I’m Here; Where’s My Reward?

I’m going to rant a bit, but I feel I make a good point, so stick with me.

Have you ever gotten a participation trophy?

If you ever played any kind of sport as a child, you may have. I played little league tee ball one year… at least I think I did; I’m not entirely sure that little league tee ball is a thing. I’m going to assume that since it was the early 80s that it was a thing, and move on. Long story short, I got a trophy for playing a game that I honestly don’t remember playing at all. I don’t think I even went to many games, much less practices. You can probably tell that I didn’t really care about it that much. Even as a small boy, I wasn’t a person that wanted to engage in sporting activities. I wasn’t any good at sports, and that alone was enough to make me not want to get involved.

And I got a trophy for that.

Early on in life I was taught that all I had to do was show up, and I’d be rewarded. Had I not been disenfranchised at an early age, that might have gone to my head. Also, I was born just in time to catch the tail end of the Generation X membership window. I’m a young Gen-Xer and I think that the institution of rewarding children simply for being alive was just starting to really catch on as I was realizing that Super Mario Brothers was way more fun than being outside in the blazing sun using my stupid imagination. Generation Y came along and soaked up every bit of that “you’re special because you’re you” crap, and as a result, they’re probably the absolute worst generation of people the country has ever seen. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule… but for the most part, Gen Y, you suck and we all hate you.

Anywho…

Woody Allen is a… see, I don’t want to call him a filmmaker because I think he’s awful at everything he’s ever done. Um… Woody Allen is a person that is associated with film. Stage, too. You’re probably already familiar with him, or his name at the very least. If you’re not, this might ring a bell… one of the most famous quotes on success is attributed to him.

“80 percent of success is showing up.”

Can you imagine that? 80% of being successful at something is based on nothing more than you simply being there. Now, of course, any adult will tell you this is clearly 3.7 tons of premium horse shit. It takes hard work, dedication, and a willingness to sell out almost all of your ideals to become a success. ‘Tis the way of the world! You don’t get a participation trophy at work. When I was in grade school, you could earn a certificate for perfect attendance. Don’t miss too many days, and you get an award! You’ve done a remarkable thing just by showing up, and you will be duly recognized for it!

In real life, if you don’t miss too many days of work, your reward is that they let you keep working.

99% of the time, if you don’t win… well…

 

You know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a good lesson to learn. I think that as we raise our kids, they desperately need to learn that particular lesson. You’re not going to earn any points just by walking in the door. You’re not owed anything. There’s always someone that’s working a lot harder than you are for a lot less than you are. What you can do is appreciate that instead of feeling like the world should hand you something because you decided to set foot on it. It’s our job as parents to prepare kids for the real world, and after all, they don’t give out participation raises.

Re-ignition

WHEN I AM EMPTY PLEASE DISPOSE OF ME PROPERLY

I’ve settled into a comfortable dissatisfaction as of late. I don’t really seem to enjoy anything. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m apparently stagnant by nature or if I’ve managed to wring out the last drops of fun from the activities I once held dear. I’ve seemingly lost the capacity for creative thought. It is my sincere hope that doing this, the simple act of posting something, will rekindle the interest that I once had in writing. I’ve given up on so many hobbies in my life… drawing, writing and recording music, collections of various things, writing in general… and I wish that I hadn’t. I wish that I still found time to occasionally put pencil to paper and draw. Or at least stylus to Wacom, I guess. I wish I had time to practice my guitar. I wish I had more time to write, too. I quit doing those things because the finished product in each case never came out the way I wanted it to. The way I saw it in my head. I had an idea of what it should look like, sound like, say… and when I was unable to produce that, I simply quit. I hate everything that I create, really. Except for my son, of course. He gets a pass because he’s the most beautiful child in the world. The question remains, though… is this my lot in life? To have a great imagination with no skill whatsoever to back it up? Maybe by forcing myself to blog, and to blog about this, I’ll get over this hump and the juices will start flowing again.

I Watch My Son Sleep.

Sleeping Baby

This baby, while not mine, is cute.

This is actually the kind of thing that I’d usually throw at Twitter, but I’m feeling a little more verbose tonight. If you have a kid, you’ll understand what I’m about to say. If not, you might not understand it now, but if you ever have a child you’ll think back to this post (because it will have made such an impression) and realize I was right.

There is nothing in this world like snuggling up with your baby and watching him or her sleep.

Nothing.

There’s nothing that’s as peaceful. Nothing that will give you the same sense of serenity. Nothing that will make you forget every single worry in your stupid adult brain. At that moment, none of it exists. The bills, the to-do lists, the assholes you work with… all gone. The world disappears and every mundane task and responsibility you have vanish into thin air, and you’re left with nothing but awe. My little dude is 10 months old, and there’s still not a day that goes by that I’m not amazed by him. Amazed that I co-created him. Amazed that I see some of my physical features acting out my wife’s mannerisms, and vice versa. It blows. My. Mind. I know that thousands of people have babies every day, but… I mean, it’s fucking incredible, is it not? No matter how many times a day an incredible thing happens, it’s still incredible. We just forget how incredible it is, and we lose appreciation for it, stupid humans that we are.

Ah, I’m rambling now. My apologizes.

The point is, in this day and age (wow, I sound old) it’s important to remember to slow down every once in a while. For me, cuddling up with my son and watching him sleep kind of puts everything in perspective. None of the monotonous, obligatory shit that I do day in and day out matters. What matters is him. What matters is my family. Knowing that, really knowing that, gives me the perspective I need to deal with the aforementioned monotonous, obligatory shit.

For me, it’s my family that makes it all worthwhile.

What makes it worthwhile to you?

Insert cliché about endings and/or beginnings.

Follow me on Twitter logo

You know you want to.

Well, this was fun. I’m pretty much done with it now, but it was fun. I’m not planning on updating this blog anymore, though I don’t want to say that I’m completely done with it. I really just want to experiment with other social networking type deals, and I don’t have the attention span to keep up very many at once. For now, if you have any interest in communicating with me or just being my virtual pal, you can find me in the following places:

Tumblr

Twitter

Facebook

Please feel free to hit me up at any and every place. Thanks to those of you that have been reading over the past several months! I appreciated each and every view and comment. Hope to see you all in some other places. 🙂

Why I Didn’t “Like” Facebook

Where's the "Meh" button?

Ladies and gentlemen, I didn’t like Facebook.

There.

I said it.

While that might make me a social networking pariah, it’s the truth, and now that I’ve spent a few days with a Facebook account I can say it with a clear conscience. I’ll admit that before, when I said I didn’t like Facebook, it was because I have a tendency to reject what most people are flocking to. Justin Beiber, for example. Now that I’ve gotten a little experience with the service, I have concrete reasons to dislike it; much like hearing 15 seconds of any given Justin Beiber song will give you a clear indication of why it’s horrible.

I digress.

The main reason I dislike Facebook is probably due to the fact that I prefer to remain anonymous. Actually, “prefer” isn’t the right word… “will” is more like it. I am a different person online than I am in real life, to a certain extent. We all are. I choose to keep this persona, this rtik13 guy, online. I keep the real me in the real world. We’re a lot alike, but in several ways the layer of anonymity provided to me online allows me to be more like I wish I could be. rtik13 is free in ways that I am not. He’s my Tyler Durden, if you will. The first thing that Facebook wanted from me was my name. “Well, tough”, I thought. “I’m not giving it to you.” I made up a name (I was actually Rtik Johnson for a brief time) and scurried in, eager to Like the shit out of everything in sight, hoping to make some new connections.

Turns out it’s easy to Like things, but not so easy to anonymously make a Friend.

When I put it that way it sounds creepy, too.

Sorry.

The infamous Like button quickly (and I mean quickly) grew tedious and compulsory. I was amazed at how little fulfillment I got from Liking various things that I really do like. For a service that has blah blah blah millions of people on it, it actually feels pretty hollow. I Liked and Liked and Liked some more; filling my (now deactivated) profile with various interests. Looking into connecting with other people who found the things I like interesting, I found that most of them couldn’t spell.

Of course, I looked up some of my old “friends” while I was there. I use that word in quotation marks because it’s actually what most people would call a lie. This brings me to another reason that I don’t care for Facebook… “I didn’t like you then, and I don’t like you now.” I didn’t enjoy my school experience much at all; I don’t want to know what anyone I went to school with is doing, and I don’t want them to know what I’m doing. Without that desire to reconnect with the past, Facebook loses about 98% of its usefulness. The other 2% (keeping up with bands, movies, other forms of entertainment) is easily accomplished via Twitter and RSS.

I’m not saying that Facebook is a bad service; I’ve already done that. I’m saying that, for me at least, it’s not a particularly useful service. If you have friends old and new to keep up with, then Facebook is great. It’s another way that people can stay in touch and pretend to be best pals. If you don’t have that, and you’re looking for new people to interact with online, prepare to be more than a little disappointed.

In summation… well, David Spira was right.

Gooble Gobble.

Well, I finally did it. I broke down and gave in. After months of ridiculous agonizing and attempting to stand in opposition of what I had decided was the 21st century’s version of “the man”, I relented.

I now have a Facebook account.

I’m going to say that I was just being fashionably late, if for no other reason than I really don’t want to be called a Luddite. So now that I’ve made the leap, I’m finding that honestly, I don’t quite get it. I guess not having any friends in real life means you won’t automatically be assigned friends online as a concession. Nevertheless, I have indulged myself by meting out a multitude of Likes with a dedication I can only call forced. I do have to say that looking for things to admit to liking is making me a little more positive. After all, it’s more fun to find things you like than things you don’t. The actual liking of things feels empty, though… I can love a band or what have you intensely… and all I can to is click “Like”. To further cheapen things, I found that after the button is clicked, it disappears. Nothing happens that makes you feel like you’ve actually done anything or shown any real support. You click a button that says “Like” and then said button gets the hell out of Dodge.

So you find something else you like, and do it again.

And again.

And again.

What you’re ultimately left with is a profile that… well, says you like stuff. That’s about it. You don’t really have much to show for it other than the fact that someone could look at your profile and glean from it that you like Mountain Dew and iTunes. Somehow, though, you feel like that means something. You feel like there’s a little piece of you out there that you decided to put on Facebook, and now everyone will know of your love for Mountain Dew and iTunes. No one can doubt your commitment to these things, because you Like them. It sounds so silly, but I’m going to be honest… it’s kind of fun. It’s fun to go to a page for something like MST3K, and see people posting various quotes from the show and being replied to with other quotes. That, to me, was when it started to make sense. It’s about finding people who like the same stuff you do and engaging them, using your common interest as a starting point.

So this is how you make friends, he thought to himself.

I’m sure eventually I’ll have friends on Facebook, even if I don’t have friends in real life. I’ll meet people who like Doctor Who and Skrillex. I’ll meet people who are parents and love subwoofers. I’ll meet the people that I know exist somewhere, but that I can’t seem to find… people who like the same things I do, and will like me, too.

For now, though, I’m going to go “Like” the living hell out of some stuff… this Luddite has some serious catching up to do.

My Xbox is a Great Therapist

This is how I unwind.

This is how I unwind.

Anger is a very powerful emotion. Some people think it’s part of (or even the trigger for) our fight-or-flight response. That’s something that we can’t get away from; it’s hard-wired into our brains. If things get rough, we get ready to rumble or run the hell away. Anger keeps us alive.

The problem with anger these days is that you’re not permitted to express it in a professional setting… like at your job, for example. There aren’t very many constructive ways that you can express your anger in the workplace without at least losing your job, and at most becoming familiar with your Miranda rights. Knowing that doesn’t stop you from feeling that anger, though. So what, then, are we to do?

I don’t know about you, but I kill hookers and steal cars.

Grand Theft Auto 4 is not a new game; in fact, it’s over three years old. Despite its age, lately I’ve played it every night. The freedom to run around doing whatever the hell I want is pretty nice. It’s a way for me to get some of the day’s frustrations out without doing anyone or anything harm. It’s like free therapy. Sometimes I just spawn a helicopter (spawning is making the object appear out of thin air, via the usage of cheat codes) and fly around Liberty City, which is a convincing replica of New York. I’m not shooting at anyone during that time; I’m just flying.

Being free.

It’s cool to be able to go to that fictional place and do things that I’d never do in real life. It’s liberating, and it’s definitely therapeutic. As a side note, it also doesn’t make me want to go out and actually do any of the things I do in the game; I’ve played violent video games for over 20 years now, and I’m fine. That’s a post for another day, though.

What about you? What do you do to cope with stress and anger that you face in your daily life?

Inspiration… I Have None.

CG depiction of Gollum created by Weta Digital...

GET OUT OF MY HEAD.

I’m up against a wall here, people. I’m cornered and they’re closing in fast. My predicament is this: I’m starting to wonder what exactly it is I have to say.

I’m stumped. I’ve beaten my head against what I can only assume is some bizarre wall made of writer’s block for a few days now. How do some of you seasoned pros handle this? You know, that feeling like anything you write will be stupid, pointless, and/or other derogatory adjectives? That gnawing thing in your head that convinces you everything you’re thinking about writing is a waste of time… and sounds suspiciously like Gollum?

That’s what I feel like I’m up against. How do you more experienced bloggers fight back against that feeling? What is it that keeps you going?

Twinings, You Are My Friend.

Old Twinings Shop on The Strand, London

Good things come from here.

This week I got a Twinings tea chest. It’s probably one of my favorite things now, despite the fact that it only does one thing, which is hold tea. It’s not the most interactive of devices, but it’s very glossy, so I like it. One of the most interesting things about it is that fact that it came pre-loaded with various teas. Now, I am in no way a tea connoisseur… all I know is that there are some teas I enjoy and some I don’t; I’m much happier with black teas than I am with herbal teas. I very much like trying new things (particularly beverages) and tonight I’m sipping on a cup of chamomile.

I’ve never had chamomile tea before now. When the steeping was done, the first thing I noticed was, of course, the aroma. Not being a gentleman of very refined tastes, I reviewed the scent verbally to my awesome wife (AKA TMT). “This smells like ass,” said I. “An ass made of grass.”

I would like to reiterate at this point that I am not a connoisseur of tea.

Undeterred by the scent of what was sure to be a hot cup of sweaty lawn clippings, I proceeded to prepare tea the way I like it. Yes, I sweeten it. Yes, I use milk or creamer in it. No, I don’t care if you think I’m doing it “wrong”. I drinks it like I likes it. Prepared cup of tea in hand, I hunkered down and made myself ready for the worst… and wound up being pleasantly surprised.

Chamomile tea isn’t bad at all. It’s not my favorite tea by any stretch — I’d take a cup of Earl Grey over damn near anything — but it’s pretty good. It’s certainly a lot better than I anticipated. I’d gladly drink another cup… particularly now that this one is empty. That’s the beauty of trying something new… if you like it, you’ve discovered something new to enjoy in life. If you don’t particularly like it you never have to have it again, but at least you know what it tastes like. It’s a win/win!

What are some of your favorite teas? I’d love to hear about them!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Part 2)

Bristolization

It's only good when this happens.

I’m in a crappy mood. My summer vacation is dwindling down, second by second, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Might as well enjoy the last bit though, right? Right! This past week wasn’t as productive as the first, though I did manage to squeeze in a trip to Ohio for a family reunion. It was Small Boy’s first really big trip, and he was a consummate professional. The only time he really spoke up was when we were stopped in Kentucky for what I can only assume was the dumbest excuse for backed-up traffic ever.

There are sports that are sports, and sports that are not. NASCAR is not a sport. NASCAR is someone turning left for three hours. NASCAR is, in a word, stupid. The great state of Kentucky has not been made aware of this, however, and decided to have some sort of race event on the day that we humble travelers wanted to traverse the aforementioned state. We sat there, stuck in Kentucky, at a dead stop on the interstate.

Because of fucking NASCAR.

It actually got kind of funny to watch people repeatedly fleeing into the bushes to pee. Well, hopefully. I don’t know what they did out there, but since the tradition of “men travel alone while women are incapable of traveling alone” seemed to apply to the bushes, I assumed that those people were using the great state of Kentucky as one big toilet.

I was fine with that.

We finally got moving again after adding close to 3 hours to a trip that already takes around 9, and my righteous fury waned. I wasn’t mad at NASCAR anymore. After all, I’m sure that a lot of things that I’m interested in and enjoy wouldn’t be things that NASCAR fans would understand like. What got me really pissed actually came a few days later, when I saw that NASCAR or Kentucky or someone was apologizing to the people who were stuck in traffic and that didn’t make it to the race. Not to anyone else. Not to the people who just wanted to go around the whole thing. They were offering some sort of concession, like a ticket exchange or something. I didn’t pay it much attention because I was slightly livid. Can you be slightly livid? At any rate, I was good and angry. I would have liked an apology. I would have liked someone to say “General population, we are truly sorry that our bullshit “sport” caused you to sit on the interstate for almost 3 hours, causing distress for you and your families. We’re sorry that our pathetic joke of a sport made your respective journeys more difficult than they had to be. Above all, we’re sorry that people are so astonishingly obsessed with watching a bunch of motherfuckers turn left that we effectively shut down the state of Kentucky.”

I’m a little bitter about it, but I’m working through it and have made remarkable progress.

Aside from that great misadventure, the week has been low-key. We watched the first two episodes of Miracle Day (a Torchwood thing) and I found myself greatly enjoying it. I didn’t care for Torchwood in the past, because I didn’t like that they inhabited the same world as The Doctor (which is to say David TennantMatt Smith is not a very good Doctor in my opinion) and I wasn’t a fan of the darker tone of the series. I’ve reconsidered that after the horrible, painful season of Doctor Who so far, and I quite like Torchwood. I might go back and watch the earlier episodes. (Side note: Neil Gaiman is a wonderful, charming man… but he cannot write. He should just make a living being charming, and stop writing.)

I also trudged through the first episode of Game of Thrones, and it was also to be my last episode of Game of Thrones. I’m not sure at all what the big deal over this show is. I got the feeling that it was really geared towards people who had read the book, and to them alone. No exposition was given, not one shred of character development happened, and at the end of the episode I literally didn’t know anyone’s name. The show didn’t make me care at all about the characters. It gave me no reason at all to continue watching. I know that on a show like that, there’s bound to be a lot of fan service, and rightfully so… but there’s another audience that doesn’t already know what’s going to happen, and you’ve got to get them interested enough to stick with it. In that regard, the show really let me down.

That’s been about it. I go back to work tomorrow grateful for the time that I’ve had away from it, yet already looking towards the next break. It’s not a bad job at all, but truthfully… I’d rather spend my time blogging. 😉