Posted in Life

What Went Wrong: Six Dumb Reasons Smart Guys Don’t Get the Girl

So, you’re a reasonably smart guy. Okay, admit it. You know you’re a really smart guy. Not the sort of Wall Street suit shark kinda guy. More like the philosophy and coffee house thinker kinda guy.

As a side note, that is such a dead stereotype. Who really sits around and thinks in coffee houses? Everyone I ever see in coffee houses just gets their coffee, hangs out with friends for about half an hour, and then goes home. Most people don’t even bring their laptops.

But, I digress. You’re more this thinker type that if you could afford to, would spend the majority of your adulthood in graduate school thinking about life. You spend so much time in your head, you make your own self sick sometimes. (No hate, it takes one to know one!) Now you’ve met some girl who similarly walks into trees because she is thinking about Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and actually knows about the two different stages of Heidegger’s philosophical writings. You’re perfect for each other. Only you can’t convince her.

Why? Because while you were supposed to be in the bar taking How to Pick Up Women 101, you were in the classroom taking (and liking) Advanced Victorian Literature: Doyle, Dickens and Wilde. So now your closest romantic relationship has been Emily Dickinson. So, if this describes you, here are six reasons why you could be striking out with your real life Emily.

  1. Be Into What She’s Into.

It might sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how often guys (and girls) get this wrong. They see someone that is nice looking, available, the right age/walk of life, and a decent personality, and they think…hey, let’s hook up.

There’s something to be said about dating someone you can have a real conversation with. Make an effort to find out what she’s into—really into, what makes her world tick and then find out about it. I guarantee you, she will look twice.

This is especially true of artistic types. For example, I have a criterion that I won’t date a guy who isn’t totally into my writing. This isn’t for narcissistic reasons, but more of knowing myself and knowing what will work. My writing is my passion, my heart, the center of what I’m doing and where I am going in life.

Early on in a relationship, I will show a guy some of my writing as sort of a “test.” If he’s not into it, or thinks it’s just “okay,” or worse, if I can tell he didn’t even read it, I’ll end the relationship before it begins. This is because I know if he can’t appreciate my writing, he can’t truly appreciate me. Many artistic types have similar criteria. Be careful, however. I have had guys overdo this, and end up getting “fan-zoned.”

  1. Get off the Screen.

In our very digital age, it’s easy to have a relationship conducted over text/social media.  There is some good to this. You are attracted to her mind and personality first, not necessarily her body. She will appreciate this. For the shy types, it may seem safer too. After every text or Facebook message, you can consult five different friends who are better daters than you to help craft the perfectly balanced witty and flirty response. The problem is…the girl isn’t dating you, she is dating all your friends’ perceptions of what she wants to hear.

Being with someone in the flesh creates an entirely different dynamic than on screen. A three-dimensional person who laughs too loud and has a bit of a muffin top, but smells wonderful and bites her lip in a the sexiest way, doesn’t come across on screen. There is a time and place for the screen, but at some point, you’ve got to either make it real or end it.

  1. If You Make Her Feel Special, Make Sure She Is.

This is for all of you flirts out there. Maybe you’re a friendly guy, and you talk to lots of girls. But this comes off as flirting. Excessive flirting is a mark of insecurity and immaturity. Girls are like guys in that they want a guy that other girls can’t have. If you’re into a girl, don’t flirt with the other girls.

Likewise, if you’re not into her, don’t make her think she hung the moon, when you don’t really feel that way about her. Especially if you’re telling five other girls the same stuff. This is such a cheap trick. While every girl wants to feel special, she doesn’t want to know that such compliments are cheap to you, randomly passed out to any girl whom you desire. She may get this idea that instead of being a princess, she is #3 or #4 in a “line of girls” waiting for the girls ahead of her to screw up. That’s just degrading and embarrassing.

If you do manage to fool her into thinking she’s your “wonderwall,” beware. She will eventually find out you are a serial flirt and won’t trust a word you say after that.

Further, it is understood, especially in the early phases of a relationship, that you can and may be pursuing other partners. But don’t tell her that. It’s just bad manners. There is a time for disclosing this information, but it should be directly followed by, “Let’s make this exclusive.” And, certainly not thrown in the middle of an argument, as a way to gain leverage.

  1. Put YOURSELF out there, Not Just Her.

It’s important to make a girl feel special. But, you can’t build a relationship based on the worship of one partner.

Some smart guys run the risk of being perceived as bland. This isn’t because they are, but just they don’t know how to put themselves out there. The guy can compliment the girl until she’s weak in the knees, but in the end, she may wonder if he has any substance. Don’t be that guy.

If you feel bland, examine your interests. Enhance them to put out your best qualities. Were you into French film way back in the day? Get back in the scene and find out what’s going on, and then share it with her in a movie night. Do you like to jog? Consider training for a marathon, and invite her to train with you. Love poetry? Gather all of your original pieces together, then self-publish your own anthology.After all, any guy can say, “I love poetry.” And believe me, the do. In fact, I’ve never met a guy who doesn’t “love” Keats, but half of them don’t know his first name. 

But, telling a smart girl, “I have a book of poetry,” can get you laid faster than All-State football star on prom night.

  1. If You’re Not Serious About A Girl, Don’t Constantly Text and Message Her.

Numerous texts and messages are a signal to a girl that you are ready to move to the next level. Especially if you are sending several a day…all day. If you are not serious, then leave her alone. If she is one of five, then give her room to make you one of five. Don’t be all up on her phone, and then when she tries to take it to the next level, say, “Oh, I was just messing around.” You come off as either a real player, or super insecure.

  1. Watch When Harry Met Sally.

The premise of this movie is that guys and girls can’t be friends. At least not really. The sex thing always gets in the way. In the modern world, close guy-girl friendships can work, but they take a lot of time and work to build. They usually do not even balance out until the dating option has been thoroughly explored and abandoned. Some shy guys, however, like to hide in the friend-zone until it’s safe to come out. Don’t do this. It doesn’t work and it’s a lie you’ll constantly both be telling yourselves. The expectations will eventually turn on you, and the relationship may even get ugly.

Numerous books have been written about romancing a girl and how to win her heart. There is a lot to that, and much of that advice is good. But it all boils down to being the best version of yourself.  Don’t lie to her, try to manipulate her, and all these other tricks guys try to use. That’s just cheap. Be honest with her, and most of all be honest with yourself. What do you want? What are you looking for? Most importantly, who are you? If you don’t know even that, how can you explain it to someone else?

Posted in Life

The Monsters In My Closet

I guess she was just a tiger mom. You know, those Asian women who are ridiculously hard on their kids, so that their kids achieve? That’s all I can figure. Maybe in her own weird way, she was showing affection. But it didn’t work that way. So here’s what happened.

Today at work, I interviewed for an internal position. It would be a bit higher than what I am doing, but not much. I am still ridiculously overqualified. But, right now, since this company is the only one offering me regular money, I’ll take it.

The interview was rather dull and disappointing. All the interviewer did was read down a sheet of questions. I was a really great candidate for this position, but our scripted start and stop convo didn’t allow me a chance to really show it. She was so busy writing down my answers, I couldn’t really talk to her.

Not to mention, they were the same questions I had been asked in my original interview a few months ago. I gave the same winning answers, with all the “should have saids,” I had gone over in my post-interview recap.

When she finally asked me, “Now do you have any questions for me?” I asked, “Yeah, so what exactly is the job?”

Afterward, a co-worker asked me how it had gone. Her name was Ming, and she was an older Asian woman, complete with an accent and severe bun. She and I work in different departments, but we periodically run into one another and share pleasant conversations. So, when I explained the disappointing meeting to her, she encouraged me with a whole speech about how I shouldn’t stress about it. I could get a hundred other similar jobs that pay better. She even named a few. This was fine. But, then she went on.

For the next fifteen minutes Ming lectured me on how I need to get moving on a career path, and I shouldn’t drop anchor here.

“You are still young,” she warned, “But the time is passing. Look, we’re already halfway through January of 2015.”

This very thought literally keeps me up at night. Honestly. (See my poem: The Ode of Captain Hook). My pulse quickened and I began to even feel my throat swell and a became just a bit lightheaded—all signs of extreme anxiety. But, I smiled.

“You’re right,” I kept saying even though my stomach was turning flip flops. This is ridiculous, I thought. Get control of the conversation. I started telling her about my education and my career goals.

“That’s good,” she nodded.

Then she began advising me on where I should apply, and what I should do.

“Why haven’t you done that?” She asked.

“Uhhh…” I stammered for an answer. I couldn’t quite remember.

“You can’t wait around for these things,” she said. “You can pray and ask God to help you, and he will help you. But he won’t help you if you do nothing. I tell young people now, don’t go to college. It doesn’t mean anything. The way the economy is, there is no market for those jobs. All you get is debt. Where did you go?” she asked.

I told her and she shook her head. “Don’t obsess over it. It doesn’t mean anything. Anything.

I found an excuse to go work somewhere else. But I thought about Ming and this conversation all day. Why did I respond so meekly? Why didn’t I just tell her to buzz off and mind her own business? By the way, she worked the same job I did, and what has she done? And why didn’t I explain to her what I’ve been doing the last ten years since college?

I traveled the country in a hippie van. I’ve written for magazines and numerous websites. I wrote a book and am marketing it to agents. I blog regularly even though I still have to have a day job. I write for websites on the weekends….And somewhere in there, I had been a secretary for a few years. But, in that moment, all I could say was, “You’re right.” And I felt, and looked, like a slacking, talentless loser.

The worst part of it was that these are the very monsters in my closet–my deepest, darkest fears. That my dreams of becoming an influential writer and best-selling author, are just delusions of grandeur. That while I fiddle around trying to make it work, my life is passing me by. That I am a sad case, an object of pity or scorn by others more, or even less, successful. The person who “could have been, or we all thought would…..but she never did.”  These thoughts scare me so profoundly, even typing them out makes my stomach queasy with anxiety.

For her to so brazenly verbalize them, made me feel defenseless. What could I say? My private fears had been tried in the court of public opinion and had been validated.

I have no lesson, moral premise or philosophical question to this story. I guess my only universal in this post is–what happens when the monsters in the closet and under the bed are real?

Well, this is Texas. We take ‘em out back and shoot ‘em. How do you like that, tiger mom?!

Posted in God

Jennifer Knapp and Ministry Etiquette

I’ve been reading Jennifer Knapp’s autobiography, Facing the Music. I am only about halfway through it, and I already have comments.

For the uninitiated, Jennifer Knapp was quite the Christian music star in the mid-1990’s. Her deep, soulful voice and honest lyrics got her compared to Sara McLachlan and Jewel. Jennifer did about four albums, toured with Third Day and DC Talk (Toby Mac’s band for you young-uns). By all accounts, Jennifer Knapp was doing quite well.

Then, early in the next decade, she mysteriously disappeared from the scene. In 2007, she re-emerged to announce on Larry King that she had quit Christian music because she was a lesbian. Then she had a few words to say about how the church viewed homosexuality. Homosexuality in the church is a huge topic, one I won’t take on…at least today.

Today I want to talk about Christian culture. Jennifer does make some rather accurate observations on Christian culture.  Overall she appears to respect, while not necessarily subscribe to it. At times, though, she seems to have walked away from experiences confused by the culture and never really understanding why certain things were. I would like to answer Jennifer, and anyone else who may be similarly confused, on questions of Christian culture.

Particularly on a certain matter she addresses—being a guest musician/minister. A guest minister is sort of the church version to playing in clubs. It’s the entry-level position to being a Christian rock star—which Jennifer ultimately became.

There is a defined etiquette for such an endeavor. So much so that many ministry organizations teach an entire workshop on this etiquette. Jennifer had no such training, and writes about being frustrated and confused by these expectations. Even now, she is still confused at the pastors who would e-mail her manager, saying, “Jennifer didn’t want to go water-rafting with us. I don’t know where she is in her walk.”

It’s all about the missionary position.

The Christian music industry recognizes rock stars, and treats its musicians as such (more or less). Churches don’t. Overall, the idea of a personality drawing attention to themselves, for purely entertainment purposes, goes against the order of Christianity. There is a time and place for all of that if that’s what you’re after. But, the church stage is not it. By and large, indie Christian musicians are treated like missionaries within their own country.

Obviously in 21st century America, no one expects anyone to sleep with fleas or eat rats. But, the ministry is not, and never has been, a lucrative profession. Your visit is still likely going to be rather…budget.

The church certainly won’t feed you caviar and may not even put you in a hotel.  Rather, you will likely stay with a church leader, and at the event, be served whatever food can be cheaply mass produced for your whole entourage. (This is usually something along the lines of frozen pizza and salad).

Compliment the home.

While you will be lodged in a comfortable American home, remember they are still making sacrifices for you. Your position is to recognize and be grateful. They may have asked their preteen daughter to sleep on the floor in her sister’s room so that you could have a private room during your stay. You are expected to sleep on her lumpy twin bed and smile and say, “Thank you, I appreciate you giving up your room for me.”

You don’t know what went into your arrival. For example, your accommodations may have included a sparkling bathroom that looks like a magazine. But the woman of the house may have worked hard to restore order to a bathroom normally plagued by five schoolchildren. As she went through the towels, she may have felt embarrassed by her raggedy towels, and thought, “You know? This is a good time to break down and just replace these towels.” So, she made five trips to Ross that afternoon, and pulled the tags off to look like she didn’t.

Spend time with the family.

The rule of thumb is to arrive, settle your luggage into your quarters, then come out and spend somewhere around an hour having late night snacks and social time with your hosts. You may then politely excuse yourself to bed if you feel inclined.

It may be awkward, but look at it from their perspective. They have a curious stranger staying in their home. Give them a chance to get to know you. The teenage son who aspires to be a drummer may have been waiting to show you his stuff. They may have also forbidden the children to engage in social activities that night, “because we’re having company and you need to be there.”

So, if you walk in and say, “I’m tired and I just want to go to bed,” that family feels a bit…used. Yes, you’re falling over tired, I get it. Believe me, I do. So ask for coffee and then go check out Junior’s beats. I think God created “second winds” just for traveling minsters.

Get a feel for the family’s morning schedule.

If everyone is up and out the door by seven a.m., and you’re still asleep in the living room, it’s going to be difficult for them to work around. Fall into their schedule. Likewise, if you will be leaving early, be careful to be quiet and say your goodbyes the night before.

Share  the bathroom.

If you will be showering, make it less than ten minutes. Aside from running out the hot water, a longer shower may disrupt their morning routines. For example, the teenage daughter may feel intimidated to knock on the bathroom door to get her hair dryer, and will instead risk being late for her morning activities. She will not appreciate this.

Late night showers may seem less disruptive, but don’t make it too late because some homes have noisy pipes that can keep others awake.

A good tip is to brush your teeth with the bathroom door open, to allow people access to their supplies. Apply make-up/hair care in your quarters rather than tying up the bathroom.

Social Events are Screening Events.

Jennifer was mystified at how she offended her host by declining extra social events. Yes, this is offensive. Sure, you may have just driven six hours and then they asked you to go to the lake for the afternoon. But this is more than just a fun social event. This is a networking function, something akin to when businessmen take their clients out “for a good time.” It’s about building relationships with the leaders. It’s also about building trust.

When a church leader puts someone on their stage, it is a large responsibility. That congregation knows and trusts their leadership. So, by inviting you, they are endorsing you and your message. Somehow you got through their screening process and received an invitation. But now they want to know more.

They want to know what you’re about and how you think. They want to know if your doctrines are the same. If they aren’t, they want to know so they can politely ask you to respect their doctrine while on their stage. They want to know your story, and they also want to talk to you about their church, what it’s like, and what their members are like. This is all good stuff to know before you get on a stage.

The reason they expect all of this because on their own journey toward church leadership, they’ve followed these guidelines themselves a few dozen times. So, when someone violates these conventions, it immediately sends off signals that this person doesn’t know “the rules.” Which immediately begs the question, “How long have they been a Christian, and to what extent?” And when they begin to ask that, the next logical question is, “Can I trust them in my pulpit?”

This is why Jennifer Knapp’s manager received an e-mail stating, “Jennifer didn’t want to go water-rafting with us. I wonder about her faith.”

And Then When It’s All Over

Kevin Max, another very prominent musician during this time, did an interview stating that the church places too many expectations on its ministers.

Jennifer Knapp writes that toward the end of her career, she had turned into a burned out, cynical mess simply because she was tired. She tells a story about being backstage and hearing her name called. She whips around, and faces a young woman. She yells, “Who let you back here? How did you get here?” The young woman turns pale and stammers, “I just…wanted to tell you how much your music has meant to me.” Jennifer thanked her, signed her CD and went to her dressing room and cried. How had she become this burnt out?

I had read with a fair amount of cynicism until I related somewhat to her story. My own ministry experience left me tired and needing a break. Was Kevin right? Do we expect too much of people on a platform? Is all of this too much for too little? What do you think?

Posted in Life

The Starving Artist’s Guide to Temping

A number of years ago, when the success of books-turned-movies like The Devil Wears Prada and 13 Going on 30 were putting chick-lit on the map, I had a hot new idea for a book. It would be called The Temp, and would chronicle an office temp through various jobs, poking fun at work life. I had temped for a couple of years, so I knew what I was talking about.

But I could never get the right angle on it. I wasn’t funny enough to make it entertaining, nor salacious enough to make it sexy. So, what would I really write about? Then, Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak came along with just the right formula and ended up making a whole lot of money on essentially the same idea. (Damn those Harvard grads!).

But, in my journey as a writer, I have gone through…well…more than my fair share…of jobs to support my unhealthy addiction to coffee and Microsoft Word. (My low point was the eight jobs of 2008, after which, I gave up, dyed my hair purple and joined a band of traveling gypsies. Seriously).

Some of these short-lived jobs have been permanent, some of them not. I am sure if I were to lay down on a couch Freudian style and analyze the reason, it would have to do with some sort of deep-seated fear of commitment rooted in my nomadic childhood. But, if you asked me on a not so analytical day, I would say it had to with a tenacious drive to succeed in an artistic field with no clearly outlined path of progression (or even entry). But, whatever the reason, here is my advice on surviving the temporary work world.

1. Don’t think you’re too cool for school. Because I got news for you Walter Cronkite…you aren’t.

As my shameless Zoolander reference intimates, temping can be a thankless job. Sometimes you can get some really cool temp jobs, like the one I had for a printing company where my job was actually to read magazines for forty hours a week. But overall, they call you to do things the real employees won’t do. I have worked in places where I did nothing but stuff envelopes for an entire week. I also worked in an airport hangar where I counted the screws in the maintenance department for inventory. In another assignment, I was handed pages from a phone book, and directed to fax an ad to every business on the page…for two days straight. In yet another, I was instructed to wrap Christmas gifts to send out to all of their vendor clients. My point—temping can be a quick way to make money—no doubt. But, don’t expect it to be, exactly…brain food.

2. Don’t Try to Make it More Than It Is.

Most temp jobs just need a warm body. In my all-time favorite temp job, I walked in on the first day and was shown my office, yes, office, complete with a door and a window and everything. My supervisor sardonically commented, “If you’re bored, you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.” I laughed. He didn’t. He was right.

I did absolutely nothing, and hung out on the Internet for forty hours a week. For four months. Every once in a while, I would book the CEO a flight, file a small pile of papers, create an expense report, or order some coffee online. But other than that, I sat in my office, played Smashing Pumpkins, ate chocolate, and talked to people online. And everyone in the office loved me. But, when it comes to trying to get hired permanent from a straight temp assignment, don’t put too much stock in it. It’s expensive to hire someone through an agency. Unless it is a temp-to-hire assignment, which, given, many are, don’t bother. It’s probably not going to happen.

3. Take Advantage of What It Is.

In that job, and in my next similar job at health club, I whined and complained that I wanted to use my mind and I wanted to have a career. I didn’t quite get it. These jobs were the ultimate writer’s dream. So, when the next job came along, a summer gig covering the receptionist’s maternity leave at a boat dealership, I took advantage. They put me alone in a secluded corner with nothing but a phone that rang maybe half a dozen times a day. On my first day, they pulled out a television. “It gets pretty dead in here,” he said. “So, you can watch movies if you want.” Movies? Are you kidding? I have better work ethic than that! For the first couple of days, I tried to be super worker. But where there really wasn’t anything to do, I began bringing books.

After Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde had had their way with me, and I took an entire Intro to French course on video, I brought a laptop and decided I was a full-time paid writer. Over the rest of the summer, I wrote an entire 80,000 word novella about an unsuccessful art graduate who married a guy because he needed a green card. It was a bit…unrealistic and made use of way too much of the poetic prose gleaned from the Victorian literature I was reading. But I was rediscovering the joys of writing, and it was amazing how quickly the day went by. Then, suddenly the summer was over and the girl wanted her job back. So, I moved to the next assignment as a data entry clerk, where I was totally confused that they wanted me to actually…do stuff.

4. Don’t chat up your co-workers like you work there, because you don’t and they know it.

This is straight from how to be an annoying and desperate temp 101. It’s easy to think, “Well, I do work here right now.” But they don’t see it that way. More often than not, they have no interest in investing in relationship with you. I once worked with a co-receptionist who complained, “They send so many girls through here, and they tell me all about their lives and their boyfriends, and whatever. And then they leave and I have all this useless information in my head.” This is how they see you. Don’t take it personally. Because it’s not. And especially do not involve yourself in office politics. No one will appreciate this.

5. Choose the Right Agency.

Your success as a temp depends a lot on the agency you choose. There is no rule stating you must only work one agency. But any one you do work with, make sure you know their commission policy.  Agencies make money when you work. Exactly how they do it, depends on the agency. The “slum lords,” of the temp world, charge the client the fair market value for the job, and then take their cut leaving you underpaid. But, the other type, pay you what the job is worth, then charge the company a high mark-up. It’s more expensive for the client, but leaves them with a more productive employee.

Temping can be an excellent tool in the artist’s tool box. You can work for a few weeks, and then take a couple of weeks off to write, paint, play music, whatever. You won’t make a ton of money that way, but it may just be enough to get you through…as long as you do it right.

Posted in Life

Life Advice From a Broke and Single Writer

Someone told me one time that opinions are like assholes. Everyone’s got one. I have generally found this to be true. This is why we even have blogs. So everyone can air out their opinions, however significant, valid, or even coherent they may be. I  am acutely aware of the narcissistic nature of blogs. This is precisely why I have one,

But, in the vein of the new year and new starts and life reflection and whatever else kind of oooey gooey sentiment people throw out in early January, I’ve decided to reflect on life advice. Here are some of the better opinions/advice I’ve received. And yes, you can me Buddha later. I’ll answer.

If you’re doing something you’re ashamed of, it’s wrong.

When I was about fourteen, I read this in some magazine interview somewhere. (Yeah, remember magazines! haha!) I have since built an entire life philosophy around it.

Not that I believe our conscience is the best barometer of morality in every case. Surely we are all prone to unjust guilt and flawed thinking. But, I use this philosophy to say that if you’re going to make a moral choice, stick to it. Don’t sneak around, hiding it, lying about it, flip-flopping around in guilt and confusion. Be confident enough in your own ethical base that you can stand up for your choices. If you can’t build a solid ethical argument for your own choices, then yes, it’s wrong.

Don’t be quick to spend money, and then when you do spend, you can.

I’ve never been the best money manager, but I have gotten a lot better in the last several years.  I have learned never to buy something the first time around. If I want to buy something I will go home and think about it. If I still want it after a day or two, then I will wait for it to go on sale or see if I have a coupon. I have eliminated most impulse purchases this way. And I make my money go a lot further.

Have a healthy sense of boundaries

It’s important to give in life, and to love and support one another. It’s important to have people in your life who love and support you as well. But, in this web of love, support and giving, it can be very easy to become so entangled you don’t know where others end and you begin. This is where you must have a healthy sense of self. You must know what you need in life, and know how to articulate it. Because if you don’t where your boundaries are, other people don’t either. And, then they will assign you boundaries and take the rest. If this happens, lovingly communicate your boundaries, and let other people figure out their own solutions. They will respect you for it…eventually.

Like most people, I could fill up volumes with the advice and quotes that have impacted me. But, again, advice is seasonal. It speaks to where you are at the moment. What are the best pieces of advice you’ve been given?


Posted in Life

Nothing Changes…New Year’s Day

I am a couple of days late with this post, I know. But, this holiday season has been a bit different for me. Each year, the holidays lose a little more glisten and glitter, and they seem to become progressively less magical.

Of course, I will admit, that every Christmas and Thanksgiving, there are about five minutes of genuine magic and sense of spirit. But were they worth everything it took to get them? Were they worth all of the cooking, the bad music, the expense,  the shopping, the decorating, the party coordinating…

This year in particular, the holidays just seemed to float by…another day, like all the others. It could be because I mainly just worked through them. But maybe it has to do with this feeling of taking stock. The holidays are supposed to be some sort of marker to examine and give account for your life. I dread this moment every year.

Yes, I’m still single. Yes I’m still a broke, unknown writer. Just like last year, thanks for asking. No, I am no longer a gypsy teacher touring the country and living in a California art commune. Yes, I know that was really interesting, but I quit doing that two years ago. Now I just write things people never read. That’s interesting too, isn’t it? Wait, where are you going? Was it something I said?

This year marks the ten year anniversary of my college graduation. Ten years I have fought the fight for success, to make my way in the world, to use my passion, energy and talents make a difference, whatever that means. And have I?

Every December, after the discarded gift wrap has been thrown out and the Christmas leftovers set to harden in the fridge, I spend a week reflecting.

I reflect on the journey of my life, and I pledge that this year I will do better. This year will be my best year ever. And I spend that week before New Year’s Day journaling and soul searching and writing out resolutions and plans. By mid-January, the plans have slipped. Somewhere in April I find them and laugh. In October I scurry about and try to put them back into action before January. Better late than never, I think. This lasts about two weeks.

This time, I don’t really have a vision for 2015. I have no grand plans other than to keep pushing forward. Keep my goals ahead of me, like I always have. I have no rosy ideas for what this year will be. I hope it’s a good one, but I know that life deals you what it does, and you just have to roll with it sometimes.

I used to think Bono was so cynical when he wrote that lyric, “Nothing changes, New Year’s Day.” But, that’s how I feel this year. Life is a battle, and it doesn’t let up because the numbers on the calendar change. You have to keep fighting. Fighting for the prize. And maybe one day, it will all be worth it. Maybe not.