Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lessons About Quitting Booze.

1. Quitting Booze is really difficult if you've become addicted.  In other words, don't underestimate how addicted you are.    Having said that, quitting booze isn't for everyone.  Therein lies the rub.  If you think you might have a problem, then you probably do.  The best way to check for this is to try to stop for a week and see how easy it is, and how much it impacts who you interact with and how you interact generally.  Another good way to check is to ask whether family members have problems with alcohol. If the answer is yes, then you have to be careful.

2.  Alcoholism is progressive.  If you don't become conscious of it now, your abuse of it will increase--and the consequent high you get off of alcohol will decrease.  And, you'll slowly (or rapidly) do damage to your emotional baseline, i.e. how well you are able to assess information from other people and events, how you process that information, and your views of things generally.

3.  Quitting drinking will change you if you've had problems with drinking so far.  At first it will be really difficult and you'll be horribly irritated.  Seek therapeutic help.  Stay away from other addictive substances.  Try to notice abusive relationships that you might be involved in, especially if you are the abuser, but also notice cycles of unnecessary drama that seem to crop up out of boredom, or worse.  You will have more money.  Eventually, you will be startlingly clearer.  You will probably seek new or different types of relationships with friends/social circles/lovers.  You may realize that you are fundamentally unhappy or unbalanced in other ways that were not as clear as before when you drank.   These are all good things, because they allow you (or me!) to start to process these real issues instead of mask them in cycles of substance abuse.   It is okay to want to be alone, but you should have someone to talk to.

4.  AA is a personal choice.  The most difficult part about not drinking, and about life, I think, is to figure out what your true emotional reactions are, which also means figuring out your assumptions about framing of events, and generally, having some descriptive accuracy.  I quickly realized the world was much larger and more complex than I ever gave it credit for.  Every thought we think is some level of reduction.

5.  Be very careful not to misalign sensitivity with abuse, or to justify your drinking with art/productivity

6.  Start to incorporate non-alcohol related activities into your life.  Hobbies are your friends.  You need not be the best at anything, or even one thing.  Subjective happiness is happiness.  Figuring our what makes you happy, going out to achieve it, shifting what makes you happy, and then trying to achieve that, is the essence of life, so long as we take a little time off and balance our oft-quoted high standards with self-empahthy.

Having said that, I wish you the best.  I like to contemplate my thoughts in words, and put them down in front of me.  It helps me organize myself, and stay sane. Therefore, I'll continue to write occasionally here, but will try to start a new blog, with a new name and everything, to be determined within a day or so.  I've come a long way from blogging about my struggles with alcohol.  Ultimately, the point is not to obsess about drinking OR about not-drinking, without letting one's guard down enough to go out and drink.  Look for a link from me soon about where to read my mutterings.  Best.

Edit: Find a continuation of my ramblings here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Mating Game: Ignore it or Not, You still violate rules

Let's not be coy.  A mating game exists out there, and as humans, we are part of it.  We seek partners to couple with, both emotionally and physically, and there's a host of realities that, whether we like it or not, come along for the ride.  For now, I just wanted to point to one dynamic that's problematic.

If you decide to overtly notice that there's a mating game going on, a market of sorts, and play accordingly, by broadening those to whom you're exposed, for instance, and increasing your perceived status as attractive (whether through physical or other means), and, importantly, you talk about the mating market itself explicitly, you may be seen as too cold and calculating, and lesson your status (ahem, price point?) on the market.  So, advice for those people who are extroardinarily calculating and trying to find a good catch: don't be too explicit about it.  People want to feel that they're unique and subjectively interesting.

Now, the flip side.  Suppose you abhor the mating market, and don't like all the usual bars and clubs and whatnot, where "normal" people meet each other, because, for various reasons, it mostly makes you uncomfortable.  Well, then you'll also be selecting out a variety of possible mates many of which, sure, wouldn't be your type, but some of which might have been, and you'll never know.  You'll also be taking yourself down a notch in status/price point if you don't dress "up" yourself.  Maybe you don't want the type of person who doesn't love the "real" you, but the news flash is that you still have to get over yourself, even when you go out of the house looking like a sloppy rag.  Because you're not exempt.  I'm not exempt.  Nobody, until they are "off" of the market is exempt (and even then....).  I do believe that a lot of young people want to come to cities not only because they are exciting, but because it increases their exposure to high quality mates.

Okay, this is NOT a topic of discussion for the office, by the way.  People do not like to talk about this topic in such overt terms.  My point is only that when we aren't overt, we lose descriptive reality, and when we are overt, we should be careful to realize that other people aren't always.  So there's a fine needle to thread here, and obviously, lots of pricked fingers along the way.

ADDITION: Now that I think about it, the point is that how you choose to see the mating market will in part determine who you mate with.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Judging Happiness

One of the perplexing parts regarding measuring one's own happiness is the fact that it cannot necessarily be measured solely by one's own standards. 

In other words, your happiness is slightly but partially dependent on how happy other people think you are, unless you are so totally disconnected from other people, and their immediate reations to you, so as to render you schizophrenic.  Even schizophrenics seem to respond to what other people think about them.

As such, you can't just "live by your own standards" even if you want to, or, maybe more importantly, even if you think you do. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fantasy and Reality

It makes sense that we can indulge ourselves in fantasy.  After all, the ability to think abstractly, that is, to conjure alternate realities that share some essential qualities to our current state, is fundamental to survival.  We're very good at asking the question: What would happen if?  If that tiger jumped there?  If I could distract him with some steak?  If we cooperated?  If not?  Those that cooperated in our evolutionary history seemed to have survived much better than others, though we can't rule out free-riders completely, even though we don't like them.  Anyway, the point is this: it is very easy to imagine a reality that so closely mimics current reality that we convince ourselves that it is the current reality and we believe in it as if it were real.  But it isn't.  But our belief is sincere, and is often the difference between living and dying.  If I'm convinced of a danger, x, and my conviction is exaggerated 10% over reality, then I will suffer some opportunity cost in my caution, true--I could have been doing something else besides spending my time/energy on my inflated worry.  However, as compared to someone that underestimated the danger by 10%, I win, in that I'm not maimed or dead.  The balance, you're mind is probably screaming at you, is to find a way to maximize energy output on useful goals, or, stated more accurately, to minimize the extent to which we frivolously worry or expend useless energy.  And that's where modern life comes in.  We've automated a lot of our survival, made it more efficient (think of your next food source), so we have more time to indulge.  We have more time to be preoccupied with our fantasy, with unreality and it poses less risk than previously [in human history, on average].  That's pretty remarkable.  It allows great reward and great risk.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Death: Stop It Already!

I'm sick and tierd of people who speak of death as if they'll know when they die.  They won't.  We won't.  We'll be dead!  There is no "When I die, I hope that I lived my life according to xyz . . ." - No.  I'm sorry, but we won't die and then somehow still be alive to be able to have a meta-view of our own lives once we're dead.  Dead means that our consciousness will be cease to exist.   It isn't pretty.  What's less pretty is that life is all we've got.  What's simultaneously pretty is that life is all we've got.  This is it.  Here, now, in front of us.  And it is neither universally good or bad or good or evil, and almost nobody can be sliced into these labels with complete accuracy, because these labels exist to justify our emotional responses to situations, to judge risk, and to justify our behavior, largely, rather than to descriptively link to objective reality in a way that can aid our navigation of it. 

Now, here's something really scary.  We're so convicned that we, individually, won't die, that it is really difficult to dislodge the notion that we'll be able to evaluate our lives from some state beyond the purview of our lives....from the grave.  If we accept that we'll die in a rational way, we'll likely be much more accurate about our chances for certain goals, and we'll also be more depressed.  I'm not justifying depression.  I'm not even sure what the best way to live is.  We struggle and struggle and struggle, and we would hate to know that our struggling is not for anything in particular, except to continue living as long as possible.  We've got a strong biological imperative to ignore death, on par with our sex drive.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Guaranteed Lie. For you guys out there.

This lie keeps guys coming back:

You're the biggest I've ever seen.

Here's a related lie; related because most guys must think brute force and size corellate to pleasure (maybe for them it does?): I just came so hard.

Granted, it is not always a lie.  But, if you've heard both of those statements recently in close proximity, well, we cannot reject the null hypothesis so quickly my friend.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Funding Your Analyst

There's a saying out there, and it is true, all of it. 

So why bother with the saying? 

Because it is already true, and some people don't know that it is true, and because we like sayings that condense the truth.

I see.  So, you feel that you should educate people who may not have proper education, and you think that this saying is a convenient and efficient way to do so?

No, I just.  I wanted to be clear that I liked the saying.

But how could you tell if the saying wasn't true? 

I'm not sure I know what you mean.

I mean: you said the saying was true.  What if it wasn't?  How would you be able to explain this?  Would there be an indicator of some sort to point to?

I suppose, well.

I think what you mean is that we like sayings becuase they are vague enough to agree to without proving their falsity, and that this allows us a feeling of communication, of connection, when it is really anything but that--it is as banal a statement as the weather.

But I use this saying all the time. 

And people are no doubt agreeing with you all the time.  So it serves you well.  I don't doubt that your emotions when they respond to you are true.  But your emotions about positive feedback don't make the saying more true or less true.

You don't even know what the saying is.

I don't need to know that's the point.

The point is only that you're used to people agreeing with you when you say this, and you don't like it when I take issue with your saying.  It takes away from your power, from your certainty, somewhat.  It makes you have to do some mental work, and that is the most difficult kind.

I beg to differ.

Then why avoid it?  Why not come up with something falsifiable and really put your dick on the chopping block?  If you're so sure that is.

I suppose I'm not so sure.  But you can't also be this sure about my saying without hearing it first.  You can't assume all sayings have this basic structure.  Aren't you the least bit curious?

Okay, tell me.

Nah, forget it.  Time's up anyway.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I just listened to an hour long radio program, freakonomics about predictions. Here's the link.  To note: we're not very good at predicting the future. We like to hedge by saying "could" a lot.  We also have an incentive to predict very bold happenings if there is no cost with getting our predictions wrong.  Worth a listen or two.