Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Day 80 - "There is a season (turn, Turn, TURN!)"

Right around this time of year, every year, I get very angry. I'm sick and tired of the cold. And everything associated with the weather as well. I'm tired of my winter wardrobe, I'm tired of having to "bundle up" before going anywhere, and most of all, I hate having to avoid being outside at all (I'm not a winter sports kinda guy).

So it's a good thing this season is, hypothetically speaking, almost over.

Now, six months from now you'll see a post very similar to this. I will be sick and tired of the heat. And everything associated with the humidity as well. I'll be tired of my summer clothes, I'll miss having a jacket to hold my ipod and all sorts of miscellaneous junk that I'll have to find another spot for over the summer, and most of all, I'll hate not being able to sleep at night without a fan and/or an air conditioner on.

So it's a good thing that I live in a place where we get a relatively even amount of time with all four seasons*. Or else I'd probably have stabbed somebody with an icepick/BBQ skewer by now.


I got a free training session at my gym today. My first and only training session with a professional, considering the pricing I was made aware of afterwards. And also considering the guy who was assigned to me. He showed no emotion, he didn't seem at all interested in my life beyond what he seemed to be required to ask, and he almost went through a two page questionnaire asking me each question, filling in the answers before I stopped him - right around the part where he was listing of diseases that could run in my family - and asked if I could just fill it out myself. During the workout he just quietly counted each rep, and he would say thing time the same monotonous way every time:

"Good. Alright. Next."

The best part? His last name, no joke, was actually "Wooden."

Despite all of this, he got me on nearly all the machines, and I nearly vomited after we were finished. Certain muscles in my body are not happy to be jostled from their slumber after so long.

Mr. Wooden obviously must have sensed that I wasn't going to be big business for him. Which was true. But hey - I could have been swayed! If he leaned in during our meeting and told me from the get-go that he wanted to take me under his wing, hit the iron with me every day, transform my little scrawny body into a bubbling mass of muscles, convince people I was actually an escaped convict from Riker's, and then pointed to the hottest girl in the gym, and told me: "I'm going to get you inside of her," then HELLS YEAH I would have signed up for some more sessions!


I think today has been the most productive day I've had...well, ever. I woke up, made breakfast, packed lunch, worked* a full day, went to the gym, came home, cooked dinner, and actually wrote in my blog! How about that? And now I think I'm gonZZZZZZ...


Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: This isn't actually a game, but dear god how I wish it was:

*Through the fall and spring I'm mostly just anxious about what's to come.
*Well...I was at the office for 8 hours, I'll say that much.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 79 - "'Cause I'm best known for failure, best known for giving up..."

I have come to realize over the course of my life that given the choice between time and money, I always pick time. This applies to both the short term ("hey Matt, do you wanna mow Mr. Tompkins' lawn for $20? Or would you rather just stay home and hang out?") and the long term ("hey Matt, do you wanna go back to school and get your masters in, uh, something? Or would you rather just stay home for the next 2-4 years and just hang out?") although the reality is the way my brain is hardwired pretty much negates my ability to make long term life decisions.

I didn't grow up spoiled so much as I did lazy. Or rather, I learned very early on in life how to manipulate my free time. I pretty much grew up with a very simple set of rules - Get good grades and stay out of trouble, and you can do what you want with your free time. Being that I attended what one might label as an "underprivileged" elementary school, I was able to excel without much effort*. I was able to keep my teachers and my parents happy easily while all the while being able to make time for the first love in my life - local broadcast television. I developed a lengthy but strict television schedule (I would actually compose a crude spreadsheet for my Saturday morning cartoons - I remember the year it came down to the Berenstein Bears vs. the Smurfs at 9:00AM being a particularly tortuous one).

I assume there's a pretty decent number of people out there my age whose lives were not too far from my own around this time. Kids do love their cartoons. And maybe it was just the ones I grew up with, but the idea of limiting tv time to anything other than 'not when you're supposed to be at school' wasn't strictly enforced.

But here's maybe where my particular life path diverges a bit from most others. I soon discovered video games, which as you may or may not have heard, have played a nominal role in my life to date. And though they were absolutely fascinating to me, I wouldn't let them get in the way of 'tv time,' my first born. I just had to find time for it in the schedule. So now I'm juggling twice as much time in front of the television along with school - and still doing fine, mind you.*

It's also around this time that many boys my age discover sports and girls. And I did as well, for a short time. But after several fumbling mistakes on the Little League baseball field, and one powerfully embarrassing game of Truth or Dare*, I decided these trifling things were not worth the effort. And back to the television I went.

As time went on, I found out that there were certain things I was pretty good at - making people laugh (generally at my own expense), video games, and pull-ups (due to my tiny tiny 85lb. frame my junior year of high school). And everything else that I wasn't naturally 'gifted' at - like playing an instrument, dressing in style (I think I literally had a Simpsons t-shirt for every day of the week) and eventually, higher education - I quickly gave up on.

So here I am, forcing myself to invest my time in something more productive. Something that maybe I'm not good at right away, or something I'm completely unfamiliar with. And what do I do with it? I start a self-deprecating humor-blog discussing how much time I've wasted on television and video games in the past! Brilliant!

Well, ok, secret confession time. I've joined a gym. I have plans on running a half marathon in August, and I've actually ready 3 books in 3 months, which is something even I didn't think I would manage to get done so quickly.

With regards to my lack of interest in pursing the Almighty Dollar - well, I think the longer I can get without worrying about money too much, the better off I'll be. I'm sure there'll come a time where I'll regret not saving a dime and not working harder to be able to live a better life. But right now, I just wish I had a little more time.


Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: I got invited to a friend's birthday party that featured a Wii Tennis (Wiimbledon, if you will) doubles tournament that everyone got involved in. The irony is my vow to not play video games wasn't the only reason I couldn't play. I was also the only single person in the room, with everyone else playing with their significant other. Except for two other girls who came alone, but were very vocal about their men's respective addiction to games. Boo!

*I mean, they were practically giving away gold stars and smiley faces at this place!
*Except for the those goddamn behind-the-eye headaches. Stop telling me want to do, brain!
*Not everyone knows what a blow job is in 6th grade, jerks! After 17 years of thinking it over, I have the perfect comeback: "Ohh...so that's what your mom was giving me last night, Shaniqua!"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Day 65 - "I shot you down...bang bang"

I was scolded this afternoon for pointing at a couple in a Dallas BBQ restaurant who were drinking giant frozen (presumably strawberry) margaritas.

"Oh, you mean those margaritas, that they're drinking?"
"Dude, you're so rude!"

My roommate was half-kidding, I can only assume (and I proceeded to be genuinely rude minutes later in the subway, forcing my way into a train car while blocking a young boy no older than 10 tried who was trying squeeze his way out), but I've been scolded more than a handful of times in my life for pointing at people.

My question is - who the hell cares about being pointed at? And why?!?

Let's go over what it means to be rude. Generally speaking, it stems from a lack of courteousness or concern for some kind of social convention. Now, there are plenty of things I do that are considered to be rude, which maybe speaks to the larger picture of my general attitude towards social conventions. Amongst many other things, I am known for:

Speaking too loud,
Talking with my mouth full,
And pointing like a nut.

Now, the first two, I'll grant you, are a little bit rude. Not everyone within shouting distance should have to hear what I have to say, nor should they be subjected to the contents of my mouth. Noted. But honestly, WHY does having your finger extend towards someone get treated with such disdain? What's the big f-ing deal?

Let's look at situations in which people point at other people:

1) Someone asks a person for help (or perhaps, the location of a particular person), and is directed, via their finger - to another person. Or else a person directly points at another (i.e. a waiter) to get their attention.
2) A couple, or a group is talking about another person and, if one member of the conversation is unaware of who is being talked about, the person in question is shown, again via a finger, as a point of reference.
3) One person(s) is attempting to mock another person by pointing him or her out at an inopportune time - a "Nelson Muntz moment," if you will.

Now, generally speaking, #1 is generally not considered to be rude. If there's any confusion, its immediately allayed when one carefully explains the situation - "I need your help/this person said you could help me," etc. and that's that, no rudeness. So that leaves #2 and #3. And really, in either of those situations, the reason you might get offended is because they are speaking ill of/insulting you. If that is the case, then it's not the pointing that's the issue. It's the thought behind the pointing. Which, in most cases can be easily avoided with some subtlety (À la the classic "palm over pointed finger" technique). In fact, more likely, if you are speaking ill of someone, instinctually you're less likely to point at them, since you don't want them to think you're talking about them.

So, generally, when I am pointed at, I say to myself: "oh, they're talking about me. I wonder what they're saying. Is it about the shirt I'm wearing today? My sexy bald head? My hilarious bits? I'll be sure and ask them about it later." Maybe you don't do that. But maybe you should.

The point (hah!) is, there is nothing inherently rude about sticking one's finger in the direction of another person. People who place all their negative thoughts about themselves onto others are perpetuating this misconception. We as a society need to buck this dated notion, right now!

So stop complaining about the pointing people, and just get over it. Yeah, that's right, I'm talking to YOU!


Yeah but I'd still rather be playing: THIS

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Day 63 - "I thought I'd do some travelling...never did"

There are times when I wonder if I squandered some of my potential for greatness away by spending hundreds of hours playing pretend in electronic playgrounds for nearly 30 years.


I had the thought just the other day, while looking through the cans of cat food I had in my pantry. I had purchased a total of 90 cans of various Fancy Feast* flavors for my cat - 15 cans each of the 4 flavors I knew he really liked, and 5 cans each of the 6 flavors I either knew he liked less or I wanted to experiment with. (Side note: in case you're wondering, this purchase also reflects the minor case of OCD I am currently living with)

While putting them away, I was inspired for a second to figure out the order in which I needed to serve my cat these cans of food so that, once initiated, I would go through every stack/flavor without ever deviating from the pattern. For example, if I were to serve 4 (1 of every flavor) can from the stacks of 15, then serve 2 cans from the stacks of 5, then repeat this pattern over and over, I would eventually run out of cans from the first group, and thus I would fail, and my cat would never look at me the same again.

Then, the math got a little too complicated for me and I just gave up. After I did though, I suddenly felt like I had let myself down. Like I was meant to solve that stupid math problem - and that somewhere, some alternate universe version of myself was laughing at my incompetence, having solved the problem in seconds.

That's another thought I often have - that there are versions of me, these 'alternative universe' Matt's that took the more difficult road (learn to Salsa Dance?) whenever I chose I take the easy one (play Mario Kart!). There's the version of me that decided to go to grad school. The version of me that didn't put down the guitar, the clarinet, and the piano*. And I suppose now, to add to the list: the version of me that loves (and is good at) solving random, self-imposed math problems. Then again, if he's laughing at me, then he's kind of an asshole, and I'm happy I didn't turn out like him.*

If I blame games for one thing - well, aside from the brain rotting and the chainsaw rage - its that they have created a false standard for greatness and accomplishment, one that the real world could never compete with. Why spend hours and hours learning how to play an instrument, when I can pick up a virtual one and play my favorite song in minutes? Same for saving princesses. I mean, when's the last time anyone saved a princess from a fire-breathing dragon?

Now, obviously I have no problems discerning one reality from the other, and everything done in 'RL'* intrinsically feels more valuable and rewarding than any game where, assuming you're not missing both hands, within about two-four weeks you're pretty much guaranteed to accomplish everything set out before you.

But sometimes, it doesn't matter. Sometimes you decide you'd just rather have some fun and lose yourself in another world, rather than deal with harsh, cold reality, where you're not really all that great at anything, and maybe you don't have all the hair you assumed you'd have at your age - especially since, karmacally speaking, you already got the shaft in the height department.

And then, before you know it - sometimes becomes every time.*

Honestly, though? I don't really regret all the games I've played. Because, hey, I've had a really good time playing all of them - more so than Joe Schmoe, who worked long, hard hours climbing the corporate ladder to become the senior Schmoe at Schmoejoe Associates out in Schmoeville, Massaschmoesetts*.

No, my only regret is not being born awesome enough to just be really good at everything without any effort.

Two months and two days. Man, I could really go for a game right now.


PS: All of this probably could have been said better by the version of me that chose to begin blogging at early age, and is now the world's most well known blogsmith.

PPS: I justify my choices in life by telling myself that all these other versions of me that exist in alternative universes are going to be killed in a horrible elevator accident on their 30th birthday, leaving only this version of me alive. Kind of like that Gweneth Paltrow movie, only a lot less sexy.

Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: Actually...I took 5 (ok, 10) minutes and figured out the math problem* - its a little bit wonkier than I thought it would be, but essentially I have to serve 4 cans from from the 15 can pile, then 2 cans from the 5 can pile, then 3 cans from the 15 can pile, then 2 cans again from the 5 can pile. And here's where it gets a little silly - every 8th time through this pattern, I have to serve 3 cans instead of two from the 5 can pile. This pattern goes through the entire stack with ever having to double up from either pile. I will eventually have one can left of each flavor, and I will finish off each flavor directly, one after another. Illogical problem solved! (If this is incorrect, I don't want to know)

*The kitten in him loves the Feast, but the cat in him loves the Fancy!
*To be fair though, the piano was very heavy.
*I suppose I find myself laughing at him whenever his character get killed in Halo, so maybe that's a consistent trait we all have.
*Real Life, you n00b.
*Cue the tiny violin.
*I grew up in the Smurf village.
I made it into a game by dressing up in a hedgehog outfit and playing the "Green Hill Zone" music in the background!