I'm figuring out that there are things about who I could be that I don't like.

There are also things about who I have been that I hate, and I am trying to cut them out of myself.

"Self-defined" means self-revised, right?

"Are these my reflections,
is this someone else's face?
How did I get this far?
When did I fall from grace?"

- Written at a stoplight on the way to work today.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


My Jeep is dying.

It seems to be in league with my mother, and in league with, (how I hate to admit this) me.

I don't like it here anymore. I've only been working for a month and the luster and shine are already gone. I'm making money--not great money--but enough to survive and enough to buy the things that other people would expect to make me happy.

But the more I think about it, the more I'm ready to go. To be gone. To travel, to quest, to adventure.

My future stretches before me and I do not want it to be this comic. I want it to be something that I can look back on 40 years from now and be proud to know is mine.

To all of the ones I have loved, I am going away--not tomorrow, but soon. Will you miss me when I'm gone?

In a more localized event, today I taught my mother how to use a combination of screencapture and MSpaint to steal text from a Flash website and reprint it for her students to use in class. The website was a collection of quizzes on what defines plagiarism.

I wonder, am I going to hell for this?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Lesson Theory

I have this theory about mistakes, lessons, and the way I try to live my life.

"Learn each lesson only once."

That's pretty much it.

As many of you know, I've started a new job bartending and waiting tables at a restaurant. I happened to get hired at what is, quite possibly the most innopportune time anyone could ever be hired.

A list:

  • The old owner, a complete crisis-manager is being replaced by the new owner, who is very interested in being in control of everything and presenting a cool, collected front.
  • The servers (with three or four exceptions) are all pretty new, young, and clueless to some stuff.
  • I am working as a bartender, and in a sense replacing a manager, only I don't have any of his power.
  • The person from whom I have recieved most of my training is the back-of-house manager, who, obviously doesn't need to be bothered answering every off-the-wall minimalist question I have.
  • The 'bar manager' that has been working some of the shifts opposite me is rarely there at the same time I am.
  • The bar manager is 8 months pregnant.
  • A week after I started, we were nearly hit with a hurricane. A week after that, we were hit with a hurricane.

So you might say that my training experience has been awkward at best, and nonexistent at worst. Since this is my first job in this industry, there are many things that I should have been taught, and would have been taught, had anyone at work actually bothered to train me. There are entire procedures that we are supposed to go through daily that I am still discovering or being told to do, and I have been working there for a month now.

Conversations like this are common:

Manager/Owner: "Oh, and you haven't been completing your tip sheet."
Me: "Tip Sheet?"
Manager/Owner: "Yeah, you should be filling it out every day and putting down an approximation of how much you make in tips."
Me: "Oh."

That conversation occured yesterday.

So my method for dealing with the this chaotic learning environment is to attempt to learn each lesson only once. One mistake is completely acceptable, if you don't know any better. But as soon as you're taught the proper way, keep doing it that way and don't make that mistake again.

The lessons range from small (The milk does not go in the bar cooler) to large (fill out your tip reports for tax purposes) -- but applying this theory seems to take pretty much all the hassle out of the process of learning all of the things I should know in order to work where I do.

In a completely unrelated note: I don't know if this was aimed at me or not. I certainly don't know what to make of it, either way. If it is aimed at me, than I suppose I wouldn't feel hurt, since my heart and soul are appearantly composed of Emotionless Granite and Cold Unfeeling Iron, respectively.

I would like to note, though, that at least part of it seems to fit me perfectly. I think (har!) that the bit about thinking too much is spot on.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Hang your head and Weep

Someday, when I've mastered three foreign languages, traveled around the world, received honorary doctorates from multiple schools as a best-selling author, and completed all those other pipe-dream milestones we expect in our fantastic imaginary futures, I will write a book about Melancholy.

I think the title shall be "The Sanctity of Melancholy: Recapturing the blessings of darkness."

Our world views any and all depression, any frustration or sadness or bittersweet longing as a problem to be solved. That's why, as of February 2000 more than 115 million Zoloft perscriptions had been written in the United States.

Thats a perscription for every third citizen. For a single drug in the family of anti-depressants.

We have built a social stigma around sadness. Successful people aren't sad. Good people aren't sad. The "right kind of people" aren't sad. If you aren't happy something is wrong.

I disagree. I am going through a period of darkness in my life, but I am content in it, I am learning through it, and I must admit I am savouring the bittersweet nature of this period of my existence. I am taking time to dwell on my regrets and learn from them. I am allowing myself to be saddened by my memories. But that's ok.

There's nothing wrong with having the blues.

Or maybe there is just something wrong with me? Who knows.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

There was a loophole in my dreaming.

I'm back.

Times have changed, and I have changed with them. Or perhaps I have simply become somewhat refined, more myself than I was before?

I have a job now. That means I'm making money, which is good. I'm a very frugal and responsible person when I'm near-broke, but when I make money I gradually become less responsible until I'll buy things at random. I think the worst thing that could happen to me, economically, would be to win the lottery, because I'd squander it.

So for the moment, I'm making a little money. Enough to pay off some debts I incurred, but not enough to let me go wild or stupid.

It's a good life, so far. I'm a bartender, and I'm ok at it. I'm wildly unqualified and grossly undertrained for the place I work, because there really wasn't another bartender to train me on their methods when I arrived, so I've sortof had to guess and work out everything for myself, which has led to lots of mistakes that could have been avoided had I had proper on-the-job training. But the experience is coming in handy and I'm making money, which is the real benefit of the moment.

So I saw My Best Friend's Wedding the other day for the first time.

Now, I realize my female readers are mostly thinking "awww, but that's a great movie! Why didn't you see it ages ago when every other American did?" and my Male readers are probably thinking "What? You made it seven years man. Why cave and give in to watch it now when you were doing so well?" The answer is that I simply didn't have the time or interest to see it when it came out (which is just as well, my circa 1997 self probably wouldn't have been effected by the movie at all) but that I like comedies, even romantic ones, and so I watched it voluntarily.

But while watching the movie, I made two important realizations. I'm not any of those people and I don't want to be any of those people.

Let me explain something about the way I watch movies. I am incapable of not taking a movie personally. Even goofy over-the-top action movies I'll relate to at least a little bit, finding that I share the hero's conviction, or the sidekicks dogged willingness to repeatedly try even though he usually fails. But romance is the worst. Almost every movie with a romantic element that I have watched in the last 5 years has had a personal angle for me. These movies range from classy, mature films like Good Will Hunting to horrible comedies like "Holy Man" (There is a single line from that movie that I can still quote: "I'm sorry I was right about you, I've never wanted to be wrong more in my life.").

As the movie slides past me I find myself identifying with the characters as they struggle to find love, keep relationships alive, or salvage lost amour. It's a constant. Every biting line, every painful breakup, every joyful reunion, I make a personal moment. I identify with the characters, especially when they fail, do stupid things, or ruin good relationships with poor choices.

So it seems that My Best Friend's Wedding is the perfect film for me to identify with, especially considering my personal history over the past five years.

But for maybe the first time in my life, I watched the movie with a calm emotional detachment, viewing each character with a slight distaste. The female protagonist is a manipulative liar who will do anything to get what she wants. The male object of her affection is very nearly one dimensional. He's a nice guy, sure, but he spends most of the movie being yanked around by his friend and never really shows any spirit or wisedom. His girl is devoted to him and entirely enraptured by his presence. She has personal interests but no uniqueness, no identity.

I don't want to be any of those people. I don't want to search desperately for love. I don't want to sacrifice greatly for love. I don't want to fight valiantly for love. I don't want to manipulate and undermine the character of others and myself for love.

I don't want to be the long-time friend who shows back up to win back someone he once loved. I don't want to be the devoted but uninteresting arm-candy. I certainly don't want to be the charming but characterless man who can't see through his friend's evil scheming long enough to tell her to stop and is constantly being nice to her even as she tries to ruin his shot at happiness.

And more importantly, I have been all of those people, or at least considered being all of those people. And I rejected them all. None of them are me. I used to daydream of creating grandoise othello-esque schemes to destroy the life of a young man from Atlanta in order to win back the love of a girl I lost, but I turned from that path years ago and think of neither him nor her these days. I have followed around a girl who had the confidence to ask me for my attention and know I would dote on her. I eventually realized that the suppression of my will was exhausting and futile and have since stepped away from that more subservient version of myself. And I have been viewed as the 'perfect man' by old friends, approached and asked (nay, begged may be a better word) to join them in relationships that could have been outwardly successful and long lasting, but left me feeling far from fulfilled. I chose instead to tread carefully and use every silver-tongued comment and sliver of wisdom in my arsenal to find diplomatic and mature ways to turn them away from me without hurting them.

I have been each of those characters, and I have rejected them each in turn. I am unhappy as any of them.

So I am coming to the realization that the only character in the film that I actually related to was George. The Gay Guy. Of course, you guys are probably thinking "aha, well that explains why you saw the movie voluntarily" but I don't relate to George because he's gay.

I relate to him because he has the maturity and wisdom to help out his friends without letting them dictate his actions or the outcomes of the situations in which he finds himself. Unlike the leading man, George is confident and self-assured and not scared to make choices and statements that contradict the aims of his friends if he feels they are for the best. He's wise, he's caring, and he's kind without being a pushover. More importantly he doesn't hit on anybody during the course of the entire film. He remains aloof and while it's clear that he's capable of loving, he is not desperate for it, nor does its pursuit consume him.

Amazing, isn't it? The changes five short years will bring? I wonder what the next five years hold?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Voodoo Organist

I saw The Voodoo Organist last night. Badass.

If you're into odd little one man bands with wild effects and high energy style, check this guy out when he's in your area.

Life is good.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004