R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me

“And all I’m asking in return honey
Is to give me my propers…”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Aretha Franklin

Respect.  It’s been on my mind a lot lately.  Seeing it.  Not seeing it.  Giving it.  Getting it.  Deserving it.  Earning it.  Losing it.

I think some of it is my generation’s fault.  Maybe each generation’s fault.  Each generation, the level of respect goes down.  Things that my kids say to me, I never would have said to my parents.  And not only do I not take offense, some of it I find quite funny.

Then there’s times when I’m just appalled.  Things that I hear my kids friends get away with, things that they do.  Hell things that my own kids get away with sometimes.  But it’s the environment we, as the previous generation, built.  We get the respect we demand, I guess.  And we really didn’t demand that much apparently.

It’s funny, you hear it all the time.  “Respect your elders.”  “Respect authority.”  “Respect your parents.”  “To get respect you have to give respect.”

I think the one I like the most, the one that’s the truest to me is, “You don’t get respect because you want it.  You get it because you earn it.”

But still, even if you’ve earned it, you still may not get it.

Look at the logo above.  Seriously.  Who equates respect with brass knuckles?  “Might makes right” is an expression that should have fallen out of favour decades ago.

And yet, we still have countries that believe this is the way to get respect.  We have leaders that believe this.  We have parents.  We have spouses.  Anyone that equates brutality with respect deserves only our pity or our utter contempt.

Lately, I’ve seen respect beaten and bleeding and on the ropes.

I’ve seen a woman that has bent over backwards for another, helped out again and again and again, and, like Charlie Brown with that damn football, constantly have it yanked out every time.  But when that woman brings someone into her own home to help them, and have them bad-mouth her?  Someone that should be thanking God that she’s even there?  Where’s the respect?

I watched another woman, someone who lived a long and obviously impactful life, have it all brushed aside and spit on by someone with so little respect for her and themselves that they didn’t know when to just shut up.  I think they loved her.  They maybe even respected her.  But I don’t think they respect themselves.  Or anyone else, for that matter.  Where’s the respect?

I have been attacked again and again for a decision I made years ago to cut someone out of my life.  They lied and stole from me, and they endangered my family.  And they simply didn’t care.  And yet.  And yet.  I’m the one that gets attacked.  Where’s the respect?

I’ve had two (thankfully only two) bosses that knowingly overlooked employees’ criminal behaviour to attack me for their actions.  When someone stands in the middle of a workplace floor and proclaims that I’m only popular because I sleep with all the women on the team that I support, then I get in trouble because I’m “a big boy and should just suck it up” I question the respect.  And the sanity.  When a boss tells me they’re “coming after” me to fire me due to a false rumour started by someone else, I question not only the respect, but the ethics.

I’ve seen people who can’t handle others who are a different colour of skin from them.  Or a different sexual preference.  Or simply a different way of thinking.

I’ve seen one person, who I’m supposed to be nice to, because they are a relation. But when that person throws out shit like, “Niggers are great, everyone should own one,” and, “the only good nigger’s a dead nigger,” they will not be getting any respect from me. I will not be nice to them.

I’ve seen people who feel they deserve respect simply because they have a pulse.  They’ve done nothing but barely survive in the world, sponging off others, lying, cheating, stealing, hurting others.  Never a care in the world for the swath of destruction and pain they’ve left behind them.  Yet still, excuses are made (or manufactured) for them, and more chances given.  Why?  Why do we do this?

Is it because we believe, deep down, everyone is basically a “good” person that truly, on some basic level, deserves respect?  Maybe we do.  Maybe it’s that hopeful side of us that needs to believe that.

I think I’m past believing in that now.

There’s many that get my respect.  Most have earned it, most deserve it, others get it unconditionally.

But I think I’m at a point now where I find I don’t just give respect freely anymore.  I guess I’m a little more jaded, more wary.

You can only take so many punches to the face before you automatically flinch.  Or raise your guard.

I apologize for the above blog.  Maybe I’m coming across as a whiner.  Maybe I’ll catch hell from some people about things I’ve said in this blog.  And maybe that’s me not respecting them enough.

Or maybe it’s just that they expect the respect that they have not yet earned.

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Post-apoc-a-lip-service

I didn’t want to (and still don’t want to) write a “post-apocalypse” blog because that whole Mayan thing is simply one more example of the vast majority reading only the headline and not the full explanations, or they were too damn lazy to find out the real story.

In my lifetime, I’ve survived at least two raptures, the Mayan apocalypse, Y2K, and both Saved By The Bell and Glee. I’m a survivor.

glee-logo

Anyway, something did capture my attention this morning, the always-interesting blog of Jason Darrick. He wrote a blog based on some tweets done with the hashtag #ApocalypseConfessions. I’ll let Jason explain it, because he does it better than I ever could.

A funny thing happened on Twitter yesterday, at least, it was meant to be funny. The hashtag “ApocalypseConfessions” made the rounds, with most people throwing a joke at the wall and hoping for a retweet or two. The thing about me is that I don’t open up very well, so I took the opportunity to speak some truths about myself, not so much in the event that we all die, rather because there’s demons in my head that alcohol just won’t kill. So below are my confessions along with two retweets that apply to me.

Jason

He then went on to list fifteen tweets that applied to him. He didn’t add any explanation, which I found equally interesting, letting those little 140-character blasts stand or fall on their own.

I’d like to add some commentary on some of them, simply based on my own experiences. I checked with Jason first. He said he doesn’t mind.

#ApocalypseConfessions I really hate the personal situation that I’m in. I’d rather be with someone(s) than alone.

Ah, this is a great place to start. I’ve seen this a lot, especially with my own family. I come from a family of people that really can’t be alone. Unfortunately, what that means is, they’ve made some truly horrible choices in partners, simply because they settled. Yes, it’s shitty to be alone, however, I also believe you have to be comfortable with yourself before you can be comfortable with someone else. Never settle. Someone out there is waiting for you. Don’t let them slide by because you grabbed the first one that showed any interest. As the song says, shop around.

#ApocalypseConfessions I often feel that the image I project isn’t anywhere close to who I want to be. Rather, it’s who everyone wants.

#ApocalypseConfessions Why yes, I AM afraid to be myself. That’s why I have a blog under an assumed name.

These two seem to go together well. This was also the topic of a brief conversation I just had with the Girl yesterday. I’m always reminded of the Billy Joel song when this topic comes up.

Well we all have a face
That we hide away forever
And we take them out and show ourselves
When everyone has gone
Some are satin, some are steel
Some are silk, and some are leather
They’re the faces of the stranger
But we love to try them on

We all have many images or faces we project. There’s the professional, assured one we wear at work. There’s the sometimes vulnerable, sometimes confident, loving one we wear to our partner. There’s the gently authoritative one we wear for our children. But sometimes we just need to let them drop and be who we are. Because, in the end, if others can’t like us for who we are, if we have to play someone different to get that job, to get that partner…then really, are they worth being around? Be honest to others, but more importantly, be honest to yourself. Don’t wear the face of a stranger.

#ApocalypseConfessions I motherfucking hate Xmas. I put a brave face on for my daughter.

I’ve covered this one at length here. Long story short, this is one where you simply have to put your head down and barrel through it. The good thing is, it ends. The bad thing is, it keeps coming back. Later on, this is another face of the stranger you can drop with your child, when they’re old enough to understand. But they’ll likely appreciate what you did for them. Being a good parent means thinking of your kids before you think of yourself. You’re doing that.

“@stateofego: I’m deathly afraid of failure. This fear often holds me back.  #ApocalypseConfessions” DITTO.

My favourite quote of all time is, “What would you attempt to do if you know you could not fail?” by Robert Schuller.

It seems to also fit nicely with a quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Fear Litany Worm

Fear is crippling. If you fear that you can’t put on your shoes, you won’t put on your shoes. If you fear anything, then try it.

This may be the main reason I’m so loyal to the company I work for: About a decade ago, they sent me on a course that was designed only to allow me to coach agents much better. Which it did, however it gave me a life lesson I never forgot. They, over the course of two days, taught me that if I’m comfortable, I’m not learning. They forced us into uncomfortable situations, then allowed us to learn from them and succeed. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten and I’ll be eternally grateful for them teaching me.

I’ve accomplished so much by allowing myself to be okay with being uncomfortable. Has it always worked out? Hell no. But it has worked out much more than it hasn’t. And once you get a couple of those victories under your belt, it gets easier. Give yourself permission to fail, then go and do something that scares the shit out of you.

“@StaceyONeale: I have over 100 unread books in my house and my kindle. 80% of them I got for free. #ApocalypseConfessions” Over 200 for me.

This is something I’m going to total up too, but I think I’ve got you both beat, between traditional books, ebooks, and audio books. A culling is in order. But it’s also wonderful to always have something to look forward to, isn’t it?

#ApocalypseConfessions I never wanted to be a reviewer. I was told authors just do it. Had C. not invited me, I wouldn’t be at DT.

#ApocalypseConfessions I wanna write about pro wrestling and work for Cracked. That way I’d have all the base forms of entertainment covered

For these two, I’ll always say to write what pleases you first. It’s great that C. invited you, because it took you out of your comfort zone. On the other hand, if it’s no longer helping you (and I’m talking in general terms to any writer here), then move on. Too many writers don’t challenge themselves enough (and I’m likely talking to myself here too…so I hope I’m listening). About a year ago, Ed Kurtz approached me to write about a PI that investigates a case that turns supernatural…his excellent Sam Truman series. Now, I was born in 1962, so what do I know about being an adult in 1960? And I’d never written a PI story before, so what do I know about being a PI? Of course I said yes to his offer. Still not sure the experiment was a full success, but I enjoyed the experience, let me tell you. If you want to write something, don’t keep wishing…write it. It may be shit, it may be gold, but it will always be a learning experience.

#ApocalypseConfessions Joking aside, that last tweet was true.

So write about pro wrestling and create a Cracked.com article. Do it.

#ApocalypseConfessions Goodreads says I’ve read 18.5 books this year. That’s more than theyears 1995-2008 combined. Yes, I regret that.

According to my website, I’ve read 95 books this year and I’m still pissed that I’m not closer to 156. I really wanted to average three a week. Though, to be honest, I could go through double that and likely still not be happy. I’ve even tried to do the speed-reading thing, but it doesn’t work for me. Anyone got some tips for reading faster? I’ll take them.

#ApocalypseConfessions About 8 years ago, I planned on moving East to work in porn. If I was in shape, I’d still do it.

Okay, I originally wrote, “This one’s so far outside my experience range, I can’t comment on it.”  Then I thought about that…and of course I have stuff to say about it.

ninja porn

I’m not a big porn guy. Hell, I’m not even a little porn guy. Porn doesn’t work for me, though I must say, I find it fascinating how something that, even only three or four decades ago was still very much an underground, never-discussed thing, is now so mainstream. But that’s the internet for ya.

But that’s not what I wanted to say. The point here is, I find it absolutely fascinating that the person who wrote most of these tweets obviously doubts their abilities in many ways, yet they are confident to actually come out and state they wouldn’t mind working in porn. I’m known for saying a hell of a lot of off-colour things, but I don’t think I could ever work up the courage to even state in a public forum that I’d like to work in porn. And I know I couldn’t actually do it. Instead of being known as H.R. Puff ‘n’ Stuff

hr-pufnstuf

(I always thought that was the perfect pornstar name), I’d likely be known simply as SD&RB, which was an acronym my college roommate used to use. It means “shrink dink and raisin bag.” Yup, that’d be me on a porn set.

So, bravo Jason. Good for you stating that one. That takes balls. (see what I did there?)

#ApocalypseConfessions I write short stories because I can’t be bothered with long rewrites. Working to fix that.

This comes back to the “write what you want to write” suggestion. For me, initially, I couldn’t even envision myself writing anything longer than about fifteen to twenty pages. Why? Because I had never done it before. Then I started on this neat little story about a demon in a high school. This little short story, after all was said and done, turned out to be something like 400 manuscript pages. 100K words.

Write the story that’s inside you, not what you can be bothered with.

#ApocalypseConfessions If you’re hitting on me, you need to make that abundantly clear. I’m terrible at reading women.

Good lord, this sums up my love life from the age of 12 to meeting my wife. Women essentially had to throw themselves at me for me to take the hint. And yet, for all of that, my wife still insists that I chased her. Wrong.

#ApocalypseConfessions I keep hair on my head because folks don’t like me being bald. I hate my hair.

Then go bald. It’s your head. What if someone said they didn’t like your nose? Would  you change it? Not only should you be the person you want to be but, within reason, look like the person you want to be as well. I only state “within reason” as, if you work in a professional, suit and tie environment, then you either have to conform or be so damn good at what you do that they tolerate your personal appearance.

But as much as possible, go by this quote from an unmarked grave in Kansas: “Be what you is, ‘cos if you be what you ain’t, you ain’t what you is.”

“@babymoondrop: I buy books, but I never read them #ApocalypseConfessions” A million times THIS.

I’ve bought books that I was sure I was going to read, only to get a few pages in and hate them, so I never finished them. Some book by Charles Stross. Writing Down to the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. That one damn near killed me. I can only handle so much New Agey shit before I start getting the heaves. Then there were some I shouldn’t have finished. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. But I don’t think I’ve ever let a book languish just for the sake of not having read it. I always get around to it. May take some time, but I’ll always get around to it.

APsycho

Anyway, that’s Jason’s list and some of my added life lessons and crap commentary. Feel free to tell me if I’m wrong on any of this.

Searching so long

I’ve been searchin’
So long
To find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning

(I’ve Been) Searching So Long – Chicago

I gotta laugh at some of the search terms that ultimately draw people to this blog.  There’s some interesting coincidences, there’s some oddball ones, and then there’s the ones that really get me worrying about who’s out there and what exactly they’re searching for.

One of those interesting coincidences is first up.  There’s be exactly the same number of searches for Tobin Elliott as there has been for throwing up. For anyone that’s counting, the number is 157 searches.  That could be an unplanned commentary on the quality of my blog posts. Either way, you can learn more about me, and maybe throw up here.

There’s a lot of Whitney Houston search terms that bring people to my most popular, and most controversial blog, in which I ask that we don’t canonize the late singer for an early death due to drugs. But the thing that fascinates me is that 106 searches for whitney addict house we have a problem tobin bring people here.

I like that 35 people have found my little blog by searching plox, the sound a turd makes as it hits the water. That’s kinda fun. 29 more have found me by looking for a turd burgler. Hopefully he doesn’t get the evil turd. Same for the dog eating shit. Wanna read more about plox? Or evil turds? Start here.turd

And that’s just one more than those that have landed her while searching for cat throwing up.

Then there’s those that have looked for something to do with a pee dance, which seems somewhat connected to the slightly less popular how do men urinate. I will admit to writing about the Pee Pee Dance, but I’ve never attempted to explain anything about how dudes pee.

I’m going to stick these next three together, because, well, it just seems fitting. Why? Because those searching shit faced may well have been, because why else would you also search bad out of hell. Not bat. Bad. And you know what that is? The last search term…bullshit. But you can read about my encounter with a…well, something that resembled a bat out of hell here.

I’m not sure why you’d want to search women with no eyeball and I’m also not sure why it would bring you here, but maybe it has something to do with the big tit search term. Notice it’s not tits, plural.  And here I thought they usually came in pairs. Apparently not from the one tit girls searches. Silly me.

boob

Though there’s also those looking for titanic tits. Not sure if they’re looking for large breasts on the ship, or breasts that sank due to a collision with an iceberg.

I find it interesting that people land here looking for both cat throwing up and man throwing up but there’s no searches for dogs or women throwing up. I guess they just want the no-eyeball women.

Yet, in a remarkable coincidence, three terms line up nicely to create an almost hidden message: life is…, all work and no play, nude celebrities. There’s a second one as well… work from home is how a door knob works. How about those funny boy and girl conversationsin your pants. Finally the cat that gets flushed in the toilet is likely going nuts. Perhaps because of the other cat flushing toilet.

cat-in-toilet

I’m guessing it’s only idiots who search for idoits. Then again, so is anyone looking for george bush badass. Though the ones looking for bacon strips in underwear and shoulder sniffing worry me a touch. As do the ones looking for a picture of a brain throwing up. I mean, can that even happen? But for a perfect brain, look here.

Scarecrow

The person who searched i like when lady gaga smells my underwear deserves a special place with padded walls. Or a special place in hell. I haven’t decided which yet.

Let’s go get shitfaced. Kidding…that’s a search term, not an end goal. Perhaps the end goal should be to not use foul language. Yeah, probably not gonna happen. Not while cock out of underwear and jerking off anime boys somehow gets you here. Could it be when I jerked someone off…my car? Yeah, check it out here.

Ah well, the most heartening search term, and the one that has brought the most hits to my blog–almost 13000, compared to the next highest at 3600–and the name of my second most popular blog, life is beautiful.

life-is-beautiful

It is, isn’t it? I hope you find what you’re searching for.

And so this is Christmas

And so this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year older
And a new one just begun.

Happy Christmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon

This isn’t going to be one of those funny, heartwarming Christmas blogs. This one won’t put the fun in dysfunctional. This one’s pretty much all dysfunctional. So, if you’re looking for funny, if you’re looking for heartwarming, look elsewhere.

Every Christmas is a struggle for me. I have a family that loves it. The Girl will start looking forward to Christmas carols as early as July, and the second Halloween passes, she’s playing them. The Wife spends hours making the house look beautiful and Christmas-y, warm and inviting. The Boy starts throwing out hints for gifts as early as October.

Bauble On Christmas Tree Background by Petr Kratochvil

And then there’s me. I tend to try and shy away from the season as much as possible. Every year it’s a struggle to get me to decorate the outside of the house. It’s not that I hate Christmas, though that’ll always be my pat answer to anyone that asks. No, it’s just that I absolutely want to avoid it with all my soul.

When I was a kid, I loved Christmas. Even when there wasn’t much under it, I didn’t care. It was just a wonderful time full of anticipation and wonder. The world was white, perfect for showing off all those lights and decorations. The smells of the food that would be prepared days in advance would drive me crazy. Family was always stopping by, or we were visiting.

Christmas Tree Lights Effect by David Wagner

Christmas Tree Lights Effect by David Wagner

Maybe this all started the year my mother and step-father broke up. Because it happened Christmas day.

Or maybe it started the year after, when my mother was alone, and none of us had any money for gifts. But still, we were together.

Even if it was then, I should have gotten over all that in the years since, when I got married and had children of my own. And for a time, I must admit, it abated somewhat. It never went away, but it lessened for a while, this desire to avoid it all.

God knows my in-laws make it amazing. My father and mother-in-law are absolutely amazing, and every year, they come over Christmas morning for a big breakfast. Then we all head over to the Wife’s sister’s place where she and her husband put on a ridiculously amazing Christmas dinner. All of the Wife’s family is there, including all our nieces.  There’s always a lot of laughter and fun.

Yet still, for all of that, in the back of my mind, a big part of me just wants to go home and avoid it all.

I love the family I married into. I couldn’t have found a more amazing group of people. They’re funny, supportive and they treat me as their own. And our friends always make it better too. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be the same without the Hickey family. There’s no one like them and I’m thankful for their friendship and love and support every day of the year.

I have other friends that know what I’ve gone through and are always there to talk me through it.

And maybe that’s it.  Maybe it’s the fact that, because my mother has never accepted my wife, she is no longer welcome in my home. Maybe it’s because my brother can’t be trusted with anything. He made the choice a long time ago to not act as a brother would. Maybe it’s because I haven’t really talked to my sister in almost three decades because she made the choice to live in a paranoid wonderland of hate and poverty. Maybe it’s partly due to knowing I have this other group of nieces and nephews…Todd, Tabitha, Ryan, Kelly, Buddy, Genevieve…probably even more that I don’t know about…all these people that I last saw as young children that are now all adults…and I know nothing about them. I haven’t seen any of them in far too long.

My brother and sister I’m done with. My mother I’ll visit at times during the holidays, to be served up the usual helping of guilt and sadness. It’s something I refuse to subject my family to anymore. So I guess I’m part shield, part martyr in that respect. But I do it to protect them. I’m sure the rest of my family has heard a startlingly different view of this and view me as the asshole with a bitch for a wife. I’m past caring about that, to be honest. If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned people will think what they want and I’ll have little control over it. The ones who have taken the time to know both myself and my wife know the truth.

Anyway, back to Christmas.

Maybe I’m being selfish. I have all the family that anyone could want. And I feel extremely selfish for wanting someone from my side of the family to treat me that same way, to give me that same courtesy that these other people–people who didn’t know me half as long as my family have–show me. I feel selfish because I already have more than most.

So, as I attend all these Christmas functions, there always seems to be this black hole that sucks and pulls at me. It shouldn’t be there, I shouldn’t give it that power. I know I should turn away from it and look at all I have and how incredibly lucky I am.

But I can’t help feeling like an orphan at this time of year.

oliver_more

So for any of you that know me, please don’t ever shy away from wishing me a Merry Christmas. Just understand that I may not wish it back with the same level of passion. This is the time of the year when those cracks in my own family have the most light shone on them. The time when, at least for me, they become most obvious.

And so this is Christmas.