Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Last Word On..., No. 2: My Interests

If you know me, you know what my interests are, and that they're more than just hobbies; they're passions, and things I can't help but talk about quite often.  I've learned that my interests aren't typical, and I hardly expect anyone I meet to do even half of the same activities that I often do; if they do, though, more power to them.  Still, they are a big deal to you probably know all too well.

As usual for this series of posts, I will have three points.  First off: If you want to be my friend, you've got to respect my interests.  Like many kids of my generation, I used to collect Pokémon cards; I still did so after most of my classmates and friends thought it was "uncool".  One of the last times I got any was when I sent my mom--I couldn't go with her because of our family situation at the time--to get a booster pack of a newly released set of the trading cards.  It turned out they were first edition, which made them more valuable, and there was a card in there that was supposedly worth a whole bunch of money.  When I told my mom about that, she said something to the effect of, "That's an expensive card; you better take care of it." Some time later, I was talking to someone else--remember, I don't name names on here!--about the incident, and that person said that anyone could say the same thing; it didn't mean they cared.  Years later, I was playing a Pokémon game on my GameCube, and was trying to perform a difficult task--I'll spare you the details in case you're Pokémon-illiterate--but wasn't having much luck.  I turned it off and went back into the living room, when my mom noticed the frustrating look on my face and asked what was wrong.  I explained to her in general terms--like I did above--what was bothering me, and then added, "I know you don't care," thinking back on that previous conversation.  My mom said that she knew those games were important to me, and that she wanted me to do well in them...which means that other individual was wrong.  If you're my friend, I expect the same from you: You know what's important to me, so, respect it even if you don't like it yourself.  My Christian friends--who probably make up most if not all of the people reading this--are probably familiar with the verse that says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." In my nearly ten years, I've seen lots of rejoicing on Facebook: "I'm engaged!" "We're having a baby!" "I've got a new job!" "We're going to be grandparents!" "I just got this big award!" There's also been lots of sadness on Facebook: people have lost family members, suffered debilitating injuries, been through divorces, lost their homes, etc.  Those are big things, and an emotional response is normal...but, even if you don't jump for joy or bawl your eyes out, other events can affect you emotionally as well.  I was recently crushed when I found out that MovieStop, one of my longtime favorite stores, is going out of business soon.  I was a loyal customer, and trading in DVDs at FYE, if I even choose to do that, won't be the same.  On the same token, I was very happy to find out that Disney Channel will be showing all of the original movies they've ever made soon, and even releasing them all on iTunes as well.  When my friends heard about those events, they reacted appropriately...which is just what friends should do.

Second off: Anyone who fakes their support for my interests is not really my friend.  We all know the story of an unfortunate comment I made that led to the ending of a friendship; what you may not know is that the other party was once a big supporter of my interests...only to do a complete 180 on that front.  Previously, she had gone out of her way to support my "love"--I don't really know what else to call it--for Victoria Justice, both on Facebook and in person, which was a breath of fresh air compared to all the flak my interests had been getting pretty much my whole life.  After our falling out, though, she said something that shocked me to the core: "Are [your parents] not concerned that you are a 24 year old [sic] man crushing on teenaged [sic] actresses?" How could she have turned on me like that? She had previously been the poster girl for what a friend of mine should be...and she had a problem with the whole thing all along, even though she was one of its biggest supporters?  Honestly, I'd seen the same thing before; the associate minister/youth leader at my old church seemed to respect when I declined to join the rest of the high schoolers making a banner for Relay for Life, because I didn't want them to end up with a messed up one, only to tear into me for doing so some time later after a completely different incident.  He stood there and spoke in my defense in front of the whole class...but he didn't believe it himself.  Both incidents were heartbreaking, but I know I'll end up dealing with such behavior again.  I hate to be blunt, but I don't know how else to say this: If you're not serious about your support for me and what I do...then get off my friends list, NOW!

Lastly: I'm definitely not the only one who takes my entertainment seriously.  I often define entertainment as "books, movies, music, and television"...but, that's not everyone's definition.  Many people consider sports a big source of entertainment, and make a big deal of it...just like I do with my shows and such.  Even if you're not into ball games, maybe you're a big Broadway fan, or you're ardently enthused about history.  We all have our thing(s), and you know what mine are; now, my question is: What is/are yours?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Last Word On..., No. 1: Relationships

Before I start, an introduction to this series: These posts will be my last--yes, that means final--ones on topics that I've been going on and on about pretty much since I joined social networking, and, to a degree, before that; just not publicly online.  I also will limit myself to no more than four paragraphs, as I was recently challenged to do by a friend.  Since this is just an opening, it doesn't count; still, these will not be the long ramblings you're used to seeing.  My intent is to just say what I need to say and move on; unless something big changes on one of these fronts, I won't say anything more about them.  That may mean that, after I finish these, my blogging days are over...but, that's fine with me.  Still with me? Then, here we go.

Most of you reading this are likely in serious relationships, and probably have been for a while.  While that's great for you--that is, as long as your relationship is a happy one; we all know plenty are not!--I can't fight the feeling that one just isn't for me.  Yes, I've said that for quite a while; still, there are three very important reasons why I hold that belief, and they just can't be ignored.

First off: Do I even know what a relationship is? I'm not sure I do!  You probably remember these oft-quoted words from a former friend of mine: "I believe you have some unrealistic expectations of how relationships develop and function. They are not instantaneous, and ones that last are not easy. Whether romantic or platonic, relationships are a lot of work. They require mutual respect and consideration. [...] When you’ve talked about marriage, it’s always been about the ways you would benefit. What will you bring to a marriage? This is not about income. You’ll need to be her friend, her shoulder to cry on, and her sounding board. She’s not always going to agree with you. Will she just always be wrong (Because you know you’re not going to marry a woman who is always picking on you.)?" Seriously, a relationship isn't a hopeless crush on your fresh-out-of-college homeroom teacher; it isn't plastering pictures of a Disney Channel actress all over your walls and your binder; it isn't hunting online for every tidbit of information you can find about a high school classmate, down to an Amazon wishlist she made ages ago.  Despite what romance movies will tell you, things like that take time and work...and I seriously doubt I have what it takes to keep one going.  Just like when you welcome a new child into your house, when you get into a serious relationship, everything changes; it's not life as normal anymore.  However, I like my normal life; if I were to have to constantly worry about keeping my girlfriend or wife happy, I'd go crazy.  Our household pets--a chihuahua and elderly tabby cat--only have basic needs, and they still drive me insane with their constant reliance on me to feed them, water them, etc.  You know the old saying, "If it's not broke, don't fix it"? Well, my life is not, don't mess with it!

Second off: How could any woman expect to compete with my loves? No, I'm not talking about my celebrity crushes; we all know that's a thing of the past.  I'm not even talking about my friends, most of whom are female, though I do love them; after all, doesn't the Bible say, "A friend loves at all times"? What I'm talking about are my favorite activities.  You know what they are: Disney Channel, bargain hunting, Christian music, reading, etc.  For me, they're not just hobbies; they're passions.  You probably know from my Facebook posts how important they are to me; now, do you think any single woman would want to compete with that? Some weeks ago, I saw a Facebook post from a recently divorced friend who was using a viral image to lament about how her ex put his job and his hobbies before her, and she hated it.  Well, honestly, I can't say that I wouldn't do the same thing; to me, a life without my interests simply isn't worth living.  I take my dislikes just as seriously; you all know I was none too happy back in 2002 when my mom decided to bring a dog home.  To me, he wasn't a pet; he was an attack on all I held dear...and I still feel that way about our current dog; he just complicates everything further, and I can't help but think our lives would be easier sans any pets.  Maybe someday I'll get my wish and have a pet-free home; at this point, I can only hope.

Third off: One of my biggest fears is getting romantically involved with the wrong person...and it seems all too likely! You probably know I'm a child of divorce, so, I learned at a young age how relationships--including marriages--can go wrong.  Here's something you may not know: When it comes to people I personally know or am regularly in contact with, there are some I respect...and some I don't.  Whether or not I respect them depends solely on their actions towards me: If they're nice and kind to me, I can respect that...but, if they treat me like dirt, I can't respect them.  Unfortunately, too many people I've known--classmates, teachers, even fellow church members--have fallen into the latter category; they act like a jerk, and show no remorse for their unthinkable actions.  What makes it worse is that, when trying to get others--including authority figures--to intervene, they refuse to do anything, and instead pin the blame on me, as if the offending party is in no way responsible for their actions.  You wouldn't believe the laudatory terms people have used to describe thorns in my side: "They're the best friends you've ever had!" "He likes you and you don't even know it!" "She is your biggest advocate!" It's all nonsense to me; I'm the kind of person who will call a spade a spade...and a jerk a jerk.  My fear with marriage is that I'll end up wed to yet another thorn, who will do like the others did and treat me like dirt...and nobody will listen when I try to tell them what that woman is doing to me.  I'm not going to list names, but, you'd be surprised just who the thorns in my side have been.