Loosening Up – Social Interactions

I like to talk with waiters and waitresses (and cashiers and sales clerks). It’s a habit I picked up from my dad. But my humor is unfiltered. I especially get a kick out of oversharing. It is always intentional. Some of my friends love when I do this and some friends hate it. The ones that hate it believe I’m antagonizing the waitstaff.

It’s insulting not only to the waitstaff but to my intelligence (and my ego) when I hear this. The accusers must believe that I have so little self-awareness that I completely misread the server’s non-verbal cues. Waiters don’t get short with me, they play along. Whether they’re fishing for a nice tip or genuinely interested in going back and forth with me, they play along. In fact they often linger by my table for whole minutes. And when I return to the restaurant weeks or months later, they remember me. What do my accusers know that I don’t?

I feel that I genuinely make the person’s job more enjoyable when I banter with them.

Overtipping is another habit that’s been drilled into me by my father; one that will see us both dying penniless, I’m sure.

There are no I’ll-have-the’s or let-me-get’s from me either. I always say, “May I please have?” when I order. I smile. They smile. I’ll admit my style of banter is unorthodox, but then so am I.

Sometimes, I get scoffs and moans from friends before we’ve even sat down at the table. The host or hostess says, “How many?” and instead of answering with just a number, I’ll say, “Three. Jerm was at the doctor’s office and then he had to rush home to feed Leo, but he’s on his way now. So three.”

Maybe that seems obnoxious to you. Just let them do their job. They don’t need you being a smart ass. Like hell they don’t. 99 times out of 100, they smile. And they’re either brilliant actors in addition to being able hosts and hostesses, or they’re entertained. A lot of them will say something clever right back to me.

Let me be clear. I do this for my own amusement more than anything else. I enjoy the hell out of it. We all crave human interaction, and this is my favorite kind.

You should try it sometime. Engage your waiter or waitress. Tell them about your day. Ask about theirs. Overshare. Be zany. Don’t hold back.

Recently I’ve taken to asking servers what car they think I drive based on my appearance. It’s a great icebreaker and it immediately lets them know that I’m not an uptight elitist who won’t even look them in the eye when I order.

At the end of my meal, the waiter might say, “Man, that guy was wacky. But at least he left me a big tip.”

Is that really such a bad thing?




This Working Out Thing Isn’t Working Out

I’ve never been a gym buff. In high school, I took two weight training classes, but I didn’t get much out of them. Whatever it is in gym buffs’ heads that makes them that way, I seem not to have it.

You don’t have to be a gym buff to live healthily, but you can’t live like I’ve been living either. Exercising has never been easy for me. Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe exercising isn’t easy for any of us, and some are simply more resilient than others.

Friends of mine go to the gym every day. They’ve made it a part of their routines. Some of them had told me that the first month is hard and beyond that it’s easy. I’ve never made it far enough to test this theory.

This is the time of making big promises to yourself for the new year. I’m not going to do that. You’ll find no I’ll-go-to-the-gym-every-day-in-2017 bullshit here. I believe in incremental improvements.

Maybe this week it’s 20 push-ups each day, and in a year I’m going to the gym a few times a week. I’m in no hurry.

Here’s to trying and trying again when at first you don’t succeed.


The Line Between Independence and Empathy

It is possible to balance between independence and empathy. They seem mutually exclusive to me, but perhaps they don’t have to be.

There is no reason in my mind why someone should not wear a hat indoors, but ask my grandpa and he’ll scold you for even asking. “Hats are for outside.” What if I like the way a hat looks and feels on me when I’m inside? Does it bother you that much? Why?

To wear or not to wear? That is the question. There are a billion similar questions that we must answer in our lives. Are my elbows on the table affecting you? It’s comfortable. People, pretentious people, might see the position of my elbows and scoff. Should I remove them from the table?

My instincts lean always toward spite, confrontation, perhaps immaturity. That raises another question: Is the adult the one who understands that society has certain rules and accepts them or the one who questions every societal rule and comes up with his own answer? 

Rudeness exists only in the mind of the offended. We should be cognizant of the feelings of those around us, but we shouldn’t let feelings prevent the freest (and therefore best) possible version of humanity.

This doesn’t mean I seek out confrontation. Were I at a friend’s house and he bowed his head in prayer, I would not launch into an atheistic rant.

There’s a use for tradition, but there is no use of blindly following it a la The Lottery. 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

I read this book in one night. It was that good. It was also that short; about 160 pages.

Pressfield offers wisdom on how to overcome creative blocks. Resistance is the term he uses to encompass everything that gets in the way of you completing your creative process.

The book is separated into three smaller books. Book one deals with defining the enemy—Resistance. Book two is about turning pro and combatting Resistance. The final book deals with a higher realm.

The first two books are full of poignant insights. The third is useless to me. Maybe you’ll find some meaning there.

If you’ve ever experienced a block in your creative process, this book has something to offer you.


Try Something Different: Dealing with Distractions

We can’t all function at 100% productivity all the time. Some of us are merely human. My Praxis advisor and I talked about this during our meeting earlier today. We theorized that it might be something in my subconscious that is holding me back from maximum productivity. We came up with a method to tap into my subconscious.

He challenged me to keep a journal every day for the next two weeks. Just by writing out my thoughts each day, a pattern might begin to emerge. Some fear or bias might appear on the page. That’s what we’re both hoping for anyway.

Be creative in your attempts to ignore distractions.

There’s no one way to cure laziness or procrastination. The distractions in your life are far outnumbered by the ways in which you could overcome them. The journal method will at least help me learn about myself and my motivations. And that can only be a good thing.