Thursday, August 28, 2008

Less Government

As the big day approaches, I became engrossed in a conversation the other day about how Republicans want less government. I've heard this naive statement many times. In reality, it is the ideas of Republicans that lead to more government. For example, take equity vs. equality. Equity means everyone is given an equal starting point; equality means you have the same rights but not the same rights to the same start. In short, everyone has a right to education but not to an equal education. If an inner city school doesn't have enough books for all their students while a burb school has a surplus, who cares? Equality we have in the U.S.; equity we don't.

Anit-equity is pushed by Republicans. You must work hard for your money and prove yourself. (Unless you're a big corporation and then the government will bail you out of your mistakes. Hmm.) Does that create more or less government? A hell of a lot more. Lack of equity in education leads to more prisons, more taxes to pay for said prisons, more welfare, more taxes to pay for said welfare, more government to monitor and run all these programs, more childcare for parents who can't take care of their kids, more government to monitor children, foster parents, and so forth. If we had basic equity in education to begin with (that's one of the few places where you really need it), all that government goes away. It's easy for someone to say they create less government but look carefully to see the truth; as voters, that's our job. And, unfortunately, most of us fail to do it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer in Chicago

I know, I know; I'm way behind on posts. And one still won't be up today. Sorry but it's summer in Chicago and, well, I've been living it up. I just got a bike the other day and have been riding it around, writing a bunch of junk, and actually cleaned my place. (First time in over two years.) I will put up two posts next week, the friend's one earlier in the week. Deal w/it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Does Having a Book Change You? Bernie Mac's View on Change

I get this question a lot. I think it really depends on the author and the success of the book. For me, I haven’t changed at all. For guys like the Waiter, whose book has much more media and success than my own, it hasn’t changed him. That’s a testament to his strong character and sincerity.

That’s not to say that having a book hasn’t changed my life; it has. Given the subject, it has changed dating, of course. I like the girl-next-door-types; the book tends to scare them off, while attracting the more trixie-types, who I tend not to prefer. I knew this would happen, so I was prepared. It’s still, tough, though.

Mostly, having a book changes some of the people around me. Some friends feel a need to introduce me with my book-credit (”This is Ian, he wrote a really funny book”), while others keep asking me when the sequel will be written. The friend it changed the most was Cheryl (name changed to protect her identity).

I met Cheryl on New Year’s Eve at a bar called The Avenue several years ago. She had beautiful eyes and a warm smile, so I liked her, instantly. My friends and I hung out with her and her friends for most of the night. Her boyfriend was not at the party, as he was working. I got her digits before she left. We started to swap a lot of emails and got together for several dinners. I told her if she wasn’t dating someone, I would definitely be interested. (Working to steal women away from their boyfriends is immature and lame.) I didn’t like her boyfriend, though, as he spent little time with her. It seemed more like he was keeping her on the line rather than a real relationship. A few times it felt like we could get something going but she was true to her boyfriend and stuck to remaining friends with me. While I enjoyed seeing her and even having her sub occassionally for volleyball (she was only an intermediate player but the level of fun and personality she brought to the team more than made up for any lack of skill), I mostly looked forward to our conversations. Cheryl was intelligent and interesting; unafraid to speak her mind and personable. I had the feeling that she kind of wanted me to push her into having something happen; that if I did, I would be the reason for a break-up with her boyfriend. She didn’t really want to be responsible. That’s not how I want to start to date someone, so I didn’t push or pursue. In short, once I spoke my mind, I respected the friendship and had no problems with it.

If Cheryl had one flaw, it was her breasts. I don’t mean her breasts themselves, I mean her view of her breasts. She thought they were important but they weren’t. She would reference their small size in jokes from time to time. Personally, as I mention repeatedly in God, I am a butt man. Cheryl had a great ass, a nice bonus to everything else about her. When I wrote the first two chapters of God, I wanted to get some female feedback. I wanted women who I knew would tell me their thoughts; who wouldn’t sugarcoat anything. Cheryl was one of the women I asked. She gladly accepted. The first story deals with a woman who had an amazing pair of breasts. While Cheryl seemed to like the humor and candidness, after she read it, she became convinced that I was a breast man. “You’re definitely a breast man.” I repeatedly told her otherwise but she refused to believe me. There was a strong disappointment in her voice. This confirmed to me that she had an interest beyond mere friendship.

Soon after, Cheryl vanished. She stopped emailing or returning calls. No more dinners. No more great conversations. Fearing she thought I was a creep based on the first two stories, I sent her the rest of the manuscript when it was done, including the last couple chapters where I realize what an ass I had become and made changes, finding my balance. Still no reply. To this day I miss our conversations. Again, her vanishing act served to confirm my suspiscion that she had more than an interest in friendship–if she wasn’t interested, she wouldn’t care what kind of breasts I liked.

I have not spoken with Cheryl since the book was released, over a year ago. I still miss our conversations. I’ve never met anyone quite like her. I still include her in emails to my friends about doing dinner or getting together for a movie, and so forth. Why bother? Another comedian gave me some great advice once: He said, “Never change anything about yourself for anyone unless you love them and they love you.” He was Bernie Mac and as you probably know, he died this past Saturday at age 50. His early demise is a reminder of the amount of time we waste on silly things, like a lack of communication or stupid misunderstandings or allowing others to change us when we really don’t want to change. Cheryl is a great example. If she had just believed me or told me what was really bothering her, we could have easily fixed it; instead, we both lose out on a good friendship–that might have been more when the timing became right. For what? For nothing that has any substance or real meaning.

So, unless Cheryl emails me to please stop including her on emails, I will continue to include her. I can’t control how anyone else lives their life but I can control how I live mine. Remember, the only person you have to live with is yourself. You have to be true to who you are; don’t let anyone change you unless you both love each other. (In which case you probably won’t want to change each other… at least not much.) Thanks Bernie; good stuff.

Bernie Mac

Not much to say except he was a really good guy; I met him a few times. His death is a reminder that life really is short and vulnerable. Remember that as you live. Bernie taught us all to live life to the fullest. Good advice.