Low Expectations

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In my previous post, I had stated that expectations can be the bane of relationships, using Valentine's Day as an example. If the woman had been expecting a grand gesture of gift and fine dining, and she received a card and dinner at Chili's, then resentment might grow. If the man had expected a superbly satisfying blow on his one-eyed python, but instead caught the stink eye from his lady, then resentment might root itself within him. Resentment can grow and explode into a full-blown argument. And those are exhausting.

The post came about when a woman had asked me how to have a long happy relationship. My answer was to have no expectations.

You know when you go to a Star Wars movie, like the one released at the end of 2017, and there were a jack load of people that were disappointed with the film? Everyone entered the theater with pretty high expectations. Me included. I remember thinking halfway through the movie: This smells like stinky butt. I had some hope that the end of The Last Jedi would sorta bring everything together, much like how Pulp Fiction had done, and I would feel like an asshole for thinking such blasphemy. Yeah...no.

Had I lowered my expectations to where Hell exists, then I wouldn't have felt so bad paying seventeen bucks. With no expectations, I would have enjoyed the film for what it is. Entertaining crap.

Now, I'm not saying you should lower your expectations so your relationship can be long and happy. Doing so would end the relationship in a dull silence of an atomic explosion.

If a husband does nothing to help his wife when she's sick, then she has two basic choices. Accept his behavior. Or not. I don't expect many women would let their husbands' callousness to go unpunished. A discussion needs to take place at this point.

Going back to the Valentine's Day example, the couple should set expectations. Do they want something grand and memorable? Or do they want something low key? Neither is wrong in my eye. Well none of those things can fit in my eye. But expectations should be set.

That's why communication is so important in a relationship. Each side should state what they want, and then compromise from there. It's a goddamn relationship, dammit! So go. And relate.

Great Expectations

 "Expectations. That's one of the reasons why they fail," I said. I was talking to a group about relationships.

"Women expect certain things from men. Like how men should remember the tiny details of their lady's lives. Because if they don't, then somehow the relationship isn't going well."

Some of the women thought about this, but I wasn't sure if they agreed.

So I continued, "Or if a couple is married, the wife is not obligated to have sex with her husband if she doesn't feel like it." He would expect it, of course. "But there's no law stating she has to. So if the husband forces himself on her, it's rape."

A woman then said, "But we have to deal with reality."

I wasn't sure what she meant by that as our conversation was interrupted. But she might have meant that if it had been the married couple's anniversary, then they should celebrate it. Or if they had kids, then both the mother and father would be expected to care for them equally.

Sometimes shit happens, life gets in the way, and things don't happen to plan.

I key in on the word 'reality' because it varies moment by moment. But how?

I met up with a friend I hadn't seen for a while, and he told me he had a hell of a year.

"2016 has been relentless."

Life had shit on him. Our friends had shit on him. None of them wanted to celebrate his birthday, so I offered, took him out to dinner at a sports bar.

"I'm thinking of moving to Seattle," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Have you noticed that white women don't want to be with Asian men here?"

"No. I've seen plenty of white women with Asian men."

He gave me a look like I was telling him a far-fetched lie.

I told him that our minds filter out a lot of stuff from the world.

"If I asked you to count all the blue things at the bar, you'd only look for blue things. Right?"

He nodded.

"How many red things would you have noticed?"

"I get your point."

Reality is determined by what we want to see and not necessarily what is in the world. Because everything is in the world. The good. The bad. And the ugly. But our conscious minds cannot handle everything. So it filters out almost all of it, giving us what we think is reality.

And moving to Seattle or any other place wouldn't have change my friend's reality because he'd take his filter, or prejudice, with him. But once he drops this filter, this mindset, then it doesn't matter where he is, he'll be able to change his reality on the go.

This applies to relationships too.

My first girlfriend had asked, "Do you remember the song that was playing on the radio when we first made out?"

I hesitated, scouring my mind for that song, a process made harder because I don't remember names to songs. This was during the age of cassette tapes. That's TAPES. iPods had yet to be invented where songs were displayed on a monochromatic display. Not only that, other processes in my body were taking place as my senses were filled with new experiences I had only imagined. So remembering a vague song wasn't on my list of priorities in that moment.

But she had wanted assurances that I loved her, that every minute we spent together was treasured by me. So if I remembered the name of that song, then in her mind, I loved her. And that was simply not true. Despite my inability to recall the name of the song, I did love her.

In contrast, she had glossed over me taking her to Disneyland for her first time. She loved all things Disney. Her room was full of memorabilia: stuffed animals, posters, movies. It was a Disney store.

For our first Christmas, I had bought some Disney dollars and gifted them to her as a hint to where I would be taking her that weekend. It took her a little bit, but she realized where we were going. She wasn't as excited as I thought she would be, and I was disappointed with that.

Now, a lot of women would say, "It's the little things that count."

Okay, gurlfriend. I had seen that she loved Disney. Heard her telling me she'd never been to The Happiest Place On Earth. Found a creative way to tell her. And scraped enough money to take her.

She saw this grand gesture, but she didn't see the little things that led up to it. I thought I had dun good. That's DUN. Past tense of...uh...

For me to have had expected her to jump for joy and run around and scream her head off with the prospect of going to Disneyland for her first time was wrong. Whether she was excited or not didn't say anything about me. She had been dealing with something difficult in her life, and I needed to understand that. That is how I should have shown love.

I'm not saying don't have expectations. Have them. But be aware that when they aren't met, other things could be going on that are outside of our sight and control. From this place, peace can be had because when our expectations aren't met, it's often out of our hands.

Forever Moments

In the documentary Spielberg on Spielberg, Spielberg said his main job was to connect his audience to his films. I'd say that's the job of every artist who wants their work to be seen by the world.  How do you do that?

Chinese Connection.  Sorry.  Had a Bruce Lee moment.

Emotional connection.

Underdog stories are very emotional.  All of us can relate because at some point we've been the underdog.  I'm working on becoming a published author.  I feel like underdog.

An artist's initial job is to feel.  Seems obvious, right?

I've asked people about how they felt when they watched a movie, read a book, seen a photograph.  What's the most common answer?

I don't know.

Feel yourself out (get your mind out of the guttah).

Whenever something moves you, ask yourself why it moves you.  If something doesn't move you, then ask why.  The answers will amaze you.  When I started acting, my teachers always said my body was the instrument.  Use it.  Feel it.  Live it.

Forever moments.

Every year the carnival comes to town.  They've been coming since I was a kid.  One year I took my girlfriend at the time and bought a ride-till-you-throw-up pass.  We rode all of the stomach churning rides.  Walked through exhibits like the double headed rubber rat (huh?), a wax figure of a fat bearded lady (what?), and a pickled snake with mutant feet (a lizard?).  Then our nerves were tried at the haunted house.  Only half the stuff worked.  A vampire ain't that scary when it can barely pop out of its coffin.  We talked to carnies.  Many of them stared at my ex through their good eye.

There were two things that I remember most.  It was her first time at a carnival, and she was excited.  Every time she got excited her voice would rise, and she'd sound like a little girl.  Despite the jungle of carnival noise, her voice sounded like music.  Touched me like no other voice has touched me.  Yes, I was in love.

She'd never eaten carnie food, so I bought a tray full.  As we dug in, she wanted a bite of my corn dog.  I dipped it in mustard and she took a bite.   "Mmmm," she said.  In that forever moment, all I remembered was sharing that corn dog.  There was one more bite left.  So I let her have it.

I read something in her eyes.  I got up and bought another dog on a stick.  Another forever moment strolled by as we shared in the goodness.

And every year the carnival comes to town, the sound of her voice and the forever moment sharing the corn dog permeates my mind.

My mom and I went to a restaurant one time.  The hostess sat us at a small side table.  Sheer drapes were drawn to shade us from the afternoon sun.  Old Chinese ladies rolled aluminum carts of dim sum.  Since my Cantonese wasn't great, my mom ordered.  We made small talk as we enjoyed good food and the warm sun.  My mom kept my tea cup filled and continued to order dim sum.  She wanted me fat.  Still does.  When the bill came she pulled out an old leather coin purse, and popped it open.  She meticulously counted each bill and each coin and made sure there was enough tip.  She looked at me and giggled, asking me if I'd had enough to eat.  I shook my head.  That day has become one of my favorite birthdays.

Forever moments.