Thank You, Friends

This post is a thank you to my friends who are always honest with me, to my friends that don’t sugar coat things or ask me to “have faith” or say things like “things will work out”. These friends encourage me to take action and give me actionable steps to get me towards the life I want, even if it means that I will have a painful period ahead.

When I am going through a rough time, these are the friends I turn to. They will tell me the truth, which is the most valuable things. There have been times in my life when I was unhappy with my life and they provided wisdom and guidance. If I was unhappy with my finances they pointed out that I didn’t really need a Playstation, a smartphone, or a car. If I embraced minimalism, even for just a little while, I could sell the things I don’t need and lower my bills to the point where I am stable. Then, if I desired, I could reacquire things (hopefully used to be fiscally responsible) that I wanted. For me, that desire never came though.

These are the friends that I could talk to about my relationship and they would be frank and honest. They tell me when the person I’m engaged to isn’t treating me right, they point out the things that I was blind to because I was too close to the situation. They also pointed out when the person I was dating wasn’t long term compatible, no matter how much we loved each other that love wasn’t enough. If we wanted different things out of life we needed to separate and be true to ourselves, and sooner rather than later.

These friends will hear me when I say what I want to experience and point out flaws in my plans or places to improve. When I wanted to get more involved in kink and open relationships, when I wanted casual sex, they pointed out that I needed to be more social and that I needed to take my health seriously. I was very unhealthy at the time and as I took care of myself I found like-minded people to engage in bedroom activities with.

It is even better when they approach me without prompt. When they see something in my life that I could improve… my finances, my relationships, my mind, my body… and say something before I come to them. They help head problems off at the pass and keep me on the right track.

Inevitably, because of this honesty, they are the ones I trust when they give me encouragement. I’ve heard “you should write a book” dozens of times while on the bike ride, but that means nothing… those people rarely know me or what I want. But when one of these friends tell me that they love my writing and wish I blogged more or wrote a book, I listen. They have earned relationship capital and I know they wouldn’t say that without believing it.

We all need these people in our lives, the ones that will give it to us straight. The ones that realize a friendship without the ability to be completely honest with someone isn’t really a friendship, it is an acquaintance. If a friendship dies because one person is honest, then that friendship wasn’t authentic.

These people are our ka-tet, siblings, soulmates, true friends. I hope that there are others who I can give in this way that I have received. I want to be someone who people know will speak the truth without fluff. We have so much power in this world and we minimize our own strength if we wait for a white knight to save us or expect the universe to just fall into place. Action is what improves our lives, stagnation is death. We must work with what we have to make our lives better and forget the past that got us where we are… and hopefully we have a few true friends by our side to steer us straight.

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Thankful

I kind it kind of cheesy to list the things I’m thankful for, and to be honest, it feels a little bit like a humble-brag. But fuck it, I want to do it. Thanksgiving is a ridiculous holiday in a lot of ways but I think it is important to think about the things we are thankful for, to kind of take stock of the good things in life.

So, here are some of the things I’m thankful for, in no particular order. Some are things that I have little to no control over, and some are the result of my own actions.

  • My partner, Anna, continues to be the most influential person in my life. She is my partner in crime, adventure, and love. She loves me for me and encourages me to pursue what I am passionate about. Our life so far together has been amazing and I am thankful for the millions of random occurrences that brought her into my life.
  • My dog is the best. He is an asshole sometimes and has no self control when it comes to food, but he is my fur-baby and I love him.
  • I have some amazing fucking friends. People who take me in, provide me with support, and challenge me in every possible way. We try new things together and intellectually stimulate each other, I’ve long had a tribe and having it grow and evolve is exciting
  • I can’t help but be grateful for my biological family and my upbringing. There have been rough days in the past but things are looking better and we are creating new, adult relationships. My upbringing was stable and loving, more than many people have.
  • Living in the age we live in is absolutely amazing. We can pursue free education via the internet and have access to more information than would be imaginable two generations ago. I really believe that we have the potential to live forever (if politicians and governments don’t fuck it up), but even if I do die I am glad to live in a world of such dynamic change.
  • It took years and lots of sacrifices but I ended up with a job that allows me the freedom I need. I can be a minimalist by working only a few hours a week but still have more joy, happiness, and adventures than I would have imagined as a kid.
  • I am healthy. Part of that is my decisions to change my diet and my lifestyle (I am thankful that I made that decision early in life instead of waiting until my 40’s to take care of my body), and part of it is simply genetics. I don’t have a sweet tooth, my oral health is good, I am rarely sick, and my body responds quickly to exercise.
  • I’ve had a life filled with new adventures and a lot of potential for more. There are many options for new drugs, sexual experiences, travel, and accomplishments. I can pursue all of those without much risk.
  • I’m thankful for my military brothers. We have a bond that is beyond what many people can relate to. We certainly don’t share the same views on many things but we all know that we can call on each other in a time of need. I’ll always be a Blue Devil.
  • This last one came from reviewing my list… part of me doesn’t have a very “property oriented” (for lack of a better phrase) happiness response. I own basically nothing and have no desire to own anything more. I just don’t have that drive, and I am thankful for that.

Motivation

I’ve never been good at self-motivation. I seem to need an outside influence in order to do the things that I know are healthy or for my own benefit. If left to my own devices I would probably do little more than order Papa Johns, nap, watch Netflix, and masturbate. I can completely relate to Snowman from “Oryx and Crake”, even if living in some post-Apocalyptic hellhole I would have trouble getting up each day. I just kind of suck at it. (Sidenote: If you haven’t read “Oryx and Crake” you should close your browser and go do that, there is nothing on the internet better than that novel, Margaret Atwood is a legend).

Lucky for me, I don’t live in a vacuum. I am not on a deserted island or an apocalyptic wasteland. I live in a world with others and I have scarcity that forces me to get up each day and invest in my body and mind. Though, motivation for working out is one of the most difficult things for me. Each day is a new struggle to eat right and exercise. I think that is part of the reason I adopted a lifestyle that literally requires 30-40 miles of cycling each day. If it is not part of my daily life needs then I make excuses, or I just let my laziness take control.

Now that I’m settled in one place for a couple months I need to practice some control and motivate myself. I know me and I need to look to outside influences a lot of the time for motivation, and one influence is not enough. So, I have a list of them that fill various roles, some positive and some negative. Because, let’s be honest, doing P90X sucks and the host on the videos isn’t a true motivation.

One thing that really gets me moving is when I think about being naked in front of others. A benefit of my life with my partner is that we end up naked with other people more regularly than most. Nude beaches, Burning Man, and other friends who we roll around naked with help keep me motivated. I know my friends will accept me even if I put on a pound or ten, but I want to be more comfortable in my body around others. To quote Lester Burnham “I want to look good naked”. It is a confidence thing and having specific events on the horizon helps motivate me. I’ve never done a triathalon or marathon or Tough Mudder or anything like that, but I think it would be pretty motivating for me if I signed up.

As an optimistic transhumanist I also believe we will cure death in my lifetime, but I think the timeline will be close. To motivate myself I sometimes focus on that. I think that if I exercise now and deal with some discomfort then I am investing in eternity. The payoff is well worth it.

I also respond well to seeing change in my body. This can be as simple as weighing myself regularly and doing body measurements, but it can also be more aesthetic. When I see a new muscle start to form or notice some abdominal muscle that I’d never noticed before or see a vein popping out of my arm it is incredibly motivating. Seeing my hard work pay off encourages me to work even harder.

I can also be motivated by seeing what I don’t want to be. This is kind of a negative thing and may make me sound like an asshole, but it is true for me. When I see someone obese or unable to function because they are incredibly unhealthy it motivates me to take care of my own body. I don’t want to be in my 40’s and need to use the electric chairs at the grocery store. I know that an accident can be the cause of that, but the better I take care of my body now the more likely I will be able to heal if there is an accident. Sometimes seeing what I don’t want to be is just as motivating as what I want to be.

Anyway, that is what motivates me. Every day when I logically know I shouldn’t drink another beer or know I should carve out time for a work out I try to run through the reasons why until a specific one stands out. Right now my upcoming visits to LA and Portland stand out in my mind, and the need to stay in shape for the bike ride continuation in January. In truth, there is always a good reason to make a healthy decision. The pleasure from food and laziness is weak and fleeting, maybe it is necessary some of the time for sanity but usually it is better to invest in my body and mind so that I can experience greater pleasures. No amount of cupcakes are worth the satisfaction of being healthy enough to hike the Appalachian Trail, feel confident at a nude beach, or living forever.

Saying Good Bye

To be honest, I thought someday I would get used to it. You think after all the transitions in my life… Oregon to military, military to college, college to Washington DC, Washington DC to Los Angeles… I would get used to saying good bye to new friends. It still isn’t fucking easier. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be. Maybe the difficulty, the held back tears, the moments of second-guessing all are a testament to the love I’ve found and the bonds I’ve formed. Maybe it is a good thing that it is hard… it still sucks though. 

Yesterday I want to a Game of Thrones party at my best friend’s house. It was the last opportunity to say good bye to a lot of the friends I have made while in Los Angeles. And the good byes aren’t over, this weekend at Lucidity I will say good bye to another group of beautiful souls who have helped me learn to love myself and others. These are people who I have come to look forward to seeing, people I meet with a warm embrace, people that I can open up to (even though some of them would rather me not). I wish I would have spent more time with them, made them more of a priority, and tried to build a stronger friendship and forge more memories. But alas, what’s done is done. There are no more days for new memories in LA, at least not for a while.

While it hurts to leave these people, I am not sad about the future. Because I have been through this before I know that many of these friends will be in my life forever. Hell, my best friend and I have known each other almost 25 years and have only lived in the same city for about 10 total. I hold on to people who mean something to me, thanks to Facebook and the internet that is easier than ever but it is more than convenience, it is in my nature. I may not talk to them much (hell, I don’t talk to them much now) but they are always in my heart and they always pop into my head at the best times… “Oh man, I have to call Josh, he has got to hear about this”, “Hey, Dagny would love that”, “Oh Blayne… if only you could mow down on these cheesesticks with me”, “Damn, where’s James when I need him?”, “I wonder what Emmett would think of that?”… I wish I contacted them more than I do. In a very real way they are part of my family and when thinking of them I am home.

Home isn’t geography for me. It is where I can be unapologetically me. It is where honesty, love, and peace prevail above politics, social status, or religion. And the people I say good bye to as I start the next chapter of my life will always be my family and home. I know that if I need them they will be there. I love them and will miss them… but I know that any physical separation means nothing when our minds and spirits are connected. They are my ka-tet and that is a bond that doesn’t break, no matter how far I roam. 

“Un-Memorizing the ‘Silence is Sexy’ Date Script” – Some Thoughts

One of the things I love about Facebook is it has allowed a diverse group of people to stay more intimately in my life than would otherwise be possible. People who I’ve met only superficially are able to passively share their interests and passions with me and from those interests valuable conversations can form. Yesterday this article was posted by someone who I have only met once or twice (in fact, I think I met her at a party to help send her to Burning Man in 2010 but I was embarrassingly drunk and hope she doesn’t really remember that). The article was then posted today by someone who I have a much stronger internet relationship with than I ever had with her in real life.

Well, I posted that article today after reading it and for once didn’t really know what I thought. I am pleased that a conversation developed on my wall among my diverse network and with it came links and resources for those interested in what was being discussed (it truly is a wonderful time to be alive). Anyway, here are some of the thoughts from my perspective. I am not far enough removed from my ego to clearly see this from another person’s perspective but maybe some day.

As an introvert it has always been a nerve-racking experience to navigate intimate interactions. I like explicit consent in all things but much of society tells us that men  need to be the aggressor and try to interpret puzzling (to me) signals that women give off. To be honest, I have no idea if eye-contact and a smile is really an invitation to say hi… or if a touch on the arm is flirting or something else… I already suck at it and the INTJ part of me fears making someone else uncomfortable way more than my own rejection. I am very comfortable alone and don’t mind going home from a bar or party by myself.

The internet has provided me with a way around that though. I can passively share my thoughts online which will attract those people who might be interested in similar things. While I don’t use my blog and FB to call out specific people, when I post polyamorous views, comfort with BDSM, and a sex-positive outlook it opens up dialogue between me and other people  (though bangwithfriends is still an awesome concept in my mind). But, in some ways I kind of view this as a cop out.

I still don’t approach women often or initiate any type of relationship. I often use my online openness as an excuse to be passive in real life by telling myself “they must not be interested or else they would say something”. There are still signals to navigate and games to play, but this article provide me with some good dialogue once intimacy has started and has also started online conversations around the issue of pressure placed on women to be the gatekeepers of sex and the social norm of men pushing the boundaries.

I love the idea of very explicit consent and I am glad these things are being talked about. I think more women would be open to expressing their sexuality if they knew that they wouldn’t be harshly judged by their partner(s) or friends. In the same vein, men (or at least I) would be more likely to approach women if we didn’t feel like every expression of interest was a huge inconvenience or would be interpreted as an attempt to use and abuse. Basically, I don’t want women to interpret my attraction or interest in intimacy as pressure or something chauvinistic.

I certainly would love it if we could send clear and concise signals in all situations. It would be absolutely fantastic to have a woman who was attracted to me to send me a FB message like “hey, you’re cute and I’d like to cuddle and kiss for a bit at some point” (or a more kinky couple to come up and say “hey, you and you’re girlfriend are cute, how about you two curl up with us and see how things go”) and know that all actions would be communicated clearly. As was pointed out by my friend, people into kink (particularly BDSM and polys) do have a more established culture of explicit consent and open communication, I can only hope that the internet age will usher this in for all intimate relationships because sex and love is awesome when all parties are open and satisfied.

Bang With Friends

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As many people know a new website was launched last week called bangwithfriends.com. The purpose of the website is to allow an anonymous way to see if any of your facebook friends would be interested in hooking up. The format is simple, you simply go to the website and allow it to connect to your Facebook, the website then brings up all your friends with their names and photos. You click the ones you’d like to “bang” and if they pick you also you both get a notice. Pretty simple and straightforward.

Unfortunately, the website is incredibly crass, sexist, and obviously targeted at college age heterosexual men, a demographic that is already comfortable with the one-night stand scenario. In order for this website to work it needs to appeal to a wider audience with a focus on safety, anonymity, and removal of the borderline pornographic images that flood the site.

I think there is a huge market for a website like this that would allow friends to add a sexual element to their relationship without the risk of rejection. After talking to two female friends they also mentioned it would provide women of that age an opportunity to experiment sexually beyond heterosexuality in a way that won’t risk their social standing. I also see a market for things beyond sex… like options for “go on a date”, “cuddle with while watching a movie”, “make out with”, or whatever. Intimacy is much more than “banging”.

I have used the website a bit (though I don’t think any of my connections would be shocked if I picked them given my views on sex and intimacy) and I think it may signify a new market. With the world increasingly becoming entertainment, relationship, and information economies there will be increased demand for experimentation in our social habits. While the website is juvenile I think it shows a market demand that can be filled by something more professional done that actually empowers people to have new experiences and reach their potential.

The Great Facebook Purge

 

fbunfriendWith the new year upon us and my life in full transition I feel the need to cut things out of my life that are not conducive to happiness. This means that I’ll be slowly “unfriending” people on Facebook who I became friends with due to my political ties. I am a libertarian, I love libertarians, but I no longer feel like it is necessary to keep people in my network simply because they are libertarian. This is particularly true for the brand of libertarian who thinks we are a faction of conservativism. If someone is going to ruthlessly put down someone for their sexual choices or their personal lifestyle then they are a negative influence on my life and I don’t want them. I don’t mind reasoned discussions about the pros and cons of lifestyle choices for individuals or society as a whole but blanket attacks on a group of individuals based on who they interact with sexually is childish, intellectually dishonest, and bigoted (basically, it is a reflection of the status quo of DC and not my life).

At the party last weekend I had two interesting run-ins that sort of relate to this. One person, whom I greatly respect and always enjoy talking to, mentioned that he enjoyed my Facebook posts and hoped to talk to me about them. I don’t know what in particular he wanted to discuss but if someone as positive as him enjoyed them then I feel I am doing something right and want to keep my page going in that direction. Secondly, I was part of a conversation where I heard about a couple who very logically sat down regularly and figured out what “friends” in their life where making things better, had the potential to make things better, or were a drain on them. They then acted appropriately to remove people who were a drain and to focus on those who were a blessing.

So I guess this is part of my focus for 2013… cut the fat, remove negative influences, and focus on those people who I enjoy and those people who I think I could enjoy.