Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The 21 Convention 2014, Tampa, FL

I wrote this back in November when I got back to Korea, but haven't thought to post it until now.

A lot has changed since I last attended the 21 convention in 2009.  For one, I'm no longer interested in becoming a professional pickup artist.  But for another, it's as if the convention has evolved itself right alongside my own interests.

The convention is sold as "a panorama event for life on Earth as a man" which seems like a broad, bold claim.  However, in attending this past October, 2014 I learned that there actually is quite a lot to that tagline.

The presentations this year were across the spectrum of topics.  In 2007 it was pickup or shut up.  in 2008 and 2009 things broadened slightly by adding a bit about exercise and diet.  2014 included talks on: dating, proper exercise, managing fear, proper diet, lifestyle, philosophy, social anxiety, the sexual marketplace, attracting a mentor, proper rational thinking, fatherhood, and even social security.  My list may not even be entirely comprehensive, and yet it's easy to see that things have changed since my last visit in '09.  not just that, but my experience of the convention was also entirely different.

This year I took a little time to actually talk with the speakers and attendees, rather than just watch the presentations.  Every one of the speakers was personable and willing to answer questions, and many among them were such accomplished social artists that they made me feel like my questions were not just important, but that i was the center of their world and attention when we talked (ahem, Damien Diecke and Steve Mayeda).

Damien's talk was about dating and understanding how to quantify your effort in such a way as to not miss out on all of the genuine progress you're making.  I recently began an exclusive relationship with my girlfriend and so I listened out of casual interest.  Afterward, I asked Damien what advice he would give to somebody who is not looking to meet new girls but wants to improve things with the one he already has chosen. Damien, leaning forward and listening to me as I spoke like nothing else mattered (or ever could), responded that in addition to systematizing meeting women, he likes also to systematize within a relationship.  Put simply, he schedules out specific small events or things that will make his girlfriend feel appreciated and sexy.  For me this was pure gold - I'm always the guy who can't seem to show he cares enough - and Damien explained that his girlfriends know the timing is artificial and they don't care.  I asked a female friend about it in front of her boyfriend what she thought about it and she turened to him and said she would LOVE if he would do something like that for her.  I'll take that as evidence enough to try.

When I listened to Steve Mayeda's speech, something in it struck a chord in my heart.  it brought to the forefront of my mind a very personal issue that I wasn't willing to share in front of the rest of the convention, and so I approached him after his speech and asked if maybe, just maybe it would be possible to speak with him privately for a moment regarding my issue.  Steve did not hesitate for a second and only asked me to wait until he had an opportunity.  He didn't forget.  A short time later he asked me to sit down with him in a private area outside the convention hall and explain.  Steve listened to my story and heard my problem and related part of his own story and challenges.  He talked about where he is now and how he got there and his knowledge that he is still working to improve.  Steve knew intuitively that I didn't need advice (or at least, I'll credit him with knowing), but rather somebody to just listen and help me be heard.  I know I thanked him, but it bears saying again that I'm grateful for the time he gave to me.

In addition to these, I also had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with speaker and philosopher Greg Swann.  Greg and I had been communicating over e-mail for several months and he had the good grace and kindness to meet me for dinner one night before the convention.  We talked like new friends and old friends at once, and as the convention proceded, Greg and i had a great deal more conversations and interactions that culminated in what was, for me, a very difficult goodbye.

These are my personal stories of time with the speakers, and I'd be willing to bet that nearly every one of them has some similar story to share about some other attendee to whom they gave their attention, advice, and time without reservation.  This was the first time I saw the full value of being there for the live event and it was, unequivocally, life changing.  That I focused so narrowly on these few interactions gives no credit to the value of the other presentations - the shortest way I can say it is there was not a single presentation that aws not worth listening to and from which I didn't take something valueable.  At the risk of running even longer than I already have, I also want to give a short thank you to Anthony for putting on the event, and to the volunteers who I had the good fortune to meet and spend the majority of my social time with - J, K, B, and A, you guys were a second convention in and of itself.

It was a blast and I hope I can make it back next year.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Girls, take care of your fucking friends.

I thought this was something only college girls did.  Going out to a party "with their girls" and just having a good time.  Really getting in touch with their feminine side by dressing up sexy and flirting around and being the sexual (but not slutty) life of the party.  Bringing men in from all sides and glorying in the attention and power.

Then drinking too much.

Then abandoning their friends.

I have seen literally dozens of groups of female "friends" (with each other) out at parties doing exactly what I say above.  As soon as one of their friends has too much or the emotional stimulation of something grabs their attention harder than their girlfriends, they flit off and leave their friends to their own fates.


Tonight was the Halloween celebration night for Seoul and I was out with some friends in Hongdae.  I was having an awesome time and my group was doing great.  I noticed suddenly that some female friends of a girl I've been seeing for the past year, 손님, had arrived at the bar.  I greeted them happily and asked where 손님 was since I knew that she usually went out with these girls when she went out.  They pointed to her, passed out on a bench.

Maybe some people would have let her sleep.  Maybe it was the best idea.  But when I have a friend in that state, I take care of them - and that means getting them water and getting them home.

손님 is a girl I care about very much, but she isn't my girlfriend.  But I woke her up and went and got her water from the bar.  As I pulled her upright and was attempting to get her to drink, her friend comes over and IN A GOOD NATURED TONE (the friend didn't recognize me either because she doesn't know me well or because I was in costume) confronts me about touching her passed out friend.  I say to her, "Do you know who I am?" and explain that I'm 손님's boyfriend (the other friend I recognized in the group recognized me immediately).  I ask her why she hasn't done anything to help her friend and I move to take 손님 outside.  I have to walk her because she can barely stand.  The other friends ghost away.

I get outside and dumb bitch friend confronts me and demands that I have 손님 sit on a farther away bench than I am already taking her to.  I tell her to get out of my way and I'm sitting her down and giving her some water.  She gets up in my face and threatens to hit me.  I told her if she touched me I would slap her.  She starts cursing at me and trying to be a belated good friend (because she's a dumb bitch and couldn't admit she had acted poorly and didn't take care of her friend) to 손님 by trying to get her away from me because she "doesn't know if I'm just thinking with my dick or not." She berates me about stupid shit like how convenient it is I found 손님 like this and how I live in Seoul and it all has worked out so perfectly for me.  I ignored her and moved to deal with the situation by talking to the other friend who approached.  The other friend, the one who knew me, seems coherent and seems to understand 손님 needs to go home.  I asked her to please go inside and get 손님's coat.  She says she will.  Ten minutes later (and a lot of dumb bitch friend being a dumb bitch, of fucking course) she hasn't returned and dumb bitch, trying to regain some lost ground of general intelligence, demands I go inside to find 손님's jacket and purse (which I politely asked dumb bitch friend to do earlier while I was sitting 손님 down and giving her water, but she vehemently refused because she's a dumb bitch).

I go inside and find the other friend WHO HAS GONE BACK TO DANCING AND HAVING A GOOD TIME INSTEAD OF DOING THE ONE SIMPLE ERRAND I ASKED HER TO DO IN ORDER TO HELP HER FRIEND.  She hands me what I find out later to be a random purse and jacket that don't belong to 손님 at all.  A whole ordeal ensues of finding the owner whose purse I have mistakenly stolen (thank goodness it ended up being a girl who was part of the group, and who was equally uninterested in taking care of things until I informed her I had accidentally taken her purse and probably jacket and could she please come out and check and see if it's hers.)

I go out and 손님 starts clinging to me.  She's drunk as fuck, probably going to be sick, but not in any real danger.  She just needs to go home.  Some white knights out there would probably take charge to the point of getting her all the way to her house or a place to stay.  I had other friends who I had abandoned (who were not in any kind of trouble because I'm not retarded) and felt I was already going above and beyond when this lady friend of mine had a whole group of friends who SHOULD HAVE BEEN LOOKING OUT FOR HER! But the friend who recognized me, seeing an opportunity to be irresponsible, took it, and drank too much and ended up in EXACTLY THE SAME STATE AS 손님!  Her boyfriend came out and took care of her right away, because he's a man and not stupid (which doesn't mean all women are dumb, just these ones and every girl who abandons her friends when they need help).

They try to figure out where they will stay for the night while I practically carry 손님 to a cab.  They sit there and puzzle over how to get a cab for fifteen fucking minutes and nobody takes my advice to have one person cross the two god damn lane road and hail a cab from the other side, then have people join it if they stop.  I was sitting with 손님 at the time and she was clinging to me and recovering somewhat.

They finally hail a cab, dumb bitch friend gets in with 손님 (oh I also went to a convenience store and got plastic bags in case she were to get sick in the car, because I think of things further than 30 seconds into the future) and the other two friends who came along bail and go look for more fun things to do.

I could be called guilty here as well because I didn't get into the cab or take 손님 to my house like she was asking me to (dumb bitch friend already made it clear she thought I was a rapist and wasn't to be trusted, despite all evidence to the contrary including her own stupid actions and inability to handle a crisis).   But like I said, to dumb bitch friend I referred to myself as a boyfriend but I am not the boyfriend.  I'm the guy 손님 likes, who also likes her and we hang out occasionally, and I didn't go to the bar with her (she just ended up there with me) and I didn't go out with her together.

In conclusion, women.  Don't be fucking childish dumb bitches who have the loyalty of hungry house cats.  When your friends need you, you should be there, not some guy your friend is boning, not some stranger, and you should definitely not be leaving your friend to deal with it herself when she's fucking incontinent.  This is not the first time I've seen this bullshit and it should NEVER happen.  Have some god damned decency.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Impropriety of Power

To anybody who may stumble upon this, while it isn't perfect, I believe it should be read.

This is a piece I started working on this past week.  I put a number of hours into it but, as I neared the finish, I realized I missed the mark.  There's simply too much going on in this.  While my intention was to create a realistic dialog between two friends in order to illustrate my ideas about relationships, the message gets convoluted.  This makes sense, because this is how this sort of conversation goes, however if I'm going to write something about my ideas I want it to be focused.  This piece brings in around 11 different themes, and it's possible you could read more into the subtext. At about 10 pages, you can see how I no doubt fail to develop many of them fully.

Having said that, some background information is in order.  I cut the first half page and never wrote the intro to this because it was so unfinished.  I began this as a sort of thought cultivating paragraph with no real punctuation and only vague ideas of the actual full concepts I would delve into.  As i was writing I picked up steam and decided, what the hell, time to start doing it right.  this piece picks up where I started paying attention a bit closer to what I was saying.


The scene takes place in a bar, two friends have met up for drinks and conversation.  One of them (and it will become obvious which) makes a comment to the effect of "Men just need to chill out and let the girl control things, otherwise there will be problems" in the manner of a joke.  His friend presses him on why he says it and the first man's misgivings with his own relationship come out.  They proceed in question and answer style, discovering the root of the problems in the first friend's relationship and uncovering dangerous and false life and philosophical premises that the first friend has accepted.

The scene opens after the second friend has said, "If you don't believe what I'm telling you is true, and your girlfriend doesn't really like you, then test her."  The first friend asks how and...

(Note: I took notes in Word on some of the things I wrote, they copied in here as the little [D] tags which reference all the way to the bottom of this post.)

“That sounds so selfish”

“Of her or of you?”

“Of her.”

“Well it is, in the sense of a child’s selfishness.  A child throws a tantrum when things don’t go their way or, to use my language, when the world doesn’t conform to what they think it should be.  An adult, by my standards, accepts the world as it is and changes themselves or their situation – something won’t become better by demanding it be better.  That requires purposeful action.  Except of course, in relationships where one person accepts that it’s their job to do exactly that.  And hey, if that makes you happy, then go on doing it.  I don’t think it’s possible, but I can’t speak for the whole of the world.  Besides, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation if you were fully happy.  You would have said from the beginning ‘Maybe that’s so, but I’m happy’ and I could say nothing against it.  I’m not arguing against happiness.  It’s your life, and unlike her, I’m not going to demand that you live it my way so I can live out my fantasy of how things ought to be in the real world.”

“Well what are you arguing against?”

“The idea that your happiness is subordinate to hers.  The idea that relationships require the sacrifice of one person to the other.”

“Sacrifice is important.  I can’t have my way all the time.”

“Isn’t that what she demands of you?”

“Of course not.  Sometimes we hang out with my friends and sometimes with hers, we take turns choosing the restaurants or movies, I’m not always happy with her choice but I don’t mind doing it because it makes her happy and I like to make her happy.”

“That’s excellent, I think that’s extremely healthy.  Wanting to make other people happy is what benevolence is all about.”

“So what’s your point then?  You’ve just agreed with me.”

“I don’t see it that way.  I think you’ve agreed with me.”

“That doesn’t make any sense, I just proved to you that not only do I sacrifice in my relationship, but she does too and it makes me happier.”

“Yes, but does it make her happy to make you happier?”

“Of course.”

“Then tell me one major thing that she sacrifices on, for you.”

“Well, she doesn’t like all my friends and feels a little uncomfortable being around them sometimes, but she still let’s me hang out with them.”

“Jesus, listen to yourself.  ‘Lets me…’ ugh!  Really?  Do you need permission?”

“Don’t move the goalpoasts, it’s just the word I used, it doesn’t mean anything.”

“It does, but you’re right.  So she ‘lets you’ hang out with your friends sometimes.  That’s major?”

“Well yeah, she comes sometimes too.  That’s a pretty big sacrifice.  Who wants to hang out with people they don’t like?”

“I agree, who does?  How does she act when she comes out with us?”

“Well she’s amicable.  She doesn’t insult you or anything and she talks to you guys when you talk to her.  Being totally honest she isn’t her normal self.  She’s more quiet and seems to be a little uncomfortable or bored.  When it’s just us we have a great time, she’s funny and we have great conversations.  I think she just can’t relate well to my group but she’s trying to accommodate them into our life.”

“Again with the word choice, whose life are you living?  But anyway, that’s very noble of her.  Have you asked her why she comes to hang out with you and your friends?"

“No.  Does it matter?”


“OK, fine, I don’t know the full reason but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume it’s because she’s making an effort.”

“It isn’t.  Not at all, and what I’m going to suggest sounds manipulative and low.  You care about this girl so you won’t want to believe it of her, but just take a moment and evaluate this through what you know.”

“I’m not going to listen to you insult her.”

“Nor should you, I’m not going to.  Everything here depends on perspective and what’s happening.  Like if you tell somebody they’re fat it’s an insult unless they’re comfortable with who they are or with who you are and where you’re coming from.  Whatever their feelings about it, it doesn’t change the fact.  Does that make sense?”

“So, you’re saying it’s OK to call people fat all the time?”

“Don’t be a dick.  I’m serious.”

“Haha OK, so you mean that there are facts and things that are real, and sometimes those things are uncomfortable or make us angry.  But that fact that it makes us angry, doesn’t make it an insult.  It just means it’s a truth that we don’t like.”

“That’s the gist of it.”

“Ok, hit me with the facts.  The FACTS.”

“You want to make her happy.  It makes you happy when she’s happy.”


“So how do you feel when she’s out with your friends and she, I’m using your words here, ‘seems to be a little uncomfortable or bored’?”

“Responsible.  Like somehow I’ve messed up and I want her to be having as good a time as I could be.  And I try really hard, too.  I’ll explain jokes to her and ask her opinion and talk with my friends when we’re away from her, asking them to try to help her feel comfortable.”

“You’ve asked me to do it.”


“So you try really hard to help her to have a good time out with your friends, but despite all your effort, how often does she have a good time?”

“Mostly she doesn’t.  When it’s a bigger group and we kind of have our own bubble together because everybody has broken up into their own talking pairs, she has fun.  It’s just around all my guy friends.  But she doesn’t complain!”

“She doesn’t have to.  How do you feel when you want to go out with your guy friends?”


“Alone or with her.”

“Would I still be within the facts if I said that a lot of times you end up on the phone, fighting, and you either go home to deal with it or stick around a bit resentfully?  Dare I say rebelliously?”

“You’ve been there often enough, you know it’s true.  She just misses me.”

“After a couple of hours?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I don’t think you know what you mean, but we can dissect that later if you really want to.  So here are some more facts.  Earlier you said it was a big thing that you guys compromised on, for her to come out with your friends and for you to come out with her, right?”


“So what do you do when you go out with her friends?”

“I try my best to have a good time.  Her friends are cool for the most part and I don’t mind being dragged along if she really wants me there.  Rachel is a dumb bitch…”

“Yeah she is.”

“…but I still make an effort to be nice.  And I’ll dance and buy drinks for everybody and try to keep things fun.”

“What if she wants to go out alone?”

“I’m cool with it.  Like I said it makes me happy to make her happy, so if she wants to do something by herself or just with her friends I’m all for it.  Sure there are times when I want to see her, and I say it to her, but if she wants to stick to her plans I don’t resent it.  Not much.”

“Not enough to call her and remind her to be thinking about you?”

“God no.”

“Not enough to get upset and, not demand, but create the impression that the only thing she can do to make it up to you is to leave?”


“Do you see what I’m driving at?”

“Yeah…Yeah I think so…”

“Well don’t let me put words in your mouth.  Say it.”

“No, I get it.”

“This is important.  You’re about to name this thing instead of just letting it be a feeling of dread or a vague fear.  You’re going to tell me what it is, not because I told you to, but because you know deep down that identifying it is important to you.  It can’t be something I just explain to you; you have to see it for yourself.”

“OK…If we put it side by side, when I go out alone she gets upset at me and I feel guilty for not making her happy.  Not always, I won’t say always.  When I go out with her and my friends she doesn’t have a good time and I feel guilty.  When she goes out alone I’m happy for her because she’s happy.  When she brings me out with friends I try very hard to have a good time and make a good impression, even if some of her friends - Rachel - are unbearable.”

“Do you disagree with anything you said, as a fact?”

“No, of course not.  It’s all true.”

“Then what does it mean?”

“It means that I’m the only one sacrificing.  It means she doesn’t have room in her life for me to have friends.”

“Do you notice you said ‘her’ life?”


“Do you know that when you’re talking about yourself, you say ‘our’ life?”


“So what does it mean?”

“It means that I’m working hard to accommodate her life and her friends into our relationship.  I’m working to make things work.  But when it comes to my life and my friends, she just tries to make me feel guilty.  Jesus, I feel bad just mentioning something I heard or did with you guys, let alone actually asking if I can go out.  Oh god you’re right.  I have to ask her.”

“Keep going.”

“You were talking earlier about making me fit her image of what things should be like.”


“Talking that way, her image of what things should be like doesn’t include my friends and my time.  How could it?  Taking time with my friends, for myself, means I’m either detracting from the perfection of what she wants or I’m creating a possibility that I will take something away from what she wants.  Like if she had toys still and one of them threatened to just up and walk away and do its own thing.  It’s hers so she should be able to play with it whenever and on whatever terms she wants.  In her perfect image of how things should be, I’m on call.”

“What does that make your relationship?”

“Fuck me.  It does not.”

“Don’t hide from this.”

“It means that she treats me like a servant.  It means that to her this isn’t a relationship.  A relationship between equals has to be bidirectional, but I’m the only one giving anything.  I work and I work at it and any chance I get to squeeze something out for myself, if it doesn’t include her she stomps on it.”

“Don’t go off the deep end.  I’m sure she doesn’t mean to do anything malicious.”

“What’s it matter if she means to?  I spend most of my time wondering what I’ve done wrong, and if things are going well I can’t stop wondering when I’m going to be accused of fucking up again.”

“What would happen if you stopped serving her?  What would happen if you demanded that she give you what you want?”

“That’s exactly what she’s doing to me though!  I don’t want to just do the same thing to her.  I’m not a hypocrite.”

“There is an important difference though.”

“In what?”

“In your idea of how a relationship should be, and in her idea of how it should be.”

“Seems to me it’s the same.  She’s demanding that I sacrifice to her, it’s the same thing if I refuse to budge or accommodate her on anything.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Then what’s the answer?  Honestly I’m too pissed off now to think it through.”

“How do you figure that?”

“You want to make her happy, and while that means doing things together and making her feel special, sometimes it also means giving her space.  Doing things you might not do on your own.  Accommodating her life alongside yours.  But she doesn’t want to make you happy.”

“Is that true though?  I mean, in this situation I guess it is but I don’t know if we can stretch that to everything.”

“Does she hate your friends so much that she wants you to drop us because we’re bad for you?  Do we drain you or make you terrible to be around?”

“No come on, you know you don’t.  Hanging out with you is like taking a mental shower sometimes.  I’d probably be way more pissed off day to day if I didn’t have my friends.”

“So does it make sense that you want her to have friends?  That you accommodate them, you work to accept and enjoy them because you want to make her happy?  And yet she tolerates yours, at best, and makes you feel guilty for wanting to be around them?”

“But what about when she does something nice to make me happy?  Like sometimes I’ll have a hard day at work and she’ll know it, and I come home and she’s got this great dinner made for me.  How is that not her wanting me to be happy?”

“I don’t think anybody would argue that that isn’t her trying to make you happy.  It sounds awesome, honestly.  But you’ve got the tools now to figure this one out.  Think about it.”


“So wait, I’m supposed to hate her for doing something that really is amazingly kind, and really does make me happy?”

“Not at all.  You just need to see that that piece of your relationship, while it’s good, is still related to the fact that she’s creating an image of what it ought to be.  Think of all the times she’s been upset at you for not doing something cutesy, romantic or thoughtful.  Now maybe some of those you probably should have done something, I can’t argue that, all I’m saying is that’s the other side of that nice looking coin.  She does it because that’s her image of who you are and who she is and who you are together, and when you don’t do it you’re not conforming to her image.  And that pisses her off.”

“You make her sound so calculating and manipulative.  Like she’s trying to break me down.”

“She isn’t at all.  You’re doing that.”


“You’re the one breaking you down.  All you have to do to fix every problem that you have in your relationship is to own your desires and have boundaries.”

“But you know that if I did that she’d get pissed off at me for not doing enough.”

“So what does that tell you?  If you’re a person who wants things one way, and she’s a person who wants them another way.”

“That we want different things.”

“Exactly.  It isn’t that she’s a bad person or manipulative.  She has an expectation of what she wants in a relationship, and I’d say it’s probably mostly unconscious.  It isn’t a bad thing that she wants what she wants.  The problem comes up when we get what you both want muddled with the kind of platitude you were saying earlier, about how men should just shut up and let women handle things and then everything is fine.  But it isn’t just a funny thing that people say to each other about the pitfalls of men and women being together.  It’s how people really behave.  You accept that she’s allowed to dictate things, and so does she.  You both act on that.  And you ignore the fact that behaving that way makes you miserable because you think relationships require sacrifice.  So you sacrifice, and you believe that because you’re doing it for her she must also be doing it for you.  And while you’re busy falling over yourself to make her happy, ‘working it out’ and ‘compromising’ and ‘making sacrifices’ to make things come together, you don’t realize you’ve completely missed a fundamental truth about real relationships.”

“Yeah, and what’s that?”

“Relationships do not require the sacrifice of one person to another.”

“Hold on though.  Are you saying that in your relationships, you never do anything just because she wants you to do it?  You don’t make any sacrifices?”

“We have to get nitpicky about language here.  I don’t consider insignificant choices to be sacrifices.  I don’t trifle around with the idea of a ‘small sacrifice’.  A sacrifice is always of something important.  If she wants to watch a comedy and I want to watch a horror film and we go with the comedy, it isn’t a sacrifice.  The choice of a movie is much less important to me than seeing her happy. And I don’t hate comedies, besides.  I don’t mind making concessions and letting her win on choices that have nothing to do with my happiness as a person or my higher values.  But when you look at something bigger, something important, a real sacrifice -  I don’t compromise.”

“Give me an example.”

“I get a new job and it requires me to move.  I want this job, I’ve worked hard for it and I’ve earned it.  But she doesn’t want to move.  She likes her job too, maybe she even makes more than me and she makes the argument that I should turn down the new job because our life here is more stable and better off financially.  If that job is important to my happiness, and in this example it is, I’m going.”

“So you’d just leave her?  Just like that?”

“I’m not a robot.  I’m not saying it wouldn’t be hard.  It would be terribly painful to leave somebody I love.  But ultimately, I know myself well enough to know that I’d resent staying there and missing out on my dream.  I’d hate to leave her but I wouldn’t regret it.”

“What if it was her who had to go?  Wouldn’t you want her to stay?”

“Of course I’d want her to stay.  I’m a selfish guy and I’m living my life to make myself happy and if she makes me happy I want her around.  But I wouldn’t demand that she stay, and I would never use guilt as a weapon to force her hand.  Of course I’d talk it over with her, and if I could find a solution that kept us together I’d jump on it.  But if it was a choice between my happiness and our relationship, I’d choose my happiness and I could never love a woman who wouldn’t choose hers.  What is a relationship for if it doesn’t bring more joy to your life?”

“Why does your happiness have to be separate from the relationship?  That doesn’t make sense to me.  It seems like you’d be making yourself unhappy by leaving behind a good relationship.”

“In the short term, you’re right.  Pain would be unavoidable if she really meant so much to me.  But my relationship with myself has to come before any relationship with another person.  I’ve said it already; I’m living my own life.  A relationship with a woman is an enhancement to my life.   It can never be the purpose.”

“That can’t be completely right.  What if she was the most important thing in your life?  You love your job and you match each other and everything is grand, why then couldn’t she be the most important piece of your life?  The one that brings everything together?”

“She can be the most important person in your life but it’s still your life.  Look at the abysmal success with women ‘nice guys’ have.  They have no life or qualities outside of the fact that they’re nice and will devote themselves to a woman – and probably any woman.  Any man in the world can devote himself to a woman, even to your ideal woman.  And it’s important to mention we are talking about ideals here.  If you’re fine with ending up with somebody who is good enough, but not perfect, then what I’m talking about has nothing to do with you.  I will say that you can be happier, you can find somebody better.  But if you’re more interested in just being OK then I have nothing to offer you.  If you think the goal of finding what is right for your life and your purpose in everything is too hard to accomplish and not worth seeking then what we’re talking about at this point is irrelevant for you.  You’ve got other issues to contend with. 
“But to answer your question, look at your relationship now.  That’s exactly what you’re doing.  She is the most important thing in your life and you’re pushing aside those other things that matter to you in order to please her.  And it is pleasing to her when you do it.  You’re succeeding.  But it’s destroying you.  And if you continue down this path, if God forbid you got married to this woman, the rest of your life would be based on the premise that your relationship is built on now.  That your happiness is subordinate to hers.  But what if you grew a metaphorical pair sometime down the line, let’s say 10 years into your marriage.  You suddenly realize that you’ve been denying yourself to make her happy because she was your purpose.  You do what I’ve said you should and you discover and hold your boundaries and you own up to your desires.  If you’re stronger than her, and she doesn’t leave you, then your positions will have switched.  Now she’ll be the one denying herself in order to please you.  You’ll enjoy it for awhile, but soon you’ll start to wish she would do or say something on her own.  You’ll pray for a spark of rebellion, for her to say ‘no’ to you just once so that she’ll be a real person and not just a doll who does whatever you say and desire.  People have opinions, people have desires and needs, people care about themselves.  What person is there left to love if they deny their self?”

“It’s all very logical and it makes sense from a certain perspective, but look at her now.  She loves me more the more I am devoted to her.  That’s a contradiction to what you’re saying.”

“No, it isn’t.  You said it yourself already.  You want different things.  She wants the man who is devoted to her, whose purpose is her.  You want to live your life and for her to live her life, and for the two of you to do so side by side.  Am I wrong about that?  Am I putting words in your mouth?  You want to have friends, you want to accommodate her friends and you want her to do the things that make her happy even if it doesn’t always include you.  She doesn't.   She wants a servant.  She doesn’t want to love a real person, she wants to love her fantasy and  fortunately for her, those men who are willing to give it to her exist.  Whether or not there is one who can do it happily I don’t know, but I doubt it."

“It’s a contradiction then, because she is able to live that way and be happy.  She is holding to her standards and desires, and she is also demanding that I hold to her standards as well.  Her standards require me to devote myself to her, and I’m doing it, and she’s happy.  You were saying that real relationships can’t have one person who…oh.”


“It isn’t a real relationship then, is it?”


“We’ve said all this.  It’s a relationship between a master and a servant.”

“Which is a legitimate relationship, provided the servant is being paid and can leave at any time if conditions are unbearable.  A person who provides a service for a price has the luxury of not becoming too emotionally invested in the person or business paying them.  It might be a little awkward to leave, but few are the people who would hesitate to leave a business that was treating them horribly.  And if they have no other option, well, what does that tell you about the state of that person?  We think business and love are so different because there are things about a person that you can love while overall being very unhappy in a relationship with them.  And when it’s a person you’re loving, not a job, it’s easy to fool yourself into believing that you can work through it.  Good luck giving your employer a list of demands on how you must be treated for you to work together, or compromising with them on their standards for how you’ll work.  You’ll be fired or ignored.  As you should be.  Instead, know what your list of demands requires and find the employer that is willing to meet those from the beginning.  It’s the same with love and relationships.  Find the person who meets your standards, don’t demand that a person change themselves in order to meet them.”

 [D1]Something is wrong or missing here.  It just doesn’t fully ring true.  What do you know of the compromises people make in relationships?  I don’t know if anybody would disagree with the example you give later of her treatment of his having friends, but what are some more common compromises?  Also, about sharing burdens, this feels like a contradiction.  Is she not sharing a burden of yours if something terrible happens in your life and she helps you out?

Consider talking about cooperation and admitting when you’re wrong.
 [D2]I’m starting to talk about guilt but I don’t think I ever get into talking about why it’s negative to accept unearned guilt or the orgin of his guilt (accepting the premise that his happiness is subordinate to hers, so when she feels bad he feels guilty for failing.)
 [D3]Could this be rewritten in terms of happiness, “Being happy that somebody else is happy requires only that they make themselves happy”  Or  “It doesn’t take anything from you to be happy for somebody else”
 [D4]There are too many issues going on.  While all of this might come up in a typical advice session and conversation, it’s a lot for a piece that explores my philosophy and ideas.   It’s too convoluted. The ideas at present are:
- your happiness is not subordinate to hers,
-relationships do not require sacrifice,
-unearned guilt
- accepting that a man has duties toward a woman in a relationship particularly pertaining to the power relationship,
-psychological unhealthiness of holding an image of somebody and forcing them to conform,
- having expectations and standards for a relationship rather than trying to build them from a person who may not share them.
-mixing of bad premises creates problems fundamentally
-what she wants isn’t bad, it’s just not in alignment with what you want.
-ideals vs. enough
-nice guys
-denying yourself makes you an unreal person

Friday, October 19, 2012

Drunken Philosophy

About four weeks ago I came home drunk.  The sort of drunk that makes the recollection of details near impossible.  I had recently been rejected by my long time crush (another story), and I was talking with a friend about a mutual friend and his hookups.  My self esteem was low, my defenses were token, and it came out that the mutual friend had hooked up with one of the Korean teachers at my school.  My crush is a Korean teacher.  My liquor sodden brain came to the sudden realization that however unlikely it is that she is the one, it was possible that this mutual friend had hooked up with my crush - who had recently rejected me. I pressed my friend for information.  Who was it?  Not that it matters at all, and the mutual friend isn't here anymore, but, really.  Who?  It's OK to tell me.

He wouldn't, and I managed to keep my composure long enough to say goodbye.

In my apartment I collapsed into jealous rage, just controlled enough to keep me from screaming.  After pacing and talking out loud for a few minutes, trying desperately to throw the drunkenness off so I could manage my emotions comfortably, I turned to my previously most successful therapist.  Writing.  I decided not to limit myself, not to worry about punctuation or clarity, just to get my thoughts out and see what came out.

While most of it was just rehashing of things I had already said to myself in the past or descriptions of sexuality designed to incite me, while simultaneously chastising myself for permitting myself the weakness of jealousy, (Sidenote: Jealousy to me is a feeling of ownership and right.  You cannot have ownership of a human being or their time, you cannot by right expect a behavior or action from another person, and that is jealousy.) there was one particularly insightful section that I wrote.

Here it is, errors preserved with names altered:

And the thing that kills me is that it’s entirely possibl that it’s (my crush).  I don’t give a shit if it’s any other teacher, but(my crush) would destroy me.  If I accept it as truth, which I can’t at this moment because there is no evidence, it would mean admitting that there is no excuse for me to hide behind in (my crush) not wanting to kiss me.  None whatsoever.  It isn’t because she’s Korean and prudish, because she fucked one of the other foreigners (so even if she is prudish, she made an exception which was not me which is also insulting).  It means that she wasn’t just delaying a possibility... 

If I accept as truth that this woman who rejected me hooked up with somebody else, somebody close to me socially (or not), then I have nothing to hide behind.

How profound a realization.  I had thought of a hundred reasons why she may have said no.  I had analyzed it from a dozen different angles, I had tried to think of it only as a factual interaction (I asked, she said no), but the truth was staring me in the face.  If she had hooked up with another person (any other person, ever), then I had no excuse to hide behind for her rejection of me.

Every thought regarding the interaction was a barrier I threw up between myself and reality.  The reality that she just doesn't want me the way I want her. The reality that I would feel a serious decline in self worth if it were true that there were no extenuating circumstance to her rejection of my advances.  That it wasn't the method of the advances she was rejecting, their timing, or even the situation they came during.  But that she was rejecting me.  The reality that I as a person was either incompatible with her, and she could see it and acted accordingly, or that I as a person was not enough for her to consider worthy.  The reality that the choice and reasoning are hers, and no amount of tears or shaken fists gives me a right to demand an alternative.

In order to avoid all of this I put up every conceivable barrier.  I asked advice from male and female friends.  I searched for every available escape from reality and eventually chalked it up to my inability to know the truth.  Where this brought me was proper, considering my actions and thoughts.  Drunk, needy, alone, wallowing in self pity.

She rejected me.  The proper response is action, not rationalization and analysis.  If I still want her, I can invest in myself and work my hardest to become worthy both in my own eyes and hers.  If I decide I do not want her, then I can move on.  These are the only proper actions I can take.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Achieving life is not the same as avoiding death.

The title above is quoted from Ayn Rand.

Something about the way that woman thinks and writes just speaks to me on an entirely different level. I get upset every time I find something regarding philosophy that lists any number of philosophers from Aristotle to Kant and they don't even leave a mention of Ayn Rand.  It's a crime.  I feel about her writing how some Christians must feel about the bible - I've read this, there is no need to go further.  Truth has a certain flavor and I find it so much to my liking that the taste of anything else is bitter and forgettable.

I am in the midst of a dry spell.  It's been approximately four months in the making and I'm suffering for it, and this weekend was the most obvious sign of that.  I went out with a group of friends to a "classy" party in downtown Seoul.  A strictly black tie event at a swanky resort.  It was great going into it, I was enjoying my group and having fun.  But when they herded us all into a nightclubish area, I found my social vibe just disappeared.  All around me there were beautiful women who I would have enjoyed talking to (one adorable Korean creature in particular) and I could not muster the state to approach anybody.

The night even seemed to tip me small favors and I still couldn't commit to even a weak interaction (I had been walking around, going to the bathroom again and again, doing whatever I could think of to try and break my mood short of actually talking to somebody).  I went outside at one point and the exact girl I'd been eyeing all night was sitting alone having a cigarette with her shoes off, alone and bored looking.  She clearly wasn't having the best night either (probably because her high heels were making enjoying dancing a serious challenge).  And all I could must was to sit next to her, pretend to check my phone, then ask if she minded if I left my jacket next to her (only implying that it was her job to keep it safe).  Then walked off to have a three minute fake conversation on my cell phone, hoping the time away would give me the state needed to actually speak to her, and also have a more natural approach after I sat next to her in silence for the first couple minutes.  Of course it didn't.  I walked back, picked up my jacket, thanked her, and went back inside.  Later there were more opportunities, perfect approach openings, and I just left it.

I'd realized I had hit rock bottom when the unnattractive female in my group was talking to me about how she felt about how this had turned into a "typical club experience" and how she wasn't into that.  Clearly rationalizing her discomfort with the situation.  Knowing I felt the same, and knowing how I felt about her value, I saw little reason to stick around.  So I said my goodbyes and got out of there.

Today I felt low-self-esteemy almost all day, but managed to quit Skyrim long enough to go for a bike ride and find some food.  It ended up being a good idea, I enjoy biking through the city and I had a good meal.  Then, a girl who is decent looking and I wouldn't have minded banging called me up.  She does that now and then.  I've texted her like once per week, and she never responds, then she'll call me out of the blue and invite me out.  Anyway she asked me to meet her, so I did and she was with another dude.  He ended up being really cool so we all had a good vibe going, but he had to leave around 11.  She gave him a hug and kept saying how he should stay because he could stay with her (clearly wanted to bang him, but I was thinking "yeah but why did she call me then") and it wouldn't be a problem.  But he left.  So I figured, "We've all been talking about sex all night, she knows what I'm about and she's having drinks with me alone on."  So I decided not to waste any time.  About 5 minutes after he left I tried a late game version of the apocolypse opener and asked her what she was doing later.  Then followed with, "want to come home with me instead?"  And she made me clarify that I was talking about hooking up and not just hanging out.  Long story short, she said no.  I felt bummed.  Walked her to the train station then headed home.

I was feeling bad about myself, then something just snapped.  I picked up a pen and a stack of sticky notes and wrote in giant letters, one on each note, "BECOME WORTHY OF A SELF.  EARN IT." And posted it above my door in my apartment.  I debated on my use of the article "a" instead of saying "your".  But I think I made the right choice.  The idea of saying "your" presupposes that I have a self, and that it is worthy and I'm not living up to it.  But the fact of the matter is, the way I've been feeling and behaving is more in line with a person who is lacking in a self.  A firm one, at least.  And so I made my grammar choice.

I remembered a blogger/musician/artist I had discovered some time ago and was inspired enough to look her up.  Sarah Saturday.  On her archive of short posts I ran across one from Ayn Rand, "Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises.  You will find that one of them is wrong."  It wasn't so much that quote that brought me around to feeling good, but the fact that somewhere out there is a mind that appreciates something I appreciate.  Somebody who sees the value in something I value.  And knowing that that person exists, and that that person also believes in taking care of herself and in EARNING IT HERSELF, gives me the strength I need to stop being such a bitch.

I bitch and moan that I haven't been with a woman for awhile, and I realize that it's becoming a self esteem issue - I need somebody, not just to fuck, but to appreciate me (and this is easiest to find after sex).  But what have I done in the last four months that's worthy of appreciation, apart from being?  Pussies and shit philosophers say that's enough, but Ayn rand tells it true.  Achieving life is NOT the equivalent of avoiding death, and all I've been doing is avoiding death.  Living day to day, decently but not well and certainly not doing anything worthy of being called achieving life.

I dearly hope that this feeling will stay with me.  I know it won't. I'll have to go after it, grab it by the hair and drag it back to my man cave.  But the most insidious thing about this challenge, this enemy, is that it isn't an enemy.  Fighting an enemy who wants to destroy me is the easiest thing in the world.  Even in losing, I feel pleasure and pride in having fought.  But fighting one, that wants nothing of me, that desires nothing bigger of me than that I make it to work on time.  That is a hard enemy to take issue with, to summon the courage to destroy this day and every day.

I promise I shall do what I must.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Life Doesn't Draw to a Close

I'm uncertain where exactly I want to take this post, but the inspiration comes from a conversation I was having with a co-worker on the way to the office today.

His view on life was, in essence, "I'm young now, so I can have fun and do what I want. But as I get older, I'm going to have more and more responsibilities, and less and less of my life will be enjoyable until there's little left but duty and obligation." Further, in regard to marriage, he said he could see himself in a couple years wanting to get married, and most likely to a woman who "probably isn't hot but who I get along with in pretty much everything." God. I'll tackle that in a moment.

I was appalled. It was written all over my face. I could not comprehend how a person could resign themselves to a life of diminishing gain, a life of gradually increased torture. A slow death, starting (implying from his reasoning) around the age of 27, and ending gratefully around 75 or so. What the hell could he be living for in an existence like that? Who the hell could he live for, because it clearly wouldn't be himself.

This view of life is so absurdly common. It's implicit nearly every time you hear the phrase, "Well, you're young, do it while you can" or some such derivative. How can a person wake each day and face that their life is drawing inevitably closer to a monotonous slow death, like water torture as an accepted norm of existence?

I don't understand people who say they want to travel while they're young, as if growing older could somehow stop a true desire. I'm young, and I've traveled, and I've enjoyed it. But I've also learned that I don't really know yet what I want to get out of my wanderlust - that I'll understand more of what I want WITH AGE. All I know for certain now is that I prefer living in a foreign country to visiting one for a week or longer. There isn't some imaginary manager of my life, hovering over me and threatening to throw out my sick days if I don't use them before I've reached 30, but most people believe that.

Pook said it best, paraphrasing, the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the former invests his time, while the latter spends it. The successful person plants the seeds of talent, of wealth, and grows them over time making their life easier and more fun as they grow older. The unsuccessful person spends it all and has nothing in what should be the glorious twilight of their lives.

Nearly any person I've ever come to know fantasizes about their final days and nights. The final day in college, the final night at home before leaving on a trip or joining the military, the last time you see your love. But nobody fantasizes about their final years as a joyous conclusion to a life spent moving toward your highest values and desires. They see it like the plot of a movie that peaks to early, and drags you with it to the end, leaving only a sigh of relief when the credits finally roll.


About his view on marriage. I asked him, sincerely, if his is a view that many other share. I truly believed that nearly every person who makes the colossal mistake of getting married does so with honest intentions and as a true error in judgement. Not willfully stepping into mediocrity or worse. He said he doesn't know, but I suspect it isn't so uncommon. Seriously. I can't even bring myself to tear this apart any further than it does itself. It's just so fucking stupid.

I don't claim to live an ideal life. I do claim to desire one, and I do claim to be making decisions in that direction. And it is an upward direction.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Visit the Official Atlas Shrugged Movie Web Site!