wondrous, mysterious honor one receives when they make people laugh on purpose. No, it's the down time of quiet simplicity or quasi-stoicism that takes place between the amusing moments that makes the laughs more special. That goes for professional entertainers as well. Few comedians are more annoying than the ones who are one constant, loud, drilling scream of joke.

Put another way, the secret to being funny is being willing to sometimes not be funny. To have an "off" setting. Even most of the time, I am not funny to most people. And because I embrace the times when nobody is laughing, and I am not trying to make them do so, I get more out of the times when I am going for the occasional laugh.

Not that this applies only to humor and wit. I think one of the essential ingredients to any kind of success is to not be "on" all of the damn time. By that I don't mean making a mistake, or being imperfect in your efforts, which will happen to everyone. I mean a total cessation of effort. Whatever you enjoy, create, or desire cannot take up 100% of your focus. You can't always be selling, advocating, relieving or whatever. Your success in any given endeavor is directly proportional to how willing you are to spend time not being/doing/saying whatever it is that drives you.

Want to be funny? Take time to be serious. Do you want people to be respectful to your position? Throw in some humor sometimes. Want to be generous? You'll have to learn to be selfish at times. 

The list could go on forever, but it doesn't need to in order to make my point, which is to know what you like, work to get it, but be willing to engage in times when you don't have it. Not due to circumstances or luck, but due to your own conscious desire to refrain from that which you seek. You'll be better off for it the next time you actively seek what you want.

Do you ever choose to not engage in something, to create that "space between the bars"? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Half Closed Doors

I share a lot of my thoughts and observations here on this blog, as well as on Always Off Book. I am also fairly open and candid about what I may be going through at any given time, as well as the circumstances of my life.

But lately I have been asking myself the question, at one point is it none of their damned business?

Nobody forces me to blog, or tweet. I do it of my own free will. At least to a certain extent I do. I choose when I post to those platforms, and what I will say. How often I will say it. Yet in the world of "personal branding" and networking, and all of the other ridiculous, (and may I say for the 13 trillionth time) ineffective methods of making one relevant, respected and sought after online, there is a little less free will and a lot more expectation.

If a person wants to attract business, or interest in their talents, or simply readership to their platform, there are a whole slew or rules, methods, guidelines and expectations one supposedly must follow. Certain products you have to use, certain key phrases you must pump into you content, certain platforms that are considered acceptable. Each of these things in constant flux as one tries to keep a float amid the fickle seas of online public esteem. Petty things that by Christmas won't even apply any longer, thus requiring ever more potent bouts of sea sickness as one attempts to adjust again. And again and again.

If you read this blog, and especially if you have one of your own, you know what these things are. I won't go into them again now. But suffice to say that the vast majority of the things I am expected to do in order to gain the sort of lucrative or influential presence online are things that go not only against my style, but against my nature. My grain. Beyond my scope. Yet when I can, I have twisted, turned, sucked up, swallowed down, and dealt with those contrary to my nature things. Each time much to my own at times greats stress, anxiety and discomfort, as you might imagine.

Trying to maintain one's own voice, approach and goals while being deemed as worthy by the pack is a draining, soul sucking, mind numbing investment. So in this sense, a lot of what I do, or have tried to do online has not been totally of my free will, because I actually want to be a thought leader. I want to have influence, and I want to use that influence to land jobs so I can support myself.

 And what's worse; it doesn't fucking work most of the time. Not even a little bit.

Therefore I ask myself just how far I am supposed to walk down a blogging/writing/thought leadership road that isn't leading me anywhere. Does it make sense to continue to follow the distasteful rules and crippling norms of a world that has given me absolutely nothing in return? I say no.

That is to say, I feel less and less like being open and honest about certain aspects of myself. Maintaining that fucking "personal brand" everybody talks about of course demands candor. Openness. Full disclosure and public, verbal exploration of my discomforts and insecurities. Or else, nobody will respect me, right? Nobody will want to follow me, engage in me or hire me.

Guess what? In many cases, that has been the case anyway, when I have been frank with my thoughts, and frequent with my posts. So why put forth extra effort now?

I am a little tired of the small voice inside of me that says I ought to be sharing with the blogosphere, or with Twitter things such as my financial problems, the confusion I have over things others find easy, the need I may have soon to make a humiliating change in my lifestyle, the uncertainty of my future. The resentment I have towards all of the success surrounding me, and the fortune cookie advice I get to fix things.

I have never been one to give much of a damn about my "brand" whatever that is, and if it requires me to share even more of what I am about, what I am going through, and what I desperately want to do to a mostly unresponsive medium that hasn't made me more marketable by one jot, to hell with my "brand."

Sometimes, what I am going through, even if it's a huge change in my life, is just none of anybody's damned business. I want people to get to know me, and understand what I am about, but unless it's an all or nothing proposition, sometimes I'd rather them just know part of the story. And if that part of the story is not enough to reply to my blogs, retweet my tweets, or determine that I am an intellgient, talented individual worthy of time and money, than perhaps I am not meant to ever make any money.

 I can only hope that the small inclination within me that says, "this is writing material", or "share this story on Twitter" quiets down a bit. At least until I see some evidence that the investment I make in candor reaps dividends in something else.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In Defense of Anger

How often do you suppose that someone with a broad smile on his face is told that they need to learn to "control" their emotions? Do you think people who smile at everyone are ever told that the world is full of bad things happening to good people, and that a constant smile may be encroaching on those who are unhappy for a justifiable reason today? How many times have you encountered someone who started laughing to himself and thought, "if he can be laughing at nothing now, he is bound to laugh at me and my pain" ?

As with almost every human based scenario that can be imagined, this one has probably happened to someone, somewhere on the earth. Yet I will be bold enough to assume that most of you would find the situation described above as silly at best, ridiculous at worst.

Now let's change things up a bit, while keeping the same premise in tact.

How often do you suppose that someone who yells out loud at something which bothers them is told that they need to "control" their emotions? Do you think people who scowl and seethe at everyone are ever told that the world is full of kind, wonderful things, and that their anger is likely encroaching on someone's ability to maintain a positive outlook on their day? How many times have you encountered someone who in frustration kicked a piece of debris across the street, or maybe slammed his fist down onto a table and thought, "my god, if he can get angry enough to pound his fist onto furniture, he can certainly get angry enough to pound his fists into me" ?

You may or may not identify with the second scenario either. But I bet it sounds less "out there" to you. Not as contrived. More socially acceptable. And I imagine quite a bit of you would agree with the second set of statements, despite the fact that they are in most ways the same as the first set of statements. With one difference that should be obvious by now: in the first scenario, the subject is happy and in the second the subject is angry. In both cases, an emotion is involved, though according to most, only one needs to be "controlled".

We live in a society which is conditioned to believe that anger is a negative emotion. That it serves no purpose, is destructive, and makes us want to be further away from the angered. We even threaten those that are angry with, "if you don't stop being angry, I am going to leave". We don't tell people they are too happy to be worth our time. (Though in the interest of full disclosure, I have come close with a few people.)

It is ironic that in such an angry society we find it not only acceptable, but perhaps expected that we "fight" against anger. Flatten it. Avoid those who dare express the trait, and measure our maturity in terms of how often we get angry. As though the very definition of immaturity is feel anger.

Over the years I have been the target over and over again of people who do not approve of my getting angry at something.  I do not express or even feel anger now as much as I did ten years ago, but if you are to believe the sanctimonious among us, I still get angry way more often than I should  by virtue of the fact that I ever do so to a degree that people are able to detect it.

Why do we do this? Years of hearing it have led me to a few conclusions, and probably all of them apply to a degree, though it depends on the person eschewing anger at any given moment. At any rate, three big ones come to mind.

The first is simple fear. Somebody is angry...are they gonna kill me?

Then I think anger is a buzz-kill to many people. Somehow they have over the course of their lives brainwashed themselves into thinking that life is so grand, there need never be a reason to express anger about anything. It's either part of "God's Plan", or "That's Life". Either way, they have established a personal psychology which, like a house of cards can collapse in short order if they have to interact with someone who is angry, even they are not the target of said anger. This to me is a better example of immaturity.

Then we have the "anger as destruction" crowd. To them, anger destroys the spirit. It lowers the level of energy in the room to darker levels. Brings bad karma, signifies attachment, or whatever term you wish to use. By not being angry, such people argue, you are pushing yourself towards an evolution of the spirit. This denial of baser reactions strengthens you for some kind of enlightenment. (This one tends to ignore the many examples of spiritual leaders becoming angry at some point over their life stories.) For such people anger is an excluding force that replaces all emotion or thought patterns within consciousness. Anger, even if it does not start out so, will, by necessity, grow into an all consuming fire that will suck the air out of the person and all of their relationships. As though one who is angry is incapable of also feeling love at the same time. That anger and control are mutually exclusive.

To an extent all of these reasons for hating anger assume that the default state of our existence should be happiness. That anything which deviates from happiness and contentment in unnatural. And while it makes perfect sense to want to spend most of one's time being content, does it make as much sense to conclude that the infinite experience of being human has one fixed point to which we all are to pin our existence? That there can be but one fulcrum for the pendulum of our lives, and that fulcrum is calm happiness?

Many have argued with me that it is not anger per se, but the manner in which people express anger that is unacceptable. That it is the yelling, the cursing, the throwing of objects that brands someone as "immature", "out of control" or "dangerous". And yes, if you go around beating people up when they make you angry, you need help. However too often people leap to that conclusion with no evidence to support the charge. Such as the table pounding situation. I know women who have broken up with men simply because they slap a table in anger. Because the next time, "it could be my head". Really? Someone passionate who vents by banging a table, or tossing the blender that has broken down for the 15th time out into the backyard is de facto guilty of being a future abusive boyfriend? There is no difference at all between grabbing you during an argument, and grabbing, say, a pillow? You want to talk immaturity?

Yet anger remains an easy tool for instant indictment. Neighbors hear a man yelling in the next apartment, it has to be domestic abuse. Not that perhaps he is weary of being cheated on, or trying to get through to his wife that her drug problem is ruining their marriage. The voice was loud, he was angry, and so, it was the wrong thing to do. Just the very nature of being aware that someone was angry negates any and all justifications for actually being angry, because justified anger can only ever be quiet, hidden anger. Only when we bottle it up and keep it to ourselves are we even approaching the so called "correct" way to handle an emotion that ideally we shouldn't be feeling at all.

Works every time in so many cases, because you can point directly to the things that the babies inside of us squirm about...loud noises, passion, the possibility that they world may not be fairy land, and that we may at some point have actually done something to hurt someone else. We assume the loudest and angriest is probably the guiltiest in any confrontation, because it takes extra work and depth to look into the actual details of a situation, and we don't want to go there.

Even those who feel anger is destructive don't go there. How often does someone like that ask, "why are you angry" instead of telling someone to not be angry? If you feel that anger is destroying someone, do you attempt to save them somehow, or do you say, "Dude, you harsh my mellow, I would really prefer we not hang out anymore." Helpful.

Then there is the great hypocrisy among many "anti-angry" folks.Many have that one subject, or that one situation wherein not only will they allow themselves to get very angry, but actually pride themselves on it. As though they had the sole definition in the universe for "acceptable anger".

A person can be too angry, too often, and express it in ways that are too extreme. But you know what? One can be too happy, too often as well. One can be calm to the point of extreme. The way people express their contentment with their lives can also be disruptive to other people, and destructive to themselves. Yet excess of those emotions carry a far smaller stigma than excess of the so called "negative" ones. And to be frank, that makes me a little angry.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Problems with the Positive

Yesterday, in one 45 minute period of driving, three idiots on the highway cut me off, passed me illegally, and played chicken with me running me off the road until I yielded.

I should have let the last bastard, who smiled and waved as he did it, run into my car. He would have had to face me then, or face jail.

But I didn't. And I regret my characteristic timidity. I did however veer off the road, horn blaring, and followed him several miles down his little road in town. I hope he felt very threatened, and I hope he was afraid for at least a moment I was going to hurt him.

I had no gun of course, and even if I did, I wouldn't use it. But enough had been enough. I am always made to feel as though I don't count when I am driving by people who act this way. My life, my safety, and that of any of my passengers is of no significance to such people. It is bad enough when people park illegally in a handicap slot, or go tearing down the highway at 100 miles on hour (with nary a pig in sight as usual). But when they put my life in danger, I want them to face consequences of some sort. To hell that "sending good vibes" song and dance routine. It doesn't work for me at such times.

This road incident is like many others that have nothing to do with driving, and even those that lack the immediate physical threat response of being on the road. We live in a world where people like me, (those that do not take everything from everyone, regardless of the cost) are fucked with constantly. A world of rednecks in pick up trucks, line cutters, terrible customer service, shameless self promoters, arrogant and hairy motorcycle gangs that ignore traffic laws, (redundant I know), and duplicitous friends who are in support of you until it is inconvenient and then you never hear from them again. And more and more different people who make victims of the respectful, socialized human beings of the Earth.

And I find the need to respond when I can. Sometimes I think if they pull out a gun and shoot me while I am cussing them out, so be it. At least I will have died standing up for myself, and they will have wasted a bullet. And with any luck will go to jail for the rest of their lives where they won't be free to make victims anymore.

Response. Not changing anything, but response. Because heaven knows people like my don't ever change anything in those situations. You see,  I am not a menacing looking person, and a lifetime of these sort of symbolic castrations as exhibited on the highway has made me weary of just about anyone who advises to "let it go". Because you see, when one "let's it go", one is giving their assent to being a victim. Even if all you can do is make noise, or on a good day, scare the other person into thinking you are just crazy enough to somehow harm them for a moment without actually doing so, you are at least sending a message to both them, and the universe, that you are not a pin cushion into which psychopaths can stick their pins whenever they find they want to. It provides some small degree of proof that you do in fact take up space on this planet as a human being, where "looking on the positive side" and "letting it roll like water off of a duck's back" does not.

There are times when I am not even as angry as I appear. Where I could simply say nothing and seethe on my own, and not do so for very long. But lately I am fighting against that outward calmness because enough is enough. Turning the other cheek in these situations has very rarely made me feel any better about them. I just brood over them in silence for days. This is better than responding?

Now,  fighting back doesn't usually solve things right away either, but in the very least I can go to bed that night knowing that I at least did something. No matter how rude, loud, or vulgar, I have at least proven that I am not to be toyed with. Proven it to myself if nobody else, (because other people are, in the end, out to crush as many people like me as they can in pursuit of whatever it is they want. They are trained by a lifetime of entitlement to not give a shit about anyone but themselves, and that includes you.)

And to be frank, sometimes chasing somebody down, yelling, or making a scene will make me feel better. Like I said, that moment of the perpetrator being uncertain just how to handle what is happening.

There are also times when I can feel some degree of satisfaction in the knowledge that I may have at least caused the other party inconvenience. Such as the slow moving and unresponsive check out woman at the department store who's immediate supervisor I emailed after going to the website. She had to at least take time out of her day to be quizzed about my experience, while her machine history was checked. (So I was told in the return email.) Or writing down the  plate number of one of the many maniacs I dealt with on the road  last night, and reporting it to the police, mentioning just how erratic the driving was. (Perhaps they will want to investigate just enough this morning that the guy will be made late for work when he is pulled over, and get yelled at by his boss, even if nothing legal comes of it.)

Not much, but we do what we can to make a sound in the echo chamber that is our lives. I don't have riches, influence, importance or fame on which to fall back. Outward success has not come to me. If/when it does, will I feel less put out by people running all over me for their own convenience? Perhaps so. Especially when connections and wealth have time and again proven to be effective counters to all kinds of trouble. I won't know for certain until I am wealthy and successful.

But until then, when I have had enough I will shove those carts out of my way at the market without a word, waste the cashier's time as they wasted mine, take down plate numbers, call restaurant managers five minutes before I know the place is getting ready to lock up in order to complain about a waiter, (they are more likely to get pissed at the shitty server if you wait until they really want to be home to make your long, time consuming phone complaint. Good tip for the future.), and any number of other small retaliatory strikes that are within my legal disposal.

Will that kind of non-response ever be good enough for me? I don't really know. I know I have tried it for years in some cases. I know I have previously tried to remake myself in the image of a Gandhi. And I know that such attempts by and large have failed. Letting karma handle it, or keeping positive thoughts, or sending love their way, or any number of other things that success gurus and feel good swamees advocate usually does exactly nothing to equalize my place in the universe of which I have been robbed by such ape-like behavior. If one day the timid approach does work, fine. Yet until then, I have a place in the universe for which I need to stand up. And when you go through the things I sometimes go through, having a place in the universe is sometimes all you've got.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Holiday Presence

We are now entering the final three months of the year. A time weighed down in richer foods, soaked in beer and other spirits, kissed with cooler, crisper temperatures and moved along nicely by many get together, soirees and informal gatherings to celebrate the several holidays.

Actually those holidays are the catalyst for all of the above. Except the weather of course.

This time of year can go so quickly. It is made worse by the fact that immediately following this festive quarter, is the most boring, darkest, coldest; bleakest time in the year in this part of the world; the frigid malaise that is January through early March.

You are savoring your first pumpkin spice latte of the year one day* and your turn around and realize it's January 15th all of the sudden, your knee deep in snow, and nothing anywhere means anything.

It blows.

Which is why I plan to engage in all of the holidays more this year. Don't get me wrong, I have always been a huge fan of Christmas, and a pretty big one of Thanksgiving. Even Halloween, when I am around people who enjoy it. But for years I have let the holidays go buy and paid just lip service to being fully engaged in them. Full present in the festivities. Yes, I have enjoyed the time of year, as usual, but I have not reinvented my absorption of the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of the holiday season in many a year. And I think this year is a good time to begin such a re-calibration once again. 

It's not just about going more places or doing more things, (though in the right context that can help.) But being more present at each of the things I do. And choosing those things to do and places to go not simply because that is what everyone does, or because tradition demands it, but because it can offer meaning and spiritual value to me on the moment, and not just overall.

My picture tends to be too broad sometimes. I spend a lot of time planning the so called "long-game." Well I hope to use the holidays coming up this year as a way to remember the close up. The tight shot. The short yardage running play. And in so doing, grab more of the essence of festivities around me.

How do you celebrate holidays? Or anything at all?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Too XYZ Defined. Or Redefined? Or Undefined?

I knew exactly what I was doing when I named this blog. I would say roughly 60% of the posts actually mention the phrase "Too XYZ" as it pertains to my potent yet undefined non-conventional make up, in the areas of spirituality, psychology, emotions, career, and, well, you get the idea. On and on. Even when the phrase itself is not used almost everything I have blogged here has in some way been moved by the spirit of my being Too XYZ, even if the phrase itself is absent from a post.

I am just as XYZ today as ever I was. In some ways perhaps more so even as in other ways it has lessened. And my hope was that by blogging about it, I would come to a great understanding of the exact nature of what makes my views and approach to the world so unique. The goal was to make this blog a place where others who also felt Too XYZ about things to come, discuss, share, and ask questions. I thought that in so doing we'd all be able to come to a few more conclusions than usual, when left to our own devices.

Despite some minimal success in attracting some high profile attention here and there, and a few posts of mine going ever so slightly viral for a short time, it hasn't worked out this way.

As a whole, this blog has not had even one tenth the readership I had hoped for. Nor has it spurned the conversations that I hoped it would. Again, I have endeavored to create something that simply, despite my best efforts, does not take flight, or catch fire, in this world. I'll admit it saddens and frustrates me, (despite some of my pieces on introversion getting some mild form of acclaim in very tiny circles online.) It would appear that I am even Too XYZ to make being Too XYZ successful.

The blog has failed to be highly successful by external metrics, as measured by the amount of readers, subscribers and comments, all of which would lead towards an exploration of my uniqueness and that of others. Not unrelated is this blog's general failure by internal metrics as well, as measured by the personal satisfaction of having had a positive impact on other people with similar view points, while coming to a greater understanding about my own.

My need remains, however, to define, (or perhaps I should say to at least understand, as I may never be able to define) those parts of me that can't be nailed down by the status quo and conventional wisdom. In its current form, this blog has not done that as often or as deeply as I would like. And while I am not shutting down this blog for the time being, I do hope to at some point have a new internet presence which may include aspects of what I try to do here, while also being about more. I'd mention more, but that is at least several months away, and I am not even sure how to go about doing it. (It takes hundreds of dollars I don't have, time I can't find, and help from other interested people that, like most of my projects in life, I seem unable to secure.) But when I know more, so will you.

Yet the broader message of this already-longer-than-it-should-be post is that I must begin to find other ways to define and explore what it is that makes me such a poor fit with the rest of...everything. And it is quite possibly everything. With the exception of writing and theatre,(and sometimes even they are not the exception) I don't fit into much of anything, and in most cases I don't mind that too much. I do after all explain this blog to people as "Observations of being a square peg in a world of round holes." Yet that lack of worldly success, understanding, and even lack of company from others on a similar frustrating journey can get old. After all, I'm an introvert that is Too XYZ, not an ascetic monk that needs only religion, or a hermit that needs only himself. (Despite accusations to the contrary.)

So, I will be focusing some more efforts in the coming time on the idea of finding out what exactly makes me tick. (Or what doesn't let me tick?) At least partially, as I don't think I will ever be 100% aware of what I am all about.

Now those that know me may observe that this has always been what I do. And you would be correct. To a certain extent, this search has been the trademark of my life, both online and offline. So what is different about it now? The best way I can answer that question is by mentioning my willingness, (perhaps by necessity) to explore aspects of myself that I have not put much interest in before, and furthermore do so with some methods in which I have chosen not to participate previously.

What aspects? By what methods? The truth is, I really don't have much of an idea myself at this time. I don't yet know how it will all take place. I'm not certain what exactly will go down. And I sure as hell don't know if it will even work. Often it doesn't. However, the failure of this blog to launch as envisioned, as well as other aspects of my life lately have brought the need for a different approach into a clearer focus in the last year.

I do have to say this isn't about the "get out of your comfort zone and take on the world" song and dance routine that Gen-Y and self help gurus like to spew forth constantly. I have said before and will say again now that all of that "Challenge yourself and be positive about life" secret to getting everything you want is fucking cow flop. At least it is when you are Too XYZ. (Or, let's be honest, too poor to afford most of the shit those type of people say you need to invest in.)

However it is about deciding that there comes a time when, no matter how much endurance you have to keep walking miles and miles and miles down the path, the path on which you find yourself is leading nowhere. It may good exercise. The path may have some nice scenery, and you will probably meet some nice people along the way if you walk for long enough. Yet you end up just walking. And walking. And it may start to look like rain...

And what of this blog? As I said, its days are most likely numbered in its current form. Yet for the time being, that number is a very large one, as I am nowhere near building anything else yet, and don't even know if I can. In the mean time, however, I don't know in what precise ways Too XYZ itself will change during this interregnum. I plan to blog just as often, and much of those posts will indeed be about the same things about which I have blogged over the last 18 months. (Introversion, for example.) Who knows, maybe to some people it won't appear to be that much different at all. Yet astute observers my see it as being less formal, less focused, more personal, and less constructed towards social media influence than it used to be.

The story however, is not this blog, in the end. The story is me, and in some ways that story is changing. Or, to use some writer's metaphors, a bit of the tone and direction of the story has to change, so I am probably going to have to go back to the outline and move some things around. Again, I don't know how just yet. But I suppose I, (and you, if you stick around) will soon find out.