Grokking Truths

February 16, 2017

I like to occasionally take a moment to reflect on why I’ve been really trying to do a regular blog.  As I said when I was talking about the idea of Truth and how we struggle to speak them sometimes, one of my goals was to better understand the Truths in their fullness.  To grok them, if you will.  I will admit I did get sidetracked at times, but that was really the fundamental goal.  To grok what it is to be human and how to be a better human.  To better grok our world.  There has been some success and some failure, things I was right and wrong about.  When you understand the Truths of the world you live in, it becomes easier to develop the ideas necessary to build a better one.

A Truth I’ve come to accept lately is that humans are in too much of a hurry.  Like I said about the tendency to “Hurry Up and Wait” in people, we get into such a rush sometimes that all it leads to is waiting for the next thing to happen and the inaction can be worse than anything.  When I was in a relationship at about the two year mark, my ex and her cousin got together and planned out a whole wedding–best man, groomsmen, bridesmaids, color arrangements, etc.–and texted me about this when I was at work.  I believe it concluded with the message: “All you have to do is propose.”  At the time, I wanted to make sure we had a clearer plan about our future–housing, her family’s farm, etc.–but I had been giving some serious thought to proposing around that time.  After that exchange, I chose not to out of annoyance.  I think I shot back, “Why doesn’t your cousin just do it for me?”  I was annoyed, but then again, I was being pressured into something I had simply waiting for the right moment to do.  My own annoyance there might have been a bit of self-destruction on my part.  My point is, you get into a rush, you miss details and then you wonder why things go to pieces in the end.

Truths are important to acknowledge and I like to think I have come to realize many.  I’d like to touch on a few.

  • It is necessary to move beyond the binary–male/female, gay/straight, liberal/conservative, etc.–and think in terms of just being human.  Maybe an oversimplified approach, but it does prevent the traditional labels from interfering.  All of the words for human do little to add to the conversation, only muddling up what should be a picture of progress.  It will take a long time, but I like to think we’re getting closer.
  • Humans are too self-destructive.  I’ve covered a lot of the ways I’ve done damage to myself and I realize how hard it can be to stop self-destructing.  And the worst thing about that can be how we keep trying to tell ourselves how doing these things will somehow make things better even though we know they won’t.  And chances we don’t take out of fear where the stagnation only makes things worse.
  • One thing I’ve noticed is how nothing is really private in the sense that ripple effects hit a lot of people and everything goes outward.  When I went through a break-up after a three year relationship, I actually spent some time talking to her mother and sister in part for their input on her actions and in part to make sure they knew it wasn’t really my decision and if she was willing to listen and work things out we would have.  I felt like that was a half-way decent human being thing to do as I thought of them as family.  This last December, her mother actually sent me a message on FB wishing me a happy birthday.  I didn’t reciprocate for hers, but I wish I had.  However, I guess my ex never really felt the need to make contact with my mother after the break-up, despite numerous declarations of how “if we break up, I’m keeping your mother.”  My mother actually has expressed some offense over that and even declined to go to a wedding just to avoid seeing my ex.  My point is, the ripples will have an impact.  Not just in relationships, but there are ripples and aftershocks to almost every action we do.  I could probably come up with some work stories, but this is the one that springs to mind.

Another week.  I ordered a Deadpool mask.

  • Did a job interview a couple of weeks ago.  Thought it went pretty well, but it doesn’t look like I’m getting the job.  Oh well.  It was a local coffee company.  One of the things that stood out to me was the specification that applicants aren’t smokers.  I’ve speculated at various times that where I am currently might implement such a ban, especially after they reduced the areas where employees can go to smoke.  People leaving cigarette butts on the ground outside has always been a problem, and I even found one in a trash can in the area where we box cheese–likely left thrown their after someone went out for a smoke, just sitting right on top of the trash.  Given that some of the higher ups smoke and half the workforce smoke, it would likely be some time and effort before such a ban is implemented.
  • So I was at Home Depot the other day, looking into a number of ideas for projects.  Mostly just getting a vague idea of what type of gear I can or should get to do a lot of the projects I have in mind.  Big one I was drooling over was a table saw.  I’m thinking of building a few bookshelves and eventually a couple of desks–one for a computer and one for drawing.  More of a project for when I’ve got a house of my own situated. The desk might end up being built into a wall, so I’m planning on that being after the housing saga is close to its conclusion.
  • I was thinking about how other people working nights make relationships work.  A lot are married, but there are a few people who are still single.  Everybody is a little different, but I do think being in a relationship while working nights can be tricky.  It seems to require a high level of patience, understanding and commitment.  Part of the reason why I’m glad I remained single.  In the past I’ve pondered the usefulness of a rebound relationship and have tried to avoid getting into anything based in desperation.  People are fond of saying, “You’re 30, blah, blah, blah…”  but isn’t the point to not rush and form better long-term plans?
  • My father and uncle are in the process of getting a solar company to put panels on some of the farmland–the farm I grew up on until I was thirteen.  It has been controversial in a myriad of ways.  While I’m all for expanding solar panel usage, I do have some doubts about the situation.  My family and the surrounding neighbors aren’t necessarily… “progressive.”  Solar energy is something I’ve been very interested in though.  When I was a heartbeat away from farming, something I had thought about was seeing if it would be possible to use part of a field for some panels.  Nothing too elaborate.  At the time I was thinking that they were pretty heavy into dairy and it might not be a bad idea to diversify a little–solar energy, pigs, maybe bit more foodstuffs, lately I’m thinking about goats, etc.  Anyway, solar energy is a market I think there could be a lot of potential for.  I’m sure there will be a fair amount of excitement with the process my family has set into motion.

I am on vacation next week.  Nothing really exciting planned or going on there, but it is happening.

  • If there is any kind of mercy to be had, the Trump Presidency will be brief.  Seems to me that all we are getting is conflicts of interest and people who shouldn’t be anywhere near the positions they are in.  Hard to drain the swamp when everybody working for you is dependent on it.  Then there’s the recount.  Given that Trump spent most of his candidacy questioning the legitimacy of the process, it is only right to do it.  When he undermines the process, he should not complain when somebody else wants to make sure it was done right.  Also, Clinton did not ask for the recount.  Jill Stein did.  And in three states.  But why stop there?  I say do all fifty states.  Just to be fair and sure.
  • I do wonder what’s going to happen when Trump supporters realize how many of his promises he’s going to break.  Or when all the infighting of his administration prevents anything from getting done.  My big question is how many people go down when it does fall to pieces?
  • Personally, I hope there is considerably more focus being given to the runoff Senate election in Louisiana next month than recounts.  While I do believe Trump is already going to have a difficult time pushing his agenda through Congress, another Democrat in the Senate would be a bonus.
  • Saw Doctor Strange last Friday.  Good movie.  Not great, I thought they could have done more with the story.  Other than that, it went the directions I thought it would have.  Really played up a lot of the Steve Ditko elements from the early days of the character.  The bulk of my Black Friday adventure there.  Going to try to work in Fantastic Beasts this weekend.
  • Been thinking about how to fix a few mistakes.  Set a few wrongs to right.  Always the hard part, isn’t it?  Easier to give up sometimes.  Maybe I’ll have a stroke of genius.

So, it has been a bit of a down year all around.  I was going to wait until after Christmas to reflect on the year as a whole, but I get the feeling December is just going to be going through the motions and mailing it in.  The United States and Britain seem destined to complete their self-destruction as the icons we grew up with continue to pass away.  So 2016 really has become the year where we lost ourselves.

Bowie, Rickman, Prince, Castro, Cohen, Glass, Henderson…  We have lost a lot of people who defined who we were and how we feel about ourselves.  People get annoyed when people get upset over celebrities dying, but it is important to remember that these people form a part of our culture and how we regard ourselves.  After a bad at work I’ve been know to put on Bowie’s Hunky Dory and listen to “Kooks” and that usually makes me feel better.  Or unwind to an episode of Serenity.  Or quote any number of Rickman’s memorable lines.  And so on.  Even Fidel Castro, in his own way, had his role in the formation of our culture.  So it is reasonable to feel something significant when people of their presence in our lives pass away.

2016 was really a wash year.  We were so self-destructive this year.  Even in my personal attempts to turn the anger and angst into something productive were heavily caught up in the waves of… whatever.  For lack of a better way to put it, we drowned ourselves in our own bullshit this year.  This whole year was about self-destruction.

Some predictions:

  • I think that on a global and national scale, we are poised to see a lot more instability.  I just look at the players involved and some what’s unfolding and those do not bode well in my mind.
  • I think I will be in some kind of relationship in 2017.  How serious of one, I don’t know.  I’ve gone on a date or two, but things have been a bit too hectic to really get a read on anything.  Who knows?  Somebody was telling me that it sometimes takes a up to a year and a half to get over a break-up, depending on how long and serious the relationship.  Part of the reason I’m glad I haven’t gotten into a relationship yet.  I think I did need the time to figure out how responsible I was for the state of things there and I do feel I’ve reached a point where I’ve shouldered my share.  I’ve taken responsibility for my mistakes and learned from them.
  • Probably will be getting a new job next year.  I’ve been ready to move on for a long time and I’m feeling more and more like it has been dragged out longer than it should.  I’m not foolish enough to state a time table without a plan in place, but I’m thinking it will happen.
  • I will be doing something more productive with artwork.  We will see.

Some updates, I suppose…

  • I am surprisingly proud of myself for voting for Bill “Space Man” Lee.  He won’t win and probably would be a disaster if he did, but I’m glad I didn’t vote for the more of the same from Sue Minter and Phil Scott for Vermont’s next governor.  I wish I had more thought to voting for Jill Stein.
  • I really think Congress needs to have term limits.  My primary reason: imagine if Bernie had been running for President ten years ago.  People wonder why Washington is so corrupt, but don’t think about the fact that they basically set themselves up for life and have incredible job security.
  • I got to draw a coworker as He-Man.  He seemed pretty pleased by it.  Wants me to print it off and get it framed for him.  He’s offered to pay me for it.  Basically became the excuse I’ve been looking for to get a Printer for larger format drawings.  Need to get some higher quality paper for these print jobs.  Feeling good about art again.
  • Was thinking about the post from a week or two ago about a Woman’s Responsibility.  I said something about my ex and how I felt like she hadn’t really taken responsibility for how her own choices and actions.  Though I might not have articulated it properly, I do think there’s a point there to be made.  No matter how good or bad the relationship was, responsibility should be equal.  That was the point I wanted to make and in break-ups it can be easy to assume it was the fault of one person or the other, but it should and usually is equal.

Recovering from NYCC…

  • Been a bit burned out lately, but I think the NYCC trip has recharged me creatively.  At least a bit.  I’m hoping to do finish a few drawing in the coming days.  Want to finish those Catwoman and Black Canary drawings I was working on.  Going to try to do some shorter comics for the time being, rather than completely focus on longer works.  Might even bring back Chlorine and Acid for that.
  • Thinking of checking out some other gyms around the area, just see how they compare.
  • I did bit of a post about roles and responsibilities in relationships the other day, in part to sort out my opinions on Trump attacking the Clintons’ over Bill’s affairs.  May have gotten into some personal territory, but it felt like I accomplished my goal.  It was something I felt like I needed to do some delving into, if only so I can be a bit more clear headed on those types of expectations.  The issue of knowing how those roles and responsibilities are defined from relationship to relationship is one that I think has been hazy in my own life and in others.
  • I think over the next year I’m going to be moving along with my plan to liquidate my comics collection.  If all goes according to plan with the Stan Lee signings this year, I’ll have a considerable boost in revenue coming up as a result.  Planning to get moving on signatures for my New 52 Batman run, which I actually did pick up a couple more variant covers of.  I can get a lot of cash pretty quickly if I am smart about it.
  • I’m calling the going down to NYCC on my own experiment a success.  I didn’t die and I accomplished the majority of the things I wanted to.  I also got pretty well oriented to NYC.  Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t mind going with somebody next year, but I definitely want to make sure we’re all on the same page as far as what we’re down there for.

A Woman’s Responsibility?

October 10, 2016

(Please understand, I’m not trying to condone or condemn anyone with this.  I’m just trying to outline some speculation on responsibilities and roles in relationships.  I’m also not going to get into legalities.  Also, I know it is a very standard presentation of the argument, but it could apply to all types of relationships.)

So… Donald Trump has engaged in this tactic of attacking Hillary Clinton through Bill’s affairs.  My general feeling is “So you’re dredging this up to prove a point?  That Hillary shouldn’t be President because Bill is too much like you?”  Anyway, I had a brief conversation about it with a conservative individual who brought up an interesting point.  Kind of point I haphazardly touched on years ago when I was young and stupid, but still interesting.  The idea suggested was that it showed a lack of control from Hillary of Bill.  Now, I’m going to outline a speculative piece, because it does raise some interesting questions in my mind about roles in relationships.

There have been a couple of scenarios in my own life that kind of add some interesting details to it.  Mostly its some ancient history, but it frames my discussion a bit.

First story is about an aunt and uncle.  To sum up, there were some drugs and alcohol involved that ended with my uncle in jail.  I’m not going into detail, but it did make the newspapers.  Some people in the family have criticized my aunt’s handling of it, basically stating that she was not nearly as concerned with her children’s safety as she should have been.

Second is a point about an old relationship that went sour just over a year ago.  I’ve written a lot about this, but I wanted to use an anecdote to position the question a bit more.  Few months after breaking up we got into a bit of a back and forth over some of what I wrote here.  In that exchange, she made some remark about how I should “read a book about sex and the female body.”  This stuck with me because for two reasons.  One, I had been reading about such things when we were still together because I wasn’t really happy with my sexual prowess either.  And two, a lot of what I read indicated the woman should be taking the responsibility to make sure I’m getting the job done right.

I’m just using that bit of history to frame this line of questioning.  I have raised questions about the amount of responsibility she’s taken for much of anything, but as far as I’m concerned, it is ancient history.

So the questions I’m speculating on are really concerned with where do you really draw those lines of responsibility?  Let’s not forget, everybody is wired differently.  My ex never really acknowledged that I could’t exactly look up a cheat code to push the right buttons to make us live happily ever after, even though she had that expectation.  And as much as I took responsibility for that ending, I would be lying if I said I didn’t think she could have accepted more responsibility for the state of our relationship at the end.

My aunt was in a position where my uncle was out of his mind, putting her and my cousins in danger.  It can be easy to criticize how she responded, but there can be any number of factors involved.  Should she have left him?  Easily to say “yes”, but if you were in that position with your significant other, would you?

Which brings me back to what’s gotten this back to bouncing around my head: Hillary Clinton.  Now the idea she hasn’t shown enough “control” over Bill is a… it’s a tricky idea.  I’m not going to get into an exploration of the Clintons’ marriage, plenty has been written about that already.  But the question I come to is, how much control does one really expect in a relationship?  As I said, everybody is wired differently and Bill Clinton has a very strong personality.  How much control could one really exert over him?  And how much should a relationship be about control?

Balance.  The idea of balance is key to a lot of things.  I think one of the biggest faults in my own relationships has been a lack of balance.  I think a basis in control is dangerous and the idea that Hillary’s lack of “control” of her husband being a fault is also dangerous.  However, what I wonder about now is: where is that balance of responsibility?  Does a wife really have a responsibility to control her husband?  Everybody is different, so it will vary from person to person.  As a result, judging all relationships by the same standards is bit of a trap.  The dynamic at work with the Clintons probably is abrasive to the majority to the population and questionable, but be cautious when you judge it.  I’m sure a lot people think she should have left her husband, but how much does their dynamic really matter?

So how do we judge relationships?  Good, bad, in-between?  What criteria do we use?  Where are those lines of responsibility drawn?  I would imagine it varies from person to person and judging them by the same standard can be misleading.  I suppose if people have found that balance, that is the key to the matter.

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