Month: October 2018

Musings

Elevator Etiquette


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Yesterday, a lady on the elevator said, “Oops.” after pressing the button for the 3rd floor. She then proceeded to press the button for the 2nd floor and said, “I’m sorry, I accidentally pressed the wrong floor, you’re going to stop at 3 now.” I was going to the 6th floor.

If you get on the elevator at the first floor, and press 2, you’re a terrible human being. Unless you’re in a wheelchair or part of the janitorial staff, take the stairs! It’s one floor. It takes more time for the doors to close than to walk up one flight of steps. How selfish can you be? Don’t you know that people have places to be? Geez.

Now, in this particular case, if it were I that had pressed the wrong button, you’d never know. I wouldn’t say “Oops” to get your attention and I wouldn’t press the correct floor either. I’d get off at the wrong floor and take the stairs down a level, like a god damn gentleman. That was your mistake lady, you deal with the consequences. Now I gotta sit there at floor 3 for 30 seconds, while the onlookers, whom are waiting for the elevator to come back down for them to get on with their days, stare at me like some sort of idiot who pressed the wrong floor? I gotta sit there and act like I don’t know why the elevator stopped at their floor, and give them confused looks as if to blame them for calling the elevator and not getting on.

Here are the rules of the elevator:

Get on quietly. If you’re in the middle of the conversation, put it on hold. It’s awkward enough for everyone in there already.

Don’t claim a spot. Move to the back, and make room for others. There is nothing worse than getting on the elevator and having to shuffle around someone who won’t budge.

DO NOT BE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO GET ON THE ELEVATOR TO GO UP ONE FLOOR. WE ALL NOTICE AND WE ALL HATE YOU.

If you arrive at a floor and see that a member of the janitorial staff is waiting to get on, but can’t because there are too many people. Get off the elevator and let them on. These are the hidden gems of every building. They are there to clean up after each and every one of us. Greet them with respect, and insist that they get on the elevator in your place. Then, take the stairs or wait for the next ride. (Also applies for people in wheel chairs. Make room)

If you press the wrong button, own it. Do not let your mistake become the burden of others. This applies outside of the elevator too, just in life, your mistake, your consequence.

Passing gas of any kind is forbidden in the elevator. There exists a special circle in hell for those who break this rule.

If someone attempts awkward elevator talk with you (such topics include; the weather; the unreliability of public transportation; the speed at which the elevator moves; etc) just smile politely and agree. They are only doing it because they feel uncomfortable.

With that being said, don’t make awkward elevator talk. It is just as uncomfortable to participate in it as it is to sit in silence.

Please people, practice this elevator etiquette and be an upstanding citizen. We all just want to get through our workday with minimal friction. Thank you and good day!

Motivation

Are you a nail biter?


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It was one of the more disgusting habits that I’ve had.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a nail biter. Perhaps a nervous tick at first, but eventually it became a horrid habit that I couldn’t control. I wouldn’t even notice that my fingers were in my mouth until I chewed the nail too low and it began to hurt.

For several days after, I would walk around with sensitive finger tips, annoyed that I did this again, but that wouldn’t mean I wouldn’t bite them anymore. Nails grow unevenly, so I would chew them as they grew, never giving them a chance to recover. I would bite my hang nails, and there were plenty, and even my cuticles and frayed skin around the nails. Yes, it was that bad.

So, you must be thinking, “You’re speaking in the past tense, does that mean you stopped biting your nails?”

YES! I haven’t bitten a single nail in 3 weeks! I’m going to tell you how to stop.

I’ve heard of some products that you could buy that would make your nails taste gross so you wouldn’t bite them anymore, but I never tried them so I don’t know how well they work, but I can tell you that I most likely would have bit them any ways.

What I did was much easier, and so silly that I can’t believe it worked and I didn’t try it sooner.

I wrote it down.

What does that mean? It means literally, I wrote down, on a piece of paper, ‘I don’t bite my nails.’

Then, at night before I slept, I lied in bed and said it to myself again. “I don’t bite my nails.”

The next morning, I woke up, and got my coffee as usual. When I sat at the kitchen table, there was the paper I had left there. “I don’t bite my nails.” Now it was refreshed in my mind. And guess what happened? The next time my finger went in my mouth, I was aware immediately. I took my hand out and reaffirmed by thinking, “I don’t bite my nails.”

I went out that day and bought a manicure kit. I was embarrassed at CVS when I asked where they kept their “nail filers and stuff” but after I left, I went home and put on a YouTube video that showed how to take care of your own nails (for men).

I used the little clippers to trim the hang nails and frayed skin. I didn’t need to clip anything yet. Nails actually grow fairly quickly, so before long, I was able to trim a little corner and use the shaping file thingy to round off the edges. I used the cuticle pusher to help shape the bottom of the nail (where it meets the finger) and then trimmed the excess cuticle that pushed up.

While my nails were growing and repairing, I kept reaffirming at night before I slept, “I don’t bite my nails.” Then, each time I noticed my finger in my mouth, I removed it and repeated my mantra.

That’s it! It really is that simple. I now keep my manicure kit near my TV so when I sit on the couch to watch it, which is where I would do most of my nail biting, I have a new habit of filing or trimming my nails instead of biting them. My nails aren’t the most beautiful and could definitely benefit from a trip to a salon for professional care, but until I work up the mindset to be a dude in a nail salon, I’m happy with my home care treatment.

Join me and stop nail biting! Tell me if it works for you =]

 

Motivation

Holy Trinity


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“I’m fine.” The man said in response whenever he was asked how he’s doing. That’s a typical exchange among most people around here. He never assumed that anybody actually cared how he’s doing, and to be honest, he didn’t care how they were either. He was too tired to care. Barely 9 AM and he’s already on his third cup of coffee. Anything to get through the day, so he can get home and relax.

This man was me. A lifeless zombie, going through the motions, like so many others that I know. It’s too easy to fall into this mode of “wake up, work, eat, home, Netflix, bed.” However, I noticed that on the days that I wasn’t as tired, or perhaps I was a little extra productive and felt great, when people asked me how I’m doing, I’d respond with, “Wonderful! Thank you, how are you?” and many times, people would be taken off guard. They’d double take a look at me and some would even comment on how nice it is to hear such a response. I’d feel even better after the exchange.

I learned to give 3 syllable responses in the military. There was a First Class Petty Officer on my base. I can’t recall his last name, but we just called him ET1, which was his job (Electronic Technician) and Rank (Petty Officer First Class). Whenever anyone would ask him, “How are you ET1?” he’d always, without fail, respond loud and proud, “BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!” It made everyone around him smile. I’ll never forget that. I don’t have the oomph to shout that, yet. But I do try to say things like, ‘Wonderful,’ ‘Excellent,’ or ‘Fantastic!’

So, why don’t I say these things every time? I have noticed that on days that I’m tired, I fail at being the person I want to be. There’s a quote, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” I couldn’t tell you who said it originally because I heard it from a guy on a podcast, citing another guy who read it somewhere. The point is, whomever said it, said it right!

I began to take notice of the days that I didn’t get enough sleep, or didn’t get GOOD sleep. The next day was a struggle, every time. I didn’t want to do anything, and even worse, I would make poor decisions when eating. Whatever was quick and tasty. I had no desire to cook, and I wanted something bursting with sugary flavor, anything to bring a little joy to the day. After eating crap, a short burst of energy is followed by a crash, and even more exhaustion, demanding another cup of coffee. After work, I’d go home, and kick up my feet, put the TV on and say, “I’ll hit the gym tomorrow.”

Over the years, I’ve learned that my Holy Trinity is Sleep, Diet, Exercise. In that order. I’ve had some days that I’ve forced myself to go to the gym even when I was tired, and it feels a little better than days that I skip, but I’d still be in a depressive fog. Even if I ate clean all day, if I was tired, it felt like work, and I just wanted to hurry up and get to the part of the day where I was just mindlessly watching TV or playing a video game.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing with watching TV or playing games, I love both of these activities. It is the mind set while doing them that I’m attacking. On days that I am well rested, eating good, and working out, whether at the gym, outdoors on warm days, or at home doing calisthenics, I feel like I earned the reward of TV or games.

Here’s what I’ve managed to do for my own schedule and what I HIGHLY recommend for everyone. Go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier. I used to say things like, “I can’t sleep at night,” or “I’m a night owl.” Whatever the reason, I wanted to use the time at night for myself and to wind down after a long day. I’d stay up until 2-3 AM and wake up exhausted all week, and sleep in a little bit on the weekends.

Now, I’m in bed between 10-11, closer to 10:30 most days, 6-7 days a week. I wake up at 5:30 on the days that I have to teach at 8 and 6:30 on the days that I don’t. I’m working my way down to being in bed between 9-10 and getting up between 4:30-5:00. For now, I still get great sleep, between 7-8 hours, and when I wake up in the morning, my new routine is coffee while I work on the fiction story I’m writing, then I read about 25 pages of a book, and then I write a blog post for my site.

I started by just fixing my sleep schedule. Baby steps. I woke up at 5:30 and had coffee, and I’d surf the web on my phone or just sit and relax and enjoy the quiet. Once I got used to it, I began writing in the morning. I felt so great and proud of myself, and that carried through my day. I couldn’t wait to wake up the next morning and write some more.

After a week of doing that, I decided to add the reading to my morning routine as well. A few days of doing both, and now I’m blogging too. I think that when I am able to get up even earlier, I’m going to add another thing to my mornings. I’m trading my exhausted evening TV time for some morning, productive, feel-great-about-me time!

Sleep is the most important factor in the Holy Trinity. If you want to get your life together, or improve how you feel on a daily basis, then I recommend you work on your sleep, diet, and exercise routine. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to take on all 3. Just start with fixing your sleep schedule. Go to bed early, and wake up early. Just start there, and slowly add one more improvement when you feel you are ready to take it on!

You know how I feel today?

BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!

Motivation, Musings, News and Updates

I am a Writer


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I finally figured it out.

It has been 31 years that I’ve been on this earth, and I have been writing for most of them. The moment I could put words into sentences, I wrote my first short story. Of course, back then I thought they were long stories, being around 5 hand-written pages.

I can’t remember when it stopped being fun. I don’t think it ever did. What I do know is that when I was writing those stories, I didn’t think about anything else other than writing them. Once I reached middle school, I became painfully aware of what other people thought of me. I only thought about what I should write that would make them like it, or me.

The crazy thing is, I have never received a negative comment about my writing, from anyone. That’s mostly because I never shared it with anyone that wasn’t my inner circle of friends. I wrote stories that were a bit longer, but I couldn’t seem to finish them. I would get an idea for a new story and then start all over.

What was really happening was that I would get to a point in the story that would demand a revision. I’d find a hole in the plot, or a character flaw, and once I reached that point, I began to criticize my writing as if I were someone else. “This is what they’d think” is the frame of mind I would be in. I would rip the story apart verbally, then literally, eventually turning the anger inward and telling myself how terrible I was. I spoke on behalf of everyone I knew, and even those I didn’t, as if I had just read my pages aloud in the school auditorium and was met with boos and insults.

Starting a story feels great. The idea is fresh, and you haven’t had the time to develop it much, which means you haven’t had time to find its flaws. I love thinking of the opening line. “What can I write that would make people want to read the 2nd sentence?” It might be my favorite part. So I lived in the constant state of blissful creativity to a slow decline, ending at malicious self-hatred and doubt.

This cycle continued for years. I just turned 31 and it was only recently, like a few weeks ago, that I finally figured it out.

Now, for those who know me, you probably know that I spent most of my teens, up until my late twenties writing rap lyrics. The short version is that, besides writing stories, I love poetry. I began writing poetry and stories around the same time. However, poems are shorter, which means that I can write them while still in the creative bliss state. I’ve definitely turned negative on some of my poems, but I have boxes, like BOXES full of ones that made it.

Around high school, 2001, I was going through puberty, and poetry wasn’t considered manly. As boys, our biggest insult we could deliver to each other was the suggestion that we were gay. Poetry…gay. It’s so dumb, but we were kids, and we were dumb. For some reason, if you take that same poem, and put it to a hip hop beat, now it was rap, and rap was suuuuuppper cool. Thus, I became a rapper.

My rap journey could be an entire 3 book series in itself, but for this post, just know that it was some of the most fun I have ever had in my life.

Towards the end of my rap “career,” I was making music with my friends, as usual, but something was different. When I used to make songs, my friends would make a big deal about it. They were impressed with my lyrics and my ability to string syllables together. For some reason, perhaps they weren’t impressed, or perhaps they were just used to it from me, I don’t know, but for some reason, the compliments stopped.

Then, I began hearing my first ever, believe it or not, after a decade of rapping, I received my first negative critique. It came in rapid fire succession, by the people I valued most. My producer, my friends, even my wife.

“Just rap, don’t sing.”
“You sound the same on every song.”
“You sound different on every song, you need a unique style.”
“Try switching genres.”
“You’re too political, nobody wants to get lectured on a track.”
“It’s cool, but you aren’t saying anything of substance.”

The list goes on. Suddenly, everyone was a critic. The compliments stopped and everybody wanted to put their two cents in. I know they didn’t mean any harm, but it got in my head. I doubted my ability to create. It was like reaching that point in the story where I had to revise, and the flaws in my plot made me hate myself. I hated myself.

I made excuses, I blamed others, I created obstacles to prevent me from making music. Eventually, I just stopped writing altogether. I haven’t written a lyric in years. I fell into a deep depression.

I managed to keep myself afloat by working out. A good workout is like a quick pick-me-up. It suddenly made the weight of the world bearable enough to put a smile on and go to work/school.

I felt like a failure in music, a failure as writer (having never been published), and a failure at life. I have done things that others would consider an accomplishment, for example, I went to school (for English composition, masochist? Or cathartic?) and achieved a master’s degree. I remember talking to Penelope about it and I told her, “I feel like I settled for a master’s degree.” I didn’t realize how ridiculous that statement sounded, but she told me I should definitely write that down. I felt like I settled because it wasn’t my intended goal in life. I wanted to be a big time rapper, and so every day that I went to school and not the studio felt like I was giving up on my dream.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a video from Dr. Bruce Lipton. It was about the movie “The Matrix,” which I love, and how it is more real than we think. Not the actual events, but the idea that we live in a world that we create with our minds. I recommend going to watch them, as they are too long to summarize accurately here, but he gave some tips on how to retrain the brain. Basically, I have a brain that is programmed for self-sabotage and self-defeat. My mother has the same mentality, and I learned it from her. It isn’t her fault, she had a tougher childhood than mine, but through no fault of anyone’s, I have this type of mind set. I could write forever about this idea and its link to impoverish neighborhoods, but perhaps in another post.

I tried some of the techniques that I had just learned and I can’t believe it, but it works! One of them, as silly as it sounds, is while you are laying in bed, about to fall asleep, your brain is dropping into a lower frequency, Theta waves, and that is like being in a hypnotic state. During this state, when you are feeling yourself about to drift off, but are still conscious, just start thinking, “I am happy.” while picturing yourself being happy. I did this, and the following morning, I woke up in a great mood. Maybe it is the placebo effect, maybe not, I don’t know but I have been doing it every night since, and so far, I have been feeling great!

Feeling great about myself is new. I have always been full of self-loathing and have many times looked in the mirror, saying aloud, “You’re worthless” or “You’re ugly” or “stupid” etc. I have never liked me. The past few weeks, I actually do. It is an incredible feeling. What’s crazier is, I have been writing again, every day. I enjoy writing by hand, and so I bought a nice fountain pen, and I have been writing a fiction story. I have 26 hand-written pages so far, and I already have reached that point of finding plot holes. This time, I just wrote down some notes on a separate sheet of paper, and kept writing. I look forward to waking up at 530 in the morning to write. I write a few pages, no pressure, and then I read. I haven’t read a book for pleasure in god knows how long. So I decided, I’m going to add blogging to my morning routine. I don’t care what about, or who reads it or doesn’t. Not anymore. I cared so much that I gave up on it when I didn’t get praise. Now, I don’t need it.  I don’t need anyone else’s validation.

I write, therefore, I am a writer.

Musings

Consistently Inconsistent


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I’m not really sure why it happens. I get motivated to do something, anything. Sometimes it’s a certain diet, other times it’s a new hobby, like starting a blog! Whatever the hobby (habit?), I get super focused on it for a while. However, that focus fades, but I still have my will and determination. I’ll keep at it, even though I don’t want to anymore, because I don’t want to, yet again, stop another thing. I don’t want to always be known as that guy who drops everything he picks up. It is at the point that my closest loved ones will say, in response to any idea I have, “Are you sure? Or is this like the time you wanted to ____ and then a week later you gave that up?”

Ugh, the words I dread the most! It really is like an affliction. It’s not that I consciously choose to stop doing whatever it is, I literally wake up and go about my day and the new hobby that I’ve just been spending all my time on simply doesn’t pop in my head. Like this blog, for example. I was writing a new post, writing snippets of my memoir, adding new poetry, and just going all out, every day. Then, I just forgot about it. Days went by before I thought, “Oh shit, I haven’t posted in days. I should probably do that.” Then i’ll post, and after another few days, out of my head it goes. But this time, when I remember, I get discouraged like, “What’s the point? I’ll just stop again, nobody even reads it anyway. Now it’s just work. blah”

So, here is my post, weeks later, trying to break the cycle, but cheers! Here’s to whatever comes next, or doesn’t.