Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Depressing Season

Halloween is a big event on the calendar for me.  Not so much because I do anything particularly special for Halloween (last year was the first time I had actually even gone to a Halloween party) but because it's the last day before the start of what I call the "depressing season".  It's that time when the weather starts to get cold and people like to cuddle up next to the fire place (or just their home with the heat on) with a significant other.  And the colder weather is bolstered by a slew of holidays that often involve those significant others: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day.

I've said this before when people ask me what the toughest part of the year is to be single (and dateless).  And my answer is always November-February.  No one to invite over for Thanksgiving, no one to buy gifts for at Christmas, nobody to kiss at New Year's, and obviously no one to spend Valentine's day with.  And I totally get the Valentine's Day is a total rip-off and a "Hallmark holiday".  It really is.  But I feel like relying on that as a defense, is a punk move.  The reality is I'd love to experience the stress that Valentine's Day can be at least just once, instead of treating it like any other day as I have been for a while now.

There is something amazingly romantic to me about kissing in the snow or walking hand in hand in the cold while looking at Christmas decorations in town.  Or inviting your girlfriend to have Thanksgiving dinner with your family (or conversely, being invited to her family's home for Thanksgiving).  I could be alone in this feeling though.

Of course, I'd love to spend other moments in the year with a lovely woman too.  A haunted house on Halloween, or sitting on a blanket taking in the Fourth of July fireworks, or hell even the baseball games I just went to last week.  Having someone to share those moments of life with is something I really really desire.  It's just, I think the nature of the upcoming season just magnifies those feelings for me.

So, I will look to enjoy this rest of this month as much as I can.  And obviously hope that this time the "depressing season" isn't so depressing.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ben Affleck, Bill Maher, and Islamophobia

As I'm sure most of you know, Ben Affleck was recently on Bill Maher's show and gave a spirited defense of Islam.  My opinion of Bill Maher is that he is a gigantic douche who routinely spouts horseshit and uses the same old tired shtick.  That anyone even bothers to watch his show for purposes other than derision, really boggles the mind.

In any case, I'm with Affleck on this one.  I am not a Muslim (despite what some people tell me), and I'm pretty sure I never will be.  But that doesn't mean I'm not disturbed by the alarming level of Islamophobia that exists in the world.  It would be one thing if it came from Neocons like Dick Cheney or conservative heroes like Sam Huntington or Robert Spencer, but it comes from supposedly liberal progressives, libertarians, smart people, and dumb people.  It's incredibly sad to hear the same people passionately defend the idea of judging people on who they are as an individual rather than who they are as a group, fail to extend that principle to Muslims.

Furthermore, I find it odd that these Islamophobes claim to be "experts on the true Islam" but when an actual Muslim disagrees with their description of the religion, they dismiss the person as either not a true Muslim, or of engaging in deception to lull people into a false sense of security.  There is no way to have a conversation or meaningful debate with someone who regards people who disagree with their view of the world as liars or Uncle Toms.  I remember when Reza Aslan came to my college back in 2007 and he said he found it ironic that the two people who want to depict Islam as inherently violent are Osama Bin Laden and televangelist Pat Robertson.  That should tell you something.

Acts of terrorism committed by people claiming to speak for Islam represent a very small percentage of violent acts.  In fact in the United States you are more likely to be killed by someone you know, or a police officer than you are a terrorist.  Hell, I'm sure some of you know women are more likely to be raped than killed by a terrorist, yet I don't see any collective freak out over rape in our society, at least not anywhere near the same level as we do with regards to terrorism.

Really though, at the end of the day there really is no one who speaks for all of Islam.  There are the Five Pillars (none of which is war or even the much misunderstood word "Jihad") and the Qur'an, but there are all kinds of nuance and tiny details outside of those things.  You can choose to believe the worst of Muslims, or you can choose to accept that they are no different than anyone else in this world.  And you don't have to be a Muslim to understand this either.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Rant

I don't often go on rants.  Well, I do, but they're rants dressed up as sophisticated analysis.  But here's a less than sophisticated diatribe for you:

What the fuck baseball?!

Seriously.

I have said this to people plenty of times but baseball is the single most enjoyable sport to watch live in person.  And I say this as someone who loves the NFL, loves watching football on Sundays, all of that.  Trust me, live baseball tops live NFL games.

But, the scheduling for this postseason blows.  It's just terrible.  I have tickets for Friday that I have to sell on Stubhub because there's no way I could make either of the possible start times.  12:07 or 3:07 in the afternoon?  Seriously?!  I'm not unemployed anymore, I have to go to work during the day.  I can't just hook to see a baseball game.

Beyond that, who the hell is going to be watching baseball on television at noon?  It's not like the NCAA tournament where everybody watches just to see how screwed up their brackets are hours into the tournament and their dreams of winning a billion dollars from Warren Buffet went up in smoke.  I highly doubt there's any gain in viewership by airing these games the way Major League Baseball chose to air them this year.

I know, poor me.  I'm going to make some money scalping my tickets.  Woe is me.  But I wanted to go.  I know as fans we don't really impact the game, especially in a sport like baseball where crowd noise rarely plays a factor.  But you sometimes feel like you might be able to swing the game and you want to be there to do it.  You want to feel that energy along with forty thousand other fans.

So seriously baseball.  Get your act together.  Just play the games at night.  Play them simultaneously.  No one will mind.  Everyone will be watching their own teams anyway and if they absolutely need to watch two games at once they can do this thing they invented sometime in the 20th century called "changing the channel".

End rant.  Sorry if this bored anyone who hates baseball or sports.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

To Be 20 Again

I'm a bit of a nostalgic person.  Anniversaries of important events or moments in my life are things I tend to remember and reminisce about.  And sometimes obviously look on with regret.

Six years ago today I met "Becky".  It wasn't even like a grand "I met you" moment.  We talked for roughly 10 minutes, give or take.  It was one of those things where I was so amazed that an attractive woman even bothered to speak to me at all.  There was a guy on campus giving out flyers for something or other and when we passed him I was so entranced I said something so totally off the wall.

I any event, I wouldn't speak to her again for several weeks.  I was doing my patented "too cool for school" act.  You know the one where you ignore someone you're attracted to because you don't want to be "that person" who follows them around like a puppy dog.  Eventually though by essentially stroke of luck we'd start hanging out regularly and I was in deep.

I won't rehash the whole story here because I've already blogged about it a couple of times and don't want to bore you with yet another retelling.  What I will say is that it's a bittersweet memory (as all my memories of her are).  That September night, walking back from class.  Me, a 20 year old guy who thought he knew everything about the world but who in fact knew practically nothing.

For the past 6 years I've tried in vain to recreate that, just with a happier ending.  I'm not sure if that's possible.  Nor am I sure it's desirable.

I still dream about "Becky".  I'm sure it doesn't help that I still talk to her online on a regular basis.  I'm not sure what will happen in the future, I'm not optimistic but who knows.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Helicopter Parenting

I am not a parent.  I know it's a big surprise, but it's awfully hard to father children without even kissing a girl (actually reminds me of a "Boy Meets World" episode, but that's another story).  But, I have parents, and most of my peers have parents.  And our parents have parents.  So it's kind of easy to observe the phenomenon that is the practice of raising children.

There are a lot of different parenting styles, but probably the most common one today is known as "helicopter parenting".  Basically hovering over your child like a helicopter and watching our for their every move and every step.  You know, your parents will call up to complain about the grades your teacher gave you, or call the principal up to complain about something or other.  It's much maligned because it looks (and to the children feels) like parents are suffocating their children and stifling their growing up process.

There's an old Arab proverb that says: the first 7 years you play with your children, the second 7 years you let them get in trouble and the third 7 years you explain to them why they got in trouble.  It's a roundabout way of saying that you only learn by screwing up and sometimes learning why you screwed up.  Yes, you can learn by watching others screw up, but experience is almost always the best teacher.  If you always have someone there to watch you and make sure you don't make any mistakes, how are you ever going to learn for yourself?  Especially when there will come a time when your parents won't be there to watch out for you.  What will you do then?

Now, I know a lot of you will be asking yourselves where this is going and why I'm bringing this up.  I recently read a story in which a father (along with his wife) did a sweep of their daughter's room (I guess the equivalent of a cell check) and found a package of thongs under the mattress.  His daughter was 13 and he was wondering if this was just too early for a girl to be wearing that kind of undergarment.  And if so, should he put his foot down and forbid his daughter from wearing them.

I'm no expert on women's underwear.  But I guess the worry here is that his daughter might be trying to dress "sexy" at a young age, an age where really nobody should be sexually active.  I understand that, but I think at some point if you're worried that your daughters underwear choices might lead her to start having gratuitous sex at a young age it might already be too late.  If you've done a good job this isn't something you typically worry about.

Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, I don't think it's a good idea to want to control every aspect of your child's life.  You have to draw reasonable lines and pick your battles.  I understand protecting your kids from drugs and alcohol, or encouraging them to do well in school, and making sure they behave in your home.  But when you try to control everything, including what kind of underwear they wear the lesson children usually learn from that is not to stop doing the behavior, but rather to hide it better.  The mattress was used this time as a hiding place, so next time they'll find a better one.  Maybe a cutout in a book, or inside the box frame.

I'm sure some of you reading this had times when your parents tried to get you to stop doing a certain thing and you didn't want to.  So you just learned how to sneak around and do it without your parents knowing.

Again though, I'm not a parent.  So maybe some of you parents out there reading this think of full of shit.  I just hope that if you feel that way you're not one of those people complaining that today's young adults lack maturity and responsibility and independence, or mock us for being the "boomerang generation".  If we haven't grown into full adults yet, it's because we weren't allowed to.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Other People's Standards

Let's talk about standards.  According to the dictionary, it's a "level of quality" or "achievement", "considered to be acceptable or desirable".  In dating terms it's really what you're looking for and won't settle for less than.  At least I think that's a good definition.

I always see on dating sites or forums, and even when people talk in real life what people claim they're looking for.  Sometimes it's really generic, even seemingly easy to pass. A nice person who doesn't cheat, isn't looking for a one night stand, is respectful, doesn't need to be rich, can talk about intellectual topics, etc.  It sounds nice.  I mean hey, I'm those things.  Yet, whenever I message a girl like that on a dating site or talk to a girl like that in real life, it always goes nowhere.  So I've come to regard anyone who says they're just looking for a good guy with "xyz" generally nice sounding attributes as just blowing smoke out of their ass.  Let's not bullshit a bullshitter.  I know and you know, and you know that I know that you're looking for much more than that and you're just saying you aren't so as to avoid looking like a bitch (or a dick if you're a dude doing this with regards to women).

But, we've all heard of the infamous situation in which a great person is dating a piece of shit.  Or at least maybe not quite a piece of shit, but maybe a mildly irritating fart.  And you know this person could and should do better, but they aren't.  They're agonizing over why the person they're dating is engaging in certain behavior.  Cheating maybe, or getting mad when they want to spend an evening hanging out with friends rather than stay at home, something along those lines.  I look around and think about the number of normal, respectful, level headed guys I know who struggle badly with women and I wonder: "what the hell are all of us doing wrong?".

I'd like to think that I meet most people's standards, but if I had to be perfectly honest I'd have to say I'm very skeptical.

So readers, what are your standards?  What are things you look for in a partner?  Things you would accept, things you absolutely wouldn't?  Do you think I'd meet yours or even most women's?

Personally, I don't know what my standards are or even should be.  I'd like to stay as open minded as possible but I can't honestly say I'm always successful in that endeavor.  In any case, feel free to leave your thoughts.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Inexperienced Guy Podcast 8/24/2014

The long overdue debut of my very own podcast. Please feel free to comment, leave criticism, or just whatever. And be sociable, share!