Life

38 Things I Know At 38

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1- The surest way to get people to click on an article on a website is to start off with an engaging, lurid image. It doesn’t make much difference if the image has anything to do with anything.

2- Another way is to compose your article in the form of a numeric list.

3- The greatest thing about the internet is that it gives just about everyone an equal voice. The only problem is, it gives just about everyone an equal voice.

4- Being a writer often feels like you’re putting a bunch of stuff down on paper, rolling it up, cramming it in a bottle, and hurling it into the ocean. I recommend that if you write, or create any kind of art at all really, you get used to the idea that you’re doing it for yourself first. Sometimes I draw little pictures and tuck them away, even throw them away, and never show them to anyone.

5- Whoever said “it’s better to burn up than to fade away” could only perceive themselves through the eyes of others. I hope I’m still around in 40 years, if the earth is still habitable and life isn’t completely awful. And if I do make it that far, I won’t particularly care if anyone thinks the things I created were worthwhile or not. I have creative friends, and a few of them are in that “I will die for my art” bag. I hope they outgrow it. No audience deserves your blood, literally or figuratively.

6- The most valuable thing in your life isn’t your money or your belongings. It’s your time. I love leisure time. A day in which my time is my own to spend is a great day indeed.

7- I can’t speak for the rest of the world because I’ve only ever lived in the USA, but it’s astounding how often the answer to any given question is “because there’s money in it.” It cuts across all political strata. “Why can people buy military grade weapons and kill the shit out of people with them?” Because there’s buckets and buckets of money to be made from selling them. “Why don’t people say Merry Christmas anymore?” Well, people still do, and will always. Employees at stores or other businesses will say “Happy Holidays” because Jews, Atheists, Muslims, and whatever else still spend the same green dollars, and there’s no use in alienating them. How did we get so far gone that we forgot that stores aren’t the same thing as our neighbors? The true religion of America is capitalism.

8- A store and the people that work at a store -I was one for most of my life, over 20 years- exist to create an imaginary land where you feel comfortable enough to spend money on things you probably don’t need to survive, and to do so at a premium price. I’m not cynical about this, I actually really enjoy marketing despite its evils, but I like to remain pragmatic about it.

9- I’m a patriotic person, but my love of the country rests not in its often morally reprehensible history or remarkably imperfect government. I love America because of the people, art, ideas, and science it has produced.

10- I’m not much for conspiracy theories, and I don’t usually believe them, but I’m convinced that Trump’s presidential campaign isn’t a real thing. How did he get from being an avowed Democrat, pro-choice, friend of the Clintons to this? I don’t know if Hillary is in on it or not, but I think this is all a big show designed to crack the Republican Party apart and insure a Hillary Clinton presidency. He had a similar storyline with Vince McMahon in a WWE angle. Go watch that and then his debate performances, tell me one is any more or less convincing than the other. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part, but I don’t believe he’s for real.

11- It’s impossible to avoid entirely in times like these because it feels like we’re at the brink of something horrific, but I still believe there’s 4 things you don’t discuss in mixed company if you can avoid it. Politics, sex, religion, and money.

12- Somewhere in the last quarter of the 20th century, we lost sight of politeness and the implicit dignity in basic decency. The pop culture I grew up in told you, through TV shows and the commercials for products woven in them, that being rude is really cool. This new bubble gum is rad, and you don’t need to sit nicely through dinner anymore, because fuck you, granma. Looking people in the eye when you talk to them, firm handshakes, dressing like you give a damn, caring about things unironically, not expecting to be made to feel ashamed for being earnest, being polite, all of this used to just be the baseline expectations for being a human being.

13- Did I say I love marketing? Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I find it fascinating, because it’s certainly got a few negative features. One of the biggest ones is that it’s made everything so much more crass, and that’s all down to advertising’s deification of youth. Craig Ferguson went off on it once, and he was killing me softly, because I had been saying what he was saying for years. Only he was saying it on TV, even if it was in the middle of the night.

14- I don’t mind aging. I like it. I always wanted to be an adult. Even as a kid I didn’t like kids much. I was often thinking “Why are you doing that? Stop it.” I hated when things were over my head. I wanted to know as much about everything as possible.

15- Even so, I was always deep into my imagination. Everything I did, I imagined that I was a soldier or a spy or a warrior or a superhero when I did them. Even if I told no one. I always liked to elevate the mundane. I still do.

16- Adulthood for me is about how I conduct myself; the entertainment I’m attracted to, the way I move about the world, how I dress, how I talk. I don’t want to start a family, I don’t want to own a house. Still live in my starter apartment from when I was 20 or 21. When I moved in, I was surrounded by middle aged men who had just gotten divorced and lost all their shit. I figured it was best to skip the middle man. Since I haven’t done and don’t want to do the major things that usually cement our status as adults, I do tend to revel in the smaller things.

17- I love the medium of comic books and so many of its creators, and a lot of science fiction, and I love toys. Especially old ones. I’m nostalgic not just for my own childhood, but the childhood of people much older than me, because I grew up seeing old ads and hearing about stuff like G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu grip. It took a very long time before I was uncloseted about this enthusiasm. It came from a couple of different things. One is that geek culture has become so mainstream that it no longer feels like anything anyone can really use against you. Two, I figured out that it’s all under the umbrella of “Pop Art.” A-ha! It’s art! How grown-up! I don’t mind speaking to that, or even defending it.

18- That said, I have little use for modern fandom. People will spend loads of money and consider it a badge of honor and privilege that they spent hours in line so some crummy actor will take a picture with them while the writer and/or artist that created the character that actor is playing sits at a table, where they are visited by a small handful of fans will stop and speak to them. i feel like we like the same things but for very different reasons, and it makes me feel gross. Luckily, reading and looking at art is something you don’t need to do in a group setting.

19- I don’t really want to be a “geek.” I don’t really want to be “an anything.” I think the only thing we can safely think about all people is that they just want to be thought of as individuals. I don’t care to be considered a white, straight, red haired, late thirties-aged American male with bipolar disorder. None of those labels define me in the least. I don’t think I’m a typical anything, and I don’t think anyone is.

20-Belief is not a choice. You do or you do not.

21- No matter what they tell you or what they tell themselves, people do what they want to do and they don’t do what they don’t want to do. That gym membership I never use, that book you keep meaning to read, that person that keeps saying they’ll call but they don’t, it’s because there’s no actual desire. Make peace with that, you will be happier.

22- The key to life is balance.

23- Your parents name you, but they have no idea who you will be. Your friends nickname you because they know exactly who you are.

24-  If you don’t feel like drinking for whatever reason but still want to be around people who do, be prepared for some sideways glances. The only way I’ve found to get around heavy conversations when you just want to hang out is to say “I’ve had enough” when offered. That could either mean in your lifetime or today, but it sounds hardcore enough that followup questions are unlikely.

25- There’s what I think, there’s what you think, and there’s the truth.

26- I don’t like the act of writing. I do like having already written.

27- Those last six quotes, despite some spin that I applied, weren’t mine originally. The guy who said the last one once told me “It’s OK to use other people’s lines, just give the person you heard say it credit the first three times. You say ‘My friend Ned always says…’ a few times, and after that, don’t worry about it.” So I don’t. Thanks, Ned!

28- In the court of public opinion, a person who generally does good things can do a single bad thing and become a pariah, and a person who generally does bad things can do one good thing and become a saint.

29- As I’ve gotten older, personal relationships have become much more valuable and I’m more inclined to work at maintaining them. As a younger person, I was much more likely to write people off who displeased me. That’s no way to be, and it cost me a lot. I try to forgive people for doing the wrong things, because I have a hard time forgiving myself, and it seems like the only way to eventually be less hard on myself and let shit go is to grant everyone the same amnesty. Within reason, of course. Just being sorry counts for a lot. To me, an apology means that you’re stating that if you had something to do over again, you would do it differently. I’m not a fan of “I’m sorry, but…” or saying you’re sorry for something you keep on doing. “I’m sorry” is powerful and it can be sacred. It should be held in the same high esteem as “I love you.”

30-Never hesitate to say “I love you.”

31- Music is like food, and you wouldn’t just eat egg salad sandwiches for the rest of your life. We put a lot on “genre” like it matters. Genres exist so that record labels can sell you more shit. Musicians don’t care what bean counters and critics are going to call what they make. Nobody names the baby while they’re screwing.

32- A sure sign of untreated mental illness is wearing clothes entirely inappropriate to the weather.

33- Karma may or may not be real as a cosmic concept, but consequence is no coincidence.

34- Being friends with people you really admire is a rich and rewarding experience. You’re continually cognoscente that they loom larger in your life than you do in theirs, but they provide the strongest advice…if only because you’ll actually listen to them. You only have to make peace with the fact that you will always think of them more frequently than they think of you, because your work didn’t change their life like theirs did yours.

35- When someone is silent or says little, or even if they just say things that aren’t expected of them, others will tend to project their own subconscious will, or desires, or insecurities upon them. It’s a funny trait of human nature.

36- Self-awareness is immensely important. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t know who they are.

37- As my life progresses, I find that I value kindness and integrity as personality traits above all others. That may seem corny, but it’s absolutely true. I’m not afraid if the things I’m earnest about make me come off as square. I’ve spent enough time with irony and cynicism and trying to seem cool. Cool is about being relaxed, and I’ve never been more.

38- I’m past the age where I can say my age right off the bat without thinking about it for a second. I expect this to be so until 2018, when I turn 40. I’m looking forward to it.

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