Category: politics


Someone in my apartment complex drives a car with a bumper sticker that says “I ❤ Handmade!” (Obviously the ❤ in this case represents an actual heart symbol, for which there is no key on my keyboard.) The heart in question is almost completely faded from its original (presumably) bright red, and is now just barely visible. The edges of the sticker seem to have become brittle and started to chip away. Now I have no way of knowing exactly how long this sticker has been on this car, but the car itself appears to be a late 2000’s model – perhaps 2008 or 2009 – so I’m going to assume it’s been on there for about five years, tops.

My car is covered in bumper stickers. Every year, when the weather finally decides to stay warm for a while, I go through the process of scraping off old stickers that look like shit and replacing them with new ones. Over the years I’ve had some that didn’t even make it a year (Moroccan flag sticker from stickergiant.com I’m looking at you!) and I’ve had some that have lasted almost as long as my car (Who’s awesome? You are, OBX sticker from 2005 that still looks brand new!) But I can’t help but feel a sense of irony when I see the car with the faded “Handmade” sticker.

As my regular readers (both of you) know, I live in Asheville, NC. In addition to being the “cesspool of sin,” it is also the unofficial Hippie Capital Of The East. Everyone here is all about things that seem to preserve the hippie ideal – local businesses instead of chains, local food instead of stuff trucked in from three states over, organic and sustainable, handmade products instead of something from a factory, etc. While I have nothing against these ideals, I feel like sometimes we sacrifice quality for the sake of pleasing our guilty conscience.

The first obvious example would be the bumper sticker. What better way to tout your love of handmade products than with a sticker that will fade and deteriorate faster than the other ones on your car? This sticker doesn’t speak for the entirety of handmade crafts and goods – there are plenty of quality things produced every day that are head and shoulders above anything made by a machine. As an artist, my first default is to handmade paper over that which is produced on a machine mould. But in the cases where a handmade product is not superior to a machine-made one, should we continue to buy the handmade one just on principle? Chances are most people in Asheville would answer “yes.” That is the mentality that I’m protesting with this blog.

How about another example? My former roommate Sofia insisted on buying an organic and biodegradable dish detergent made with a fair amount of post-consumer content. It would barely even lather, and when the winter temperatures would dip, it froze inside the bottle and would not come out. I’m all about the principles of organic, biodegradable, and recycled. But if the product in question is clearly inferior, why should I use it? It doesn’t accomplish its most basic purpose. It completely fails at its raison d’être. I would much rather buy a dish detergent that wasn’t organic, yet produced a good lather, cut through grease, and didn’t freeze every time the overnight low fell to the mid 30’s.

In addition to supporting people and companies that make inferior products, we also form a very damaging paradigm for contemporary consumer culture. If you produce it, and appeal to the right emotions, people WILL buy it, regardless of quality. There’s a sucker born every minute. Go to your local grocery store and compare the price of standard onions versus organic ones. The organic onions routinely cost as much as double, yet every major food website that I’ve seen says that with a vegetable with a non-porous exterior like an onion, no pesticides enter the inner layers and organic farming techniques are completely pointless. But if you grow an organic onion, someone will buy it. If you make organic dish detergent, someone will buy it, even if it fails in every way. If you produce a handmade good that falls apart, it won’t matter, because people with guilty consciences feel like they’ve done their civic duty by choosing it over a competing product.

And now, let’s turn this personal and address the reasons that inspired me to write this in the first place. This morning, after an unfair “probationary period” in which my hours were cut in half without prior warning for mostly invented and irrelevant performance issues, I was fired from my job. I was working for a small local business. A business run by one person, with a small staff, that has become a local institution. Asheville is king of the “buy local” scene, with people here regularly cursing those who choose to shop at chain establishments and chastising them about how they feel chains are destroying the economy and forcing the mom-and-pop businesses to close. For the most part, I agree with these sentiments. But just because a business is local, does that automatically make it the kind of place you should patronize? Hardly.

The store that I worked at was notorious for several problems. As long as I was there, we had a revolving door of employees. People would either get fired, or quit on their own because they could no longer tolerate the owner and her attitude. She was also notorious for putting people in the position where they feel their only option is to quit. I saw that happen with two coworkers, both of whom were at one point in time valuable assets to the company who simply grew tired of the bullshit and stopped putting their all into their performance. When their performance dipped in the owner’s eyes, even if it was due to very legitimate reasons, (one of the aforementioned coworkers quit anti-depression medications cold turkey and can’t really be blamed for withdrawing when she refused his request for some time off because we were “too short-staffed”) she would amp up the criticisms and do everything in her power (especially tweaking the schedule) to make the work environment as unfriendly as possible.

In addition to personnel problems like these, we were notorious for the owner’s complete incompetence when it comes to ordering products and stocking the shelves. We routinely run out of things an art supply store should NEVER run out of, (black and white paint, pens, gesso, handmade specialty papers, artist-quality spray paint, etc.) and rather than order in advance and create any sort of back-stock, she would always let things run out completely, causing us to go a week without these items. There are several lines of products that for one reason or another she has chosen not to restock, letting the displays continue to empty until she can’t stand the sight of them and pulls them off the shelves. All the while, we would get shipments of kitschy craft supplies, (paper garlands, cheap-o enamel hobby paints, tie dye kits) specialty items that should logically only be done as special orders, (projectors, light tables, expensive top-of-the-line brushes) and displays of new lines that she thinks would be “neat to have” (a full line of Pentel technical pens) that would proceed to sell down and then never get restocked. If we were out of the item a customer wanted (or if it was something we didn’t regularly carry) we would offer to do a special order. While some customers took their sense of self-entitlement to the extreme (we have limited space and money, we can’t realistically carry every brand, which might include your favorite) most had valid complaints against this process. We should NEVER have to do a special order for a black Micron pen or a tube of white oil paint, yet all too often that’s exactly what happened.

Granted, I am not a businessman. I’ve never run a company, I’ve never been in charge of inventory for a company, and I don’t have a business degree like some people, who shall remain nameless. But unlike my former boss, I was in the store every day. I interacted with customers. I heard their complaints. I knew the things they asked for. When a store owner takes such a hands-off approach to running their business, it would only make sense to cede some control of the inventory process to the employees who actually run the store in your absence. It would make sense to refocus your business model and give more emphasis to your strengths, leaving your weaknesses to be picked up by other businesses that do a better job of things. It would make sense to do everything in your power to use what limited financial resources you have to stock the products that sell the most and are the most in demand. It makes no sense to complain about money and get aggravated with customers who just expect you to have certain staple items on hand, while simultaneously trying to compete with chain craft stores and toy stores and stationery stores that can do that much better than you can. At that point, you’re no longer providing a quality service to the local community. You’re doing what you think you should do, and forcing them to find ways to work around that. That’s the kind of mentality that forces businesses to close their doors for good.

So to make a very long story short, the “buy local” mentality suffers from the same sort of problems that plague handmade bumper stickers and organic dish detergent. There are plenty of local businesses that provide quality merchandise at great prices, quality customer service, treat their employees well, and are well-respected within the community. But there are also local businesses that don’t provide quality merchandise, can’t compete on prices, treat their customers like shit, and fuck over their employees. Maybe you’re too idealistic to see the forest for the trees. If so, then by all means continue to lecture me about how Wal-Mart is anti-union and sells sweatshop goods and you’d support ANY local business before you would a chain. But it’s this lack of peripheral vision that allows these businesses to continue to exist and continue with their ridiculous practices and policies. And let’s not forget, while it’s true that chain establishments have led to many a local business having to close, every chain began life as a local business. Before they were the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart was some guy in Arkansas who just wanted to sell stuff at a lower price. If we’re going to preach about how the free market will always prevail, then we need to back that up with our actions. Don’t shop somewhere just because it’s local. Shop their because they provide quality merchandise, excellent customer services, and treat their employees fairly. If the free market principles we always hear about are true, then the market will decide who lives and who dies. Businesses that succeed in all of those areas will prosper, and perhaps eventually grow and expand and become the gigantic chains of tomorrow. Businesses that fail in those areas will see their customer base dwindle until eventually they have no choice but to throw in the towel.

I’ve now worked for two local businesses, and I’ve seen a lot of what goes on in the background that customers can’t see. At the end of the day, by blindly supporting a local establishment regardless of their business practices, you’re ultimately just buying frozen dish detergent or a sticker that will fade and peel. Don’t be fooled by misguided ideology. Support companies that make the best products. Support businesses that treat their customers and employees the best. As consumers, we hold the power. We can change practices with our purchases (or lack thereof.) Investigate and inform yourself, and then choose wisely. If the superior product happens to be handmade or organic, that’s all the better. If the superior business happens to be a local mom-and-pop shop, great. But if not, don’t fool yourself and settle for inferior quality. That only unnecessarily prolongs things and no one really wins.

 

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It’s nearly 2:00 am. I’ve just returned from Katie’s apartment. She has four cats, and her roommate and her roommate’s boyfriend both smoke in the house. I haven’t been able to breathe for quite some time and I itch all over. I just took a Benadryl. What better time to finally write my review of the past year?

Yeah. I’ll make this quick.

This year was pretty eventful. In January I got out of a long-term relationship. I’ve spent the past year chronicling my dating life, which has been mostly humorous. I seem to have found someone who isn’t interested in stupid games, but this post is about 2012, not this year.

It was a year of loss. In February I lost my grandfather on my dad’s side, three months to the day that my grandmother on my mom’s side passed away. In September I lost my other grandmother. I drove to Fayetteville for my grandfather’s funeral and saw how completely and utterly insane my family is. I decided to stay far away when my grandmother passed. In the interim, my aunt has severed all ties with everyone else in my family. She even un-friended us all on Facebook. Is it possible to “un-family” someone? Holidays haven’t quite been the same since then. I’m pretty glad I live on the other side of the state from her and the other nutcases I’m somehow related to.

On a professional level, 2012 was a year of triumph. In late 2011 I set a personal goal that by my birthday I would have my art career off the ground. I bested that goal by several months, putting together a website, a Facebook page, a shop, getting business cards printed up, and being booked for my first solo show in Asheville by the end of April. My show started in August and ended up running for over two months. I sold a lot of prints and an original. In November I was booked for a group show, and while that ended up being a disaster thanks to the complete unprofessionalism of the “gallery,” it was still something. Not only this, but I was given a raise and promotion at the art supply store, enabling me to quit the gas station, gain an extra day off, and not lose any pay. On this end of things, I really have nothing to complain about.

A lot else happened. I got sick a few times. I most certainly did damage to my liver. We survived another election campaign. Justin Bieber still exists.

In the end, it was like any other year. It had its share of ups and downs. I met new people and watched old friendships dissolve. I laughed and had good times. I got my heart broken. You win some, you lose some. But returning to the world of blogging has helped me to keep things in perspective a little better, and be the introspective sonofabitch I was designed to be. So far 2013 is off to a smashing start – a potential new girlfriend, a new roommate, a new bank account. But like any other year, there will inevitably be low points ahead. That’s really about all you can say about life. I made it through another year, and this new year will be one hell of a ride. Life is a journey, not a destination. I’m not sure if that was Coleridge or Aerosmith, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Benadryl is kicking in. The End.

 

Chris’s Election Predictions

Based on the various polls, the blogs I read, and my own observations, here’s what I think is likely to happen tonight. Check back soon and see how well I did!

 

1. Obama will narrowly lose the popular vote, but win the Electoral College. In the wake of Sandy, enough people in NY and NJ will stay home, causing the total number of Obama votes to drop. But both of those states are so solidly in his column that it won’t affect the EC.

2. Early on, NC will be in the “too close to call” column. In the wee hours when all the votes have been counted it will go to Romney, but not by a big margin.

3. OH, NH, NV, and PA will be such huge Obama landslides that everyone wonders why they were ever called “battleground” states to begin with.
4. FL, CO, and VA will break very slightly to Obama.

5. The major networks will spend a lot of time talking about accusations of voter fraud in FL and OH, but not much will come of it.

6. Obama will win big, with something to the tune of 303 electoral votes. Republicans will be the ones whining about the EC this time out. “Good riddance Mittens” will be the new marketing slogan that takes the country by storm. Joe Biden will be seen ironically sporting a Romney hat and a very large flag pin.

Alright, game on!

The other day was my neighbor Angela’s birthday. She decided going out and celebrating on a Friday night would work better, so that’s what we did. We decided on the Bywater, which meant we had to get one of our other neighbors, Dustin, to come along, since he’s the only one with a membership. They wanted to go around 8:00, which meant that I needed to drive to work instead of walking so I could be home with enough time. Unfortunately, downtown was an absolute mad house, and it took me over 20 minutes to get from the parking garage to my apartment. Knowing I wouldn’t have much time to eat to begin with, I got a to-go order from Chai Pani. Thanks to fighting downtown traffic, my food was cold and Angela was bugging me to hurry up the second I walked in the door. Fun times.

We got to the Bywater and hung out for a while waiting for others to show up. My roommate said she would be coming later with Joshua, who just recently fell and broke his hip. Angela had a friend who was supposed to be coming as soon as she could convince her boyfriend’s parents to let them leave. And after she got off work Michelle was supposed to be coming. We roamed around and started drinking. I had a hot apple cider made with spiced rum and butter schnapps that was pretty much amazing, then followed that with a concoction of more rum, root beer, and bitters. We were approached by yet another neighbor, a guy named Rob who plays upright bass and sometimes makes his way to our end of the complex to say hi. I ended up seeing a guy I know named Eric, and I briefly chatted up a girl with blue hair.

Angela got progressively more intoxicated, which was entertaining for all. Dustin wanted to leave because he has to be at work at 6:00 AM, but for some reason he didn’t think to drive. Since I’d only had a few drinks and my tolerance is ridiculously high, Angela let me drive her car to take him home. When I got back, Sofia and Joshua had arrived, and Michelle was calling me asking for a ride. When I told her I was already there she decided to drive. Sofia and Joshua didn’t stay much longer because she has to work early, and soon it was just me, Angela, and Michelle. For most of the night I’d been holding Angela’s stuff – keys, cigarettes, phone, ID, you name it – because she didn’t think to wear something with pockets, and was obviously too drunk to keep up with anything. She leaned over to tell me something and spilled her beer right down my back. My shirt got wet around the collar, but the big thing for me was my new blazer got wet. I hate the smell of beer, so when Michelle decided that after the band finished we should head to the Southern, I decided to come home and change and attempt to wash my blazer enough to make it smell nice again. I’d really like to wear it tomorrow on my non-date, so I hope it’s dry in time.

So I’m in my pajamas, my shirt is in the hamper, and my jacket is wet and hanging on the door. I have ridiculous heartburn from sinus problems, drinking, inhaling smoke, and having to shout over a bluegrass band all night. A week of screwed up sleep schedules is catching up with me and I can’t stop yawning. And oddly enough, I’m kinda chilly. Overall it was a pretty fun night, but perhaps it’s time to go to bed?

 

Evidently every company that I have an account through is trying to get more money out of me. First I got my Charter bill and find out that my two-year contract has ended, and in the interim they’ve raised rates on everyone. I’ve been looking into other options, and I think I’ll be going with a local company called Skyrunner. Then I get my water bill and it is double what it usually is. I called them up and they claimed that my usage doubled. They said I could have a leak and not know it. They put in a work order with the office, who sent a maintenance guy out. He said that there’s no way we could be using that much, and if there was a leak that big we would have known. He came out to check the meter, and sure enough, it’s not working. We’re not really sure what happened or where the water company got those numbers from, but they don’t reflect reality. So they’re going to fix our meter and adjust our bill accordingly. And finally, I got a notice from the tax department claiming that I haven’t paid my vehicle tax bill. I sent a check out almost a month ago and still have the duplicate to prove it. Nothing was taken out of my bank account, and they said they didn’t receive it. Either it got lost in the mail, or, as the woman on the phone explained to me, it got sent to their old address. It seems as though they moved, and a lot of mail is being sent to their old address. Meanwhile they’re getting tax bills from other counties and whatnot. Sounds really organized. But yeah, so I’m just going to pay online, and she said if they get my check they’ll send it back. Had I have known you could pay online in the first place I would have done that – I’m so ready for checks to go the way of the buffalo.

While there was no drinking game this time, I did manage to catch the second presidential debate. Romney was his usual dickish self, but this time he was much more entertaining. I’m still scratching my head as to how single-parent families result in assault weapons. And of course there’s the unforgettable “binders full of women” comment, which produced this amazing tumblr page. This was definitely a gaffe for the, er, binder. Overall I was pretty satisfied with the debate. It wasn’t a “game changer” like the first one appears to have been, but it was a much-needed rebound for Obama. Not only is the town hall style debate much better suited to his skills as a politician, but he was more aggressive and didn’t stand for Romney’s bullshit. Early voting in North Carolina starts tomorrow (technically today but the polls won’t open for another six hours) and I think it’s pretty obvious who I will be casting my ballot for. Hopefully enough of my fellow Tar Heels will do the same and we can be a blue state again this election. Fingers crossed!

If you read my last post, you know that my dream girl came into the art supply store, and somehow I wound up getting her number. I’ve been trying to think of something to ask her to that won’t come off wrong and overstep my boundaries. I looked on our “local art highlights” calendar and saw that there is going to be a gallery opening on Saturday. I took the day off because that was supposed to be when my art show came down, but the artist who was supposed to follow me backed out, and now they’ll be leaving my artwork up until November 1. With a free Saturday, and desperately wanting an excuse to see this girl, I decided to text her and see if she would be interested. She said that Saturdays were usually the days she works on art projects and spends time with her boyfriend, but she would rather go to a gallery opening. I was a little shocked, but went with it. The next day she texted me to make sure I understand that this isn’t a date, something her friend recommended we clarify. I told her that I assumed it wasn’t, seeing as how she has a boyfriend. So unless something comes up, we’re on for Saturday. The way I see it is, I have a lot to gain from this and absolutely nothing to lose…

Worst case scenario: We have an awkward night, or as I get to know her I realize she isn’t quite as perfect as I previously thought. Or perhaps she realizes that she’s a bit out of my league and has a bad time. But no matter how badly the evening goes, I will still have gotten to go to a gallery opening, not spend a dime, and spend some time with a girl who, at least as far as looks go, is pretty close to a perfect ten. A free night out with a gorgeous young woman looking at art sounds like a win, even if that’s where things end.

The next possibility is that we could really hit it off, in which case I’ve made a new friend. I don’t have a lot of friends, so that’s always a good thing. Friendship with this particular girl could potentially have some additional benefits. No, not that kind of benefits. By spending time with her and getting to know her, I would be expanding my social circle. She’s a college student, so chances are she has a ton of friends. And she’s an artist, so chances are several of her friends are as well. As we become better friends, it’s inevitable that I’ll meet some of her friends, and from there who knows what could happen. Maybe I’ll hit it off with her friends and they will become my friends as well. Maybe they’ll be fans of my art, leading to more exposure and getting my name and my work out there. Or maybe one of her friends will be a cute artist with a thing for older guys. The possibilities are endless.

And then there’s the third potential path, which I will be the first to admit is an extreme longshot. We could get to know each other and become close friends, and down the road something might happen. She didn’t sound too confident that her current relationship would last, so perhaps they’re on the outs. It’s crazy to think I could ever have a chance with a girl like her, but who knows, maybe I’m her type. Maybe they’ll break up at some point in the future, and the natural thing is for us to get together. I’m not expecting this to happen, and even though I would love it if it did, I’m not hoping for it. But anything is possible, right? If it were to happen, I certainly wouldn’t do anything to stop it. This girl is pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted in a girl, so if she happens to fall into my lap I won’t complain!

No matter what happens, I’ve already gotten a huge benefit from this. As someone who has struggled with self-esteem issues for years, this is a gigantic ego boost. Not only did the girl of my dreams voluntarily give me her number, but she wants to be friends and be seen in public with me. Seeing as how I’m about fifteen years older than her, dirt poor, and of average attractiveness at best, I can’t really imagine there’s anything she stands to gain from this. Aside from a discount at the store, I have nothing to offer her. This makes me think that her motives are pure, and she genuinely does like me. After years of women using me and taking advantage of me, the thought of a girl wanting to spend time with me when she gets nothing out of it is refreshing. It means that she values me as a person and would like to form a genuine friendship. That’s pretty rare in this day and age, and the fact that she’s not just any girl, but one whom I consider to be just about perfect in every way literally makes me giddy. I haven’t felt this good about a potential friendship in a while, and in turn it has made me feel pretty good about myself. I might not be the greatest guy out there, but there are people who want to spend time with me, and occasionally they just so happen to be goddesses in the flesh.

But yeah, that’s about it for now. I fell asleep watching South Park and woke back up over three hours later. I haven’t gotten much sleep this past week, and I’m really feeling it. Now that I’ve had a nice long nap, I’m not tired. I’ll probably numb myself with the internet for a while and then force myself to go to bed. Tomorrow (technically today) will be somewhat of a light day, but I don’t want to stay up late and sleep until mid-afternoon. Anyway, that’s all folks.

 

Lately I’ve just been too busy to write anything in this damn blog. Oh well.

The early part of my week was spent watching and reading about the debates – first the Jon Stewart vs. Bill O’Reilly “Rumble 2012,” then the vice presidential debate. I’m not sure which one was more entertaining. Also, this is now a thing: when someone is lying through their teeth and you punk them down, you “Biden” them. Fun times.

I had Tuesday and Wednesday off for a change, but my sinuses were killing me and my friends were busy, so I didn’t take advantage of having consecutive off-days. I started on a new painting, which is coming along rather well. Between work, reading for my classes, and this new piece, I’ve pretty much had no free time.

Last night I after work I went to my former coworker’s art opening, then came home and cooked dinner. I was so exhausted I fell asleep doing my reading. I woke up an hour later, my body aching, determined to finish the lesson and do a few other productive things. I forced myself to stay up an hour later than I normally would have so I could accomplish these things, and then wound up oversleeping this morning and having to take the bus to work instead of walking.

Today at work, my dream girl from a few posts previous came in again. Once again we got into a long conversation, only ended by her having to leave. To my surprise, she had in fact gone to my website and looked at my artwork. Based on my little bio page, her and her roommate tried to guess my age, and her roommate got it right. She’s only 19, so she then launched into a discourse about how she always seems to attract older guys, and how even when they’re older, they’re still too immature for her. She said that her boyfriend (also named Chris) was only two years older, but that it was old enough to count, because he would be graduating next year and she’d still be in school. She then said something like, “not that I expect it to last that long.” I told her that in the event it didn’t last, and she needed another Chris to step in and fill the void, I would proudly offer my services. She giggled and told me that was really sweet. We chatted some more, and I said that even though she never has free time and has a boyfriend, it would be cool to hang out sometime. She sounded a bit startled and said, “well I am allowed to have friends.” She then asked for my number and sent me a text message so I’d have hers. I’m not really sure how to ask her out without it sounding like I’m asking her to cheat on her boyfriend. Since she’s only 19 I can’t just say “let’s grab a drink sometime,” and I can’t invite her to the Tav Falco show I hope to go to next week. I don’t know of any events going on in the near future, and asking her to dinner or a movie sounds too much like a date, and I don’t want to be the cause of any drama. I’m sure I’ll think of something, and hopefully see her again soon. And hopefully I won’t be bright red in the face like I was for the latter half of our conversation today. But hey, your dream girl gives you her number and talks about her current relationship probably not lasting, and you tend to blush a little here and there. It happens.

So anyway, after work I stopped at Downtown Books and News and found a few interesting things in their free bin – a paperback of The Taming Of The Shrew, some old postcards, a CD from Uncut Magazine featuring bands inspired by The Byrds, and a DVD from some music magazine full of synth and drum samples. Not a bad haul, considering the price. I came home and chatted with my neighbor, who was sitting on her front porch. Then I cooked dinner and watched Woody Allen’s Bananas, which might be my new favorite of his movies. It was like a Marx Brothers political farce set in a small South American nation. But more Jewish. Easily the most laughs per minute of any of his movies that I’ve seen. Then I got a cleaning bug up my butt and gave the bathroom a good deep cleansing. Now I think I’ll read another chapter in my studies and try to get to bed at a decent hour for once. The End.

 

The first presidential debate is behind us now. From where I’m sitting, there doesn’t appear to be a clear winner. But there is definitely a clear loser – our livers.

I happened upon Debate Drinking and thought, why the hell not? I got home from work and posted a link to Facebook and then started on dinner. My neighbor Ty, his girlfriend Catie, and her friend Will came home shortly after that, saw my door was open, and came to say hello. I hadn’t met Catie before now, but evidently we’re “twinsies,” as she put it. We have a ton of stuff in common and really hit it off. She said she was excited to find someone who was interested in politics, and dragged Ty and Will over to watch the debate. My neighbors Michelle and Dustin were talking on their porch, and knowing that Michelle has a total hard on for Obama, I invited them as well. We pulled up the rules, loaded up the glasses, and got underway.

Evidently Ty and Catie get pretty loud once they’ve had some alcohol in them, and after several attempts to quiet them down didn’t work, Dustin decided to leave. They continued to talk, but the rest of us mostly tuned them out, at least long enough to catch some sound bytes to make fun of. And to know when our words had been said, necessitating another drink. All in all, this debate taught me that being the child of an alcoholic makes drinking games a futile exercise for me. I had two glasses of scotch, some vodka, and a shot of absinthe, and barely got a buzz. What buzz I did have faded within about two hours. But it was fun anyway. After the debates we watched some Youtube videos and chatted until everyone started leaving one-by-one.

My roommate and Joshua came home and enticed Michelle with some vegan chili, and her and I chatted a bit. Evidently her friend Kat has a boyfriend, which would explain her lack of communication. I’m not sure how, but I always manage to find girls who think it’s better to ignore you than to tell you news you don’t want to hear. Michelle said she’s been bugging her about how she needs to tell me, and she claims she will eventually. This is something like four girls in the past year – did I miss the memo that said ignoring someone was a good idea? I personally would much rather hear bad news than no news. If you don’t like me, you’re not feeling anything, you’re not looking for a relationship right now, there’s someone else, whatever… FUCKING TELL ME. By ignoring a person and thinking they’ll go away and things will magically be fine you show your true colors. Girls like that are not anyone I need in my life. If you can’t communicate something important, it brings into question everything you have communicated up to this point. If you dodge the hard conversations it shows you have no spine, no passion, and no empathy. This isn’t directed solely at her, and I still think she’s a really awesome person in many ways, but this is a message to women everywhere – if you behave in such a manner, you are showing yourself to be far beneath me and not worth my time. I feel sorry for whoever ends up with you, because unless you’re radically different towards others than you are to me, your future beau is going to have his hands full with a bunch of childish bullshit. Communication is paramount in any relationship. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Don’t avoid the hard talks or the tough questions, we’re talking about real people with real emotions, and they deserve to know what you think and feel. If you disagree with any of these statements and you don’t see this as a problem, then good luck in life, and I hope you don’t get fucked over the way you fuck over others.

But yeah so….. back to the debates! It seems that most media outlets are calling this a win for Romney. I’m not sure I see that at all. I will admit, he did speak with more passion and was very much on the offensive, attacking Obama at every turn. And this will probably be enough to swing a certain percentage of voters to his camp, at least for now. But the problem is, the facts weren’t on his side. Nearly half of what he said was total bullshit, and that has been verified by several independent fact-checkers. He even managed to contradict himself a few times. He wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth. On the other side of the stage, Obama played it cool and barely broke a sweat, and perhaps that was to his detriment. But really, what else would you expect him to do? When an idiot is attacking you with half-truths and outright lies, what do you say? Do you scream “nu-uh!!!” at the top of your lungs like most of Romney’s primary opponents did? Or do you try to bring a degree of civility and calmly point out where your challenger is wrong? Obama would be wise to bring back the passion and fire we saw in the last election, but only if he’s basing what he says on the truth. Saying something louder and more emotionally doesn’t make it any more true. Laying low doesn’t make what you’re saying false. But the problem is that the public wants a spectacle, and if you don’t give them that they’ll tune you out. So perhaps Obama needs to work on combining the fiery rhetoric with actual facts, solid policy, and the charisma and level-headedness that make him a great leader. If he can succeed in doing that, the next two debates are in the bag.

Oh, and I never did think of anything else that starts with the letter D. Oh well.

 

Things have still been kinda crazy around here. I’m a little behind on my homework (it feels really weird to say that after all these years) and I’ve been spending entirely too much time hanging out with friends and neighbors. But it’s all good – this whole social life thing might be foreign to me but I have a feeling it’s somewhat healthy.

Last night I hung out with Michelle and this guy who I can only assume is her current love interest. I mentioned how I called Kat and it went straight to voicemail, and she told me that happens to her a lot too, so I shouldn’t take it personally. Evidently Kat is not a “phone person” whatsoever. If you don’t reply to texts and calls from one of your best friends, then I probably shouldn’t expect much more than that.

Someone finally moved into the empty apartment next door. Oddly enough, someone I know. Her name is Katy (how do I manage to meet all these girls with names that are only a few letters different???) and she comes into the art store a lot. She draws cartoons, her stuff is pretty cool. I haven’t met her roommate yet, who I don’t think has moved in, and who hasn’t bothered to get the electric turned on, so she’s been coming over to our place to charge her phone/laptop/make coffee, etc. Fun times.

And tonight is the much-anticipated Mark Kozelek concert. I’m currently cooking dinner and then about to head out. But before I do, here’s another silly drawing I somehow managed to find time to do…

 

 

So yeah, that’s about it for now. Off to finish dinner and then go to the concert, woohoo!

…..but I really don’t feel like it. I’ve felt rather blah today and I don’t want to dwell on things. So instead, how about a picture?

I got the idea to use my junk mail in a creative fashion, rather than just tossing it in the recycling bin. The other day I got something from the Romney campaign (why???) and something about a biblical prophecy seminar. I thought this gag was too good to pass up…..

 

Now if I can only think of something to do with all the rest of my junk mail…..

 

The past twenty-four hours have been a rollercoaster ride. Let’s examine some of the highlights and lowlights, shall we?

Good: I had a dream that I wrote a song on bass. I woke up and immediately grabbed my bass. To my surprise, the notes that I played in the dream actually sound really cool, and it could potentially become a good song.

Good: Had a nice little workout, ate some Cheerios, and left for work ahead of schedule.

Good: I began my workday in a great mood, daydreaming mostly about the classes I registered for yesterday, the fact that I have tomorrow off and nothing at all to do, and the fact that I have a date on Friday with the lovely Kat.

Bad: My mom calls me at work to tell me that my grandmother has passed. She’s been in a coma for months, hooked up to all sorts of machines, so it was no surprise. Furthermore, when you’ve already lost two other grandparents in the past ten months, you kinda get used to this sort of thing. But my family is already at it, arguing over whether or not there should be a wake (umm, hello!) and how best to spend the money my grandfather left in his will. At this point I’m just kinda numb to the whole process – losing people and not getting to say goodbye, greedy family members dragging things out, having to think about taking time off and driving to the other side of the state, etc. I’m not sure what emotions to feel right now, so I just shut down. I honestly can’t believe how they’ve acted ever since the day she went in the hospital, and the thought that they might not have any kind of wake or memorial disgusts me. I watched their greed and ego problems make an already fragile situation become way harder than it should be with my grandfather, I have no desire to watch it all over again. I have no intention of being a part of this charade and I want nothing to do with them. They can drag her memory through the mud like they did with his, I’ll just be hanging out. I’m not going to let this bring me down, I have too much on my plate as it is, and I’m pretty sure she would understand and approve.

Meh: I send a text to Kat to open up a dialog about our date on Friday. We never discussed where we’d go or when we’d meet, and I also wanted to warn her that I might be a bit out of it because of the aforementioned situation. She didn’t reply. Maybe she’s at work. Maybe her phone is turned off. Maybe she’s taking a nap. Who knows.

Bad: An hour later I still haven’t gotten a reply, so I send another text. I say that I hope I didn’t catch her at a bad time, and if so she can just text me whenever. After more than three hours, still no reply. Maybe she’s working a double? Maybe her phone is dead? Maybe my texts aren’t sending? My paranoia (mostly warranted, based on previous dating history) worries that it might be something altogether different from those possible scenarios – she might be ignoring me.

Meh: I snag two damaged canvases before I leave work. They’re a little wobbly, and kind of a weird size. But hey – they’re free. Free art supplies are always good. So maybe put this down as “meh and a half.”

Good: I speak to my boss for our daily closing phone call and she tells me to take $50 out of the deposit for finishing this month’s newsletter. It’s always good to have cash in your wallet, especially when you’ve got a hot date coming up soon.

Meh: I marvel at the little things when I notice that the sign above the checkout at Greenlife says “5 items or fewer.” Hooray for correct grammar. But it really doesn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, now does it?

Meh: I have veggie burgers and fries for dinner and watch the Democratic National Convention.

Good: Bill Clinton uses the phrase “donut hole” several times in the span of a few minutes. I am further blown away by his persuasive ability when I mysteriously begin to crave donuts. I decide to go to Ingles once his speech ends and buy some donuts, and Joshua tags along.

Good: As we’re coming back from the store I see Michelle walking to her apartment. I talk to her for a minute and ask if she’s talked to Kat. Turns out she just came from her house. They have a weekly Wednesday game night thing. This leads me to believe I’m not being ignored after all. She was probably working, and once she got off work game night began. She probably didn’t check her phone the whole time because she was already surrounded by several of her closest friends. Any of the other scenarios could still apply, but I’m choosing to believe the positive one, and hope that I will get a reply from her tomorrow. So maybe this is “meh and a half” as well.

Meh: I’m bored. I’m physically sleepy, but my brain is bouncing everywhere. But I don’t have to wake up at any set time tomorrow, so I can just play around on the computer until I get un-bored or my mind catches up with my body and decides to go to sleep. That’s pretty much where we stand.