Sometimes, I'm too observant for my own good. One example of this was seen shortly after college. I was at a concert here in Austin and I spotted someone that looked familiar, so I went over and said hi. After trying to remember who the guy was, I eventually realized that he and I had lived in the same freshman dorm. I knew his face well enough to spot him in a crowd, but we'd never actually spoken or really known anything about each other. His response to my approaching him was of the "Please don't kill me, random psychopath"-variety.
My uber-obervational skills extend to listening; I tend to know far too well just which phrases people overuse. There are a lot of these overused phrases, but there are 2 that I hear all of the time that contribute absolutely nothing to a conversation. They are "it is what it is" and "I know, right?" Let's tackle these one at a time.
"It is what it is." Isn't that obvious? If it isn't what it is, I'm barricading my front door and hiding in the closet because I no longer have any idea what in the hell is going on.
"I know, right?" This one is trickier. I usually hear this when a person is agreeing with me, but it still confuses me because it ends with a question. I can just see some terrible mystery movie where the femme fatale has given the brain surgeon an amnesia drug. He's looking at his scalpel right before the surgery starts, certain it looks familiar, and he whimpers, "I know.... right?" And then he bursts into tears. In most conversations, yes, you know and you're right that you know.
When you put this much thought into two phrases, it's easy to get annoyed when others pound them into the ground. That strikes me as ridiculous though; these phrases are conversational filler, there's probably nothing on earth less worthy of your fury than throw-away statements like these. So, rather than get mad, have fun with them.
How do I do that? Whenever I hear someone use one of these phrases, I substitute a much funnier phrase in my mind. Whenever someone tells me "it is what it is", I'm imagining that I just heard "it do what it do". "It do what it do" is so much more enjoyable than the alternative and it gives you the opportunity to respond, "Hell yeah it do!"
I have another substitute for "I know, right?" Here, I use "effin' a". (Feel free to substitute the actual f-bomb for effin', but it's not always necessary.) If you can consistently swap "I know, right?" with "effin' a", it feels like you're spending a lot more time talking to truckers.
In general, it's a great life practice to find things that are dumb and turn them into things that are fun. Such a practice allows us to embrace my new mantra: it do what it do.
I'm not too good with scheduling. I understand that most people like to plan activities out and organize their time well, but my own thinking is that if I surround myself with people who do follow a schedule, then I got some of the benefits without any of the work. I can just piggyback onto their schedule, which usually works well for me.
It's not fool-proof, however. Proof of that is the last weekend of August. For a long time now, Diddy, CB, Klynch, and I have been planning a trip to New York that weekend to see the first 2 days of the US Open. Well, there's more to it than that.
Basic checklist for that trip:
1) Become blood brothers with Roger Federer.
2) See Ground Zero.
3) Eat some pizza.
4) Find that scary hostel I stayed at last time in NYC with the chicken wire roof, encourage lodgers there to padlock their door securely before turning in for the night.
5) Terrify the locals, while evading the authorities.
It's going to be a great trip and we've been talking this up for a while now.
At the same time, I've been vaguely aware of my own high school reunion. Now, I could go either way on my reunion. If Facebook has taught me anything, it's that I don't have a great, great deal in common with some of my former classmates. Anyone who sends me 15 requests to take the "Which brand of body scrub are you?!?" quiz is probably not my BFF. Still, I had a lot of great friends that I'd like to see again, so there was some allure to the reunion.
I had these two events looming at some point in the future, but I didn't know exactly when. I was aware that the US Open was at the end of August, as there are airline tickets involved. As for the reunion, I seemed to recall a distinct September or October vibe. I committed to both, thinking it'd be no problem to hit each one. And then, after Laura asked for the 13th time just when the reunion was, I looked at the website and realized they were both on the same day.
This kind of thing happens to me all the time, and I don't see it as an argument in favor of keeping a schedule. Even if I'm keeping a schedule, they both happen the same weekend. Isn't it better that I commit to going to both and get everyone excited rather than say no and break the hearts and spirits of America?
I'm going to New York and skipping the reunion. I've only spent 3 days with the people of New York in my life, while I spent 13 consecutive years with the people at the reunion. Based only on the numbers, it'd be selfish to do otherwise. I expect you'll hear a lot of "Where's that handsome devil, something-Powell?" around the streets of Dallas on August 28. Just point towards New York, Roger Federer will, at that very moment, be giving me a piggy back ride.
I took the month of July off of work. I did it for the same reason that a lot of other people do: in order to enter and win the Tour de France. No, not really; I just wanted to spend some more time with the people close to me and all of that jazz.
As one might expect, the time off was wonderful. I spent a great deal of time with family and friends, and I went on a few adventures of moderate adventurosity (Mexico, Arkansas). I also read a lot, to the point where I feel vaguely encyclopedic. Seriously, what do you want to know about? There's a good chance I read something about it, unless the topic you're curious about is related to anything practical. (Most of my reading material focuses on dwarves and their winter festivals, as well as orc-slaying tactics.)
There was one thing I wanted to do during my vacation that I couldn't actually accomplish: I wanted to be an extra in a movie. This is actually possible in Austin, because there's a pretty decent film industry here. Unfortunately, I encountered a couple of problems.
First, you can't just show up on the set and get to be the guy in the restaurant or the night security guard. There's a whole movie-bizness process here that involves headshots and whatnot. Even if the role in question involves 0.125 seconds of screentime and the only thing onscreen is the shadow of your elbow, you still have to do the headshots thing. That seems absurd to me. Why on earth should I give $14 over to the Sears Portrait Studio when I probably wouldn't even get an imdb credit out of it?
The second problem is lost to me now. I distinctly remember having a second reason, and I suspect I somehow lumped it into the paragraph on my first problem. This is what happens when the movie industry does you wrong!
A big part of the month off was putting things into perspective. Like many folks, I have these grand plans for myself and I devote time to work on them, and then somehow I spend that time reading Danny Elfman's page on Wikipedia. While I recognize that a mastery of Danny Elfman trivia is pretty crucial in any serious undertaking, it seems like I was, perhaps, giving it too much importance.
A lot of thinking over the break led to a few major conclusions. First, I need to contain my expectations. I don't need to do so much great stuff that there's a bronze bust of me in front of every post office in Texas; that would make a lot of people feel inadequate and it might not actually be feasible, given our current economic conditions. Instead, I need to focus on one good thing that I can accomplish. Second, in order to accomplish this good thing, and get ready for this because it's extremely unpleasant, I need to actually work at it and make it a priority.
What is this one thing and what is involved in accomplishing it? I have some vague ideas, but nothing concrete just yet. Okay okay, I know exactly what it is and I totally spilled the beans in paragraph 1. Yes, I'm going to win the Tour de France. Or something.