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Abe

I Found

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I was told once that over 90% of human interaction is non-verbal. But listen, I don’t know if that is inherently a good thing. Maybe that’s why we are all obsessed with using these goofy emojis to represent feelings when we text each other. Everything’s a code, isn’t it? Even when we do manage to convert thoughts into sounds to form sentences, all-too-often there’s something hidden behind any spoken language, let alone a simple text message. We can say “I’m doing okay” but in between each letter there are these cracks of heavy feelings caused from the pressure of too many terrible things. For many of us, that open Snapchat and “read” message—complete lack or absence of anything verbal—triggers a monsoon of anxiety that the umbrella of “I was busy, sorry” can’t possibly protect us from the acidic doubt that seeps into everything. The lack of words, the absence of your voice and the nonexistence of any effort you put into saying anything at all suggests all sorts of things, but mostly that you don’t and never really did give a shit.

Because the last time I heard your voice, you were crying over another guy, having an anxiety attack mixed with an encumbering wave of depression and you couldn’t stop looking at social media full of photographs of him and her, wishing it were you instead. I listened, I spoke little. I told you I loved you. You said okay. Cupid is the asshole, here. Dude needs to stop using me for target practice. I’m sorry I ever loved you.

I think it’s safe to say that you didn’t do anything wrong though, but I know you’d apologize. The thing is… you probably did nothing at all, and that’s why you’ll be that somebody I used to know. I used to spend a lot of time putting love into places where I’d get nothing out of it, where I’d commit to things that only last for short moments and I’d pine after a girl with a beautiful smile only to realize her gaze was originally on something far beyond me. I used to do those things. Now I don’t.

The thing is that you’re maybe going to read these words and you’re going to assume I mean them and a lot of them I do but at the end of the day, I’m not really sorry I loved you, and I don’t regret it because loving you was great. Having to shut that off, though, was not. See you would get my 90% of my non verbal interaction if you had ever taken a moment to understand me or know me and I’ll say that I am sorry for that because that is the one thing you will be unable to do that’s completely on you. Anyway, I’ve been spending too much time trying to convince my cats to listen to me and encouraging my stupid shadow that I’m worth following to have to put any more effort to win anyone’s affection right now. Enjoy our 0% of any kind of interaction, darling. Kindest regards.

Car Radio

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Hi. It’s me. I haven’t written anything in forever. Except that’s a lie; I’ve written a lot, but I never deemed any of it worth publishing or sharing. Regardless, here I am. Seeing as I have nothing else to do today, because people suck, I suppose I’ll hecking rant before I return to the Summoner’s Rift to give birth to a fed enemy Draven or something.

So, the Last Jedi was great. Go see it. Tonight. Bring your best friend or significant other. Seriously. You won’t regret it. No, I’m not going to spoil anything here, but these Disney additions to the universe have really got me thinking. You’ve got Kylo Ren. Cool guy, right? Adam Driver is wonderful. I mean, just the whole idea of this angsty, emo Sith Lord is… so Disney, but also such a Millennial-inspired antagonist. He is the perfect and most relatable villain. This article describes him as “unfinished evil” and despite many critics hating on how “wimpy” Kylo Ren comes off as, the author does a great job explaining why it makes sense and why it actually really works. The most accurate and chuckle-inducing sentence in the article is, “In The Last Jedi, Emo Kylo Ren discovers indie rock.”

Speaking of Emo Kylo Ren:

Yes, I’m going to continue nerding out, here, so bear with me. So in the scene below from the Force Awakens, Kylo is fighting Finn, then Rey. There’s this part that shows Ren wincing from an injury. To handle it, he beats on the wound, as though to eradicate pain by causing pain. We tend to do that, don’t we? I know I do. When I’m hurting or upset, especially when it’s from something out of my control, I’d rather distract myself from that, even if it’s by something that hurts me more. Like, it’s psychological; it’s a coping mechanism. It’s why a lot of the times after a tough break ups people are like “Best way to get over someone is to get under someone else ;).” Not because it’s healthy or that you won’t get hurt or feel worse, it’s because it’ll distract.

Really, I think Kylo Ren’s biggest struggle is, besides trying to find his place in the universe, his fear of having to do it alone. See, Star Wars speaks to me.

I’m realizing I’ve slept less than 7 hours in the since Friday. How am I functioning? Maybe that’s why my thoughts are so scattered. I need to rest my gray matter.

“A particle moves along the x-axis so that its velocity at time t, for 0= t = 6 is given by a differentiable funciont v whose graph is shown above. The velocity is – at t = 0, t = 3, t = 6, and the graph has horizontal tangents at t = 1 and t = 5. The areas of the regions bounded by the t-axis and the graph of v on the intervals of [0, 3], [3, 5], and [5, 6] are 8, 3, and 2, respectively. At time = 0, the particle is at x = -2. ”

So in other words, the graph given is a chart of the increase and decreasing of the particle’s velocity. As the graph rises above the x-axis, it’s going t faster to the right. When it’s lowering below the x-axis, it’s going t slower to the left. The areas bounded are really just the total distance it travels. And the derivative of the velocity is its acceleration… I love helping my friends with Calculus when I haven’t thought about math since like 2k10.

When I was in high school, one of my older friends gave me some impacting relationship advice. He said, never give your all. Never give 100%. Hold back. It was in line with the whole “wait a day or two before calling her.” He basically said, manipulate her anxiety; leave that Snapchat on opened, leave a text message on read for a bit. I get that mentality. I mean, I understand it. It’s right out of the Laws of Power:

  • Law#4 – Always Say Less than Necessary: When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you
    appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish. I obviously am… overabundant, sometimes, with words. But this translates into: don’t type more than 240 characters ever in a text. Short texts. No emojis either!
  • Law #8 – Make other People come to you – use Bait if Necessary: When you force the other person to act, you are the one in control. It is always better to make your opponent come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process. Lure him with fabulous gains – then attack. You hold the cards. In other words, never call her. She gets to call you. Don’t text first. Let her initiate. Keep her guessing. On her toes. “Is he into me? I have no idea!” 
  • Law #16 – Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor: Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity. Straightforward enough, yeah?
  • Law #20 – Do Not Commit to Anyone: It is the fool who always rushes to take sides. Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself. By maintaining your independence, you become the master of others – playing people against one another, making them pursue you. Literally don’t commit to anything. Always be ambiguous, flippant.
  • Law #48 – Assume Formlessness: By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed. The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability or lasting order. Everything changes. The best way to screw with someone’s emotions is to never let them latch onto to anything solid; being that realm between an “official” couple and more than friends is fluid and the boundaries are unclear. Control this territory. Become one with the darkness!

It’s bullshit. I literally have a single person in mind after I read all of those things. I must be lacking in a lot of power because I’m cool with commitment, I’m okay with solidity, I want to always be there, and I more often than not say too much. Whatever.

Listen, my dudes: if you want to talk to her, just do it. If you want to call her, just call. I mean, heck. Why do we have to complicate love? It’s not a political campaign. You don’t need to formulate a strategy or think too far ahead. You shouldn’t have to worry about being a step ahead of the other or maintaining control over their emotions. It should be simple. If you like her, see if she likes you back. If ya’ll are into each other, get closer. If you get close enough, date.

It’s curious because I would have probably had a higher success rate with relationships if I listened. Now I’m just bitter.

We have a tendency to complicate things. Relationships should be simple but I think some of us actually like complicated.

So here’s some advice, friends. Here’s a nice little list. If they do any of these things, especially if there are multiple, I recommend dropping that person. Move on. Your feelings, thoughts and time are better spent elsewhere.

  • They don’t respond to anything. If you bring it up they make some shitty excuse about their shitty day or their shitty feelings. If they wanted to talk to you, they would. If they wanted to reply, they would. You shouldn’t just be a convenient sounding board for someone when they have no one else. End of story.
  • They don’t listen. They don’t remember important things because they don’t listen. They’re always distracted when you’re with them; you’ll notice they’re responding to plenty of people or they’re on their phone plenty… all-too-often you’ll see that bullets #1 and #2 aren’t mutually exclusive, as crazy as that sounds.
  • They refuse to commit no matter how long you’ve been “talking.” It’s usually because there’s someone else. Maybe they’re actually scared.
  • They aren’t there when you need them. Because according to Ellie in That Awkward Moment, that’s all that relationships are.

And don’t worry, if you absolutely ignore everything I just listed, it’s cool. Same. Oh, like 3 years, @RebeccaEstherC and I wrote a nice little post about dating, so you can check that old nonsense here.

I think… I think too much. I hate this car that I’m driving. There’s no hiding for me. I’m forced to deal with what I feel. There is no distraction to mask what is real; I could pull the steering wheel. I have these thoughts, so often I ought to replace that slot with what I once bought cuz somebody stole my car radio and now I just sit in silence. I ponder of something terrifying cuz this time there’s no sound to hide behind. I find over the course of our human existence one thing consists of consistence and it’s that we’re all battling fear. Oh dear, I don’t know if we know why we’re here. Oh my, too deep, please stop thinking… I liked it better when my car had sound.

Okay so, yeah, I’ve discovered Twenty One Pilots. Great band, and I’m not talking about their “popular” stuff on the radio; I mean their deeper, heavier stuff. Check out Car Radio. By far my favorite right now.

Holy heck I found a ton of my old posts on some random blogger that I won’t even give you the URL for because some of that stuff was pretty lame. I mean this stuff’s pretty lame. But it was worse then, if you can believe that.

In my life, I’ve experienced struggles, great moments, and many late nights pondering things most probably wouldn’t waste their time pondering. I’ve lived in garages, lost elections, had my fair share of family problems, and I’ve fallen in love. I’ve spent over 1500 hours playing a first-person shooter, I’ve written close to fifty posts on this website, and screamed nonsense things at the top of my lungs while on quests and road trips with one of my few close friends. I’ve played chicken with a semi on a random highway in Missouri, and barely lived through that. I’ve brought in Red Bull to Whitey’s and created one of the greatest energy drink smoothies known to mankind, that even topped Delia’s. I scooped thousands of ounces of ice cream, set up hundreds of phones for people who use the technology I sell them on a regular basis, and gotten in one-too-many debates about religion/politics. I’ve broken hearts, had my heart broken, and mended them. I’ve sat at a frozen lake in the last minutes of 2013, alone, lost in thought, memories, current feelings, and the future. I’ve driven aimlessly for hours. I’ve punched this training bag until my knuckles have bled, ran till I couldn’t breathe anymore, and played guitar till my callouses couldn’t handle it anymore. I could keep going. Seriously. Frankly, I’ve done a lot. And I still don’t consider my life anywhere to where I want it to be, but here I am.

In the movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” they talk about the purpose of life. The motto for Life Magazine is: To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed.” Incredible.

In the past few weeks, I’ve had my world flipped upside down and turned inside out. I’ve drawn closer to a lot of great people, ended journeys with others, and found hope.

I’ve realized that building up walls won’t protect me. That I shouldn’t be afraid of what’s up ahead, and that there is literally beauty in everything. I hate this ice and snow with a passion, but at midnight at the beginning of the year, the way it sparkles in the moonlight is truly beautiful. And yes, I had that thought even while I shivered and shook from the negative temperatures. Even when I lose, even when I know it’s time to give up on some things and some people, and even when things don’t work out the way I want to, I’ve realized to simply carry on because life is incredible in the sense that there will always be something else waiting up ahead.

The next step might be a shitty day at work, a long drive to Des Moines, or hours of web design. The next step could be an aimless trip to Chicago, falling in love, or finally winning. Who knows.

I’m going to be honest, I’m rereading this all back to my dog to make sure it makes sense, and she is actually listening to me for the first time in forever.

Everyone made these little New Year’s resolutions. I think that’s silly. Why do we set goals for a year, and on the first of every year? It’s not only that, but we give up on them halfway through.

I’m making a lifetime resolution that I’m going to try to live up to. You should, too. I want to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come, to draw closer, to see and to be amazed. I want to live my life to the fullest despite what garbage it throws at me, and to impact the rest of this world in the most positive way. I want to live my life, and stop dreaming and wishing.

I made a Facebook status a few days ago asking about whether or not you should fight for what you want most, or if it’ll all just fall into place. My answer has been this: Hell yes. Of course. I am going to fight for everything I wish to have, and make it mine. Because life doesn’t just fall into place. I have to live it. I have to fight. The fire doesn’t just light up; I have to ignite it.

In this past month I’ve been surrounded by friends, and I’ve also spent a lot of time alone thinking over things. I haven’t figured out life entirely, or where I need to go, or what I need to do, but I know that up ahead, there are amazing things to come. And I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to carry on. Anything is possible, as cheesy as that sounds. And I will fight for what I want most.

It’s crazy because I’ve gone from feeling like I’m completely alone and that I’m never going to get anywhere, to finally piecing things together, and realizing I’m far from alone, and this journey is far from over.

#tbt to when I played Battlefield 3 all the time. But damn, how did I become so bitter and cold? Take what you want from that. I guess it’s simply not me any more.

To close, I want to recommend a book. It’s called How to Win Friends and Influence People. I’ve read and digested the 48 Laws of Power and was left with a choice… sure, this is probably a very nice way to, well, become a powerful person, but do I really want to become an asshole? It’s Machiavellian and cold. I don’t want to be. This other book, though, it’s… better. I’ll give ya a brief outline of what it suggests.

  • Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Arouse in the other person an eager want.
  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Smile. 
  • Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  • Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
  • Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Anyway. Thanks for reading all my nonsense. Enjoy the holidays!

Ω

The Abyss

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It’s kind of daunting when you think about it all. The person you’re possibly dating right now is either going to break up with you or you’ll spend the rest of your life with them. I think there’s some meme out there that says dating is just learning more and more about another person each day until one day we hate everything we’ve found out and we decide we don’t want to know any more about them. And then it’s over.

I mean, that’s just life in general, isn’t it? In Overwatch, I’m either going to win SR, lose SR or draw the match. When I get behind the wheel of my car, I’m either going to reach my destination or get in an accident or get side-tracked and lost inside a Best Buy admiring the latest display for an MSI laptop. The girl I was talking to? Right. Her. She’s either going to be my girlfriend or she’ll fade into the abyss and be absolutely nothing to me a year from now.

Yeah, I know. That’s cold, Abe. That’s mean. It’s the brutal truth though. She knows that. Because that’s how this works, isn’t it? Because there’s gray, there’s the black and white. Probability and outcomes. I somewhat dig in deep with that kind of chaos and attempt to find order in it while I’m campaigning. I’m either going to wake up tomorrow or I won’t (chances are I will).

I don’t think it’s overly pessimistic to view it that way. It’s realistic. It’s stupid to walk into something, especially when it comes to relationships, expecting only what we want out of it. It’s bitter and cold to only expect the worst-case scenario. I trust people to be true to who they are, though. I trust people to fall-back on their most natural tendencies.

Do you wanna know why the polling last cycle was so off? People were afraid. They were afraid of telling these phone callers and surveyors what they actually thought. We live in such a shitty, politically correct world. We’re at this point where folks are too afraid of the violent and often-times rage-fueled tirades of those who disagree and those with hurt feelings.

Sometimes relationships are that way. People are afraid of being honest because it might make them look heartless, mean or they might become unlikeable. I’ve learned to read in between the lines. I get it. I’m getting good at it.

Look. Yes. I’m bitter. This is one of my angry and not-so-witty posts where I just want whoever-the-hell-is-reading-this to feel sorry for me. The last three girls I dated cheated on me. Is it because I’m inadequate? Probably not. It’s because Eminem was right and love is evil, spell it backwards omg yes it’s so clever isn’t it? No it’s because they were awful girlfriends and I trust people to be true to their nature and to ultimately act and choose what’s most absolutely best for them. Am I unlucky? I’d say no. Like, I was either going to marry one of those girls or not be with them. It’s the latter. And that’s okay because I’d much rather have learned how shitty of a partner they were before committing to anything significant, like letting them name one of my cats.

Oh wait.

Whoops.

Look, I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. But this post is a warning. Be careful out there. We’re begging for heartbreak, I swear. We’re just asking for it. And me? I’m done. For now. I’m going to get lost in the world of Overwatch and just not worry about it all because OW is simple and it is love and it is life and the only heartbreak that happens is when my group kicks me because I’m tea-bagging the enemy Reaper too much and instigating an all-chat war full of flaming and Diamond-level medaled toxicity. And right, remember what I said? I can read in between the lines. Enjoy the abyss, darling.

 

Oh Florida please be still tonight

Don’t disturb this love of mine

13 Reasons

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13 Reasons Why hit Netflix and went viral. I remember reading the novel back in high school and I rather liked it. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan. I suppose it was enjoyable, but here are 13 things I wanted to point out about it:

  1. It glorified suicide. It depicted her as more loved and beautiful in death than when she was alive. I disliked this because it could be received as encouragement; if you don’t feel loved or beautiful now, just put a bullet in your head and everyone will finally see how amazing of a person you were. That is not true. That is not accurate. Despite how more often than not, we tend learn to appreciate things more after they’re gone, the finality of death is never—I repeat, never!—the solution or even a rational way to go about proving that you matter.
  2. Clay Jenson is a wimp. He’s a good guy, I guess, in so many ways, but he lacks courage and the ability to make a difference during a lot of the key times where it mattered. Let’s just start with him stealing the cassette player from Tony. Just ask the dude! He didn’t care anyway. And he took forever to listen to those tapes. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I would’ve binge listened to them like a lot of us binge watched this show. And everyone talks about that scene at the party; he asked Hannah if she was okay or whatnot, and asked if she needed him to say. She told him to go and that she’s fine. Some people say he was being respectful and accepting what she asked of him. I say that there are times you need to allow someone to consent, like… with sex… the girl should obviously always consent to that. Otherwise it’s rape. But come on, man, can you see the state she was in? She needed help. She needed someone to be there. And you wandered off. You left her alone. Don’t even get me started on his whole unwillingness to be her friend BS when she was being called a slut and shamed at school. Jeez.
  3. It portrayed the results of suicide as a valid way to express yourself post-mortem and dish out vengeance on the ones who hurt you. It did this instead of portraying the results of suicide with how people mourn, hurt and suffer because of one’s death. Viewers only caught brief glimpses of how her parents and loved ones suffered because of their loss. Sure, her former bullies were dished vicious and cold truths and recollections of what had happened… but that’s mostly it.
  4. The book was better. The book is always better.
  5. It is inaccurate, in my experiences of suicide, on how this plays out. I know this is anecdotal. I had a good friend who killed himself a few years ago. There weren’t any tapes or letters. There weren’t any signs. It just happened. And you know what? It sucked. Everyone was hurting. No one understood why. There was no finality or answer to the question we were all demanding: why? We couldn’t find a single reason let alone thirteen.
  6. They promoted the worst parts of depression. The show is basically about blame and guilt. It’s about “She’s dead because persons 1-12 are shitty people” instead of “I want to raise awareness of teen suicide and prevent it.”
  7. The show portrays adults as a bad resource to go to when dealing with and/or noticing depression. The teachers, faculty and adults are all cut out of everything because of their laughable attempts to teach awareness of depression in peers. Viewers who already have difficulty talking with figures of authority or parents may walk away feeling like those individuals are the last people they’ll go to for any help or assistance. The show essentially drove this idea that adults are inept, out of touch and ultimately unable to recognize, guide or help students and youth who are suffering. This is absolutely false. Poor Mr. Porter.
  8. They focused on all these other people and very little about Hannah. Suicide isn’t about other people. Not initially. Depression isn’t about others. It’s about the person considering death, the person that’s drowning in their pain, sadness and solitude. I’m no expert when it comes to these things. I’ve only dealt with it myself over the years and I’ve handled it. It points fingers at these people instead of focusing on how Hannah could be helped, how the ending could have been different.
  9. Did you know Hannah was originally supposed to live? In the book, originally, she was supposed to attempt to OD on pills and have her stomach pumped out. Supposedly, her dying was going to drive a deeper message. Her death, in my opinion, didn’t change the message at all. It still pointed fingers. It still didn’t offer a solution besides driving guilt and this obsessive hunt to figure out how awful all of these twelve people are, and pass secrets and negative opinions, stories and terrible things that got Hannah drowning in depression in the first place.
  10. The show literally broke every recommendation for reporting on suicide. Seriously.
    Don’t sensationalize the suicide.
    Don’t talk about the contents of the suicide note, if there is one.
    Don’t describe the suicide method.
    Report on suicide as a public health issue.
    Don’t speculate why the person might have done it.
    Don’t quote or interview police or first responders about the causes of suicide.
    Describe suicide as “died by suicide” or “completed” or “killed him/herself,” rather than “committed suicide.”
    Don’t glamorize suicide.
  11. I might have already said this, but it essentially glamorizes suicide. Not the death itself; that was gory, brutal and haunting, but rather, it gives viewers the option of reaching a handful of conclusions by watching each episode:
    Suicide is a viable coping mechanism when you feel hopeless or depressed
    It’ll get you the attention you’ve been wanting or seeking
  12. Okay, so this show did do good things for raising awareness of a number of things; rape culture, abuse of alcohol, bullying and suicide. But when it comes to teen suicide, it’s a slippery slope, especially when your goal is to raise awareness within youth. Young people are more prone to what’s called suicide contagion, which is seeing, hearing or reading about suicide puts them at a higher risk of also doing so. While silence doesn’t help anyone, there are ways of talking about it that decreases contagion (see #10). The biggest disappointment was her brutal death. It undermined the whole idea of the show, in my opinion. People have secret pain, like sorrow, grief, depression, loneliness and despair. This show went on for episodes—or tapes, rather—about all the despair Hannah had locked away within her and she beautifully outlines all of these things (at times, she got it wrong though). The gruesome scene was a bad representation of suicide, overly salacious and too much. I don’t think viewers need to see that to understand the impact of one’s suicide.
  13. Ah, yes. Number 13. There were thirteen reasons why, but only twelve people, if I remember right. So, I’ll end this on a brighter note. This show is compelling. It should be. It reaches into the emotional parts of our minds and brings out all sort of understanding for Hannah’s death despite most people’s’ inability to find logic in it. It outlines the stark and brutal difference between kindness and indifference. Both the book and show are moving and reiterating a handful of things viewers should already be well-aware of before starting the first episode: suicide is not a solution, bullying is never okay and our actions impact others in ways we never fully realize. Instead of creating memes or glorifying her death—and I mean, come on, sending those tapes around to get back at people or make them aware in such a secretive, malicious way is counterproductive—reach out to those who need it. Recognize and be aware. The show did a great job portraying high school as it is today; there’s a lot of nastiness, friendships begin and end and there is a ton of gossip and drama. It did a great job explaining how all of that can negatively impact young adults, and the worst consequences of those things. I think for a lot of people who have struggled in that way felt less alone because the show is evidence that they weren’t the only ones to feel that way. Many felt grateful because they didn’t commit to the path that Hannah chose. Ultimately, it was a decent show. I just urge that we tread lightly when talking, dramatizing and writing about these things. Lastly, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Be Who You Needed

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It hasn’t been easy. I mean, I can’t pretend that it’s easy, now. Not yet. Will it ever? Who knows? When I was in high school, dealing with silly girl problems, trying to find a balance between fun and school and getting lost in a world of drama, bullshit and things that both propelled me forward and pulled me backwards… when I was living in a garage during my senior year, drinking when I shouldn’t have, staying up too late and trying to figure out what I was even doing… when I was struggling with bills, trying to figure out how to juggle multiple jobs and somehow manage school, all while battling a mixture of lack of belief, confidence and self-esteem coupled with anxiety and a lurking, growing depression… I wish I had someone like who I am now to talk to.

My older siblings were out the door, dealing with their own problems and pushing family further and further away. I don’t want to lay all my family issues out in public; trust me when I say that things are significantly better now. But it wasn’t easy. A lot of my good friends were nearly finishing up their degrees while I was just starting off; I was years behind. But I’m going at my own pace now, I guess. I’m doing my thing, I’m grinding 8:30 to 4:30, often-times later than that, I’m ubering, developing websites and going to school full-time. It isn’t easy. It’s tough.

I’m not who I want to be. I’m getting there. I can’t say I’m 100% happy or completely satisfied, but I’m figuring it out. But I’m better.

I ran across this thing, earlier. It was one of those pretty images with text that said “Be who you needed when you were younger.” So, yeah, that’s the ultimate point of this post. It isn’t to brag about how much I’ve struggled, however I’m proud of those things and the fact that I’ve overcome them. It isn’t to tell you that your life could be worse, or better. It isn’t to shit out a bunch of platitudes about whatever you might be going through or how you’re better for it, which you probably are.

We’re all out of high school, at least most of the people reading this are, and we’re either diving into college or moving beyond it into our careers. I’m a mid-twenty-something and if I didn’t have such an excessively-draining schedule, I would love to explore, go on adventures and have great times. I want to make memories and live life to the fullest every day. I can’t do those things; not yet.

Most of us have younger siblings or friends who might be struggling with the same things we did years ago. We’ve been there. We don’t necessarily know it all and I know I’m far from the wisest person on your friends list, but I get it.

How many of us would have gotten by a little more smoothly if we had a role-model we could relate to? You’re blessed if you did and maybe this entire post is irrelevant. I had my peers, and I had people I looked up to, but no one who really got it. I didn’t have someone who I truly connected with who could smack me in the back of the head and say, “Abe, what the hell are you doing? Get your shit together. This stuff doesn’t matter. Focus on this instead.” Don’t get me wrong, I respect people beyond my generation, but there’s a difference between my dad telling me what I should do and a close friend who is a few years older—no offense, Dad.

The difference between being who you needed for someone else is that person choosing to not go to that party where something regrettable might happen, or choosing to go to a school despite what their high school girlfriend wants. It’s the difference between them wallowing in pity and depression and you getting them to open up, and you understanding what it’s like to be a twenty-something dealing with real-world stress that high school no-where-near prepared any of us for. I’m not telling you that you can save someone or fix someone; I’m saying you can be their anchor, their voice of reason and their soundboard because you get it. We all have these regrets and mistakes. We know what the loss was, the pain they caused and especially what we needed to hear but didn’t.

We get it. I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that every struggle, trial and bad experience we go through has the utmost potential to make us better, stronger and wiser. We use these things to push forward and hopefully not repeat bad calls or awful decisions. What I’m telling you is that you can help guide someone else. I don’t know who. You know who, though. It could be a younger sibling, kids who are just now attending your school whom you’ve recently become friends with.

We’ve been there. We’ve done a lot of things. And now we know better, at least better than others who have yet to experience these things. So speak up. Be a leader, be a role-model. Be the person you needed when you were younger.

Maybe you’re here and you don’t have anyone. Reach out. If you’re afraid I’m going to judge you, do it anonymously. Make a fake email, and fill out the contact form. I’ll get back to you quickly.

Are We OK, Cupid?

By | Dating / Relationships | No Comments

I like numbers. Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day, so here are some numbers about L-O-V-E. Two million people get married in the US each year [1]. Cool, right? Wedding planning can potentially be a very lucrative business, especially if you live in Vermont, Arkansas, Nevada or Utah, even, Idaho, all of which are states that generally lead the country in marriages [2]. But did you know that 22% of the adult population in America has had a divorce? Of course, this is out of every adult, regardless of their current marital status [3]. If you move in or get married with someone at the age of 18, you have a 60% chance of splitting. If you do it at 23, you have a better shot [4]. But don’t fret! The marriage rate in the US basically doubles the divorce rate. Similar to worldwide birth-rate to death-rate ratio. I’ve written about this before, but my generation has been “gifted” with countless dating apps and a number of other things that have simply caused choice overload, slow love and a plethora of trust issues.

Dating is a mess, isn’t it? It’s a relevant topic for us. I swear, every other Facebook buddy is getting engaged or changing last names and I’m just trying to get my kitten from knocking my laptop’s mouse off my desk. None of it makes sense, sometimes, but… it all makes sense in retrospect or if you just pause to think about it. No offense to you gorgeous people out there, but “hot” girls have difficult times in relationships. They’re too objectified [5]. Adverts and the porn industry has helped nicely with that. Nice guys are supposedly victims. Urban Dictionary explains Nice Guy Syndrome the best. I’ll be honest, back in high school, I suffered from this mentality. In all honesty, I’m actually not a nice guy, I just choose not to be an asshole. Most of the time. Anyway. This isn’t about me. This is about you. Right? (Or us? *insert kissy face emojis and other things to superficially take the place of real feelings and words*)

Now that I’ve delivered a bunch of numbers to capture your wavering attention–IGNORE YOUR PHONE, that Instagram or Snapchat notification isn’t that important–I have to admit, I’m not a dating guru. If you’re spending tomorrow alone without that SO that literally every other person seems to have, I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I can be of absolutely zero assistance because I’m relatively single and haven’t had a serious or non-shitty relationship since I was 21.

But here’s the thing: tomorrow isn’t a bad day. I mean, it sucks because I have to go back to my job, but other than that, it’s just another day. Couples are celebrating their relationships and love for one another. Get ready for potential baby showers come mid-September. And I always look forward to the 15th because all the chocolate is on sale.

Despite my lack of romantic love (and honest lack of trying), I’ve chosen something better. I decided to love myself. I know that when my life-story decides I need another protagonist to move the tragedy of a plot forward, I want to be ready. I want to have my education completed, I want to have my finances in order and a good job. I want to know who I am. I want to have my goals and priorities in order. I don’t necessarily think a girl would screw that process up, but I want to have my shit together. It’s not that I don’t now, but I know I can be better. I can better me.

One of my previous girlfriends cheated. I don’t even think we were together that long. I really liked her. And it sucked but I was pathetic. I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to end anything because I felt so insecure and I told myself I could make it work. Guess what? It didn’t work out and here I am. And I didn’t need it. I didn’t need her.

How many times have you told someone that they can do better? How many times have you pleaded with a bestie to dump that other person because they have zero potential to leave a positive impact on them?

How many times have you asked yourself that about the guy or girl you’re pursuing?

Love is sometimes supposed to be “selfish.” That’s not always such a bad thing. Ask yourself these things. Your happiness should be a priority and if that’s overbearing for the person you’re with or you think you’re asking for too much, then one or both of you aren’t ready.

You need to master the art of loving yourself first before you can ever successfully exchange love with someone else.

It sucks, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s hard so it’s good to take a step back and do what I did and am doing: take a breather, and focus on you. I’ve always said this, and I’ll say it again: being with someone should never complete you or fulfill; it should only ever add to your happiness and your world. The second it starts to subtract or take away is the same second you should be heading for the door.

In reality, I could throw numbers and statistics at you. I could map out all the strategies and keys in dating. You could memorize everything I say or write. But it won’t fix your loneliness or bad luck with dating. I’ve always felt that a proper relationship takes the right timing, a lot of luck and the right person.

Focus on you if you’re spending Valentine’s Day alone tomorrow. See a movie with some friend or by yourself. Go to your favorite restaurant alone or if you’re broke just watch the Black Mirror on Netflix because it’ll blow your mind. You don’t need a significant other to be happy. Love yourself and the sky’s the limit.

I’ve been cheated on. I’ve been lied to. I’ve been misused. And I could easily sit here and despise tomorrow and women and anything having to do with love and justify all of those resentful and negative feelings. But I don’t. Worse yet, I’ve been a shitty boyfriend, at times. I’ve taken some people I’ve been with for granted. I was even naive enough to the point that I thought being a nice guy was the only qualification I needed to be a good partner. Those bad relationships and even the few good ones I’ve had are in my past; they weren’t right for me, I wasn’t right for them. This book I’m writing, my life, didn’t need them to be a permanent part of its storyline.

I don’t plan on ever being perfect but I want to get better. Those statistics up there? I know for sure I’ll be a death statistic. Hopefully when I’m old as hell and please, let it be in my sleep in the middle of the fortieth Star Wars film Disney releases. I don’t want to be one of those divorce statistics though. Maybe that’ll be out of my control, but the one thing I can change is to be a better person. More specifically, I want to be a better man so when I meet that girl, when it’s right, I’ll be more than enough. And when that happens, I won’t need her to validate me or complete me. She’ll be a consistent and healthy addition to my happiness and my world and I’ll have something extra to do on days like tomorrow. For now, I’m content, and if you’re in the same position as me, you should be, too.

Besides, who needs a girlfriend when I’ve got two adorable kittens, a bag full of Peachie O’s and Ted 2 on the tele?

Featured photo credit: DeviantArt

Rando

By | Blog, League of Legends, Life Stuff, Politics | No Comments

Okay I have a lot on my mind, so, this post will be bulleted and random.

  • I love how we all hate Tom Brady. I mean I hate it when my team plays the Patriots because of him, but I don’t hate the guy. Look, he was like… almost, what, the 200th pick in the 1999 draft? He was a scrawny kid. They underestimated him. NOW LOOK AT HIM.
    • Update: They won the Superbowl. I called it. Before the half, I knew he’d make that comeback. I love Peyton Manning but #12 is the GOAT.
    • Does this mean we beat up Patriot’s players, light their limos on fire and break Starbucks’ windows? Hm. #NotMySuperbowl
    • To be honest, I dislike the Patriots just because they’re a tough team to beat but:
      • I was excited for Tom Brady walking into this game, similarly to how pumped I was for Peyton Manning
      • Let’s not hate on peoples’ successes, but be congratulatory
      • He doesn’t give a damn about what we think
        • He’ll just win the Superbowl
        • Break hella records
        • Go home to his kid
        • And his gorgeous wife
        • You don’t matter. But hate him all you want
    • My favorite Tweet: “I can’t believe the guy with the foreign model wife and a sketchy history with the rules just won after being written off.” -@BenShapiro
  • Smurfs are fun. Not like the blue things. This is a League of Legends thing.
    • Okay, so think of ranked games in League like this:
      • You have an elo from 0-2200, if I’m remembering this correctly
        • In chess, I think “elo” starts at 1600. If you lose a game, you lose like ten points. If you win, you gain ten more.
        • League is the same way in the sense that you win and lose points in ranked, and your elo either rises or falls.
      • In league, there are five main divisions (two for the “pros” at the very top):
        • Bronze: 0-1249
        • Silver: 1150-1499
        • Gold: 1500-1849
        • Platinum: 1850-2199
        • Diamond: 220+
      • Each division is divided into 5 sub-divisions, I guess, so if you were to climb from the bottom of Bronze, you’d go through B5, 4, 3, 2, then 1.
        • To climb to the next subdivision, you need 100 LP. You gain an average of like 20 LP per win (depending on your elo). You then need to win two out of the next three games.
        • When you reach zero, you get demoted on your next loss (generally speaking).
        • When you get promoted, you reset to zero.
        • To climb to the next division, you need to win 3 out of 5.
      • Your elo isn’t always the same as your division:
        • This is because your elo is up or down, and your division freezes when you’re in promos.
        • You can be in Silver 1 with a Silver 5-ish elo.
        • That’s never good
    • Anyway, a smurf is someone who is higher elo, usually high gold, or plat, and they create another account and play ranked at lower elo.
      • Seems fun, right? I have a few friends in high elo who are mid-plat, and I’m currently mid-silver…
        • The skill level is black and white
        • They usually destroy their opponents
        • That means easy games, easy climbing
      • Is it cheating?
        • Not technically.
        • Riot (the creator of League) says it’s within guidelines, and I think the only way to get banned is by:
          • Doing the Bronze to Diamond challenge
          • No account starts at 0 elo, so you need to lose on purpose to get there to start the full challenge
          • Losing on purpose, or intentionally losing (int’ing), is bannable.
    • Is it okay?
      • Okay, so now we’re discussing one of the main points of the game, which a lot of people tend to forget:
        • The point is to have fun.
        • If you’re mid-bronze and you’re facing someone in a “serious” match and they’re actually plat elo…
        • …that isn’t fun.
    • Basically, smurfs aren’t fun. I can’t tell you what to do, if you play league and you’re reading this
      • I will say that you have no life (seriously, though)
      • Seek enjoyment in what you want
        • I won’t complain; I’ve won against smurfs, it presents a challenge that I’m glad to try to take on
        • You can smurf, but just because you steamroll bronze fours, it doesn’t mean you’re “good”
        • But you’re probably still better than me
  • Hue Lights by Philips are amazing.
    • They’re expensive but:
      • Energy efficient
      • Perfect for lazy people
      • Last 3+ years.
  • Milo.
    • Here’s the thing about that guy:
      • If you debate issues with him and talk about things he’ll:
        • Respect your opinion
        • Let you say what you want and support your arguments
        • Argue back
        • Discuss
        • Sometimes even agree
      • If you flame him, name call or stoop down
        • He’ll troll you to no end
        • He’ll make you look pathetic
        • He’ll rip you to pieces
    • I know I’m late on this but:
      • Calling him a Nazi is wrong because:
        • He’s half Jewish
        • He’s gay
      • Rioting and causing a scene at UC Berkeley only:
        • Boosted his name recognition
        • Caused his book to hit number one again on Amazon
        • Make him more famous
        • Gave a stronger voice for his cause
    • So, I say riot more. Throw more fits. Do yo’ thang. I can’t tell you what to do any more than you can tell me what to write here. But whether you like the guy or not, he’s winning.
  • Speaking of political arguments and whatever
    • Instead of calling someone a racist:
      • “I believe in equal rights regardless of skin color.”
      • “Your statements indicate that you don’t view people of different races in the same light; why is that?”
    • Instead of calling someone sexist:
      • “I think that women, if they desire, they’re capable of those things, too.”
      • “Your statements indicate a hostile attitude towards the opposite gender. I try to view both genders as equal.”
    • Instead of calling someone homophobic:
      • Try to discuss and reach the basis of their beliefs. You might find that they actually don’t hate gay people
      • “I don’t want to tell you what your religion can or can’t do. My beliefs lie outside the realm and reach of your religious organization.”
      • “Your son’s potential for being gay won’t be caused by seeing a gay couple any more than his potential to go on a mass shooting spree because you play a first-person shooter in your free time.”
    • Instead of name-calling in general:
      • Walk away.
      • Talk about the issue.
      • Introduce facts
      • Avoid personal attacks
    • Instead of getting offended:
      • Try to see why they feel the way they do.
        • It’s never “they’re stupid” or “they’re ignorant” though that can happen
        • There are feelings, stories and experiences behind almost anyone’s viewpoints
        • Figure those out, and try to understand…
          • …that by understanding, you aren’t agreeing
          • …that it’s okay to disagree.
    • Remember:
      • Violence and verbal attacks are more fascist than you think.
      • Calling someone ignorant because of their viewpoints means you are, too, because you’re not taking the time to hear their side and counter.
      • You will rarely change anyone’s mind on what they believe of think.
      • You will never change anyone’s mind by engaging in an immature, elementary and emotional way.
  • I was stocking up on beer for the Superbowl at Hyvee. The lady in front of me was short for her groceries and started going through her bags for things to take out. I slid the cashier some cash and said, “Don’t worry about it.” Everyone looked at me like I was crazy and the lady was almost crying saying “Thank you” over and over again. Look:
    • Did she need the two packs of Diet Coke? Nah. Of course not.
    • But…
    • Why is it so crazy that I decided to help her? It was ten bucks. Like that’s another six-pack, right? No big deal. It made her day. I felt good about that. I didn’t do it for the attention. I did it because it felt right. People shouldn’t be patting me on the back for that. They should be nodding their heads or feeling bad because they weren’t quick enough to pitch in.
    • I truly try to embody this whole “do all things in love.”
    • I’m not saying I’m perfect or a wonderful human being because of this. I just try to do the right thing most of the time.

That’s all for today. Don’t you love how my brain works? Imagine trying to get something like what’s above into what some call “well-written” posts about single topics… Welcome to my mind. Have a great week!

Featured photo credit: Washington Post

 

#BoycottStarbucks

By | Blog, Politics | No Comments

Last year, I spent hundreds of dollars buying coffee from Starbucks. In an effort to budget better in ’17, I invested in a Keurig. In less than a month, I think it’s safe to say I’ve already balanced out the ~$150 I spent on both the machine and all the little K-Cups! However, there’s been some hype on Twitter (it’s always interesting to check out what’s trending to see what everyone’s obsessed about each morning) about boycotting Starbucks because they want to employ refugees (I believe it’s exactly 10,000).  Starbucks recently announced they were going to give jobs to refugees throughout the 75 countries in which they do business. #BoycottStarbucks?

Okay okay, wait. People are upset about this?

Right, well, I think I see why. We have a group of people who don’t want them admitted into the United States, and it wasn’t just Trump’s presidency that brought about that sentiment. Now we have one of the leading coffeeshop chains saying they’re going to hire them, just because they’re refugees. I like it. I think it’s bold and well, these folks need jobs, right? Isn’t the age-old conservative issue with immigration (illegal and legal) something like, “Don’t come to this country if you aren’t going to work and contribute?”

Look, not to throw my brother under the bus, but he’s been out of the Marines for more than a year and refuses to get a normal job (he currently works at this relatively decent Italian place downtown as a bus boy). He could have other jobs, with more consistent income and stability, but he stays there. I guess what I’m saying is that I know so many people who are American that don’t want these service jobs. Why not?

We shame that. Or a lot of people do. I mean, I don’t; a job’s a job. But we have this mentality: you’re flipping burgers at a McDonald’s- you’re probably one of those kids we warned about this; if you don’t work hard in school, you’ll be making my BigMacs for the rest of your life! We have this stupid system in places that says you need a degree to get a good job or live a happy life then we make college nearly impossible to afford (a lot of people feel this way, but they also underestimate what a community college offers in terms of affordability and flexibility). I mean besides the way people look down at others in those jobs (and most of the people who judge are, well, not in my generation, ahem), the pay sucks. Trust me. I worked at at least four or five in the last eight years.

And speaking of college education, we’re over-emphasizing the importance of it. Did you know that at the tail-end of 2016, the US Department of Labor reported that there were 5.5 million jobs left unfilled? I mean, it’s interesting to see trends in unemployment. Let’s also look at the trends in unfilled positions for jobs. A lot of these don’t require a college degree. An associate’s might help, but certificates in a lot of those fields in addition to a high school diploma are more than enough.

We simply aren’t promoting those things, though.

I digress, as I usually do.

So what’s the problem? They wanna hire refugees… who are… possibly… terrorists? How many baristas have you met that look like they might go blow up a post office? (For me none, that was rhetorical question, anyway).

Look, I gotta side with Starbucks on this one. I may not drink their coffee but as a private business, they can employ whoever the hell they want as long as they aren’t discriminating (at least in the US) by race or gender… If a refugee qualifies and can legally work for them (keep in mind, 74 of those countries are not the United States), then by all means, they can hire them. I think it’s a kind gesture. Those folks won’t make a better life in a new country by just moving there. They’ll need work, too.

So was this announcement by Starbucks for political gain? I think it’s smart advertising. You have a group of people who probably love your coffee who also probably disagree with Trump’s ban on all sorts of immigration/refugee stuff…

Anyway. #BoycottStarbucks? Nah. I stopped going there when a medium-sized coffee costs over $3.00. #SaveMoneyWithKeurig

God, if you guys actually start reading my rants, maybe Keurig will pay me for advertising them so consistently.

Featured image credit: The Odyssey Online 

The Keurig

By | Blog, Life Stuff | No Comments

This post is special because it includes audio! Start it below or read if you can’t listen! 🙂

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“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

I wake up each morning and the first thing I check is my iPhone and that’s if my kitten isn’t walking on my face. What texts are waiting? Did anything happen on Facebook or Twitter while I was asleep? I get up, feed the cats, and make some coffee with this glorious creation that is a Keurig.

Throughout my day, I check my phone ofen. Sometimes it’s to check the time. Sometimes it’s to pretend I’m checking the time. A lot of the time it’s to see what the rest of the world is up to. It’s so easy to get lost. It’s so tempting to spend my life looking outwards, wondering what people think, what other people are doing and whether or not they cook a better looking orange chicken than I can.

We live in a Facebook and Instagram oriented world. What a teacher tweets magically affects hundreds of parents so dramatically that they spend hours blowing up the school board. What our President posts makes national headlines for a week. We see the world through our over-sized smartphone AMOLED screens, swiping left and right, liking, hearting, sharing and commenting.

I started watching this series on Netflix called the Black Mirror, which is best described as a reworked version of the Twilight Zone bringing a lot of nightmarish outcomes of the future to life. One of the main characters is stuck in a fake world with these fake people with fake lives that are only measured in worth by a numerical ranking earned by interactions with other superficial people. It’s the people that refuse to give a shit that find happiness while the others are enslaved to a system where their success is dependent on how close to a 4.2 out of 5 they are. It’s ridiculous because in some ways, we’re already in that world. My generation is.

Too often we compare likes and hearts and we act like that matters when we fall asleep or wake up and it’s a filtered world in the sense that we think happiness and life is what we browse on Instagram and Facebook. Maybe, just like the show, we’re all unhappy and our failed attempt to find it has left a lot of us depressed, yet hiding that. It’s left us disappointed, but our statuses and Tweets read otherwise because it’s pride or maybe it’s denial.

I made a friend earlier this week who was nearly terrified to tell me she liked girls because guys leave her eating dust because of that and it’s screwed up because our priorities are so off. Members of the opposite sex (or same sex if you’re into that) are not just potential hook-ups or potential dates. We have so many applications built to help us hook up or to have a good time that we forget that maybe what we need is a real relationship that builds each other up instead of sucking happiness out of someone else so we don’t feel as empty. Who’s got that? How many of us actually have prioritized finding a platonic relationship over falling in love? And if you’re in a relationship, that’s fantastic. I wish you the best but don’t make it your only lifeline to avoid being alone.

And we’ve demonized the idea of being alone. We’ve made loneliness and being alone synonymous when they aren’t. Unplug. Disconnect for once. Shut off your phone and be by yourself. Take a breather and stop looking outwards and look inwards. Reflect.

Buddhism has this thing about finding peace, right? Magnanimity is peace with the world around you but before you can ever master that you have to find some inner peace. You have calm whatever is within you. Equanimity. Too many of us are in turmoil and I’m sorry but I don’t think medicating it is the only solution and sometimes it’s the wrong solution.

Unplug. Disconnect. And let it out. Cry if you have to, scream if you can’t and do it until you do. Listen to a soft song. Listen to something loud and outrageous. Run until you can’t then take an Uber back because you ran too far and you’re out of shape. Realize you can’t because you shut off your phone and left it back at your place. Cry some more.

All of these social networks try to get us to buy into the fact that togetherness is the only solution and it can be and it’s healthy but so is being alone. You don’t have to be lonely. Take some time to be by yourself. I promise you, it will change everything.

I wrote in another post about our fantastic President that the best way to move forward from this juncture is to do all things in love and you’ll more than likely make it out alive. I get it, you can do all of that via Facebook message or short recordings on SnapChat, but it’s limited. Pick up the phone. Talk. Laugh. Do it without “LOL’s” and emojis. That’s why for the first time I included audio with this post so you can hear me say each word because hopefully that will keep your attention and mean something more.

It’s hard to be soft in this world. It’s hard to pick one or two or a dozen different tragic issues to write about because there’s so much and social media, the news… it all thrives on these negative things. And while we’re sharing all of our meals and adorable pictures of kittens–check out my Insta–we’re subconsciously taking in all of this negative bullshit and it keeps me up at night and it bothers me and causes this chaotic mess inside my head and that’s why I write because I need this time to express my thoughts no matter how weird or jumbled they are.

We need something to believe in and it won’t be behind the number of likes or shares we get but in each other and not just through subtweets and mentions.

Disconnect. Unplug. See the world through your eyes and not your cell phone and connect with someone.

And if you’re doing it right, I implore you, don’t keep this to yourself. Share it with others. Not my bloody blog post, but the idea. This world needs to pull away and let loose.

It’s so easy to get caught up in it. It’ll happen quick and everyone’s expectations of you and all the stress that goes with that will slow you down and drag you to the ground to the point that you can barely crawl. It’s a heavy weight, living is. But it can be lighter if you let others help you carry it and if you chose to help someone else out, too, but not because it’ll get you points in a fictional society or likes on social media but because you are a light and you want to shine and loving the person next to you is the best way to do that.

When was the last time that you sat outside and looked at the stars? I wouldn’t recommend doing that now because the air will literally hurt your face but maybe it’ll be worth it. Simply look up and see how big this world is but don’t forget to look in, as well.

This world is a beautiful place but there’s a lot of bullshit and these smart phones and websites sometimes deter us from seeing it that way.

You see, we’ve lost the point of what social media is about. It’s not there to validate us, it’s there to make it easier to connect, but not remain as the only doorway into someone else’s life.

I guess with this post that’s nearly fifteen hundred words long, I just want you to know that there’s a world outside of your smart phone and there are things that are more worth your energy than a comment debate about whether or not Mexico should pay for what I think will be an ineffective and expensive wall. Just like how America’s political problems won’t be solved behind a computer typing angry or criticizing Facebook statuses, peace, happiness and strong relationships won’t be caused by the constant and overwhelming engagement all these platforms have to offer.

I dare you. Tomorrow night, link up with a friend or a family member. Turn off the phones and do something together for a few hours. Spend your Friday night like that and tell me how it goes. Maybe it’s tragic. I hope not. But I bet you you’ll have the time of your life. Anyway, that’s enough ranting for one night. I hope you enjoyed this. I certainly enjoy you tuning in!

Featured image credit: Walmart.com

Trump’s America

By | Blog, Politics

Chances are, I don’t know much about you. I don’t know what you’ve experienced, how you’ve hurt or what brings you great joy. Maybe on January 20th, you were overcome with joy while attending or watching the inauguration of our 45th President. Or, quite possibly, you were disheartened, disgusted or bothered.

Nah. This isn’t a blog post about how he’s #notyourpresident (or how he is). This isn’t about the Women’s March on Saturday and how it set a record for being the largest organized, peaceful protest in American history. I’m not going to predict what the next four (or eight) years will bring Americans or talk about Obama’s legacy. I want you to read this post with both an open mind and heart. Maybe I have an answer. You might walk away feeling enlightened. You might close the window halfway because you were triggered and you need a safe space. But here we go. Are you ready?

Trump is President of one of the most powerful countries in the world. I could list why he could potentially be a great President. I could also list the reasons why he’s in some ways, severely unqualified and not quite the right fit for the Oval Office.

One of the things I learned very quickly in the last five years was a little truth about acceptance. I can fight and deny reality all I want. I can turn my back and whisper ignorance is bliss and carry on my merry way. I can also choose to accept the present situation and move forward. I can choose to accept the world as it is. From there, I decide what I plan to do moving forward. If I make a mistake, I reflect on how I can prevent myself from repeating the error. If it was something out of my control, I focus on how I can better handle that situation if it repeats itself.

One thing many people have yet to do is accept that Donald Trump is President of the United States. Get over it. Move forward. Vote with your heart in two and four years. Be active. Do something about it besides spamming nasty comments on social media and whining about how unfair everything is. Life is unfair. Politics are more unfair. I would know.

But hold on! Let’s rewind a little bit while you dwell on the previous two paragraphs. I couldn’t even begin to count how many times I’ve ended up in a situation where I think “wtf, how did this happen?” The situation is just so absurd that it seems unreal. That’s what this Presidential cycle felt like. At first, it was outrageous that he won the GOP Primary. It was unbelievable. Jeb Bush dropped. Marco Rubio bowed out. All of these individuals whom the entire world thought were better qualified than Donald faded. Leading up to the general election, the media and DNC thought Clinton had it in the bag. They focused purely on Trump’s negatives and lifted up Hillary. They ignored all of her failings and flaws, while propping up Trump’s 24/7 for the country to see. No one was worried. Hillary’s campaign was already popping champagne in the morning on November 8th.

I didn’t do any work on the other side of the aisle; I’m not sure what kind of activity was taking place for the Bernie and Clinton campaigns leading up to the Democratic Primary. I know a majority of my left-leaning friends were huge Bernie supporters. I know almost any person I talked to despised Hillary Clinton, regardless of what party he or she swore allegiance to. Hillary Clinton won. There was heavy talk about a rigging of the polls, false numbers and the DNC supporting Hillary behind the scenes months before votes were cast. I didn’t pay too much attention (I was busy gearing up to win bigly in Illinois), and maybe some of you who did can provide some insight in the comment section. But from the moment Hillary and Trump accepted their nominations, no one thought a Trump presidency would be possible.

It seems that every four years, morals suddenly matter. Everyone decides to give a shit about right and wrong. Donald Trump talks about sexually harassing women, is ignorantly racist about Mexicans and throws hissy fits on Twitter (I don’t think a link is necessary). Don’t get me wrong, don’t you dare; I’m not condoning or justifying any of these things. I have but one question: where have you been? I’m seriously asking. Someone’s buying their albums.

Kanye West’s “New Slaves,”: “F*** you and your Hampton house / I’ll f*** your Hampton spouse / Came on her Hampton blouse / And in her Hampton mouth.”

Eminem’s “SHADY CXVPHER”: “But I may fight for gay rights, especially if they dyke is more of a knockout than Janay Rice / Play nice? / B*tch I’ll punch Lana Del Rey right in the face twice, like Ray Rice in broad daylight in the plain sight of the elevator surveillance / Til her head is banging on the railing, then celebrate with the Ravens.”

Chris Brown’s “Biggest Fan”:  “When you scream I need / To pull your body closer / Let me sex you baby / Girl you better not change your mind / No is not an option… I’m ‘a take what’s mine.”

Rick Ross’s “She Don’t Even Know It”: “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / Took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”

And student’s parents are upset about this Tweet bothering daughters or turning their sons into sexist pigs?

And even if that goes well beyond a personal Twitter, with which he only interacts with people he knows personally or individuals who are no longer students, and into the classroom, I’ve got to ask: are you kidding me? Students and parents alike are rallying as I type this to end his career but I don’t see any protests or ridicule directed towards Eminem, Rick Ross or Kanye West.

I get it. I get it. He’s a teacher. He’s supposed to prepare students for the real world and teach them to think critically. He’s supposed to be a role model. Parents: before you start trying to dictate what a teacher can tweet, police your kids’ music habits, what they view on the television and browse online.

PornHub.com had 221 page views per capita in the United States. Men spent at least ten minutes per visit on average (and I’m saying men generally, because of a majority of the trending search views), and the United States led the world in traffic (in fact American traffic on the site is similar to our military spending when compared to the rest of the world; almost more than the next eight countries combined). Based on nearly anything on TV, in song lyrics (including the lyrics listed earlier), and on the internet, I think it’s safe to say our country is addicted to sex. It’s not because they love someone and want to share in that experience with them, but because it feels good and it stimulates. YES, this paragraph is directed at other men (generally speaking). I’m not going to tell you how to live your lives or what’s right or wrong. I’m not going to place myself on a high horse and tell you that your viewing habits are immoral or even unhealthy. I’m a dude sitting behind a computer screen typing a blog post stating facts.

Statistics generally aren’t facts, in the sense that they’re assumptions based on varying samples, but they are solid indicators. Yes, I’m going to list some. 9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography before the age of 18. 71% of teens hide their internet activity from their parents. And a more relevant statistic: 68% of young men and 18% of women view porn at least once a week.

Do you know what one of the biggest byproducts of an addiction to porn is? It causes viewers to objectify others. It desensitizes. It numbs. It has a lot of negative impact.

Many remained silent on the Trump videos released. Maybe there’s a correlation between online viewing habits and how much we give a damn when someone running for office talks the way he does. Maybe there’s a connection between the artists we support and who we allow to become President of the United States.

In reference back to the UTHS teacher who very well may lose his job over tweets and alleged sexist/bigoted comments in the classroom: who’s more to blame, now? Is it the music and things we put on our smartphones, TVs and computer screens every day or a Twitter handle no one follows and off-handed comments during lectures? You tell me.

Morals suddenly matter. Everyone randomly wakes up at the same time and objects to the things someone else does or tweets (he’s been Tweeting for years…). I’m digressing a lot and I think I went too far back. This does raise a very crucial question: how did America get to where it’s at? But, lettuce return to the original topic: Donald J. Trump.

Just kidding. Side story! In high school and even when I first attempted college, a safe space would have been a ludicrous idea. I like to think my fellow classmates weren’t as fragile, then. We could handle criticism, loads of homework and all of the stress. Maybe I didn’t notice it. Maybe I was immune to it. I was picked on and bullied in elementary school and junior high for missing an eye and being bad at sports. I cried. I dealt with it. I never ran to my parents. Maybe it was pride. Maybe I was tough. I don’t know. I know I just simply developed a strong defense against the negatives I experienced; I dealt with them and pushed on.

I was a nerd in high school. I wasn’t necessarily shy; I like to think I was relatively outgoing. But girls didn’t like me. Not the way I wanted them to. I got over that. I decided to just better myself. I lived in a garage for six months after a disagreement/fight with my parents at 17. I was legally homeless and still attended my senior year in high school. I graduated in the top ten percent of my class. I leased a car when I was twenty with my grandpa co-signing and I paid it off late last year finally. Despite working nearly every day and at times juggling two jobs, I still couldn’t afford the money, let alone the time, to go to college after graduating so I’m going now, working and tackling class full-time. I’m where I am because things got hard and I rallied, I grew and I pushed through.

My safe space was within me. I wrote out my feelings. I found solutions. I carried on. If I needed to be sheltered, I retreated to my music or a video game. I’m blessed with some of the greatest people who have lifted me up, carried me through and made me better. I’ve surrounded myself with people who positively affect me by choice, and I’ve cut out the ones who are toxic and who cause negativity. I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression and, yes, I’ll say it, even suicide. And I’m still here.

I’ve never needed a safe space. Nationwide, students needed one when Trump won the election. Was it that bad? Will young women need safe spaces if Kanye West or Chris Brown win a Grammy in February? Did you not expect this? Did you not see this coming?

The whole storm on Facebook and the online petition regarding the tweet posted by a UTHS teacher is a perfect answer. Whether you agree with him or not, whether we want to discuss free speech or not, he should have a right to express his opinions. Yes. Even. If. They. Offend. You.

Have some people become so fragile that things like that trigger them to run to a safe space, inhale numbing medication or call their mom and dads? Have they become so sensitive that the thoughts or words of an individual they neither care about nor interact with causes them to react so viciously and terribly?

My generation has become too easily triggered by the most ridiculous of things. We cherry-pick.  We want everyone to agree with us. If you disagree, you better prepare for the overabundant mixture of social media shaming and nonstop harassment from our friends. If we take offense to something, there’s no walking away or moving on from it. We dwell and unleash hell until you suffer some sort of consequence.

“But it’s not about us being offended, it’s about it being sexist.” To me, it was a joke. It was satirical. Maybe to you it wasn’t and you found no humor in it. That’s fine. Let him be “sexist.” If the school board discovers evidence of this “sexism” in his classroom, he’ll face the consequences. End of story.

I digress.

For almost every article or blog I read expressing someone’s thoughts or opinions, there’s someone in the comments spewing hate. It’s endless. And it doesn’t stop there. After the Women’s March on Saturday, people took to Twitter and struck out at TAYLOR SWIFT for only expressing support via a tweet for the march and not being there. YOU’RE ON THE SAME SIDE. To the best of my knowledge, Hillary Clinton also expressed her support but wasn’t there. Yet, in the media and after some brief browsing of Tweets, there doesn’t seem to see any outrage.

We’ve done it, guys. We’ve completely terrified so many Americans into concealing their thoughts and beliefs. We can no longer calmly discuss issues or sort out disagreements without personally attacking one another, taking things personally or people reacting overly negatively. The Presidential debates were flooded with personal attacks. Violence, toxicity and anger have become the answer.

Maybe, for just one second, could you try to imagine what Donald Trump represents? He is reckless on Twitter and in his speeches. He doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. In no way shape or form am I saying that it’s “presidential” or right. I’m just pointing out that he speaks his mind and how he feels.

Now, imagine what that means to the people you’ve shut down. Imagine what he represents to the folks who are too terrified to voice their thoughts. It’s not because they’re racist. It’s not because they hate women. It’s because whatever it is, whether it’s a view on minimum wage, the ACA or their thoughts on Hillary Clinton, they don’t want to be attacked. They don’t want to be ridiculed.

When you take a group of people and shove a candidate down their throats whom they don’t want and you call them ridiculous for wanting someone else and laugh at them, when you call a large group of people deplorables, the people won’t speak out, but you bet your ass they’ll vote (or not vote).

You want to know why you ended up with Trump and Hillary as your only two choices? Out of all the weeks of watching all the debates and heated arguments on Facebook and Twitter, about 20% of the people involved weren’t registered to vote within a three hour radius of where their location put them at. 60% of them didn’t participate in the the 2016 primaries. The lady who so eagerly shared the teacher’s tweet on Facebook to oust such a terrible person in the community isn’t even registered to vote in the entire northwestern quarter of Illinois.

Our priorities are screwed up, guys. We’d rather take the time to argue with a stranger on social media than cast a vote, and then complain about who gets inaugurated as President. We’re more eager to spew hate than to lift up those around around us. We complain about sexism, racism and all of these things yet we buy into it on the radio, on YouTube and on the television. We are outraged by sexual assault and raunchy tweets or “locker room talk” and we blast it into our heads via Apple earbuds and we thrive on sex.

And before you think “Oh, Abe, you sexist, racist asshole,” I’ll explain where I stand. I don’t oppose “feminism.” I oppose the hypocrisy of individuals within the movement shame other women, or hate white men (which is both racist and sexist). I don’t hate Black Lives Matter, but Chicago is 3 hours away and is the capital of black-on-black crime and it’s only getting worse and I don’t see anyone protesting that. I don’t oppose protests. I oppose non-peaceful riots and looting, damaging of private and public property and individuals running around with masks on to avoid getting caught from committing crimes.

Everything I’ve written about is connected, one way or another. Do you see it? It’s easy for me. Mr. Kaczmarek taught me how to think critically. Funny how it’s coming full circle. I’ve written a lot, and it’s jumbled up because this isn’t a research paper I have to turn in for a grade. I just wanted to air out so much and I could write for days.

Everyone wants to say that Trump is going to destroy America. They want to believe that Trump is inciting violence, hate and all of this anger. And don’t get me wrong, Trump’s America is full of hate. There’s plenty of bigotry and ignorance. But don’t give the man more credit than he deserves. He inherited this shit.

We are so divided and we were before Trump ever won the Republican primary. President Trump is not the end. The end begins the moment we solidify these walls between all of these groups and movements and refuse to unite and work together. Ron Paul attempted to run for President multiple times. During his last campaign, he had a logo that said REVOLUTION except the letters of “EVOL” were positioned backwards to create the word “love.” That is precisely what this country needs; not from the federal government or Mike Madigan, but from the people and among the people.

And you’re probably thinking, holy hell, you went from talking about Donald Trump, to offensive song lyrics, to statistics about pornography, to sexist tweets, to Hillary Clinton and then back to Trump and now you’re talking about love?!

Yeah. I’m crazy.

It’s all connected. You know how a man will begin to treat a woman equally? With love. And vice versa. You want to end racism? Learn to love and accept people who are different from you. You want to sort out a disagreement? Love the person you’re at odds with and discuss with kindness. And this is so off-the-wall and you’re going to judge me so hard for this, but do you want to put an end to objectifying other people’s bodies and sexuality and this numbness when it comes to those things? Do. It. With. Love.

This country needs a reboot. Not like, where we nuke everyone and start over brand new, but… well, a revolution of love. Your kids won’t turn out to be sexist pigs if you love them right. You won’t have to worry about what a teacher tweets or says if you do that. If we stop spewing hate at each other maybe we can have open conversations about policies and actually reach solutions for a lot of the problems plaguing society and this world. I never needed a safe space because I was surrounded by love whenever I found myself struggling.

It’s cheesy. It might seem lame. But that’s what this nation needs right now; not a protest that sets records or a petition to fire a teacher. We don’t need rioting or more violence. I’m not trying to shove some Christian doctrine down your throat when I say this, but do everything in love and you’ll do just fine.

And yes there are some people who just feed off hate and they’re internet trolls and they just want division. Maybe Trump is one of those people. It shouldn’t matter. It really shouldn’t. There are other things that matter more that are actually positive. Put your attention there, not on a man you’ll never meet. His policies may affect you. You can protest, yes, and maybe it’ll tilt some leaders in another direction. But you can always vote.

My friend tweeted back in June, “You can’t fight Trump. Pretend he doesn’t exist or lose.” Don’t get me wrong (again), there are some things you simply can’t change or fix. Some people are so set in their ways. Some people are just awful. But love them anyway. Accept it, deal with it and move forward.

Chances are, I don’t know you. I don’t know where you’ve been, what you’ve experienced but I hope that you read all of this. I hope that you read this and you did one simple thing: you understood. You know a little bit about me, now. You know a little bit more about my views and stances. You don’t have to 100% agree. You can disagree with all of this. But we can leave it at that. As always, your opinions and feedback mean something, so feel free to utilize my cheap comment section below. Interact with others, if anyone else has already commented, and just discuss in a civil way. We can come together. We can unite. But it starts with each of us choosing to do as such.

It starts with you. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Or something like that.

Featured photo credit: The Slate