How to be confident

Why am I so confident?

I want to analyze this, make a formula, spread the wealth.  Confidence is amazing and also useful at parties; I want you to have it.

I'm confident enough to wear a bunch of beanie babies I hot glued together as a garment.

I’m confident enough to wear a bunch of beanie babies I hot glued together as a garment.

Maybe it’s because…

  • I was a perfectionist from age 8 to age… 15.  This may have helped me develop the skills to perform under pressure and avoid messy mistakes like it’s second nature.  Somehow, though, I spent very little time criticizing myself as perfectionists are wont to do, and more time trying to get better and better. Crazy shit like making lists of attributes I’d like to have (“eloquence, uniqueness, compassion”) and breaking down the steps to attain them…
  • …But then I gave myself permission at some point to not be a perfectionist.  Some mistakes still send me into an anxious fit.  I hate making driving mistakes (like hitting a curb, cutting off someone).  I think that’s fair – driving is probably the most dangerous activity I participate in day to day.
  • I grew up an arrogant little bastard.  A few years spent thinking I’m better than everyone else may have wired my neurons firmly to the confidence centers in my brain. I’ve changed my ways, though, and really don’t care if anyone is better than me or I better than them. This happened when I went to England and was surrounded by fantastic people. I realized it was much more enjoyable to be in awe of them than to compete…
  • …And I’m not really competitive at all. I am self-competitive, trying to get better at things for my own satisfaction.  But I will surrender quickly if I realize it’s not worth my trouble to battle with someone. I’ve learned how to enjoy other people’s wins.
  • I am bloody good at some things.  It’s easy to feel great when people are complimenting me on skills I’ve acquired over the years.
  • I’m kind of a braggart. This creates a cycle in which I show off, receive praise, and want to show off more. Somehow I have avoided the whole “I neeeeeeed people’s approval” bit and just taken away a shamelessness when it comes to displaying myself. It’s easy to feel confident when I’m waving around my peacock tail and hearing sweet oohs and ahhs…
  • …And I don’t just show off my good side.  Everything is out there.  I’m an over-sharer, ridiculously honest.  It’s easy to feel confident when I’ve got nothing to hide.
  • I dealt with mind-numbing depression for a good many years.  (Still boggled and exhilarated every time I realize I’m better now.)  It’s hard for the small hurdles in life to seem significant when my biggest drain was my own personal hell. Yes, I had phases of hating myself, but for the most part that wasn’t the route my depression took.  In my backbreaking effort to get better, I worked out little checkpoints with myself. Instead of focusing on how horrible I was for not getting better, I focused on how horrible I felt.  It’s as if my self-preserving instincts saved me.  I also made it a point to keep functioning in society, so I learned how to fake it despite the depression.  It’s easy to feel confident when I’ve gone through the wringer and come out a better person.
  • I am (usually) good at empathizing.  This makes it easier to understand other people’s actions and motivations and avoid blaming myself for things that aren’t my fault.
  • I was in an emotionally manipulative relationship for 4 years.  I came out of that with the determination to not let someone make me feel like that ever again.  And I’ve managed to reconcile with my ex, be friendly with him, and have closure.
  • I have anxiety, but I fend it off pretty well.  I redirected it early on (subconsciously) to things that didn’t matter.  Instead of worrying about tangible things – school, friendships, my appearance – I would worry about strange things like the way colors seemed to jump at me or by imagining my depth perception was failing. I use my imagination to help me not take my anxiety seriously, make it somewhat of a game.
  • I decided it would be advantageous/attractive/fun to be fearless during my “self-improvement” phase.  So I made sure to practice not being afraid and taking risks to impress people.  I still do that a bit like the unblushing boaster that I am.
  • I surrounded myself with people who are good for me, and made it a point to always be grateful for them.  I have supportive close buddies, an amazing girlfriend, and friends who inspire me.  I try to figure out how to make people feel good, and in return they give me kind and appreciative friendships.  I also make sure to let people know what I want, and they happily oblige me since I made things easy for them.   (i.e. I tend to tell people what a sucker I am for verbal affirmations, and which kinds.)

So, I’m sure I could think of other things, but now I want to hear what the community has to say.  What makes you feel confident?  How confident are you?  How confident do you perceive others to be?

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Trivia: n. unimportant details or information

I’m losing my patience for trivia worship. I don’t have a mind for holding facts — at least not facts about popular culture. I’m a goddamn encyclopedia for pet behavior and grammar laws, but I haven’t found my flock of fellow bird & word nerds, yet. If geeks are excited about counterculture, then why do I only ever hear them exchanging social affirmations? Do you know about this? Do you know about that? Do we fall on our knees for the same gods?

I love birds. All of my snapchats are of birds.

I am a bird nerd. I love birds. All of my snapchats are of birds.

Real eggheads study an obscure or challenging subject and revel in the love of knowledge. Media culture geeks are just like any insecure high-schooler who wants to be part of a clique that’s big enough for safety in numbers but exclusive enough to be “cool.”

Yes, we’ve decided that a certain amount of geekitude is cool. But, no poindexter is standing on a table, reciting arcane theorems and getting all the ladies at the parties. People are doing what they’ve always done, and that’s dish news and check that everyone knows the what-what of the happening, socially shaming people who can’t get with the program. What’s changed is that the never-ending internet has given us more what-what to sputter over our red cups. Almost anything goes as long as you have a little tribe of other geeks who are into your geek kink. And you do have a little tribe. You’ve seen them somewhere on Tumblr.

I understand, I really do, that having a common lexicon is a short cut to establishing shared experiences. But if you go on and on about Naruto, and I don’t know jack about Naruto, what am I supposed to do? Pretend I know what you’re talking about so I can skip on the noob history lesson? Change the subject? Point out that you’re a fucking nerd?

In a perfect world, I’d tell you I don’t know jack about whatever-his-face guy-with-a-rune on his headband (at first I thought it was blue-arrow-forehead child. Don’t act shocked, they’re both animated kids shows and I’m not a kid). Don’t give me a history lesson, I’d say. Instead, share an experience or an insight you gained from watching the show.

Do you really need to figure out which episodes we’ve both seen? Why can’t you just tell me what it all means to you? How it compares to your daily life? How it’s improved your relationship with your daughter? Why do I have to partake in this pissing contest that is proving I know enough about your geek fantasy to belong in your geek fantasy?

umbrella cockatoo on the porch

You just did a lot of reading. I will reward you with another bird picture.

This trivia spouting infects everything with a fandom, music appreciation included. Particularly, I don’t know how to react when a person knows more about my favorite band (Queens of the Stone Age)* than I do. I don’t know all the names of all the band members, though I’m certainly familiar with their discography. I can sketch out a list of songs for most albums with decent accuracy. Not that I care — I’ve just listened to R, Songs for the Deaf, Lullabies & Clockwork enough friggin’ times to know.

So, when this guy knows some obscure trivia (historical dates, formation of this or that) about my QOTSA and I yawn and pretend I know Josh Homme held this or that concert for his dead friend because I’m a bit embarrassed at my lack of expertise for my self-proclaimed “favorite”… when this guy goes off on some story I frankly don’t care about (don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed he’s retained so much information on his not-favorite-band), I’m realizing I need to just say: “Hey, thanks for teaching me something new, but what does it all really mean to you?”

When he gives me his baffled response, a “what” or a blank stare, I elaborate, “I don’t really care about the trivia. I care about the music. And I care about the music because of the band’s particular influence on my family, the way the shows I’ve attended shaped my understanding of rock and live performance and human appreciation for both. Tell me about an event you went to, how you felt, which beer you drank, how much sweat stained your t-shirt.”

I’ll tell you I first saw them when I was 17, with my dad in Austin, Texas. People there thought maybe he was robbing the cradle, because I dressed a bit too stylish and they didn’t know I was his daughter. I stood on my tiptoes to watch the longest drum solo I’ve ever seen, in a tiny venue called the Rose (it’s a lot like the Casbah, if you’re familiar with that), for “Feel Good Hit of the Summer.” I saw people smoking weed and carefully looked to my dad for an appropriate reaction, as I’d never seen the stuff before.

Don’t recite some band drama you picked up in your readings — some trivia that has nothing to do with you. Make it personal. Make it you. Bands are bands and some are better, but I’m not sitting in a spa with Josh Homme so what do I care if he wrote this or that song in this or that city? Unless, of course, *you* lived in that city.

Look he's so cute he's squinting. Don't you enjoy all these bird pictures? They are like my children. Look at all these pictures of my children? I'm not boring you am I?

Look he’s so cute he’s squinting. Don’t you enjoy all these bird pictures? They are like my children. Look at all these pictures of my children? I’m not boring you am I?

What I’m trying to say is, I coasted through my history classes because they weren’t *my* story. I’m much more interested in humans right in front of me than humans that are “popular” enough to make it to the books or the silver screen. I’m more interested in you. Tell me a tale, and make it one I can’t watch on TV. Tell me something I don’t know.

As media expands, these little clusters of allegiance to external narratives (Did you watch the new Game of Thrones? Are you into Attack on Titan?) might just fall apart. Lifespans of trends are shortening as the fire hose of popular media keeps pouring. We can’t keep up with everything. Certainly, established common ground makes us feel less alone. But I hope that the growth of communication technologies connects us such that we don’t need these superficial obsessions to lope along in a conversation. We could download in instants what someone else has already digested (here’s an emotion/dream/experience I had — let me transmit it to you in a microsecond so you know what I mean) and instead of validating that we’re on the same island of thought, examine and compare our reactions in the same moment. Make meaning, not just chase meaning laid out before us for us to follow like helpless human eyes scan a constantly flashing, changing TV screen. Quit worshiping trivia. Create your own legends.

*P.S. I’m going to the show in SF on the 17th! Will I see any other San Diegans there?

1 year of SDSurvivalGuide

This Saturday will mark the 1 year anniversary of SD Survival Guide.

I’ve worn a few 2-dimensional identities in my life — the kind people use when they’re trying to describe you to a friend. They’ve varied from “Anthony’s girlfriend,” to “redheaded lesbian” and at least one unpublishable moniker in-between. Slowly, over the past year, “writer” has been taking over.

For that, I am calling this a success. The encouragement and feedback I receive make my fucking day, ya’ll, because I constantly think about how happy I would be if I had an audience for a book, and if I could write one that is worthy of them.

Many of you lament that you’ve gotten behind in my posts, so this week I hope you enjoy an excerpt from each one.  And pretty, pretty please write me a comment, text me, or send me a snapchat with any thoughts about my writing.

Snapchat-20140131100329

Simulation

Cutesy post introducing SD relationship with the weather: Hypo-manic with fear, we discuss rain and sun and fog in a tone that is easy to confuse with eagerness.  Oh, we’re not pleasant or easily amused; we’re terrified.

Nausea-filled regret at first post + epic tale of misogyny: Trapped in a bar stool between smokers, a railing, and his body, I felt like a cornered animal.  Even as I chewed him out for what must have been at least 20 minutes, he stood alternatively with his face so close to mine I could feel his breath or with his crotch against my leg.

Attempt to draw in San Diego Googlers using keywords: There’s sort of an ennui in happiness and stability, and this is not the best town in which to forage for chaos. In this heaven, we’re a bit oblivious to evil and all the fun it brings.

Party story about violence against inanimate objects: The bear arm results from the potent combination of three things. Me, alcohol, and unrequited lust.

Here's a drawing of Katelyn murdering a unicorn.

Examining  appropriation of LGBT culture: I thought of the trendiness of swinging, straight couples hunting for that perfect bisexual woman who will love both of them in a harmonious triad, and 1-dick-per-relationship policies.  I thought of dudes who ask me to sleep with their girlfriends, but insist that they at least be allowed to watch.

Party Monster Kill Switch + I freaking love Sour Cream: “Fluffy bear got me through a lot of hard times, too.”

Katelyn's planning to use this purple vase with her 3 hose hookah next.

Thrift shopping primer for San Diegans: I still thrift primarily to impress people at parties. I try to be selective, but having a conversation starter is more valuable to me than closet space.

My embarrassing familiarity with hangovers: But then everything is too loud so I sit in a dark room. Everything is too dark so I move to a dimly lit room. My blood is uncomfortable.

The “Gay Gambit” + map I found: “Gossip Gril is Vagina Stronghold?” I said, unimpressed. “More like where I go to remember I hate lesbians and cigarettes.”

I wanted to remember how bad I am at math and make it about alcohol: Ok, I lied, sometimes we feel poor and we drink piss water. Can I find a drink that doesn’t cost more than my student loans?

sdsurvivalguide-banquet-chicken-fingersBlaming orange juice for my problems:  I’ve been living off gatorades and cheese-foods since Monday. Cheese comforts me. Katelyn, I said, I want something like chicken fingers or macaroni n’ cheese. Something little kids eat.

Carpe diem for stupid people: I just want to know, how is throwing on a trucker hatt, getting smammered, and drooling on a young woman while she gyrates against your crotch seizing the day?

Another picture by Mel Marcado. I wasn't too sure about my decision to wear braids until a girl ran up to me, touched them, and told me I looked "so cute, like an anime character."

Reviewing a little SD rave: It felt like being in a kindergarten where you’re allowed to eat the crayons.

What is our civil duty to interfere in bad situations?Pro-tip: pretending to be my “boyfriend” in order to “rescue” me from some asshat is going to annoy me almost as much as the dude telling me I’ve got pretty teeth 10 times in one night.

I fell in love with a stripper: “No,” I said in her ear, “I don’t care if he gets off. I want you and he has the money.”

Lame short post b/c I procrastinated getting ready for SCA War: Each fight could represent their last day on earth, so at night we party.

mac-n-cheese-pizza-ketchupKatelyn told me to blog about pocket cheese: . After getting off work at 7 and taking your pre-party nap and laboring over your costume, there is no time for food. You can’t chop a salad, you can’t toast a sandwich and juice a carrot. You have to eat on the go. So we have this thing called “Pocket Cheese.”

K1-to do listSaga of my christian-phase closeted love-triangle: I hadn’t had an orgasm since I found Jesus.

Some 35-year-old said something I didn’t like, so I blogged about it: Ah crap. I’m that stubborn young woman who doesn’t like to be told what to do with her life and doesn’t have respect for people’s personal beliefs.

I got the slut strep: How do you tell your doctor that you may be responsible for spreading a nasty disease with a Jameson fueled make-out binge? (Forgive me, for there was a dimly lit bounce house on premises.)

An ex-boyfriend said something I didn’t like, so I blogged about it: An expired apology is one that is so old in respect to its crime that it’s completely missed its window and should stay in a deep basement to rot with the rest of your baggage.

I got the slut strep AGAIN: I can barely stay awake, and when I do manage, I’m confused and vaguely nauseous.

my kaleidoscope of face parts

Artsy thing I wrote about a warehouse party: She liked me. I shouldn’t have been surprised; wives always like me, come on to me, kiss me. Yet, she focused on me so quickly, when my irises were just starting to quicken again.

I missed Pride because I was sick and I examined my coping strategies for FOMO: Do you realize how many strains of new and exotic viruses are flying in from around the country, world even?  No thank you, spawn of swine flu.

Audio interview (I procrastinated so I never transcribed it): For my very first local celebrity profile interview, I’m featuring a very close friend and source of my inspiration, Xanadu Rocketship.

hungover-couch-girl-cartoon-underwearBuncha theme ideas for parties: I have been throwing theme parties since I was 7. I would plan for my next birthday just as soon as the last one passed, brainstorming ideas in my journal.

Almost missed a deadline for a post, but my brother called and I was inspired: Other people don’t sound like themselves on the phone, but I just hear my brother in the hot piece of plastic against my ear. He mentions how the Illuminati or maybe the overlord lizard-brains are monitoring our call, trying to intercept it, how he’s been really into conspiracy theories…

I attempt to forgive myself for not knowing enough about pop culture: Due to my delusional escapades as an alien princess, a Christian, a heterosexual… my connection to reality is a bit flimsy.

mr-scumbag-from-sprint-telephone-business-card-college-storeI learned that Sprint has tricksy awful sales-hobbits: Katelyn needs a new phone as well, because it never seems to work when I need her immediate attention and dammit why doesn’t she ever text me back?

I spent 3 hours making an OkCupid manifesto: You are meeting a stranger. Off the internet. You do not need to invest heavily in this date.

Benefit of being a writer, life lessons are now blog fodder: But when I checked my bank account Monday and discovered my wallet was stolen I wasn’t sure if I felt more like a victim of crime or a victim of my hangover.

6 monthiversary is an excuse to analyze keywords!: I know there’s plenty to do, I know there’s stunning and quirky and intelligent and sexy people in this city. I am making it my mission to connect these people together.

Taco Wow Cafe San DiegoDelirious with new technology: I’m relentless. I won’t stop. The smartphone eats my dreams. I don’t need to sleep. I have 7 years of technology to absorb.

Sometimes I kick people in the butt and I have to leave the party: Now I’m no stranger to butts in my face, but I don’t like stranger butts in my face, and this guy didn’t even know my name.

comic-lesbian-first-sleepover-sexBoobs: There are basically two ways to be a feminist at a party. One is to stand up for your beliefs and counter any bullshit the best you can, whether through reasoned quips or belligerent screaming, as is necessary. The other is to realize you are outnumbered, down another drink, and to instead store up your dismay and upset for an angry blog rant.

I struggle with coming up with something so you get to read my diary: If only, if only, I can become such a celebrity that people will want to read my diary.

Cutesy post about tourists: This weekend I met a woman from Chicago who awed at the mountains, and yes they were very effective at blocking my cell reception but I stopped cursing T-mobile and also spun in a slow circle. Ok, yes, I’m looking at them. Wow.

Lame last-minute blog post about Halloween costumes: I’m down to 15 minutes before I need to start assembling my own costume, and I realized if I really do want to provide a service through this blog, I can at least share some last-minute, cheap and lazy, DIY Halloween Costumes that I found / imagined.

Lookin' like a supermodel in my onesie jam jams.

I’m so full of myself I ask people to tell me something I don’t know when they say I’m beautiful: Make yourself memorable with a fraction more thought given to the compliments you choose…

I often leave parties without saying goodbye and why you should do it too: Immediately a man I didn’t know put his arm around me, people were dancing barefoot in the backyard to no music at all, and worst of all, I realized, everyone was dry as paper. Sober.

Based on Eysenck's personality theory (I didn't make this up) -- click for larger view.

An introvert said something I didn’t like so I wrote a blog post about it: Yes, the Eysenck test divides emotional instability by introversion/extroversion. But I won’t accept cherry-picking the emotional problems you identify with as a valid “diagnosis” of introversion. Perhaps, like I did, you have a secret extrovert inside of you who is trapped by feelings of moodiness and pessimism.

I played a game of Cards Against Humanity and I was bored so I wrote a blog post about it:  In general, just realize that nobody is paying attention to you because this game is designed for narcissists.

Got lost. Doesn’t matter, had waffles: As you probably already heard, I scooped chicken and waffle alike with my hand shovels into my mouth bucket, and then wiped all with individually packaged moist towelettes, and felt sated and warm.

grinch-who-stole-facebookToo much upworthy pissed me off:  If I don’t know the person too well, such breaches have me reaching for the “hide” or even “unfriend” buttons. Facebook only lets me see you in one-dimension, and the one you’re giving me is ugly.

I whine about not wanting to go to work:  I know that when I have to go back to work, the night previous I will be a restless mess of reluctance. I will do something pathetic with my time, like watching cable television and playing solitaire on my iPad. I don’t know why, but I waste every moment that is my last, simultaneously berating myself for not doing something more valuable with what I still have.

electric-grape-leather-80s-comic-strawberry-blondeBar story about a guy being nice to me: The “wrong” bar and my general lowered expectations for birthdays should have set me at unease, but maybe I just feel like I can do anything in a pair of Jeffrey Cambell’s and 1000 square inches of electric-grape leather. Maybe I could even accept free drinks from strangers.

Mean Girls don’t actually exist:  I find it immensely rewarding to get people to come out of their shells, even if it is a shell made out of gender shenanigans.

Kitty-leggings-patterned-tightsCigarettes are like little puke torpedos: Luckily drunk-sami became a smartphone photographer so I’ve managed to reconstruct memories of Jenga and flogging.

Don’t read this when you’re drunk; trust me I’ve tried: I’m beginning to identify two major structures in which a party group can operate. I’ll call them the Creatives and the Nostalgics.

Another attempt at Google traffic, but it’s actually a decent read if you ask me: Those kinds of conversations, about how SD is so nice and the weather is fucking rad, are immensely boring to me.

Thank you again for reading (I fucking mean it) and please tell me in the comments below which posts are the SD Survival Guide “must reads.”

Analyzing the Sh*t out of Parties: Creatives vs. Nostalgics (Which are you?)

by 

Sometimes I am inspired by my friends to write, but they might not want to recognize themselves when they read my blog later. Please forgive me while I go off in abstraction la-la-land in lieu of the usual juicy details.

Long story short I went to two different parties and found them to be drastically different. I’ll let you figure out which one I thought was more fun (nvm guessing games are tedious; I’m a “Creative”). Anyway, consider this thought experiment:

I’m beginning to identify two major structures in which a party group can operate. I’ll call them the Creatives and the Nostalgics. If the ideal goal of a party is Fun, then the two groups differ primarily in *how* they attempt to achieve Fun.

How Fun is Achieved

The Creatives are generative, operating much like an improv troupe — simultaneously approaching and redefining Fun. Imagine that a party is a collaborative art piece, and all its members riff endlessly to cascade moment after delectable moment in a very loose and self-reflective jam sesh. They don’t really know what it means until it’s up there on the canvas, and even then it’s up for interpretation.

the-fun-creatives-style

The Nostalgics assume an ideal and seek to return to it. Basically, they’re trying to recreate a Fun they once had. End-goal in mind, for each event or even as the entire basis of their group culture, they will follow, reinforce, or bushwhack a path to the Fun. Their notion of Fun is probably just as fuzzy as that of the Creatives, given that the act of remembering makes it more or less than it actually was. The important point, however, is that they treat the goal of Fun like an ideal, regardless of their understanding of its nature.

the-fun-nostalgic-style

Now, the Nostalgics aren’t always literally pining after the past. While I’ve encountered groups with a nasty infestation of the “remember whens,” there are other frameworks which can be used for this backward-sort-of-seeking of an ideal. Generally the group adopts a tradition. This could be a geek tradition or a greek tradition.  It could be as focused and specific as a “What if we re-imagine Dr. Who in the pony-verse?” fanship or as vast as heteronormativity. They are fond of set activities, such as drinking games, sports, or dungeons and dragons matches, and will replicate the same activities endlessly with no truly intentional variations.

The Creatives certainly adopt frameworks, and traditions do result as a side effect of the same groups of people meeting each other repeatedly, but their understanding of the former is less permanent. Frameworks are borrowed to streamline the communication of a particular idea, and are quickly discarded when the point is made. In other words, frameworks are temporary tools.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Using frameworks can actually be considered a key strength. The inclusivity of the Nostalgic group is only limited by its frameworks. So long as an individual can follow and adapt to a specific framework, they will be able to operate within the group.

In the Creative group, inclusivity is more related to performance, in the artistic sense of the word.  An individual is valuable to the group while they are able to provide fresh perspective, enriching content, desirable challenge, or whatever is up in that group’s particular market. The Creatives are seeking talent, rather than submission to a framework. This hefts more of the responsibility onto the individual’s ego, and will often create insecurity for newcomers (or, really, everyone involved). Creatives risk collapse when they are not able to foster a healthy environment for tinkering with fun the way they do.

The strength of improvising is that submission to such frameworks is not required. In this way, the group is able to be more inclusive of truly non-conforming identities. The nerd might seek the nerd-focused Nostalgic group, the lesbian just the same with her own. The Creatives eschew such outward-facing identities, except as they are necessary to invite new members, and can be a good home for those with more fluid personalities. Overall, what I enjoy most is the freedom from submission.

When the nostalgic group attempts improvising outside of their frameworks with any kind of real fluidity, the result is the surreal. Some individual will get some notion to try on a new behavioral hat, and his friends will respond with, “Whoa, what’s going on right now?” or “Did that just happen?” or “Did I take drugs?”

This surreal effect is a symptom of this weakness: There’s a paradox of looking backwards in that one cannot truly enjoy the moment one is trying to create. The Nostalgic evaluates passing moments (simultaneously looking to future moments) as candidates for the great scrapbook of Fun. What’s missing? The present.

Of course, you may have caught on to my distaste for quasi-spiritual hippie-dippie assertions, but let’s try “situational awareness is important” as a less-cheesy alternative to “you have to live in the moment.” There might be something wrong with me for not putting a whole lot of value in reminiscing. Maybe I had a shitty middle school experience, have no patience for memorizing trivia, or got a 2 on my AP US exam…but I find I’m having the most fun when I keep myself present. The Creatives understand this intrinsically.

the-fun-gallery

How do you know which group you’re in, or — if we assume groups are fairly flexible — how do you know which modality your group is operating within at any given moment?

Signifiers of the Creatives & the Nostalgics

Well, one way to figure out which group/modality you’re in is pay attention to what everyone is doing with their iPhones. Nostalgics use cameras and social media as recording devices. The Nostalgic group meta-analyzes through a rear-facing gaze. Seeing everything through an iPhone lens makes perfect sense, because these groups are very interested in curating a shared history.

Creatives are guilty of the same, of course, because that’s the current norm. But they’ll push the boundaries of social technologies by using them to augment the generative processes. They are interested in finding apps which enrich their environments, or challenging the functions of these devices by using or discussing them in a novel way.  I think this is the only group which is capable of getting together for a group picture (but something crazy-rad like a human pyramid) and then entirely losing interest in the resulting image before it ever makes it to the social media. 

Also, I’ll return to the idea of inclusivity and examine who really qualifies as an outsider in each group. The outsider in a Creative group will feel like the behaviors of the group are “arbitrary” or perhaps “don’t make sense.” Why has everyone decided to pass around a picture from a catalog and treat it like a piece of forensic evidence? And now they’re suddenly having a contest for the best dinosaur stomp? He’s expecting a set framework that doesn’t exist, and, in fact, as soon as he begins to identify one of the temporary frameworks, he may find that it has already been abandoned. He may be the one in the group who is asking “why don’t you want to play [this game] anymore?” The Creatives will seem to him like they idealize randomness, when in fact they focus on some unnamed goal of Fun in the same way a sculptor approaches a wet piece of clay with just the faintest glimmers of an artistic vision.

The outsider in a Nostalgic group will identify with self statements of not “fitting in” because she is “weird” or she may feel “impatient.” She is butting up against the framework which she has already rejected (or maybe never engaged with in the first place). She is out of touch with the realities which inform their interactions, and may even find some of them to be repulsive. If she takes this moment to be arrogant, then she’s already missed the point. And that is, the Nostaligics are seeking comfort on their own terms. There is an ease in their interactions which, if you can swallow the frameworks they choose, gives a sort of consistency to reality that does not quite exist among the Creatives. Being weird all the time is actually quite stressful!

Kitty-leggings-patterned-tights

Qualifiers and Exceptions

I shouldn’t pretend there’s a clear delineation between Creatives and Nostalgics, though there is such a thing as only pretending to be the former. Many times the frameworks which the Nostalgics choose are based on getting “creative,” which is not the same. Though the Nostalgics may decide to really “get out there” and “try something new,” they will treat this style of Fun as an isolated activity. E.g. Let’s All Go Rock Climbing Guise!! Also, do not confuse an entire framework of “acting creative” for Creativity, such as friends who base their entire micro-culture on getting together to throw pots and Raku (they could be either Creative or Nostalgic). 

Of course, since people (me!) ricochet between various groups, they frequently experience both styles depending on the swing of the pendulum.  People show up to a party and change its atmosphere (or disappear in some back bedroom). Entire groups go through changes together. I could even envision a group unit which modulates between Creative and Nostalgic modalities based on some regular change: day or night, sober or intoxicated, winter or summer.

Pushing a Group Around

With this understanding, could I feasibly push a Nostalgic group towards my preference for Creative? Like I said, I’ll see the “this is surreal” reaction if I do this. And while there is some fluidity between the two, in general they are based on competing assumptions about reality. If I try to reject a framework, the Nostalgics might feel like I’m attacking everything they hold to be good and true. Or just, like, you know, making it real tough to have a good time.

I’ve decided I’m going to push Creativity whenever I can, and when I cannot, treat whatever Nostalgic party I’m stuck in like an inside joke in my own greater pursuit of Fun. I also will be more patient during the Nostalgic moments (which build security) within typically more Creative groups.

And, always, a good Pimm’s cup will set the mood in any situation.

pimms_cup_like_in_Archer_no1

How to Play Cards Against Humanity

cards-against-humanity-haiku-mime-having-a-stroke-reddit-foshofersher

Stolen from reddit user, foshofersher.

Remain sober, so you can defeat everyone with your mental acuity.

Identify known trump cards. “Pacman guzzling cum” is a trump card. So is “dick fingers.” For most, so is “Hellen Keller.”

Try to recall your friends’ personal trump cards. Emma G. will always choose “BATMAN!!!” Art Meier is weak for bacon.

Cheat. When you draw “Toni Morrison’s Vagina” and you know your friends aren’t going to get it, slyly put that back in the deck and draw a new one. Or not so slyly. Nobody is paying attention to you.

In general, just realize that nobody is paying attention to you because this game is designed for narcissists.

Confidently play “8oz. of sweet Mexican black tar heroin” only to be beaten by a deeply nostalgic moment over the card “Lunchables” that has nothing to do with the black card at all.

Try to bring up the fact that Cards Against Humanity charged an extra 5 dollars during Black Friday, but everyone already knew that. Become deeply insecure that you might be a “boring person.”

Start regretting that you offered to be the designated driver, because it’s like all the drunk people speak special drunk people language and they are playing by deranged drunk people rules.

Try another attempt at a trump card by whipping out “Firing a rifle into the air while balls deep in a squealing hog” — which you’ve been saving for 3 turns — only to lose miserably to “Glen Beck convulsively vomiting as a brood of crab spiders hatches in his brain and erupts from his tear ducts.”

Carefully time your bathroom break. Come back. You didn’t win.

Finally take your first turn as the Card Czar and announce the cards with decreasing dramatic zest…because a side conversation starts to dominate the table. Once you’ve got your white cards arranged into piles, wonder what everyone wants you to pick because you’re starting to think you’re categorically unfunny. Nobody laughs when you select your answer.

Cry a little inside when you draw the card “Active Listening.” What does that even mean?

Cry a little inside after you play your pick for “White people like _______,” and the replacement card you draw is “White privilege.”  IT’S TOO LATE. YOU ARE NOW CURSED. YOU WILL ALWAYS DRAW THE PERFECT CARD 1 TURN TOO LATE FOR THE REST OF THIS GAME.

Zone out for awhile contemplating the intricate levels of inside jokes you are not a part of.

Start chucking throwaways into the pile every turn because you’re determined to save “Trail of Tears” for that one card about white people ruining the lives of Native Americans.

Feel a little grateful that you’re at least not playing Apples to Apples.

Surreptitiously check Urban Dictionary for the definition of “swooping” on your smartphone and discover someone else out there had the same idea while playing this game. Feel less alone.

Draw “Life for the Native Americans was forever changed after the white man introduced them to __________” as your black card. Slam your fist on the table. Your friends look at you suspiciously. All hope has died.

Start writing a blog post in your mind about how Cards Against Humanity, while effective at bringing a room full of people together, is perhaps the loneliest game we play at parties.

From cah.tumblr.com

When is it okay to come to her rescue?

Queens-of-the-Stoneage-QOTSA-Like-Clockwork-Vinyl-CD-costFirst, can I just say I AM SO EXCITED for the new QOTSA album.  I just checked my alternate email inbox and found a message marked Tue, May 7, 3:12 AM.  Apparently I spent $51.43 on vinyl and a CD. It is the uber deluxe bestest vinyl version you can get and my favorite band, so I ain’t even mad that I broke my no-credit-cards-past-1am rule.  Play their song “I Appear Missing” while you read, if you like, below.

I am working on a Pandora station called Everything Homme Touches. When that’s mashed into submission to my tastes, I’ll post it.

Anyway, I wanted to examine something that’s been bugging me; when is it okay or even necessary to interfere, and when do you let people handle themselves?

I mean, as a brassy extrovert who’s not afraid to tell people to get their balls off of me, sometimes I resent it when a lesbro gets over-protective. Pro-tip: pretending to be my “boyfriend” in order to “rescue” me from some asshat is going to annoy me almost as much as the dude telling me I’ve got pretty teeth 10 times in one night. Also, is that some sort of PUA thing? Teeth? I have little baby chompers and the dentists had to put gadgets in my mouth to make it bigger; I don’t really think my teeth are that impressive.

So, this guy I’ve met twice in the bar before — he’s from Detroit so I’d told him about this blog — came up to me and asked me to be his wingwoman. He indicated a woman I’d seen on the dance floor earlier, who actually binged my gaydar for a change (my gaydar is fairly silent and inobservant).  She was standing with another young lady. “No, she’s not on your team,” I said. He insisted. “No. This is the wrong place,” we were at the Brass Rail, “and I am the wrong person,” I said. He went on a tangent and told me he has no trouble getting white chicks and won’t I please help him get this sexy black woman all the while hanging on my neck. “Seriously, I am the wrong person,” I said through my tiny teeth, a little bit of heat in my lungs.

He flew solo and persisted in pestering them. I didn’t know if I should walk up and say, “hey, this guy bothering you?” or let them take care of their own business, thank you very much.  When do you reach out and when do you respect other people as capable adults? And how does alcohol change this? Worse, would they see me as another predator? Ultimately I decided their two to his one was sufficient and turned my back so my eyes would stop rolling.

Below is my breakdown of when I’d want someone to help me, where “you” could be a casual friend or a stranger. (Close friends would probably know me better and be able to do more.) It is assumed you see me in a basically one-on-one situation. Do you agree?

Leave me alone if:

  • You know I’m gay and a guy is potentially flirting with me, but I’m smiling, making eye contact with him, and/or touching his arm or shoulder (I might be enjoying the conversation)
  • Really, if anyone is talking to me and I’m smiling, making eye contact, and/or touching them
  • I’m arguing with someone but there’s zero physical contact and I am making eye contact with my opponent (I might be enjoying the argument)

Enter the conversation as a neutral third-party, but don’t confront anyone when:

  • You know I’m gay and it seems like a guy is hitting on me aggressively
  • (You don’t know I am gay but) you suspect that I’m not enjoying a guy hitting on me
  • You suspect that I’m not enjoying a woman hitting on me
  • I’m arguing with someone but I keep looking away, crossing my arms, turning my body away, and/or make repeated eye contact with you
  • The person I’m talking to seems like somewhat of a stranger to me and is considerably more drunk and/or being more familiar than me (I might want to be nice, but need help managing someone who is a little out of control)

Say something to point out my agressor might be doing something socially unacceptable (Do you know this guy? Is she bothering you?) if:

  • I’m arguing with someone and they keep touching me even though I do not reciprocate their touches and/or even try to push them away
  • Someone (probably bigger than me) has me cornered, I’m avoiding eye contact with them, and I’m looking around (as if I’m looking for someone else i.e. to help me)
  • I make repeated eye contact with you (my way of asking for you to come over)
  • I’m sitting at a booth, trying to eat some food with my friends, and someone is looming over us and we’re alternating between telling him to go away and pretending to get on our phones, and we don’t want him to sit with us, but we’re kinda trapped in the booth, and this guy is shaking like he’s on drugs, and it’s 3am seriously party time is over…. (this actually happened)

This is a tricky topic for me, because while I’m an independent woman and I resent being treated like I need to be rescued, there are times when I could use some social help. Smoking patios can be rather narrow in this town, and I have been physically trapped in undesirable conversations. I may be able to leave the conversation, but don’t want to give up my chair or position because I’m doing my best not to be defeated or there are just not enough damn chairs. Or, more often, the agressor is a mutual friend.

I don’t know why more women don’t try to come to my rescue. I suppose we just aren’t given the scripts to “be the hero” and though we might want to reach out, it conflicts with the other scripts we’re taught to “be nice” or “avoid direct conflict” and we don’t really know what to do. I also suspect that like anyone else, women fear social judgement. They won’t risk interrupting a conversation because, let’s face it, how many times have you tried to help someone and they responded with rudeness?

I think we have to address that sometimes this rudeness is warranted or at least understandable — that by coming to someone’s aid you are essentially identifying that person as “in need.” Someone who is “in need” can be seen as inferior, weak, or defenseless. Because that person you tried to rescue has been spending the last 5 minutes to an hour defending herself from an aggressor, she may be in the type of mindset such that she refuses help in order to continue to look strong. Your interruption may actually be beneficial, but you may get no reward other than seeing an intense situation get derailed. Of course, you in no way deserve a reward for trying to help someone.

Or, you might be trying to help someone who really didn’t need your help. Hence needing to break down when it’s appropriate to intervene.

Then, I think, we have to be more willing to accept and acknowledge help. I sat on a chair in a really packed PB party: the attendees were a mixture of fraternity-types and redditors. Some smashed random came up to us and asked if we were playing beer pong. He tried to put his arms around us. My friend felt confrontational, possibly because beer pong got shut down awhile ago, duh, and this was our second strained interaction with him that night. So she told him, “Yeah, we’re playing beer pong right now.”  When he asked where our cups and balls were, I indicated the latter were in my lap and grabbed my crotch.

He asked a slew of confusing questions after that. A woman interrupted, “Hey, you girls alright?” and I didn’t really understand she was helping us. It was the first time anything like that had happened to me. Even though I was probably doing ok — what with my fancy word play and getting the dude to say he would enjoy touching my testicles, if I had them — he was becoming increasingly obnoxious. “Wait,” I turned to the gal, “Thank you for reaching out to us. I wish more women would stick up for each other like you just did for us.”

So, yeah, the moral of the story is that if I’ve resorted to discussing gonads with a guy, I probably could use your assistance.