Friday, March 11, 2011

Haven't posted in a while...

...and I know I don't have sufficient readership for it to matter all that much, haha.

But I've been busy.

Been writing a lot. I'm on the home stretch on finishing my first novel. It's hard to wrap up, I'm finding, in part because I love this story and it was literally designed to go on forever. So it's hard to choose an acceptable closing point. As the book is over 130,000 words long — which comes to roughly 450 pages, quite long for a first novel — I've had to do a lot of figuring to get things wrapped up. But even so I'm nearly there, and I'm confident I'll find a publisher quite rapidly.

I had a birthday last week, and one of my friends pulled together an amazing birthday party. I don't get these things very often — it just seems ostentatious to ask people to come to one's own birthday — and I was shocked, awed and above all, humbled by how many people showed up, or said they wished they could only it was too short notice.

I continue to be a total social maladroit, although I think I'm getting better at spotting the cues I miss. There's one in particular I hope I don't miss again: Twice now, a girl has seen me going to the coffee shop near work, and lingered outside until I came out. Both times, it didn't even occur to me that they lingered in hopes of engaging me in conversation.

All of these things, of course, do tie into one another. I've never been comfortable calling myself a geek or a nerd (even now, when it's pretty much entirely acceptable to so identify), because the only thing I geek out over is my own creation, the stories and universes I make. I simply can't work up the same level of enthusiasm for the worlds others create.

I know it sounds bad when I say it that way, but on the other hand, it's what makes me a writer and an artist instead of just a consumer of art.

Anyway, point is: I've spent so much time in my own universes that I never did quite learn the rules of the one I actually live in, and especially socially. And I have to admit, I honestly didn't realize how many people I've somehow endeared myself to. By the same token, I miss the hints girls drop, I misunderstand the lingering gazes (do I have something on my face?) and explain away the smiles and flirts.

Sure, some of this is a self-esteem thing — hard to be pudgy in a world populated by skeletal beauties without occasionally berating the spare tire — but that's also too easy an answer, and it hides the larger problem. Which is that somehow I missed the nuances of interpersonal interaction that facilitate relationships. Probably because I was off playing superheroes when they had that class.

So unaware, my attempts couldn't be suave enough, missing as they did the expected mark. Some called me creepy for that, and other things as hurtful. The misunderstandings and scorn acted upon the self-loathing and angst in an endless recursive roil of festering emotion.

And then I grew out of it.

I still don't know all the rules, and I still miss the cues. But I waste no time on self-abasement (haven't for some years), and people know me as a happy fellow, if snarky. And I decided, on my birthday, to get out more. To engage more often, to take a remedial class in human interaction, as it were. And not stop working at it because I've failed before and will fail again.

Not just because I want what so many do — a loving spouse, offspring, tax breaks — but because it's well past time I let myself geek out over the real world, too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I mean by "victim" and why I disagree

I keep running afoul of people who are touchy on the subject of racism. Also sexism. Also several other "-isms" (forms of discrimination).

In fairness, I have to at least consider the problem might be with me. Or it might be that there is a "victim" mentality at work.

Those who have followed/known me for a while, likely you've heard me talk about this subject before, but this is a slightly different tack on the matter. In the interests of brevity, I'm keeping it very simple.

Here's how I see it: When a person has a bad experience (whatever that is), there are two basic things they can do. They can get over it, or they can stick on it.

Some people stick on things. They can't or won't get past bad experiences, and from my observation, the common denominator of those is, they feel like they were victimized, their power, ability, survival potential stripped from them, and woe is them.

Those not totally caved-in by the bad experience often become crusaders, and some of them have done some pretty cool things, to prevent the bad thing from happening to others.

But here's where it starts getting hinky for me: Caved or not, these types of people typically start viewing their whole world through the lens of this bad thing. They identify themselves as a "_______ survivor", for example. This bad thing has become a defining moment for that person -- how they define themselves, how they define the world. Everything becomes identified with the bad thing.

This is not always correct. Identification of dissimilar things is a hallmark of insanity, actually. Let's put that in other terms: If you think apples and oranges are the same type of fruit, that's nuts. We can agree on that, right. So how sane is a person who thinks everyone is racist? Or how about the people I know who think anything a man says is automatically suspect, because it came from a man. It doesn't matter which man, it doesn't matter what he's actually saying, or how he actually comports himself, or anything. He's a man, so can't be trusted.

I call this a "reverse -ism". It's not really reversed at all; it's still sexist, racist, etc. but it's from the viewpoint of a victim. And because they're the victim, it's "not really" racist (etc.), because they know what racism is. Well, being discriminated against, believe it or not, doesn't give license to discriminate.

My impatience with these people is fairly well known, and it stems from the fact that discrimination bothers me. I don't think it's right. It bothers me that there are people being victimized by these things. It really bugs me when such a person turns that into a justification for doing the same thing to others (if perhaps on a different scale). It bugs me when someone picks a bad experience for their defining moments.

I know that people don't always get to decide what happens to them in their lives. But I also know that like it or not, they do get to decide what to do about it. You can heal, or you can carry your pain around with you for the rest of your life and use it to bludgeon other people.

Whenever this subject comes up, inevitably someone tries an ad hominem attack, implies or states outright that because I'm male, white, etc., I can't possibly know what I'm talking about; some will even tell me I don't have a right to have this opinion about it. And right there, you have a perfect example of a reverse -ism. Because I've been discriminated against, for those same reasons, and more! I've been discriminated against because of my religion. And because I've been overweight at various points in my life. And because I'm hard of hearing. My nationality. My ancestry. My appearance or fashion sense. And sometimes just because I was there.

I've had bad experiences. I don't call myself a "divorce survivor", even though that was an enormously traumatic time. And that's only one example, not even the most major. Point is, I don't define myself by my failures, or my failings. Closest I'll come to it is the hard of hearing thing, and even then it's not like I join the society of HOH people or something. It's just something people need to know so they don't get upset with me for not hearing them.

So take your ad hominem and shove it.

I prefer to define myself through positive things. I prefer to see the world as clearly as I can, as objectively as possible and as now as possible.

I don't care what kind of body you're wearing. Or how old it is. Or how damaged or defective it might be. I don't care what kind of genitalia you prefer. I don't care what god you worship, or even whether you worship a god. What matters to me is what you do — right here, right now. To me, this is the only reasonable action.

I could go on — I could always go on — but here's where I'll stop.

And for a significantly longer and more exasperated take on this, my blog specifically about racism.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hey Kids, Comics!

I'm going to start posting my comics here when I do them. I suppose I could go back and add them ALL in, but that's more effort than I feel like going into just now, so you just get the most recent two.


Sure hope they display large enough to be readable. I suppose this will be a test...

Monday, August 9, 2010


The more things change, the French say, the more things stay the same.

I used to live and work in Hollywood (1994-2005); it was a strange area to finish growing up in, so close to the cultural pulse yet removed and buffered by the very fact of locality. A local in Hollywood becomes a part of the scenery, a dash of color, an extension of the wild mélange that typifies the storied Boulevard.

Hollywood Boulevard in the mid-90s was a dirty and faded clapboard and sandstone alley. The façades were worn, shabby; the storefronts sagged -- yes, the boulevard was an aging prostitute, used up and haggard before her time, surviving on the sepia remnants of glamour. The shops lining the mica-flecked black sidewalks were a clash of tourist traps and attractions; cheap eateries; cheaper clothing stories. Fetishwear emporiums and head shops filled the cracks, battling stereos forcing an aural slash featuring Reznor and Marley. The fitful breezes carried leaflets and flyers for Star Maps and escort services.

Venerable structures from the former half of the century reared above the rotting stucco and plywood blocks, pressed into service as musty warehouses, their once grand, marbled entrances marred by plaster and listless, sloppy paint jobs.

You could feel the ghosts in the town; you could taste the tired desperation in the air; it had seeped into the streets and buildings like a febrile sweat; it had been there a long time. Maybe it had always been there.

Only in Hollywood could the homeless themselves become celebrities.

Around the turn of the millennium, a lot of effort, time and money was injected into the old broad; the rehabilitation of Hollywood was undertaken. She got a facelift starting essentially with the reconstruction of the Mann's (now "Graumann's") Chinese Theatre and the addition of a high-end open-air mall adjacent. The bums were liposuctioned away; clubs and class were Botoxed in.

The changes were dramatic, and being as I was in the middle of it, sometimes even participating directly, it was easy to be blinded by the new gloss -- and in those, the sun-blasted days of my youth, optimism came easily.

Had occasion to return, yesterday. It'd been only a couple, three years since I'd last really walked around my old haunt. The improvements are still there, but so too were the same old maladies. The head shops and bondage outfits were still there -- and more besides; the hucksters still hucked and the homeless still jived. You could still get the same five shirts for ten dollars at twenty different "memoribilia" stories.

Sure, some changes -- like the mall, like the posh W Hotel on the east side -- they're too big, too fat and brassy, for a few years in the sinkhole to have any appreciable effect.

But Musso and Frank's lies fallow, the building become a mausoleum housing the shrouded remains of the near-century-gone glory days.

* * *

Change is an odd thing; you can slap on a coat of paint, you can put in a new building -- but unless the change comes from within, where it's least obvious -- you're just masking the symptoms, just smoothing pancake makeup over a black eye.

Change in people is far more subtle. And change in yourself is a constant battle against the expectations of others; the unexamined avatar they hold of you is rarely altered even when you haven't been that person for a long time.

Because of course you are still that person, in a way you always will be, just as I'm still the gangling, spotty teenager who never did wear the right clothes and still loved Nirvana even when everyone else was all about NIN and the Butthole Surfers. (As I wrote this, Pepper came up on my playlist.)

In another way, though, I'm not. I'm much calmer, by far less angsty; I have changed in many ways that it's hard to see from the outside. You can't look at me and know my memory is better, that my perceptions have shifted, that now I know things.

Some of it's because it's hard to change with you watching. It's too easy to let the avatar do the work.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Drive Redux

Or, "How did I not post this before?"

I wrote this a while back. It remains one of my favorite works (if it's not too early or pompous to consider any writing of mine a "work").

It was originally written as a MySpace blog, but all things considered, I elected to store it. In some ways, it's perhaps not so true as it was. In others, more true than ever.

* * *


Went for a drive today. There was no destination, no plan; only the path of least resistance.

Up in the hills, following narrow, winding roads lined by expensive houses. Few people were visible. Just the houses and cars.

Out of the hills and heading south; the sun hot through the windscreen, wind cool through open window.

It's been a long time since I've visited Laguna Beach. The last time I'd had company. Today I am alone.

More narrow, winding roads, more opulent houses staking precarious claim to treacherous land. As in the hills, follow any of these roads long enough, you hit a cul-de-sac. In the hills there'd be enough room to simply turn around. On the cliffs of Laguna Beach, you can barely manage to twist your way out by a six- or eight-point turn.

The radio doesn't work well out here, the cliffs block the signal. So the drive continues in silence.

There's a girl walking a dog. She's a little pudgy, no SoCal goddess of human perfection here, right? Except. Her skin is a lustrous bronze and her hair only a shade darker. Her walk is kinesthetic poetry. Watching her cross the street: her face is pleasant, her lips slightly curved upward even at rest. The lips of someone who smiles a lot.

I want to roll down the window and shout after her, tell her she's beautiful.

Instead I drive away.

If no one hears me, did I shout? If no one sees me, am I there?

Anonymity, invisibility: a siren song. To leave it all behind, to float unattached through the world of real people, to observe everything and participate in nothing...

I drive, and there is no thought, no emotion. I'm going down streets alone I once strode holding hands with someone. The thought, that once would have torn at me, causes no pangs. I feel nothing. It's just data. Am I empty and numb, or simply untethered?

I don't know, and the thought drifts away unanswered.

The past isn't important. I'm not important. I don't think. I don't exist, as I've existed: a shambling composite of all I've seen and done. Something's changed.

The road unspools like a black and yellow ribbon, the broken line of the divider passing under me like the ticks of seconds and minutes pass through me. The radio's still off, the only sound is the kiss of my wheels on the road and the twin roars of wind and engine.

There is nothing behind me in time or in space. There is barely a me. There is only the road, only the sun and sky and the wind that whips my hair around my ears.

* * *

Yesterday I went to a nearby open-air mall.

I sat outside on a cold concrete bench, and smoked a cigarette, and watched as the peoples of Earth passed before me.

Young, old. Quiet, loud. Male, female. Healthy, sick. Straight, gay. Beautiful, hideous. Sit there long enough, and you'll see every race represented, you'll see blacks and whites and Asians and Indians and Hispanics. Sit there long enough, you'll see every tribe: preppies, goths, punks, jocks, wiggers, cowboys. The devout and the profane, the indigent and the wealthy.

There was only one common denominator.

No one was there alone.

Except me.

It should make me sad, but somehow it doesn't.

I'm a social loner. There was never a time it was any different. Sometimes it was less obvious than others, sometimes I wedged my square self into the round holes life presented me, but I don't fit. I never have, and I don't expect I ever will.

I used to wish I wasn't invisible, railed against being cast as the outsider looking in, to perpetually being alone in the crowds. I used to think I needed someone to see me, to hear me, for me to be real.

I thought I needed to be real to be happy. So I held tight to those rare moments where it seemed I was real to someone. I guarded them jealously and I quaked with fear of losing them. And when inevitably I did lose them, I went through a withdrawal no less fierce than from any other addiction.

* * *

My mother becomes a completely different person when she's around her sister, her best friend, her daughter. It's like any rises in ambient estrogen turns her ears off and her mouth permanently on.

When my sister visited, the entire visit was endless demands for attention, nonstop meaningless chatter and constant motion. And that was after my mother's best friend had already been there a few days.

I think I got sick in self-defense.

That got me some distance, gave me an excuse for being quiet. It let me watch as the three women twittered and cawed for all the world like a trio of birds, making noises that didn't mean anything, just to prove to themselves and everyone else that they're alive, that they're there, that they're real.

It would have been fine, but none of them were really being themselves.

It was a relief when everyone went home. When I could stop pretending to be real, when I could slip back into the gray where no one sees me.

* * *

I used to think my importance depended on the attention I got from others.

I used to think I needed that attention, that I had to do things, big things, important things, so people would look at me, would listen to me, so I could be real.

I used to wish I was someone else. Someone who was good at getting attention.

But it's dawned on me over the past few days: I am not that tree in the woods. I am myself regardless of whether I'm observed. I don't need other people to tell me I'm real.

My identity isn't what they think it is. It just is.

All the pain I've felt in my life, it's been from trying to be someone I'm not.

I want to accomplish things, yes. But not so I can be important, not for the attention I so used to crave.

It's for them. From my coign of vantage, looking in from the fringe, I see more clearly. I see what they cannot. I can tell them what I see. The lone wolf, watching out for the sheep?

There's no reason to compromise the integrity of my beingness. There's no reason to pretend, no need to force my way inside.

I'm not real because they see me.

I'm real because I see them.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In which I analyze the irrational appeal of Twilight

Ok so I'm writing this because I keep getting my head bit off by older women who loooooove Twilight.

DISCLAIMER: No, haven't read the books or watched the movies. I am emphatically not the target demographic (about which, more later). EDIT - But I have read essentially the Cliff's Notes so I know what happens in these books.

I don't think I know a single person who isn't aware of the Twilight phenomenon. It's like Pottermania for a slightly older crowd (teens and tweens) and a hefty dose of sexuality and hormone-drenched hand-wringing. Actually in terms of sheer fanaticism, Cullen leaves Potter in the dust.

I'm not going to make further comparisons to the respective franchises, because I don't think there's any other way they can properly relate.

From what I can tell, the target demographic was apparently clumsy, plain tweener drama queens -- based on the putative heroine of the books. Swell. Except their moms got into the books as well and this is where I actually start getting really disturbed.

If 40-year-old men went as batshit gaga over a 17-year-old girl, they would be thrown in jail and registered as sex offenders faster than you can say "Megan's Law". In fact, this has already happened. Now granted, that dude is clearly disturbed. *ahem*

Realizing this actually leads me to believe that the liking of Twilight is a cultural thing rather than a simple, inescapable matter of genitalia and chemicals.

Before I get into that, I'd like to float my theory of why Twimoms are so damned defensive about their Robsession: It's because they damned well know it's wrong, it's a double-standard AT BEST and the stories themselves are reprehensible. Based on my encounters, I honestly wonder if they've intelligence sufficient to properly deal with the "guilty pleasure" concept, so instead they invent reasons why the franchise is "wonderful" and "lovely" and why they attack naysayers all out of proportion to the disagreement.

HOWEVER, the people I know who actually are pretty damned smart yet love Twilight, are quite self-aware and entirely comfortable with the fact that it's messed up; they can take criticism of Twilight without it becoming personal.

Anyway. Here's the thing, and I know this might get up peoples' noses a bit. Also it may not be true for everyone. Hell, it might not be true for ANYONE. But as a theory, I think it hangs together pretty well. Here it is:

These women resent their emancipation and wish for the lives their predecessors had. Only they don't wanna admit it because then they'd have to admit they were wrong.*

Cultures change slowly, and it really hasn't been long enough for Women's Lib to have caught on. They're still working out the kinks (as seen in the continuing battle for equal pay for equal work, for example).

Before the '60s, the hats worn by the sexes were pretty clear and straightforward. Women worked until they landed a husband, then they became homemakers and had the care of future generations.

Within the last hundred years, women started calling bullshit (probably because the men's egos were getting big enough to form their own gravity well) and kicking back.

You all know this. But okay look: Women never really turned over their hat as homemakers and child-rearers. Nor can they, frankly - not entirely - men being physically incapable of giving birth. Don't look at me like that - pumping out progeny is where that shit starts.

So ladykind has had to not only continue wearing the hats they've had yea these endless milennia, but now also have to compete with men on more or less the same playing field. That's pretty amazing, when you think about it. I'm willing to bet most men wouldn't choose to step up to that plate short of death or desertion. So if you're thinking I'm a condescending sexist asshole - um. No.

Point is, that's a pretty rough row to hoe, and I for one don't blame 'em for sighing after simpler times.

Back when "all" women had to do was secure the future of the human race, they weren't required to be anything but what they were. They could be silly, clumsy, plain - it didn't matter as long as they could do a reasonable job in the kitchen, with the kids, and when the lights went out. Their apparently small sphere meant such things were not only forgivable but endearing.

But out in the man's world, the world of business and labor, well. Women have to let out their inner bitch, because that world is dog-eat-dog. It's how men like it (because damn it, it's manly) and they made it that way. I daresay it's not quite what they hoped for, those women of the burning bra.

So here comes a series of books about a plain, clumsy dorkgirl who, near as I can tell, wants nothing more than to find a dude who will run the show so she can chill out with her weird little Ridley Scott chest-burster baby.

The dude in question is a complete asshole by all accounts, which is perfect because assholes thrive in the business world. So, y'know. Good provider. And if he smacks you around, it's only because he loves you. Or something.

From a guy's perspective on all this, though, the first question that comes to mind when faced with Twilight is, "How the hell is it right for a 100+-year-old dude to go trolling a high school for pussy?"

* I just want to make clear that it's not that I don't think women can compete with men (because of course they can), and I cast no judgements over whether they should. My entire point here is that our society has not had enough time to get used to the idea or its proper execution. And particularly for women of a certain age, there's likely a certain amount of culture shock.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How not to be lonely when you're alone

or: Solitary Entertainment Doesn't HAVE to be Private (wait, that sounds messed up)

Let me preface this by saying this is not a play for sympathy or any shit like that. This is how it is. I'm used to it, even cool with it. Relax. Being self-aware is a GOOD thing.

I'm apparently not the kind of dude people necessarily want around all the time. I don't know WHY. Maybe dealing with a deaf dude is a pain. Maybe I have a subtle yet disagreeable odor. Maybe I'm funny-looking. Social niceties being what they are, no one tells me. I do have a tendency toward deep thoughts, esoteric insights and unrestricted (often probably completely inappropriate) communication. I can see how this could be offputting and preferable in small doses. (Or maybe it's my self-deprecating humor. In which case I'm really going for full pariah with this blog. *grin*)

Point is, I'm on my own a lot. I used to think this made me a loner, but I actually do like talking to people, exploring, and generally being social. You don't devote over a decade of your life to helping your fellow man without caring a great deal about them. So: Being social + not having company. You know the answer to this equation.

Loneliness is a problem I guess a lot of people have, and each solves it their own way (or they don't, and that way lies madness). Given that a dear friend is currently dealing with a species of this, and that I just LOVE to write about shit anyway, I thought I'd share my personal anodyne. It's not perfect, but I think it's reasonably interesting (yes, I'm aware of the bloated ego. I bitchslap myself regularly to keep it down. Again, relax).

It all boils down to getting out of your own head. Loneliness is the ugly, inbred cousin of boredom. Below are some suggestions. Some may seem best suited to those whose social ineptitude borders on tragic, but hey. Maybe one of those guys will read this and be helped. Or maybe you just never thought of it yourself.

1) Explore: This is one of my favorite things to do. I'll find a part of town that seems interesting and spend hours (if not days), wandering its streets. I'm fortunate perhaps that I live in, you know, one of the biggest cities in the country, so I've lots of places to go. But whatever. I'm willing to bet most people don't venture very far off the beaten track. This is about doing so. Thus:

1a) Take the road not travelled. This is, naturally, provided it is safe for you to do so, but while exploring, try going the back way. Walk the alleys and side streets; seek out the nooks and crannies. This is where the fringe often lives, and the fringe is a lot more interesting (if sometimes a little scary) than the homogenized morass of boutique stores and franchise eateries. It's also quite literally behind the facade. There are insights to be had, if you chose to look. The unbeaten path is where you find the hidden gems; gems make you richer.

2) Talk to people. You're gonna have to use your head on this one. Not everyone can or should be spoken to. That smelly dude with needle tracks who is currently barking at traffic is probably not your best bet. But even clean-cut, good-looking people can be off their nut. They hide it better, but they're certifiable. Watch out for those ones. Especially if you're a dude and there is a pretty girl involved. If you are yourself a pretty girl - well, you've gotta watch yourself for entirely different but no less important reasons.

I think the common denominator of "who to talk to" is how connected they are. How in synch they are, how aware of their environment at that particular moment. If they're distracted or busy, no bueno. But if they're alert and looking around, if they are smiling or generally cheerful looking, chances are they'll be amenable to conversation.

But don't go around with blinders. Remember the fringe. One of the coolest people I met yesterday pretty much lives on the street. But it's by choice; he felt alienated by society so he decided to have minimal part in it.

Talk to people who are trying to solicit money for causes. You don't have to give 'em any. But learn about their cause, about their reasons for endorsing it. Find out what it's about. You'd be surprised what you can learn. It's not always all rainbows and puppies, but you can pull out of that conversation anytime you want.

You don't have to agree with these people, on anything; that's not even the point. The point is to get out of your comfort zone and to meet people. You're not even out there to make lifelong friends (although if you do, great; I've made some friends that way); this is an exercise in immersion. Its purpose is to dispel loneliness, remember.

Bonus Fun Fact: People with pets (usually dogs) are almost always totally willing to discuss their pet in detail. And let you pet the dog, which means you can also get some doggie-love. (No, not bestiality, you sick, sick reader.) Doggie-love makes everything a little brighter.

3) Sit and observe (people watch): I find this most useful (and fun) when I can tweet my observations. I tend to be fairly snarky about this, but it's also useful in training yourself to spot details. This is handy as an artist, but actually it's good in general. For instance, commenting on something you noticed about a person makes a great conversational springboard.

* Since it's generally frowned upon to compliment a strange girl on her breasts (eyes up there, boys), you're going to have to be a bit more observant. And circumspect. Question: How are tattoos like dogs? Answer: People with tats are almost always willing to talk about them. In detail.

Anyway, I digressed back to point 2. Here's an example of point 3 - my tweets from yesterday:
Yes. I have secured a tall, frosty beverage and an eminently suitable observation point. I shall now observe them in their natural habitat.

Naturally, by "them" I am referring to Pasadena passersby. #letthesnarkycommentarybegin

See the A&F-wearing douchebag, unable to muster such common courtesies as asking to sit at my table.

Does that girl know her shirt turns translucent in direct sunlight? #Idontthinkshedoes #iamSOnotcomplaining

Apropos of nothing, "Snark Fodder" is the name of my next band.

Those baby sling things kinda freak me out. They just don't seem SAFE. #idbeagooddaddy

Dude. You didn't need the gallons of ink, piercings, or earpucks to make people look at you. You're so BFU they'd do it anyway. #justsayin

Yes, "BFU" means butt-fuck ugly. #potcallingkettle #iknow

Ok - what the hell SEX are you, skinny hipster creature? Seriously, you've passed by 4 times and I still can't tell.

Oh man, do those guys realize they're MUCH too old to be fashionable? Even dbag "fashion"? Because ew.

I have outlasted the douchebag. Also the sextegenarian human beatbox wannabe. #iwin

Wow. The only way that dude could flame brighter would be rainbow rainment. #straighteyeforthequeerguy
Okay, that was enough "cleverness" outta me. Excuse me, I'm due for some of that bitchslappery, hang on a minute.

4) It's not just about people, you know: If my point 1a didn't make this clear, who's there is only part of the story. What's there is at least another half of it, and finding out why can be quite edifying. This is another aspect of getting out of your own head that I think people overlook.

There's no reason you're required to keep yourself company all the time (see, even I don't wanna hang out with me, lol). Hence the exploration, the roads untravelled. Go on a nature walk, go to an art show, or a museum, or a revival theatre. Don't just sit in a coffee shop near home and read or write (although that's okay in a pinch).

Any time you come across a restaurant or cafe, walk in and look around. Ask to see a menu. Doesn't matter if you're hungry or can even afford it. Just check it out, see what they've got. Check out the decor, the layout. Are the staff friendly and happy to work there? Are they haughty assholes? You can learn a lot about people by observing wait staff. If they're not busy, talk to them. Learn about the place, the food, whatever. If you are hungry, eat! You may uncover a great place to bring a friend later. Once you've, you know. Made some.

Or go into random stores and check out what they sell. Talk to the people who work there. This works best when it's not one of those franchise boutique places. I'm talking about the little shops with character; secondhand bookstores; ethnic places.

* That reminds me: If your city has a "Chinatown" or something like that - a whole "ethnic" area, some culture other than your own -- consider checking it out. If that area is considered "ghetto" or "dangerous", well first of all that's lame, and second of all, forget it. Better lonely than in trouble.

5) In the long run, none of this really replaces actually having friends and a group and all that good stuff. Obviously that's the true and complete cure for loneliness. And it's true that all of this stuff would be more fun with someone than on your own; but come on. In what world is nothing better than something? Not counting VD, smartass.

* * *

I think I've gone on long enough to be tiresome. But seriously - even if you're not particularly alone or lonely, even if you're the most socially connected person in the world: I recommend you do this every now and then. You don't even have to be alone when you do it. But regardless, you won't feel alone when you're done.

Mostly you'll feel tired from all that walking. *grin*