Stuff bloggers say on a bad day

This vintage ad board is an obvious exaggeration, and also making fun of women’s mood swings is considered sexist nowadays. Of course, all the posters from the 50’s are sexist. However, my mood is also not that stable. I’d like to give an example of ups and downs that a guy would experience, in words that I used 2 years ago to talk about myself:

Down: I was barely able to sit in one room with other people without wanting to kill them.

Up: Today I’m remembering how am I supposed to live, have fun and be friendly. Maybe even cheerful, but it’s still far from that. So, I’ll try asking people: What are you doing over spring break? Do you want to friend me on facebook? Your new haircut is nice. Can I help you?

Obviously, my description of “down” state from back then is alarming. Pretty much everyone here is familiar with the school shooting stories, so it is not okay under any circumstances to express how annoyed you are by saying you want to kill somebody. Only if it’s clear that it’s a joke, like with that vintage ad. Or else people would be unnecessarily worried. So one needs to find some other words to express your negativity. Here are some more lines from back then, which maybe work better than “wanting to kill them”:

(1) What I thought to be just my imagination, is rapidly becoming a reality. I notice things that are just not supposed to happen. Every step in my life becomes dramatic as if it’s a cheap farce. Why couldn’t I just see her boyfriend in the crowd, or catch a glimpse of his nametag! No, he had to come onstage and let them make a clown of him. So symbolic. But I don’t need this second meaning anymore..

(2) Why couldn’t I just see (another her) boyfriend in the cafeteria in the middle of the day? No, in the cafeteria she walks alone. It had to be after I waited 4 hours for her to appear at the party! Imagine how I felt, when she appeared with a boyfriend. And she never let go hugging him. I thought I would be able to just dance beside her, but no.

(3) So I wasted all my pickup lines on that girl, and all along she had 6feet boyfriend somewhere. She never told.

This works a little bit better. Basically, here I complain about the ambiguity that girls around me like to keep about having a boyfriend or not. Although they don’t have to publicly announce their status, learning it the hard way actually hurts.

One may think that because of these disappointments I would become a skirt chaser: stop respecting women’s choice and try getting them to be with me by all means. Pushing girls to talk to me, making them uncomfortable. But none of that happened. I didn’t chase anyone in the US. Every time I report an awkward episode on this blog, it’s typically unintentional. I’m just an uncomfortable person to be with. Too serious, too asocial.

One may think I am traumatized by the events described in the quotes above. But in reality, I did’t blame anyone for the fact that my life was so boring. I seriously considered lying about my life back then, just to make it sound more like lives of other people.

So unlike most of internet dwellers, I possess both of the character traits: the sad emotions about girls I barely know, and the fear of being wrong if I hit on them. I am not intrusive at all, I always stop at the slightest doubt that it may be uncomfortable for other person.

But the ‘I’ from Russia ago didn’t have these properties. I liked everyone in the world, didn’t care about ‘macho men’, and was hitting on the girls and embarrassing myself all the time. Let me conclude with the motivational speech I used to give myself on the pages of this blog:

I think I have to resurrect that personality from 3 years ago. I have never used this personality in the US. In California, at least. But I think it’s time. World is calling for me. That’s why I kept this blog – so that I can leap back in years and get that carefree feeling back again.

By ‘world is calling’ I mean two Asian girls who looked at me today, on Pie day. I don’t even know them. One liked my rollerskates, the other reached for her backpack in the library, and our eyes met. She laughed and smiled to me (maybe, I didn’t really look straight at her). The current me didn’t really want to start a conversation (I’m old!). But the me from the past certainly would say something!

Motivate yourself to invite a girl

How to talk to girls you don’t usually talk to? There are a lot of people whose name you forgot, or never had a conversation with. And never will, unless you show initiative. It seems 90% of the trick is how desperate you are. I don’t say that it’s the best way, but it works for me. If people don’t like you when you’re desperate, then maybe you’re being too selfish about it. I’m just generally paying attention not to inconvenience others, so even my desperate conversation attempts come off as harmless. But be sure to check that you are not “aggressively” desperate, that you are not going to blame or manipulate people. Okay, that disclaimer aside, let’s proceed.

I had a great idea for a date: Cherry blossoms, outdoor theater performance, whatever. And I did’t have anyone to go there with. I invited one good girl that I know, but she avoided me since:) So I’m desperate. The ticket expires next week. I don’t want this wonderful idea to go to waste just because I’m a theoretical physicist and I don’t know many girls. I’m sure almost anyone will be happy there. That was my thought process. And I was happy when I went alone.

Complaints and who to address them

In a world centered around success, be it in classes or in career, it’s perfectly okay to complain about the obstacles you find there. In everyday lunch conversations you can hear people complaining about their work/coursework being not where they want it, as well as lack of sleep and stress that comes from it. It’s also okay to complain about weather, rudeness of strangers and high prices/low quality of consumer goods. But is somehow not okay to complain about one’s personal life in a casual conversation. To find a way to channel the latter complaints, one need to either contact a therapist, or invite a good friend out for a meal. Then if that person values you for some other reason, he may patiently sit through your complaints. Notice: if other complaints can be voiced when they arise, for personal complaints you need to schedule a time, possibly a few days later in the week, and rely on resources that are not always available (not everybody has friends who would listen to them, and even among those not every friend is approachable to talk about personal issues).

Writing them in a blog is a good way to alleviate this delay. Other issue is that some complaints are person-specific, and only make sense to those who know the person in question. For that case, finding a person in the same circle and starting a conversation with them may be a good choice. Complaining directly to the person who causes you personal troubles is likely a bad choice, as well as being public about it on social media.

(Headline photo: in a Chinese company, there’s a special day when employees are allowed to wear masks so that they don’t have to force the smile on their faces)

Three questions to tell if someone is a douchebag

From dating website, people create shaming walls for profiles that are way off. This one is for profiles of guys who call themselves nice but aren’t: former okcupidsniceguys.tumblr.com

(for those who want more intense shaming go to foreveralonefedoras.tumblr.com, you will never be the same again)

The ultimate proof that someone is a douchebag is his answer to three questions: Is homosexuality a sin? Would you strongly prefer to date someone of your racial background? And last but not least: do you think women have the obligation to have their legs shaven?

Apparently that one is a deal breaker. If you need to prove someone’s a douchebag just that is enough. Luckily I haven’t answered it – I may have gotten myself on those shaming walls. First of all, the question does not have the tone of “importance”. It’s not phrased like “do you think police should catch women with unshaven legs and fine them”! So it’s easy to not read much into it..

Second of all, how are men even supposed to answer this question? It’s not like we ever saw a woman with unshaved legs. And we never thought about this question either. My first thought was “I have no idea”. It’s hard for me to imagine a man arguing about this with someone. If one tries to imagine women’s legs looking the way men’s legs look – ugh, that’s actually quite disturbing on many levels.

I’d like to conclude this faint stand-up routine with the description of a picture I was drawing for an army’s wallpaper. There, a new recruit is dreaming about tropical island, martini and a tanned lady in bikini, just to wake up to the sight of a hairy male butt of his barrack neighbor. This is how he knows this is the very bottom of life.

Hero’s Journey and Computer Games

We learned from Campbell that hero story encodes a natural mechanism for change and rebirth, that is part of us as human beings. Do people really use this mechanism nowadays? When I look back on my life, I think I should’ve used it more. Let me give an example that hopefully anyone who spends too much time with a computer can relate to:

We expect to solve our problems incrementally. If you want more friends, you add them one by one on facebook. If you want to lose weight you go to the gym. If you want to level up in a computer game, you slay monsters one by one until you get stronger. It is amusing how Nietzsche’s quote “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” began to mean something so trivial for computer age kids. It was intended to mean “you should go on a hero’s journey and almost die to return stronger”. But all we see is a straight line with little coins of positive reinforcements scattered around – that is so not a hero’s journey!

We expect to solve our problems by going in a straight line from where we are now to the solution. And it comes as a surprise when somebody around us manages to solve the same problems better by going in a circle: making a mess out of his own life and then emerging successful. We certainly don’t expect that to happen to us. So when we get stuck on our straight line, when there’s no coins of positive reinforcement, and instead we feel bad and life seems unfair – we give up. We don’t accept calls for adventure because it seems to us they are distracting us from the straight line of our lives.

I conclude with a set of examples, as promised. Do you recall a story of your friend who:

1) Met his love by getting awfully drunk?

2) Improved his grades after coming back from the army?

3) Was too shy to dance so someone has to drag him in?

4) Passed an exam week without sleep on energetic drinks?

5) Got around bureaucratic rules by being nice and pitiful?

6) Stood up to bullies, got beaten, but was never bullied again?

Note that the above is hard for a certain group of people: those “who spend too much time with the computer” for some reason. My claim is that socially awkward people (including myself) are less prepared to set out on a hero’s journey than average. One of the reasons being that e.g. computer games give us the wrong idea of how to achieve success. There are some indie computer games with a genuine hero’s journey though, and less transactional interaction with the world. In fact, even popular titles like Final Fantasy tended to have enough character development for 10 hero’s stories! Maybe it’s just that I never completed a sufficient portion of the game to see the hero’s story unfold, like in Morrowind for example.

Anyways, the fact is that it takes too long (and sometimes forever) to see the end of hero’s journey (“master of both worlds”) in most of western computer games, as well as >70% of TV shows and anime that have >20 episodes . So the hero’s journeys that we perceive lose their completeness, and we indeed forget what they should be.

Looking for ballroom partner

I’m looking for a partner to dance International Ballroom, to prepare for competitions by attending cheap classes at Caltech, Pasadena. Classes start mid-August 2015 and transition into the intermediate level October 2015. I have been attending for a year on and off, and last half a year regularly. I plan to dance all 10 dances, Latin and Standard.

Jenia Mozgunov

Male, 27

5’8”