Archives for category: Life

“Open your mouth.” Looking up I see her take a quick swig from the half gone cigarette in her hand and pucker her lips at me. I open my mouth and look away trying not to catch her gaze in our exchange of smoke. We are surrounded by thousands of people, yet I feel like we’re the only ones here planted firmly on the grass drinking beers and smoking cigarettes.

Roger Waters sings the first few words to ‘Breathe’ and as they travel through the air my mouth is filled with the bitter taste of cigarette smoke while the earlier installments of alcohol wash through my brain. This is not a good situation. It was, but it may not be anymore.

“Open it again.” I do and this time I catch the reflection of the sunset and smoke off her sunglasses as it attempts to float into my mouth and down to my lungs. I suppose this instance could be poetic, but I am too drunk and concerned with the proximity of our lips to care.

I’ve never been good at these things. My attempts at courting women are like circus clowns trying to get a job at Citibank. What is to become of us after this weekend? I think to myself, but quickly lose my focus in the haze of intoxication. There are moments in our lives that you wish you could relive any time you are faced with the harshness of the often heartbreaking world, this is one of them and facing the world was exactly what I’d be doing in less than 24 hours.

“Don’t you know second hand smoke kills?” cries my friend who is watching us. Thanks Mr Point out the obvious. A note, nothing ruins a moment more than questioning the mortal effects of it.

Everything leading up to this weekend would suggest I should be getting somewhere with this girl, but everything thats transpired says fuck no, you’re not. I drink to the cruces of courtship as the sun sets behind me taking with it all our missed opportunities.

I need another beer.

I watch her pollute the air with cigarette smoke for a bit until finally she looks over at me and says “I’m really drunk” and I’m suddenly speechless. These are the moments, though fleeting as they are I’ve been living for every weekend in the last few weeks and suddenly I have no idea what say or do.

She says “don’t tell anyone what I told you” I reflect on the secrets she shared and wonder who I am to know these things? and who will I be once the weekend ends?

May 2008.

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Tonight I signed up for match.com. Soon I’ll be flirting away with thousands of singles from in and around Los Angeles. Typically I wouldn’t do something like this, but I’ve spent too much time dwelling on the past and maybe it’s time to move on.

The site for all intent and purpose is well organized and simple to navigate. The first thing you see is the option to search, which is effective for all the skeptics. The premise is that if you see someone interesting you may join (worked for me) and more importantly buy a subscription – which is exactly what I am doing. I took up the task of setting up my profile and uploading some pictures. Let’s start with the process of setting up my profile. First you answer some questions from a visualization test that I’ve yet to divulge a purpose for taking other than maybe identifying who the customers of the site are and their various backgrounds. I can’t help but think that the visual questionnaire is more of a sales tactic than one of any real purpose in my use of their site to meet someone. Questions asked are what body type I prefer, what I notice first in a woman, what I’d like to see them order at a bar, what my date and I would do for fun and one about what types of movies I enjoy. Keep in mind each questions answers are represented in pictures. Someone must have told match.com that people respond well to visual stimulus and not words. The survey itself claims to help them select what types of people you’ll be interested in and vice-versa, but once you get to the part where you actually fill out your profile and the sites first suggested matches, you’ll realize that is determined by your answers to the questions that will create your match.com profile and not the 5 minutes you spent picking out high quality pictures to answer the same questions you’re being asked again. Still, it’s a brilliant sales tactic. After taking the visual survey you’d be hard pressed not to explore the site more and match.com makes it clear that you can’t explore as a stranger. Back to my profile, so far they’ve taken out the awkwardness of having to describe ones self in words by turning the task into a simple Q & A session and placing character limits on the only time you write anything at all about yourself in your own words. I learned later that this automates the process of matching you up, no science, just conformity here folks.

The part I found most interesting is the final piece where you’re asked to choose a headline for your profile. A chance to say something that grabs attention and will get you noticed…I got nothing. I think how about “Hi, let’s meet for coffee?” but what if she hates coffee and prefers tea? I’ve already lost dates if my matches dislike caffeine, and I haven’t even uploaded photos yet. Snap out of it, this is exactly why you’re here, proceed…

ANYWAY, after my quasi-interview I get to answer questions about my preferences in a potential date. Albeit, this time without photos. If you thought the world was vain enough wait until you realize these questions have everything to do with appearances and not personality, with the exception of the religion question. Now, to be fair, science tells us that we’re programmed to base our dating choices off first impressions and it’s true. If you aren’t visually appealing you won’t get far in the dating world, especially the online dating world. So now that I’ve picked her preferred body type, hair style(s), eye color, religious views, and workout schedule It’s time to upload some photos. I initially thought that I should seek outside counsel in selecting photos to upload, but I went with my gut and uploaded 3 descent (by my standards of course) photos. Nothing fancy, no self portraits or shirtless bathroom mirror photos. After all, this is going to be seen by other people on the internet, you gotta keep it classy online, right?

To my surprise, there’s a profile and photo approval process at match.com and it may take up to 24 hours for my profile to appear on their site. All of the profile and photo submissions must be reviewed by a real person. This makes sense, there’s enough subscription porn on the internet as it is. Goodnight single ladies.

My Sociology final:

I can’t remember the last time I felt like I had a brilliant idea that quickly turned on me until after I put this assignment together. The task was simple: violate a social norm. After I looked up what a norm was (Norm: Expectations and rules for proper conduct that guide the behavior of group members.) I set out to pick one that I could violate. Picking a norm for this assignment proved harder than I thought it would be. Despite the fact that I’m unknowingly bound by norms on a day to day basis. For example; don’t eat with your mouth open, cover your mouth when you yawn, brush your teeth, say “excuse me” when trying to move past someone, don’t laugh when someone you’re supposed to care about makes themselves look like an idiot, don’t burp, fart, or sneeze in peoples faces, be polite, the 10 commandments, my companies employee handbook, etc. Almost every part of my life can be categorized as some sort of norm. I began to feel oppressed, brainwashed, captive and betrayed by society. All this time I thought I was unique, a rebel per se, but I was like everyone else: a sheep amongst the herd just following the norms of life without questioning why. I decided today or someday in the near future would be the day to challenge one of these norms. I understand some of these norms are essential to the day to day business of being human for example; the section in my employee handbook on sexual harassment, that commandment about not killing anyone, those signs that indicate you shouldn’t smoke inside a building, there’s really too many to list, but rest assured they are all imperative to human survival and often times designed to keep us out of prison. Deciding on which norm to violate I had only to wait for the opportune moment to strike and prove that at times ditching the herd is necessary.

That opportune moment came in the form of a regular work day. It was a Monday  and I had a sudden burst of Sociological inspiration while getting ready for work. I would wear my clothes (both pants and shirt) inside-out and unpressed. I chose to violate this norm for two reasons: 1.) People usually expect you to go into work looking sharp and professional and 2.) It would re-establish my self proclaimed stance as an all around nonconformist social rebel. After a quick phone call to my supervisor to give him a vague heads up on my experiment I made my way to work. Weighing the magnitude of my choice in norm violation on my way to work I decided that the two outcomes would be that I’d be seen as a.)  A complete fool, or b.) The epitome of fashion; a visionary like Kanye West and his popped collar polo shirts, Gwen Stefani and her eye catching outfits, and Sarah Palin with her $150,000 wardrobe and iconic eyewear. I hoped to be seen as the latter, but knew it would rely solely on my ability to brush off the forthcoming looks and comments from coworkers unfamiliar with what it feels like to swim against the current. Wearing reversed jeans who’s pockets looked like hanging pancakes against my legs and a reversed Guess dress shirt I would have to open up the minds of the professional business world to my radical fashion statement. A fashion statement that’s been hiding on the other sides of our clothes for decades.

I’ve worked for the cable company for three years. Although I provide Online Support, my cubicle is nestled in a call center full of customer service professionals. The setting is loud, often hectic and everyone knows everyones business. As with any office environment the way a person looks is usually the subject of many breakroom discussions. That said, a guy walking in with his clothes wrinkled and reversed would quickly rise to the top of everyones conversational priority list. My workplace is relatively lenient when it comes to clothing. A brief look through our handbook will reveal that a person is “expected to” come to work dressed in a professional manner, but from what I’ve seen in my three years experience is that just showing up with some form of clothing on will suffice. Obviously guidelines are in place to keep one from arriving to work in what they’d wear to a raunchy beach party, but this is simply to prevent any lawsuits. By comparison what I was doing would technically be socially acceptable if not embraced as “thinking outside the box.” The keyword being “should” as in this stunt should fall into a grey area all while avoiding any legalities.

On my way into the building I came across a complete stranger who didn’t seem to notice my new look and walked passed me unphased. The moment of truth had arrived and the door to the call center beckoned my entrance. Would I be taken in as a fashionable trend setter unafraid of breaking free from the norms of appearance? Or would I be shunned as a complete moron with no sense of fashion? Again, I remained optimistic. My walk into the call center was met with no one so much as looking my way and I passed about 20 people. I figured this may be due to the fact that I don’t socialize so therefore, I was no more then a moving piece of bland office furniture to these people. As I sat at my desk I wondered if anyone had noticed me and what they were thinking. My cubicle neighbor arrived and with a look of utter confusion greeted me by asking if I was hungover, I wasn’t. For the next few hours 4 people asked if I knew if my clothes were reversed, 2 asked if I was ok, and 2 chuckled as I waited in the breakroom for a fresh cup of coffee. For the most part everyone I came across looked generally confused. As I ate my lunch in the breakroom 1 person in particular ignored my clothing altogether and treated me as if nothing was out of place. That afternoon I realized that the odds for breaking down a fashion wall with the breaking of a social norm were against me. No one voiced disagreement over my new found use for clothing, but no one endorsed it’s idiosyncratic vision either. I went home uncomfortable, awkward and socially defeated.

There is a paradox in our society when it comes to my wardrobe. If a celebrity wears some oddball outfit at the right time, it’s immediately embraced as the next big thing in fashion and not seen as the violation of a social norm. However, if someone like myself who is also human, but not in the public spotlight tries to break from the mold everyone laughs. My determination to appear advanced by wearing my clothes inside-out came from my deductive reasoning on watching the media cover celebrities and various forms of “fashion.” Social norms apply to everyone don’t they? Furthermore, this experiment wasn’t on what could be considered an integral rule of society, I didn’t show up to work with a loin cloth. I bet if Johnny Depp wore his clothes backwards no one would ask him if he was ok. At that moment it hit me, the violation of norms is almost impossible within the celebrity demographic. Allow me to explain, let us assume Marilyn Manson meets President Bush and rather than shake his hand Mr. Manson decides to lick him on the cheek. The headlines would read “Marilyn Manson Licks POTUS” but 99.9% of the coverage would contain an underlying bias that would imply Manson was just being normal and him licking the President was not a big deal. Now to take that a step further, let’s assume I went out with my clothes reversed and met Mandy Moore and proceeded to lick her on the cheek. The headlines would read “Disoriented Man Assaults Mandy Moore: Police say he wore his clothes inside out.” This assignment made me realize that Society is messed up, but until the day comes when I can lick Mandy Moores cheek without fear of persecution I will continue looking for a job where I can wear my clothes inside-out everyday.

For some reason all through high school I tried to grow my hair. I was emo, I had the Blink-182 wardrobe, the cd’s a guitar and the aesthetic, however, I didn’t have the hair. I tried a few times, but I’d always get tired of trying to style my work in progress and break out in really bad acne, and acne was surely not emo. I needed the hair, I needed it to emphasize my rocking out, and my overall hopeless state of perpetual and unexplainable sadness. This was a strange time in all our lives.

I was looking through my cd’s the other night and I came across a few of the first cd’s I ever bought. They consisted of various Saves the Day, Blink-182, and Ataris records. It was emo, in fact if I remember correctly the record store where I bought them specifically had them in their “emo” section with a sad face and a tear within the “o.”

The year was 2002 and that was the year emo consumed everything and everyone I knew. The scene had been steadily growing thanks to such emo-pioneers like Blink-182 and New Found Glory(some of you may argue this was pop-punk, but you’re wrong.) who opened the door for every band that came into our cd players for the next 3 years. Before the rave thing got big(again, because I am old enough to remember it’s first incarnation.) and before incoherent noise driven indie bands took over your cd collections and wardrobes there was emo, which basically paved the way for indie, it was(unfortunately) the only logical step to take after emo cried it’s last tears. For me it was always something else entirely. I was shy, awkward and eager to find deeper meaning in my high school life. So, basically I was everyone else who embraced this “emo” thing because they felt alienated. Sure, some of us went uber-emo and what everyone else considered borderline gay by adopting Dashboard Confessional, but at it’s core that guys music was oddly the most accurate description of my high school days. I don’t know anyone who lived those days who didn’t at least like one song.

To understand what it felt like you have to understand the following 2 statements:

1.) It’s difficult to explain this scene to say, perhaps, a metal head, believe me I’ve tried. They don’t get it, anyone may feel the same way we felt towards their respective scene, but from the emo perspective it’s hard to imagine how a metal band singing about decapitating heads and burning demons registers on any personal emotion based level.

2.) We are all products of a form of music that consist of one heartbroken person singing their lives away about another person who obviously doesn’t care they exist. No matter what your musical leanings, your favorite song in theory, is probably about somebody else.

These days I can pop in any Ataris or Saves the Day record now and instantly be taken back to the countless nights spent locked in my room with nothing but the sound of those songs to help me make sense of my overly self-complicated life. I remember I had one for everything and everyone that mattered. Anything that happened to me between Winter of ’01 and summer of ’03 could be easily chronicled by Kris Roe and Chris Conley. In fact those two individuals are the only people who’d probably ever understand me. Well, them and Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, but who doesn’t relate to them?

For a long time I thought I was the only one who had reached such an emotive response to music, particularly this odd blend of soft rock. I thought it was my secret, as if I knew the hidden message. Although it’s musical blasphemy to compare Nirvana to any band that came after them the truth is emo was our Grunge. Everyone likes Nirvana, with the exception of the few people who don’t like Nirvana simply because everybody else does. Everybody liked emo, even people who listened to rap liked emo. At the end of the day they didn’t want to hear a rhyme about slappin’ bitches and gettin’ paid, they wanted to hear about the cheatin’ ho that did ‘em dirty and how she ain’t nuthin’ but a bitch. Emo just took what everyone already liked about music and applied it to everything. I didn’t realize it then, but I never really needed to grow my hair at all.