It Is Called SELF-Esteem For A Reason

Do this:

1) Look in the mirror. Do it alone, when no one is around.

2) Look right into your own eyes.

3) Say -- ALOUD -- "I love you."

Change the language you use about yourself, at the very least in your own head. Don't self-deprecate. There are plenty enough people in the world who don't want you as competition; don't make their job easier.

Don't outsource your opinion of yourself. Listen to honest critique, but don't let it drive your own self opinion. You have the right and responsibility to believe whatever you want about yourself. So long as you recognize that agreeing with someone else's opinion about you (good or bad) is simply belief, you're free to choose what that means.

Life is too short to allow people to dictate how you feel about yourself. Losing is subjective. Wake up and realize that 90% of success is simply showing up. Don't let anyone keep you from doing that.

And for the record, cheesy or not, I'm not sorry for the motivational speech today. Some people need to hear it. I'm saying it. Sue me.


FINALLY: The One-Step Super Easy Facebook Privacy Fix

With all the hubbub about privacy settings in Facebook lately, people have been going nuts! You've no doubt seen this message several times the past week:

"Please do me a favor and move your mouse over my name here, wait for the box to load and then move your mouse over the "Subscribe" link. Then uncheck the "Comments and Likes". I would really rather that my comments on friends and families posts not be made public, thank You! Then re-post this if you don't want your every single move posted on the right side in the "Ticker Box" for everyone to see!"

Friends are asking friends to take very exaggerated, per-person steps to ensure that their privacy is protected.. The requester's privacy, that is. They're asking each and every one of their friends (hundreds, maybe thousands) to each individually hover over their name and check a box. If I did that, that'd mean I'm asking 2,000 people to each do something just so I feel a bit safer on the internet.

And thanks to Sophos for pointing out a much easier setting change -- that the concerned party can make once, instead of inconveniencing hundreds or thousands of people -- that you can post back to your friends who make this ridiculous request.

However, there's a much, much simpler way to handle this. But it hasn't really occurred to people, because the option is buried deep in the settings of Facebook, as well as hundreds of thousands of websites across the internet. It's a simple, one-step process that will ensure 100% privacy on each and every website. Curious? Well here it is:


Now, I know that seems kinda crazy! "But Joe, isn't it Facebook's responsibility to keep my information private and secret?" Nope. It's yours. Facebook is software. Livejournal is software. Blogger is software. Dropbox is software. It's all set up to make your life convenient -- and part of that convenience is the peace of mind that your account information and details are kept from the prying eyes of people who would do you harm.

There is security enough in those systems to make sure your password, credit card information (if applicable), and other details are locked down. That stuff can be compartmentalized and encrypted where it's theoretically impossible (or at least impractical) to be stolen and used maliciously.

But anything you post that's actually intended for public view? Pictures of your kids? Status updates about that girl you really, really hate and wish would die? Your favorite TV shows? You make a decision each and every time you decide to post that stuff. And the decision isn't "How do I best word this status update for maximum pain and suffering for the girl I am talking about without her actually seeing it?"

This is the internet, folks. Privacy is not a given. You want something you say to be private? Write it in a notebook. You want something to stay between you and your family? Call them on the phone. Mail them a letter or a package.

I'm not saying you can't or shouldn't use Facebook. I'm saying you should quit being a fucking retard about privacy and realize that a) if it's on the internet, assume it's not private, b) it's not the platform's fault that your precious privacy that you ASSUMED you had isn't really there, and c) it's not MY responsibility to go hovering over YOUR name and change your settings for you, you prick.

Happy Facebooking!


The Hardest Day Of Your Life...

...Will be the day you realize, for the first time ever, that someone else knows you better than you know yourself.

You will have faced a situation where you received advice and convinced yourself that advice is not only wrong, but the person (or persons) who gave it -- who are supposed to be your best friends or family or what-have-you -- obviously don't know you as well as you believed. And you do what you think is right and face down whatever it is you're facing down... And you lose.

And then, the situation comes up again, and you get the same advice. You begin that same dialog in your head, but you cannot deny one simple fact: they were right last time.

Your heart pounds and your teeth grind and you think "NO. I learned my lesson. This time -- THIS TIME -- I've got it. I'm in control. I can face that shit and own it." And you do.

And you lose. Again.

And then, the same situation comes up again. Different name, same face. And you realize you've got a blind spot. A weakness. And it's being exploited. Maybe it's a drug. Maybe it's a person. Maybe it's an activity. But you can't see just how not in control of yourself you are when it's in front of you. And you have to make a choice with this new information:

A) Do you admit to yourself that you've got a weakness; that you are indeed a human being with flaws that can be manipulated and exploited, and that your friends are right -- as wrong as you FEEL they are, you KNOW they're right -- and you listen to them, despite every voice in your head telling you you can handle it, OR...

B) Does your ego own you and you can't handle not being in control and you fuck up again?

And make no mistake, you have an ego. We all do. Ego is not arrogance. Ego is the voice in your head that convinces you you are right at all times, even when the "right" is self-depreciating. It's protecting you. It's inflating your worth to make you feel good. It's deflating you first so no one else can hurt you. It's lying to you to tell you you deserved to do whatever it is you just did that went wrong. It tells you it's everyone else's fault. And when it's in control, you're useless to society, because you're acting for your wants, not your needs.

So, if you choose B, and you choose B again and again and again... At some point, you either die miserable or choose A. And that day, your ego begins screaming at you.

"NO. They don't know you. YOU know you. You're strong."

"They are lying to you; you're not handsome. You're not smart. You're pathetic. They want something. Don't trust them."

"You can control yourself this time... You saw what happened last time; You know better. You need to see it. You need to face it. Go on in there and do it."

"Call her. Give her a piece of your mind. She can't treat you that way."

"He's cheating on you, you know it. He can't possibly love you, you don't even love you. Flee."

"It's just a drink. You're in control. Don't listen to them, they're trying to turn you into them."

"He can't talk to you that way -- kick his ass."

"She loves you. It's okay."

"She never loved you. It's okay."

"Do it."

And you grit your teeth and you shake your head and you say "NO." And you hand control over to someone else, because they're right and you're wrong. And it hurts like someone set fire to your blood. And it's for the best.

Because on that day -- however briefly or for the rest of your life -- you have achieved enlightenment.



Sometimes, you say "Just lucky I guess" when you know fully well you worked your ass off and are very talented, and just don't want to sound like a prick.

Sometimes, you get credit for being talented and working hard and the truth is that you got lucky. Really, really lucky.

Sometimes, you're obsessed with being correct when you should be focused on being right.

Sometimes, you convince yourself you aren't good enough and don't deserve an opportunity; not because you're not good enough and you don't deserve it, but because you're scared to death of what it means when you do deserve it... And screw it up.

Sometimes, chocolated-covered chocolate things with chocolate bits in them really are better for your overall health and wellbeing than forcing a night at the gym.

Sometimes, you push me so hard that it's everything I can do not to just step aside and watch you fall on your face from the weight of your own shit.

Sometimes, you just hurt. It's not anyone's fault (not directly anyway). You. Just. Hurt.

Sometimes, you don't want to be fixed, because you know that the thing that other people see as broken, you see as the only thing that makes you not like them. 

Sometimes, I see a man wearing a patterned bow tie with a button up Oxford and khaki's, and he doesn't even have to open his mouth for me to know that I want to choke him to sleep for being such an insufferable prick.

Sometimes, she doesn't want anything from you and isn't trying to mooch a drink -- she really is flirting with you.

Sometimes, the only cure for feeling useless is to find something useful to do.

Sometimes, you want to punch the wall.

Sometimes, you hear the words coming out of your mouth and you can't believe them, and you're still saying them, and you wish you could stop and you even try, but they just keep coming and it gets worse and worse.

Sometimes, someone forgives you that you know shouldn't.

Sometimes, you stand there and you know for a fact you won't ever forgive someone, and you tell them you do anyway.

Sometimes, the joke is on you.

Sometimes, the greatest display of strength is walking away.

Sometimes, you forget every antecdote and lesson and philosophical abstract you've ever read or heard and you forget about concequences and rear back and pop someone square in the mouth, because they deserved it.

Sometimes, you deserve it.


Easily Offended People Are A Bunch Of Retarded Fags

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine, P.R., about my use of the pejorative "retard". Here is that conversation:

If you can't read the image, here's a transcript:

P. R.:
Hi Joe,
I hope you're doing well and safely back in Atlanta. I really enjoyed your piece on tips for air travel with one exception. I really don't like the use of the word "retard." I really don't think it's fair to call disabled people a name like that, when in all likelihood they aren't even well enough to take offense or not. There are plenty of other politically incorrect words to use for folks who are jerks. This is kind of a personal issue for me, so I thought I'd share. (it goes on to share a link about air travel with me, not really relevant so I've stricken it).
Best, P.


Joe Peacock:
I'm sorry you were offended. I hate to sound callous, but I doubt that I'll make it a part of my writing ritual to avoid the word "retard" (or retarded). I don't refer to "retarded" as the pejorative for the disabled, I mean it that the people are simply retarded. Their development as functioning members of society is retarded. Their growth in the world into common-sense-having adults is retarded.

The word in 2011 doesn't really mean disabled, it means abnormally deficient against a baseline in society. Much like "fag" doesn't really mean "homosexual person" anymore, it leans more toward "men who don't meet the requirement to be real men" -- whether they're effeminate or simply overcompensating.

I really appreciate you bringing your viewpoint to me and discussing it with me. I respect you lots and have always found you sweet, and of course I love L. (her boyfriend) to death. You guys are good people and I'm glad to call you friend. But in this, I probably won't change. I hope that doesn't hurt our friendship.

I want to make it very clear -- P. R. did exactly the right thing, with the exact right tone. I was told how she feels about the word and given a chance to respond. That's what adults do. I highlight this conversation because it serves as a good introduction to something that's been bugging me for the years and years I've been writing.

I feel that this notion that everything in this world has some sanctimonious value completely ridiculous. Words are powerful, yes. They're also just words. And I feel that any adult who finds themselves blindingly offended to the point where they can't read the context of how the word is used and deduce from it the intention of the writer needs to just stop reading.

Now, P.R. is a friend of mine, and I am certaily not advocating that she stop reading what I write or insinuating that she's incapable of contextualizing my statements. But I will say this -- friend or not, I'm not in the business of watching my word choice based on the feelings that might get hurt by the people who read what I write. I'm in the business of conveying how I feel about stuff.

And I feel that people capable of being smart who act stupid are retarded. I feel that men who overcompensate for their lack of manhood, or don't know how to change a tire, or abuse flaws in the AI of Madden 12 are fags. And I feel that people who have to resort to using guns in a fist fight or hunting defenseless animals just to make their dick hard are pussies. And if you have issues with the words I've chosen to express how I feel about it, well... Leave. Friend or not. Just go.

Not because I hate you, but because I don't see the point in your being offended and getting all wound up about it. As Steve Hughes points out: What happens when you get offended? Nothing:

You're just offended. So what? You feel blah and then... Nothing happens. So why bother fighting about it? Why go apeshit because something I said or a word I used offends you? Just go away. You're an adult. You're capable of clicking another link or closing your browser or walking away from a conversation. Don't be a part of something that makes you uncomfortable.

Or, barring that, instead of just standing there in a puddle of your own outrage, how about asking someone what they meant or why they used a certain word or phrase? When people say the word "Nigger" around me, I don't go into hysterics about how stupid they are. If they're black, I ignore it, and if they're white, I question their use of it. Now, there's absolutely no right answer from a white person as to why the use of the word "Nigger" is okay, outside of writing about it in the abstract as I'm doing right now. There just isn't. You're white; you're precluded from ever having a good reason to use that word.

But should you choose to use it, know that I won't let you know how offended I am by your using it. I'm just extremely likely to never talk to you again. And if you insist on pushing the point, I'm likely to punch you, because I've already taken the one step I feel I should take when I'm offended -- I leave. Don't chase me down with your racism.

And I won't chase you down with my use of 'retard' or 'pussy' or 'fag' and force it down your throat (no pun intended), because they're my choices and my uses. Give me a chance to explain if you really want to discuss it, or leave. Those are your options. And for fuckssake, don't start a stupid dickhead campaign to stop the use of the word "Retard" because "Someone gets hurt."

Don't just sit there and spin around and get dizzy and make yourself sick because you're offended. You can't live in a free country where people are free to express themselves and also not be offended occasionally. Choose one or the other.


A Bag Full Of Biscoff (Or, "I'm A Hit With The Flight Attendants")

You all know about my silly Rules of Air Travel post I made last week. It got linked up all kinds of places, and Huffington Post featured it on their Comedy page. I'm a little proud of that.

Well, a very notable Flight-Attendant-Turned-Author, Heather Poole (who is very talented and funny) liked it lots and Tweeted it out to her bazillions of readers. She then told me she knew a bunch of flight attendants who would love to stuff my carry-on bag with tons of first class wine. I told her I'd just settle for an aisle seat, since sitting in the middle for five hours next to a stinky woman on Tuesday really, really sucked.

So, she asked me when my next flight was, and I told her -- which she then tweeted out to all her flight attendant fans. Which I thought was very sweet (she even called me her favorite new Huffington Post writer!). So, fast forward to today, when I got on a flight and was tapped on the shoulder by a flight attendant.

"Are you Joe The Peacock on Twitter?" she asked.

"Yep!" I replied with a smile. "You must read Heather Poole!"

"I do!" she said cheerily. She told me that the flight rules post cracked her up, and she checked out the rest of my blog and saw that I adore Biscoff cookies (and screwing with mean old women who think only ex-cons have tattoos). She then gave me a stack of them.

"Wow, THANKS!" I said. She told me that she would have bumped me to first class, but it was full. I told her I didn't need that at all, the cookies and aisle seat were plenty fine.

That made me happy. And right before we landed, she brought me a bag filled with the remainder of the Biscoff cookies:

So yeah, I had a great flight today. Yay for that :)


The Greatest Pencil Ever Made

I was reading my daily swath of RSS feeds when I came across one which caught my eye, entitled The Greatest Pencil Ever Made. I didn't even have to read any of the body text or click through to know that this post absolutely had to be about the Palomino Blackwing 602.

The slogan on the pencil says it all. 
(Can't see the picture? Click here)

The Palomino Blackwing 602 has a huge cult following. Ask any "pencil snob" you know -- designers, writers, illustrators -- and chances are, they've at least heard of it. And if they've ever used one, that's ALL they ever used. They were discontinued in 1998, and since that time, have gone for as much as $40 a piece on eBay. And I am one of the retards you'll look down your nose at who has paid nearly that much just for one of these.

Anyone who has used one will tell you that there's something unique about the stroke on this pencil that cannot be replicated anywhere else, with anything else. You barely touch it to the paper and you get a silky graphite line with almost no effort. Writers adore them because they dance across the page as if they're coated in a controllable grease. Illustrators love them because you can get any weight of line you want, from whispy light to inky dark. They feel good in your hand. They sharpen to a fine point which holds for a while (compared to other soft lead pencils which could create the same darkness / weight of line). 

In short, they're a joy to use. And even when they could be had for $0.50 each, people scoffed at the price. You can get a yellow #2 at Wal-mart in packs of 100 for almost a nickel a piece. People who would pay ten times that must be insane, right? 

Well, I paid $32.50 each for 5 back in 2007, and still have one left. I never use it because I couldn't bear the thought of being without it, and I've not seen any on eBay lately. So I'm completely mad, I suppose. 

Why? Well, the really simple answer is the same reason that I paid $400 for a pair of 12 year old Nike's a few years ago (I even built a website that's now expired, IWantTheseShoes.com). And I got the bastards, too.

That's what happens when nostalgia meets scarcity. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that my passion for the Palomino Blackwing 602 is a healthy mixture of my fondness for the romance of this pencil and how it was introduced to me, and the fact that it was already discontinued when I discovered it, making it a rare gem to find (when it could be found). As with anything you build a fondness for that's scare, passion soon turns into obsession. But why be so passionate about this pencil? 

Because the first person who ever took the time to actually show me the finer points of design and interfacing gave me one. And it meant the world. 

Her name was Alex, and she was, by any definition of the term you'd like to use, completely hot. But that's not why I liked her. She was smart, funny, interesting, and super intelligent. She was also on the very forefront of user interface design back in 1997 -1998, when I worked with her (in fact, she's the one who introduced me to Jakob Nielsen, literally. We were at a web development conference in San Francisco, and she walked me up to him and had me shake his hand. I went and bought all of his books the next day). 

She designed the user interfaces and front-end screens for the software that the company we worked for (I call it BOSS Systems in my books... Not really hard to figure out I changed one letter), and I did all the web development. She routinely critiqued my designs through our feedback form, and one day I got up the gumption to drive over to the other building (about 2 miles away) and track her down. 

"Wow... You're a girl," I said as I approached her cubicle.

"I hope so," she replied without batting an eye. "I'm wearing girls' underwear."

"Eh, this is Atlanta," I replied in turn. "No one judges that kind of thing here."

She laughed. "Who are you?"

"Joe Peacock," I replied. "You've been harassing me about our company's website for weeks."

"Ah, the legendary Joe Peacock!" she replied. 

"Legendary?" I asked. 

"Yeah... Heard a lot about you via Darina and Gary. You've got quite the reputation."

"I don't even want to know what it is," I said with a laugh.

"Alex," she said, extending her hand.

"I know," I said, extending mine. "It's on your cubicle. How do you think I found you?"

"Well you certainly didn't use our company's website," she replied with a smirk. "You can't find ANYTHING on there."

We instantly became friends. 

Between reading Nielson's books and watching Alex, I saw that user interfaces were far greater a thing than simply pretty graphics (as pretty as you could make them back then, anyway) and buttons and scrollbars. There was a human element to them.

"Interfaces are like a flute," Alex once said. "One finger in the wrong place and the notes go sour." 

...Yeah, I don't know what she meant, even now. She was Greek. I just assumed it was some culturally-induced grandeur. At any rate, she's the one who introduced me to sketching out designs before building a website, and letting good design guide the development process -- since the user was the one who ultimately had to deal with it, you had to start with them. And the pencil she used? The Palomino Blackwing 602. 

She was as insane as I was when it came to obsessing over niche objects. She made a point to give me one of her Blackwing 602's and insisted that I love it.

"You have to love it!" she demanded. "It's amazing!" 

"...It's a pencil, Alex," I replied. 

"Yes... Yes it is," she answered. "The BEST pencil." 

"I use pens anyway," I said, simply being defiant. 

"You can't sketch properly with a pen!" she replied. "No wonder our website sucks..."

I made a habit of stealing her pencils after that. And I have to admit -- the pencil grew on me very quickly. It didn't really hit me just how great this pencil was until I got older and used other pencils, and none ever quite lived up to how smooth and silky the Blackwing 602 was. It really is a technically beautiful instrument. 

She'd get pissy, but never quite stopped me from stealing them. And my last week there, as a goodbye gift, she gave me a Moleskine sketchbook (another thing I thought was stupid back then, but have since grown very fond of) and several Palomino Blackwing 602s. 

It really is a fine pencil. And when you add to that the fact that one of my mentors used it -- which instantly makes me feel empowered and just generally better when I do -- and the fact that it was nearly impossible to find for years and years, you can say that I developed a rather deep bond with this pencil. Enough of one to establish an eBay automated search and pay over a hundred bucks for five of them. 

Anyway, the point is they've brought it back, and you can order them now. If you are so inclined, anyway. I'm ordering a gross on payday... Just in case Alex ever finds this blog and hits me up, so I can pay her back in pencils.


International "Share Something By Joe" Day

Whelp, it's September 15th again. You know what that means! It's...

...What? You never heard of it? Poppycock. We celebrate it every year! In fact, this is the 200th anniversary! THE BICENTENNIAL, yo! This is the day established back in 1811 to help promote the fact that I write things. Sure, it predates the advent of blogging by nearly 190 years... Hell, it predates the advent of ME by 166 years. I suppose our elders and founding fathers and the other gentry who gathered to sign the holiday into law foresaw a better world and knew that this holiday would be the sure path to getting there.

You don't believe me? Well whatever. You could always just start celebrating it today! Here's how it works:

  1. Pick your favorite thing I've written on this blog
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the entry
  3. click any of the "Share" buttons (Facebook, Twitter, email, what-have-you)
  4. Dance around in jubilation

The share buttons look like this:

Alternatively, you could link out to my books. The first book is free on Google Books, and the url is http://tinyurl.com/mibook1. The second book is on sale at Amazon, and the url is http://tinyurl.com/mibook2. Or, you could scour Mentally Incontinent and link to your favorite story there. The site is in desperate need of an overhaul though.

Or, if you're a fan of them, share the Notes to Self that you like.

So why am I suddenly bringing up International Share Something By Joe Day? Well, a longtime dot-com warrior (and a good friend), Michael, told me that I don't ask you guys enough to share things I've written.

I explained that I just assume that if something is worth sharing, you'll share it. He said that people will routinely like things and never once think to take it upon themselves to bring it up in conversation. He asked how I felt about the show The Wire, and I went on to explain just how utterly genius I think it is; that it's the best show to have ever been broadcast (even better than M*A*S*H and that's saying something). He then pointed out that the only reason he even knew I liked it is because he saw me post about it on Twitter. He was also a fan, but we never actually discussed it. As much as I love the show, I never told him about it.

I ADORE The Wire and will tell anyone with a minute to spare just how much they need to check it out. And yet, I never told this guy I've known for 12 years, about it. And why not? Because it never occurred to me.

So, yeah. If you like what you've been reading, and think others would too, please share a thing or two today. And the reason I had to get all silly with a stupid holiday with a stupid backstory is because as I sit here right now, I'm squirming from how uncomfortable it is to ask you to pimp my crap. But hey, you know me, so you know that. So.


An Open Letter To Women RE: "Why Your Guy Friend Turned Into A Jerk When You Dated Someone Else"

About two weeks ago I asked folks on Facebook and Twitter what I should blog about. They pick the topic, and I'll go to town. There were quite a few good suggestions, and I'm going to end up writing them (such as "Has chivalry evolved, or is it just dead?" and "Scars") but the one that overwhelmingly won the polling, with a whopping 20 suggestions via both mediums and email, was the one Ashley Hemsath suggested first: "Why do so many guys call themselves 'nice' and generally act like entitled jackasses when their female friends choose to date someone else?"

I shall address this topic in the form of an open letter to all women.

Note: I'm not going to discuss other permutations of male/female relationships, such as how they evolve, whether or not men and women can actually be only friends (they can, for as long as both can put up with the other being with someone else), and so on. I'm simply taking the one topic -- why a guy freaks out when their friend that is a girl dates some other guy -- and explaining it out.

As for whether or not this applies to all friendships with all men and women: No. It only applies in the situation stated above. If a woman has a guy friend, and starts dating another guy, and the guy friend turns into a jerk, the situation applies.

Dear Women,

So, you have this guy friend. He's a good guy friend. He's funny and he's smart and he gets you and you can tell him anything. That's nice.

You begin dating a guy, and your guy friend turns into a big jerk. You're confused. "Why," you ask yourself, "would my friend suddenly turn on me? Isn't he happy for me that I've found someone I connect with and can have a relationship with?"

Well yeah, he was happy for you when it was him. Now it's someone else. You basically just cheated on him right in front of his face. Confused? Well don't be.

Your guy friend turned into a jerk because HE IS A BIG FAT PUSSY. And he's not your friend.

Harsh? I don't think so. As a former "guy friend" of a girl, I feel I'm in the appropriate place to call out every single "guy friend" who does this as being cowards. I am lucky enough to have married my best friend. But that's only because at some point, I fixed the problem I'm about to explain to you.

He's pissy because, while you saw him as great and wonderful and kind and smart and charming, you never took the step he was begging you to take. You never completed the dots and said "be mine." And it's your fault, in his eyes, because he doesn't get that you don't work like he does.

He poured effort into you. He showed you time and time again that he would care for you and nurture your every emotion and provide for you. He was so very sweet to you and was always there for you. Because he wanted you. "But he's not like that!" You're thinking.

Nope. He is. We all are. Period, end of story.

"But Joe, no, you just don't get it!" You're saying. "He said he wanted to just be friends!" No, no he did not. If you think about it, YOU put that out there. You may not have said it in those words, but at some point, somehow, you let it be known that you were very comfortable in the niche you've just carved out that you've labeled "friendship."

And because he's such a pussy, he was satisfied with that. He saw something in you he wanted to be around, and because he sensed that he might lose it if he was forward (or, was just too chicken to make a move), he settled for what he could get. He was so afraid of losing whatever bond with you that he had that he couldn't go the rest of the distance and let you know he wanted to be with you.

So, you found someone you found romantically interesting and your friend suddenly turned into a jerk. It's not jealousy and it's not thinking this guy isn't right for you... No guy besides HIM is right for you, in his eyes. And you chose someone else. That stings.

Men can (and will) pretend they're enlightened and beyond the animal needs of sex. In fact, they may even convince themselves it's true. If you ask them, they'll lie right to your face (and to their own) and say "no, I'm happy just being friends!"

But you introduced another man and they got angry. That should tell you everything you need to know. But it doesn't, does it? Because women CAN be emotionally connected and bond with other people without the concept of a committed relationship, while they see physical intimacy as something reserved for a mate (committed or not).

Men are the opposite. They invest emotion, but physical intimacy doesn't actually require that investment (for most men). If it sounds neanderthal and base, well... It is. We are animals, after all. And while it's true that there will be guy friends who don't freak out when you date someone else who still want to sleep with you (trust me... they do), the ones who do freak out are the ones who betray all their "nice guy" posturing.

I'm not saying you can't let a relationship build from friendship. But at some point, one of the two of you will come to the conclusion that you want more than what you're getting. You should just be up front about it. And when a man isn't, it's because he's a coward who is too afraid of being hurt and left alone and rejected to stand up and say "Look, I want this" and let the chips fall where they may. They don't realize that finding out you want something different than another person isn't the worst thing in the world. In fact, it's not even irrecoverable. It's difficult to hear at first, but it equalizes the situation and lets you both know where you stand, which is the only way that sound decisions can be made.

But yeah, that's why he turned into a jerk. Because he's a pussy. That's all.

Your internet guy friend,

Joe Peacock

And, having been a former "guy friend" in the past who finally grew a pair and figured out that being a spineless passive-aggressive wuss is no way to go through life, I figured I'd also include an open letter to all the "nice guys" out there:

Dear Nice Guy:

You're not a nice guy. Stop the bullshit. You're manipulating her. It doesn't matter that it's "nice" manipulation, it's manipulation. You're too coward to step up and ask her out, so you figure you'll win her over on "the things that matter."

You're a coward and a pussy. She's dating "jerks" because jerks step up and ask her out. They post a question which is answerable. It doesn't matter if she SHOULD be with him, she's with him because he gave her the opportunity to answer a question.

I get that you think you're doing the same thing but you aren't. You're not asking a question. You're setting a stage and hoping she acts how you want her to. That, my friend, is manipulation. And I hope to God hearing this makes you feel as dirty as I felt the day I finally realized it.

Trust me, life is SO MUCH EASIER AND BETTER when you stop with the games. The day I finally stepped up and told my best friend how I felt about her, she married me. Yours may not marry you, but how the hell are you going to ever find out if you don't give her the opportunity to work with data that can actually be quantified?

Just saying.

Also, that guy she's dating? He's probably not as big a jerk as you think. He's just not you. And you, my friend... You're really the jerk. Because you're the one jerking her around and trying to make her take the initiative so you don't' have to feel rejected. Think about it a little and decide if that's who you want to be. Either way, good luck.

Your pal,

Joe Peacock


Joes Rules of Air Travel

There is absolutely nothing fun about air travel. From the second you arrive at the airport, you're being conditioned to be miserable. Lines of cars entering and exiting the various parking areas, all of which are overpriced. Random police officers on Segways and mountain bikes yelling at anyone who pauses for more than a second at the curb. The bewildering setup of most terminals, where one airline owns 90% of the place and if you're not flying that airline, you have to pull out an Ouija board and ask the spirits beyond how to get to your airline's ticket counter.

Quite simply, it fucking sucks

But when you mix in inexperienced travelers, self-entitled dickheads and complete morons, the experience becomes hell. Not just metaphorical hell, where you pass off a really difficult situation as "hell." No, I mean fire and brimstone, suffering for all eternity, etcetera -- because it pretty much drives those of us who travel regularly to want to murder a bitch. And I'm not really up on my Bible learnin' these days, but one thing I do remember is that murdering someone sends you right to the devil's playground. I don't wanna go there, so I'm going to try to fix you instead.

The majority of this guide is pointed at those of you who are inexperienced travelers. I don't hold much hope that I can change self-entitled dickheads -- for one thing, they don't read blogs. They're too busy watching real-time updates of their stocks to go enrich their brain meat with the thoughts of others. Plus, it's the thoughts of others, which don't matter to them. And I've lived enough of a life to know that you'll never fix the moron problem without the handy application of a flamethrower.

But that doesn't mean I can't try.

  • Get there on time. Rule Number One. First and foremost, numero uno, without question the most important and, honestly, easy thing you can do to make air travel less painful for everyone is get there on time. Most airports will cut off checking of baggage at the ticket counter 45 minutes before departure time.  Lines can take some time. If you are checking a bag, get there an hour and a half before your flight leaves, minimum. If you're not checking a bag, please for the love of God check in before you get to the airport over the internet. This will let you walk right to security. But if you don't, remember that lines take time. 
  • Don't break in line. I get it -- your shoes cost more than my car. I don't care. It doesn't matter how fucking important you are on the ground at your company where you sell whatever widget you sell. In the airport, we're all the same. If you were that important, you'd have your own private jet. You're here at the airport, though, so fuck you. Get in line. Wait in line. Don't bitch about how important the meeting is that you're going to be late for. If you followed Rule Number One it wouldn't be a problem. And also? I'm not your employee or your kid, so if you try to break in line in front of me, I'm going to call you out. Loudly. And I encourage everyone in every airport to do the same to assholes who do this. Trust me, they'll back down. 
Don't be a dickhead. Wait your turn, and put your stuff in your carryon.
(Can't see the image? Click here)

  • Before you even get to the metal detectors, put everything that isn't your shirt, pants, socks and underwear in your carryon. Not your pockets, your carryon. Don't wait until you get up there to do it. I use a backpack with a front zipper pouch that I specifically leave empty, so that when I travel, I can dump everything into that one pouch. Phone, wallet, ring, belt, gum, chapstick... EVERYTHING. 
  • Everyone has to remove their shoes.  This may soon be changing, but until it does, you gotta take them off. And If you don't want your bare feet to touch the floor, wear socks. It's common knowledge by now. If you don't wear socks, it's not my fault. I don't want to hear about how dirty the floor is, and neither does anyone else in line. We're all annoyed already, you're just adding to the pain. And don't wear your calf-high Doc Martens which take a month to peel off your foot either. 
  • Shoes go in their own bin, as do laptops / iPads / tablets. Some airports are more lenient than others, but to save everyone time in case you're at one that isn't, just put your shoes in their own bin, and your laptop / computing device in another. 
  • Seriously, enough with the jewelry. You're flying, not attending cotillion. There's no need for 31 pounds of gold and platinum. This is actually the case all day, every day, no matter where you go, because you look like a guido retard. But that's another post. Walking through the metal detectors will get your metal detected. So take the shit off. Please. 
Take this shit off.
(Can't see the image? Click here)

  • Wait until the "security" person tells you to step through the metal detector / scanner. They will bark at you if you don't, and that holds up the line.
  • Save the protests / bitching / attitude with the TSA. That's what Twitter is for. We're all equally resentful of the process the TSA puts us through. If you really want to protest, pull a John Madden and stop flying. None of us in line are going to sympathize with your plight, because we're sympathizing with our own plight. Rise up and rebel if you're going to, just get the fuck out of line before you do, thanks. 
  • PLEASE check the guidelines for what can be carried on before you try to carry it on. Don't know where to look? Here, I'll help. A two minute check of your carryon will save you massive headaches and postage fees mailing your Leatherman back to yourself. 
  • If you want to change your seat, ask the gate agent BEFORE they start boarding. If you got there on time, this shouldn't be a problem. They're trying to board us, and we all want to board. Your middle seat is your problem if you didn't try to fix it before this point. 
  • Don't crash the gate. Okay, so if you look at your ticket, you will see the word "Zone" followed by a number. They will call this number shortly after the number before it, unless your number is "1" which likely isn't the case because you're reading this, and Diamond Premiere Platinum Ultrazord flyers don't read blogs, as previously discussed. You will earn exactly nothing whatsoever by getting to the gate before everyone else. There's no need to stack up five deep at the queue waiting for them to call your number. You will get on the plane. It's okay to just chill. I promise. 
I couldn't find any real pictures of gate crashers, so I'm using this album cover from the group Gatecrasher. I'm okay with it, because I'm a huge fan of The Designer's Republic who designed it. It's my blog, I can do what I want.
(Can't see the image? Click here)

  • Sit in your seat first. I'll admit -- I violate this sometimes. I'm HUGE. I hate sitting in middle seats, and sometimes I can't get a seat change. But when I do it, I take a seat before my own so if the passenger who rightly owns the seat shows up, I can just scoot to the row behind. Unless you're really good at that, don't take a seat that isn't yours, because you hold up the boarding process by needing to travel against the grain of the line to get on board. 
  • Use YOUR overhead compartment. Not kidding here, it's bullshit to think you deserve more than one spot in the overheads, and when you do this, you end up crowding out people who board later. Which means you're taking compartments that aren't yours. If I get to my seat and witness someone putting their coat and handbag and camera case and other shit that can fit under the seat in front of them into my compartment, I grab it, ask "Is this yours?" and when they say yes, I say "Here" and hand it to them. Now, because I look how I look, I get away with this 10 times out of 10. You may have worse luck, you may not. But if you follow this rule, we won't need luck, because we'll all get along. 
  • If you've got the aisle seat, you don't get both armrests. Even I don't do that, and as I've mentioned before, I'm massive. I also try not to sit with my legs splayed out which crowds the person next to me. 
  • You should have pee'd and poo'd before you got on. You're supposed to be a big boy and/or girl. When you use the lavatory while the plane is taxiing for take off, you violate procedure -- and again, I don't care about how much bullshit you think the procedure is, it is the procedure. Your protests are your own business, when they don't affect my flight. If you get up when we're taxiing, you'll keep us all on the ground and we will lose our place in line to take off, which means we sit on the runway until we can get a spot, which means they turn off the engines to save fuel, which means the air conditioning turns off, which means we all sweat and the plane stinks and FUCK YOU FOR BEING THIS WAY. Stay in your damn seat until they tell you you can get up. 
  • Listen to the flight attendant, please. She's not being a bitch. He's not being a dick. They're doing their job... Their shitty, shitty job of being a waiter in a cramped restaurant 30,000 feet in the sky. They have heard it all. They have seen it all. Don't be a dick, and chances are, they won't be one either.
  • Conversation is for those who want conversation. It's natural to want to strike up a conversation with someone you're going to be sharing a seat with for a few hours. It's part of the human condition, and a nice thing to do to pass the time. I've made several friends this way. But if I'm sending clear signals that I don't really want to talk, please don't push it. If I have my headphones on, guess what -- it's less likely that I really, really dig the song on my iPod and more likely that I just don't want to be bothered. It's nothing personal. Tap me on the shoulder if you need something or if I'm snoring, otherwise, just let me be. 
Ear goggles = leave me alone.
(Can't see the image? Click here)

  • Perfume? Cologne? Smelly fried food? SERIOUSLY, FUCK YOU. There's no real advice I can give you here, besides don't fucking do this. If you do, you're a dick. I hate you. I will knee the back of your seat the entire flight to pay you back for the hours-long assault on my nasal passages. Put on your smelly shit when you land, and buy food that doesn't stink -- it'll also keep you from being a fat slob, but again, that's another post. Also, shower before you fly, please... Especially if you plan to take off your shoes. 
  • It's your kid, not mine. Shut it the fuck up. Seriously, what is it with people who have kids that suddenly they just don't feel beholden to the common rules of courtesy that are supposed to pervade this society? It's bad enough in restaurants and movie theaters. And I get that sometimes, you just have to fly with your baby, and air pressure changes hurt their ears. Crying babies aren't so bad until they just won't shut up. You could get up after the seat belt sign is turned off and take it to the back... That'd be nice. But if your kid ins't a baby and keeps yelling and yammering and throwing a tantrum, figure that shit out before I duct tape its mouth shut and hog tie it. 
Not kidding. 
(Can't see the image? Click here)

  • If you're going to listen to music, please use headphones. Most phones and music players come with speakers built in. I wish they didn't. I find them convenient while showering or folding clothes, sure. But the rest of the time, they provide a means for retards to annoy me. I don't want to listen to Lil Wayne. I don't. I really, really don't. Don't play him on your music player's speakers. Please. God. Just. Don't. 
  • When the plane lands, try to be patient. Again, we're all going to get off that plane. There's no need to go shoving through the aisle and put your ass in my face while you wait for the terminal gate to dock. 
  • Let those with connecting flights get off first. Especially when your flight arrives late.  They're in a rush for a reason, try to help them out. It's already been a shitty experience flying with you, the very least you can do is help them not miss their connecting flight so they can get on another plane with another jerk who doesn't follow the rules. 

Did I miss any? What newbie / jerk passenger traits piss you off? Please feel free to add your rules in the comments.


I'm Someone's Phone Wallpaper And That Totally Screws With Me

A reader of mine (who shall remain nameless) met me in Lexington a few months back. We proceeded to have a nice lunch with a few other folks, and we'd occasionally chat on Facebook. A few weeks ago, she  messaged me on Facebook and said she was so nervous when we met, and that she's relieved to find out I'm such a nice guy.  I didn't understand it at all -- I'm just me! I love meeting new people and telling stories. She was nice to me. So of course, I was nice to her. I clearly didn't get where she was coming from.

So, she sent me this comic to explain it:

And she's not the first (but she IS the first to send me a comic about it incorporating my huge ass in Kaneda's jacket. I regret ever posting that picture). This has happened quite a few times the past 2 years or so. And I didn't really get it. I don't even think of myself in those terms. I'm just a guy who likes writing and telling great stories, who cares a whole lot about the process of creation and collaboration and sharing things with other people.

But then, something happened last week which pretty much smacked me upside the head and spun me into this weird analysis of just what the heck is going on with this whole process.

When I'm at conventions or talks for Art of Akira, occasionally someone who reads my crap shows up. It's always really exciting for me, because I make a point of not mixing Mentally Incontinent with Art of Akira stuff. The Art of Akira Exhibit is so very important and means a lot to a lot of people, and it just feels dirty to go mingling my own personal writing and books with that... It'd be using something monumental and important that people care a lot about and deserve to see, just to market my personal crap.

This past June at Otakon, I was sitting at the table at the entrance to the Art of Akira Exhibit when a younger guy came up to me. He reached into his bag and produced a copy of my 2nd book. 

"I hate to bother you," he then said, "but would you mind signing this for me?"

"Not at all!" I said with a smile. I asked his name, and signed it to him, along with a thanks for taking the time to come to the exhibit and saying hi. He seemed happy. He told me he picked up my book at Barnes and Noble just to kill some time in the cafe, and ended up buying it because he loved it so much. He asked if he could get a picture with me, and I agreed.

Fast-forward to last week at DragonCon. The same guy came up to the Art of Akira booth on Saturday. As soon as I saw him, I recognized him. "Hey, good to see you again!" I said before he could say anything.

"You... You remember me?" He said, surprised.

"Yeah, of course," I replied, somewhat surprised myself. "You totally made my day at Otakon. I don't get many people who come to see me because of my books, so that was really cool."

He blushed. He then began telling me that he was so shy and scared when he met me at Otakon, that he never got to tell me all the things he wanted to, so he decided he was going to take the chance while at DragonCon. He then told me how much my blog and books mean to him, and that I was his hero. Then, he did something that totally rang a new-sounding bell in my head: He pulled out his phone and showed me his wallpaper. It was the two of us at Otakon.

I am someone's wallpaper on their iPhone. I am someone's hero. Someone was scared to actually talk to me, because they saw me in a certain way that I, myself, have seen other people (notably, Henry Rollins and Chuck D). So I totally get it. BUT IT'S ME. So I don't.

I'm arguably the most accessible guy on the internet. You can reach me in 9 different ways, all from my website. I actively invite letters and IMs and Facebook and Twitter interactions. I love them. In fact, I thrive on them. They're what keeps me going. And yet, here's two of at least a hundred situations where someone who wanted to say hi felt like they couldn't or they shouldn't, because -- and I say this with all due tongue-in-cheek candor -- I'm somehow famous to them.

Now, I've been meeting readers of my books and blog since 2005, during my first book tour. The attendance at those things was made up of either people who read my site every day and involved themselves in the editing and comments and forums, or friends of theirs. The context was so different. When I met them in person, it was like checking off the last box on the list of "getting to know you." It was almost a formality.

And yes, there were people then who came up and told me how much they loved what I did and that I was their hero. But the context was completely different. It was almost like an elbow in the ribs moment. "Dude, you're totally my hero! Let me buy you a drink!" and then we get to the business of being friends.

But this... This was different. In fact, a lot of the people I meet now, both on Facebook and in meatspace, the context of our meeting is totally different. Thanks to the Penguin book deal and the FAR wider availably of my book in stores across the nation, there are people who bought my book without knowing who the hell I am, read it, liked it, friended me on Facebook, followed me on Twitter, read my blog and never once say hi.

They read my posts about how to work out at the gym or how to finally punch out a bully and it changes their life. They read my views on religion and it opens a door for them to finally have the courage to admit to people in their lives that they don't believe what their friends and family do. They can publish their own book if they follow my guide. They laugh at my exploits and they cry with my pain. And I have no idea, until they finally get up a courage I don't think they need and they tell me.

And I get it. I just can't ACCEPT it.

When I first met Henry Rollins, it was 1995. I was a Senior in high school. He was in town on his Public Insomniac #1 spoken word tour. He was out in the lobby before the show, giving direction to the person running the merchandise table. As he walked by, I stood there petrified. I couldn't say a word. I mean, it was HENRY ROLLINS. The guy who taught me about self respect and standing up for yourself and how it was okay to admit you have feelings, and that no one has a right to squash them. He proved that being sensitive and self-aware is actually a form of being tough.

And I couldn't bring myself to tell him that, until my friends forced me to. They literally pushed me in front of him as he passed by again.

"Uh... Mr. Rollins?" I said.

"Henry." He replied, looking up at me. I was literally a foot taller than he was, and here I was, babbling like a scared child.

"Yeah, uh... Henry?" I then said. I stuck out my hand. "I'm your biggest fan."

He looked me up and down. "I'll say!" he replied. "You're huge!"

I didn't know what to think. Did Henry Rollins just insult me? I mean, he's my hero... Do I get offended? Do I hate him now? Do I love that he got the better of me? WHAT DO I DO?

Before I could come to that decision, he said "I'm just kidding with you, man!" He took my hand and shook it. "What's your name?"

"Joe," I said with relief.

"Joe, I have to hurry and get on stage, but hey, come by after the show and we can talk." He took off. I was on cloud nine. After the show, I met up with him and brought my copy of Get In The Van for him to sign. He sat there for two hours and talked to everyone there. He was so super nice and friendly. I couldn't believe it. My hero actually deserved to be my hero.

As absolutely weird as this is to type, much less think... I've come to realize, I've become that to a certain group of people. And I don't know what the hell to think about it.

Everything I write and do, I do for the work, not for any sort of glory or recognition of my own name. Even though I write about myself and my life, the point of Mentally Incontinent was to achieve a goal (writing my first book) by asking the world to help me out. People who read what I wrote and talked with me and came to my signings felt like family. They were helping me out. We already knew each other on the site, and they were instrumental in making my dream happen.

When I write things like the fist fight article or how to work out in the gym, my goal isn't to prove I know something about a topic, it's to hopefully give to someone who needs them, the tools to do something they wish they could do. It's to inspire them to feel what I felt when I finally achieved whatever it is I'm writing about. THAT is the goal. THAT is the point. To share. To relate. To unite with those who understand (or want to understand).

Knowing that I did something *inspirational* for someone is far more important than knowing *I* did something inspirational for someone.

And that's why the internet is so amazing and so scary at the same time for me. It's amazing, because it swings wide open the gates that keep people from being able to find and meet and connect with one another. But it also puts content out there without the direct impetus to say hi and get to know each other. I suppose it's just a symptom of having your stuff spread. Not everyone's going to say hi. Not everyone's going to WANT to say hi. Not everyone will understand that you're just a guy from suburban Atlanta who has experienced a lot of cooky stuff which shaped your heart and brain into a mechanism for over-analysis and a need to share.

That doesn't stop it from being completely weird.


Am I The Only One Who Is Disgusted By The 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Bullshit?

There will be no "I remember that day" 9.11 post from me. There will be no stories or exposes or discussion about that actual day -- because to me, picking those scabs does nothing to pay any sort of tribute and serves only to add to the chorus of "Oh, yes, I felt pain too!" that everyone with a blog or tumblr or news station or network seems to want to participate in. And that's fine for them, if that's what gets them through this day. 

It wouldn't help me at all. It'd feel self-aggrandizing and gross. My memory of that day will be shared with people who ask, in the proper setting, at the proper time, and likely over beers, because it was a shit fucking day and I don't like thinking about it. And I refuse to post about it here. 

What I will do, however, is call some people on some bullshit I'm seeing and am quite disgusted by. And I have to ask, honestly: Is there anyone else out there who finds the entire thing tasteless, crude and utterly over the top? 

I mean, come on! It was the single worst attack on our own soil by a foreign enemy ever. I still have to take off my shoes in unnecessarily long lines at airports every single time I fly due to the tragedy of that day. I have friends who lost family and loved ones in the towers. The image of those two buildings tumbling to the ground as I stood there in the break room of a job I hated will never, ever leave my mind.

So do we really need a week and a half worth of "tributes?" Because they're not. They're not remembrances or looks back or memorials. They're ratings bait. Link bait. Horrible shilling of a horrible tragedy for traffic, because it sells. It's the tenth anniversary of a horrible day, and the media feels we're primed and ready to accept a slew of programming and articles and exposes and features about it.

Some of us are, I suppose. Maybe most of us are. But for me, all I see is a cheap attempt to get eyeballs on screens because it's a plausible reason to evoke the memories of 9.11.01. I think that a single day of remembrances would be tasteful. Hell, start it at midnight and run it through midnight -- you know, on the ACTUAL ANNIVERSARY. To run programming all week... It just smells bad to me.

Maybe I am the only one. Maybe I'm being disrespectful to the memories of those whose lives were lost that day, and I'm disrespectful to the honor of the families who suffered losses that day, and I'm disrespectful of the violation we all suffered as citizens of this nation when it was attacked. Maybe I need to dedicate a week of posts to exploring this. And when I do, I will install ads -- I mean, why not? The television stations and websites and magazines covering the tenth anniversary of 9.11 aren't suspending their ads on those pages.

What then? Is that paying tribute properly? Or is it just cashing in because I know it'll get eyeballs looking this way?

I think, if you're going to memorialize a tragedy, you shouldn't profit from it. And you shouldn't gouge it. You should be respectful and pay tribute.

*   *   *

Update: A reader of mine, Matthew DeVries, said the following on the Google+ discussion of this post:
I'd have considered you rude and over sensitive.....until I saw The Golf Channel's produced a 9/11 special, spending 2 hours on how golf was affected and forever changed by 9/11. At that point I realized it hit disaster porn levels.

The. Mother. Fucking. Golf. Channel. I rest my case.


29 Moments

  • The way the air feels the very second before the first drop of rain falls

  • The way the air tastes as her lips hover near yours right before you kiss for the first time

  • The sound of the silence just after you've said the words which finally landed with someone whose heart you're breaking

  • The feeling just after you've made the decision to surrender and reach out for help from someone

  • The second squeeze of a hug from someone you don't want to let go of

  • When you realize that someone you've wanted to meet for a long time hasn't disappointed you and lived up to expectations

  • The pause before hitting the delete key on an entire day's work because you realize it's useless

  • That feeling right before you're going to cry, when you are trying your hardest not to and you know it's going to happen anyway

  • The goosebumps on your skin just after you step outside on the first day after summer when you need a jacket

  • The meeting of your eyes by a stranger just after you've been caught checking them out

  • The rage that explodes through you just after you've made the decision to hit someone

  • Knowing you're about to break a promise

  • The sensation on your tongue as you try chocolate and port for the first time

  • The first drop from the sprinkler / water hose on a hot summer day

  • The realization that you've forgotten, just for a little while, that you are in pain

  • The pause just before the click the last time you ever say goodbye to someone, and mean it, over the phone 

  • The excitement just before the mailbox door opens wide enough for you to see inside when you're expecting a letter

  • The disappointment just after the mailbox door opens wide enough for you to see inside when you're expecting a letter, and nothing's there

  • The second you realize you're about to spend a long time bored

  • The surge of power when you've finally placed yourself in the perfect position to turn and pin the opponent

  • The snapping sound in your brain the second you realize you deserve better than what you've been getting and you stand up and demand it

  • The second you reach down to grab a piece of toilet paper, and the roll is empty, and you've not been shopping in a while, and you've just moved out of your parents home, and you realize for the first time that you're truly on your own

  • Coming out of the confusion of the panic-induced haze just after you've been in an auto accident that was your fault

  • The pause just before a child cries because you accidentally hurt it

  • The anticipation of the needle on your skin just after the tattoo machine buzzes for the first time

  • The wave of satisfaction the moment you realize something you built, organized or conceived actually works

  • The fear-tinged rush shooting through your body the moment you realize you're going too fast and need to slow down

  • The rush of heightened awareness when you're sneaking into a place you're not supposed to be

  • The fear of hitting the "Publish" button


The Day After Coming Off The Road

The day (or so) after I get back from being on the road, I'm in a mood. It's a very difficult mood to quantify. I'm not mad. I'm not even agitated. I'm direct and blunt. I can't focus on anything except doing work, and I'm useless for doing work because I'm tired. So there's this element of "Don't bother me, I'm trying to work, even though no work is happening at all" to everything I say and do.

It's not something I've been aware of for most of my life. But this year, I got called out on it by my wife and my friends, mostly because this year has seen more distance travelled than any year before, even 2005-2006 when I did my first book tour. It's not the absolute longest I've been from my home (or whatever served as my home base -- in the mid and late 90s, I had a place I paid rent at, but spent the vast majority of my time not there as I consulted in other cities for months at a time). But it's absolutely the most I've bounced from place to place.

And it's a dream fulfilled, for sure. When I was in school, I daydreamed about a life of travel and adventure. I thought all the time about what it'd be like to go on tour with a rock band, or hit cities and tell stories like Henry Rollins, or go on book tours. And when I first started, it was exciting and adventurous. I looked forward to every single trip.

These days, I'm not sure if its just age or if the luster has worn off, but travel ends up forcing me into a work mode I don't ever experience when I'm at home. There's this jaded element to it that makes me utterly disinterested in touring the city, visiting landmarks, seeing the sights... I just want to do whatever it is I came to do, the best I can possibly do it, and eat a decent meal and go home. I LOVE meeting new people. I love sharing stories. I love the connections and the conversations. But the cities themselves... I see landmarks from car windows and as I take off and land at the airport.

When I get home, it takes a day or two to cleanse from that mindset. And it shows to everyone except me. Even right now -- I feel fine. I feel like things went very well with Art of Akira Exhibit and Fark work the past week. And yet, all day long, people have been asking "What's wrong?" and "Are you okay?"

Before Andrea explained to me how I present to people when I come home from being on the road, I would just get agitated and insist they were insane. Now that I know this phenomenon is actually taking place, I at least have something to give people who ask me that question. But then that leads into the inevitable conversation that ALWAYS comes from trying to explain the difficulties of a life on the road, especially from those who daydream of it: "You have it made, you're living the dream. I don't get why you'd be so obtuse about it."

They're right. I do have it made. I live a life where I get to do several jobs I've always wanted to do, and I get to be really, really good at them. I get to see new sights and meet new people and invent new things and talk about my favorite animation and the state of art today. I get to tell stories from my books and entertain people. And I love the hell out of it.

But it's work. That's the point I don't think people who don't do it can get. Going to Montreal and New York and Boston in a single trip sounds glamorous. But it's work. You get there, you load out your luggage or exhibit or booth or books, you set up, and if you're lucky, you get a bite to eat. Then you get to work, and you work the night and the next day. If it's a convention, you work the entire weekend. And because you are working, you don't get to walk around the city and see cool things. You get to walk out to the nearest food vendor and bathroom and that's about it. And when it's all done, you pack up and you load in and you take off to the next place. There might be a meal in there if you scheduled it. Other than that, it's work.

Before I started doing this, all of my travel fell into a vacation type category. And when I consulted in another city for a long period of time, it was like being home in a new place for months. You had the weekends and most nights to soak it all up and explore. But you travel to exhibit or promote, you're in work mode the second you get in the car, all the way through the event, and until you get home.

That's not to say we don't have fun. Jeremy and I (and whoever is with us depending on the event -- Shawn and/or Mike with Art of Akira, Andrea with Mentally Incontinent stuff, Drew with Fark stuff) have a blast. It's got it's high notes and low notes, like everything. And when we're with the public, we are in very high spirits, because come on -- it's a dream come true.

But it's work. And it does tire you out and does things to you. And it's very hard to explain -- it's addictive and tiring and something you love and need distance from, all at once. And when you get home, and life has its routines that you've not been a part of, you feel out of place and distant and out of step, and all everyone else wants is to welcome you home and feel comforted that you're back where you belong. And that itself is hard to get into the groove of, because all you WANT is to sit back and relax and enjoy the time where the stress and work is over... But you're in that mode still, and everything you do that isn't actually working on things feels like you're stealing time. Even though your brain knows you're not, and remembers just a few weeks or months ago when sitting at home on a Thursday night watching football cause your work was done felt just fine, this time? It feels like theft.

And it's like that for a bit. And it goes away. But until it does, it's how I am until it goes away. And I'm completely blind to it, because to me, it all just feels normal.


Changing Weather and Finally Answering Letters (Hurrah!)

I have been carrying around an entire backpack pocket full of letters that you wonderful people have sent me for the better part of a month. Every time I sit down to begin replying to one, something comes up.
And usually, when people say that, what they mean is "except the times I was way too lazy to do anything whatsoever, or that time I played video games instead, or the time I got drunk, or the other time I got drunk" and so on.

But in my case -- and I think those of you reading this know this is true -- it's been day after day of continual busy-ness (I tried writing it as "business" which seems grammatically appropriate, but then it's just "business" and it wasn't all business -- there was some non-business stuff in there, but it was still busy-ness, which is the only way I can think of to write that term and have it make the kind of sense I want it to make). And since I was on a plane with no WIFI from Atlanta to Lexington this morning, I decided to (finally) get to work on replying to them.

It turns out, today is the very most perfectest day for such a thing. Nature decided to bestow upon the southeast a tropical storm, which -- when they land in September, as this one has -- tends to break the Summer and usher in an early Autumn. It's quite fortunate too. Atlanta was very near breaking the record for most days above 90 degrees. And if you've never tried it, let me assure you, trying to reply to 50+ letters during 90+ degree weather makes for a miserable experience. But then again, doing anything during 90+ degree weather is pretty much the same. It's not exclusive to letter writing. It extends to lawn work, cycling, pole vaulting... Anything except swimming, really.

And as you might be able to guess even without having tried it, swimming while writing a letter is just silly. It makes the ink run.

This weather invigorates me. It's cloudy, which is fine, because it's 58 degrees -- a cool, constant light breeze floats through the window of this quaint little college-town coffee shop (read: hipster-filled overwrought "organic" den of silliness). The smell of just-turning leaves is on the air, and the light notes of Autumn simultaneously refresh and relax me.

This is the weather God intended us all to write by. It's hard to be focused on the ills of the world when the air around you feels so wonderful. And since our official duties for Fark.com don't start until tomorrow, I figured today was the perfect day to share with you all how much I love how much you've shared with me.

So far today, I've answered letters from:

  • A girl who has never once read my blog, except for the post where I ask for letters, because a friend of hers posted that request-post in a forum she frequents. So she's using this as an opportunity to get to know a complete stranger, and purposely isn't reading anything on my blog or my books. Her letter was written on Ikea packing paper. 
  • Someone who lives less than an hour from my house -- which makes for a very intriguing commentary (or at least insight) on the modern nature of communication and relationship-building. She drew a dinosaur on the envelope, which ensured I'd answer her letter. Clever girl.
  • Several people I consider friends, who very kindly participated in my letter project, whose handwriting I've never seen -- adding a whole new dimension to knowing them.
  • A marine stationed in Afghanistan
  • A sailor stationed in Okinawa
  • Two army guys in Germany
The next one on my stack has an awesome Vision Street Wear sticker on the back. I haven't seen that logo in years. 

This whole project has made me beyond happy. I hope you all will reply to my replies, and if you haven't yet written a letter, please feel free -- it'd make my day!