1.09.2013

Resolution for New Year: No More “Mr. Nice”



I’ve made a New Year’s Resolution for 2013:  I will no longer try to be “Nice”.

Now, I’ve spent my entire life actively trying to be nice.  Honestly… I don’t even know why.  I look at how I was raised, and the schools I went to… and I have no clue where I even got the inspiration to want to be nice in the first place.  Sure, we always “heard” that we had to “be nice”, but the actions I witnessed always seemed to tell the exact opposite.  Any small courtesy I tried to show people wasn’t usually returned with the same.  Usually… it just became an advertisement of being a target for bullies. (I honestly cringe at the thought of what would have happened if there was Facebook around when I was in High School.)  My four years of High School… I don’t know if there was anything that “being nice” got me, except embarrassment, pain and rejection.  Why didn’t I change?

The only thing I can think of is that the trifecta of The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, and Charlie Brown must have had an overly-profound impact on me.  You may be laughing, but I’d say there’s a 94% chance that’s a non-exaggerated truth.

In The Muppet Show, I saw characters who were always trying… and usually failing.  Gonzo with his acts of insanity artistic genius, but never fully working being appreciated.  Fozzie with his horrible jokes, and constantly being heckled and insulted by those two old A-holes Statler and Waldorf (Yes, they’re lovable coots… but they were still A-holes).  Miss Piggy, with her grand diva-ness, making a grand entrance… and suddenly grandly tripping down the stairs.  Kermit trying to keep everything together and running smoothly… and it inevitably gets out of hand and becomes a disaster.  But amidst it all, they were silly, they had fun, and were always there for each other, trying to make a great show.  In that backstage world… No one hated each other, no one was overly cruel… and if they accidentally were mean, they apologized sincerely, and with meaningful gestures (usually a sweet song).

Fraggle Rock was even more so.  All of the Fraggles were nice to each other… that was simply “their way”.  They got mad, frustrated, and all of that… but they were always there for each other and treated everyone well.  Even if they were afraid of them… even if they had every reason to hate something, should that something be in trouble, they would still help.  Not wanting anything in return… doing it because they loved to help and liked being nice.  That’s a beautiful thing.

(It’s not a coincidence that both are Jim Henson projects.  I feel strongly similar about all of his projects, and am an eternal fan.)

With Charlie Brown, I felt like I found a kindred spirit.  He always fails, but more importantly, he keeps trying.  No matter how much he’s bullied and berated by the others… he’s always nice and courteous to them.  He did no wrong by anyone, yet they called him Wishy-Washy for it, and adults gave him rocks on Halloween for it.  (Seriously… who the bloody hell would give a child ROCKS on Halloween?  What kind of a sociopathic neighborhood did he live in?)  Come to think of it… maybe Charlie Brown is the opposite argument for those very reasons.  “If you be nice to everyone, they’ll make your life miserable.”  Somehow, I got the “be nice” message.

Yet, it still never paid off.  When the other kids see my Charlie-Brown like actions, they’d ask, “Why do you do that stuff?”  I say, “Just trying to be nice.”  Then, it was inevitably met with “Nice Guys Finish Last.”

Those words have been drilled into me time and time again.  And I *know* it rings true all too often.  I’ve seen it, experienced it, and been consistently frustrated by it.  But the weird thing is… I was okay with it.

Having been on the receiving end of people being A-holes, I’ve told myself several times, “I do not ever want to make someone else feel this way.”  Because I knew how horrible it was, and I could never think of intentionally inflicting that onto another.  I was never one to feel better with the role-reversal or revenge.  Maybe its empathy, maybe its guilt, I don’t know.

But being nice… DID make me feel good.  I know, its cliché, and seems like something in a badly-written kindergarten after-school special.  But I genuinely felt some warm fuzzies by performing an act of niceness.  It wasn’t because “Jeebus told me to”, or because “Karma will pay me back later”, and especially not because “This person can benefit me later.”  All of those… I don’t think are very good reasons.  If Jeebus told you to do something… It doesn’t sound like you could be trusted to do it on your own.  If you think Karma will pay you back… that seems a bit like a selfish reason.  You’re only doing something because you think you’ll be benefited later.  If you didn’t believe in Karma, would the other person be crap-outta-luck?  That’s doubly so with the last one… you’re expecting to benefit later, but just admitting it up front.

Well, I’m not religious in any way… and I don’t believe in Karma, either.  I always thought that the niceness wasn’t a means to an end… it was an end itself.  Because of that, I even attested that my niceness was, technically, selfish.  I like feeling good… being nice makes me feel good.  So to feel good, I’m nice.  With Karma, it’s an extra step.  “I’m doing something nice, so later something nice will be done to me… and I’ll feel good.”  My way was more efficient, frankly.

So I did all the “little things”.  Giving up my seat on a train or bus for someone else.  (The elderly, a pregnant woman, even a non-pregnant woman, or someone that just looked too dang tired), opening doors for others, picking things up for people that they’ve dropped… and I just called those things “Common Courtesy”.  Little things that everyone should be doing, and cost next-to-no effort.

Then, I looked out for the bigger things… the things that you have to go legitimately “out-of-your-way” to do.  The things people ask you to do… walk them home, run an errand for them, help move, etc.  Chances are, if you’re asking me to do something like that, we’re friends… and I would do absolutely anything for my friends.  But I’ve been asked of things like that by people who weren’t really “friends”… but I did it anyway.  Why?  Honestly… because they needed it.  The pleasure I got from being “nice” was actually secondary.  I was no longer thinking “this will make me feel good”… but rather, “They need help?  I’m there.”  My own convenience and pleasure became an afterthought.  (That’s partly why I think I’ve got a bit of a “superhero complex”.)

Now, I’ve still made all the cliché complaints:  “Women don’t want a nice guy, they only want the A-holes.”  “Oh, no… I’ve been friendzoned!”, “Everyone says they want a guy like me, but they don’t want *me*!”, and of course, “Why do they complain there are no nice guys, when I’m right here!” 

I admit, these are just statements of frustration about my horrible luck.  Ultimately, if a woman doesn’t want to go out with me… then she doesn’t have to.  That’s her choice, not a pattern of abused thinking.  (Granted, I wish some of them would *tell* me that instead of just not returning my phone calls… but I digress.)  I’ve never been able to get actually angry about it… only sad.  (The one type of Love I know the most about is the Unrequited kind.)  Because I know it really is “Luck”… and with my introverted personality, it can be a touch more difficult to really connect with someone in a romantic way early on.  So, I lick my wounds, feel bad for myself, question my masculinity, spout a few of the cliché complaints to let off steam, and in about a week or so, I’m back to normal, giggling incessantly at The Muppet Show. (You have your rejection-recovery system… I have mine.)

(By the way… a word about the “friendzone”:  No, it’s not inherently a “bad thing” to be “just a friend”.  But keep in mind, if we meet, have a date, and you decide you just want to be friends… that is basically starting a friendship on a rejection.  And as I am someone who is *extremely* careful about the friendships I do cultivate, that’s not exactly a comfortable way to start, especially if I was getting my hopes up.  Please realize that’s probably not going to happen.  Nobody’s fault… it just happens that way.  If we’re already friends for a good period beforehand, try it, and it doesn’t work… then maintaining the friendship afterwards is easier… I just need a little time to lick my wounds, feel bad, question my blah blah, etc.  Okay?)

Through all the (numerous) rejections in my time, I’ve still tried to maintain the “nice” part of me.  But you know… I never really liked saying the word.  Something about declaring myself as a “nice guy” always felt a little fake. I’ve done it on occasion, but it never sat right in my craw.  It’s a bit like a knighthood… you can’t declare yourself a knight and put “Sir” in front of your name.  Someone else has to call you that.

Yet at the same time… I got a little competitive over it.  I figured, “if I was going to be rejected over being “Nice” (socially and romantically), so be it… that’s who I am, reality be darned.”  So, I buckled in and wanted to embrace it.  But then I start hearing murmurings of some other guy… another “nice” guy.  Women that I had crushes on gave him high recognition as a “nice guy”, talked glowingly about him… and then say the dreaded sentence:  “He’s the nicest guy in the world!”

That… has always been a red flag to me.  I admit… there’s a good chance it’s jealousy.  But when I’ve gone out of my way, throughout my whole life, to try and be “nice”, and always do the right thing… hearing of someone that has apparently beaten me at the “Nice Guy Olympics” (Because that statement is an absolute… there can’t be 2 “nicest guy” winners) is… well, a bit jarring.  Especially, if he is seemingly being celebrated for that which I was always rejected for.  Now, sure… the statement was maybe a bit of hyperbole, and I don’t know if anyone was saying that about me to other people.  But for probably the only time in my life… I actually felt competitive about this.  If I finally got to meet this mystery “nice guy”, it was always with a very critical eye.  Most of the time I came up with the conclusion, “He’s not that nice.”  Oftentimes… I thought they were A-holes.  Maybe a couple of those were unfounded, and spurned by jealousy… but mostly, I would see genuine evidence of A-holishosity (Yes, that’s a word.  Now.).  It actually drove me a little nuts to think that THIS individual is seen as “nicer” than me.

A friend of mine in Grad School once told me of a survey he read about something like this.  (I don’t know the source, so as far as I know, this is not much better than anecdotal, but anyway…)  Some sociology class set-up an experiment.  They brought in people to give responses, and had them meet up to 4 different kinds of people.  The first was someone who was nice and pleasant for the entire interaction.  Second was someone who was a Jerk for the entire interaction.  Third was someone who started off as a Jerk, but then became nice during the interaction.  And finally, was someone who started off as Nice, but then became a jerk.

According to the findings of this survey… they found that the individuals who started off as a jerk, and became nice were perceived as then being MORE nice than the people who were nice the whole time.  Likewise, those who started off as nice and became a Jerk, were then seen as a BIGGER Jerk than the Jerk who was a Jerk the whole time.  That concept blew my mind.  It was the first time I actually said to myself, “Have I *really* been doing it wrong this whole time?  Is that why Assholes are seen as Nice people?”  What the hell????

Now, believe me… I see the irony here.  The very fact of getting jealous and a raised ire do not seem to be traits of a “Legitimate Nice-Guy”.  Well, guess what?

Niceness is not a benchmark of Perfection.

I have always tried to be nice, but I also try to be aware of my mistakes and flaws.  In no way have I tried to be perfect.  There are a couple of times; I’ve been the one to do the rejecting.  I’ve neglected to follow-up on what could have been a good thing with someone, and in doing so, did not show the respect to that someone who should have received it.  I’ve had a few times where I willingly let my ego get in the way.  I’ve said mean things that I haven’t regretted, and I’ve even had to purposefully turn on the “A-hole” switch a couple times in life.  (I never liked doing it… and I hated myself afterwards, but at the time, I determined it had to be done.)  I know I can’t please everybody all the time, and on rare occasions, you need to make people hate you.

Maybe that will be easier now.

And maybe you’re saying, “Wait, if you genuinely enjoyed the experience of helping people, of being courteous and all that… why stop being Nice?”

Hey, I didn’t say I was planning to become an Asshole.  I don’t even *want* to change anything about my personality right now.  I’ve just been thinking a lot lately, and in my reflections, I’m seeing a none-to-pleasant trend:

The large majority of “Nice Guys” are total douchebags.

I don’t just mean the ones I had experience with in the past.  There’s a website on Tumblr called “Nice Guys of OkCupid”.  (It seems to be down as of this writing, but a quick Google search will pop up several articles and examples talking about it.)  It has their picture, the part on their profile where they talk about being a “Nice Guy”, and a selection of some of the “Match Questions” and their answers.  It’s the “Match Question” part where most of them reveal they are not exactly “nice”.  Rather, they are a bit misogynist, homophobic, racist or even a potential rapist.

One of the questions is a statement: “No means NO!”, and the answers to select from are degrees of agreement or disagreement.  So when some “Nice Guy” answers, “A No is just a Yes that needs a little encouragement”, suddenly the bile starts to rise in my throat.  Same happens when an inordinate number of them answer “Yes” to the question “Do you feel there are any circumstances in which a person is obligated to have sex with you?”

Now, I do take some solace in the fact, that my own answers to those questions have already been answered… and they are all widely different than these tools.  I guess I just took it for granted, thinking that it was shockingly obvious that no one ever “owes” me sex.  (I wouldn’t even want it if it’s only being offered out of obligation.  What fun is that?)

I realized… THESE are the people that share the label I’ve been trying for my whole life?  Seriously?  I got depressed, because technically, these guys are “my peers”.  No thank you.  Not anymore… I’m seceding.  I’m getting rid of the “Nice Guy” label.

First part to go… the “Guy” part.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like there’s a distinct difference between “Guy” and “Man”.  I think “Guy” implies something more of a college-aged mentality.  With bikini-calendars, and posters covering the walls.  Neither of which I’ve had since I was in Undergrad in the late 90s.  During calendar- shopping season, I’ve on occasion considered, “Maybe I’ll get one of those with the pretty ladies this year…” but quickly switch to, “Nah… I’m long over that.”  The prospect of a cool travel-themed one just seems more entertaining to me to look at every day.  (Besides, air-brushed models aren’t as attractive to me anymore.  Reality is sexier.)  As for posters… I don’t think I’ve had one on a wall since before my first apartment in California.  Any picture on my wall is in a frame.

“Man” sounds more mature, and that’s appealing.  Maybe it’s an “alpha” kind of idea… but growing up, I always thought about the “Man I want to be”, not “The Guy I’ll probably end up”.  And yes, even though I read comics, quote from The Muppets and Monty Python, and squee when I watch a new Doctor Who episode… I do try to think of myself as a somewhat mature(ish) “Man”.

So, it’s “Man” over “Guy”… and I certainly don’t want to be an asshole.  Therefore, instead of being a “Nice Man”… I think I’ll just try to be a Good one.

I like the term “Good Man”.  A Good Man implies having a sense of honor.  A Good Man may not always do the nice and pleasant thing… but will always try to do the “Right” thing.  Won’t always succeed… but will at least try.  (And the “Right” thing is rarely the Nice, Happy thing.)  That’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing on my tombstone.  “Here lies a Good Man.”

When I really think about it… maybe that’s what I’ve been shooting for all along.  Being “fair” has always been important to me; If I had a choice of being really nice to one person (which meant screwing over someone else), or being “fair” to both, with not particularly nice to either… I tended to go with “fair”.  I felt like that was the better long-term solution.  The times I’ve had to turn on the “Asshole Switch”… I did it because I was trying to be fair.

So that’s what I’m doing, trying to be the Man I want to be:  A Good Man.  Maybe I’m there already, but that’s not my call to make.  I hope I never stop striving for it.

Yes, this does mean that I’m not actually changing anything about my personality… I’m just changing the terminology I use.  Frankly, I think that’s a much easier New Year’s Resolution to make… and those are my favorite.

Nice guys may finish last… but a Good Man doesn’t need to make it a race.

Happy New Year, everyone!

5.18.2012

How To Tell a Stranger They're Beautiful


Sure, it sounds easy.  Just head on up and say, “Hey there, angel-eyes, is it legal to look that good?”  Splash on some cologne, show off the guns and show a little chutzpah, right?  Nay!  Guess what?  That’s the road to becoming “That Guy”.  In this context, “That Guy” means “Douchebag”, you Douchebag.  Take your unjustified self-confidence and get the hell off of my blog!  (And shave that pencil-thin chin-outline you call a beard, you look lame.  By the way, that tattoo of barbed wire on your arm isn’t “tough-looking”, it says “I’m a bottom”. )

They gone?  Good.  I hate those a-holes.

Where was I?  Oh yeah.  

It really isn’t that easy.  Especially to those of us that don’t have all that douchebag-level of self-confidence.  Plus, if you do just go for broke and say it, you’re not taking into account a number of issues that need to be addressed.  (Trust me, this crap can get complicated.) Luckily for you, I’ve gone and done most of the over-thinking needed. (Don’t thank me, just doing my vastly underpaid job.)

First important issue:  Motivation.

Why have you elected to do this?  This is a much more important issue than you may think, because it is also contains a hidden danger.  If you’re doing it to “impress”, or “get digits”, than that is the campaign trail to be President-Elect of Douchebag-aria and why the hell are you still reading this, I told you to SCRAM!  Douchebag!

Yes, doing this as a pick-up line is a hidden danger.  Because it’s not supposed to be a pick-up line… it’s supposed to be a compliment.  A simple, sincere compliment.(Emphasis on “Sincere”.) If you’re doing this to get in someone’s good graces as an effort to eventually get them naked (or ask them for money, or a recipe, or whatever)… then it immediately becomes “You’re only saying this because you want something.”  Even if you honestly do believe them to be beautiful, the fact of you trying to take it further suddenly makes it sound like complete bullshit. Something that is merely: A means to an end.

This is not supposed to be a means to an end.  It’s supposed to be an end in itself.  You follow me on this?  Hear what I’m talking about?  I’m saying that this is something to which you will receive no reward.  Not even as a long-term plan.  Your return-on-investment on this is NOTHING.  Zero. Nada. Zilch.  A big bowl of “Nut ‘n Honey”, and I’m not talking about the breakfast cereal.

Sincerity is the name of the game here folks.  Like what Linus looks for in a Pumpkin-Patch, there needs to be “Sincerity as far as the eye can see.”  Without it, you’re on the way to becoming the Douchebag (justified or not… just being seen as a Douchebag isn’t a good thing).  

Sure, maybe you’re not a douchebag, but still consider yourself one of those “I don’t care what others think” kind of people.  “So, if they think I’m a douchebag, so what?” Well, for one, that attitude’s getting dangerously close to actually being a douchebag, so I’d start re-thinking some life choices, if I were you.  (Just sayin’)  Second of all, your target’s perception of the situation… is part of the POINT of this exercise.  Here, you have to care what the other person, a complete stranger, thinks at that moment where you say it.  Otherwise:  Mission fail, even if you think it didn’t.

Okay, so why does it have to be a stranger?  What’s wrong with saying it to a friend, or even just someone you know?  Again, sincerity can be a factor.  A compliment like that, even if meant 100%, can be taken with a, “Oh, they’re only just saying that because they’re my friend.”  Or you could get, “Wait a minute, is this person trying to make a move?  I hope they know I only want to be friends, but now it’s all awkward!”  Now granted, it might work out totally in your favor… and there’s nothing wrong with telling your friends that you think they’re beautiful… I’m just saying:  You’re on your own, but good luck.

Well, my motivation comes down to two things:  One, when reading PostSecret, or browsing around on Tumblr, or elsewhere around the internet where strangers find the freedom to express themselves anonymously… I occasionally see a wish posted that says, “I wish a stranger would tell me I’m beautiful.”  I thought… why a stranger?  Well, if a stranger approaches you to say that they are honestly attracted to you physically, then the “beautiful” part starts out honestly.  But if they’re STILL a stranger afterwards, not asking for anything… then it confirms that the only motivation was a true and honest opinion… that you are in fact, beautiful.  There’s a lovely romance in that wish.  And it’s one that I can have the ability grant to others.  (Even sometimes make that wish for myself… even though I don’t consider myself much of a “romantic”.)

Secondly… there are some people that I think really deserve to hear it.

Second important issue:  Location

You do have to pick your location fairly carefully.  You don’t want to do it in an obvious place.  Doing it in a bar or nightclub… why bother?  First of all, it’s hard to hear (which affects later issues)… and for another thing, people that go there are usually all dolled up to the nines TRYING to look like that.  So if that compliment comes, it still going to have the element of “Oh, they’re just saying that because I’m showing all this skin”.  But wouldn’t that compliment mean a little more if you heard it while wearing jeans and a t-shirt, coming out of the post-office, showing no skin and even wearing minimal make-up?  One location is where people are fishing for those kinds of compliments, and the other is where it’s totally unexpected.  Ironically enough, it’ll be more appreciated in the location where it’s a surprise, believe me.

I’ve done this a few times at my gym.  Which is a risky location, I know.  Because people there are “trying” to look good (in a long-term sense), while maybe not necessarily looking “club/bar-level good” at that moment.  Also, you may still see the individual after the compliment is given.  But with the nature of the gym, you can still remain strangers with just about everyone.  Just as long as you’re careful and selective, so you don’t become seen as another “That Guy”.  (In this case, “That Guy That Tries To Pick Up Chicks At The Gym”.  Too many in too short a time, and that’s who you are.) But on the plus side, you can do a bit more pre-observation on the target, so as to make a slightly more informed choice on whether or not the individual is worthy of receiving said compliment.

Which brings me to the third issue:  Selection.

You have to be selective.  You can’t say it to just every pretty face in the joint, eventually making your way to everyone over a period of time.  I don’t care if you think you’re freaking Rudolph Valentino and say “Every woman is beautiful!”… that doesn’t make you a lothario, that makes you a horndog with low standards.  (And if Rudolph Valentino was really that great, don’t you think the other reindeer would have asked him to join their reindeer games?)  Certainly, there is merit to the statement “Every woman is beautiful”; Every individual woman is going to be considered beautiful to some other individual.  In my first apartment in California, I shared a kitchen with a 400-lb. woman.  She was a sweet soul and all, but not physically attractive to my eyes (especially after seeing her eat 3 packs of Ramen Noodles in one meal).  I hope she found someone that sees her as beautiful… but I’m okay in admitting I’m not one of those guys.

So, even if you’re like me, and believe that Beauty does come in many shapes and sizes, you still have to draw the line somewhere.You’ll still have a decent-sized pool to choose from.  Now, you have to start narrowing it down, to find the one that you believe really deserves to hear it.

Now, from here on the selection process involves making possible assumptions about people based on looks alone.  No, that’s not 100% respectable, I understand.  If a lawyer pointed that out in court, I’d sound like a sexually-harassing a-hole.  In fact, saying it here could be evidence for ME being a douchebag.  That’s a risk I have to run.  But the pool has to be narrowed down somehow; otherwise, again, it means nothing.

Okay, first thing I do is eliminate the “Hot” girls.  I mean the ones that are stereotypically “Hot”.  They subscribe to the media-barrage standards of what “Hot” is.  Look at the way they carry themselves.  You can usually tell by looking at someone if they have the “I’m Hot and I know it” attitude.  I’m not saying look for the ones that have low-self-esteem… just eliminate the ones that have maybe too-high of self-esteem.  They obviously don’t need the boost, and the compliment would probably be wasted on them, anyway.

In the gym, it’s a touch easier to spot them, because every muscled jackhole is trying to flirt with them.  Now, me being an introvert, I’m a bit of a people-watcher, so I occasionally notice things like that as I’m going from exercise to exercise.  I don’t think the Gym is a place for socializing; it’s for getting work done, and getting healthy.  So the flirters tend to stick out.  The meathead guys usually go for the stereotypical “Hot” women, because they think the amount they can bench-press deserves the lady’s attention.  And the gals being flirted with have most likely heard it all before.  For them, they might not even make the differentiation between “Hot” and “Beautiful”, so it all sounds the same to them.  So, it’s probably a wasted effort on our part, and even more a likely chance they’d think “Ugh, what a creep-o.” (Unless I had a six-pack stomach and Calvin Klein-underwear model looks, then they’d probably respond favorably.  Hey, there are shallow women, too.)

So the stereotypical Hot ones… out.  Sorry, that’s the way it goes.

Ideally, what you want, is someone who is beautiful… but maybe isn’t told so very often.  Which is a pretty big category, sadly.  Maybe it’s more accurate to say:  Someone beautiful… who considers themselves “average-looking”, and is okay with that.  Or even that believes “The right person will think I’m beautiful.”  (Acknowledging that not everyone will) Well, even if I’m not the right person… I can see it.  And I think that’s a person worth telling it to.  I think the compliment wouldn’t be lost on someone like that.

Actually pinpointing that kind of person… is a crap shoot, I admit.  But a big part of it probably comes down to what YOU consider to be “Beautiful”, and how that might compare to a friend’s opinion.  If you see someone as beautiful… but think they’re probably the type some friends of yours would say, “Eh, she’s pretty.” Or “She’s alright”.  Right there, it’s obvious that you are seeing them in a higher opinion then someone else… in which case, you’re on the right track.  Got yourself a potential candidate there.

But don’t go jumping the gun!  I see you’re about to jump on over there and make your presence known… hold up! You can’t do it right this second!  Why?  Issue #4, my friend:  Timing!

You swagger over there at this moment, you’re right back to the “Douchebag” issue.  You might as well put on the Douchebag club pin right now!  (Hey, didn’t I kick you out of here earlier?  No?  You sure?  Yeah, right… I’m watching you, Buster!)

Timing is vital on this, I really believe that.  You don’t want to interrupt anything.  If she’s hanging out with friends, forget it.  Even if you did manage to compliment her, the friends will either scoff and make fun of you for trying a “pick-up” in front of them, (cock-blocking even when you weren’t attempting to… “cock”?) or maybe even get jealous and say, “What about me?  Am I Beautiful?”… and you don’t want to be prompted to say it out of obligation, because then it even feels like bullshit, and deep down, they know it’s not as satisfying because you were prompted.  No, you need to catch them when they’re alone.  At the gym… don’t interrupt them in the middle of a set.  That’s just rude.  And besides, you’d rather have their full concentration, not splitting it with “what number rep am I on?”  Full concentration can help with full appreciation.  So, during a workout is very tricky.  Maybe the only time you could get away with it is when they’re wiping down the exercise machine.

But you also don’t want to do it with anyone around.  Even if outsiders don’t care, for the target… if it’s something they might find embarrassing (whether by virtue of “can’t take a compliment” or “someone is making a fuss over me, oh no”), you want to minimize the potential for that happening.  This should be a fairly private moment… no one else’s business.  In the parking lot is a good place, where most other people would be out of earshot, if they’re even around.  (Yet, it’s not so private that she would have to worry about her safety… you want to minimize any potential “threat” factor for her, too.)

But don’t stand and wait for her in the parking lot.  Because this is the element you pretty much should leave up to fate.  IF you find yourself in a comfortable public-yet-non-threatening-private-ish location… IF you find yourself in said location with the target in close proximity… IF the target is not otherwise occupied… and IF there’s no interlopers in the area, then you should be good to go.  But it can be a small window of opportunity, that could be easy to miss.  Go about your business, and if the paths cross with the circumstances in the right place… well, okay.  But if you two are parked on opposite sides of the parking lot… don’t go in her direction until you get in her earshot.  Make the approach just before the actual path split.  Go a little out of your way, but not a lot.  Going too much out of your way… can be creepy.  

Yes, this does mean that it’s possible that opportunity will never arise.  It may happen.  That’s okay.  Let the Grand Imaginary Powers of Coincidence do their thing, and if those Powers are kind… you’ll have your window of opportunity to make your approach.  (Okay, you can help them along a teeny bit, by picking up your pace, or slowing it a little; if it betters the chances of being at the ideal spot at the same time.  Just don’t be obvious about it, and be prepared to abort on the slightest notice, okay?)

Now, we come to The Approach.  The fifth issue.

Don’t go starting with a “Hey Toots.”  Or a “Yo, wait up.”  Forget about “Hey Girl!” And do NOT even think about a “Howyoudoin?”  Don’t go into it with cockiness, or suaveness, or Valentino, or tough-jock attitude.  Frankly, in this instance, for what is actually trying to be achieved…  do not step in with “confidence”.  You go in with confidence when you want something, when you’re pursuing someone with intentions that are, in essence, selfish.  (Which isn’t always a bad thing… but it’s just not the point of this.)  Here, I’m saying go with something else.  Not with the opposite of confidence, but something a bit more towards that side of the spectrum:  Humility.

A simple “Excuse me”.  Not said with a tough attitude, or a wink, or a seductive tone… but rather with the attitude of “You would do me the honor of bequeathing 5 seconds of your attention in my direction.”  Gentleman-like, that’s all.  If they don’t hear, or keep walking… then abort mission.  The moment has passed… no harm, no foul.  Just enjoy the rear view for 2 more seconds (hey, I’m only human), and then keep on your merry way.

Chances are, you will get their attention.  Then it’s the time for the truth.  Just make sure it IS the truth, otherwise, you’ve screwed this up way back at the beginning.

For me, I find myself usually introducing the statement:  “I just wanted to say…”  As I think it would feel too “weirdo” for me just to say cro-magnon-like “Ungh… you boot-ee-fall.”

Now, I also tend to throw in a little extra something… mainly because I’m paranoid, and I honestly want the person to be complimented and not weirded-out.   And despite all precautions, this could still be seen as an unsettling experience.  So, either just before or just after I’ll say “I really hope you don’t feel uncomfortable by this… it’s not a pick-up or anything…”  Though, I’m usually kicking myself afterwards for adding that.  I don’t know… maybe I’m using too much humility in there.

But, now it’s been said… bringing us to the last issue:  Reaction.

This is not only about the Target’s reaction… but yours as well.  For the Target… you really only want them to be gracious.  A simple smile and thank-you… recognition and appreciation.  It’s awesome if they are genuinely moved by your sentiment… but that won’t always happen.  Anything beyond simple “appreciation” is gravy, quite frankly.

But your reaction can also be a factor… remember:  This is not a pick-up.  You are not to ask anything from this person.  But if she does think it’s a pick-up, and rejects you, thenyou have to remain gracious, say, “That’s okay… I just wanted to say that.  Nothing more required.” Then politely excuse yourself.  

This is another reason that you can’t make it a pick-up… because a rejection may come.  But you won’t actually feel rejected, if you’re sincerely NOT doing it as a pick-up.  Because there’s nothing to be rejected… and the compliment still stands.  (It’s not that I’m afraid of rejection… okay, I am, but that’s completely beside the point…)  But if you compliment her, she rejects… and you feel rejected?  What do most douchebags say?

“Stupid bitch, you’re ugly anyways.”

“Lesbo.”

“Dumb whore!  Screw you!”

Yeah, they retaliate with an insult to save their precious egos… and also makes the original compliment completely null and void.  Good work, asshole.  Now do you see why I kicked you out in the first place?  There’s nothing wrong with letting the lady have the last word.  If they truly were worth the effort in the first place, they’ll remember you met rejection with a sense of grace, and did not take back what you said… which means you must have really meant it.  And they’d probably be a little humbled by that… congratulations, you’ve made them a better person!

Even if her reaction is ideal… you still need to excuse yourself quickly, lest the awkward-phase descend, and the sincerity of the gesture disappears.  

I know I said to take out the confidence and come in with humility… but oddly, if you do this way, you actually demonstrate a different kind of confidence.  The confidence of honesty.  Too often, the people who are overly-confident in this world, seem to have no problem lying their ass off, to get what they want.  And those same confident people who say they’re “just being honest” about something, are usually saying something pretty shitty.  As a whole, we’re pretty much trained that when someone says, “Hey, I’m just being honest here…” you know they’re going to say something you’re not going to like.  (That’s actually known as “Liar Liar Honesty”.)   So here… you can actually throw them for a bit of a loop… in a very good way.  Under the insistence of sincere, unadulterated honesty… you can actually make their day.  Which doesn’t happen nearly enough in this world.

I have recently said this to someone.  It’s been a long while since I’ve last done it, and hadn’t even considered it in that time.  (Granted, it’s not something I wake up and say, “I’m going to find someone to compliment today”.  I just try to keep my eyes open and if the occasion occurs… great.  I tend to average once every 9 months or so.)  She goes to my gym, and I started noticing her every now and then when I was on the cardio machines.  Then I realized I was noticing her more and more.  If I was on the stair-climbers in the back of the room, and she jumped on one of the treadmills directly in the next row up… I’d say to myself:  “Cool… I get a nice view today.”  As neutral as I was keeping my attitude, with regards to the people around me at the gym… she seemed to stand out, by not really doing anything at all.  She kept to herself… did her workout and leave.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen her talk to anyone… just does her thing and moves on. 

She has very short, brunette hair… and I don’t really know why, but I have a semi-“thing” for short-haired brunettes.  Now, short hair doesn’t work on every woman… but those it does work on, it looks really good.  And believe me… on this woman, it looks freaking great.  It suits her incredibly well.  She has an angular-face (and I like angular faces… again, not sure why), gorgeous eyes… she looks simply Beautiful.  With a capital B.  And I know I’m going on only looks alone, and maybe it seems a bit shallow (but right now, I don’t care.  Bite me.)… but if you asked me at the time, “Of all the women in this room… which one physically looks like someone you’d want to fall in Love with?”  I’d probably say her.  This is not meant to sound “stalkerish”… just “very admiring of her appearance”.

Now, I don’t know if she’s married or taken (I haven’t seen a ring on her finger, but doesn’t mean it isn’t there… or maybe she takes it off for her workout), I don’t know her personality, her name… heck, I don’t even know if she’s in my age-range for dating.  She could even be Lesbian, who knows?  All I know is her appearance.  And she is absolutely in my definition of Beautiful.

So, I thought about it for a bit… and decided, “If the opportunity comes around… I’ll tell her.”  Now, I don’t always see her there… for one, I don’t always go to the gym at the same time every day.  But when she is there, I usually spot her.  We never crossed paths, but I didn’t try to facilitate that happening.  (Like I said, it needs to be left to the Grand Imaginary Powers of Coincidence.)  Then, I finished up my workout, went to the locker room, walked around the old creepy naked dudes, got my stuff together and headed out.  Walking towards the front door, I pass by the staircase that leads down from the upstairs locker-room (the Women’s one).  I see out of the corner of my eye that someone is coming down it, probably will end up right behind me going out the door into the foyer.  So, once I go through, I pause and hold it open for that next person (a polite habit I’m fine with keeping).  I turn my head and see that it’s her… the Beautiful brunette.  She says, “Thanks” (for the door-holding… and a pretty voice, by the way), and goes ahead through the outer door.  The only other person that was there just went inside as we were coming out… so this looked like the opportunity.

It was raining a little, so she paused briefly as she stepped outside to put up the hood on her jacket…

“Excuse me?”

She turns and looks right at me, looking slightly surprised (understandable)… this is the first actual contact I’ve ever had with this woman.

“I… hope this doesn’t make you feel at all uncomfortable, but… I just wanted to say… I… think you’re incredibly beautiful.”

(I don’t know why I put so many pauses in there… not entirely intentional.  It’s not like I can “abort mission” anymore at that point.  I’m committed, gotta go through with it.)

She smiles… (a really nice smile, too) and says, “Oh, that’s so sweet!”

“Don’t worry, this isn’t meant to be a pick-up or anything… I just… wanted to say that.”

She says, “Thank you so much… that’s really sweet.  Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome.  You have a good evening. “

“Thank you, you too!”

And we walk off to our separate cars.  I didn’t look to see what she was driving (that seems like a stalkerish detail to try and discover), just got into my car and headed off like normal.  (I was also being rained on, and I didn’t have the rain jacket with the hood.  Eh, it was worth getting wet.)

I’ve seen her at the gym a few times since, and we even passed by each other a few times.  Met with eye contact, and a smile.

It appears that the mission was a complete success.  She seemed genuinely appreciative of the compliment, as I hoped she would… and the aftermath is nice, too.  Doesn’t seem insulted or weirded out by me (as she’s at least acknowledging my existence)… and maybe exchanging a smile with me can be a nice reminder to her that yes, someone does find her sincerely Beautiful.  That’s a role I’m happy to play, and wouldn’t want to jeopardize.  And just maybe… I granted her a wish.

However, if SHE were to strike up a conversation with ME… then I’d have to say all bets are off.  (I just first have to make sure she’s not married/taken/lesbian/etc…)

But that’s how I tell a stranger she’s Beautiful.

Now, go kick a douchebag for me.

11.03.2010

And the Winner Is...

For the first time, I’d like to publicly present the award for:

“Favorite Song of the Now”

The recipient of this award must be a musical arrangement with an ability to “get stuck in one’s head”, but at the same time, also be of a high enough quality that one does not get sick of said song. It must instill the desire for repeat listening, even immediately after a previous listening occasion.

The craft and structure of the song should demonstrate some form of thought and intelligence on the part of the songwriter. The composition should show originality and innovation. Generic dance beats need not apply.

The specific content of the song should never be spoon-fed to its audience. It needs to be open enough to interpretation that listeners may emotionally identify with it on their own terms, and also never having one’s own theories of “what it’s about” be contradicted. And in such a case where the listener is unable to decide the meaning of the song, it should still be enjoyable for them to experience on an instinctual level.

While a good song stands upon its own, regardless of the performer, the recipient of this award demonstrates a symbiotic harmony with its performance and performing artist. While skill is a factor, it is overshadowed by sincerity and conviction on the part of the musician(s) involved. They must demonstrate an honest connection with the material, whether it be an original song, or a “cover”, as well as be able to convey that connection to the listening audience.

Former winners of this award include:

“I’m Not Over” by Carolina Liar (previous winner)
“Human” by The Killers
“My Delirium” by Ladyhawke
“Pretend We’re Dead” by L7
“Angel’s Wings” by Social Distortion
“Dream On” by Aerosmith (repeat winner)
“I Wish I Was a Nerd” by the Attery Squash
“Mad World” performed by Gary Jules
“Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)” by Pandora’s Box
“Ice Cream” by Sarah McLaughlin
“Who Will Take Your Dreams Away?” by Marianne Faithful & Angelo Badalamenti

Joining this esteemed company, I present the newest, and current winner:

“Little Lion Man”
By
Mumford & Sons

Released in 2009, this song is finally starting to receive its due airplay on radio stations around the country. The selection committee discovered this song through KROQ out of Los Angeles (via Internet Radio), and was immediately taken aback by this folk quartet out of London, England. At first, it appears so out of place amidst the stations usual genre selection of modern and hard rock, but quickly solidified its rightful position alongside.

With its 2 main verses offering a very personal story, it smoothly and gently builds to a heartstring-pulling crescendo emphasized by its simple, yet emotionally-charged chorus that makes one feel they’ve been punched in the chest, yet at its conclusion, inspires the words, “Thank you, Sir. May I have another?”

Even its central and unavoidable placement of the granddaddy of all curses, the famed “F-Bomb”, it is neither gratuitous nor unnecessary. In a rare feat, it is truly the best word for that moment.

Mumford & Sons have achieved in one acoustic song, more energy, power and emotion then most any other modern artist armed with the loudest amplifiers known to man.

Thank you gentlemen, for demonstrating you don’t need an electric dial to “turn it up to 11”.

I present to you all… my favorite song of right now. (I just hope the embed works)

Mumford & Sons // Little Lion Man by Stayloose

9.28.2010

The Great Property Purge of 2010

I’ve got a little personal project going at the moment. I’m trying to get rid of my crap.

This is different then the normal “Spring Cleanings” I try to do every now and then (even when its not Spring), where I just merely re-organize some things, then maybe donate a few shirts, a really old jacket, a few VHS tapes and 2 books. (Yes, I still have some VHS tapes. No VCR though… but some tapes.) No, I’ve come to the point of stepping out of Denial River and realizing that ain’t cutting it no more. Because, frankly… I’ve got a lot of stuff.

Now, I’m not a “Hoarder” (like the ones on that depressing and disgusting TV show. I’ve never watched the show, only the promos, and I know that’s what it would stir up in me. No thanks.)… Nowhere NEAR that bad. That is a huge extreme, that I have to believe is still leagues away from me. I mean, someone who’s a bona-fide “Hoarder” saves freaking newspapers with the full intention of reading them *someday*. Come on, it takes 3 minutes to read the funny pages, and that was when some of them were still worth reading. (I stick to online comics now, anyway.) Who cares about the other crap, especially when it’s outdated? No, that extreme is one I can’t understand.

I will concede… that I’m a bit of a “Pack-Rat”. I can throw stuff out… I just tend to be pretty selective of it. I do like to keep things that have a small emotional or nostalgic value. Neat little knick-knacks that I acquire from cool little stores or as little gifts from friends. And books! Oy vey, I love books. The smell of them, the act of turning the pages, the idea of being absorbed in another world. Especially if they’re old, and hardbound… and the age is showing on the yellow hue of the pages. It’s a romantic notion to me, and I love them. Bookstores are a weakness for me, and I get sucked into them often for browsing… where I’ll at least be leaving with something from the bargain bin. The large majority of these books I’ve collected over the years… are still waiting to be read.

Board games… I’ve mentioned in the past, that I sort of collect them. Many of them I haven’t played… but all of them I’ve wanted to, and had the utmost intentions of doing so. It’s just that… Life gets in the way.

I do confess I tend to keep magazines around longer then I probably should. I had a collection of Maxim magazines going for a few years… and this started in 1998 (the issue with Alyssa Milano on the cover, I saw it in a large poster ad in New York… and the horn-dog side of me said, “Must… have….” It must have been the subliminal-mind-ray-advertising… Or her boobs. One of those.) But after a 3-4 year stack of issues started getting more and more annoying to move, I started ripping out the “articles” I liked and throwing away the rest, in an effort to reduce the stack. It worked… for awhile. But before you start thinking, “Pshaw… just another perverted male doing anything for lame bikini photos”… keep in mind that, although you’d be completely right with that statement, I had a much bigger collection of Men’s Health magazines. Those issues really did have good, useful articles… as compared to “articles”, if you catch my meaning. Even today, I still read Men’s Health, and only read the cover of Maxim as I’m walking past it in the bookstore. (Unless it has Jennifer Love Hewitt on the cover… then yes, I’ll buy it. I may have a decent amount of willpower, but not THAT much.) But after a certain point… I started ripping out the useful stuff in the Men’s Health issues to try and reduce the stack. I’d even divide them into big yellow envelopes for ease of use later. Recipes in one, fashion and grooming in another, health and fitness in another, etc. Eventually, those too have gotten to be a little too full.

And as someone who loves movies… of course I have a hefty collection. Been collecting DVDs for 10 years now, and my tried-and-true technique of waiting for movies to drop down to the bargain bin has given me a lucrative collection to be reckoned with. And even though we all marveled at how “thin” the cases are (especially compared to VHS tapes, and they are)… they still add up. I have always had a problem when it came to storing my movies and shows. (And you’d probably be surprised with how many of them I haven’t sat down and watched yet.)

The same went for my CDs and music. In fact, this was the first thing I started “condensing” back in the late 90s. I was getting ready to move to California, and knew I’d be carting as much as I could in my little SAAB and driving 3,600 miles away. As I was also determined to spend the large majority of my time working on Grad School stuff, the idea of “minimalism” was starting to be very appealing to me. I wasn’t even planning to bring my collection of VHS tapes (this was just before DVD came out) or a TV. I was serious about not wanting to even have the time or opportunity to get sucked in to a show. (Though, as an apartment-warming gift, my dad bought me a TV anyway. Figures.) But I couldn’t leave my tunes behind… that’s my SOUL, dammit! But I sure didn’t want to cart all those discs. So… I acquired 2 of those large disc-folders, the ones that held about 100 CDs at a time, and filled them up, and put the empty plastic cases in storage, along with everything else I didn’t want to take to California. I even condensed several discs (ones that only had 1 or 2 songs on them that I liked) into mix CDs to save more slots. I even had plenty of room left over in them for when I would acquire new music as well. I still have and use those folders for all music CDs. I even eventually tossed out the empty plastic cases (but kept the inserts and booklets), as I’ve found the folder method too convenient.

I even keep some old shirts and clothes, fully aware that I’ll never wear (or even WANT to wear) again. Such as:

-My old Cub Scout uniform from when I was 10. I made it to Webelos rank, and got the little sleeve pin-tassel-things that you use to pin the merit badges/pins onto… but my family moved before I ever got to earn any, so it’s bare to this day. (Something tells me this won’t fit me, but I haven’t tried, so I can’t say for sure.)

-The black long-sleeved shirt from Senior Year in high school… with the large numbers “93” on the back and the names of every member of the graduating class inscribed therein. I freaking HATED high school, have managed to successfully block out many of the memories… but I’ve kept that shirt. I don’t know why… and I only wore it twice, if that. (You can’t really wear that around in college or beyond without looking like a total toolbox. “Dude, you’re not in High School anymore… move on.”)

-The blue vest I was given when I worked at Wal-Mart for a summer (and never gave back). I don’t think they even wear that style anymore, so I couldn’t even infiltrate them anymore. (Well, maybe… I should look into that…)

-An apron, and embroidered polo shirt from the first restaurant I worked at. I haven’t been there in 16 years. That place doesn't even EXIST anymore.

-The paint-splattered shirt from when I did that weird-ass Tennessee Williams play. I was bummed when I didn’t fit into it anymore (or rather, when it ceased to flatter my figure), because I liked wearing that around. Gave me a stylish, “artsy” look. I’m pretty sure the t-shirt itself was from the 70s, but the paint splattering was original, courtesy of the costume department, who were happy to give it to me after the show.

-My loincloth and vest-jacket from when I performed in an 8-man version of Midsummer Night’s Dream (same costume department, same elation to get rid of a costume piece that wouldn’t be used again)

-A jean jacket with “Hard-Rock Café – Save the Earth” embroidered on the back. (Christmas gift from 1993… all the kids in the clan got one, and I’ve still got the group photo to prove it.)

Hell, somewhere is even my graduation robes from High School, College, AND Grad School. Why why oh WHY??

I’ve always liked the idea of going minimalist… and everything being neat and clean, and easily staying that way. I’m just total crap at actually pulling that off. By contrast, I never liked the idea of “When I was no longer a child, I put away childish things”… screw that. I like my childish things. They’re fun, and make me smile. I don’t want to get rid of something *just* because it was made for an age demographic I’m no longer technically a part of. Nor will I pretend something’s not fun. That… I’m pretty good at.

But the stuff that sits in the garage, or in the back of my closet… isn’t giving me any enjoyment by being static. And I have such a small living space, I just don’t have the room. So, I’ve been inspired lately to give it a more earnest try. The actual catalyst was a short article I read over on the website TheFrisky.com, from a few weeks ago entitled “I Got Rid of 90 Percent of My Stuff, And I Feel Fine”. While there are several other things from the past year or so that made the idea of having less stuff very appealing… this was the first thing that just flat out threw it into words, directly. (Sometimes, we need that.)

Now, I don’t know if I could eliminate 90% of my stuff… but I have a modest goal of getting rid of at least 40%. And while I’ve been plugging away at it… I’m thinking I could do even more then that.

First place to start… books. I have a series of shelves in my bedroom tucked in the corner of the room, behind the door. It’s definitely the most cluttered part of that room. So, I started pulling out books that I know I’ll never read, and stacking them. I also pulled out a bunch of old role-playing games, mostly stuff from college. So, I put those in another stack. The normal books will be donated… the RPGs, I’m going to try Ebay. (While I’ve bought plenty of stuff off Ebay, I’ve never sold anything… so I don’t even know how to set that up. Guess I’ll learn.). If I can’t get anything for them after a few weeks, I’ll donate those as well.

Then… some board games. Wasn’t looking forward to it, because I like my board games. But when I look at them, and know full well that when “Board Game Night” does come around, my friends and I usually pick something else… so that starts its own pile. My rule on the board games were… “I’m keeping my CLUEs, that’s non-negotiable.” Because I love the game CLUE, it’s my favorite. And I’ve got several spin-offs and variations. (I’m a sucker for mysteries.) So I went through the others and managed to clear out about 10 of them so far… a good chunk now sitting at Goodwill waiting for new owners. But you know… I’m starting to look at some of those CLUE games… and starting to wonder if I could get rid of those too. Because the variations aren’t like the original game… they just have the CLUE name and “expand the story” with their own game. A bit unnecessary, but they’re neat. I’d have to keep at least 3… the standard version, my Haunted Mansion version I got from DisneyLand, and Clue Master Detective (a version from the late 80s with more rooms, suspects and weapons, but plays the exact same). But the others… just might be going. Including the newest version with the “revamped and updated” rules… which aren’t that great, and I suspect Parker Brothers will eventually get rid of anyway in future incarnations of the game. But maybe my non-negotiable rule is going to be more flexible then I originally declared it was going to be. We’ll see.

Then, the DVDs. A while back, I started doing with my movies what I did with my CDs… putting them in those big folders that holds 100 at a time. I picked up several of them, and divided them up by genre. Sci-Fi in one, Asian Entertainment in another, Horror in one (actually that’s 2 folders filled up now), Musicals and Plays in yet another, Comedies, Adventures, Drama, Cooking Shows, etc, etc. I also grabbed larger ones for my TV-on-DVD shows… also divided up into genres. I even painted on the front of each one for ease of identification. Sure, having numerous folders is a bit bulky, but still leagues better then keeping all those discs in their cases. I was holding onto some of the plastic cases… thinking *maybe* I’ll put them back into them someday, for display purposes… but let’s face it; why would I want to? So, they have to go… especially since “some” become “a lot more then some”. All those… sat in the garage… waiting… and occupying space.

The showdown is inevitable.

So I’ve started in on that stuff in storage. I’ve pulled down about 7 large plastic bins so far, and have condensed them into 2. 5 large bins worth of stuff… gone. This is where I’ve found all those old clothes, all the spare DVD cases, stuffed animals acquired over the years (which, being up in the dusty garage all this time, are probably so spore-filled as to be downright unhealthy. So, I may even have to get rid of my little Muppet dolls I collected from Disney. Not a fun prospect to a major Muppet fan like myself), even more books (oh so many books) and so much else.

I even found my 4-year collection of Boy’s Life magazines from the mid-80s (more relics from my scouting days). I was planning to get some nice plastic bags for them, slide them into a nice storage box from the Comic Store, and keep them. My brother happened to see them and asked, “Why have you kept old scouting magazines from 25 years ago?” Well, it was for nostalgia, yes. Plus, I think they’re collector’s items. My first issue was the premiere of a few features for that magazine that they’re still doing today. I got a lot of enjoyment out of them, and I don’t think it’s all that bad to keep them around in an out-of-the way manner. But… yeah, then I got to thinking. “Damn… maybe I *should* stop holding onto them. Well, maybe I can get something for them on Ebay or something… surely they ARE collector’s items?” So, I looked online. You know what I found? Every single issue of Boy’s Life magazine, from the 1930s to the present, online, complete and for free on Google Books. F-ing A!!! Now I have no excuse to not recycle them. So… into the recycling they went, and then told my brother I hated him. But at least I’ll have more room by my boxes of comic books---

God Dammit! NOW I’m going to be going through my comics and see which of THOSE I can get rid of!!! Arrrgghhh!

In a way, it’s almost getting too easy, the more I do this. I’m currently convinced this is only 85% a good thing. (But only because I want to be stubborn in some regard)

Basically, I’m just putting everything into 2 categories: “Getting Rid of”… and “Not Sure Yet.” Once I’m done, I’ll go through the “Not Sure Yet” group and divide them again into the 2 categories. And then go through them yet again… and then once more, this time creating a “Keep” pile.

I am allowing myself a few nostalgic keepsakes… my Muppet Magazines for one. (Do you have any idea how rare they are? Seriously. I’ve got 9 of them.) And I still have all my old Theatre books, because it was, and I still consider it to be, a big part of my life and who I am… and with my pursuit back into teaching, will hopefully be a larger part in the future. (Yet, I’m starting to wonder… is there anything in that bin that won’t be that useful to me right now?)

But I think I might be close to… if not at the 40% mark already. I’ve donated about 150 books, trashed 3 bins worth of plastic, and a slew of knick-knacks ready for the trash heap. (I found my old key-chain collection from 20 years ago… I didn’t even like the hobby that much, and haven’t added to it in almost that time.) I’m finally eliminating the last of those VHS tapes that just haven’t gone away yet… all those old scout shirts, work uniforms, etc… so much stuff I’ve been holding onto, and I no longer know why.

And I know, that at some point… I’m going to come across a little green box that I have completely taped up. That I haven’t opened in quite a few years. It’s somewhere in the back of my closet (I think), and it contains things I haven’t WANTED to look at in all that time. And I’m not sure what I’ll do. I probably should have thrown it out long ago… most probably would have in a fit of anger. But I was thinking, it was a part of my life, and I may now want nothing to do with it… but I can’t deny it ever happened. I thought it was a “mature” way to treat it… maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But I held onto it, physically. (I definitely held onto it emotionally, much longer then I should have.)

I think, if I threw it all away then… it would have been out of anger. Now, if I throw it away… it’s because it doesn’t mean anything. Which just might be the best reason for it to go.