Sunday, August 28, 2011


Forewarning: I like tattoos. I think a tasteful one definitely makes a guy look cooler and a lady look hotter. I even have a couple fairly sizable ones myself. That being said, it's always great to take a step back, take a look at other people, and take a second more objective look at yourself. Remember that no matter how badass you ever become, there is someone out there more hardcore than you. If that doesn't depress you, hopefully it takes a burden off your shoulders and you can stop trying so hard (*cough* poser *cough*).

Image from XKCD, not my property, but the author is a ridiculously chill guy who agreed a long time ago that if I ever did make a novel, I could use this strip for the cover. Obviously, I need to seriously get down to business and crank out the book. By the way, hover your mouse over the comic in either link for extra amusing commentary.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Love Doesn't Make the World Go Round ...

My friend Hilary recently made a post in her blog that I enjoyed reading even though I disagree with the general outcome. She describes a frustration over sentimentality that many writers can sympathize with, feeling as if you're perpetually writing about love. A lot of readers are probably frustrated by the same thing.

If you're curious about how I feel, go check out the comments, and while you're there, seriously look at the entire blog, it's a fantastic read. In honor of my car purchase this morning (2002 stick-shift Mazda Protege with more miles on it than my suitcases) I want to talk about love, and how it's all about adjusting.

I don't crush a lot, I fall in love. A whole lot. My way of falling in love is a continual adjustment between loving what's in front of me and loving what it could be. For example, while buying cars I fell for each one pretty quickly, then got disgusted by the issues they had (torn seats, wide turns, dents). Yet the love returned as fast as it left when I imagined what I could do with them after a little work.

That type of oscillation is exhausting, and I think it takes different forms in people. I know a woman who lives out Plath's quote about neuroticism (about ten quotes down, or CTRL+F "neurotic"). The misogynist in me would say that all women want two mutually exclusive things at the same time, maybe more. The misanthrope would say who doesn't? What I like about the quote is she describes herself as flying "back and forth" between the two. It's not pure craziness. She doesn't want eat and talk at the same instant, or really express a desire to combine her two desires. One second she wants breath, and one second she wants to hold her breath. This seems neurotic, but at the root, by adjusting and giving in to each desire at the appropriate time, isn't that how we live?

The line between happiness and misery is accepting that every time you adjust, you will probably have to adjust again (maybe even sooner rather than later). Enjoy that today you'll wake up wanting someone to talk to, and tonight you'll go to bed wanting someone whose conversational skills are lacking (or vice versa). Enjoy that maybe you won't be able to talk to the one person you want to talk to right now, but maybe she'll be around tomorrow, when you don't feel like talking. It's funny, and it's crazy, and it's all about love.

Because love doesn't make the world go round, it makes it more sine-uous,
- John

Friday, August 26, 2011

Angels and Demons but No Dan Brown Quotes

A brief update on the car-hunt: still hunting. My mechanics, Tony and Rick, are awesome and being incredibly patient while they inspect each stray that I bring in. The 2004 Elantra I was looking at broke my heart and the master cylinder in the clutch system. A post for another time is the rather risque master and slave terminology used in cars and computers. I had a lead on a '97 Prelude that is apparently back in the shop (but will be ready Monday ...) and now I'm looking at an '02 Protege that is a little frumpy but possibly well cared for.

When I haven't been stressing and suppressing my auto-worries by stuffing food down my throat, I've been trolling on Facebook. I find it extremely useful to mind-numbingly scroll down the news feed and take a minute to see what my "friends" are doing. Sometimes it's a little depressing (I read a similar article to this one in Cosmo first, embarrassingly). Sometimes it gives me a chance to catch up on the lives of people that I care about but don't quite find the time or a way to connect with in real life. And sometimes you find those little things like updates or quotes that annoy you until something bursts.

I feel guilty because recently I gave in to making a rude comment about one of those things. One of my guilty pleasures also feeds into a pet peeve - I love checking out the quotes that people record in their information, but I am incredibly snobbish about bad quotes. I'm sure you've seen the quote commanding you to "be the change you wish to see in the world," from Gandhi. At this point in time, I hate that quote on multiple levels, but mostly because everyone knows it. Why not put next to it "Do unto others ..." or any other form of the Golden Rule? But that isn't as cool as implying that maybe you're deep enough to have picked up "The Way to God," or Gandhi's Book of Prayers.

The quote that currently tops my list is by Marianne Williamson. It claims that thinking that we fear inadequacy is a misconception, while what we truly fear is our enormous strength. At first it seems to imply that if we recognize our potential consciously, we might feel the need to measure up, but then the quote jumps around and refutes itself. She says that we ask ourselves: "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" So the fear goes back to actually worrying that we're not as great as we seem.

Thinking that God is inside of all of us can be reassuring. However, believing that all of us ARE in fact God, is horrifying. The concept of God is a hope that there is something better than us, something perfect, all-powerful, and all-knowing (at least one concept of God, that is). To further cripple her own quote, Williamson goes on to say that by letting our light shine, we allow others to do the same. I am all for letting light shine, but sometimes bushels are useful for hiding. Think about it like this: the light on your cell phone screen looks awesome in the dark, but as soon as you take it outside, it is practically useless. Some lights are dimmer than others, and if you're brilliant and always shining, there is someone dimmer than you that is going to feel pretty awful standing nearby.

While I might fight tooth and claw against the idea of everyone being God, don't think that I'm inflexible. Why not meet me halfway? We are definitely not gods, but maybe we're angels and demons. And why not? Exorcisms were performed on people before mental disorders were understood. The ancients thought that demons could inhabit a person, which was may not have been right, but a finger pointing in the right direction. I've never seen a demon or an angel, except on another person's face.

It might seem like splitting hairs, saying we're angels instead of gods, but the difference is hubris. The difference of pride is the difference between being the Morning Star, and being Satan. In other words, the difference is at your core, whether you might tend towards fiending or friendliness.

I certainly have a little Tyrion in me,
- John

Monday, August 22, 2011

Personal Gripe: Used Cars

Normally this would be an interruption in the blog due to circumstances in real life. However, since literally no flow has been established yet, there's nothing to interrupt. Instead, I will use my current problems and headaches to introduce a topic that will certainly come up again - driving.

I like cars, but I really love driving. The difference is that one is the means to an end, and the other is the end. Driving is the end all, be all. I research and check out cars when I have to. I think I understand the basic factors that combine to make a car good or bad. High horsepower and high torque is good, one deals with the power of the car and the other might deal with how effectively that power is used (?). Handling, brakes, fuel economy, number of cylinders in the engine, all these things are important.

However, numbers don't interest me. Numbers are used to measure phallic sizes. Quality, as opposed to quantity, is so much more exciting! The quality that is better described in paragraphs, but best described by sitting in the driver's seat, that's where my heart will always be.

Numbers lie like dogs. Feelings might be misleading, even wrong, but they're honest in a way statistics can't approach. I'm sure a lot of people might believe the exact opposite is more likely to be true, but that's just another feeling! Prove I'm wrong with numbers, and I'll prove you're a liar with words.

Which all leads to the present: me spending day after day on Craigslist, dealership websites, and the phone with lots of different types of people. Things I've learned so far: you only need five minutes and two separate road conditions to tell if you like a car (love at first sight is a lie, at least for me with regards to cars), your gut might be good for hunches but not for final decisions, and while not all car salesmen are smarmy, all dealership owners are.

At this point in time, I've passed on a very fun Mitsubishi Eclipse that guzzled gas, a lackluster Mercury Cougar, and am getting a Hyundai Elantra with under 100,000 miles on it inspected tomorrow. My two saddest passes have been on a BMW 328i and a VW Golf. The first I can't rationalize buying with the almost complete certainty of needed repairs, the second I can't rationalize buying with the need for diesel.

That being said, I still have yet to put any money down on the Elantra,
- John

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Obligatory Introductions

How exciting is a perfectly set up room? A living room, bedroom, or kitchen that you walk into and there's nothing that needs adjustment? Nothing in that room that actually needs you?

Perfection is cool, it's a nice idea, but really, is it interesting? Which is more fun to watch, a diver in the Olympics, executing a flawless jump (which you can't really distinguish from the last one that got a 9.5), or a handstand into an open pike that unintentionally goes further into a belly flop?

I want a room that needs me, people that need me. I'm interested in all those nouns out there that need adjustment, including myself. Hence, this blog: Discussing Adjusting.

I will argue that perfection is not an objective state, but a relationship between object and subject. The perfect woman (or man) is not the same for everyone. My perfect woman is flawed because I am flawed. She's perfect, though, because of those flaws and not in spite of them.

Are you having trouble following? Good, I hope so. I want to talk about what things need adjustment, and how we adjust to these imperfect objects and situations as human beings. I will not slow down for you. I might explain, but only if the explanation interests me. Since I start with a basic idea that nothing worthwhile is perfect, I am free to talk about anything worthwhile here, which happens to be most things. I'm not asking you to understand everything perfectly, just try to keep up. Actually I'm not even asking for that, I think really all I'm asking for is indulgence (in both the Catholic and secular senses).

The briefest of backgrounds before closing tonight: I recently returned from two years of service in the Peace Corps. I mention it only as it relates, and for tonight that is because one of the biggest subjects during and after your service is Adjustment. In fact, the little wad of cash you get paid for being a volunteer (ironic but volunteering is certainly not free) is even called your "Readjustment Allowance."

Let's see where this takes us,
- John

PS. I'm back! And I love it.