Life Has No Schedule

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I went to World Con 76. Their convention is much like the San Diego Comic Con, except there aren't any big Hollywood celebrities, you're not forced to move with the crowd because there aren't 150,0000 people attending, costumed super heroes and villains don't roam the convention center, and the con centers around books. Specifically SFF, science fiction and fantasy. This is the group that gives out the Hugo Award for the genre, which is like getting an Oscar. So much of fiction is riddled with romance, because that's what sells, so it's heart warming to see an organization dedicated to SFF.

I was excited to go to the Hugo nominees' readings where the authors read a selection from their own books. There might have been sixty to eighty seats, but they were all taken, so I had to stand. I didn't care. I wanted to hear excerpts from great writers. Then we were told that the fire marshal wouldn't allow us to stand as it was a fire hazard. WhatchutalkinaboutWillis? I had a clear path to the door had there been a fire. Still, I and the other standers were asked to leave. I suggested to the room we bribe the fire marshall, but that wasn't well received. Especially from those seated. Bastards. Joking...things like bribing or paying off porn stars and Playboy models ain't my thing.

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I decided to go to a talk about how aliens might think. The panel was made of two university professors whose specialties lay in human consciousness, and a SFF author who studied AI at MIT. Her name is SL Huang, which I assumed was her pen name, since the panel kept calling her Lisa. She sort of had this Natalie Portman thing going on. Dating has been hard for me, so maybe my celebrity crush was manifesting itself in some way. But I checked out her website, and she's quite an accomplished author. She had to be in her thirties. She looked younger, but Asians don't raisin.

Then my insecurity reared its ugly head into my mind. Here, I'm writing an article that will likely never be read, had been going to a writing group work-shopping my second book when the first one isn't even published, and still trying to get representation from a literary agent. Loser!

Breath...om...Keyser Söze...

I reminded myself that life has no schedule. Except that things are born and then they die. I know, real insightful. It seems people need to plan everything that happens in between these two points. I have to graduate high school in order to go to college, then I can get a job and earn enough for a down payment for my first home by this age. I'll need to meet The One soon if I want to have kids because I don't want to have them too old, otherwise I'd be too old. Eventually I'll have to change jobs every now and then so I can get the requisite pay increases and save for my retirement. And I do want to leave something to the kids when I die because they're my children and that's what a parent does.

In the span of 105 words, I've scheduled my whole life. All of that, by the way, is crap. Life has no schedule. Some people die before they're born. Others die after more than a century has past. A lucky few make it big in their chosen industry. A majority do not. Some people earn their way in. Others do not...ahem...the Orange One.

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My writing group and I had been interviewed and on a podcast. One of our writers had an interesting story. He volunteered at the San Francisco Writers Conference where he set up and tore down rooms for presenters. He set a room once for an author who pulled out binders full of rejections letters from literary agents that had amounted to hundreds. He eventually made it, but it was through sheer effort and not giving up. In contrast, a dozen agents rejected JK RowlingKathryn Stocket, who wrote The Help, was rejected by 60 agents. The point is that different people make it at different times. And because we as humans are very bad at telling the future, we don't know what's coming around the bend. Had Stocket given up on the 59th rejection, she would have never found her current agent and her ensuing success.

Does that mean you should never give up? No. I think there are circumstances that may indicate ending something is good. I had given up on acting because I fell out of love with it. My best friend and I had decided not to open our own martial arts school after planning and working on it for a couple of years. So far a reason to give up my writing hasn't presented itself to me. Having a never quit attitude doesn't guarantee success, however you define success. But you'll never succeed if you don't start or give up too early. And be cautious about attaching your happiness to circumstance. Not making it in any industry doesn't affect your happiness.

Life has no schedule.

Men's Intuition

Men’s Intuition. Is that an oxymoron like government intelligence? Trumpcare?

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Once upon a time, I had been a life coach to kids. There were two basic tenets that I followed. One: Listen to them. Whatever they told me, no matter how ridiculous, I would hear them out. The reason was simple. I don't have the ability to read minds. To help them deal with whatever they had been going through, I depended on them to tell me. And because I didn't judge them for what they had told me, they felt free to tell me anything without fear of repercussions.

Two: I used my intuition to try and read in between the lines. Be it through their word choice, body language, and what their parents had communicated to me.

Women have always been the ones credited with having intuition. Studies have shown that to be true. But I think the reasons as to why women can read people better than men is because they were allowed to feel and express their emotions, where men were taught/scolded to hide them.

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Hence, our communication problems between the sexes.

In saying that, all humans have the ability to read each other. Some are better than others, but still.

I went to a party and met this beautiful woman. I was my charming self, of course, which usually meant that people run for the hills because I'm pretty direct. Self-censoring has been an issue. Not for me. For other people. Because I don't censor much. She and I traded numbers. We went out to dinner. Once. Afterward I knew I didn't want to date her. Friends asked me how my interest had fallen so quickly. I didn't know why. Initially, I thought it was because I was afraid to start something up, having just broken off a relationship. I did try to come up with reasons, but they all sounded false to me. She and I hung out. Became friends. And it was through our time together that I figured out why I hadn't pursued anything further than just a friendship.

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Listing out those reasons aren't important here. What's important was that my intuition, this silent voice within me, had pretty much killed my hard on for this woman. I could have taken the blue pill to liven my serpent, but that was not the issue. There had been no issue. And my fear that I didn't want to start anything up so soon after a breakup sounded reasonable, but that wasn't the truth either.

Often times when I'm at the gym, I want to talk to a girl. Sometimes I hesitate, which pisses me off. Women want men to approach them. So when I don't, I feel like a wimp. So I thank my intuition when I see their boyfriend come up and give them a hug or a kiss. Now, I'm not saying that every time I hesitate, the girl has a boyfriend or would be bad for me. But we as humans, especially in a world where intuition isn't relied upon as much, need to trust and cultivate it.

We probably act against this innate wisdom more often than not. The question is how do we know the difference between that truth versus our irrational fear that stops us from living life?

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First, we need to stop beating ourselves up when we don't do what we wanna do, or forget something, or fail. Beating yourself down is one sure way of numbing your intuition. When a parent yells at their child enough times, the child will stop talking/communicating to them. So when we beat ourselves, we'll either stop listening to our intuition, or you'll quiet its silent voice. Sometimes, if not all the time, our hesitations, forgetfulness and failures happen for a reason. Learn from them. See if you can get past them. Failure is the greatest teacher. It tells us that the thing we tried doesn't work. Now we know.

Second, when (irrational) fear doesn't involve death, maybe we let go of the break and stomp on the gas pedal and don't run over anyone. If you're dating someone, and it doesn't work out, then take the time to learn from the experience. If you want to start your own business, and it doesn't work out, try and figure out why. What you'll find is the experience that you've accumulated while trying something out will help guide you in your next adventure, be it love or business. And that's the great thing about life. The experiences. People get on rollercoasters because of the ups and downs and the twists and turns. Not to reach the end of the ride. People watch scary movies because they want to be frightened. Not to reach the rolling credits. What makes life memorable is the craziness. But if we let our irrational fear stop us from doing anything worth while, then is life worth living?

An Exploration into Mayhem

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When an action/horror flick comes out called Mayhem, starring a male Asian lead from an incredibly popular zombie series, I have no choice but to watch it. Steven Yeun stars in Joe Lynch's movie about a virus gone wild in a law firm's towering skyscraper. The entire building gets quarantined until the virus runs its course, 24 hours. Although the virus, unlike on the Walking Dead, doesn't change their human hosts permanently, it does remove inhibition, leading to unhinged acts of violence, lust, and more violence. Yeun's character, Derek, is trapped in this building, an exec in said firm. And to make it interesting Derek is involuntarily chosen to be the fall guy for a costly mistake the law firm made. He decides he needs a face-to-face with the sadistic CEO, no virus required, to resolve this issue. So he has to reach the top floor, negotiating–fighting really–the corporate lackeys who are overworked, under appreciated, and fucking pissed off. Good times.

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I enjoyed the movie. I can relate. Not because Yeun is Asian, but because the character has to reconcile his choice of living the corporate life instead of delving into his life's passion in the arts.

I work a day job in the cold, ugly corporate world, which is soul-sucking. I'm a bit fortunate because I get to work from home. But I still have to act within the confines of political correctness, which I absolutely despise. At night I ride my mechanical steed to a Starbucks, sit down in my spot, and dive into my world of fantasy. Freedom!

The film Mayhem seems to pit corporate life and passion in a fight to either drain Derek's soul or save it. So what does one do? Work a black hole of a day job to pay the bills? Or be a starving artist and try to live life to the fullest? Derek's trek up the building seems to symbolize this internal conflict. Kind of an homage to Bruce Lee's Game of Death, the actual version, not the one that was released by Columbia Pictures. So what would you choose? Soul-sucking job? Or starving artist?

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One of my favorite stories is Michelangelo's day job. They had day jobs back in the fifteenth century? I know, right? Looking at his paintings and sculptures, it's almost impossible to see that his true passion laid in sculpting. To say he was a master at it is insulting. Many argue he was the GOAT. No, not a four-legged sheep with horns. Greatest of all time. So what was his day job? Barista at an Italian bakery? No. His regular day job was a painter. And not the kind that painted your house. Well...unless it was the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel. And from what little I know, when the Pope commissioned him to do this, he had to finagle the deal to ensure that Michelangelo would finish painting the Chapel.

Now Lynch wasn't clear in his film that quitting your day job was a requirement to follow your passions. That would be a ridiculous notion. And parables such as this doesn't paint a clear map of how to negotiate life. That's our job as individuals. But the film does illustrate something that I've always prescribed to. And that is to follow your dreams. The opposition always states that the chances of making it is really, really, really low. Three really's indicate how low the chances are of being successful, according to pundits and pessimists. However...

"Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.” –Alex Noble, author.

In other words, the journey is the reward.

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Hell naw. I want riches. Fame. Glory!

As a not-starving writer, I totally get wanting people to read and love and know my work. I crave it. It's probably why I love my writing group. They're the few people who've read my stuff, and I get to hear how awesome...or bad my work is. (Listen to a podcast where we talked about the writing process, our group dynamics, and how masturbation is very similar to writing–for me anyway.)

The fact of life is that not everybody gets to make it big. But most people don’t even try. And to make it big the work has to be done. So why not enjoy the work–the journey–as we stroll toward whatever life may present?

It's a lot like sex. The goal of sex is rarely to make a child. Hence condoms and birth control. Though, sex is the only way to make a child. That's the reason why it feels so good. It pulls the curtain to the Hell that will come when the parents have to raise the child. Sorta like having dessert before dinner. Joking. Eh. Kinda. But sex feels good because we're connecting with our partners, exploring in adult play, trying to get each other off. Again the reward is in the journey.

The Deep End

Social media is the bane of my existence. Its become a way for people to try and attain some sort of fame, front a facade to hide behind of, or collect a large bouquet of followers to sell to.

Artists use it to get the word out on their work. I do that by writing these articles and posting some of them on Facebook. To be honest I don't really know who reads them. I don't go around asking, "Didya readit?" It's not that I don't care, but I sorta don't care. Some people have told me off hand that they’ve read a post I’ve written. I mean, I'd love it if everyon did. The crazy thing is that I don't speak to most of the people that I'm connected to on Facebook. I can count the number of my close friends on one hand.

When I ride the train during rush hour, I find myself swimming in people facedown over lit pieces of glass. Not that I don't do that. I do. But I spend more time people watching, and there's not much to watch.

This isn't a commentary about how our society is slowly being drained of real human connection. Though, they are.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time alone because I'm either writing or critiquing my fellow writers' pages. I love the work. I also go on long hikes and walks and fall into my introverted side and become introspective. But all of that gets lonely at times. Then I go on Facebook and everyone is liking and commenting and having a jolly good time. So it seems that if I don't participate in all the likes and commenting and gushing over how good that plate of food looks, then I don't exist. I'd rather like and comment and gush over what's happening in person. That's more fulfilling than who has liked my shit on Facebook.

In what is claimed to be the longest study on happiness, Robert Waldinger states that fulfillment in life comes from real human connection. The deeper the better. That's what she said.

Now I'm presented with a choice. Do I do what everyone else is doing and put full effort into building my social media? Or do I try for deep connections with people?

Why not do both?

Both are time consuming. And for me one gives me no real satisfaction. The habit of social media is to collect followers and likes. You become a bean counter of sorts. And like material wealth, it's never enough. So you continue chasing and accruing, chasing and accruing...

It's fun at first. Much like eating a lot of candy. It's not very nutritious, eating all those empty calories. 

However, forming deep connections can be difficult for me because my sensibilities are raunchy with a little bit of dry humor mixed in, peppered with a bit of hot temperedness, toss in some uncomfortable questions, and top it off with a heaping scoop of sarcasm. That's a mixture most chefs would be like...

Most of the time I'm not an asshole. I'm not asking women if I can slap their plump butt. But it's no surprise people who can't handle my mess of a personality run for the hills. Hence...count my friends on one hand. The most obvious solution is to dial my sensibilities down a notch...maybe all the way. Like take a tranquilizer gun, point it at my butt cheek, and yank the triggah. Eventually I'd wake up and be my old self again.

The real solution is to find folks who are willing to jump into the deep end of the crazy pool with me. Just to be clear I'm not that crazy. I don't go around flashing people. I don't do hardcore drugs. I don't torture animals. I torture people with my sensibilities, but I don't physically hurt them. Unless it's sexual where it hurts so good. I'm liberal so I'm accepting of people from different cultures, backgrounds, and the like. In other words, I'm aware enough where I'm not hurting anyone. If people are offended by me, then so be it. They can climb out of the deep end and scream running. I'll just float all by my lonesome.

Not So Fine Whine

What is California known for? Hollywood? Star Wars? Surfers? Apple? Sunny weather? Gay capital of the world? Nope. Well. Yes. But the sunshine state has an abundance of wineries. They're everywhere. Even Francis Ford Coppola has a winery. Robin Williams owned one before selling it. Now, I'm not a drinker since I have the disease called the Asian Glow. But what I really wanna talk about are whiners.

Most of the time I go to my local Starbucks and plant myself in one of their cushy bench seats and pull out my iPad and write. So I've gotten to know most of the baristas and some of the regulars. There's one couple that often comes to get their caffeine dosage, so they can head to the gym revved up. About half the time they see me and come to have a five minute conversation. Last night the husband came in by himself, and he started to complain about the sad state of the economy, which was somehow Trump's fault. Well, argument was more like it. And I took myself a little too seriously and my temper flared up my Asian Glow.

"How can China's economy grow 70%, and ours only 1%?" he whined.

Being a writer of fantasy, I'm not hooked into the details of how the economy is doing, but after a quick search revealed that Whiner wasn't wrong. The Economist wrote the economic growth was 0.7%. Another search showed China's GDP to be around 6.5%. Not sure where Whiner heard 70%, but I didn't know all this last night.

"China is still considered a Third World country," I said. "So it's no surprise to me they're becoming more industrialized."

"So does that mean we've invented everything?" Whiner asked.

"What have you invented?"

"Nothing."

"OK, then."

"I can't see why China can grow 70% and we can't. I voted for Trump because he said he was going to rev up the economy. When's it happening?"

And then I said some not so nice things, using words like "You're an idiot", "Don't be stupid", "Are you fucking kidding me?"

I'm not a Chump supporter...sorry...Trump supporter. Yuck. Threw up in my mouth a little. But I heard the same complaints when President Obama was in office. And I always knew one thing. If I were to depend on one man for my health, wealth, and happiness, then I was going to lose all three.

Recently I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. One of their Smart Rider Commitments is: I acknowledge that an expert rider is one who uses expert judgement to avoid having to use expert skills...

In other words, ride safely, don't do stupid ass shit and get your ass jacked up.

It's the same with health. I exercise so I can keep my body in good working order. Anybody can do this. I often tell people to at the very least walk everyday. Like make it a point and go outside and take a damn walk. People take their dogs on walks. One of my friends even takes his cat out for walks. No joke. So go outside and take your body out for a walk. A truth about the human body is if you don't use it, you'll lose it. We see this with the elderly.

Wealth is no different in that we must take responsibility for it. I know too many people who spend so much of their hard-earned money on shit they don't need. Maybe they want to keep up with the Joneses, or that they want to buy stuff so they can try and fill their bottomless holes. One of my exes used to spend about $500 a month on new clothes/shoes/purses/junk. Over a five year period, that's $30,000 on stuff, which she'll have to pay more money (bigger house) to store.

Taking responsibility of your wealth can also mean trying new things like build a small business or explore other ways of bringing in additional income. No matter how small that income may be. You're just exploring, and if you can grow it, then all the better. But no. Judging by how long Keeping Up with the Kardashians have been on (a decade), a lot of people plop themselves down after work and watch reality television. Think about that. They're watching someone else live their life who's chasing their dreams.

Watchu talkin' bout Willis?

Don't be a whiner. Whinin' about stuff ain't gonna change nuthin'. So you might as well do something new. Because if you fail, at least you did something, and you most likely learned something you didn't before. And that experience will fill that bottomless hole more than any physical thing. Hm. Except for sex.

To Conform or Not To Conform

One of my friends read my post Don't Be You where I talk about conformity. He messaged me later saying that he felt good about conforming to societal norms.

The bratty little boy within me rolled his eyes and said, "Of course you do." He tends to be afraid of rocking the boat.

Then my grown enlightened self, dressed in a nice sun dress—don't ask, reminded me that I'm not a rebel. And she was right. I stop at stop lights. I don't go around beating people up. I open da door for da ladies. I work so I don't have to steal food.

There are moments where I'll follow the rules because it's advantageous for me. Like stepping on the brakes when seeing a red light helps prevent other cars from colliding into me. But a lot of times I tell it like it is, even if it hurts, because I feel it's the right thing to do.

When I hired my writing coach, she told it like it was, like a cold machete shredding my pages. Did it hurt? Hell yeah. And that's perfectly fine because I learned so much. She was never discouraging, however.

Living your life, ignoring what society tells you what you should do, is something I always preach. In other words Be You.

I think the divorce rate is so high because so many people get married because they think they should at a certain age. And if you ask people at what age is marriage appropriate, you'll get wildly different answers. Or they'll get married because they've been with this person for this long so why not?

On the flip side, the divorce rates during your grandparents' generation may have been low because it was the norm to stay with your spouses till death parted them. And they could have been better off by breaking their marriages.

I think the worst thing that could happen is if you live a life society, or your parents, has dictated. You may be missing out on a big adventure. Will mistakes happen? For sure. So what? Mistakes can guide you, help you see far enough to make corrections. Imagine a baby trying to walk. They'll fall a thousand times. And they needed to in order to master the art of walking.

I remember learning how to snowboard. Gazing down the bunny slope was like looking down from the top of Mount Everest. I must have fell a hundred times my first day. Now, bunny slopes feel like the shallow end of the pool. Good place to warm up. Not the best place to find excitement. Unless you're having sex there, but that's a different thing.

I've told my boss that I see my job as a job, a means to earn money so I can eat, have a place to call my own, and the freedom to write. You'd think that was a mistake because if there are layoffs, I'd be the first one on the beheading block. Eddard Stark!

But I center my life around writing, spend a lot of my free time working on my novel. I wake up early to go to work so I can get off early. I go to the gym before it gets crowded by the 9-to-5ers. Then I eat and head over to Starbucks and write.

Being a writer is pretty unique. Yes, I'm tooting my own horn. You tend to find a lot of people that want to write or have a book inside them. Not literally, of course. That would hurt and cause indigestion. From that group you find that many have started the process. Then a smaller group may have written a first draft. Then even fewer who have done rewrites and edits. Still fewer are those who hire writing coaches and workshop their books.

And I think that's why we love celebrities. We celebrate their courage to achieve their own dreams. Because living a conventional life of conformity ain't gonna do that for you. I'm not saying you need to live an amazing life by society's definition. But live a life that amazes you.

Game of Life

Have you had dinner with a relative, the one who talks down to you, but you go anyway because you feel obligated to sit and chew some sustenance and withstand the sleep-inducing conversation that will cap this most exciting experience?

To me, my whole family is like that. I love them (obligatory sentence this is). And I make it sound bad, cuz it sorta is, but they're family. I said that at the beginning of the paragraph. I know! Stop nagging me!

Taking a chill pill 'till my will for anger will subside like an ill-running car puttering up a hill.

Yeah. I'm not sure what that means either.

My life centers around my writing. So I wake up early for work so I can get off work early so I can rush to the gym early and then trudge into the shop (coffee that is) and write. During my workout, I run into my brother and he invites me to dinner. I haven't seen him in a long time, so I agree. Why not?

We sit down at a table and the first thing he says is, "How's life?" Then before I can respond, he jokes, "What life? Right?" And laughs.

Fabulous. Love you too, bro.

In my family, having a life means locking yourself in marriage, growing children, tending to a single family abode, while clawing the ranks of the corporate world, saving for retirement (waiting for death that is). In other words, being a zombie.

The above blurb should show you that I'm not married, have no kids, not clawing up anyone's ass in the business world, treading is more like it but barely. 

Now, I'm not saying living that life is bad. I wouldn't offend anyone like that on purpose. But when my big bro throws shit at me, I can't help but think about my life and wonder if spending thousands of hours on writing is really the way to go.

Is writing my stories and throwing it out into the world (my dream that is) a worthy life goal?

Most positive thinking practitioners state yes, pursuing your dreams, your passions is a life well lived.

Every man dies, not every man truly lives. -William Wallace

But what does truly live mean?

Does it involve risking your life like the military? Or doing stunts like jumping out of a plane? Or pursuing the arts and creating something that shows your soul? Or raising children and hope that they wont blow up the world?

That's for you to decide. But for some reason, being a cog in a corporate machine is not the way to go, unless you really find a thrill in being a cog in a corporate machine. I said that in the beginning. I know!