Q and A

The past two days found me at Planet Comicon. I had a great time and I’ll be writing about the entire convention on Comics Forge. But right now, I want to talk about this:

I find I’m just as frustrated with panels at conventions as I am with sessions at professional library conferences. The format of “presenters talk about a subject, the audience asks questions, the presenters answer the questions” is too much like the kind of schooling I don’t like (or get much out of). I don’t want to be lectured to, and it’s rare for my thoughts to be easily focused into one simple question. I don’t want to ask a question for the presenters to answer, I want to have a real conversation with the presenters, with questions and musings and anecdotes and data exchanged by everyone.

Or, as Jane Wiedlin talked about at last year’s Planet Comicon, I want everyone in the room to play Truth or Dare.

This is Who I Am

A thought I had in the shower this morning:

I’m an enthusiastic, optimistic person who loves life and loves people. At the same time, any morning I wake up and don’t feel anxious or depressed, nervous or lonely, it’s a triumph and a relief.

That’s not a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just the way it is. I’m learning to be OK with it.

We’re Here to Go

I finished reading Seth Godin‘s Poke the Box this morning. It’s a short, fast, intense little book, a kick-in-the-pants manifesto. Like most manifestos, I can imagine people loving it or hating it with equal intensity.

I loved it.

It’s the kind of manifesto I dig, full of energy and enthusiasm, hyperbole and romanticism. Godin exhorts people to experiment and innovate, to try new things, to risk, to fail and succeed. It’s exactly the thing I need to hear. I’ve been afraid to fail (and therefore afraid to succeed, really) for a long, long time.

I don’t buy what Godin’s selling 100%. For one thing, he’s got a beef against naps, which I don’t really understand. Naps are an important part of my day.

But I like enough of the book to want to read it again, to get myself fired up to try, to fail, to succeed.

It’s time to go.

Rules of Engagement

I get in a lot of discussions, arguments, debates and the occasional verbal donnybrook, especially online. Because I’m opinionated, I come from a family of arguers, and, well…the internet is full of people who like to rumble. A friend of mine linked to this flowchart of discussion guidelines which I like a whole hell of a lot, so assume these are the rules for getting into discussions and arguments with me, both online and in person.

Our Discussion

March Madness

No, this isn’t a blog post about basketball. This is a blog post about why I haven’t posted for a while.

I’ve written before about learning to deal with my generalized anxiety and depression. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a big spike in depression and anxiety, caused in part by external factors (mostly money and the lack thereof) and in part by my brain chemistry being particularly wonky. The change of seasons, with the extreme ups and downs in temperature and weather, may be a contributing factor as well. At any rate, my brain has been all over the place, and I’ve found it difficult to concentrate on writing anything of note. Which, of course, feeds the anxiety and depression, since I’ve been making a real effort to write more this year. It’s good times.

Thankfully, I have some amazing, wonderful friends who give me all kinds of support and advice. I’m dealing with it, which is the most important thing. And I’m also looking at some more ways to bring writing and creativity into my daily routine. Which means more blogging. Which makes me happy.

We’re all just stumbling through life, folks. Many of us are regularly frightened, confused, insecure and lonely, even when we have no real reason to be. As I’m learning, we all just need to take it one day at a time and be compassionate to ourselves when we slip up. Everything’s going to be all right.

Why I’m a Socialist

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about my beliefs and my politics. I think all of our beliefs are things we choose to believe. Whether you’re a Conservative, a Liberal, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Wiccan, an Atheist, a Socialist, a Fascist, a Libertarian or whatever, you choose to hold those beliefs and you choose to act on them. So why do I choose to be a Socialist?

First, let’s get one thing straight. I don’t believe any of us deserve anything. We don’t deserve good things and we don’t deserve bad things. I choose to believe that the universe doesn’t care one jot for us, whether we succeed or fail. We’re not entitled to anything in this life.

But that doesn’t mean we humans can’t try to make things a little more balanced. We’re not cold and impartial. We have emotions, we have passions, we feel love. Life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean society can’t strive to be more fair, balanced and equal.

When it comes right down to it, I’m a Socialist because of this: I like humans as a whole, and I want us to succeed. The universe may not care, but I do. I have no idea what the long-term effects of any of my actions will be, but I’d rather err of the side of compassion, generosity and hope. I will stand up for immigrants (both legal and illegal), the working and middle classes, the unemployed, the homeless, the sick and the disenfranchised and the depressed and the handicapped, because I’d rather be kind and generous and optimistic. I’d rather believe that these people mean well and are doing the best they can to improve their situations. I’d rather do what I can to help them out. If I die and the worst thing people can say about me is, “He was a fool to be so trusting, compassionate and generous,” well, I’ll be awfully damn proud.

Sure, I could be selfish, suspicious, self-protective, but I see no more profit or strength in that than I do in being generous, compassionate and hopeful. So why not be kind? Why not help people out as best I can?

This is why I’m a Socialist.

Friends & Strangers

If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, why the hell not?), you’ll know that I’ve been pretty stressed this week. The hows and whys aren’t really important, but the main point is, I’ve had better weeks. I asked for friends to drop me a note just to say hi today, and they did far beyond what I asked for. I’m truly lucky to have such amazing people in my life.

I was driving to the supermarket this evening, and as I stopped at a traffic light, I looked over at the pickup truck to my left. A young boy, probably a year or two younger than my daughter, was leaning out the window, a bored look on his face. He looked over at me and waved, a faint smile growing on his face. I waved back, and then the truck moved off and away. But that moment of random friendliness really made my day.

And this, folks, is a big reason why I’m such a fan of the human race.