Tag Archives: conversation

…And You Wonder Why I Drink.

21 Apr

Drew Carey once joked: “Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called everybody, and they meet at the bar.” Is booze the solution? No, but when you’re caught in a situation you can’t get out of, it helps ease the transition.

As I’ve talked about many times on this blog, I’m a big fan of the local bar. Once you find one that you like–which is not easy–it’s a great comfort. An extended living room. A place to have friends you’d never want to invite to your house. But more importantly, it gets you away from your life for a little while.

Why I bring this up is because on Sunday morning, my wife says, “Hey, why don’t you come with me to the Home Depot.” Okay, this wasn’t part of my initial plan for the day, so my initial thought is one of annoyance, but I accept it and try to turn it into a chance to hang out with my wife, flirt. Initially, that works. Then God forbid I buy multiple copies of some tools that we invariably lose all the freaking time, and all my goodwill I’ve built in those few minutes evaporates. Great.

My wife and I are going to start counseling again because frankly, this is a bad situation. She’s pissed at me, I’m pissed at her; but frankly, that’s any marriage. You hit points where you’re better together and points you are not. I’ve picked up more chores, she says, “Why weren’t you doing that before?!” I just feel like she’s been in a high stress situation for a couple years and half of it IS HER OWN DAMN FAULT. Gee, you take an extra class AND a teaching assistantship on top of that and you complain you don’t have enough time in the day. How could that have possibly happened?! (rolling eyes)

So both of us have thought during our 15-year marriage, “Gee, why don’t we just divorce if we don’t like being together anymore?” The last time was last summer. The answer–we can’t afford to. My wife doesn’t have a regular job; she’s a grad student. Even if we both did, there’s still the kids. Both of us wants them to have a stable, happy home. My wife also doesn’t trust me to raise the kids under a joint custody agreement, and from all modern accounts, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Mind you, things got better since then, but I still think she would be a lot happier if she chose to get out of the house more often. She has the choice; she has an office she can go to, I don’t (at present), but there’s few other people there. And without other people present, it’s just a pain-in-the-butt to get to in order to the do the same thing…

…but it gets you out of the house. I’ve been attending my local bar on a regular basis throughout this pandemic and it’s made things a lot easier to get through. I’ve also been attending there because the wife doesn’t want me to drink in the house. After all, if she can’t drink without messing up her system, then it must be the same for everyone, right?! (sigh)

But if I can’t leave my marriage, and my attempts to fix things aren’t working, then what else can you do but drink? Before I get into a diatribe you don’t have the context for, I’ll just ask what you think? What did you do in this situation? Let me know in the comments below! Then check out one of my books; they aren’t as depressing However, if $1.99 is too steep for your wallet, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. You’ll be glad you did.

Bend Your Ear A Tick

6 Apr

A decade ago, I ran for public office, and I learned two things. One, everyone has a cause. Two, everyone just wants to be heard. In a democracy constitutional republic, if you want to represent, you must also listen, and yet, it is the hardest thing in the world to actually do.

Think about your own life–social media and the twenty-four news cycle has generated so much talking that it has become background noise. When I see CNN or Fox News on the screen in a bar, the volume is turned down, and I might barely read the captioning… but I see the headlines. The news agencies have realized that. They need to get your attention first, and then, pump out content going to keep your attention on the screen. Hence the public discourse has moved to the extremes, to either get you interested or outraged.

If you read this blog, you know that I fall right of center… or at least, I used to. By modern standards, I’m an arch-conservative. But what I’m grateful for is that you bother to read these words. You bother to “listen.” Now that doesn’t seem like much to ask, but ask yourself, whom in your own family do you actually listen to?

Take my own–my wife tunes me out when talking about my writing projects, I tune her out when talking about her research. When my son hit superheroes, I just patiently wait, and when my daughter mentions her friends at school, I just wait as well. At extended family dinners, there was one uncle that you never talked religion around (kinda difficult with two ministers in the family), because frankly, that’s ALL he wanted to talk about.

So when I ran for office, I would run into the person who was passionate about gun rights, then next minute, the person who was fired up about abortion. After that, I would run into the person who wanted to repeal half the amendments to the constitution. Who do you actually listen to?

This last year, with people unable to listen to each other, they’ve become angrier than ever. Some even go out into the streets. When I’ve gone to a march or a rally in the past, what I’ve learned is that everyone is there for very different reasons. When I write my congressman, I get a form letter back, and I do not feel respected. Then again, he represents hundreds of thousands of people. When I wrote my state reps, I was pleasantly surprised that I got a personal letter back–he disagreed with me, but he was very polite, and I appreciated the effort.

Even with folks I would mark “crazy,” you can sometimes get something out of it. “Repeal half the Constitution” guy changed my mind on the popular election of senators (17th Amendment). In case you’re curious, short version: the people should be represented by the House, states (by their legislatures) in the Senate. However, I marked the guy as “crazy” from the beginning, so it was so much easier to tune him out.

My wife’s pet peeve is not being listened to, and so in a world that progressively doesn’t listen, she’s pissed off a lot more often. My own boss has “yelled” at me to slow down, not just immediately answer/correct a problem a client has to get it off my plate, and research what the real trouble is. (Usually because I screw it up worse when I fix it quickly.) When we’re told to “work hard, play hard,” slowing down to actually listen to someone and do it right is the hardest of all. When we slow down, you might be surprised what you learn.

Of course, what you might learn is that “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.” Or that, “Gee, maybe I shouldn’t talk religion around my uncle.” Is it worth listening to everyone? How do you determine when you tune someone out or not? Let me know in the comments below! If you still like “listening” to my voice, check our my books. However, if $1.99 is too rich for your blood, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. But thank you for reading either way; it’s good to be heard.

Lines and Veils

16 Dec

I recently came across someone outlining the rules of a game and doing something rather odd. He asked his group “what actions are off-limits?” At first, I dismissed this as overly touchy and sensitive, but the more he talked, the more he made sense.

The game is Vampire: The Masquerade (5th Edition), which I last played in college under the first edition, so I didn’t even know that they made four more since then. This was also called a “session zero,” which again, is another term I never heard before. That’s a way to explain the game to a group of people who have never played it, which I have participated in before, but never heard the term.

I was watching Dice Friends, which is a recording of folks playing an RPG up in Victoria, British Columbia. Their group–Loading Ready Run–is a brilliant group of internet comedians that I’ve followed for years. So to have them play an RPG is great to watch. However, they are UBER-liberal, so to hear them talking about lines and veils immediately struck me with the same disdain I have for “what are your pronouns” (which are on their Twitter feeds) and putting “x” at the words to make them gender-neutral.

However, I gave it a listen, and the more they talked, the more the concept made sense. I play Dungeons and Dragons regularly, so this issue doesn’t come up very much. You know what you’re getting into with DnD–you’re going to weapon-up and kill monsters. This is the way. If you have a problem with that, this is not the game for you. On the other hand, when my son (13) runs a game, he likes to be overly descriptive when it comes to finishing off a creature, and his sister (10) really doesn’t like that. That’s her “line,” and given enough “Asher! Stop!” he eventually listens.

When you’re dealing with a horror game, what you’re in for is… not exactly clear. If you’re used to DnD, you’d be surprised just how different another RPG is. Vampire does have combat, but it also has negotiation, mind control, sex… and that gets into some oogie areas. What if you’re a vampire who only feeds on dogs? The most blood thirsty barbarian player in DnD may be iffy about gory details about killing dogs.

So lines made sense, but some things are part of the game, like drinking blood. You’re a vampire. You can’t get around the fact that you suck blood from someone. So if you have trouble with this, you create “veils:” this where you just say, “Okay, you do that.” No description, just move on.

The more I heard about this, the more I liked it. Just tell your players, “If at any point, you don’t like what I’m talking about, just say, ‘Stop. That’s a line for me,’ and I stop.” I don’t have to go into as much explanation as this particular GM did, but then again, I’m not playing an RPG that people haven’t played in before. This may or may not work in everyday conversations, depending how comfortable you are with that person, but it’s good in this context.

How does making your lines in conversation/gaming work for you? Is this a new concept for you? Is this a bunch of touchy/feely clap trap? Let me know in the comments below!

Distracted Posting

30 Nov

I know I’m a great listener–it’s one of my gifts. This has the downside of getting sucked into conversations that I don’t want to get into. I honestly enjoy talking to people, but sometimes, I can’t get off a subject that my fellow is really passionate about.

While I’m trying to write this post, my wife is trying to tell me about the latest COVID news. I couldn’t care less. However, she doesn’t have anyone else she can tell about this without kicking off an argument online. So I’m in a no-win scenario where I have to listen while I’m trying to accomplish something else.

I’ve been recently reading a non-fiction book about Chabad, which for those not in the know, are missionary Jews… to other Jews. They get trained at an early age how to do outreach, how to talk to strangers and get them in a conversation, and some do it better than others. However, it was a quote to the opposition to Chabad that struck me the most. To paraphrase, “Our mission is to be inclusive. We can’t use the same tricks as them.”

So when I get in a conversation, I don’t like arguments. I don’t find that enjoyable, so when I talk with people, I will often stay silent when they talk about something that I disagree with… until I come up with a polite way to phrase it. Of course, they might have blown past that point and gone onto bloviating past that.

Of course, I’ve run into the problem that I so often mute myself on so many topics to avoid contention, that I honestly stopped caring about most topics… simply because so many people are so passionate about it. However, when I do get into the rare, civilized discussion, I feel I can enjoy discussing these topics that I have opinions on, but I don’t feel I have to rant about.

Am I alone in this? Do you stand mute simply because everyone else is so loud? Or do I just need to suck it up? Let me know in the comments below!

Without Civility, There is no Civilization

15 Aug

As I’m heading home, returning to the Midwest reminds me that without civility there is no civilization. The politeness you project to the people you meet is essential to living in harmony, regardless of how fake it is.

Chatting with a waitress is probably the easiest example of this. Last night, I went out with friends and simply asked about her necklace. It was a triquetra, a simple three ovals interconnected together, which was an old symbol of the Trinity. She wore it because she liked the TV show Charmed.

Now I watched the show, it was… Okay. I enjoyed it in TNT when I was waiting for the show I really wanted to see to come on. Did I tell the waitress any of this? Hell no. I asked the question, she answered it, it’s not her fault I didn’t like the show as much as her.

When the three kids were riding their bicycles in the middle of a major road and would not move over, I could have got really close and freaked them out to teach them to be safe… But I’m not an a-hole. Even when they passed me and jeered at me, I didn’t get the clutch and chase after them to prove that 2 tons beats one hundred pounds every time.

Because in the end, they’re either going to grow out of it or grow into big a-holes and the lesson would be wasted. Which is why one of my Maxim’s comes from Winston Churchill, “When you have to hang a man, it costs you nothing to be polite.”

Do you agree? Do some people need to be yelled at or do you bend to the side of civility? Let me know in the comments below!

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