Category Archives: Advice Column

Socialism and Nationalism

Over the weekend, there was a riot/protest in Charlottesville between white nationalists/supremacists and everyone else.  The BBC News article can be found here.  The rally was around “Unite the Right,” extremely right-wing thinkers who believe the ways of the past without the ethical standings America stands for today and a smaller government.  Welcome to the New American Era.

Last summer, I took a history class that talked about how WWI started by exploring Europe’s bloodiest history.  I really wish some people would pick up a book, even if it’s just George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.  Book is really brutal in how it nationalism and war in Spain is very different from the front lines and the town in which Orwell returns to.  I’m mentioning this class and this book because WWI and WWII were fought over nationalism.  Sound familiar?

Look up “American Nationalism.”  New York Magazine did an article about three different kinds of American Nationalism.  Disengaged people, the smallest group of those interviewed, where those who “professed particularly low levels of pride in state institutions, and because they appeared to refrain from wholesale engagement with a national identity.”  Restrictive Nationalists “expressed only moderate levels of national pride but defined being ‘truly American’ in particularly exclusionary ways.”  Ardent Nationalists are the traditional flag-wavers in almost any crowd, people who view “Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and naturalized citizens as something less than ‘truly American.’”.  Creedal Nationalists believed in a “form of national self-understanding associated with a set of liberal principles—universalism, democracy, and the rule of law—sometimes referred to as the American creed.”

Where do you think the money lies in this?  The group where companies exist, where many Wall St. and Forbes Top 100 list people exists:  Capitalism.  Socialism with a major twist, where money walks and major players with bank rolls talk.

Still think I’m joking or off my rocker?  I helped on a paper that researched how marketers play mind games with the companies’ or politician’s audiences to help “raise awareness” or “hook” a new customer.  It was very interesting to see how emotions, clothing color, and portrayals actually got played on.  The next time you look at a commercial that you relate with, ask yourself why you feel you relate to it.  Why did the company do this or show that statistic in the commercial?  Am I relating because I feel a connection to the person speaking?

We live in an information age, yet we are increasing standing on one side of the fence or the other.  We are adamant about saying, “Do the research” while not doing the research ourselves.  We judge based off of our emotions and our experiences, which is normal.  But what’s not normal, or shouldn’t be normal, is the way we treat our fellow human beings.

Want more information?  Check out Crash Course’s Sociology playlist.  They’re YouTube videos that talk about sociology, conflict theory, and give real world examples in their videos.

With that said, hope you enjoyed your Monday folks.

 

Listening to:  “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.

Reading:  “The Diviners” by Libba Bray and “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.

Quote of the Day:  “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Patience and Determination

This past week, I have been driving around like crazy.  It’s not been easy and I’ve spent almost 30 hrs on the road in the last week.  It should have been more.  I didn’t imagine this being a full-time job when I started it almost two years ago.

What I did imagine was getting further along in my career to where I wouldn’t have to drive around to make ends meet.  I set myself up for this though so I shouldn’t be complaining.

Determination to have a different life will always get the better of you.  When you are satisfied with the status quo, you stay where you are.  Some people are happy just surviving.  They aren’t doing much else with their lives, but they are happy for the most part.  There are days sometimes I wish I could be satisfied with a simple life, or in my version of things, the bare-minimum American dream.

I have always found the American dream to be a sham.  The big house with a white picket fence, a dog, a cat, two kids, a husband… I have already failed at this one since I’m gay and won’t be having any kids anytime soon.  But my wife wants that dream so I’ll patiently and determinately give it to her because it makes her happy.

Roots are not something I have ever wanted and/or needed.  Connections with things and homes don’t leave much space to move around for work or to have a somewhat vagabond-ish life that I had dreamed for myself as I had gotten older.  I used to joke on my dad about his wanderlust.  Looks like I have a version of that bug too.  Being married with kids and responsibilities has gone a long way to making sure that bug stays tucked away in a “What if” part of my brain.

Patience, though, keeps me stationary just as well.  Without patience, the need for instant gratification hits hard.  It’s definitely a generational thing, where I want something and I want it now.  If I don’t get it quickly, I stop working towards the goal and then when I think about it again, it’s too late or has lost the luster it once had.

Patience is definitely needed when it comes to getting the house we are trying for; determination is the only thing keeping me from walking away from it.  Determination to prove to everyone I can do this adulting thing and that I can finally get with the program to reach a lifetime milestone.  Well, that and $3,000 in earnest money (a DMV standard from those I have talked to about it.  Most other states require less.).  That’s too much money to just throw away, when building it back up would take six more weeks of me trying to kill myself.

Isn’t life grand?

Listening to:  The construction going on outside.

Reading:  “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Quote of the Day:  “Doubt is a virus that attacks our self-esteem, productivity and confidence. Faith that you and your life are perfectly unfolding is the strongest vaccine.” ― Sean Stephenson

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Filed under Advice Column, Driving, Finances, Goals

Saturday Night

I have been driving people around for a while now.  It’s not an uncommon situation:  When someone asks me what I’m doing at night/on the weekends, I’m driving to make money.  June saw me with no car and no extra cash for things.  Needless to say, things were, and are still, a little tight.

That’s why I found myself driving around trying to get to my monetary goal on Saturday night.

My last ride of the night was a young man in relative terms.  I don’t often work the drunk crowd; it’s my scene and I’d rather be the person drinking, not the DD.  Anyways, this guy is slightly wobbly and I’m like this is going to be a really irritating ride.  I picked the young man up; he was headed to the opposite of the Harbor.  His first comment was, “Take whatever route gets us there.”

In the following 20 some minutes, I found out a lot about my passenger.  Former Marine and he was dealing with a heartache.  His girlfriend of several years had a skewd view of a relationship.  We both agreed that a relationship is about spending time with each other.  On top of that, he had started setting up roots for their future.  He had moved to the area, bought a house, and had a decent job…He wanted the works everyone over 30 is supposed to want.  After serving his country and doing several tours, he deserved that.

What pissed me off was here was someone who had fought for our country who deserved to have his dreams come true.  Four years and newly single when all he wanted was to be happy with the person he saw his future with.  We kept talking about how nice it would be to have someone to come home to after a long day who loved you.  Her argument was that he seemed like he wanted Little Suzy Homemaker.  After talking to him, I didn’t get that impression at all.  Of course this was only over 20 minutes of talking to this guy while he was slightly intoxicated.

As an Uber Driver, what gets talked about in the car is supposed to die there, unless it’ an argument with the top dog of the company.  However, this guy’s story stuck with me all weekend.  I wanted to say something prolific about how we treat veterans like crap.  I have seen so many homeless vets and vets like my dad who hasn’t had anything good happen in couple years.  Maybe it’s my guilt of not being there for my dad right now, or when he needed me a few years ago.  I haven’t gotten past what I didn’t do when it would have been so easy to just help, and now it’s way too late to do anything about it.  Whatever it is, this young man’s story had me wanting to end my shift and grab drink just to continue the conversation.  I don’t get many passengers like that.

If you have military personnel in your life or know any military personnel, please say “Thank you” and hug them.  Start a conversation with them and see how they are truly doing AND LISTEN TO THEM.  Take them out for a nice day out and remind them the positives of what they have/are fighting for.  Help with what you can, even if it’s babysitting so they can have some time with their partners.  Most importantly, love them.

 

Listening to:  “Lydia” by Highly Suspect

Reading:  “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Quote of the Day:  “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ― Vince Lombardi

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Filed under Advice Column, Driving

Weightloss and Comments

Yesterday I got hit with the whole “Are you losing weight because you look like you’re weight” comment.  My response was to look down, mutter “yes,” and walk back to my desk.

This morning, I was going through my e-mails before I got ready for work and saw something one of the vloggers I follow had posted about a woman who had flagged her down and wanted to talk to her about the Overeaters Anonymous group at the flagger’s church.  I shook my head; maybe the woman had had great success there, but to flag someone you don’t know down and interrupt them getting their groove on is a little much.  Unsolicited advice is a no-go.  Just don’t, please.

Over on Facebook, I’m in a couple gastric bypass groups.  Someone in one of them posted about their daughter who was going through the same struggles the person had before coming to terms with having weightloss surgery.  As a parent, she doesn’t want her child going through the same situation she did.  However, her daughter is over the age of 18; there’s not much a parent can do about their offspring’s choices after that.

Something about all of these things brought me to write this particular post this morning.  Here it goes.

PLEASE STOP GIVING ADVICE OR COMMENTING SO MUCH!

Sure, I’ve lost weight.  Yes, I work around people and people are going to notice changes.  No, I don’t constantly want to talk about my weightloss journey and I definitely don’t want to talk about how you’re having surgery because I look like I’m having amazing success with it.  If I’m out here walking or exercising, I’m in my groove; please don’t comment about it.  Or how about asking yourself before saying anything, “Would I say what I’m about to say if this person was a [insert descriptors… for this, it’s ‘smaller person.’  For others, it may be ‘male,’ ‘female,’ etc.]?”  How about that?

In my monthly goal posts, yes, I put up how much I lost the month before and how much I want to lose over the next month.  That’s pretty much it.  I’m not constantly posting pictures for Transformation Tuesday, Weightloss Wednesday, etc., because I am over talking about my weightloss journey.  It’s been seven months!  The only thing I really want to talk about is how to mentally be the smaller person.  Can you talk to me how to mentally not respond to things the way I would have when I was bigger?

*Holds temples*

For people with kids, harping on their weight is just going to make them more self-conscious and insecure in themselves.  If you’re really worried about it, start cooking differently for the whole family.  Go for walks as a family; do activities as a family!  Make it look like you are trying something different as a family.  Don’t make weight the focus.  Why is weight even a focus at that point?

WHY ARE WE SO PREOCCUPIED WITH WEIGHT AND NOT SUPPORT?

Support is different for each person.  Why can’t we say something nice to people regardless of size, race, gender, cultural aspects, etc.?  For my co-worker, just say something nice about my outfit or my hair.  For people we see out on the streets, if you have a moment to say something nice, do so but don’t interrupt them while they are in their groove.  For the parent, encourage your kids to do things with you like game night; communicate with them.  Actually have a conversation with each other where you are supportive and not destructive towards them or yourselves.

Food for thought today.

Listening to:  My Amazon Playlist

Reading:  Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Quote of the Day:  “Each of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm. When we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.” ― Maya Angelou

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Ponderings

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday.  The world can stop spinning now!

That’s a joke from my mom because I would act like the world revolved around me when I was younger and how I felt the entire world should know it’s my birthday and celebrate me.

I have since grown out of that phase but that joke/sentiment still sticks with me years after she said it.  Along with that one time I got sung to by a choir group passing through the Shoney’s and my dad mentioned it was my birthday to the instructor.  Mom and Grandma both got on my case for not saying “Thank you” to them.  I finally mumbled “thank you” to him as we were leaving.  I didn’t NOT say it because I was ungrateful.  I was embarrassed.

But 30…

I wanted to talk about the things I wanted to accomplish but haven’t yet; the things I did accomplish in the last 30 years of being on this earth, especially in the last two years; the loses and the gains of growing into a person your mom can be proud of; or even the things I’m looking forward to in the next decade.  The only thing I’m stuck on though is how much I want to get in the next 14 years.

Fourteen years has significance in a morbid way.  Tomorrow, I’ll turn the same age my mom was when she had me.  She was 44 when she died, so fourteen years.  Like I said, it’s a morbid way to spend my birthday thinking about how, in 14 years, I’ll have seen more years then she did.  Would she be happy with the person I became?  Is my morbidity of trying to accomplish so much in 14 years the reason I feel like I have finite time to accomplish everything I want out of life?

Silver linings though right?  We’ve always got to look for the positive in any situation.  Why don’t I feel like looking at the positive right now?  Why don’t I want to focus on the fact I have a great family?  Why can’t I focus on my accomplishments so far this year?  That would be easy; I just have to look at my goals posts.  There is no easy answer for when does time run out.  Do I really have 14 years?  More?  Less?

Ponderings.  These are just ponderings of the emotions coming from a milestone birthday.  I’m really okay.  Between reading and writing, blogging and recording content for my BookTube Channel, I have plenty to keep me busy, especially since we are also part way through the process of buying a house.

Listening to:  Amazon’s Rise Against station

Reading:  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Quote of the Day:  “It’s really something for people who are approaching 30 to take a look at what that means to them.  I think turning 30 is a way to re-identify with yourself.” – Neil Patrick Harris

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Research

Most times, I would use that word for writing papers, not necessarily for writing stories.  Right now, though, I’m working on a few stories that I can’t really use personal experience with.  I can’t take a year off from my life and travel around the country, and I haven’t had any luck winning the lottery.  So research becomes a writer’s best trick to writing a believable story.

The Plot Thickens…

The book I’m working on now is about a woman who quits her job, gives away her things, visits her parents and stays there for a week before realizing the lottery ticket she’d picked up on her way out of town was a winning ticket.  Beyond that, she had quit to write and travel.  She just didn’t know what part of traveling she wanted to.  Along the way, she realizes a few truths she had ignored before.  The man she really liked was getting married, the man she hadn’t seen waiting for her in the background was falling in love with her story, and the people she had met along the way in various forms and capacities made her realize how much she had missed that was right in front of her.

Then Research Ensues…

This is where the research comes in because this is where I’m stuck.  There are so many cities to pick from that would be awesome to write about, so many things to do in those cities, and so many ways to write about her journey.  I had thought about doing a foodie trip before, using the mock road-trip schedule I had made a few years ago as places to start with for things like “Diners, Drives, and Dives” and “Man vs. Food”.  While I was trying to come up with that list, I remembered looking through “1000 Places to See before You Die in the U.S.”  Fast-forward and these are the things I’m starting with to help move the story along.

And Things Move Along.

Along with the travel, the main character has goals she wants to do along the way.  One of the guys will find a way to join her in some of her adventures, and the other is only briefly at the parameter of the story.  Research also helps me figure out which goals she can accomplish where.

Whether you are working on a story that you’re stuck on or are trying to figure out that goal you’ve wanted to do for a while, research can be your best friend or your worst enemy, as there is such a thing as too much research.

Sometimes, getting out from behind the computer screen and just doing something is the only research you need.

Good luck out there!

Listening to:  The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton

Reading:  Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs

Quote of the Day:

“If you’re reading this…
Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
then I don’t know what is.”
― Chad SuggMonsters Under Your Head

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Filed under 1001 Days, Advice Column, Books/Classes, Writing

Date Night Ideas

Yesterday, I mentioned that Ray and I are doing a date day Paint Nite this weekend coming up.  We’ve done a paint event at a friend’s house and liked it.  This one came up though because of my part-time job as a driver.

When Ray and I first got together, we tried to do something for just us once a month.  With us saving up to buy a house and pay down a lot of our debt (and since I’m not in school right now because I’m taking a break), I thought driving would be a quick and easy way to make money and save up.  It’s not a bad way to do it, although sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it.  But that’s another post.

One of the rules of engagement is that we pick back up on doing date nights once a month.  This helps us stay connect and keeps our relationship from getting stale because we have happy memories and can look forward to doing awesome things together as a couple.  However, with us both being recovering foodies, coming up with date ideas that didn’t revolve around food has been challenging.

Here are some ideas we came up with to do over the next couple months:

  • Go to a Paint Nite. Their website has the paintings they are hosting and the locations.  We found one we could agree on and booked it.
  • Have a Karaoke Night. This was one of the first things we did as a couple when we were dating.  It was great.
  • Catch a matinee movie. Who says date night has to be at night?  Some of the best times to see movies is during the day, mostly because it’s more cost effective and there are less people.
  • Go to the local drive-in theater. We don’t have a local drive-in movie theater but I know there are some out there.  They can even be a cheaper alternative to paying full price for the movies and you can cuddle in your car.
  • Hike a local trail together. I can’t wait for it to get warmer so we can go walk some of the local trails around us.
  • Go to a concert. Have a favorite band coming to town that you’ve been dying to see?  If your partner is up for, go!
  • Go on a local road trip. Each state has different things to go do, whether they are tourist traps or not.  Go explore them together.
  • Geocache together. Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.
  • Explore your local area through a scavenger hunt.
  • Dance the day away. I would love to take a dance class-pole dancing that is.  Ray is up for trying it going once she heals.  She likes dancing in general so may even drag her to a traditional dance class too.
  • Gotta catch ‘em all! We are both Pokemon Go! gamers; so are our kids.  Make it a family outing if you have kids.  It’s a great way to explore a park or a monument while getting in your steps.
  • Check out a bed and breakfast. B&B’s are great for a mini-vacation and for romantic get-away without having to stay in a hotel.
  • Relax with a couples’ massage.

If none of these are appealing, check out Groupon.  Groupon may get some flack but it’s been a great place to find things to do when we go other places.  There are discounts of plenty of interesting things, like scavenger hunts, B&B’s that would be worth checking out, brunch places, massages, dance classes, and plenty of other neat and interesting things to do.  And if you both like something, there is nothing that says you must do something different each month.

I did make one caveat as foodie though.  We are taking a vegetarian Indian cooking class in May, along with going to DC Kerfuffle so I can see Weezer.

Listening to:  Amazon’s Pop station

Reading:  The Line by J.D. Horn

Quote of the Day:  “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ― Aesop

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Filed under 1001 Days, Advice Column, Bucket List, Goals