Posts Tagged ‘peer pressure

06
Nov
18

Voting Is a U.S. Right, Not an Obligation!

*****

If you live in the not-so-United States, there’s a lot of hub-bub about VOTING. Oh.  Hey.  Is that today?  Yes, it may be happening right now!  Wait.  Read this.

It goes into all sorts of heated debates about rights which nip and peck at matters like race, gender and religion. It teases about aspirations for taxes, schools, jobs and the big ol’ dinosaur of a “snake-in-the-grass” known as insurance. It starts to sound like a chariot race at some Roman coliseum or an NFL football crowd. It’s like war without most of the bloodshed. I guess…that’s…a good thing?

And, unless you pay no attention to TV or…apparently…any screen receiving “feeds” of some “newsworthy” kind, you are sure to see and/or hear something about the push to vote. It might be worse than the push for pumpkin-spice everything, the obnoxious internet service monopoly commercials and…well, no, none of those is as annoying as the lawyer who can’t stop flashing his face and talking in his annoying voice every half hour because he decided to invest in every branch of life as he knows it, thinking that gives him a right to be a broadcast nag. On that matter, I vote NO.

Now, back to the bigger voting matter(s). Oh wait, we interrupt this blog for a commercial endorsement by some celebrity…yep, I think it’s none other than Mr. Technology Rapper, Common. Okay. Uh-huh. Got it, smooth talker.

So, as I was saying…

What? Wait 8 seconds to bypass this ad for candidate Dingleberry? *sigh* Oookayyy…

Ya see what’s happening here?

Now, if you have the patience and don’t suffer from one of those “attention-deficient disorders,” I have a few things to say. And, I might get winded. But, that’s just part of the misery of being a citizen in “the greatest country in the world.” [Nobody’s perfect here. Okay, Earthlings? If you seriously cannot read all I have to say, you may kindly skip down to the lower portion that begins with “Let me just make this short and bittersweet.”]

Americans?…and all who occupy the country even if you are not “legally settled in” the place. Voting is a citizen’s right. Yet, from all the noise going around, it sounds more like an obligation pending. And, on the sides, you have all the talk about interference and other reasons to be concerned.

This time, the red guys win. Next time, the blue guys win with the adolation of most “celebrities,” those members of some “academy” or “foreign press” association. [It all sounds like secret society talk, like some Luminati or Nazi nod or stroke of the nose. We got ya, boss. Wink.] Nothing good can really be achieved if every day is spent battling Joes and Cobras, or if one “side” paints the town red just for the other to paint it blue when they dominate “seats.” It’s just a waste of time and energy (life).

If recent years haven’t made it abundantly clear, the whole U.S. voting system is a joke and a mess. [Remember the “chad” fiasco from a previous election? That thing that made the cryp-to-spo-rid-i-um scare seem trivial.] But, like other U.S. messes, it goes around and around, and no one really makes an improvement. Is that stability or insanity? [And, if anyone in Russia is laughing at this, take a look in the mirror, once in a while. Are you really any better off? Is any country truly happy with itself? I’d like to know, and I might like to live there.]

And, when the voting is supposedly done, the winners get a mixed bag of quiet time (in which they can do whatever they want) and time in the spotlight when they either get mention for some kind of achievement or pestered for what they did wrong. The latest gladiator to enter this arena has been grilled and then grilled some more for being an all-around fool. Yet, all the noise hasn’t made him even flinch.

Does that mean he’s just that secure in himself or is all the noise just noise and an illusion of unrest? And, if it’s an illusion of unrest, what is going on here? What are “they” protecting at the risk of several minds, not to mention lives?

I begin to question the whole security and essence of my existence. Don’t you? Are we all just cattle being scared into bumping into each other, dropping money we supposedly earn to secure our “status” in this world and our futures, dropping it on the grate that filters into some system we have no control over though we are pressed to vote it into existence year after year? Are we just batteries in some grand machine, handed illusions of better lives until we are broken and replaced? Or, are we truly valued individuals who have a right to live on the same planet and, at least, not assault each other as we find balance with the environment?

I know the concept of everyone living content and having kids as they will is beyond my comprehension of population control. It’s some idyllic fantasy of a science-fiction show about some people and aliens in spandex costumes breaking apart the universe in pursuit of other worlds to occupy and systems of order to upset. [Yeah. Let’s upset some other race. Not ours. Whatever. I guess it’s all learning from experience. Right? Even if it takes an eternity for the light bulb to glow.] I can but choose not to imagine what life would be like if we were no different than deer and lions chasing around in the wilderness, risking the chance of being slain and eaten. But, such is “domesticated” life, conditioned in our minds for such a long time. Right?

And now, back to our voting program……still in progress.

—–

If voting is a gauntlet of fear and anger with a roaring crowd occupying some sort of stadium, arguing over which “side” will rule the land, I really don’t want any part of it. I mean, I am not sure I fit into that sort of medieval mentality, that clash of kingdoms and warlords where you paint your faces to represent a side and then unleash all kinds of confetti-infused mayhem on the land. You’d think the country would have evolved beyond the WW2 days of war bonds and collecting materials for vehicles, rations and weapons. Is this Game of Thrones or Fantasy Island?

If you are pressed to vote and looked down upon for not voting, isn’t that sort of…bullying? Isn’t that as bad as sexism and racism?

Is the “system” so desperate to keep everyone “involved” just to appear as if they care and can work together rather than actually learning to work together?

Has life on this planet become all about the “clicks” and “likes” rather than actually putting our hands together to make some good happen?

Are the “powers that be” so concerned about order crumbling into chaos that their only reassurance is to pressure everyone to partake in this mad scene called a vote?

If we all quarrel and fuss, are our voices reassuring anyone?

Is this like a game of Marco Polo in which being heard confirms we’re still alive and not up to no good?

If a tree in the forest makes a sound, does that mean it’s not plotting to end you?

And, if you must vote with only what you get from ads and debates and those colorful not-so-little flyers passed around until they litter the streets like some 1940s war-era movie disaster, isn’t your vote a bit mis-educated? Misguided? How many candidates make the same promises and then bend differently once in office? Does it really matter who gets in the offices? Does any side really win forever? Does anything good last? Is everyone ever happy?

[Now, I am sure it’s worse in other countries. I know no Americans are getting beheaded, killed for going against the flow and/or voicing opinions that don’t agree with the ruling force. Women aren’t as “repressed” in the U.S….though one could argue the conditioned mindsets of makeup and fashion are a bit like shackles. Is that comforting to know or just a different color of the same crap?]

I cannot honestly say I have any grand knowledge of or trust in any candidate. Sure, I could “research.” But, if all I get is the “resume” of aspirations, am I not still taking a gamble on a person’s character? I cannot be guaranteed one person put in a government job slot will improve anything. And, whether or not my vote does some good cannot be proven. It’s no better than me offering up a prayer unanswered or tossing a coin in a fountain and making a wish. Yet, both of those are not NEARLY as costly to “air time,” taxes and the environment.

[I have voted in previous elections. And, did it make me feel good? Not really. I get that voting, as a right, gives people a chance to decide who gets some sort of job which is supposed to improve the way everyone lives. But, there’s just as much chance my choice will get slammed for some crime he or she did not previously admit and turn out to be something I did not want, at all. I trusted a man’s calm face only to then question is motives and worry about the environment not only threatening job security but the resources that sustain life. If my vote contributes to making my life miserable or ending it sooner than it should be…what the frick am I achieving?!]

When George Washington became the first president of the “United States,” I doubt everyone who could vote voted. People were present and denied the chance and/or right to vote. Some couldn’t make it to wherever it was decided to have their say. Yet, some consensus pushed him up the red-white-and-blue pipe to the top and convinced him to lead the people as he had led some faction through war. And, somehow, this was better than the old taxing ways of the “red coats” and the even older conquering broods that stormed lands, slaying and enslaving natives. Well, it got his face stamped on a few things; that’s for sure. But, is that such a great thing, considering what other places have been stamped with and/or the names they’ve been given? [Boy, I sure enjoyed my weekend at Screw-Your-Soul Lake! I got the chance to climb Mt. Sisyphus and ride the It-Doesn’t-Matter-Horn.]

SEGWAY ALERT! [And, I don’t mean one of those semi-trendy electric scooters.]

And, let’s stop making memorials for every damn wrong humans committed! Aren’t movie remakes enough to let people know they aren’t learning from past mistakes? We’re not making new good; we’re just remodeling the old bad. A statue that represents a racist attrocity isn’t going to stop people from being racist. It’s just as likely to remind people how and/or why to commit one. [What did that guy do? Oh…now that I think of it, maybe I should do that.]

Ever heard of a killer that mimicked a past one? That’s kind of what history does. It’s a sneaky reminder of all the good and bad deeds done in the past, and that filters through our minds like panning for gold. Some will get the virtues while others collect the vices.

Just because there is a Mecca, pope or Buddha doesn’t mean everyone is going to pray to it, him or her and get the benefit. But, at least, those three are hopeful options versus big, glaring reminders of some horror that took place. I’d personally rather walk down a street to find some positive inspiration rather than a reason to feel depressed and/or unreasonable guilt, thank you very much. Yes, many, many people died here. But, you don’t see nearly as many memorials for all the natives trampled and slaughtered under the cover of Thanksgiving! No. Just plenty of casinos and “reservations.” Did we learn anything, class?

And, breathe.

Voting is not something you hand out on the street, not knowing where it has been and where it is going. You don’t smuggle foreigners into voting booths to sway your preference. You should not have to even worry about another country tampering with the ads and/or results. [I won’t name names because that’s like the old school ritual of gossip about “germs.” And, that’s…kinda like bullying. But, thanks a bunch, electronic “conveniences.” Is it so hard to print paper forms or take a vote in person? Why not just have every voter stand in front of a video (or “phone”) camera and voice their choice like the kooks who participate in those “reality TV game shows” who send someone packing every week? Wait. Can that be tampered with, too?] You don’t quibble about ID proof or pester your citizens about anything that they are or do other than being a registered citizen and their choice of candidates. You should not be fed similar mud-slinging stories from all of the candidates and then forced to make a choice with poor education.

If voting is no better than a “Catholic school” permitting some questionable–to say the least–practices or drilling old scripture into your heads that isn’t being respected, it’s as useless as making a complaint to the boss at work who brushes it off for whatever reason and works under the thumb of another guy who works under the thumb of another guy who… Can’t we come up with a better system, already? Or, just do our best to respect the decisions of some person or persons that want to make such decisions so badly so as to keep our heads and liberties, if we still have any.

Let’s not trade dictatorship for democracy or shuffle the cards and pick one of the already disfunctional systems.

And, god or gods help us, let’s not hand over the planet to the alien robots some aspire to replace our humanity, as flawed as it may be. As cool as some might think it is to meet a Transformer, do you really want to be replaced by one or be denied the chance to have real children of your own who go on to have their own children, and so on? Do you really want humankind, your kind, to end its historic tale in a blaze of disaster and failure? Do you think all monkeys want to be known for flinging poo?

I’ve personally heard enough about the origins of democracy to make me give up my fascination with ancient Greece. But, I’d really like such negative and worrisome feelings to just go away so I can wander in daydreams of the old exquisite architecture and happier toga parties…or kimono parties in the Far East, surrounded by cherry trees in full bloom.

Making televised ceremony of some “heir” taking a throne before making baby heirs to ensure the future of one family keeping the old kingdom’s balls rolling isn’t better. It’s like “reality TV” government. And, I really don’t see how probing into the lives of your leaders is allowing anyone to think clearly enough to run any nation. It may be “transparency,” but I don’t want someone watching me poop just to know I am not up to no good. Are the concepts of trust and faith so dead and gone from this world? Are we all so criminal that no one can be trusted with doing GOOD? [And, if you’re booking a flight to Mars just to get away from it all, send me a letter, telling how much better you have it there, provided you don’t repeat these mistakes we humans haven’t learned to correct, yet. Bomb-shelter scare, anyone?]

Ideally, you should have a chance to speak with the candidates and get a feel for what you really like and dislike about the people. After all, this is all “for the people, by the people.” Right? Well, how close is “by the people” if the candidates are just images on a screen and some audio clip endorsing the ad? And, how much do we really get out of debates other than who slammed the opposition best and who stood up for him or her self? Are debates just a wrestling match and test of social stability?

—–

Let me just make this short and bittersweet. [I just like to say that in hopes of preventing myself from foaming at the mouth and exhausting all of my resources, resources like those considered so abundant that they can be wasted on everything “WiFi,” cable-fed and campaign-related when there are people and other animals struggling to live in a world that can’t come to terms with population control and balance with nature. And, maybe, if you DO suffer from a drifting mind, you’ll float down here and get the consensus of my thoughts.]

If voting is not simply a right of United States citizens (and should be a right in other countries, as well), if, instead, it is some sort of obligation like taxes, attending certain schools and obeying certain laws, then it should be an educated decision people make as comfortably as depositing waste in their toilets. Yes, I am saying voting should be as pleasurable as pooping and peeing. And, right now, it’s not even close.

If you made voting available online–as I am sure many are considering even now–that is not the solution! A swipe right or left on some mobile device might be easier than going to a foreign building to fill out a ballot, but it’s as or even more likely to be corrupted and, thus, futile, just because you cater to lazy whims and, again, consider resources like electricity and all of these invisible rays passing through our bodies and everything else on the planet just to transmit “decisions” we should be making face-to-face, with each other, considering such resources so abundant that they can be wasted when so many go without and fall to the wayside.

Let’s really work together to find a “system” that works as well as or better than those supposed globally peaceful “federations” you hear about in some show about “space explorers” who…end up going to war with other worlds and fighting over who is right and wrong, anyway. There has to be a better way! Let’s find it! Not just Americans. Not just celebrity-sales-pitch slaves. Every human on Earth.

Oh, now don’t get any pushy ideas about me as some candidate. I have little to no concrete wisdom about running a house, much less a country or planet. Just noble aspirations and a weakening heart crumbling under so many social pressures and failures. And, I don’t have a clue who I could work with to make things actually better for everyone.

Don’t vote for me. Vote for your city, state and/or country’s security. Vote responsibly or not at all (just like using drugs, including alcohol, pills and all things weed-y). If you cannot meet with the candidates and feel confident in what they could do (because we cannot expect anyone entering a sea of mysterious operators from warring factions to be some kind of Moses parting the Red–Red? Hmm.–Sea), then your vote is dangerous and likely futile.

If no one votes…well, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. But, if you don’t vote, does it really matter? Someone’s going to step up to make decisions, in pursuit of establishing noble order, domination of territory or just a place in history books. Some folks will follow that person while others will resist. And, if you do vote only to complain later about and/or suffer from the results, did you achieve anything good? And, isn’t that a shame?

I’m Writingbolt, a currently faceless (because I honestly fear for my life, sometimes) identity on a cash cow farm…er, blog site, and I support this statement, even if it fills enough pages to quality for a whatever Times bestseller. If nothing else, I’ve stated my opinion, for what that’s worth. I’m told it’s good to write down one’s thoughts. I hope that’s true. And, I hope I haven’t wasted any precious resources with this output.

28
Feb
17

My Response to “An Ace in a Hole” (Dear Abby)

*****

You can find my response to this and other letters on the designated page. But, while you’re here, have a read.

Ace is a… Well, let’s be clear about this. Ace doesn’t exactly say if they are a boy/man or girl/woman. So, the mere fact that Abby decides to address the person as a young woman may be in error. While some details might suggest Ace is female, it is not certain from my perspective.

Ace is struggling with an “asexual” identity. He/She is being pestered by friend and family alike to do what is “normal,” including sex and having kids while Ace shows no interest. As with others who feel abnormal or exceptionally unique, he/she is distraught and seeking a means of maintaining friendship with those who bother him/her.

I myself never questioned my sexuality other than how I appear to others (which has been a source of concern and annoying conflict). I have been labeled and scrutinized most of my life and had to accept some battles as defeats or stalemates, which ultimately weakened or even tore ties to certain people. Thus, I will speak from experience.

————-

Ace, you might help me out by making your gender clear. What I have to say might slip into applying to one gender or another. But, I will do by best to keep this asexual.

One quick question: Why do you call yourself “an ace in a hole?” The term “ace in the hole” is defined as an advantage waiting to be revealed. I’d say being openly asexual while enduring punishment from those closest to you does not match that definition.

[If you have no interest in my personal experience/opinion outside the realm of advice geared specifically to your problem, you can skip the following portion and start with the separate question.]

———–

While a mother pushing the idea of marrying a gay man at you tells Abby you are a woman turned off by sexual intercourse, I am wondering if your mother didn’t have another motive, if you are an asexual man, and she thought a gay man would eventually awaken the gay manhood in you or make you comfortable with someone who didn’t look at sex the same way heterosexual couples do. I could be way off base here. But, hopefully, you can see how/why I’d make such a statement.

Some might bring up the matter of having children. Well, would you really be more likely to have children as an asexual woman with a gay man than with a straight one? No. You’d likely adopt or be in a situation like James Corden who is apparently married to a heterosexual woman AND gay (or bisexual) with kids.

At an early age, I was “informed” having children was “normal” and to be expected. And, as early as maybe twelve, I thought about having two kids of m own. But, once I learned about sexual intercourse and all that came with it, over many years and from meeting many people, I kinda lost interest in bringing kids into this world. [I’m not ruling kids out completely; but they seem unlikely in my future. Still, I might help others with their kids and consider that my “parenting time.”]

No discomfort intended, but I am surprised you have ANY supportive friends (unless the friendships are very “cool” and “casual,” not people you spend extensive time with outside of work and/or have heavily personal talks with, for example). Being as you are cannot be common in your area. Can it? If your supportive circle consists of other asexual individuals, well, aren’t you lucky. I’m more likely to believe the people you know are quite comfortable discussing and seeking sexual intercourse while just patting you on the back as they bite their tongues in your presence (if they are that respectful).

From as far back as the age of five, I can recall kids being quite mean to me. I’ve had my share of bullies picking on me for everything from the shape of my head to how I walk or dress. I could have curled up in a closet and decided years later I was gay because I couldn’t connect with girls the way other boys did. But, that’s just not me. I knew early on I liked girls; I just didn’t know how to convey my feelings without embarrassment or social conflict. And, as I learned about sexual intercourse, I was turned off, much like you. The new knowledge only made socializing more difficult.

There was one girl in particular I befriended for whom I had strong feelings. And, as these feelings became apparent to our peers, we were harassed until we–or she–made a decision to separate. It was painful to lose touch with her. Meanwhile, a few of the hecklers were having their first sexual experiences with foreign exchange students; and I don’t recall them being harassed for attempting this.

There was also one boy who I’d call asexual because he never expressed any interest in a boy or girl other than as an ally or enemy. Everything seemed to be about war with him. You were either his “right-hand man” or on a list of people he had no problem talking about wiping off the planet (though he never followed through with his threats). I thought he was a Nazi leader. It was hard for even me to understand how he could be so robotic and, in his own way, juvenile.

In my late teens, I was viewed by some of my peers as the equivalent of a “gay priest.” I was, like you, repulsed by the realities of sexual intercourse, especially the common practice of “casual sex” (including “oral” which I refuse to try or accept others doing). I was also serious about respecting religion which seemed to be a foreign concept to my peers though we were attending a Catholic school. [Had I not been given such a steady diet of religion growing up, I might have had no qualms about casual sex.]

I could admit to liking or even lusting for a girl. But, the truth came out under pressure and, usually, with unpleasant results. I consistently hoped I’d have a quiet moment alone with whoever interested me so I could express my feelings without heckling or judgment and cope with the rejection I might yet receive if the feelings were not mutual. I was a passer of notes who had little to no luck doing so. My unique mindset made me an outcast. And, a few bold souls pressured me to try things with which I was not only uncomfortable but also opposed.

On occasion, the suggestions/dares were made in jest, just to see how badly I’d make a fool of myself following orders. Suffice to say, high school put a big dent in my ability to socialize. I went from a “plus one” (in terms of social aptitude, on a scale of 1 to 10) to somewhere in the negative digits. I might as well have been dead. That would have made everything easier. But, in my heart, I still longed for companionship and hid those strong sexual feelings most of my peers had and discussed freely.

Ultimately, I had to accept being an outcast and cutting ties with people who seemed unable to respect my choices. [And, though I didn’t always see it at that age, I was not the most respectful of choices made by my peers, either. If I didn’t like something they did, I’d complain when they were in my company. But, I didn’t nag, tease or challenge anyone. I just bluntly said, “I don’t like ___.” Or, “___ are stupid.” And, often enough, I’d give reasons no one really wanted to hear. I thought I was being social and honest, having an opinion.]

————

How do you maintain contact with these people who are becoming increasingly bothersome/suffocating?

Right off the top of my head, I’d say you don’t (maintain contact). You set yourself apart from them and regroup. Why continue to stand in their line of fire and take that “abuse?”

Give yourself a place and time to shake their pressured intentions from your mind (and soul) like a plane shaking the fire from one of its engines. Maybe there’s a coffee shop or fast food restaurant/cafe you can visit to unwind and entertain yourself with some tabletop hobby (IE reading, crossword puzzles or doodling). And, if they continue to seek you out and push their views, you give them one last warning before cutting ties completely. If they ignore your warning, there’s your answer; they are not going to change.

It may hurt to lose a friend or warm relationship with a parent, but crap happens. If your mother won’t accept you as a person and family member because you don’t get married and/or have kids, you tell her she has only so much time to change her way of thinking because you are going to be who you choose to be until that changes, if it changes, which will not happen because of her pressuring you.

Abby says this is an opportunity to educate. Well, who says you have to be the spokesperson for “asexual America” and go on talk shows to start a movement for supporting people like you? If that sounds good to you, go for it. If not, defend yourself. At the very least, you tell these nags that you will consider other options when and if your feelings change. And, if that’s not enough to shut them up, again, set boundaries, make ultimatums and follow through. Accept the fact that you may not always have the best of relations with your parents and/or that one person you call a friend.

But, let’s do our best to be polite about these matters. Right? Because it wouldn’t be “prudent” to lose our tempers. No. It would just be natural. If you value yourself and what you believe/feel, you do what is necessary and may not be able to sort out–at the time–what is excessively hostile. Still, there are things we can say and/or do via impulse that might be worse than necessary. And, we should avoid doing more harm than good.

28
Feb
17

My Response to “Bored Life in Wisconsin” (Dear Abby)

*****
You can find my response to this and other letters on the designated page. But, while you’re here, have a read.

Bored Life is a fifteen year-old teenager suffering from a mix of social anxiety and depression. It’s uncertain if this person is a boy or girl. But, they are clearly at a crossroad in life, lacking friendship and comfortable chats with peers, questioning acceptance of their chosen hobbies, wanting desperately to improve their situation. [I didn’t know kids (or “young adults”) still play Dungeons and Dragons.]

Abby suggests joining some groups to stimulate social activity. And, that’s sound advice (even I have yet to follow). But, I suspect this teen is resistant to joining (as I was/am). And, that may be why he/she is having such difficulty. I will speak from experience and, hopefully, provide some reassurance. But, considering my ongoing struggles, I can’t promise much. Still, it may shed some light on the paid advisor for future cases.

————–

Bored Life? I’m going to give you more than something or “anything.” Not just advice but also some of my own experience with what you are facing.

Lesson number one. Don’t ever say you’re bored or boring. Because, to the people that matter in your life, you’re not.

As I read your letter, I am checking off all the points that may match not just my teenage years but also my adult life. Repetitive schedule (including the details you gave)? Check. Depressed? Check. Inability to drive? Check. Trouble talking to others–aka social anxiety–double check. Parents that don’t go anywhere/do anything to stimulate your mind…nor, apparently, your bond/relationship with them? [Which may be something we want to discuss, later.] Double check. No friends with whom you can hang out/feel at ease with in person? Double check and an exclamation point!

Right now–and for who knows how long–you don’t have a “crowd.” You don’t have your niche. You’re a rare purple song bird in a forest full of blue and pink ones. You could perch next to a group and give your two cents. But, that would leave your comfort zone. And, once out of that comfort zone, you fear you’ll get hurt. Right? Who or what will protect you when you are completely exposed to the public and responsible for your words/actions.

Let’s tackle those key notes separately.

1) Your comfort zone/crowd.
This is what suits your desires/interests. It’s what you feel most at ease doing. This includes those “boring” activities you indulge, homework and drawing. When you get older, people start associating this with a career and raising children. Those become zones into which people lock themselves and struggle to escape. Some run away, producing single parents and questionable resumes.

Here’s the first ray of light I’d like to shed your way. What may seem boring today could be seen as a sign of dedicated study and achievement, later. And, perhaps, in the future, your work will pay off with attracting the niche crowd you’ve wanted, allowing you to filter out those who are not what they appear. [And, there will be your share of those, as well.]

Surely, you are not the only person in your world who is focused on homework, drawing and video games. Quite likely, there are others who are just about as secluded as you. And, that is why you don’t see each other or pair up. You are in your own corners, feeling similar doubts and concerns. Yet, even though you may have the same interests, there’s also the matter of personality differences.

2) Fear of painful exposure.
When we aren’t naturally adept to or taught at an early age to socialize, it becomes more and more like a stiff joint we haven’t moved in a while. It’s painful and/or difficult to stretch. It feels alien and uncertain, scary, even. What if we make the wrong move and do more harm? Leaving one’s comfort zone, trying new things…these can become painful to imagine. And, who doesn’t want to avoid pain?…except maybe those who preach “No pain, no gain.”

There are those that seem to make life appear easy. Jocks flock with jocks and hide any emotional responses they may have. Glam queens gab with other glam queens, and one is usually prettier than the rest for a reason. But, just because these people hang out and/or play together doesn’t mean they’re good friends. They may be avoiding your discomfort simply by staying busy. When they go home, life may not be as fun as they appear in school. School becomes their escape from solitude, family troubles and responsibility. It’s a different sort of comfort zone that seems high risk to people like you and me. It’s the fast lane while we coast in the slow lane.

3) Responsibility and taking chances.
Even I will admit (though I’m genetically inclined to deny) I have moments when I don’t want to be responsible for what happens. Companies satisfy this fear by posting “disclaimers” and “warnings,” all manners of fine print to ward off punishment should their business fail to satisfy the consumer and/or do greater harm. There may be something in the human genetic matrix that detests responsibility. But, if you know anything about Spider-Man, you likely know what Uncle Ben taught him.

Our great power is being the dominant species of this planet. Our responsibility is how we wield that power. We cannot be entirely careless with our actions. What we say and do impacts others.

Yet, we cannot take NO action or risk, either. If we try nothing, we achieve nothing. [But, don’t be so quick to dismiss what you DO try. Sometimes and some people will think you do nothing when, in fact, you ARE doing something that just isn’t apparent.]

One of the hard lessons of adulthood is taking steps to make progress (or even maintain what already exists) and being responsible for what results. If something goes wrong and it’s genuinely our fault, we need to take what comes with this negative result or defend ourselves if the punishment seems unjust. There will be other times when what occurs is just coincidence or cosmic fate, an “accident” we may not have been able to prevent. And, we need to learn to “roll with the punches;” accept failure or lesser achievement, regroup and try, again.

As I say, I am in a similar rut as you and not adept to making improvements/changes. But, many years after being in your shoes, I’ve gathered various tidbits of insight, therapy and wisdom from various sources. Right now, you’re at the start space on the board game of adulthood. Or, maybe, three steps from the start. I took a bit of a detour along one of those chutes or ladders and am not much closer to the finish line. But, I feel “wiser” for the experience. And, every step outside my comfort zone I am able to make, I get a tiny bit less afraid…even if I sometimes meet with what might be seen as disaster.

If I may, I have a few questions I hope aren’t too bothersome.

1) Who got you interested in Dungeons and Dragons? As I said earlier, I didn’t think anyone (especially your age) still played such games. I thought that was reserved for people from my and older generations.

I myself never played but have studied maps and guides. They were sources of artistic inspiration in my youth. I can remember being about seven or eight when I drew a picture of a warrior fending off “yellow mold” (and “black pudding” in another drawing) with a spear or sword.

2) You’ve NEVER had a crush on anyone? I could see not kissing or dating. But, not even a strong feeling about another person?

I had those feelings as early as four years old. I was given some unpleasant labels in my youth and in my teens which did not help me make friends and made approaching the concept of a romantic relationship almost impossible. I knew I wanted more than friendship with at least one girl. But, neither my parents nor my peers were any help in making my wishes come true. Instead, they made life more difficult and made me curl up in my “corner.”

Granted, there was one kid in my class who seemed the sort you claim to be. He had no interest in girls. Nor was he admittedly gay. I’d call him asexual because he was obsessed with annoying details in everything and never once said anything flattering about a boy/man or girl/woman, never showed any interest. If you asked him about such feelings, he’d pick a verbal fight and insult you.

There may be a strange blessing in this absence of “passion.” You could be spared the trials others face because they cannot control their “lust.” You could avoid the distractions and penalties (unplanned parenthood, for one) and get ahead in other areas of living. Then, down the road, those feelings you’ve been without might surface (at “the right time”). Yet, you are feeling discomfort because this difference makes relating to others less likely.

You make a point of mentioning how having feelings for someone can be a big part of interacting/talking with peers. [Can I just say I have not known any teen your age to even use the word “peers” in a sentence? That strikes me as unusual, too. I’d say “classmates,” “fellow students” or “other kids in my school.” But, peers?]

And, I can relate to that, too. I am pretty sure that’s why I was given the labels I received; I didn’t feel comfortable talking about “banging” that girl/guy or how much I wanted to grab some girl’s breasts. [Nor could I gossip about past relationships I didn’t have.] I felt guys who did this were juvenile. I didn’t necessarily say or think I was better than them–as many would argue against me–but I didn’t want to be like them. I chose a different path and was humiliated for it.

My struggles were amplified by factors I never saw coming. I was outnumbered and overwhelmed. I was at war with family. And, all of that slowed down any progress I could make so badly that I could see everyone else walking away and getting ahead in life. I continue to question my decisions and why I had to fight those battles. Could I have avoided the conflicts somehow? Could I have ignored the “jerks” and focused better on those who mattered? Why did I make the decisions I made?

I seem to recall writing a letter like yours back when I was your age (except I made it clear I had feelings for a number of girls and was distraught for losing contact with at least one). I did not find or receive any response. Hopefully, you’ll find my words and get some good out of them.

06
Feb
17

My Response to “Teen in Ogden, Utah” (Dear Abby)

*****

You can find my response to this and other letters, now available for your viewing and opinion, on the designated page

But, while you’re here, have a read.

“Teen” is fifteen years old and entering a Crusade, a religion-fueled war, with his divided parents. How the parents even managed to get married and have a kid is a mystery, considering one believes in God and the other sounds like an atheist. What is not a mystery is why “Teen” is distancing himself from the parents and feeling uncomfortable when church-related topics arise.

I might have left this one alone had I not been bothered by Abby’s last “sage advice” from a “wise clergyman.”

———

The opposite of faith is certainty? What is that supposed to mean, Abby? And, what do you expect this young man to do with that? I’d expect him to emulate his father. I do not think such “wise” words would inspire him to remain true to any religion/faith.

“Teen,” there is only one thing I am certain of: you will learn a great deal about how impulses of your parents dwell inside you in the coming years if not decades. And, you will do battle with those facets until you can rest assured in your choices. Knowing this, you can either accept the stress you feel as part of the life you’ve been given or seek out activities and groups that relieve this stress. Hopefully, ones that don’t involve “recreational drugs” and/or violence other than martial arts practice. A club or class/group that eases your mind will be far less costly than a therapist and could result in making some valuable connections.

If I may ask a few questions…

Exactly how does your belief in God vary so greatly from your mother’s that there is this problem? And, why does it seem like your non-believing father has no interest in involving himself in this struggle of yours? I picture him hiding his face behind a newspaper or cellphone while your mother “encourages” you to participate in a religious community. Apparently, you have no concern for hurting HIS feelings because he has offered none; he simply lets you do what you like until it affects his wallet or some other non-religious aspect of his life. [Or, is it possible your parents are on the verge of divorce and you simply opt to support your mother while opposing your father? Is it possible your mother married your father with aspirations of changing his ways and making him a part of her chosen faith?]

I may be off-base. But, I hear these other voices in response to your comments.

You say: It’s really uncomfortable when people ask why I haven’t been in church.
I hear/think: Church bothers me because it’s too formal. [Or maybe] Church bothers me because I’m asked to give money. [Or] Church bothers me because it interferes with my free/fun time. [Or] Church bothers me because my parents don’t go there together; it does not hold us together as a family.

You say: Mom signs me up for church activities, and I don’t like going.
I hear/think: I struggle with socializing/participating. [Or] I’m anti-social. [Or] I suffer from social anxiety.

Abby suggests telling your mother how much you love her and hope she will continue loving you as you explore your life/religious options. I would guess none of that sounds easy or comfortable for you. Am I right?

If I was you, I’d have a hard time saying I love my mother, too. At your age, I was entering a similar battle and just starting to distance myself from my parents who seemed unable to respect my decisions and even my personal space. Pressure to change one’s ways or attend certain activities could be a sign of lacking trust in you to make your own decisions and come to your parents for advice when you need it.

I cannot tell you which faith is right or wrong. But, if you can better understand or see what motivates the feelings you have, you can answer your own questions. If your mother is so bent on getting you involved in the activities of her church community, hurting her feelings may be inevitable. Yet, if her faith and love for you is strong, she will recover from the bruises. [Just don’t cut ties with her completely unless that is what you truly want. What you want today may differ from what you decide to have in your life years from now.]

08
Dec
14

One Person’s Quirk Is Okay with Another

I like to think of myself as a multifaceted therapist. I’m a great back massage giver. I call them magic fingers. I haven’t done much with it, but I consider myself a decent art therapist (using art exercises to help people work through their “mental clutter”). And, I’ve been a decent listener most of my life without collecting $75-250 an hour for my time and saying very little.

But, here I am catching a few minutes of one goofy talk show in a million and hearing these “professionals” tell people with quirks that bother them that they should get help…and all I want to say is, “I don’t mind that quirk. I think it’s kinda cute. It’s unique and refreshing.”

And, isn’t that okay? Aren’t our quirks okay? Or, is every little odd/unique thing we do automatically a reason to sound the therapist/nut house alarm?

Warning: I’m about to rant. So, if you suffer from a “short attention span,” you may want to skip down past the partitioned section to the wrap-up.

———————

That’s ridiculous! It’s a quirk. It was probably caused by conditioning from exposure to some particular behavior from other people…whether that’s family, classmates or coworkers. And, all it takes to get out of that “kink” is to adjust yourself to someone new who makes you more comfortable. Until then, any conditioning therapy is going to be like slapping a smoker on the wrist to make them quit. You might force change, but will that make you feel better or just break the habit? Will you feel good about changing yourself or just comply with one more reprimand from peers? Is peer pressure a prescription for costly therapy and/or hazardous medication?

If you ask a “professional” outside the office, I am sure they’d love to set you up with a session schedule if they are starved for clients. But, once you get in that office, if they tell you your quirk is just part of you that you need to accept, what are you paying them for? And, if they recommend treatment or pills, what are you doing in that crazy person’s office??

A “professional” cannot replace family and friends the person really needs who will likely know more about the person rather than have them have to dig up aaaaall the history anew for some total stranger collecting a steep hourly fee. And, if you add up all the hours it would take to go through all that family history to get the “professional” up to speed, how much do you suspect that would cost?

Have you ever heard these expressions?

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

I am so sick and tired of what some consider a weakness or strange being sufficient reason for telling someone to “get help.” It’s bad enough kids get bullied in school for having a big head or small frame or a lack of a good role model/sport coach or extra body fat.

Well, guess what.

I suffer from poor self-confidence.

I grew up with a small frame and a big head for which I was frequently pestered.

I was bullied.

I had a fifth grade teacher who couldn’t stop clearing her throat; so I started doing it reflexively, and it took a whole year to break the habit. These things happen. The same way we pick up and lose accents when we live among different cultures.

I have lost some hair in places, and it makes me uncomfortable.

I wear eyeglasses, and they make me feel crippled; but I cannot see myself ever using contact lenses without infecting my eyes because my hands are too busy to be that clean when needed.

And, ya know what else?

If you’re kinda quiet, shy or humble (not as bold, confident and daring as the people around you), that’s just fine. I won’t mind.

If you feel the need to pick your nose, you’re human. Just do it when I am not looking and clean those fingers, after.

If you burp for whatever reason, an “Excuse me” is wonderful. But, I won’t think you rude or weird if you forget.

If you wear two different socks, is that such a big deal?

[I think I’ve said some of these before. And, it wouldn’t surprise me if you found them among older posts (like the “looking for love and happiness” ones where I state my “dating preferences”). There are habits I don’t like, including some people who talk incessantly without conscience as if they can’t tell when someone isn’t genuinely listening to them…yet they keep talking even as I walk away. But, if I wasn’t quirk tolerant, I don’t think I’d find someone like Zooey Deschanel appealing, at all.]

————————————

If you have a quirk, some habit that is unusual to others, it doesn’t mean you are mentally ill or unworthy of someone’s affection/attention. It may be annoying to some, but I’d prefer not to think it bothers EVERYONE. And, if your chosen spouse or mate happens to be bothered by it, maybe you’re hanging with the wrong tree. Ya know?

Every piece of the big picture puzzle fits somewhere. It just may be more difficult to find their place for some (myself included). It doesn’t mean we cut off our “bumps” to fit better. But, if YOU don’t like some aspect of yourself, it’s your call to change/fix it.

[Gosh, I get worked up when “professionals” turn nature into costly experiments.]

14
Jul
14

You Need to Get Lathed!

Have I told you the intense thrill I get from working with wood? I’m not talking about some run-of-the-mill joy you get from completing that dusty spice rack or bookshelf for your friend or family member. This thrill goes deeper than any man’s “lower appendage” can reach in the deepest of “woman wells.”

Yes. That’s right. If you know anything of sexual intercourse, you know the language I am speaking. You also know some version of the feeling. But, if I am not using the infamous tool of innuendo, am I seriously comparing “hot sex” to carpentry?

I am. There’s just one problem. Well, there’s more than one. But, I’m only focusing on one at the moment because more would probably blow both our “computer laundered” minds. [You know, how some articles of clothing get shrunk in the wash. There ya go. You got it. Right?] If I am not careful, my crafting could result in the creation of a birdhouse. I know it might sound crazy, but it’s true. I put myself to work for the thrill of it, and, suddenly, I’m staring at a birdhouse. But, I don’t want this.

If you ask me, there are already way too many birdhouses out there in the world. Heck. Birds are quite capable themselves of making nests in all sorts of places. Why do we need more?

So, to prevent this, I must wear special protection. And, if I share my skills with any women in this world, it seems vital that they too use protection lest they end up with a birdhouse they cannot fully enjoy. Unfortunately, the female version risks the function of internal organs with the potential for side effects spanning a lifetime. Luckily, more women than men seem content with finding a place in their lives for my unwanted sparrow shacks. I guess the risk of their lives seems less threatening than the loss/destruction of a birdhouse.

Knowing that protection was created by someone no more capable of invention than myself, it’s flawed at best. And, when the flaw reveals itself, guess what? You got it. I’m staring at yet another unwanted, unintended pigeon poop coop. These things are eating up my resources, including living space, and they’re starting to get on my nerves. But, I can’t give up the pursuit of that singular thrill. Can I?

If you’re tuning out or thinking I’m some sex-starved fool, dude (or dudette), you need to get lathed. Or, in other words, go file, drill, wrench, plumb, jack, plunger, pump, punch and/or hammer yourself. All it takes is for the fire of trending to spark a revolution.

If you’re going to get your hands dirty, do it without affecting the lives of others or be prepared for a surplus (or shortage) of robin roosts. Give a hoot; don’t contribute to the plagues of all mankind. Labor responsibly.

[In all seriousness as an artist, I prefer to work with pencil/pen and paper or clay, myself. But, to each their own.]




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