We’ve all been insulted here and there, some more than others.
For most of my life it was exactly what you would expect: I was short, weak, had a high-pitched voice. I was bad at sports.
Eventually, I turned all of that around and let it push me forward. It took me years to turn middle school teasing into high school weight lifting, but I did it. It took me decades of being told I was slow or couldn’t run right to turn into a legitimate distance runner.
I was once told by a good friend - and not with malice - that she could never see me as a teacher, and now my career is in education. Indeed I now help shape teachers.
Some people are visibly shattered by things they take to be insults. And there’s not much wrong with this. It used to be my way as a child and a young adolescent. I’d feel hurt and I’d ball up (literally or otherwise) and I’d be sad and I’d cry. And there’s value to this if this is something that helps move you forward.
But for me, I’ve, somehow (and this new book my sister got me for my birthday might help with it), turned my previous tactics into a vry slow burn. They use that phrase, “slow burn,” when they talk about acting. Characters who churn anger until an eventual release. But in a movie it’s two hours later. For me, it’s not really anger I feel (although it may be in there somewhere), but a mix of mild anxiety, some tension, and a whole lot of drive. It’s subtle, and hard to really convey, the way I push myself. It’s not insanely intense. I’m not out climbing Everest alone or something. I’m not setting records. But I’m pushing my mind, my body, to new heights as often as I can, and I do it because once I know I can do something, I have to beat it back, I have to accomplish more.
I say all this, but I still think I can do so much better. I don’t have a lot of money (yet), I haven’t run a marathon fast enough to speed-qualify for another (yet), I don’t own any property or have a family (yet), but these will (one hopes) come with time.
All I can do now is remember the times I’ve been doubted - most of all by myself - and use it to keep pushing me forward. I only look back so I move ahead.
When I’m running a short distance, like the race tomorrow night, I’m grimacing a lot of the time. Not because of pain but because I think I can always do a bit better. I hate to make mistakes - who enjoys it? - and I hate to let others down.
This has all combined to make me relatively intense and prone to expressing affection in a way that is…. not my girlfriend’s favorite, even though she knows I love her, but I’m rock solid on who I am. And I know I’ll be even better.
A lot of people love me, and a smaller number of people can’t stand me. I’m cool with that. It’s probably how it should be.
This is my sixth annual birthday reflection (posted here, Facebook, Informed or somewhere), and I’m the most confident I’ve ever been.
I can’t wait to see what I’m going to do.
But first, celebration! (ie A few days off)
Peace and love, and thanks for all the kind words.
You know, when I was in high school, I was a genuinely nice guy. I was angsty and anxious but I didn’t really have a cruel bone in my body. I never really got girls, and that made me sad, but I never felt anyone owed me anything. I just figured (somewhat correctly) I hadn’t made myself appealing enough to women one way or the other, and I also was going to a tiny school where everyone knew each other.
But then, college.
For a while, as I did with my male friends, I contorted in several directions to try to get people to like me. (It doesn’t work!)
With women, I did what I thought was the thing to do to get some - and I got SOME - but never managed a real connection, Or, if I did, it was never something I noticed and acted on. I’m sure some women were really into me freshman year - indeed, looking back, at least two were - but I found a way to screw it up, because I was a fool.
But this isn’t about that. Sophomore year, particularly the first half, I found myself without any good friends on campus, regardless of gender, and my kindness sort of transmogrified into an anger of which I’m still ashamed. I mean, the worst thing I did was run my mouth and say mean things - violence in physical action is something that will never come naturally to me - but the worst thing about it, looking back, is that I became a Nice Guy. Sigh.
This new phenomenon that has sprung up recently - which I definitely applaud, from my pained perspective - has reminded me of the bullshit entitlement I felt towards people in whom I was interested. All this led me to think stupid shit like, ”Oh, I’m so nice to her, she doesn’t even notice me,” and “Why doesn’t she realize I’m clearly the person she should like?” It was never that I thought anyone owed me sex or anything like that - even at my darkest moments, my mind just didn’t work that way, and for this I feel lucky - but some silly garbage about being “liked.” I was really on some fairy tale nonsense, being burdened by a lot of baggage and thinking that having a girlfriend would solve all of it. I saw happy couples and wanted to be part of one. It was sad, but understandable. But I definitely had Nice Guy tendencies, and looking back, I feel for that scared, lonely kid, and I’m glad he never did anything worse than think or say mean things.
It’s been nine years since 2004, the year where most things went to shit for me. I had other brief moments of despair (particularly between college and Korea), but, honestly, you know what helped me stop being a Nice Guy? Online dating. No, really.
I know that a lot of the fools being teased for being NGs are dating online by now, but I did it - through various free sites - for many years before I even started my (Jesus) five years on OKC, and I learned that rejection is completely normal. Before I was living in NYC and there were simply a lot more options, rejection stung each time (and it never stops hurting if you are really really into someone), but seriously, putting myself out there and getting smacked down again and again taught me a lot. I didn’t feel anyone “owed” me anything once I realized that all this was normal. It took me a looooot longer to learn that I didn’t have to like every woman who was into me, but that’s an issue to examine at a different time.
I think that a lot of lonely guys can go the way of the Nice Guy. And if all it turns into is angry self-doubt, it’s hopefully a phase to suffer through quietly if no one else is hurt. But it can definitely be dangerous to others if circumstances are different, and I’m glad that my loneliness mostly led me to dislike myself - and to eventually push myself to be better after a long time spent moping - and not to take it out on anyone else, aside from the friends I unfortunately pushed away.
But anyway. I’m glad I was only a Nice Guy for a short time. And I’ll do whatever I can to call out men I know for acting this way, though thankfully I don’t seem to have any such friends currently.
So yes. I was once a nice guy, and then a Nice Guy. And now I’m. hopefully, just a good guy as I reach the start of my 28th year.
Peace and love,
I got a great new job…
I ran my first (of many, damn it) marathons…..
And I met an amazing woman I hope to keep around as long as possible…
I don’t see how 27 could top that, but here’s hoping it does, starting tomorrow.
Peace and love,
Previous Answer: Alone. -A = lone, still the same. -L = one, still the same. Etc.
Question: What is the only state to allow its residents to vote from outer space?
Pool of water that I just scrambled over using the railing. Was supposed to be a leisurely walk to work!
I thought I had escaped this.
No one besides my parents leaves me voicemails anymore, so the voicemail on my phone doesn’t matter much to me. It’s just “You’ve reached Justin Gerald etc etc.” But even this one, that no one ever hears, I had to record about seven times. I screw up or a trip over my words or I cough or something.
So at work, I just received a little flip phone (because I will be away from my desk at the senior center and thus unable to respond to ESOL phone calls) which I will actually need to have a usable voicemail for, because prospective students like to call whenever they feel like it, regardless of when there might actually be a person at the desk. So this one, people will hear.
So of course it took me 25 recordings to get it right. I would stop, curse at myself, start again.
This is a very odd thing with me, but I can never get voicemails right without tons of work, especially now that they have to be professional and not some version of me being silly like they all used to be.
My favorite voice message was when I pretended to be the Moviefone guy. My grandmother was living at the time, and my mom told her to call my phone to hear it, and she heard and said, “THAT’S A WHITE MAN!!”
Peace and love,
With this job, if someone is sick or otherwise occupied and it’s something I know how to do (ie, not, say, cooking the meals), I’m always glad to help out. I switch my schedule around if need be - aside from, ya know, the birthday weekend or a vacation - and I’m fine with that.
I make sure they know that I need to stay on top of certain things, and they respect that.
It’s a good environment, and I knew as soon as I visited the senior center that it was a place where people supported each other, there was little suspicion or negative gossip.
At the other job, if they ask you to do more, it’s always, “Well, how much will you give me for it?” Crappy jobs, which many people have, have to bribe for extra effort. I get it, it makes sense, and it sucks.
The job itself and the environment should be motivation enough.
Would you go the extra mile for your job? If you wouldn’t, you have the job I used to have, and it’s not fun, is it?
Good luck in finding something for which you’d work extra hard.
Peace and love,
Hawaii’s Mauna Kea.
Another riddle for you. I know a word, five letters long. Behead me once, I am the same. Behead me again, I am still the same.
When I wake up for a work day, I let my alarm music play and hop down to the floor for fifty pushups and twenty five leg lifts (unless I’m about to go running). It takes me two minutes at most and even if you switch the exercises up, anyone could be up and at em if they forced themselves into the rhythm. We could all do something. Illness and age are our only excuses, and even then, most of my seniors exercise.
Get up and at em folks, and supercharge your day. (And of course, a one minute workout won’t get you in shape. But it won’t hurt.)
Peace and love,
There are a few times in my (privileged) life when it’s been assumed I’ll make people proud. Graduations (three of them now), getting into schools (tends to come before graduation), getting a good job or a promotion, and, for me, completing a marathon.
But today was a new kind of proud.
Yes, everyone knows that I got this job because I’m not very keen on silence. And my boss (as well as many of the seniors and the ESOL students) has told me several times that I’ve been doing good work. So those kinds of validations are nice, because I do work hard, and I work quickly, and I try to work efficiently.
But today I ate with my professor from grad school, who was also, essentially, the architect of my MA program itself, and the one who interviewed me and helped me choose a pathway. There is no Masters for Justin without her, and literally so, because in our final semester she taught us and signed off on my abilities as an educator. There is no person whose judgment I trust more when it comes to my skills as a teacher (even if I’m not teaching these days).
So when I was excitedly telling her about all of the things I do, and she was happy to hear about them, I realized that someone who took a (small) risk in letting you into a competitive program, and then a (larger) risk in pushing you out the door with the certification that you’re good at what you hope to be good at, and then (another) risk in serving as a recommendation for you, and you can actually share your current life with them and make them feel like all of that was worth it, that’s new. I’ve never been able to do that before.
And it’s not as if the support of my friends and family and girlfriend doesn’t mean the world to me. This is just… different. And it’s nice.
I wish you all the chance to make someone who didn’t have to help you feel pride in what you’re doing.
Peace and love,