What’s On my Mind?

This isn't a real post.

Well, it sort of is.

Because I'm posting it.

And guess what?

James-Writes.com celebrates being 2 years old this month!

That's right!

I wanted to thank everyone who's read my work, offered advice and tutelage, and helped get things rolling.

I'd also like to thank all of the people who put up with me.

You see, before there was James-Writes.com, there was just me texting a few friends.

I did it a lot. Probably too much. And it usually happened late at night during my “Cocktail Hour.”

Until they asked me to stop. Which I did.

After some of them threatened me.

Then I found Facebook and it's always asking, “What's on your mind?”

So, I started telling it. And some people liked it!

And some asked me to stop.

But, I didn't!

And James-Writes.com was born.

So, in honor of 2 years, here's a little of what's on my mind.

 

 

 

The Real Value Of Star Trek

 

Sometimes the end of a relationship rips a hole in you so big that you're not sure if anything is going to fill it again. Something has been torn from you.

Before a certain someone came along, you were living just fine. But now that they're gone, you wonder if you can survive without them. You feel weak. A dull pain, or maybe a sharp one, throbs in your heart, that organ that does its job pumping blood and oxygen every day and you rarely notice it.

You feel it now, don't you? In your chest? It's still doing its job, but it's labored and deliberate.

The cloudy days are your favorite because that's the outer world expressing how you feel inside- gray, cold, dank.

You grasp onto anything that keeps the trace memory of a dead relationship somewhat alive, reliving conversations in your mind, wondering what you could have done differently, and telling yourself you did the best you could.

Maybe you did.

You can try alcohol, but that's short lived. You can try a rebound relationship, but that'll probably get messy, and hurtful, and sad, spreading the pain like a cancer. There's nothing lonelier than being with someone while thinking of, and longing for, another.

Sometimes the oddest things, the most unexpected things, bring us comfort. After one of the worst breakups of my life- Okay, I'll call it THE worst breakup- I learned to command a starship.

That's right.

I had missed Star Trek: Enterprise in 2001 when it aired since I'd spent several years not watching television. I discovered it one night on Netflix after already barreling through Firefly and The Walking Dead. I decided to give it a chance.

I'm glad I did. The characters, their lives and interactions, were compelling. And it is of course a space adventure.

And that's the point I want to make here. Because of that show, I was able to connect with something from my childhood that brought me comfort and joy. It helped transport me, if only for a few hours a night, to a time before romantic relationships even existed to me.

I watched so much Star Trek that summer that I seriously could've commanded my own vessel. I could've raised shields, fired the photonic torpedoes, and gave the order to take the ship to warp.

Not long after I began watching Enterprise, I listened to a podcast called The Mental Illness Happy Hour. Host Paul Gilmartin said that when his depression is especially kicking his ass, he finds World War II or serial killer documentaries to be soothing. He doesn't know why. They just are.

And I had been doing the same thing. Except for me, it was intergalactic adventures.

So, if you're struggling, I hope you'll follow your intuition wherever it takes you to find comfort. Maybe, you'll pick up a long-forgotten hobby, the joy of writing, or playing a neglected musical instrument.

Maybe you'll decide to take a cooking class, or study martial arts, or connect with something from a simpler time. A time before your breakup. A time before your relationship.

We can't go back in time. That's not possible. But I believe there are lessons there that can help us. And learning from them may bring us some joy in the present that we can take with us into the future.

I rediscovered my love of space adventures and of writing posts like the one you're reading.

What will you discover?

 

 

The Things I Learn On Friday Night

Why did the Magnum P.I. mustache fall out of fashion? Even Tom Selleck shaved his off for awhile. He’s since grown it back. And I think that’s just a big middle finger to the whole TV industry.

Tom Selleck does what he wants with his facial hair. Deal with it.

I respect that. The dude has chest hair, too. He never shaved that off. He’ll go for a swim and climb up out of the pool with the chest hair and the mustache and all.

The young actors don’t have that kind of confidence. They’re all shaved and waxed and sanitized. Is this because the modern woman is into that?

Women in the 80′s knew what was up. That’s because Tom Selleck told them.

Tom didn’t have any Facebook or texting. He had to actually step up and let women know that he was interested in dating them. And he did that with a naughty grin and the class of a gentleman.

Cruising a red Ferrari and solving crimes in his Hawaiian shirt, he was rugged and cool. So much so that Spielberg originally cast him as Indiana Jones, but it didn’t happen because of Selleck’s contractual obligation to CBS.

It’s true. You can watch Tom’s Raiders of the Lost Ark screen test on YouTube, and also an interview where he tells the story to David Letterman.

He’s working again on TV, playing a cop on a Friday night show. Friday night, by the way, is now the purgatory of television. It’s where they put all of the half-assed programming.

It didn’t used to be that way. We had Knight Rider and The Dukes of Hazzard. That’s quality television.

A talking car, David Hasselhoff way before the burger on the floor incident, good-hearted rednecks, and Daisy Duke. Dig that!

Obligatory Daisy Duke Pic

These were hour-long adventures where good and bad were clearly defined and stories were neatly wrapped with a moral and a lesson about life.

Now Friday night TV sucks. It’s geared toward older people who fall asleep on the couch before the show is over anyway, so who cares what they put on?

Tom deserves to be treated better by the television industry. We all do.

But here’s the deal: Tom owns Friday nights now. He owns them on yet another cop show.

Now, I don’t know Tom personally, but I can’t imagine his long term professional goal was to be on a Friday night cop show. I think he’d probably rather do something new, more creative, more edgy.

And I think a lot of people feel this way about their lives. So many of us are stuck in our own equivalent of the Friday night cop show.

We feel bored or perhaps the life we’re leading feels like the consolation prize.

We feel typecast. Like we’re doing the same stuff over and over, like we’ve been through this before but life just keeps happening.

We aren’t doing bad. But we don’t have the job or lifestyle that we want. We aren’t dating the person we want. Other people in our lives aren’t behaving the way we want.

What’s the answer?

Be the best at being you.

Own it like Tom Selleck.

I started writing again about two and a half years ago while going through one of the toughest times in my life. There were things happening that I couldn’t change, so I decided to write about them rather than ruminate on their inflexibility.

That turned out to be the best possible thing I could’ve done. Not only was the writing therapeutic and entertaining for me, but it brought new people into my life who encouraged me and helped me, including Joshua Fields Millburn. And I can’t recommend his writing class highly enough.

I’ve gotten emails from people around the world telling me how my writing has meant something to them.

And those emails mean so much to me. Thank you, to everyone who sends them.

So, not to make everything about me, (because the doctors say everything’s not always about me) but I am learning to make the most of the less than ideal parts of life.

And you can too.

You don’t have to start writing, but you can be the best at being you.

Whatever that means.

Be the friendliest bartender, the kindest nurse, the hippest teacher, or a super hero attorney. Be a rock star stay at home parent.

Or dig up a long forgotten hobby or passion.

Paint your masterpiece on Instagram. Take weird iPhone pics and tweet them. Compose little tunes and unleash them on the world via YouTube.

I bet people’ll take notice.

And I bet you’ll take over your little corner of the world like Tom Selleck took over Fridays. I bet you’ll create a niche for yourself and interesting times will come looking for you like the ratings came looking for Tom.

And you can do whatever you want with your facial hair.

Using Netflix For Dating And Birth Control

I don't want kids.

It's not that I hate them. I often work with them. I just don't want to have any of my own.

On a date, that goes over pretty awesome. You would think I just admitted to having a collection of human heads preserved in my freezer.

Which I don't.

There'd be no room for the vodka.

The “Kid Talk” can suck all of the air out of the room and send the evening careening into a black hole.

I usually tell women on the second date, unless the first date isn't going well, or I'm in a hurry to get home and watch Netflix.

Good stuff on Netflix. I'm a big fan of House of Cards.

And Kevin Spacey's character on that show doesn't want kids.

This got me to thinking… I grew up watching a lot of TV.

As a matter of fact, I think TV was one of my favorite things about childhood and very few of my favorite characters had kids.

Do you think Thundarr The Barbarian had time for kids living in that post apocalyptic world? I don't think so. And I can't remember Princess Ariel ever giving him crap about it.

No crap given

I wonder if they ever talked about it and then decided against it. It would've never worked with their lifestyle, even with the help of their companion Ookla the Mok.

Not available for child care

In any case, I saw an old friend a while ago and he brought up the subject of kids. He said he and his wife were planning to start working on having one.

I asked him if he felt ready to be a dad.

“My wife says I'm ready,” he replied.

“Yeah,” I said. “But you know you have a choice, right?”

He fidgeted with his cocktail and changed the subject. I didn't press him for any more information. I'm not sure if he had ever thought about kids in terms of having a choice or not.

And choice is the point. We may not have much in this life, but we usually have some sort of choice.

I'm not telling people not to have kids, or to have kids, or what methods of family planning to practice.

I honestly don't care what other people do. That's part of my charm.

But, I think part of being an evolved human is realizing we do have choices.

And part of living consciously is examining choices and making the best possible decision, even if no one else understands them.

We don't have to do the things that other people have done before us. Life isn't one size fits all. Sometimes we have to make alterations as we go.

And sometimes we double down on Netflix.

I'm here for you

 

 

Anxiety Is A Liar!

Everything is the worst thing ever.

That's how it feels to have an anxiety disorder.

Worrying that someone is going to break up with me produces the same chemical reaction in my body as having a tiger chase me.

Fearing that I'll lose my job or that I've upset my boss feels like I'm on an airplane and it's going down, man. It's going to crash!

Anxiety is the sound of my blood pounding in my ears.

It's not being able to get a breath because I feel like a camel is sitting on my chest.

It's dry mouth and a head that feels too light.

At least at this point in my life, I know that many thoughts that scare me aren't founded in reality. They're a sort of negative speculation and often they're wrong.

At the beginning of one previous relationship, I had a difficult time accepting that an amazing young woman, now my ex, could be interested in me.

She once took what I thought was too long to reply to a text message and I worried she was done, that she wasn't interested in me anymore.

My compulsive negative thinking was extremely persistent and caused a lot of anxiety that I had to find a way to work with.

The worst thing to do would've been to keep texting her, trying to get her attention, or trying to figure out why she wasn't answering me.

That's really unattractive.

So, the first thing I did was let things be.

That's right. There was nothing I could do about whether she sent me a text message. I decided to focus instead on managing my thoughts and feelings.

I asked myself, “Do you know that's she's not interested in you anymore?”

“No. I don't,” I replied.

“Do you even know what she's doing today?”

“No. I don't know what she's doing today. She could be working, or taking a nap, or maybe the battery in her phone died and she hasn't even gotten my message yet. There are countless things that could be preventing her from getting back to me that have nothing to do with me.”

Then, I went for walk with my dog.

I find walking to be really helpful in dealing with anxiety. Moving forward is symbolic as well as therapeutic. It's a change of scenery and a new perspective.

I spend much of my life indoors. Going outside for a walk interrupts my patterns and habits. Sometimes, being outside also makes it easier to be in the present moment and to ground myself in the physical world.

I looked at the trees as I moved past them. A breeze rustled through the leaves and touched my skin. I could smell the scents of summer, the cut grass, the barbecues. I watched the skyline as an orange sun started to sink behind the houses.

And I watched my dog poop in someone's front yard.

Yeah.

Of course I picked it up. I had the plastic baggies with me. And I wonder if my dog ever thinks it's funny when we walk down the street and I'm carrying a bag of his poop.

Yes. I do.

Anyway, it wasn't long into my walk before I started to feel a lot better.

And then something almost magical happened.

I got a text message from the woman I was dating inviting me to spend time with her the next evening. The text came at almost the exact moment I'd forgotten about waiting for it.

She wasn't tired of me, or done with me, or upset with me.

There was nothing wrong at all.

I had made everything up in my head.

I don't even remember what she told me she was doing that prevented her from getting back to me.

What I do remember is my anxiety grabbing a tiny piece of information, a text message yet to be answered, and encouraging me to worry over things that simply weren't true.

Anxiety is a liar.

 

*A version of this essay was originally printed in Complete Wellbeing Magazine.

 

January Was Breakup Month

On Twitter, a woman keeps following me and unfollowing me over and over again. It's just like a real relationship.

I've never actually met her before, but just like a girlfriend, some days she likes me and other days she just needs to get the hell away from me.

I'm okay with that.

I'm better in small, careful, measured doses.

And no matter how cute someone is, no matter how much we have in common, there will eventually be times when they're stinking up the bathroom, slurping coffee loudly, and doing a lot of nose blowing.

So much nose blowing.

I once spent three weeks in Germany with a girlfriend whose job took her there for a year. She was certainly ready to be rid of me by the time I left. Maybe it was too much togetherness.

Or maybe it was because my snoring sounds like furniture being dragged across a hardwood floor and I sometimes throw MMA style elbows in my sleep.

Other than that, I think I was a great house guest.

And since I'm not all that into house guests, I'm hypersensitive to other people's feelings when I occupy their space.

I even brought my own eco-friendly air disinfecting spray for when I poop in the morning.

Seriously, I brought my own poop spray.

To Germany.

I know that's obsessive, but it's also quirky and charming.

At least that's what I tell myself.

Anyway, January was breakup month!

Huzzah!

Really. It was.

I checked snopes.com and everything.

Lots of my friends and acquaintances were dissolving relationships. Whether they were married, cohabitating, or just dating, people were ended things.

I'm not here to judge anyone and I'm not qualified to give out any kind of advice. Certainly, if someone's partner is beating them, or cheating on them, or molesting the kids, then there's a need to get away.

If someone's significant other is a selfish, belligerent villain or an addict who doesn't want to get help, then it may be time to leave.

But if someone is leaving because their person isn't their “soulmate” or they think there's someone more exciting out there, they may or may not be right.

Sure, there's a certain magic to a new relationship and the “Honeymoon Phase” is fun. It's supposed to be. It's a bunch of dopamine, serotonin, and fantasy.

But then, things get real.

Really real.

The brain chemicals run their course and the magic slips away.

What's left when a relationship cools is someone tampering with your schedule, cluttering up your space, and wreaking havoc in your bathroom.

Have I mentioned there'll be nose blowing?

It might be best to focus on the things we do like about the people in our lives.

And also buy some poop spray.

Dr Shulze, I'm a huge fan.

 

Advice To My 18-Year-Old Self

I'm included in a collection with a group of amazing authors!

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I'd love it if you'd give it a read and leave a review. Those reviews really do matter!

Thanks for all of the support!

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