Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Universal Self and The Laws of Misinterpretation

One day, years ago, I was having an awful time of it with little, petty things that today, I completely have forgotten. However, we all get wrapped up in the small stuff sometimes. My friend, Pat, was sympathetic, but not foolish enough to humor me, so he took me to the top of the hill that Holy Cross is situated on and told me to look out over the city of Worcester. Suddenly, my life, my problems--it all seemed so small, and more importantly, confined to myself alone (thank you, Jimbalaya--he gets credit for reminding me of this).

Several times, I remember when M and I used to walk by the ocean. Sometimes, it was dark, and you couldn't see the water, but you could hear it moving in and out with perfect natural rhythm--the kind we like to structure and make into meter and music. He used to remark about how that same pattern of motion and sound pre-existed us for thousands of uncountable years and would outlive us by countless more. All at once, it makes you feel connected to an inner unity that can only be experienced rather than seen or heard. And, subsequently, it makes all of those little things that weigh you down seem like impediments to our ability to perceive this unity of which we are a part.

The problem lies in how we see ourselves. All too often, we are too microcosmic in our views.

The one thing that causes this to happen most often is the act of thinking too much about yourself and how everything around you relates to you. If it is constantly a secondary, or not even a thought at all, to you that something that happens or something someone does may have nothing to do with you at all, then, if you don't mind my putting it bluntly, you need to stop seeing the people, events, and things around you as in your own personal orbit.

How often have you or your actions been misinterpreted by others? Oh, and how often does that piss you off to no end? I hope that both numbers, if you bother to come up with any, correspond. Sometimes, we make mistakes--but most of the time, if we misunderstand someone, it's our own fault. Why? Well, true misunderstanding usually is the result of us looking too closely at ourselves and how we think and feel rather than trying to put yourself in someone else's place for a few minutes. However, there is a second side to look at here--the one of the person who is misinterpreted.

Let's face it--it's a pain in the ass when you know somone thinks something of you that's wrongly assumed. And honestly, no matter how hard you try to understand the other person in question and give him or her the benefit of the doubt, the situation remains the same--it's not your fault this time, that falls on someone else's sholders and that someone else may be so engrossed in that preformed interpretation or opinion that no matter what you do, you can't change it. Even if you address the situation--you may chat or write or even change how you act--how can you know that it is going to matter? No matter what you say or how you say it, the 'misinterpreter' is going to see your actions from that preconceived stance--completely re-interpret them, if you will, to make them fit into their original ideas, margin of error not withstanding. Why? Well, because if you do regularly interpret things as they relate to you--guess what? You're the classic case of 'self-centered,' and the last thing you want proven to you is that you're wrong.

What is being ignored is all of the evidence that person does not have because it exists outside of his or her orbit and has nothing to do with him or her. And, given the people to whom this applies, well, let's say that kind of evidence either doesn't exist to them or is just ignored because, hey, it doesn't apply. Ultimate connundrum.

So, what is the bottom line? I don't think there is one. Other than: grow up, look past the end of your nose for once, and get over yourself. Harsh words, yes, but the reality is harsher. It's the idea that not everyone is always thinking about you, that you may have nothing to do with what that person just said or did, and that although people listen to what you have to say, you can't assume they care about your opinions.

The bottom line is that no matter how well you do something or how well you think of yourself, someone else probably knows more or does it better than you do--and those people don't need your sanction or acknowledgement to make that true.

Or, maybe if you learned the two hardest of life's lessons--that you are not the center of anyone's universe other than your own, and that you have to laugh at yourself, no matter how ridiculous you look TO YOURSELF or to others, then, you wouldn't be so afraid of how others see you. Tired point? Well, maybe not if you haven't mastered it. Why is this important? Because that is the root of the problem--if you close yourself within yourself, you won't get criticized and everything can be as rosy as you like it to be. It's the ultimate insecurity--no matter how you appear on the outside, this behavior sets a red flag up in the minds of every single person who has any insight and observes you for more than two seconds.

As the Indigo Girls said:

What makes me think I can start clean slated?
The hardest to learn was the least complicated.

Open your eyes, my friend, and see what's really out there--not what you want to see or what you want other people to see in terms of yourself. You may be surprised--for once in your life, you may breathe a sigh, relax, and have a good laugh. That's when you can climb the hill and see what's really there as well as your place within that spectrum. That's when you can hear and see the tide on the shore and feel that inner connection between you and the rest of what's out there. It's not about you--it's not about you being different or proving your uniqueness.

Ultimate life's challenge? Probably, but it is worth it to be able to say to yourself as you progress along life's path--look at what I was and look at what I am trying to be. At least I admitted to myself that I'm not perfect, and I didn't continue to delude myself into thinking that I made other people see me that way.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Coulds, Woulds, and Shoulds

A friend of mine called the other day, and she asked if she should pursue a guy at work that she really connected with and had "gotten to know" over a fairly considerable course of time.

What are the "rules" for "getting involved," if you are doing it for more than superficial reasons?

Have you ever met anyone that you somehow knew that you could develop strong feelings for? Yes, that's an odd concept--the idea of being able to do so, and yet, having some form of "control" over your emotions, as if will mattered. In fact, we usually assume that we don't have any control over who we care about--or at least, we have minimal control. The whole "will" issue is directly related to the mystery of romance--the idea that we don't understand why we care about someone, but that we just do and therefore, it was "meant to be." Of course, this is usually wrapped up in the idea of the "soul mate" or the "one" concept. We fall in love with someone because, well, that's what we've always been looking for, right? A concrete absolute that is "out of our hands" in one way or another, meant to sustain us until the end of time or some other such nonsense.

I remember watching a "Behind the Music" episode on the American TV channel, VH1 about Bette Midler. She ended up marrying a guy she hadn't known for a very long time, and there was this implication that she was "just meant to marry him" and asking why was a moot point. Instead of this guy being her mystical soul mate, I think he was just one of those people she "knew" she could develop a lasting relationship with.

It's more like taking a survey than it is making some amazing discovery. You come to realize that you "could" care about someone after you talk to them a few times and find connections between the two of you even in those short encounters and chats. When you talk to someone, what you are indeed doing is evaluating that person--this doesn't mean that you pass judgement so much as you ask them questions, learn something about them to see what they are all about. Short discussions here and there are like test pits for an archaeologist--you're putting your hand in the pond and picking up a handful of what's on the floor from completely unrelated places in the water just to get a clearer picture of what's under there that you can't see yet. Realistically, you won't be able to form connections between what's in your hand after one short dig and what you found last week in a similarly small hole. That's for the excavation to decide--and that is indeed what taking a survey of the ground is for. After a few dry runs, you have to ask yourself whether or not doing an excavation is worth it. If enough test pits have brought up evidence of what you're looking for, then, you get out the shovels and call in the interns.

So, the "could" is determined by a testing phase, which goes on whether you recognize it or not.

The "would" happens when you start actively making an attempt to excavate. I mean, if enough of your test pits are good, the chances are that there is more good stuff under there you just haven't accessed yet. That's when you can make your connections between what you found and what is really there. So, you start asking questions, seeking out that person's company, actively making conversation, and all usually starting from one of those points you discovered when testing. It's like taking one of your particularly good test pits and enlarging it--making it wider and deeper so you can see what else is there. Eventually, you start to see connections and new ideas. However, every day is different. One day, you may pull something up that deserves to be vaulted in a museum somewhere. The next day, you may find something you thought was equally priceless, but turned out to be a dirty rock. Other times, you bring out your manual labor, your whole host of technology, and your best tools only to find that it's raining, and you have to go home. All the while, the end is the same--you would develop those feelings because the basis, what you were looking for, is there--and now you know it is.

Now, comes the hard part, the "should." Here's a beautifully picturesque landscape, complete with flowers and trees and grass, even your contentely munching little rabbit hopping by. You know that monastery was there 1200 years ago on that spot--all you have to do is get out the shovel and you'll make history. So you do, and you find it--a fantastic ruin of a place. However, after you're done, you look around you--the tree is lopsided, the grass is wholly gone and so are the flowers, and the rabbit just took residence in another glen. Then, you ask yourself whether it was worth it in the first place.

"Should" is about assessement of what you've found and what you want to do with it. If you've done a careful job excavating, generally, there is some kind of stable relationship there. You've found and strengthened a connection you recognized. Now, you have to ask yourself whether you "should" move that to another level, and if you tell me "feelings" play a part, I'm sending you to the nearest therapist. "Should" is about knowing what you've got and what you're willing to risk--knowing what you may lose. I think that this is more of an important point than you may realize because it takes into account someone else other than yourself. You have to ask yourself whether that other person is either ready or willing, or both, to change your relationship. I am going to propose that usually, unless completely dense, people can tell if a connection is there, and probably ask themselves the same questions. It's about being considerate and aware of others--you knowing your "feelings" and what they "tell you to do" is inherently selfish.

If you "could" and you "would," it doesn't mean you "should"--and if you don't, you may not be missing out on an opportunity. You may be creating one, a stronger one in the form of a good friendship.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Don't Call Me Beautiful

Everyone, whether you admit it to yourself or not, has picked up something s/he considered "romantic" in his/her life. This could be anything from a picture to a poem to a song to a moment in time encased and locked away in one's memory. I'd like to propose the heinous idea that although that may have been romantic, none of it is love--at all.

Ok, let's go through the "what's not love", shall we?

Now, when it comes to romance, cliche is necessary, so let's start with Shakespeare. We all know him either because we really do like his writing or we were at least forced to read it at some point, so it is good common ground to go from. We all know his sonnets--we had to read them, maybe even memorize them for needless classroom public display, and perhaps compose papers on them, expounding on their meaning. It is useless to go through all of them for any purpose, let alone this one. However, there are a few important points to be made. First, he expounds on the usual, Renaissance lover-esque forms of passionate, possibly unrequited, love in most of his poems. I'd suggest numbers 58 and 148 as particularly good examples--with their laments about "slavery" to love and blindness to the faults in one's lover. Yeah, whatever. Well, wait a minute, there are some signs--maybe even many signs--that he got it right.

Take Sonnet 130 (which we all probably know, too):

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

So, why is that important? Because love isn't mythical. Romance is the myth, not love. We try to make love "mythical" by adding in the spice that is mystery, mystique, destiny, fleeting moments in time. However, we do that more often because that is what we think we're supposed to do. We think we are supposed to find the people we love faultless and beautiful in all ways. The truth of the matter is that love erases that mystery--it encourages you to get to know someone else so instead of hiding faults, they become realities, part of the completeness that is the other person. The first step in love is learning what those faults are and a willingness to be aware of them rather than dousing them in some high-flying, flowery language that is both transparent and useless.

This one is even better, Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Ok, now we have another piece in the puzzle that tends to elude us--the idea that love lasts a while, a long while. So, what exactly does this mean? It's not just about weathering the "tempests of life." We can do those on our own; we have friends and family that stand by us in those cases. Instead, the toughest trial a real relationship confronts has more to do with what happens when you start to learn more about the other person. Since love is about taking away rather then indulging in the mystery, you've got to weather that process. This means taking in things that you may not like--traits or past experiences--and learning to accept them as a part of the whole of the other person. This also means dealing with the "opening up" process that will inevitably reveal these things to you. No one likes to be vulnerable, and few of us are enamoured of the idea of someone else knowing about that part of ourselves we want to change. That means dealing with running into a lot of closed doors, but being determined to open them with as much understanding, patience, and care as is necessary. Oh, and that's a two way street, my friend--that's going to happen to you, too.

Thank you, Mr. Shakespeare.

Now, onto something else.

Let's choose another author we all know, either from personal interest or forced literary instruction: Jane Austen. The novel that gets the most booking is, of course, Pride and Prejudice, but although we all like the evenly-packaged, happy-ending inspired story, it is more than a little unrealistic. Pride and Prejudice is about the romance and love we all seem to want--the close moments, the tall, dark stranger that falls madly in love with us against his/her will, the secret ways that lover desperately subverts his/her values to save us. In the real world, that's crap.

Instead, I would like to propose Emma as more realistic.

Emma, as a character, is fairly complete--she is flawed, and that is made plain in what she does. She insults her friends, she thinks a little too highly of herself in general, but all along, only one person sees her for what she is: her friend, Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley has faults of his own, which he is aware of and mentions clearly. However, it is his self-awareness that allows him to be insightful into Emma's character. He knows more about her than she does about herself, and the novel is essentially her process of realizing who she is and what she needs. In the third Volume of the novel, after all manner of blunders and assumptions, Emma sees one thing clearly--that 'Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself.' In this moment, she sees her own flaws for the first time for what they are--she reassesses her behavior and assumes that because of these faults in person and action that Mr. Knightley could never love her.

But what does this guy do for Emma? I mean, he badgers her about her faults, corrects her constantly. Why?

It's because he does so not to subject her to constant criticism. It's because he has taken that awareness of her flaws to the next stage--he accepted them as they are, loved her for who she is, and then, tried to assist her to grow past them. This, of course, met with a lot of scorn, a lot of jokes, but in the end, the realization that was what she needed came through. She needed someone to help her grow. She needed someone to see her for what she was and help her be what she could become, regardless of the "tempests" that course of action would, and do present.

So, what's the big idea? Love is about seeing more clearly than in any other context, and yet, seeing one thing in your life probably more clearly than at first, you want to see. After that, it is about taking that vision, that reality, that vulnerability, and assisting in that growth process--that life process. It's not about seeing someone and falling in love with radiant beauty. It's about seeing someone gradually for who they are and helping them become more beautiful on their own terms, no matter how hard it is.

It isn't going to hit you like all those fireworks/Cupid's arrows analogies. It's going to start with you wanting to ask questions that reveal who that person is, maybe noticing once or twice how pretty/handsome s/he looks under that light. You aren't going to run valiantly off to war to avenge honor, you aren't going to shut yourself up in unproductive anguish at one negative word. Then, one day, you may ask yourself: "Is this love?" If, after a process of getting to know that person, if you know those flaws and you still want to know more, if you'd be there if that person needed you, and, most of all, if you wouldn't take advantage of that person's vulnerability, the answer is: "Yes."

For you, M. Because that is what you are, and you are the only one that has been that.

Romance is blind, not love.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

When Bachelor Number Three Doesn't Choose You

I was talking to my friend the other day. It was an amusing conversation about rejection. Yes, we all hate it, yes, we have to go out with our buddies, commisserate, complain, probably get inhebriated to get over it depending upon the situation, but it really is one of the experiences in life through which all of us can relate to each other. One rejection story usually brings out another from someone else, and before you know it, five or six of you are all standing around laughing because talking about it reminded you that first, it happens to even the best of us, and second, hey--the "rejector" missed out, didn't s/he?

So, I present to you: The Various Levels of Rejection.

Level One: Radio Silence

Come on, now, my friends. Is this not on the level of "I'm avoiding passing you in the hall" high-school style? I think this registers on the lowest level of them all. Do you honestly think that we can't take it? You're certainly not going to be the first, the worst, or the last. To define this category, for those of you who are confused, this is when the person in question just doesn't get in touch with you, period, regardless of how many non-confrontational methods of communication exist out there.

About a year ago, I, in an outburst of "no one is interested in me" frusteration, I joined the EHarmony service. I was pleasantly surprised when the system quickly matched me to someone in the nearby area, Eric. We exchanged questions, went through the whole step by step communcation process, and then, we decided to meet. I met him once and only once for a short date in Boston. Honestly, I think if the guy smiled once, I was going to have a heart attack in shock. Anyway, afterwards, I was thinking--well, he's a complicated person; it will probably take more than one meeting to get to know him better. Then, I heard nothing more from him--no e-mail at all, and when he came on the IM system and saw my name up there, he immediately signed off.

I thought this was rather juvenile, but hey, I'm not the one who missed out in the end.

What you can learn from this: Just say "no," be honest, open, and direct, and you won't turn into a story told at collective dinners for a laugh from better friends.

Level Two: The E-Mail/IM

Ok, we're getting better because actual communication is involved here, and some effort is required. One of these two is non-confrontational, the other is but without the face to face action a meeting one on one demands.

An e-mail at least closes things off if that is indeed your intention. You can type out your thoughts, edit them so misinterpretation is unlikely, even write something, save it, and come back to it later when the spirit moves you if inspiration is not forthcoming. E-mails are just a quicker version of the original post, so at least you know that the person you're trying to let down easy is going to get the message relatively quickly, which is good for both of you. All it takes is a few minutes here and there with your hands on a keyboard.

The IM, although a simulated conversation, is still rather unconfrontational so it doesn't get many more points than the e-mail. You could literally lie in wait for the other person to sign on, type out a blurb in the little white screen, send it, then immediately sign off. Or, you could actually have a conversation, although it won't be a long one more than likely. Again, you get the option to edit what you have to say because you can see it before you send it.

I broke things off with my last formal boyfriend almost a year ago and a big part of the problem lie in the fact that we didn't have a very close emotional connection, and I generally felt dismissed by him. Two or three days after I sent him away from the house we coinhabited, I got an e-mail from him detailing how much he really cared about me. Everything he should have said to me while we were together was there. However, given the number of opportunities he had to say them to me during our two year relationship, and even though I never doubted his sincerity, it did not ultimately change my decision. Yes, this is probably not the story you expected on this topic, but the point is the same--I appreciated the gesture, but the medium left much to be desired.

What you can learn from this: Well, if this is your weapon of choice, you at least chose something that could be considered a weapon. However, from a table of maces and swords, you picked up the three foot stick that used to have an axe head on it.

Level Three: The Phone Call

Well, you win for having the balls to confront someone directly. Unlike with writing, you run the risk of saying something stupid or at least having your words come out wrong, but the fact is that you're taking that risk. You have enough respect for the other person in question to talk directly, be honest, and what's worse, feel the sting you know you're handing over to your potential/former partner. You'll probably take a deep breath, pick up the receiver, put it down again, think too much about it, change what you were going to say, think again about actually doing it, but in the end, you put the digits in, waited for the "hello" on the other line, and said your piece. The hardest thing is knowing that you aren't going to feel much better when it's over--instead of abject fear of what you are about to do, you are left with the empty feeling of having let someone down directly and having caused and experienced that let down with that person. However, you know that the real onslaught of emotion come after the click, so although you're confronting to a degree, you are only opening a window through which what needs to be said is done so in a limited amount of time, and putting down the receiver frees you from the situation.

Years and years ago, I went out a few times with an older guy, Peter. During one of our dates, I found a folder in his car with some commentary written on it about how he couldn't find a prom date, so he was taking me out a few times in order to ask me to ensure a lack of bachelor status at this pivotal high school moment. Eventually, a few weeks later, he did call, to break off his prom date with me for someone else he prefered to take. Yes, he was a classic asshole, which was further demonstrated when he became a substitute teacher in our town school system and then decided to manifest his newly-found power by picking on my younger sister who ended up in some of his classes--very mature. However, he picked up the phone and was brutally honest--probably because he didn't care at all--but hey, he said his piece directly to me.

What you can learn from this: Phone calls are hard--it can be hard even to call someone you're interested in. However, you do earn some respect for actually doing it--none of us like hearing "you're just not into me" over the phone, but if you confront that head on and are honest, well, you get a few points for that.

Level Four: The One on One Conversation

It may not seem as if this applies to every kind of relationship. If you've only gone out with someone once or twice, you may think it's not worth the hell and high water of the one on one conversation. Usually, people tend to place this in the "breaking off a long-term relationship" category. However, respecting people is more general than that--it doesn't only apply to those whom you have shared a lot of time and energy with--in theory, it should apply to everyone with whom you had even a hint of involvment.

This is especially hard. You've got to tell someone, to his or her face, that you just aren't interested in continuing/pursuing something with him or her. And, after you say what is so hard to put into soft terms, you have to sit there and watch the rejection set in. If you talk one on one with someone, you are putting yourself in the middle of the rejection experience. As if it isn't enough to tell someone what is so hard to say, you get to see it and hear it, and the other person may go quietly or pour the contents of a glass in your lap. Congrats--well done on this for having the gusto to put yourself in a particularly bad situation in relation to someone else and subjecting yourself to whatever may ensue afterward.

I spent a very long time with one guy, John, in college. It came to a point when the relationship had to end--and it was all about me cutting it off. However, I waited until I could see him, and we talked not once, but several times on the matter. It was very hard to talk to him about it, and he was very upset--as was I--but he deserved to know from me directly regardless. Then, he ran off with the next adoring, two-dimensional chick he found at a party two weeks later, but that's beside the point.

What you can learn from this: It doesn't feel good, you'll think about it before you do it, you'll think about it after you do it, but the point is you do it. Why? Because you wouldn't want sudden "radio silence" to determine the end of anything, you wouldn't want an e-mail cutting you off without a word, and you probably wouldn't want a phone call that you'll need to recover from afterward. You believe you deserve respect? So does everyone else.

And, the added bonus is if you're one of these, after we get over you, you're the type of person that we would consider remaining friends with, and even introducing you to one of our friends in the future--maybe that good looking one you had your eye on in the first place...

The Moral of the Story: No one likes to be rejected. We all are now and again and when that happens, we have to re-convince ourselves that we are attractive, desireable, and worth someone's interest. However, perhaps "character" doesn't lie in how you take rejection--maybe it lies instead in how you choose to give it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Dozen Red Roses....

...are sitting on my desk. They are to me, from me, in honor of Valentines Day, but they are not FOR me.

They are for the following:

...for those who love me now and have always loved me.

...for those who love me now who met me along their way.

...for those who loved me who don't any longer.

...for those who I loved whom I don't any longer.

...for those who I have loved who failed me.

...for those who I have loved whom I failed.

...for those who I tried to love who wouldn't let me.

...for those who tried to love me whom I wouldn't let do so.

...for those who I loved who didn't appreciate who I am and what I could be.

...for those who I loved who loved me for what I am and helped me reach for what I could be.

...for those from whom I had to walk away, loving them or not.

...for every single one of them who broke my heart.

Love isn't really about you. You shouldn't be looking for someone to love you. You should be looking for someone to love.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Start the Countdown and Drop the Ball

Today is my New Years.

Many different cultures interpret New Years differently, assigning different years or days or calendars.

Why not have my own?

And it's today....

All of those other cultures have reasons for interpreting their respective New Years Days. So do I.

On February 8, 1995, I went into Miriam Hospital in Providence, RI for an operation to remove a tumor. Regardless of this procedure, the commonly held belief was that I wouldn't live past my seventeenth year. I always start thinking about it maybe a week or so before the date passes by on the calendar. I don't throw a party when it passes, I don't even apply an ink mark to the dated page on my desk. I sit and think and remember what changed my entire outlook on life.

Everyone seems to think that "young people" have this complex--that we perceive ourselves as invincible. Maybe that is true to an extent. I never did. Maybe that's why I always felt so old.

From: The Chandogya Upanishad VI, xiii, 1-3

The father said: "Place this salt in water and then come to me in the morning."

The son did as he was told.

The father said to him: "My son, bring me the salt which you placed in the water last night."

Looking for it, the son did not find it, for it was completely dissolved.

The father said: "My son, take a sip of water from the surface. How is it?
"It is salt."
"Take a sip from the middle. How is it?"
"It is salt."
"Take a sip from the bottom. How is it?"
"It is salt."
"Throw it away and come to me."

The son did what he was told, saying: "The salt was there all the time."

Then the father said: "Here, also, my dear, in this body, verily, you do not perceive Sat (Being); but it is indeed there."

Ginger snaps, anyone?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Those Three Little Words....

Not every person of the opposite sex who walks into your life is "dating material."

First of all, when you are interested in someone, it requires that he/she pass what I call "The Three Points Test" These three points are as follows:
  • Available
  • Heterosexual (at least in my case--this turns to "homosexual" if your preferences are different)
  • Interested

There are many ways of establishing the validity of these premises when you meet up with someone who you think may be dating material.

Available: It is undeniable that people who are single tend to act a certain way. This "certain way" is determined by one of two things--either he or she is contented being single or he or she isn't. If contentment is involved, then you have good news and bad news. The good news is that you probably have a pretty confident, self-assured person on your hands who can handle ten minutes by himself/herself and has probably mastered taking care of himself/herself. The bad news is that he/she may not be looking at all, and just because you show up doesn't mean that his/her perceptions of the glories of singleness are going to change.

Heterosexual (or sexual preference compatibility with you): If you're a chick, you know the guy "you just wish wasn't gay." This usually stems from his ability to relate to you BECAUSE HE IS GAY, so that generally rules out that premise. I haven't seen a common reverse situation for men. At any rate, there is some credence to the concept of "chemistry." Chemistry can mean a lot of things--mostly different forms of compatibility which may or may not have something to do with physical attraction. However, I usually go with the "trust your gut" premise on this one. If you "feel something there" then, more than likely, the other person involved feels at least something there, too. In fact, I can't think of one situation I have heard of where someone felt "chemistry" and yet, the other person in question felt nothing at all. I suspect that if chemistry is not mutual, as unusual as that may be, the person who isn't feeling it will probably pick up on the attraction the other person does feel, and then respond with subsequent discomfort. Look for this if you have any questions about chemistry. If you do not observe discomfort, it is either because A) the feeling is mutual or B) that person is gay (or heterosexual, depending upon your preference).

Interested: This, of course, stems from mutually felt chemistry, so you get a two-for-one-kill on this one. However, I urge you not to get distressed if someone isn't interested in you. Someone may be attracted to you, but not interested--and there are hundreds of reasons for that. Of course, you can't be completely objective about the "signs of interest" when you are the one sitting in judgement of them as they relate to you. In addition, you may be tempted to include/omit certain signs or events that disprove your case upon its presentation to someone else for an objective point of view. Some things are pretty clear signs: first, effort is key. If he/she makes an effort to see you, especially if there are abject circumstances involved, you're probably good to go. Few people waste their time "being nice." Sometimes, you have to be patient with this one, sometimes you shouldn't be. Remember--no matter how clear it may be, "interested" does not mean "relationship."

Remember--every relationship isn't Pride and Prejudice. Preconceptions and expectations no matter what they are can be dangerous when you are sitting in the middle of "I don't know what is happening"-land. We all want things to work out and to have a good time. Set guidelines as to what is acceptable to you and what isn't but don't expect your situation to fit into that premise. If it does, great, but if not, cut loose instead of make excuses.

That is my inspired thought for the day. Thank you, muses of common sense. They visit so rarely....

Feel free to discuss....

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Walking, Driving, and The Meaning of Life

Ok, have you ever noticed that people walk just like they drive? You'd think that the concept of artificial, fossil fuel-powered mobility would solve problems for the citizens of the world who choose to be slow.

You're walking down the street. It's the weekend, and since no one ever does any errands during the week, there isn't a bare spot on the pavement. Now, let's analyze the walkers.

First, there are the couples, proudly striding side by side, usually joined by some appendage, either arm or hand. They're talking, occasionally stopping at a store window, and ALWAYS walking slowly. This drives me crazy. Especially if there is a particularly narrow sidewalk involved. Of course, they are so enjoined by the "one flesh" concept that neither of them is capable of creating a single-file line for you so you don't have to nearly kill yourself walking in the street. In car terms, this usually translates to the car in front of you with two visible heads--one in the driver's, one in the passenger's seat, that has no sustained and predictable velocity regardless of the traffic lane it is in.

Then, there's the parent-with-the-baby. Watch out, single people of the world, SOMEONE REPRODUCED. Yes, so amazing given the most insignificant of God's panoply of creations can also do so. However, to the proud parent, it's as if he or she is the only one with offspring in the universe. This usually means an absurdly large carriage with every baby supply imaginable and a parent who will march over you with it just as soon as he or she will look at you because you, single person, should pay homage. If we make this a "car," this is the minivan with the carton on top of the roof, one tiny person driving it, and a "baby on board" sign in the back window. Oh, and if you pass this van, you're going to get a nasty look from the driver--you should be making way for ducklings after all.

Then, you have the "weavers"--people who move around other, slower walkers in every which direction to get in front of them. This is less hazardous than doing so on the road at seventy miles per hour in a metal box, even if it is a Volvo.

Older people, you have to respect, because they often walk slowly by necessity. Why this must translate to driving, however, when the mobility is not self-dependent, I will never figure out. If I were eighty and had trouble getting around, I would be thrilled to punch my car up to ninety miles per hour and rack up the speeding tickets to make up for it.

Thoughts/other observations?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Picturesque Pilgrimness Posted by Picasa

Dumb Ideas

Have you ever watched a really bad commercial and thought--hey, I could think of something better than that. Better still, you come up with a more brilliant idea after the commercial is over that could make up for the broadcasted one's lack of quality?

Well, guess what? Someone with less intelligence than you got paid for that stupid idea, and you didn't.

It's the same with greeting cards. You pick one up in a local stationary store, or, if you're an American, a Hallmark, and you read something with a cartoon cat on the front that says inside "Hope you have a purrrfect birthday," or something equally ridiculous.

Yes, again, someone with an IQ less than yours got the bucks for that brilliant piece of classic verse poetry.

So, in the spirit of this theory, homeless people must be the most brilliant people of all, or at least people in abject poverty.

Hey, what more do you expect from a first post on this?