| Move it Along |

Everybody hurts.

Everybody gets hurt.

One hurt does not mean that you stop progressing, but it sometimes leads people to move to actions that will keep them from feeling that same hurt again and again.

inspirational quote

I saw this quote online earlier, and it registered with me pretty deeply.

The older that I get, the more I understand that life isn’t so much about what happens to you, but how you react to the things that happen to you. The power is then, checking how you react to something, and how you learn from it/move forward from it. It sounds like it’d be a simple thing, but I’m really checking myself lately on how this works out in real life.  There’s that old cliche about lemons being given and lemonade being made.

Seriously though, I think there is something to be said about the fact that we try to come up with coping mechanisms for things, and those coping mechanisms work for a season or two in our lives, but there is a point after which, these things become nothing more than a crutch for behavior(s) that we’ve become accustomed to and are too comfortable with to manage in any other way.

I am not the king of the silly self-imposed rule, but I am somewhere in the high court of the silly self-imposed rule kingdom. Of course, some of these rules that I follow are not silly, and some of them just need to be re-examined as relics of a previous iteration of myself that could be given a makeover. One example of such a thing is my “No dancing in public” rule. At one time in my life, this was actually a requirement of me, as a member of a Christian fraternity, but I have clung to such things because it keeps me from making a fool of myself in front of people in dancing situations.(I’m not a horrible dancer, but not all of us are MJ ok?) I’m sure there’s not that much wrong with cutting a rug in public (I’m actually told that it’s fun), but it’s something that I haven’t wanted to let go. I fear that the time for the death of that rule is upon me, based on a semi-recent conversation I had with Iona and Helene… (Yup, I just called y’all out in a blog!)

The face of the: “don’t hold yourself back so much” movement, for me, has been my friend Laura. She really pushes me to just question the motives behind my actions (or non-actions), and encourages me to rage against that machine.  (I think I just became a robot in my mind? Not quite sure on that one.) I have appreciated being able to take a step back sometimes, and really think about where some of these things come from, and how they can affect my current or future happiness, without any real reason or logic.

The fun thing is to now see how many of those rules, when destroyed, invite others to get to know me in ways that they might not have previously. This can be a tool for infinitely more true connections with others, or deepening existing connections with people. This, being the 11th anniversary of my 21st birthday, seems like a really good time to try out something new.

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| Worst Behavior! |

I am an idea man.

There. I said it.

Some dudes aspire to be movers and shakers. Some dudes aspire to be point men, and they want to have a hand in all of the endeavors that they can manage. Me? I like to think. I like to think, and I like fleshing out ideas. However, I tend to think that ideas are not the sexiest thing in the world (cause I’m an expert on sexy, obviously). If you really think about it though, ideas are what keep things going! Just think, if no one ever thought about being luxuriously comfy/warm all the time, we’d never have such classics as the snuggy! Who wants to think of a world without a snuggy? Is this a fair question to be asked from someone who has never worn a snuggy?

Hi. I’m tired. Whoops, what a way to introduce myself. Actually, my name is Justin *takes bow*. I’m silly, I’m dorky, (sometimes funny) but, I am also an INFP. (What did you just call me?!) There are lots of convoluted definitions as to what this really means, so I’m just going to go with the breakdown as I understand it:

Introvert – This means that I can get away with not wanting to deal with small talk, big group settings, and helps to illustrate my occasional social awkwardness to people. I get my energy from being alone, and I operate well within the confines of one-on-one hanging out. However, this also means that I’m really good with speaking in front of people, because I can disconnect myself from an audience (this can come in handy sometimes).

iNtuitive – This means that I can judge stuff, because that’s how I gain information from it. I also base my actions/ideas on past dealings and experiences. This can keep me safe, it can also keep me unnecessarily guarded in things.

Feeling – I’m just a big sap. There’s no shame to that (right)? I’m a lover, not a fighter, and supposedly, I’m good at picking up what you’re putting down (If you feel me 😉 ).

Perceiving – I’m supposed to be really observant about things (usually, I’m just blankly staring into space, but i’ll take it). It also means that if you invite me to something, you might want to tell me to get there 15-20 minutes before you really want to start. This is the best way to get me to be on time for things. I am not a jerk, I just feel like I have ALL THE TIME for EVERYTHING, EVER (it’s a wonder I’m not more tired than I am).

I often find myself setting rather lofty (or maybe not so lofty) goals in life. At the beginning of the year, I told myself that I would take one photo a day, for the entirety of a year. I also told myself that I would be getting to the gym at least 3 times a week. Now, based on the proximity to New Year’s day, I could understand if you just wrote these things off simply as resolutions for the coming year. However, as the dork that I am, I considered these to be full-time life changes. The fact that I did not make it past 2 months on the gym thing, and 111 days on the photo project should not reinforce your aforementioned judgement on my short term life changes (thank you very much, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Mc Judgerson!). This type of thing is normal for me, really. I get all big and excited about something, and then get distracted by another big, shiny idea in short order.

Now then, onto the reasons that I love the fall. DAMMIT Justin, STAY FOCUSED.

drakeAs I sat and pondered things up to this point, I remembered that there was one thing that I set out to do this year that I was able to follow through on! Thanks to Drake, I had a mantra set for myself for 2014: WORST BEHAVIOR! This was going to be the year that I spent some time really trying to get away from doing things the way that I usually did, up to this point. It was supposed to inspire me to get out in the world and start really just jumping on opportunities and taking chances in ways that I was not used to. I wanted to shake things up, why not? What was holding me back from any of that? The interesting thing is that without even knowing, I was able to do just that (oh, such the cliché).

As corny as this might seem. I totally got started on the road of the idea of Worst Behavior, thanks to an experience that I had around a young lady that I fancied right at the end of the 2013. I said nothing to her about any interest in her, and she up and got a boyfriend (NOT me, of course)! Which was awesome for her, but made me realize that I needed to start making some opportunities for myself, and acting on them. Life throws out some great situations for us, but if we’re too busy chasing after the wrong thing, or hesitating on everything, stuff really just passes you by. I didn’t want to be on the fly-by list anymore.

Right from the beginning of the year, my idea was that I should start saying yes to a lot of things, and stop saying no to a lot of things. I remember that I was meeting up with my accountability group (yup, this post is about to get REAL Christian, Ya’ll!) and they were asking me about when I’d stop saying no to church, and try going to a small group or something. It was high time that I was getting involved again with things. I started pondering what that looked like. Up to that point, I had not regularly been attending church for at least a good year, and the church that i’d left, did not feel like a place that I was totally comfortable with. The people that were there were good folk, and a lot of them were awesome, but I just never really fit in completely (first world church problems). I went a couple of times and thought that it might be time to check out a new place.

I landed at a church called Re:generation. I had been there a couple of times, and remembered that some people that I had known (in what feels now like a past life), had attended. I thought that I would give it a good college try. I checked things out around early April, and decided to stick with things after Easter. Of course, I wasn’t just throwing myself out there yet, but I did end up meeting some cool people, and decided to jump into a home group, to check things out. Of course, I was shy, and didn’t know what to expect, but I found a group of people who were excited about life, and about pursuing Jesus together. I got hooked up with Late Night (Shout Out the the Late Night Crew!).

Also, a college friend, Erin found me after church one time, and mentioned that I should play cajon at church (Just in case you’re interested, a cajon is a wood box that is kinda like an acoustic drum). I found out that there was a monthly Jam Session at church, and decided to jump in one week and see what things were like. This turned into me having a quick convo with a gal by the name of Jane, who just happened to be the worship leader. She thought that it would be a good call for me to start playing with the worship team on some Sundays. Again, this being a “yes year”, I told her that I would jump in. It was pretty awkward at first, but after a couple of Sundays, I felt like I was able to play in front of the congregation with some confidence. It was awesome, as it opened up conversations with people at church that I don’t think I would’ve had if left to my own devices.

One of the most interesting things that I found was that I could be real with people at home group. This was completely different than I had been accustomed to in the past few years. People were struggling with real stuff and they were willing to open up about it and challenge each other on things. This was quite refreshing, and led me to want to invest more deeply with the people in the home group. My roommate Wayne has even began to see people regularly at my house as I decided to open my place up to hosting the home group. It’s kinda awesome, cause it makes me feel like an important part of the group, but also gave me access to having some conversations with people that I would not have had before… Including this really amazing woman that I met through the church… However, that’s a different and awesome story, in itself.

I randomly sat down earlier this evening and thought about how I hadn’t followed through with a bunch of things that I wanted to do this year (I am working hard to still hit my goal of getting 30 books read by the end of the year), and realized that I actually came really far with the simple idea of changing things up, and being open to new possibilities that were showing themselves around me. WORST BEHAVIOR for me, meant me getting out of my head a bit, and out of my comfort zone even more. The year isn’t even quite done, and I have a lot of exciting things on the way… It’s good to be able to recognize that, and I’m grateful for what 2014 has had for me.

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| What’s Going On (with me)?!? |

It has been said somewhere, that I have a blog, and that it’s actually an interesting read. I have yet to see any evidence of this supposed blog, however. Furthermore, if I was a successful blogger, you would think I’d update it on a somewhat-regularly-more-frequent-than-a-yearly basis (Yes, a lot of hyphenating, but for what?).

The point being, I get lazy a lot. I forget that I have this as a basis for communicating ideas, but I generally flock towards the quick bursts of expression a la twitter or facebook. HOWEVER! I have something to say (Deal with it… Or not.)

A lot of noise has been made regarding the situation that has been unraveling in front of the nation, in Ferguson. I think, rightfully so. There needs to be attention to the growing issue of young men being subjected to any kind of injustice at the hands of those people who are in charge. Although, the direction of my rant is less about the specifics of this situation.

I am ashamed. 

I am ashamed and disappointed, if I am going to be frank. I am upset at myself. I’m upset because I feel numb to things. 

What about my experiences in life has made me to be so numb about the things that are affecting people in the national community of African Americans, and in more specifics, the local happenings in a city that is known for violent encounters and radical thought?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I currently live in Oakland, California. Like many young African American men, I have had my share of racism to deal with. I have experience with some police silliness. For example, towards the end of my college career, I was pulled over as a passenger in a car. I’d never thought that it was possible, but I found myself having to explain myself to an office from the passenger window, of a car that was being driven by a white friend of mine. It was a pretty ridiculous experience. As a resident of Oakland, I have heard gunshots right outside my window, and have woken up to hear about a homicide on the news, and have police cars sweeping my neighborhood as a result of the previous night’s actions. Disconcerting situations, and I know that there are lots of people who are out there like me, who have had similar experiences. I moved over to Oakland, and the Fruitvale district right after the shooting of Oscar Grant. That was an incident that shook the neighborhood, and was definitely my introduction to the Oakland area/stories of how police (even BART police) deal with people. I guess hearing about violent incidents and constantly being barraged by news that is similar to that did wear me down. 

A couple of months ago, there was a campaign on Twitter/Facebook about Women’s struggles against sexism and harassment, the #yesallwomen hashtag was popular and people were all about sharing their stories of both situations that they suffer through everyday. I liken my experience (probably poorly) to that of any woman that has been catcalled or whistled at while walking down the street. It seems to become something that can be ignored in lesser cases, but really shouldn’t have to be. I think that it’s something women develop a thick skin around it though, because it could be too much to deal with, as the frequency of these offenses can be something that happens daily. It changes the way you think and act, but I also feel like it deadens the world for people a little bit. Whether that turns into just keeping headphones in, to not give attention to harassment, or just turning a blind eye to the perpetrators, to not give them any satisfaction. I think that trying to distance myself from the injustices that I saw, or heard about, were ways that I tried to minimize the hurt of them and their existence. 

I also think about how things were for my parents/grandparents! As a race, the pain of fighting towards recognition and equality is not that far off. Both of my parents were alive (albeit, young) during things like the civil rights movement. The stain of injustice is still a fresh one, even though people of the generation that my sister and I belong to, have had nothing but the benefits of those fights. I feel called out, by what I think my grandparents would think of such an attitude towards the injustice that is set up systemically for minorities in general. I am letting people down, who had to live through some of the things that I have only experienced through a textbook experience in high school/college African American studies classes. All of the extraordinary struggles and triumphs that were experienced were not centuries ago. They happened very recently, and I feel like I should endeavor to have an active interest/voice my opinions based solely on the fact that my ancestors gave their lives, to make sure that these were things that we did not have to struggle against in the same ways that they did. 

Lastly, I feel like my Christian faith calls me to investigate these types of situations in love. I have double feelings about how that is played out when it comes to situations like what is going on in Ferguson. I think that there should be discussions about how this affects things in our world. How do we explore God’s love in an experience like this, and reflect some of that in how we deal with each other in our cities/homes? On the other hand, for me personally, I have generally been one of a handful of people of color within my church groups/homes. This usually reserves me to being either the “token” or “angry” black male role (neither of which are comfortable for me on a continual basis) when it comes time to bring up things like this. So for me, I think that letting that get in the way of trying to provide an example of the way that I think my Christian side should engage with things. I should speak up louder, and I should speak up quicker with regards to any of these things. Although, I do think that it was great to see that people in my new small group were definitely willing to attack the subject by getting involved in conversations in reaction to what is being seen on TV. I’m only sorry that I was not there to hear their perspectives, but I will and have started engaging people in these convos. 

Thankfully, I have time to rectify this! I don’t have to be ashamed,  I don’t have to sit and stifle my voice, and I don’t have to try to and distance myself from the pain of seeing injustice in the greater world around me. Part of that starts with me acknowledging the feelings that are brought up, instead of trying to stuff them in. I have always heard that revolutions start with one person. Me keeping my mouth closed keeps a revolution from starting. 

|Turning it around|

It’s a lovely summer day. 9 year old Justin is at a daycare/camp and is sitting on the ground enjoying Chip n’ Dale’s rescue rangers. Disney Afternoon is one of his favorite mid afternoon entertainment options. Things are good. It’s not too warm, it’s not too cool, and the afternoon snack was almost on it’s way. What a living right? When out of nowhere, a fellow daycamper reaches out and caresses him on the cheek. It was a little strange, but it seemed like a nice gesture. Who doesn’t like to be touched right? The girl didn’t seem mean, so it was just taken as a nice gesture. A good afternoon indeed… Until a friend looks at Justin and points at him then starts laughing. What the heck!? The little boy asks what was on his face. Confused, Justin runs to a restroom and examines his face, only to find that there was a large booger on the side of his face. “Why would someone do something like that?” Why would someone decide that I was the one who should be on the receiving end of that?”

That was the day that 9 year old Justin decided that people were either plain cruel, or that there was something that was not good enough about him that made people want to do stupid stuff like that to him. It didn’t just happen in that daycare/camp. Stuff like that happened at school too, and this one of the last straws. 

During a break from an intense nerding session a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting and conversing with one of my favorite people, my friend Laura. We spoke a bit about friendships and how they are important. They can be life giving and affirming. I began to speak about a trend that I have had in my life, where I make these friendships that are mostly one sided. I loved being able to be a person that someone came to for advice, and to just hear people out about their problems, but it was never an action that was reciprocated. Not that I met a bunch of jerky people who didn’t care, but I would just close out any tough issues or problems that I was experiencing from people. It was better, in my head, to be that someone who would be there for anyone, than to have to rely on other people for help or guidance (which becomes a real problem, when you don’t want to take your own advice… As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog entry.) This, coupled with my usual tendency to try and be a bridger of people lead me to flutter between friends groups without a lot of big effort. People always have problems, and usually like to talk things out, which gave me the perfect opportunity to be useful, and never have to divulge too much…

Although, I realized that I was definitely lacking the type of friendships that would be life-giving. I was spending so much time trying to protect myself that I gave no opportunities for anyone to help, and I began to really believe that it was just because people didn’t care to invest in me (the human mind can be a crazy dangerous thing, if you’re not careful). The way that I justified this behavior was to push through and convince myself that it was always the safest thing to not divulge too much to any one specific person, because it would just come back to me later and bite me. What wasn’t always apparent to me (thank you Laura), was the fact that this hardness was one of the ways that I was giving signs of rejection to lots of people. It was not just me being scared and protecting myself, it was a way of me saying: “I want to be important enough to you for you to confide in me, but you are not good enough to be that person for me.” I definitely developed a deep attitude of: “I got me. I got you (if you need), but me first. 

Honestly, I saw that this approach to things really tired me out. I was wiped after doing any kind of ministry work, or just gathering with friends. It got to the point that I would not be willing to seek out any normal activities. I just wanted to always be in a place that was relatively familiar, with little to no work for me to have to do in terms of getting to know people or making new friends. After 4 years of this feeling, I see that I need to reverse the trend.

Me putting myself out there with people is not something that shows me to be weak. It actually is a show of strength that I can be willing to go out to someone and let them invest in me just as I can invest in them. I might end up with a booger on my face, but going through things like that will only serve  for me to be much more effective in discerning who is worth putting time into, and really appreciating the people who I have had the chance to set up those mutually respectful relationships with. That is the new challenge for me. I need to go out and get my hands dirty with people. This could be a crazy thing to go for, or it could be one of those experiences where I realize that one of the things that makes living life magnificent instead of tolerable is giving of myself by actually sharing myself with people. 

If you read my blog, and I know you in real life, let’s set up some time to converse about things! Chances are, I have been MIA and probably hard to get a hold of. I am sorry for pushing you away, or declining to attend your events. I’m working on getting back to my A game 🙂

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|Break the Mold…|

You already ARE the standard… What are you TRYING to fit into a standard for? We were each created to be INDIVIDUAL standards, and we’re trying to fit into A standard. IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.

-Lauryn Hill

People spend so much of their time trying to live up to the perception of success that they see in others. 

  1. I see someone who seems particularly interesting (or maybe a friend of mine whom I admire for any plethora of reasons).
  2. I break down the things that I like about that person.
  3. I compare my habits/traits to the ones that I notice about them.
  4. I try to change some of my habits/traits to fit in more like them.
  5. I get sad because I see where I fall short/try to hard and miss.

This is a random, ridiculous, and damaging pattern to follow. Unfortunately, I have been privy to this pattern of thought many times. If I have a particularly “unsuccessful” social interaction, or maybe just a one-on-one that I think could’ve happened better, I tend to think about “how would <insert name here> have handled that?” Maybe they would’ve been a lot more smooth, or easily more charming, without stumbling over their words. Maybe they would have completely turned their situation around to work for them. I know a lot of awkward people that make awkward work for them ;). It doesn’t always seem to work the same way for me when I try it out, then I’m either back to square one, or deciding that I need to give things a break for a while. 

This is crazy right? How could I spend so much time flat out rejecting the very essence of what makes me, me!? That is what I’m doing every time I jump into this pattern of thinking. I am literally sitting myself down and telling myself: “You are not good enough. This thing that you have an issue with, there are many specific examples of people who do this better than you do. Learn from them!” When I type this out, it doesn’t even sound right. However, this is exactly what I subject myself to. The problem with this is that it usually ends up with me stifling myself in some way, in order to simply reflect and imitate what I’ve seen from someone else. It becomes incredibly difficult to find yourself when you’re just mirroring the “cool” stuff that you think you see in everyone else all the time. What happens when the mirror gets cloudy/breaks/loses its main subject? Everything gets lost and you have to search for a new one. 

The funny thing is that there is nothing wrong with being myself or being different. It is without a doubt the best thing about humanity. We all have similar desires and needs, but the way that we attack them, or run from them. The way that we experience things makes us all so interesting and different from each other. I would not want a friends’ circle that was full of people that were exactly like me. That would be REALLY stale after a while. I lived for a long time with the idea that I had to have something special about myself that served to highlight me. I could be the funny guy, or the really insightful guy, or just the great listener. I was under the impression that this was how I was able to differentiate myself from people. However, this constantly falls flat, because I tend to just try to more exaggeratedly emphasize these things that I see in the people around me.  The very interesting thing is that we all kinda do this same thing. I’ve noticed that we are all performers. We work really hard to make sure that we present ourselves in a certain way, a certain light. This is how we craft the personas that people see. Everyone falls for a perception of someone that they meet. A lot of time, there’s no way to bring light to the struggles that all have behind the scenes. Why would we want that to happen? If people knew what kind of crap we were dealing with, they’d judge us, right? They’d probably see all the crap that we’ve put ourselves through and just walk away. Maybe this is just me though.

Earlier this year, I had a thought. I somehow came to the realization that I was holding back my group of friends. I was always the one who was over thinking things. I seemed to be the one who always had some kind of conflict with people. I wasn’t as happy as the others seemed with their lives, even though I was following what I saw them doing and thought that it would work for me. Once I realized this, I knew that something needed to change. My approach to this, however, was to try to separate myself from this group of friends, while I figured things out. My thought was that I could clear my head of trying this emulation cycle, if I cleared things out of my way. The crazy part was that my friends all believed in the good stuff that I brought to the circle. ME! MY CONTRIBUTIONS! They were not seeing things the same way I was. They were able to see the me that I wasn’t allowing myself to see. All the difference that I thought needed to be hidden, was the stuff that they appreciated from me the most. Weird right? I thought to myself, perhaps I was doing an even better job with this performing than I thought.  WRONG!

This really funny thing happens when you’re open with people. Little pieces of you show through your perfectly presented facade. So while i’ve been spending all my time focusing on what I thought I should be presenting to people, folks were able to see little pieces of me that were behind all the smoke and mirrors. Contrary to what I always thought, there was no need for me to develop a schtick or anything like that! The real me is just as interesting and engaging (most of the time), and most importantly, IS ENOUGH. 

2 lessons to remember and take away from this. Being me is good! Diving into that more is a great idea, and being open about it is going to progress me. The other is that I need to really need to stop hiding from people, because I think that I am not bringing enough to the table. That is this week’s challenge. Push myself to just be me, and allow myself to be comfortable enough with that to let people see it. 

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| It Begins… |

I’m going to be undertaking a project. I want to try letting go of some of the things that hold me back in life. You might be wondering why I will be doing this in blog form. Welp. I just feel like it’s something that might be helpful. I’m going to be talking about some of my fears/holdups/and issues. This is not just a chance for me to rant about where I think I’m falling short. I want to also challenge myself to do things that I never thought I could. Do things differently than I think it’s possible to. This is the beginning.

Self Fulfilling Prophecies

It is widely said that if you can believe it, you can achieve it. This is constantly used to encourage people to dream big. When I was younger, it meant that there was nothing outside of my grasp. I just had to work hard towards a vision that I had, and that vision would become real. I could grow up and be an astronaut, or a president, or a doctor! I could make a program that would become the world’s next Google, or Yahoo! All it takes is positive thinking. That’s what I was always told.

The thing that is not always explained to us, is that this also works in the opposite direction. The negative things that we think can also come to fruition. If we think that we cannot do something, then we simply won’t. It isn’t because you are not worthy of having anything good. Sometimes, things don’t go your way because you don’t believe that they can.

Sometimes I think about things negatively. Sometimes I don’t believe that things are as normal/pure as they can be. Thinking about things negatively can set up a powerful cycle of disappointment. A lot of times, this looks like something I could’ve predicted, and I’m correct (kinda). I’m not clairvoyant. I do take an active part in making things happen.

I have always had a bit of a feeling that I have the propensity for being invisible. I have lived a lot of my life with the assumption that people aren’t watching me, or paying attention to anything that I’m doing. Not because I’m doing anything specifically wrong or crazy, just that there are more exciting things going on in people’s lives. In my head, I even believe that there are better things that my friends could be doing, than hanging out with or worrying about me. The truth is, I am consistently surprised and amazed at the fact that people actually do pay attention to me. Even though my mind might tell me that this is not the case. One of my biggest dreams has always been to make an impact with people. I want to be a good influence on anyone that I come into contact with.

I’ve been the one that’s been holding myself back. Every time I decline an invitation to hang out with someone, or decide to not be social, I’m making myself invisible. I take myself out of situations where I could be beneficial. That could just be me being present for some things. Every time that I choose myself over other people, I distance myself and make it harder for people to see me. Literally. I hide under the guise of introversion. I am an introvert, but the extent to which I live that out is not that of someone who wants to get past it, but someone who has wanted to hide within it. Someone who has wanted to use it as a crutch.

The first challenge for myself, is to get back into being social. Doing things with people is the first step to regaining some vulnerability. Vulnerability is what will push me forward towards my dream of just being involved with, and influencing people. I need to push towards renouncing introversion. People aren’t all out to hurt/betray me. Time to step out and start having some trust.

It begins…

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|what the dealio?|

*blows into the mike*

is this thing on? *ahem*

1, 2… 1, 2…

Here goes…

Is there any particular reason why advice is such a two faced… umm… itchbay?

Perhaps I have grand delusions about this whole idea. I (as a human with many peculiar flaws) tend to get too wrapped up, with the whole thinking deal. As far as I know, this is supposed to be kinda natural. Whenever I can’t get out of my head, I turn to treasured friends for advice. Now, usually, this is the stuff of legends. Their advice is to me like spinach was to popeye! It spurns me on with the power to take on the world!

I like to think that I am able to sometimes dispense some of the same for my friends. They have an issue that they’ve been stuck on, and I try to dole out some “spinach” for them (Weak play, but bear with me, I’m getting to something). Now, because of my lovely advice (or perhaps in spite of it) people continue to be awesome at their lives.

The thing that perplexes me, is why the same logical bit of genius thought that can spew forth from me for a treasured friend, sounds like preposterous blabbering of a ridiculous madman?
*self-conscious slow blink*

Anyways, I wonder why it is that we allow ourselves to be the ones who are willing to give advice, but cannot be bothered to take the advice that we’d happily give, when we’re in need of it. It’s not like we don’t know any better either. For example, if I knew of a friend who was dieting, I’d definitely encourage them to not have an extra slice of cake, but when it is me who is staring down a sinfully delicious dessert, I cannot help but scarf it down (It’s like it was calling out to me, and I could think of nothing further than it’s sweetness dissolving on my tongue, damn you cake!)

The interesting thing is that a lot of the time, it just takes that one little nudge from someone for us to get over ourselves altogether. Even though it might be the same thing that we were thinking ourselves, it just seems much more plausible if it was coming from the mouth of someone else (especially if they were blessed with a British or Australian accent. AMIRIGHT?!?)
By this logic, and my show of temporary insanity, who in their right mind would take advice from me?! I can’t even stomach my own wisdom. This seems logical to me, until I think about how I feel when someone does not take my advice, and something goes wrong. My first thought is not about how I could possibly write so ridiculously in the form of blog prose, but how could someone dismiss my hard thought nuggets of amazing wisdom?!

Ugh. The nerve.

Usually the gut reactions are the best ones because they’re unfiltered. The filtering is a way that we try to keep ourselves safe, or without blame for the decisions that we make (or have to make). This is something that I have to try to get better at! I know that I have good ideas, I just need some help to realize this? It’s all so confusing. I wish that someone would tell me to just listen to myself.

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Who flipped the switch on me?


What is the meaning of this? Everything is different and weird! What happened to the good ol’ days? I swear, the last time that I told Doc Brown I’d help him, I just had a headache. Now I’m stuck in an unfamiliar time! How do I get back to a time where things make sense, and gas was less than a dollar a gallon? How am I supposed to fill up this DeLorean?!

Hmm, perhaps I should calm down just a bit. I’m probably doing that thing that I was advised against (allowing my imagination to get away from me).  I won’t tell my doctor if you don’t… Deal? Good. Thanks, you’re the best… Music 1

I’ve hit the age of 30 (despite my best chances to hurt myself through interesting shenanigans). I have entered that time in life where it’s fun to just go back in time and reminisce about days past. I seem to remember that music was much better back in my day (am I already subject to THAT phrase being a true identification device? I feel so old.) I have neglected to voluntarily listen to the radio for the past 3 years. What have I missed? Apparently, not that much. I hear so much shade being thrown at artists, because they do not fit the mold of what someone holds “real music” to be. Apparently while I was sleeping, someone performed a procedure on me that turned me into my parents. I would rather hold on to the music of my generation, than try to stay invested in the trends/groups of today (Sorry namesake Beiber, I just can’t). But hey, isn’t that what that iPod is for? I can stay oblivious to these things and keep the rest of the outside world blissfully ignorant of the fact that I’m grooving to glee (yup, no shame there).

All forthcoming jokes about glee aside, I think that there are some people making good strides towards great music. If you’ve ever met me, you know of my (potentially) unhealthy obsession with Sara Bareilles. I’m a hardcore fan of 90s r&b and hip hop, but I have also been trying to expand my narrow musical horizons. I have latched onto Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor, in addition to checking out The Black Keys. By listing these people, I have some how proven myself to be open to things ;). My biggest fear is being sucked into familiarity within music, and not being able to give anyone new a chance, as I fear that they “don’t make music like they used to”. This is true, some people are definitely trying to push the envelope. Just gotta give them a chance…

| Forever Alone |

There’s a funny thing that I’m noticing is happening more and more lately. I’m hearing a lot of people go around and claim how they are destined to be “forever alone” 


It’s the new craze to make sure that people know that you are single (and not going to mingle). Why this is a popular craze, I could not answer. For me, this falls somewhere between the infamous duckface and the famously stupid forever lazy

I think the thing that makes me so upset with these things is that the people who are claiming this  (whether serious or not) are people who are definitely not deserving of the title. For example, I have a co-worker who always declares that she is forever alone. She’s been in a committed relationship for quite a while and at least for right now, it looks like it will end in some kind of marriage (the current rumor is that I will be invited to this thing if it happens).

There are some single people who are reppin’ team #foreveralone. I feel like a lot of these people are just looking for a bit of attention… If there is anything that I learned from 37 viewings of the original Matrix movie (shut up, I have lots of time on my hands), it was that “humans define their existence through suffering.” I see this as nothing but a roll call for the other single people in a given area. Why they’d want to identify each other is simple… The best looking person who is also in the single boat can surely get a holla or two (right?). I more see this happen on facebook and twitter as declarations where people can comment or retweet in solidarity. Of course, I’m guilty of having retweeted something like this as recently as last night… 

In general, I’m finding that this is coming from attractive young ladies and handsome gents. This further goes to blow my mind, because most of the people who are exclaiming inclusion in this club have no real reason that they’d be single. I mean, everyone has a story, but c’mon, son! You have awesome eyes and a six pack. Who’s really turning you down for dates? 

I guess I’m more thinking that the people who are truly forever alone are not going out and declaring it to all. Think about it… If you were some unfortunate style beowulf lookin’ character, would you really be reveling in the fact that you are sad and lonely? That’s not something that I would want to be exposing to the rest of the general population. If there are people following me that I know in real life, I wouldn’t want to exclaim that, for fear of being exposed. I know for sure that I have the type of friends who are jerky enough to point out the reasons for my dating solitude. Who wants to hear that they’re single because they have unmanageable dandruff? I don’t need the world to know that I have tea parties with my cats sometimes (all my friends are often busy, ok!). I feel like this is not territory that the people who really are forever alone are willing to venture into. If I were to play devil’s advocate though, I guess it could be argued that the people who are really possessing this title are not equipped with friends good enough to even embarrassingly expose them for their flaws and exploit their insecurities (I’ll show you all, someday). 

This is all an elaborate ploy to make sure that maybe single people are represented and identified for some good ol’ human interaction. Who knows… Just a thought.

Damn you pretty peoples!

To My 16 Year Old Self

Sometimes, I think: “If only I knew some of what I know now, way back when”

So, inspired by this ramble I thought that I would make a list of a couple of notes for 16 year old Justin (isn’t he cute?)

  1. Strange isn’t really that bad…
I know this sounds stupid, but in about 10 years or so,
EVERYONE is going to want to be stand out. Actually, there’s
going to be these people called hipsters who want to be the
strangest/most original people out there. They’re kinda infecting
the planet.

  2. Fear is for the pansies!
Stop being afraid of everything! Lots of really cool things exist
outside of what you’re comfortable with. Lots of great people do
things that you’d never imagine yourself trying out. Feel free to
thank yourself later for this gem…

  3. Someone is always watching you.
This sounds creepy as all hell. However it’s true. You don’t do
anything in secret. Instead of not wanting to mess up in the public
eye, use this as an opportunity to really showcase your awesome!
No one is going to know what you don’t show them. Represent

4. Everyone is screwed up.
It does seem that some people have the perfect lives. I guarantee you, this is only the outside picture
there are skeletons in everyone’s closet, and as stupid as it is. Everyone is jealous of someone else.
We judge ourselves so harshly on everything that no one can see about us, based on only what others allow us
to see about them. Don’t sweat it!

5. Be You!
The best thing about growing up is figuring out who you are. Don’t be so afraid of what that might be, that you
miss out on the opportunity to actually become that guy.

6. Happiness is yours to find
Trying to please everyone and seem “cool” is a surefire way to some kind of identity complex. If people don’t
like what you have to offer, then fuck them. There are other people (lots of them) who will like you just for who
you are. Stop worrying so much about who those people are. They’ll show themselves. Enjoy life! Get out there
and do stuff, seriously. GET OUT!

Funny, these are lessons I would pass on to young Justin, but they are still the things that I’m trying to start putting into practice now. Lots of life is filled with the “I wish I did this” type things. I think it’s time for switching into the “I’m glad I tried this” mode.

I’m  BAAAAACK! (Let’s see for how long…)

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