The Departure: Part Two

Over the past year, I’ve written extensively on my departure from Facebook, and how leaving has not only improved my life significantly, but has also shown me how much more I hate people, than I had originally thought. It’s quite clear how I feel about Facebook.

But did you know I also don’t Twitter? Or SnapChat? I don’t know any other things people use, but I am guilty of having an Instagram account, and I’m not sure if I’m using it right. I say this, because every time I log into the app, I see the same vain showboating that I hated on Facebook.

Sure, it is much less pervasive than it was on Facebook. I don’t have to see everything that my friends have “liked” that day or that week. I like that, because of the fact that I don’t care about what they found interesting. If it’s interesting enough to share it, they can share it. Their internal gauge of the importance Khloe Kardashian’s bikini body isn’t something I need to be involved in. I appreciate that Instagram keeps these dull friends from “showing their work” as they say in Mathematics.

I also don’t get tagged in shit that other people think I would be interested in. I like that, because I find that many of the people in my life don’t really know me at all. And if you’re trying to tag me in something that you think is funny, DON’T. I probably don’t think it’s funny, and I don’t want to pretend that I do.

But Instagram is just social media, at the end of the day. It’s still the same thing, isn’t it? As much as I don’t want it to be, it is. I log in, and see content that makes me like people less and less. It’s a constant reminder of how much I don’t fit in with the people around me, and I never will.

I don’t want to appeal to others in a way that makes them think I’m attractive. That’s not important to me. I don’t want to be revered for my looks, or act flashy, or pout at the camera with makeup and filters all over my face. I don’t want to show my ass, or talk about my tits. I don’t want to be in the front of every photo, claiming to know that life is about me somehow. I don’t care what influencers are doing. I don’t want to be like anyone that’s out there. And yet, these are the people I see when I log in. I hate it.

I do hate Instagram. It’s literally the only social media I have, and I probably (definitely) couldn’t even tell you the names of 5 other social media apps. I just don’t care enough about that kind of human interaction. If I want to reach people, or send a message, I want it to be for something other than just what the fuck I look like.

I began this site, because I use my writing to reach others. Sometimes, my topics and viewpoints piss off the people I know. Just as I know that I’m going to get 15 messages regarding this post, and they’re all going to say, “Was that about me?”

Of course! Isn’t everything about you?!???

Listen: if you read my shit, and you think “Hey, that sounds like she’s talking about me,” THEN I PROBABLY AM. I didn’t force you to behave that way. You did it on your own (with the influence of famous people you like) and I just talk about how I don’t like it. I don’t have to like it. Just like you don’t have to stop doing what you’re doing. Free country.

I write about society. That’s my target topic. What happens when you’re so repulsed by your target topic, that you want to quit? I’m sure political writers run into this all the time. How do you keep going? How do you subject yourself to something that is completely optional, when you disagree with it so wholeheartedly? Why would you?

There is no answer. The truth is, I recognize that different people have different strengths as objective pieces in life’s game. We have automotive experts, psychological experts, medical experts, etc. The world is full of people who know what they’re doing, more than you do. They’re trained in their field, or they’ve studied enough to have figured shit out. You take their advice and expertise, and you apply it to whatever needs fixing.

That’s what I do. I pick apart the shitty things about people, and let them know how they can be less shitty. Of course, that’s just according to my opinion. Some people call me anti-feminist. Some people say I’m a prude, or closed-minded. It’s funny to hear these things as responses to my writing, because they’re really just shots from an empty pen, from the desk of John Q. Butthurt. People get so defensive of their habits, that they never stop to think about why they actually do them. Why do you need to take the same picture of yourself, making the same face, every day? In case someone forgot what you look like? Why do it? What is the reason?

The reason is, because you find yourself attractive, and you want others to see you in that attractive moment, so they can find you attractive too. That is the only reason. There is no other reason, so stop trying to convince yourself. No one is trying to monitor your subtle changes over the years, so just admit that you’re doing it for your vanity.

Now you’re saying, “Well, what’s so wrong with feeling attractive?”

Nothing. Nothing is wrong with feeling like you look good. I encourage people to find good things about themselves all the time. The point is, when you minimize your existence to just your looks, you’re basically advertising that there’s nothing more to you than aesthetics. Unless you’re a contracted model, you should probably have more substance than just a pretty face. Give me something else. Anything.

So I’m a prude, because I think girls/women giving their images away for free on the internet is still a bad idea. I don’t know when or how I became the minority on this, but this new “feminism” wave has convinced everyone that everything is acceptable. I still remember when people worried about provocative pictures of themselves being out there in cyberspace, where any sicko could get their eyes on them (and if they like what they see, they’ll check out the rest of your profile, and see your kids, and see what the back yard of your house looks like, or the route that you travel on your Instagram stories).

Now, I see friends of mine in their underwear, or with their clothes barely on their bodies at all, or with a caption that directs the viewer specifically to see it sexually. You may feel like you’re powerful, but it’s basically free porn, and people who see it probably don’t think you’re powerful. They think they’re getting something for free, and they are.

But it’s your body, and your life. Go ahead and do it, if you like it. What’s the worst that could happen? That your children will have to deal with seeing their parent naked a bunch of times, when they may not feel comfortable with it? Or even better, they will grow up thinking that’s a good idea, and then a bunch of strangers are looking at your naked teen child for free on the internet. It’s ok. Mommy does it too. Future bosses or prospective colleges or loving grandparents or potential mates will allll see it as powerful.

Maybe that’s fine with you, too. But stop claiming that your attention-seeking behavior is feminism. You’re not inspiring anyone. You’re not “sticking it to the man” or shattering stereotypes. You’re not doing anything progressive. You just want to be seen and admired. That’s normal. But it’s not feminism. The idea of equality is so far outside your wheelhouse, it’s not even rolling down the street in your wheelneighborhood. Let’s call it Vanity, which is what it actually is.

I can say that I am anti-feminist in this way. I tell women why they’re grating against the feminist ideal of equality, but that is why I’m seen as not a feminist. In my mind, I define a feminist as someone who doesn’t create expectations of any gender, and believes opportunity should be available to everyone, in all areas of life and living.

That means every woman should be free to do and think as she pleases, regardless of what others think she should or shouldn’t be doing. Feminism! True feminism would suggest that means ALL people can do the exact same thing. No gender should be able to do something another one can’t do, right? Everyone gets to do everything. No one isn’t allowed to, if someone else can. That’s equality, and that’s what feminism is about.

So when I say I don’t like seeing my friends posing for free on the internet, or being completely wrapped up in their appearance, I am definitely being anti-feminist. They can do what they want. It’s their body. If they’re comfortable showing tits to the world, let them! If they’re comfortable with their 16 year old son sending out dick pics to his classmates, that’s the same thing, right? Nudity is for everyone who wants to bestow it upon the world. I mean, if a dude wants to whip out his wing-wang at you on the street, you just have to accept it, because everyone gets to be nude; not JUST YOU.

That’s part of my problem: I see people showing their shit off freely to the world, after talking about how a guy exposing himself to a woman is harassment. I’m not talking about cornering someone with your dick out. I’m talking about photos and videos of male anatomy being shown the way women show theirs online. If it’s not some sculpted, hairless, tan guy, it’s not acceptable. How is his choice to be nude considered harassment, and your choice to be nude is considered a right? That’s the issue. Nobody ever thinks their nudity could be unwelcome. Theirs is beautiful art that mother nature made, and other people’s nudity is rape.

Well, wake the fuck up and start considering that the world doesn’t always think your selfies are great. Sometimes, they’re boring. Sometimes, it reminds me that you really have nothing more going for you in life, and that makes me want to cry, because NOBODY is just looks.

But apparently a lot of people in my orbit are so self-obsessed, that they readily immerse themselves into today’s culture of vanity. They need the tally of “likes” to be shown in bold on the screen, so everyone knows the measurement of their worth. If you haven’t “liked” their recent photo, they’re going to make sure you know about it, so you can go “like” it.

These people aren’t my people. They’re free to exist in their world, but I am no longer able to stifle my gagging. I don’t like pretending to like people. I write about it all the time. But society has just worn me down. Rather than keep this site going with rants about how much I think people are full of themselves (and also excuses), I would rather just walk away.

So this is my last post. I hope you have enjoyed my experiment in observing and recording what I see around me. I’m sure it has taken many years off the end of my life.

Adios, amigos.

-jg

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Score.

“Four score and seven years ago” is a phrase that is familiar to many (though increasingly fewer in overall percentage, as time goes on) as part of the opening line of the Gettysburg Address. There’s no way I’m turning this into a history lesson about the Gettysburg Address, or the events surrounding it in time, so if you’re curious, crack open an Encyclopedia Britannica.

Four score and seven years is equal to 87 years. Obviously, a score is equivalent to a span of 20 years. I say it’s obvious, but I’m not sure it is. I’ll just go with this, and say that it is obvious, because only geniuses read my blog. (That’s you.)

My 20 year high school reunion is coming up next month. It’s hard to believe I graduated that many years ago, but then, it seems like I’ve lived so much more than 20 years of time and experience. Have I crossed into a new block of storage, and disconnected from my early life’s feelings?!

If you’re curious, the answer is no: the 20 years of changes in the Bumfuck Egypt Class of ’99 is not something that has made it onto my radar of interest, beyond shredding the idea for an article. I don’t think I’m currently in touch with anyone from my class, and if I am, I don’t remember who they are.

If you’re one of my classmates, and you’re reading this now, I’ve forgotten you. Do better.

I’m not saying none of my classmates were cool. There are a bunch of them who I actually have interacted with in the past decade, maybe even in the past five years. My class was very small, and our school was stuck in the backwoods, so the people who did make it out of there, have long gone. I don’t even know how to inquire about the reunion, aside from contacting the school directly, but I don’t actually want to go that badly.

I’ve been toying with the idea of contacting my class president (who was a close buddy of mine, and would probably pick right up where we left off, if I ever saw him again) and asking him to hook me up with a live microphone during the reunion, so I could sneak in through the back door, and do an impromptu roast, before quickly exiting without any classmate interface.

I wonder how smoothly that would go? Matt says it wouldn’t.

I have other ideas.

It’s not like they can suspend me, or ban me from events I don’t even want to attend. They can’t fine you or arrest you, just for being hilarious in front of people. I don’t see how it could go badly.

Matt says I’ve alienated friends before, during times of differing opinions, and that I run the risk of pissing someone off.

Please, Matt. Please.

If I want to get up there, and say, “Hey, 20 years since we graduated. That means only 15 more years until they start to think about replacing our textbooks,” I should be able to say it. It’s no secret to my classmates, that we were being taught from archaic text, while science was growing in complexity and discovery all around us. They know that.

How many times did I open an active textbook, to see someone’s name in it, and find out they were dead from old age? More than once.

“It’s not funny that they have a very serious lack of funding for curriculum because of the exorbitant overspending around athletics at that school. Some schools just don’t get money.”

When I was in school, the policy around academics was re-written, so that the Senior basketball players who were failing Chemistry could still play ball. The prior policy was that you couldn’t fail anything, or sports and extra-curriculars were off the table for you. But then, they had to account for the jocks who literally had nothing else to rely on. They couldn’t lose them. What would they do? Who would play basketball?!

I’ll tell you what they did. They decided that more basketball practice was what those guys needed, not more study time. If the school loses sports money, there will be nothing left to spend money on. Solid logic, for anyone who knows what it’s like to be the principal of a shitty class D school.

Just so you know, if you write an article about how stupid that is, and then have it submitted to the school paper for distribution, you get in trouble.

My high school prized preppy rich kids who wouldn’t dream of questioning authority, and the jocks happened to fall into that category, almost entirely for the most part. Not many athletes were non-preppy kids, or vice versa.

My group of kids was their arch enemy, and some of us (myself excluded) fell into the middle of that Venn diagram, making them Cool Athletes. I was not a cool athlete, but I did know some. They were always talking about how the Preppies weren’t that bad, and I wondered if they said the same thing to them about us. They called us the Crunchies. The Preppies and The Crunchies. The new Sharks and Jets.

To think that nobody changes after high school is a weird concept to me, and a good movie idea. Sure, it’s probably been done in different iterations, but I think there’s more to it. I think there might actually be truth to it, in some areas of the country. Prom King and Queen get married, and their kids marry the kids of the Prom King and Queen from the next school over, and so on. Or the Arts kids just stay close with each other forever, and nobody ever stops being interested in what everyone is reading for at the moment.

A lot can happen in the course of 20 years. In my case, everything significant in my life has taken place within the past 20 years since I graduated high school. High school is very much a thing of the distant past, for me. It’s so far gone, that it doesn’t even seem like it occurred in this life that I’m currently living.

And in a few short years, high school will be a thing of the past for my kids as well. That shit scares me. I wanted them to be able to enjoy teenagerdom so much more, before the searing pain of life comes showering down around them. I wanted them to do all the things I didn’t get to do, and regretted not doing.

My childhood and teen years were fairly uneventful, and the things that were meaningful, were few and far between. As an adult, I have had the disenchanting experience of discovering that meaningful doesn’t always equal great, and that great doesn’t always equal positive.

As I said up there, I didn’t do much as a teen, so I watched a lot of movies and TV, or had music on constantly. In movies, you always see the part where the characters are at their high school reunion, and it’s supposed to be funny, and everyone looks almost completely different than they did, and for some reason, everyone still worships the high school hierarchy that causes them to feel intimidated by the “popular kids” still.

I’m no expert on society (or so I’d have you believe), but I think that when people grow up, they stop giving a shit about who was the King of the school. Once you’re out of there, you see it as the pre-school for life that it really is. Even if I did see someone as “better than me” or “cooler than me” in school, I seriously doubt I would give a shit about that now. Clearly, high school doesn’t determine success in life. I see a lot of jocks pumping gas around here.

But at the reunion in the movies, the asshole jock is still the King, and everyone is still intimidated by him, and they all still think he’s the coolest. And the most popular girl in school is still the hottest chick around, because somehow, none of the other women managed to ever become better looking than her, which is really what matters, isn’t it?

Side note: I’ve written an article on this topic before, and after revisiting it, I decided it was mean. Not intentionally mean, but it certainly came across that way, and it didn’t reflect how I truly feel, so I’ve done away with it, and integrated it into this one. You all know how good I am at finishing things, so here we go. Back to the thing.

Examples of why I think high school kids – WHILE AMAZING TO STUDY SOCIALLY – annoy me: 20 Years Later Edition.

This particular current(-ish) event was a banquet at my son’s school last year. I would like to stress again, that all of these kids are cool as fuck, and they’re smart, and driven, and they embrace fun in everything they do. Pretty good crowd, right?

Allow me to set the scene of said banquet: in the room, there were 20 tables. Each table sat 8 people. It wasn’t going to be a very big event, so when my family of 4 arrived, we just chose a table and clustered ourselves around one half of it. Another family of 4 could sit on the other side, or 2 families of 2, or a family of 3 and a family of 1.

There was only a total of 8 kids there at the time. Do you think they all sat at the same table? Of course not, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Let ‘em spread out. That didn’t bother me, but here’s where my first example begins: as the other students started arriving, the sitting students would scream their names, as if they hadn’t seen them for like, THREE WHOLE HOURS.

And one by one, these kids were verbally invited to “The Cool Table” at the front of the crowd, leaving the rest of us peasants to feel collectively excluded, like some old people at the back of that rock show you like s’damn much.

Honestly, I didn’t even know that “Cool” shit still existed. I mean, I had my suspicions, but this was weird. How is it The Cool Table, if everyone is sitting at it? Wouldn’t that just be A Table?

And what about the fact that MY table WASN’T The Cool Table?! I mean, my family is hysterically funny, and we have THE BEST dinner time conversations. If our table isn’t The Cool Table, then I don’t want to be cool, I guess, and it’s my choice, not because they said I wasn’t.

The Cool Kids started taking the chairs from the other tables, while those people were up at the buffet, WHICH WAS AMAZING. The buffet, I mean, not the stealing of chairs. That was pretty annoying, because they took 6 of the chairs from our table while we were gone, and we had to steal them from other jerks from Less-Cool-But-Still-Pretty-Cool tables.

It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I have principles, and I was not about to eat a whole plate of delicious meatballs while standing up. Those kids thought I wouldn’t be that lazy, but they obviously underestimated me.

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Well, my kids don’t do that stuff.” And I would say to you: shutup and stop lying to yourself. Just because your kids aren’t doing these particular things, doesn’t mean they aren’t acting like little shitheads when you’re not around, and they’re allowed to be “cool.”

Believe me, they’re doing just that. And they’re good at it. No matter how great you think your kid is, I guarantee there is someone whose nerves they love to work on. Maybe it’s you. Who knows.

Some people like to say, “When you were their age, you did that too,” and to some extent, they’d be right, but I wasn’t even remotely excited about anything my peers were doing in the 90s, so they’re also kinda wrong. I mean, I remember being annoying, but everyone is. Everyone is annoying, including your kid, remember?

But there’s a difference between being annoying, and being an experience that everyone has to live through. So maybe yours is not screaming at the top of their lungs, to welcome a peer to the table in the most extravagant way possible. Maybe they’re the peer that is being showered with those feelings, making them believe they are extra special, just like everyone else who walked in.
Maybe yours is wildly unpopular, and would die to feel the acceptance that others so freely give away. Maybe yours is like me, and realizes that, after you graduate high school, shit changes. Prom King and Homecoming Queen don’t translate well on a resume, and certainly not when it comes to keeping yourself alive.

My high school experience was full of days that I swore I had wished away hard enough, but seemed to drag on forever. Every day was a struggle, in and out of school, and graduation day seemed like an eternity in the future, to the point where I couldn’t even decide what that would look like. I just knew high school was not what I thought life would be like. So my master plan was to laugh through as much of the bullshit as I could, which as it turns out, is a lot.

And as soon as I graduated, life got real, and that shit wasn’t pretty.

I was back at the starting line of life, with everyone else, even the popular kids, and the century was turning. The next generation was already being born, and technology was changing the way we perceived each other (and life).

Like many of my classmates, I became a parent, and then the internet taught us how to be the right kind of parent, and we took those tips (sometimes from people who weren’t parents, and had no education on the topic) and we ran with them.

We kept checking back, to make sure we were doing what everyone else was doing, and NOT doing what everyone else thought was wrong. It changes all the time. One day spaghetti is the best thing for kids, and the next day, it causes brain death. We could no longer afford to make the mistake of not being in-the-know.

Spaghetti doesn’t cause brain death, so if you’re not one of my regular readers… I exaggerate sometimes. Go ahead and feed your kids spaghetti. Or don’t, I mean, I’m not your kid’s parent, so that’s just some advice you can take or leave. I feel like they won’t die without spaghetti, but I’m no doctor.

Innovations in social media and personality branding, as well as unrealistic hyper-active parenting woes, as well as the deadly peer scrutiny and judgment, have all created a monster. Kids are being held to impossible standards by their peers.

They feel the need to change. They feel the need to chase perfection. They feel the need to fit a mold. They feel the need to replicate what others admire. It’s just an image, based on the heavily edited photos and videos they see online and on television and in magazines, and we know this, but girls and guys alike are all susceptible to it.

That’s right. It isn’t just the ladies who are feeling the pressure. It’s everywhere, and if they aren’t adhering to the latest tweet or post from a major influencer (which is a fucking job now), they can expect to be rejected everywhere in their physical life. Guys too.

That’s something I find annoying, and new. I didn’t have to deal with social media when I was in school, so maybe that’s why I think things are so much worse now. Remember, I thought high schoolers were annoying before; there is nothing new about this. The part I find new, is the immediate broadcast of every feeling and reaction people have, before they have the opportunity to process the emotion.

A minor tiff between friends, once easily solved by a little time and space, can easily escalate to someone’s entire life being ruined, because social media allows us to share our feelings (about a person or event) across a wide net of people. The bigger the audience, the more people to share in that view, and the faster that immediate reaction turns into a group opinion.

I’m not sure how I would have made it through high school, if I had to deal with social media. Could I have shut it out, as I claim it to so easily be done? Who knows?

I do know one thing I could have benefited from, that would have changed my whole experience. It’s something that my son’s high school sees as a basic need, and that’s faculty support.

I never had any teachers or counselors or mentors telling me that they believed in me, or saying anything about my potential. I didn’t know I could do it. I didn’t work toward any goals, because nobody ever told me there was anything to work toward. Nobody cared what happened to me, as long as I was doing what I was told. A mentor could have really helped me see what I was capable of achieving.

My son’s high school is full of that type of thing, and it’s so beautiful to see it everywhere. These kids are nice, even where exclusion exists, and the teachers really care about what the students’ lives are like. They invest the time in getting to know them, and they encourage them, and rally around them, not just for the students themselves, but for the ripple of positivity that it causes.

There are infinitely more clubs and organizations, and there is so much talent that is being proudly shown in so many ways. At my school, anyone who showed pride in a talent was quickly torn down, until they didn’t believe in themselves anymore. We had no band. We had no clubs. We had a shitty drama department that was student-led, and poorly supported by the school. The teachers just waited to get out of there each day, and interacted minimally with the students. No interesting courses were offered, and we only had two foreign languages: French and Spanish. When I began foreign language, they only offered French.

My school was full of people who were not informed of their potential. To see my son going to a school that celebrates hard work, is a blessing to me. It doesn’t mean there are no challenges or downsides, but to have peers and faculty believe in you is a powerful thing. I don’t think I ever had that, anywhere.

Looking back, I don’ t know what that would have changed, because I eventually did just stop expecting anyone to believe in me, and learned to believe in myself. 20 years later, I only regret not caring more about myself, or subjecting myself to criticism more. It never occurred to me to care what others think, and I’m sure I wouldn’t feel any differently now, just because it has been 20 years.

I used to hate school, mostly because of the school itself. I have no problems talking negatively about it, because it was a terrible place that didn’t value education, and didn’t recognize the important role of a student/teacher relationship (not that kind). It made me hate the idea of school. It made me look at it as a waste of time.

But time is valuable, and if students are expected to respect teachers’ time, then teachers need to reciprocate that same thing in students. Students should automatically assume that their time is also valuable.

You know what happens when it isn’t? They grow up bitter. They grow up thinking they can’t lean on others. They grow up to write articles about how shitty their high school experience was, and that it taught them how unimportant goals and dreams and confidence and talent and determination and self-actualization were.

I know I’m doing myself a disservice by not going to the 20 year reunion, because of the fact that it’s in my writing wheelhouse to analyze situations like that, and relate them to measurements of time, and break down society’s affect on people I used to know. I should go, even if I can’t roast my classmates. Though, that would absolutely be a deal-maker.

But in the end, my time is just too valuable to waste another minute of it in that school.

1999 and forever!

-jg

Lost In The Supermarket

As much as I hate to admit it, I am what is called a “loyal shopper” at one of our local grocery stores.

It wasn’t planned. It very much happened by accident. I used to shop at the store that was closest to me, not just out of laziness, but also because the chain is local to my state in particular. It was just a grocery store, beyond that. Nothing special.

I had experienced several mishaps in that store, including, but not limited to:

  • burned by oil from rotisserie turkey that hadn’t been closed properly by the employee,
  • served raw chicken from the “Ready To Go” “prepared” foods section, and
  • sold expired meat.

So, mostly meat related, as you can see.

My first instinct, was to buy everything except for meat there, and then just hit the butcher shop for that stuff. That worked out. Briefly.

Long story short (this is short, for me), I ended up switching to a different grocery store altogether, which only turned out to be 1/4 mile further from my house. They do sales and coupons and all that fun stuff, where the old “local” grocery store doesn’t (my understanding is that they now have a loyalty program, which started right after I left – ironic), so I was already interested, because I fuckin’ love saving money. Right away, I began saving money, and it wasn’t two weeks, before I was hooked to the fullest extent of the (grocery) law.

Or so, I thought.

One day, I walk up to the register, and my favorite cashier, “Ginny,” says to me, “Hey, man.” (nods at me) “Do you do the preferred pricing program?”

Guh??? Preferred pricing??

Why on Shaq’s flat green earth, would anyone pay anything other than the preferred price??? It reminded me of that episode of King Of The Hill, where Hank finds out he’s a dumbass for paying the “preferred price,” which actually was sticker price the whole time, and he thought he was getting some sweet deal. Why was I paying sticker price for my asparagus?!

I immediately joined the program that day, and the addiction only got deeper. I imagined myself on Extreme Couponers, talking about ten cases of popsicles that the store needs to go get from their deep freezer out back, so I can pay 14 cents for them. I don’t know why I chose popsicles for that scenario. I don’t even like popsicles. I guess there’s still time to change this part, though I may just go with this.

So, I get this preferred pricing, and each week, I get my “frequently purchased items” at a discount, because it shows that I’m predictable, and they like that. One of my most frequently purchased items is Brown Success Rice (shoutout to Success Rice!) so I usually get a special deal on that. In my case, anything is considered a special deal, as long as it’s less than whatever you’re paying.

I put the rice on the list, and prepare myself to pay the preferred price of $2.48 per box (wooo!) for my tasty brown rice, which I did do. But when I looked at the regular civilian price, it was literally only one cent more. I saved a whopping ONE FUCKING CENT, on something that I’ve purchased TWO OF, every week, for the past 156 weeks. Not seeing how that’s a deal, but I did set the bar pretty low, so technically I got a deal. God damn ass loop holes.

In addition to special pricing, I also get freebies from time to time. Usually, they’re in the form of reward points, which I can then convert into free items, but that’s not too much work for me to do, so I do it. The free items are always something I need. Butter, eggs, shit like that- so even though they’re Store Brand, I get them.

Here’s where things get tricky with the Store Brand.

I get a coupon for Store Brand British Muffins (I think you call them English Muffins). I go to the store to get the Store Brand British Muffins, and I get to the bread aisle, and they only have Store NAME British Muffins. They have Store Brand BAGELS, but no Store Brand British Muffins. Only Store Name. Needless to say, they didn’t honor the exchange, despite the fact that they had given me a coupon for a product they didn’t even sell. Dealio!

Sometimes, they give me a coupon for a free item that is out of stock, even though I get there at 7:00 AM on the first morning of the sale. That’s a fun one. I’ve completely given up on asking for those items, because the store employee generally doesn’t return from that fact-finding mission.

Last weekend, I went to buy spinach pasta, because I like to trick myself into thinking Alfredo won’t undo any nutritional benefits brought on by the pasta. (I can see the green through the sauce, so the veggies are still alive, I feel like.) The package says there’s spinach in it, so that counts.

The store didn’t have my brand (Delverde, if you’re wondering), so I went with a different brand that looked pretty similar, and was delicious, just not as delicious as my normal brand. Out of desperation for spinach-laden pasta, I went with the large, inconvenient box of spinach pasta nests, that dwarfed everything else in the cart. When I got to the register, and unpacked my groceries, the cashier- who sees me in that store every single week– asks me the question I absolutely hate:

“Did you find everything okay today?”

Fuck you. I’m literally here every 168 hours, and never have questions, so unless the store has completely remapped itself, I could probably tell you where to find shit. Don’t ask me that.

Another thing I hate, on a side note, is this shit:

Cashier: “How are you today?”
Me: “I’m doing well. And yourself?”
Cashier: *crickets fucking*

Why can’t you answer me? I am right in front of you, and I have never once been accused of being quiet, so I guess it’s just down to you being a rude-ass, isn’t it? I realize dragging a bottle of dish soap across a laser beam is demanding of your focus, but surely you can spare a second of attention for the consumer?

Let’s get back to this weird checkout shit with the pasta, because I’m not done yet. The cashier picks up the big awkward box, clearly confused as to what it is, and makes an attempt at the Small-Talk-About-What-You-Bought game; another thing I absolutely hate.

“Is spinach pasta really better for you than white pasta?”

I looked at Matt, as if to ask him, “Are we on a hidden camera show?” But we weren’t. We were in real life, and this woman, who is around all the food, all day, every day, was asking me if the addition of a vegetable that is known to have some of the strongest nutritional benefits, would make a food healthier.

I told her, “Not the way I use it!” And then I ran out of there, without my stuff, just for dramatic effect.

The newest frustrating obsession this store has cursed me with, is the Monopoly game. If you’re one of those people who hands me their tokens after you shop, because you don’t play the game, you must take it from me: don’t even start playing. 

Most of the things I win, are either more tokens to play, or free donuts from the bakery. Last year, I won a whopping $5, but the whole thing was so convoluted and annoying, that I didn’t even cash it in. I haven’t thought about what the threshold would be, as far as making something worth the effort to redeem the prize, but it’s probably not in my future, so that can just go unsolved. At this point, the answer is: big.

A relative on my stepmom’s side is one of those extreme couponers, and I see her at the store all the time.  She doesn’t really say hi to me, and tries to avoid me, even though that’s dumb. I guess XC (extreme couponing) really turns you into a turd. While I admire her savvy spending, I can’t help but realize that I also could probably feed my family on $30 per week, if I still thought a diet of Honey Buns and Hot Pockets were a good idea. I’d rather just pay full price for the real food (like Success Rice!)

One of the funniest things I see at the supermarket, is how unorganized some people are. Their cart is all mixed up, and shit is getting squished, and their raw meat is stacked on top of their bread and fruit, and they just pile everything on the conveyor belt. No plan. I’m hard-focused when I shop, complete with a legal pad of every item I need, down to the price I am expecting to pay. Not everyone is like that, and that’s cool. Some people don’t have a list, and don’t care about the brand they’re buying, and don’t have any sort of agenda, so they don’t come unglued on their partner in front of everyone.

Sometimes, when I snap at Matt in the store, other ladies will laugh, and encourage me. Especially older ladies.

Other times, when he’s in the way of someone else, I tell them it’s okay to hit him. Then, when they laugh, I act like I’m not even there with him, and I’m just encouraging random acts of violence.

A lot of times, I just straight-up leave him at the store, if he doesn’t win me something in the skill crane.

(I’m just kidding about some of that. I’m not a mean partner, and I don’t condone violence. I mean, really, it’s Matt’s fault that he’s always in the way.)

One thing I DO like about grocery shopping (all shopping, really) is the part where they want me to give my customer feedback in a survey. Oh, honeychild, I fill out the surveys. I complain. I call the corporate office, if I feel so inclined. But the fact that they’re asking me to give my ideas on what would improve my shopping experience, is a bonus I always expect, but never get tired of.  I think I have my own folder in my store’s customer service inbox.

If stores could do one thing to improve my experience, I would definitely say the number one thing would be, “Shutup.” Just shutup. Just stop talking to me, and offering me things, and asking how my day is. I promise, you don’t want me to engage in some fake-ass conversation, because it’s going to probably look like this:

Cashier: “How are you today?”

Me: “Fuckin’ terrible.”

Cashier: “Oh no! Well I hope it gets better.”

Me: “Yeah, I thought it was going to, but then I got stuck in some dumb conversation, and now, here I am …”

Cashier: *weird nervous laugh*

Me: “Are you laughing at me? I had a step-uncle who used to laugh. He’s dead, now.”

And that’ll be that, because there’s no way any cashier has enough in them, to shut me up once I start down that dark, dark road. Nobody can. Not even my step-uncle.

Improve my shopping experience by letting me bag my own groceries. I want to. I tell the baggers to get lost, when they try to come help me. “I can do it better than you.” I should start telling them other stuff, like, “Yeah, they fired you. Nobody told you? I just heard them talking about it over there. I think one of them was the manager.”

There is one major upside to bagging your own stuff, and that’s knowing that your alcohol won’t be thrown willy-nilly into the bag with your canned vegetables. It also means you won’t be bitterly surprised once you get the groceries to your car, to discover that there are a ton of singular items that are bagged alone. Has no one told them about microplastics? Or about how my Bag Hutch is dangerously close to 12 bags, as it is??

This post has taken me about a week to write, which is not as much sad, as it is pathetic and sad. I go grocery shopping every Saturday, and I have been shopping twice, since I started this. (Matt said to stop it with the self-deprecating posts, because nobody is as tired of my writer’s block crap as I am.) I rolled up to the checkout yesterday, and my favorite cashier (“Ginny” from before) was there. There was nobody in line, so that was a bonus, and when we brought up our cart, she says, “Yes! It’s my favorite couple!”

My motherfuckin’ money skills are bringing her joy. She knows I’m going to save money, and she absolutely loves that shit. She also knows I’m going to tell the bagger to fuck off, so she just ends up telling them how great I am, as soon as they try to “help.” She tells them I could teach them how to do their job better. She’s fully behind my skills and opinions.

I always feel bad for the next person in line behind me when I go to Ginny, because they watch her be so excited and engaged during our interaction, and then she turns to them, and the smile fades from her face, as she says,

“Hi. How are you? Did you find everything you were looking for today?”

 

-jg

This Is All Very Normal

I was grocery shopping the other day, and while I was trapped in line at the checkout counter, I fell into the subsequent trap within the trap, of reading tabloid headlines. When I get to this point, there is only one thing left to do, and that’s to make fun of everything around me.

Those magazines are fuckin’ popular, let me tell you this. In the age of the internet, how the fuck are these magazines still making money off anyone who isn’t a doctor’s office? I see so many people holding them, clutching them, if you will, in their tiny little talons, and you know they just can’t wait to get home and read about what Jennifer Lawrence did at the Oscars. The internet can be a tricky place, so you know “Ok!” magazine is going to give you the straight dope on Kim Kardashian’s seven pink leotards she wore in Miami, and you don’t have to worry about fake news. The only fake thing, will be Kim Kardashian.

One magazine said, in big, bold letters: “CELEBRITIES ARE JUST LIKE US!” The inset photo had Charlize Theron throwing her garbage in a can, and another one showed Bradley Cooper going -gasp!- FOOD SHOPPING, in a pair of sweatpants … just like us.

These are things I do. How in the world can a celebrity do them too?! I was under the impression that skills were delegated to people, at birth, based on their future ability. Some people are garbage men, some people are movie stars. Never both. Time isn’t unlimited, and you can’t shop for your own food, if you have scripts to read!

I saw Tootie from The Facts of Life at an airport in Atlanta, once. She was flying coach. Just like us (unless you’re too fancy for this rant, in which case, what the fuck are you doing here, if not to discover me!?)

“Celebrities are just like us! They throw up that bad-choice Chinese food out the car window, on the freeway!”

I’ve met a bunch of celebrities, and I’m not name dropping any other ones, besides my near-encounter with Tootie. I will say, however, that I have seen some of them doing some incredibly normal shit. I went back to meet a music group that I love, and they were way too cool to come say hi to a fan. We were literally the only two people out there, and they sent one guy out to shake our hands, while the rest of them said “fuckit.” That’s a pretty average thing to do, I think. Some people just don’t even come out and tell you that their friends couldn’t stand the thought of getting sucked into a conversation with you. That might classify this as going above and beyond, but I’d say it’s more of an “above OR beyond” situation. I wonder how they decided which of the 7 of them would come out and break the news that we weren’t gonna burn a doob together? I bet it was a rock, scissors, paper shootout, because that’s totally what normal people do, and what celebrities would do, when they’re being just like us.

Another time that I met famous people, it was at a comedy show that I hauled ass for hundreds of miles to see. I did some pretty uncharacteristic things in those moments, but it was totally worth it. One of my comedy idols told me I was the coolest person in that crowd, so I had to appreciate not only his honesty, but his absolute accuracy in that truthful statement. He doesn’t say that to every fan, I’m sure of it. He was connecting with me on that normal, regular person level. I can tell when celebrities are schmoozing, and when they’re being just like us. This was definitely the latter.

I went to a festival, where the celebrity in question left the show right after their set. They literally only showed up to perform, get paid, and get the fuck out of there before the midnight rave in the forest started spilling over into the main stage. I probably would’ve done that, too. And some celebrities wouldn’t do that, but this one did. It took me by surprise, how normal it all was.

I saw a celebrity on TV, walking their dog. I was like, “What?!” Shouldn’t a celebrity have a dog walker?? How are they going to influence people, if they’re out doing things like walking? I know, as soon as I get famous, the first thing I’m buying is a dog walker, and I’ll never take part in peasant activities such as poop-scooping or jogging, ever again. I won’t even waste time playing with them. Heck, I might not even give them their own Instagram account!

“Celebrities are just like us! They buy their kids a car when they turn 16!”

Aside from the fact that celebrity kids don’t even know how to drive, I don’t know if they’d want to, unless they had to. You certainly could drive while dicking around on your phone, but that would be stupid, because why the hell would you want that kind of distraction from your phone?! They ride with Mom and Dad, like normal people (us), to the Cartier store.

Do you think celebrities are getting in fights with their kids, about how to plunge the toilet effectively, so it doesn’t overflow? I feel like they’re not. Not when there’s always the option of hiring someone to deal with that whole bathroom action for you, but I’m way too broke for that. I might be able to afford someone to just yell at my kids, but I can just do that for free.

“Celebrities are just like us! They yell at their kids in public, and say they’re not afraid to look like an asshole in front of everyone in the restaurant!”

I think if a celebrity saw some of the “normal” things in my life, they might try harder to stay famous. My new car just made it through its first winter, and it now rides like a horse-drawn carriage on a cobblestone street. And that’s AFTER getting it double-checked by my mechanic, AND ALSO having the tires rotated and balanced. This is just my life, now. It’s normal to feel like your vehicle is playing tricks on you. James Dean was a celebrity, and look at his car. Mine’s normal.

So, if celebrities are just like us, could we then also assume that the inverse is true? Are we just like celebrities??

“People are just like celebrities! They wake up at 4:00 AM, to get in full hair and face, and Vaseline their teeth to shine and sparkle, while scotch tape holds their eyes open, and they suck in their gut, while flashbulbs send them directly to temporary blindness!”

I saw someone do some celebrity shit, once. She was sitting in her car, taking some pretty dressed up photos of herself. She kept changing the light in the car, and adjusting the mirrors and windows and her seat and her hair, and she touched up her makeup, and then ran the fuckin’ gamut of poses. She got the southern light, and the western light, and the northern lights. At one point, the inside of the car was glowing. I think it was the Black Hole filter, which is so easy to click on, accidentally. It’s right next to the Black Culture Appropriation filter, on most devices.

I saw a guy at the ice cream place we go to, and he was definitely on some kind of hidden camera show that we didn’t get to know about. I can sense when a celebrity is around, and I think he was it! His outfit was magically delicious, first of all, in a way which doesn’t happen much with us non-celebrity folk. The outfit, I need to stop talking about, because I want to move onto the ice cream. This guy ordered a Fluffernutter Parfait. He talked endlessly about college football, and then steps up to order a Fluffernutter parfait, which I have to guess is probably mostly marshmallow fluff. Did that guy not eat enough Fluffernutter sandwiches as a child, or at least as a college student, that he just had to go to a famous ice cream stand, and order the fuckin’ chicken nuggets of ice cream?? Only a celebrity could be dazzled by such a juxtaposition of novelties, as college football, fashion, and a Fluffernutter parfait. Not in my town, Hollywood.

Perhaps, one day, I’ll be a celebrity. And when I am, I’m going to revisit this article, and I’ll write a new one, where I’m like, “I’m just like I used to be.” Only, more people will be reading those words than now, and most of those people won’t actually have a connection to the words, but they’ll probably act like they do. That’s the normal way. The normal way, also, is to swear you won’t change. So, I’m already living my truth.

What if celebrities started being so much like us, that we didn’t know how to tell the difference? Maybe Luke Wilson is my brother (he is), and I just didn’t know it (I did)? Maybe my neighbor is Larry The Cable Guy, and all the signs are obvious? I’ve confused a lot of people for Gary Busey, now that I think about it. Is this The Matrix??? Oh no, I think I incepted too far …

_EOF_

Vacation, By Accident

I’m taking a break from writing, which was completely unintentional. I’m at such a loss for writing inspiration right now, because I’ve been doing this for so long, and I still feel like I’m writing only for myself. If I’m writing for myself, there really is no reason to commit anything to page, because I probably will never find the time to read it again.

Matt says not to give up, ever, and I can see why he would say that, but you can’t pull motivation out of thin air, and there isn’t exactly a ton of drive for me to write anything. I didn’t even know how to word that first paragraph, and found myself getting distracted by Matt’s singing. That’s how I know I can’t write.

When I started this blog, I had tons of shit to say, and now I feel like it doesn’t really matter what I say, because nobody is actually listening. I’ll never be paid to write, and even the people who used to say they loved my writing have stopped reading. So the inspiration is lacking, and thereby, I see no reason to write.

I think back to some of my old posts, and I am thrilled with how funny and insightful some of them are, and it doesn’t even seem like I wrote them. I’m an empty well of ideas, where I was once overflowing with thoughts and philosophies and perceptions. Those old posts were so beautifully written, that I would read them over and over, but very few people have even read them once. Why keep writing?

If you haven’t read my old stuff, here are some of my favorites. I figure, if I can’t entertain you at this time, I may as well entertain you from the past.

Feel free to share, if you enjoy them.

The Feverish Brain

“Why Now?” revisited

Hey! Stop Blowing Me (off)

Manic Depression Is A Frustrating Mess

I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!

Mothers’ Day… Just ONE?!

Last Day of School 2017

Covfefe

Why Women’s Empowerment Is Important To Me

Vacation… Nothing Like What I Wanted

WOMAN…Whoa, Man…

Can I Help, Or Be Lazy?

There’s some love, some satire, some truth, some messages, and some ranting. I hope you enjoy it all, and I hope to see you soon.

-jg

Too Many Pies (Not Enough Fingers)

It has been quite awhile since my last post, which has been driving me batty with anxiety, so I hope you’re happy.

The truth is, I’ve been extremely busy with all kinds of things I can’t tell you about now, but mostly it’s because I’ve been working. I know it’s shocking to think that I don’t make a living off my amazing writing, but I do have a day job, and with the opportunity to work as many hours as I fucking feel like, I tend to push myself.

So part of it is work, and part of it is recovering from working too hard, and a lot of it is also self-medicating to get through said work. I love my day job, though it’s sometimes way more than I can handle, but at least I am my own boss, so I can’t complain that much. Other than the complaining I’ve already done, of course.

Besides my day job, I’ve been working on a show that I’m writing, and I can’t get my mind off of it. It’s consuming me. Every time I stop thinking about whatever task I’m doing, a new idea pops into my head, and I just feel this smile start creeping up on my face, and I just know I have to get to a computer or some note taking app, or whatever, because those little hand held voice recorder things would look super fuckin’ weird these days.

Anyway, I still love writing. I still have the passion to entertain you, and educate you, and broaden your very horizons, but I just have too many things going on at the moment, and I can’t write 1,200-2,500 words that don’t have to do with my show. I’ve tried. Look. I’m trying now.

I did start a piece about a topic that I’ve chatted on before (sports) but I just felt like it would’ve taken my brain in a completely different direction than where I need it to be, so that’s going to be coming soon. If you hate big corporations, and you think they have too big of a hand in sports, that’s something you’ll want to read. I’m trying to make it funny, but I think it’s more of a satirical shredding of a widely accepted idea, than a string of jokes. It’ll be totally different from everything else I do …

That was sarcasm. I was rolling my eyes, but you couldn’t see me.

I mentioned a few years ago on social media, that I was working on a web show with Matt. This is not that. The web show is still being filmed all the time, and we have several episodes that badly need to be edited. That is the bottleneck stage for us, currently. Once we get over that hurdle, and all the editing is done, the shows will be released. Until then, I’ll continue to start projects and then leave them undone.

This show I’m currently writing, is basically writing itself. It’s a series, and I’m finding myself struggling to pack all of these brilliant ideas into 20 episodes, but there’s just way too much. And the more I think of ideas, the more I think of ways to expand those ideas. I am very excited about this, because it’s nothing like anything that’s out there right now, and I’m going to work my ass off to pitch it.

Before I can pitch it, I need to organize it, and that’s been a fun process. It’s like doing a Rubik’s Cube, and every time you turn a row, ten more rows pop up out of it, and you win a prize, and you become stronger and faster. It’s addicting. Hence, this has taken both of my front burners, for the time being.

I promise to have something special for you sweet readers soon. This article does nothing to really ensure that great things are coming, so I guess you’ll just have to trust me.

-jg

Concatenation Nation

cause and effect. intent vs action. will vs outcome.

Just because you have a good heart about something, doesn’t mean you can project that positivity in any way upon what comes next. (In fact, Word doesn’t even recognize the word positivity at all, so there’s that). There are countless examples of this type of cause and effect throughout history. I don’t have to name them specifically, I’ll leave that to you. But think of the pain, loss, betrayal, and chaos imparted in myriad ways, all riding on the tail of a comet made of altruism and benevolence.

How can we know when our well-mannered actions are going to be offensive? By waiting for the effect? Does that teach us anything? Make us more knowledgeable on how misconstrued intent can make us look like an asshole? Rarely, do people realize that you can’t ever know how someone will react to what you have said or done, until it has transpired. And at that point, it doesn’t matter how honestly you can claim ignorance or sympathy. What’s said is said, and what’s done is done, and you get to watch your intentions get filtered through that person’s brain, through their emotions, and then morph into whatever follows. You did that, good or bad. That was you.

I sound like Mary Poppins. I believe she also said, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” as she poured medicine down the throats of freckled British kids who just didn’t want to clean their fuckin room. Did she think that old school cough medicine was going to get them cleaning, or get them more obedient? I think about what I know about cough medicine, which is A LOT, and then I think about when Mary Poppins was supposed to have taken place, and I know that cough syrup was loaded with the good shit. Way to go, Mary Poppins, you pusher.

What’s that you say? That’s a bible quote (it’s not a bible quote) and you’re not religious, so it doesn’t relate to you? Well maybe you’re a woman or man of science? Newton’s Third Law states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” I always wondered why it had to be an opposite reaction (ex: why can’t a good intention end in a good reaction, and vice versa?) and, how can you measure the reaction as being equal or unequal? What is the quantifier? I know, I know, forces come in pairs, blah blah blah. I want to see the force.

Show me the forrrrrce!!!

Basically, if you do something, something will happen. What they don’t tell you is, when you do nothingstuff can still happen. I’ve tried it. I just stayed at home for three days, and then two days later, my boss said, “hey, don’t come in on Monday” like I even was gonna.

Also, I remember I didn’t pay my phone bill once, and the shit got shut off. You want to know a convenient time to have your phone turned off? Pretty much any, as far as I’m concerned, but when this example happened, I wasn’t quite in that mind set. I am now, and now I just wish I could afford the hassle of living without my phone. One day, the internet will go bye-bye, and we’ll be alright again. It’s just a matter of taking the choice away. I’ll be okay with that.

But you know what’s going to happen before the internet goes bye-bye? A whole mess of shit. And actions and reactions, and causes and effects are all going to be broadcast to the world, for all to see, and then you can all have your own reactions to that, and it’ll just keep grinding on that way, and oh yes, it will be televised.

The decline, that is.

The decline that was brought on by the good intentions of convenience. The convenience of the internet makes us think we need it, because it introduces micro-conveniences, one by one, until you have a whole pile of conveniences stacked up, all interwoven together, and it keeps you from leaving. It’s like strapping yourself down with bungee cords, until you can’t move. Sure, with one or two or three bungee cords, you could probably still get away. But once you have ten or fifteen of those fuckers, you’re probably not going anywhere. That’s the internet. Don’t fight it.

Or, do fight it. We’ll all watch it, streaming live on the internet. Hell, there’s a whole demographic of folks out there, who would pay to see that. There’s money to be made in everything, including the horrific effects of good intentions.

Good intentions such as wrestling. I mean, the people need to be entertained, don’t they? It’s the will of the people to be entertained, and the line of willing entertainers is not only neverending, it’s highly competitive. Why not let them fight it out? We like watching a fight, don’t we? It’s entertaining. Those are some good-ass intentions. 

One of my favorite ways to recognize cause and effect, comes in the form of expressing appreciation. I was raised to defy the value of people as anything but pieces of shit that didn’t matter. My father did a terrible job of teaching me how to behave around people, and he was way too strict to allow school dances or games, sleepovers, parties, school clubs, or trips to the movies or dinner with friends. He did a wonderful job, on the other hand, of teaching me to hate everybody, and to search for the fault in others; preferably the fatal flaw that could eventually be used to destroy them if I felt so inclined. I was not asocial, but quite literally anti-social, meaning I was against people… period.

As I’ve gotten older the effects of my father’s influence on me have worn off, and as a result, I have discovered what kind of person I am. I reflect on times when I brought people (who cared about me) to tears, because I didn’t fully realize they were a person – just like me. I feel shame and embarrassment when I think of how cruel I was to others, and so, I have worked consistently (though not completely) to be a better person.

People often get lost in their own shortcomings, and their biggest failure is the failure to recognize when they’ve done something good. But the flip side of that coin is, the lack of positive reinforcement. When you feel confident about something, and everyone’s reaction is underwhelming or non-existent, it becomes difficult to feel inspired to persevere.

I try to have the reverse effect on people, and overwhelm them with positive reaction to their work. Of course, no matter how hard I try to be friendly and eloquent, it’s just gonna come off as creepy sometimes. For example: I am not above writing an email to someone, to let them know they have affected me in some way, whether moving me to tears with a musical piece, or catching my eye with a photograph they’ve taken. A poem, or a piece of philosophy. An act of kindness I witnessed. And most of the time, these people don’t know me. They’re just getting a message from a complete stranger, about something they may not have put much thought into. I think celebrities get this all the time, just for being famous. Why should a regular person feel strange about getting an unsolicited Attaboy from me? I’m pretty great. And safe. Believe me, I don’t want to come kidnap you. I’m way too lazy for that.

But I will gladly freak out 100,000 people (give or take), if I make one person feel like they’ve made a positive ripple in the world. People need to know those moments exist. They need to feel like their presence on this planet is making a difference. There are plenty of opportunities that people will jump at ferociously, to point out the ways you’re fucking up. I say, as long as Participation trophies are a thing, surely we can spare a few words to let someone know they didn’t fuck up. This action rarely results in someone feeling worse about themselves, I promise.

I saw a young man give a speech about diversity at a rally a few months ago, and even before hearing that he was an aspiring journalist (yesssss), I was really feeling the connection to his speech. He spoke about the things that made him stand out, some of which I share, as if they were badges of honor in a world that doesn’t recognize that kind of honor. That kid is going into a field that will eat him alive, and he couldn’t have looked more confident. 

On another fairly recent occasion, I watched a young lady perform as Rizzo in Grease, and her rendition of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was so emotionally charged, that it brought tears to my eyes. I saw it three times, and I cried each time. She was it. I bet that wasn’t an easy thing, and she was next level. I said, “giiiirrrrlllll…”

There’s an anchor on the morning news, who is consistent as hell  with her impressive wardrobe, and every day, I would see her and say, “look at that dress!” This woman had a fashion sense that I found to be more sophisticated and pleasing to the eye, than most people in our area could ever dream of. She most likely put a lot of thought into her attire, and I felt she deserved to hear some positive feedback on her style. So I sent her an email. (Most of my surprise appreciation comes in the form of something they can re-read, and feel good about more than once.) I don’t watch TV anymore, but she still wows ’em, I bet.

None of those people had any idea that I felt such a connection to what they were doing, and very likely (and understandably) were freaked out by my sudden praise. But it didn’t deter me one bit. Being freaked out is just another form of surprise, which I told you I was doing to people.

I wrote an email to my 3rd grade teacher, last year, because I just had to apologize for being such a little fucking shit when I first moved there. He was the first teacher I had in that school system, and even though he had a reputation for being a hard-ass curmudgeon, I still had no problem testing his patience (he failed). I was constantly disruptive: telling jokes, talking back to authority, and aggressively daydreaming to lure him into the idea that I wasn’t paying attention, only to “snap out of it” in time to answer his question correctly. Other students weren’t yet at the level I was, and I knew that, so I was also a show-off.

I was a dick. Like I was saying before.

So, I wrote the teacher an email to apologize, and to let him know that I appreciated that he had dedicated his life to educating children, and that surrounding yourself with 200 kids every day is a ding-dong move, if you value your sanity at all. I think he already knew that part, though. That age (3rd grade) is terrible, especially for boys. They have endless energy, and they want to scream it in your face, so you know about said energy at all times. That’s also the age where kids want to be a dick for no reason, and I’m trying to tell you that I was no different.

I’m different, now. I’m not a little shithead anymore. I’m way fuckin taller.

I appreciate when things look nice, when they smell nice, when things work out smoothly, when people are polite, when people are genuine, when something sounds pleasant, when someone has gone out of their way, when my time is not wasted, when I know I’ve done the right thing. I think recognizing these things has caused me to not be the person I used to be. I value kindness and simple things, even when it makes me look like an old corny person that I used to think was lame (and now know, isn’t).

I no longer feel the need to make myself look attractive, and rarely look closely at myself in a mirror. There’s no reason not to, but there’s no real reason to. It is not so important what I look like; I’m just happy my body is cooperative from day to day. Even that isn’t guaranteed, but as long as I can impart my will on the working parts to compensate for the broken parts, there’s not really anything wrong, is there?

I no longer strive to get the upper hand on people, or make myself look “good” by making someone else look bad. That competitive nature was hammered home in my childhood, and I used to delight in my victory being a lone one. This has caused me to try to understand where people are coming from, and think about what I could do to help, if anything at all. Sometimes, it’s nothing. Sometimes, it’s nothing to me, but everything to them.

I no longer value getting things handed to me easily. Not that I’ve ever had anything handed to me, but I no longer wish for that. Hard work has been more of a reward than anything else has been. I don’t think about taking away from someone else, to be able to have something they don’t have, because things aren’t important to me.

People are important to me.

Time is important to me.

Those are the two things which change us throughout life, and shape who we are. And once either is gone, you don’t get them back. Appreciate somebody, before it’s too late to tell them. Far too often, people think of what they should have said, after they can’t say anything. Don’t wait for that moment. Make the Aha Moment happen now. Cause some effect. Ripple that shit.

-jg

P.S. please don’t go stalking people, and sending weird messages. That’s not the kind of surprises I was talking about. I can’t express enough, that you have to choose how you approach people. Your intentions may be innocent, but there are more factors than just that. Consider how that person is going to receive your praise. I have changed my outlook to catch the things that evoke true emotion, and then present my appreciation in a safe way. Just to be clear.