Monday, April 28, 2008

Minding Sunshine of the Eternal Spotless

Tonight I finally got to see the ending to "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I saw two-thirds of the movie about 6 months ago, but that was about the same time that my DirecTV TiVo was doing weird things, and cut off this movie in the middle while it was recording, so I never saw the end of it.

Having now seen the movie in its entirety, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it. I think the concept was good, but the ending was kind of weak. I also feel that putting part of the ending at the beginning was kind of contrived, and they would have been better not doing that. I think screenwriters think that having part or all of the end of the movie at the beginning is some kind of artistic genius, but it usually isn't. Seeing the end first also gives me sour flashbacks of a certain recent relationship I just got out of.

It wasn't a bad movie, but it isn't one I would buy so I could watch it again and again. Jim Carrey's presentation as Joel was actually good - despite what many people say about his acting.

A quotable quote from the movie that spoke to me is the following:
Joel: (entering into his journal) Random thoughts for Valentine's day, 2004: Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.

Someone must have been listening to me somewhere.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Inevitable

Today marks the end of the relationship with "A" that started just over a month ago. I neglected writing about the whole thing while it was going on because, to be honest, I couldn't figure out what to write. I think I knew that this day was inevitable almost from the very beginning when I started trying to figure out how to deal with the differences in interests and lifestyle. Now that it's over I feel a little more free to write about some of the details and what I learned from it all.

What were the "differences" I mentioned above and in my previous post? I'll start with the things she told me at the start, and these are not my own embellishments -- they are accurate paraphrased comments:
  • She doesn't like music - any music. It makes her feel like wanting to scream.
  • When watching movies at home, she cannot sit through the entire movie, but feels compelled to get-up every 10 minutes or so and go back to it. She says this is because she feels that when she's at home there are better things she could be doing.
  • Also when watching movies, she needs to know how it ends and what will happen before watching it. This is to determine (a) whether the movie is worth watching and (b) to know what to watch for.
  • She doesn't watch TV at all, unless the weather is bad and she needs to watch the news
  • She very early on started talking to me about making this a long-term relationship (I mention this to explain why I was so persistent in trying to work out our differences in interests)
Now those who know me know that music, watching movies at home, and TV programs are a large part of my life. Not being able to share these with someone - especially someone I am dating - is very frustrating. I don't expect that we'll like all the same movies, music, or TV shows, but it would be nice to be able to at least hold a conversation about it.

In the name of being fair, and because there were personality traits we shared in common (allowing us to understand each other), and because I truly do care about her, I tried to find some kind of common ground on these subjects. In doing this, and learning more about her, I discovered many contradictions that only caused me more confusion and caused me to ask more questions.

I really cared for "A" and on the advice of a few close friends I tried to set all of this aside and just kind of experience everything "in the moment." The more I did this, the worse I felt about the inability to share with her things that I enjoyed. I envisioned a future of living together in the same house, but in two different rooms doing completely different things, and possibly annoying each other in the process. I saw a future of taking long car rides where I had to keep my car stereo silent because I would cause her distress. I saw this relationship progressing emotionally and physically, and I didn't like what I saw it becoming.

What ultimately caused us to break-up was my asking the following question, "What do you envision us like 3 years from now if we were living in the same house? What would we do on an average night?" The break-up was mutual, I will add, although I think that it could be said that she had made the decision before I did. The question I asked started a line of ugly commentary... According to "A":
  • Certain friends of mine "put me up" to the question I asked, and that they were trying to sabotage the relationship
  • I over-analyzed and dissected her interests to the point that she felt uncomfortable
  • When I appeared disappointed when she expressed a dislike for a movie I liked a lot, she no longer felt she could speak freely about her feelings.
  • That a relationship is primarily about doing things one person likes and the other dislikes, and the disliker does it because he/she cares about the other person.
  • I expected us to have everything in common and my expectations of a partner are unrealistic.
  • My self-consciousness caused me to move too slowly on the more intimate, physical parts of the relationship and I should not date again until I've resolved that.
  • I'm not ready for a relationship. I don't know what I want out of a relationship, and as a result, my partner doesn't know how to make me happy.
I think I left out a few things, but those are the crux of the lecturing I had to listen to over a period of 2 hours or so. The same girl that said she wanted to make sure we remained friends so I could help her with some technical stuff now told me that she was looking for a boyfriend and not another friend, and that if we broke-up that we would no longer be in contact with each other.

So here I am at the end of a month of getting to know someone and dating after 20 years of nothing. Even after being treated like a five-year-old I still wish the best for her. I'm not sure why, either. So what have I learned from all this:
  • This is the second relationship in 20 years I have been in where my apparent reaction to the other's disagreement with me about *something* caused them to feel unable to express disagreement to me anymore. So maybe I react too harshly or inappropriately to disagreement. I didn't feel I did, but...
  • I need to decide what it is I'm looking for in a relationship. Maybe I'm not meant to be with anyone.
  • If someone I'm interested in says that they dislike all music and TV and has weird ways of watching movies...run, fast.
  • My friends are my most cherished "possession" and I should (continue to) treat them well. If I never end up in a romantic relationship again, my friends will still be there. If someone I date starts accusing my friends of sabotaging the relationship, then run, fast.
  • If I do end up dating someone again, I'll need to find a new way to find out what she likes because obviously asking too many questions about this comes across as dissecting her.
Sadly, this again also resulted in comments about how I have an unrealistic view of what a relationship should be. So twenty years have passed and that hasn't changed.

Finally, I did discover the definition of a "date" from the movie "Enchanted" I saw a few weeks ago...and here it is as described in the movie:
Robert: You know, most normal people get to know each other before they get married. They date.

Giselle: Date?

Robert: Yeah. You know, date. They go someplace special, you know, like a restaurant, or movie, or museum, or you just hang out and you talk.

Giselle: What do you talk about?

Robert: About each other. About yourself. Hear about your interests, your likes, your dislikes. You talk.

Giselle: You have such strange ideas about love.

Robert: Maybe we should do what you would do. You meet, you have lunch, then you get married.

Giselle: Oh, you forgot about, "happily ever after."

Robert: Forget about "happily ever after" it doesn't exist.

Giselle: Well of course it does!
Guess I'm still looking for my "happily ever after." Sigh.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Adafruit Industries

Once again I introduce you to someone who has caught my attention.

Limor Fried in NYC is better known as Ladyada, and has a web site at http://www.ladyada.net/. So what's so special about Limor and her web site? Well, first of all she's into building electronic gadgets from scratch, and anyone who does this finds a place in my heart by default. But that isn't all. Limor has a master's degree in electrical engineering from MIT, and her master's thesis was was called "Social Defense Mechanisms: Tools for Reclaiming our Personal Space." I can only say to follow the link and view the page. In short, she addresses the ways that modern technology (such as cell phones) intrudes on our personal space.

Limor's business is called Adafruit Industries (http://www.adafruit.com/). The business mainly centers around her many interesting projects. Just perusing her web sites gave me a renewed feeling that it's possible to build cool things yet.

In addition to a wiz at electronic gadgetry, Limor is also an artist. This may be what I find interesting about her. Instead of doing the same old things that everyone else is doing, she is doing creative things with technology. She's looking at how technology has impacted human beings, and is making a statement about why we should sometimes take a step back and look at what we've become.

In any case, she's worth a mention here. I got lost for a couple of hours looking at the projects she's done. I learned a little about modern microcontrollers (I'm still using an old 8051 MCU in the 40-pin DIP package for my projects). It was a fun ride.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Deep

Pre-posting note:
For those who haven't yet figured it out, or who are hopelessly humor-impared, the previous post was an April Fools joke. I have not, nor will I ever, advocate that Rush Limbaugh be placed into any position where he would be taken seriously. Yes, I did write it under the pseudonym Dottie Calm (dot-com, get it?!). Nothing deep there. Just somethin' to keep y'all thinkin'...

In the past couple of weeks I have actually been doing some deep thinking.

I recently started corresponding with a woman who thinks a lot like I do, but who has a set of dislikes that conflict with some things I hold near to me. It doesn't really matter what they are. I like her, though. It has made me think, "What is a relationship, really?" I have broached this topic here before, but now being sort of on the other side of being "too restrictive" I have had to think about this a whole new way.

The easy answer is to move along and look for someone who is more compatible. That may, indeed, happen. It's too early to tell.

However, Shellie (a friend) gave me some insight based on some experiences from her own marriage that caused me to take a deeper look at what makes-up a meaningful relationship with someone. While most romantic relationships start with both people doing a lot of common enjoyable things together, that isn't usually what causes it to last. After a time and when familiarity sets-in, many couples end up doing a just a few things together, and what makes them partners is the support, understanding, and intimacy they give to each other.

Can a romantic relationship survive without two people sharing several things that are meaningful to one person? Will this result in that one person feeling deprived? Will it annoy the other person into resenting their partner?

These deep questions are ones I have been losing sleep (a lot of sleep) thinking about over the past couple of weeks.

More to come.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rush Limbaugh for President

By Dotty Calm, Disassociated Press Writer
April 1, 2008
NEW YORK, New York: To the surprise of most people in the Democratic party, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to leave the race to be the Democratic presidential candidate and has been replaced by Rush Limbaugh. This surprising situation comes just days after Mr. Limbaugh sent many loyal listeners of his daily radio program to support Senator Clinton for the Democratic candidacy. Senator Clinton gave a press statement early this morning saying, "I realize that my chances to win in the Democratic primaries is looking pretty slim, but Mr. Limbaugh has a better chance of winning the nomination as he has support from conservative Democrats and much of the Republican party." Furthermore, Mr. Limbaugh indicated that his running-mate will be Senator Clinton. "Ms. Clinton has the full support of the liberals, and with the drive-by liberal media completely ignoring the conservative agenda, our ticket will surely get the exposure needed and support provided by both extreme liberals and conservatives," Rush said.

Conservative talk-show hosts are orgasmic at the prospect of Mr. Limbaugh entering the presidential race. Bill O'Reilly said, "We all know that Senator Clinton by herself is just a pinko-commie liberal, but with Rush to even-out her liberal agenda, we can be sure to bring-on a whole new clan of Americans to cleanse our nation of liberalism. Did I just say that out loud?"

Disassociated Press asked Mr. Limbaugh several questions about his stand on pressing political issues, and how he and Senator Clinton plan to address them:
  • DP: "Do you plan to bring the troops home anytime soon?"
    Rush: "Absolutely. As we all know, the home for the troops is now Iraq, and Senator Clinton and I fully intend on bringing all remaining troops home."
  • DP: "When do you feel the war in Iraq will be over?"
    Rush: I fully support President Bush and his desire to end this war when the war is over, and by that I mean when all terrorism is eradicated from the Earth. Including terrorism that our own citizens perform against other citizens, or other countries.
  • DP: "Do you support gay marriage?"
    Rush: Gay marriage is an abomination. Now lesbians are a different matter. I like lesbians. Did I just say that out loud?
  • DP: "What are your plans for the war on drugs?"
    Rush: All drugs must be controlled. Except for OxyContin, that is. Have you ever had some of that with a nice cigar? Makes you feel like you could be a liberal, even.
  • DP: "Senator Clinton and you have differing views on many political issues. How do you intend to address those differences?"
    Clinton: I will answer that. Mr. Limbaugh and I have a special relationship and I am sure that he will open up to the idea of a public health care system...especially when he sees the drug benefits.
  • DP: "How to you intend on stimulating the depressed economy?"
    Rush: The economy isn't in a depressed state. That's just the liberals trying to discredit President Bush. Look, we just invaded one of the biggest oil-producing countries in the world. Our gasoline prices exceed $3/gallon. Depressed? Exxon is showing huge profits. So our country is in fine shape economically.
  • DP: "What do you tell people who are having financial problems with the price of energy so high?"
    Rush: Stop whining and get a real job, like me.
Mr. Limbaugh says he will continue doing his daily radio program both throughout the campaign and on into the presidency. "My long-time listeners look to me for serious political commentary and the truth about everything. Keeping the radio program will maintain them in lock-step behind me and together we shall expose those Democrats for what they really are. Wait, I can't say that right now." The Excellence In Broadcasting (EIB) network had no comment regarding Mr. Limbaugh's vie for the Democratic nomination. The Democratic party has indicated that Mr. Limbaugh's statements are no more than an elaborate "April Fool's joke" and refuse to acknowledge him as a serious contender.