So there I was, sitting in my room, alone and miserable, sick of snow and cold and winter and everything. So I started writing, because that’s what I do, thinking longingly back to the lovely days of yore, when the sun shone, birds sang, and cars were not encased in a block of ice every morning. So I eventually got onto a rant that many (myself included) would most adequately describe as “whining”.. Anyway, I figured I’d try to salvage it, but I don’t think I did all that great a job. Long story short: It’s hard to write a pissed off rant when you’re no longer pissed off, and it’s hard to sound hopeless when your just not. Anyway, with that warning, feel free to read some ranting. Take it with a grain of salt. I refuse to reread it, cause I think I’d just delete the thing, but I have this stupid rule about things like that. Anyway, swallow, choke, and die.
Talking to Cathy the other day, she brought up a very interesting topic of conversation: (Un)Comfortable Silences. Her statement was something like this: (in reference to dating, and ultimately, being married to someone) Don’t you worry that you’ll run out of things to talk about?. Now, the line in Pulp Fiction is that “you know you found somebody special when you can just [shut up] for a minute, and comfortably share silence.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that. I am (and it turns out Cathy was as well) one of those people that would write out things to say on the phone (ala George when calling his parents on Seinfeld) when I was going to call someone, especially a girl. When I was seeing Sarah, she was very big into the not speaking at all for long stretches, then complaining that I didn’t talk, so I’d plan ahead and made up lists of things to say. Thankfully that period ended eventually, and she moved from silence to long colorful conversations, berating me, my appearance, and my social skills. She was a sweet girl. But thinking about this while talking to Cathy, and then later on that evening when I was alone, I was struck by two things: 1) the people that I can just talk to, without any preplanned conversations or lists, are the ones that I really feel I connect with, and enjoy talking to, and actually want to talk to.. often. I have this friend, Molly. And the day I met her (She, Tim, and I went to see the Mr. Bean movie), we talked for hours. We were instantly friends, and I knew I’d enjoy talking to her, and I still do, though I don’t do it near often enough. Sometimes you just know.. Things just click.. and the silences don’t seem as awkward.. at least they didn’t to me. I think dates are a bit different, though. The entire thing, early dates anyway, is much more a show, or a series of high-pressure speeches than it is a comfortable conversation seeking to get to know one another (From this you can gather that many of my “first dates” were not all that wonderful.) Silences are like failures. Like after x number of years, you are unable to entertain a lady for even a few hours, you pathetic, pathetic loser. 2.) The people that I can’t “just talk to”, and no longer even find the desire to prepare conversations in advance for, aren’t worth it.
I seem drawn to uncommon names. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the name hasn’t yet been tarnished by some idiot from my past. Example: I knew this kid when I was really young, Paul. For reasons unclear, he destroyed my playhouse one day when he came over to my house to play. Now I associate the name “Paul” with “jerk”. Seems fairly straightforward, yes? There are some names that I now just hate, and so meeting someone new with that name is awkward, because I’m already predisposed to not liking the person. (Incidentally, I think it is for this reason that I like to either give or use nicknames for people I know.) I think I’ve got a fairly good name. Sure there are plenty of “Ron”s out there, but not a ton. Odds are, most people know one, or maybe two. But for much of my life, if someone said “Ron”, everyone knew they were talking about me. (Except for 2 strange years in elementary school, where Veronica Shanoff decided to be called “Ronnie” and made everything very confusing.) But an uncommon name, that’s brand new territory. That person has it all to themselves, and can shape it however they’d like. There’s something very appealing about that. So to all the Rons out there, don’t taint my name.. I can do that just fine on my own.
Here’s something I’ve been wrestling with for a while (While = more or less my whole life, but it’s become more relevant the past few years.) At what point should you just give up on your dreams? It seems like one of those things that just kind of happens naturally as we get older, but sometimes it requires a conscious decision. Back when I lived in Cleveland, I played baseball as often as I could. We had a group of guys who got together most every day, and during the summer, we played baseball for hours. Now there eventually came the point where I knew enough to know that unless something extraordinary happened, I would not be the starting shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, but my friend Gary Worthy and I had other plans: We wanted to be the radio broadcasters for the Tribe. And we worked at it. When we played, we’d be announcers for each other (yeah, the other guys hated it.). We listened to games whenever we could. We even did research on certain sayings (like “Touch them all time”, which we always thought was “a touch of Old time” -> meaning a Home Run). Anyway, here I am, a computer programmer in Michigan. What the hell happened? When did I suddenly decide “I’m not going to do that, I’m going to do this.”? It wasn’t an active decision, it just kinda happened. Do I wish I was a baseball commentator? Sometimes.. but not often. I’m more or less happy with where I work. (the job, not the location. Muskegon is a hole that even Hell wouldn’t like). But here I am. I know there are other dreams and aspirations that I have. So many of the things that seemed so important to me before now sit unfulfilled. What guarantees do I have that the things I want now will ever happen? And is it because I come to a point where I no longer desire them, or do I just reach a point where I realize that the effort required to achieve them is beyond my means? I think life teaches us, and has taught me, that some dreams aren’t worth the amount of work required to achieve them. But what about the dreams that we deem worth the effort? At what point should you, as a sane and logical person, say “you know, I’ve been fighting for this for a long time, and I don’t believe that I’m getting any closer. Maybe I should quit.” And if you say that, does it mean you don’t want it enough anymore? There are so many things in life where you can adequately gage where you are in regard to achieving your goal. Even in a marathon, when the endline is miles beyond your sight, you can at least note that you’re making some progress. But then there are things where you have no clue. You might be miles away, you might be a few feet. It all looks the same.
Now take that whole thing, and add to it this: What if the goal can never be fully achieved. I don’t think happiness can be achieved. Happiness isn’t a goal, or an accomplishment. And even though that’s been said to me a million times, I think I’ve been told just as many times that it is. I think I’ve told myself it a million times. If I had a girlfriend, I’d be happy. If I bought more things, I’d be happy. If I learned to just accept things for what they are, I’d be happy. Do I think happiness (for me) can be achieved if certain events happened? No I do not. (But I think it’d help) Do I think happiness (for me) can be reached internally with the proper outlook, attitude, and understanding? Nope. (But I think it’d help a lot) The way I see it, at this moment, I can only be happy in the past tense. Was I happy my Senior year of College? Yes I was. It was great. Now, if I traveled back in time, got my college senior self, and asked him that question while I was still in College, what would I say? “Am I happy? Nope. My company went out of business, or I’m dating some messed up girl, or my classes suck, or my roommates are idiots”… yada yada yada. There have been times when I was happy and knew it at the time… but I think most of the time I just demand too much from a situation. I focus on the negative too much. It’s afterwards, when the minor annoyances are forgotten, that I look back and say “that was a lot of fun”. How do I fix that? I’m not certain. Make it a goal, then work at it, I guess. I think I’ve already made decent strides. I no longer believe my life to be cursed (Though certain strings of bad luck certainly ought to qualify me for some mention in Guinness. I also realize that I’m actually doing pretty well, thus far. I’m pleased with the person that I currently am. (or will be, once Body-for-Life makes me an Adonis). Maybe I just need to spend a bit more time in Umland.
I’ve officially given up on trying to make Valentine’s Day a good day. I’ve tried, quite hard actually, for the past 8 or 9 years to make the day not suck, and each year it sucks. The suckatude seems inversely proportional to the effort invested, so I figure if I just ignore the day (well, besides the traditional donning of the black outfit) then maybe it won’t be bad. Seems to me, if you’re lucky enough to have somebody special, you ought to let her or him know it as often as possible. And if you don’t, why wait til a “special” day to try to do something about it (or torture yourself because of it). [an update: Apparently I managed to laugh at least 2 or 3 times within the first 30 minutes of Valentine’s Day, so I think that’s something. Thank you, I really enjoyed it. ]