Birthdays, Graduation, and Celebrations

by talkbackty on Jul 24, 2011

I apologize for not writing in awhile. As I explained in my short post earlier this week; it was my birthday on Tuesday, my graduation on Friday, it was finals week and I had to pack all my things to move. None of which I'm particularly fond of.

I understand finals are part of the system of college. I realize I own too many things as I tried to pack up. But I will never understand the emphasis, the exuberance, or the importance people put on "celebratory" occasions. I don't like my birthday, I participated in graduation because my parents asked me too, and since they are important, I obliged them.

The entire celebration process, for any occasion but let's go with birthdays, is confusing to me. What are we celebrating? My parents having sex? Survival from the challenges of living in an air conditioned home with a Wal-Mart down the street? Or is it just a celebration of mediocrity?

There's a quote from Leo McGarry of The West Wing that I am going to paraphrase: "I'm an alcoholic, I don't need a reason to drink."

Why I do I say that? Because do we really need a reason to celebrate life? Is it something we should reserve for one day of the year? I don't place any importance on my birthday because it is as arbitrary a date as any other. Celebrate how awesome I am on November 29th instead. Or January 2nd. Or never. There's no difference to me.

I think there is no difference because I'm comfortable with myself. I don't need to be slapped on the back and told it's my birthday. I'm perfectly content without any recognition of an event I didn't have a choice in.

Here's what's nice. Here's what makes my day. Here's something I wish people did all the time. Celebrate people's real accomplishments. I, with help from numerous sources, have put up a podcast every week for thirty weeks in a row. I write a blog weekly. I take pictures quite often. I put a lot of work into producing quite a bit of content. I do this every week. But I guarantee most of the people who wished me Happy Birthday have never downloaded an episode of TalkBack, have never read this blog, and never commented on my photographs.

Why would people celebrate an event that I had literally no choice about and not the successes (at least what I consider successes) every week? The only answer I have come up with over the years is that those people don't actually give a shit. If you really were concerned or interested about what my life is like, I'm not exactly hard to find.

That's not to say everyone who ever wishes me happy birthday is a hypocrite. There are plenty of people who are my friends and I feel thankful to have them as part of my life. I try to show my gratitude to those specific people as best as I can.

On graduation

All of that leads to this...  I graduated college. Whoopdeedo. Again, I don't see the reason to celebrate this event specifically over the numerous things anyone accomplishes throughout their life. There were some mornings when I honestly thought it would better to die than get out of bed to go to school. I got out of bed. No one congratulated me on that day. Why would they? 

 Should they? No, probably not; but it would have been a lot better to congratulate me on that day than on one where my time going to school happened to run out.

So is celebration for graduating just a lumped together, "Nice work not dying, not failing, not punching that guy in the face, not getting a girl pregnant." Just a big well done? I don't know, but if it is then that's kind of a cop out. Sort of like saying, "I wasn't around when any of those difficult events were going on, but nice work anyways." And I'm not interested in that kind of celebration.

If you were there during the hard times then you never need to congratulate me on anything, in fact, I should be thanking you.  

In closing

There are plenty of things to celebrate in this life. A birthday is not one of them. Giving birth, absolutely. Graduating from college is not something you can give an all-encompassing, "good job" too and expect it to mean anything.

The fact is: Life is complex. To celebrate things so vaguely and arbitrarily diminishes the actual difficulties you overcame, and the actual things you accomplished.

If you ever want to celebrate something I do, be specific. Comment on this blog; say, "Tyler I really got a lot out of your blog. It made me think about life and how I'm living and what path I'm taking." That's specific. I can talk to you about that. Download the podcast; say, "Tyler, you and Rolando really made me laugh this week. Thank you for brightening my mood." I'm all over Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. I'm not difficult to get in contact with.

The difference between these two ways of celebrating (the vague and arbitrary vs. the specific and meaningful) make them almost incomparable. I respect one and not the other to start. More importantly, one actually makes me feel grateful, makes me feel happy, makes me want to get closer to you and understand more about you.  

It is that understanding, or that desire to understand, that is actually important in this life.  

Thanks for reading. It is appreciated.

Sorry, it's finals week

by talkbackty on Jul 20, 2011

I'm graduating in two days.  I have a lot of thoughts but not a lot of time to write.  Hopefully I will be able to soon.  Until then here are some blogs that I enjoy, maybe you will too.

Zen Habits Note the stunning similarities to my own blog.  I really like this guy.

Seth's Blog  My mom sent me a link to this guy's site.  Good stuff with a business edge, but with a minamilist style that I appreciate.

Partick Rothfuss' Blog The writer of writers.  His blog is funny but is more for the fan than the general reader.

Vlog Brothers A super special gift!  That is the youtube channel page for John and Hank Green.  It has hundreds of videos that are all amazing in their own way.  That's pure hours of enjoyment that's been stamped with my approval.

DFTBA everyone!

Power of Music

by talkbackty on Jul 17, 2011

Let me begin by saying that I am not a musician.  Not by any stretch of the imagination. The reason I host a podcast instead of being in a band is because I have no musical abilities whatsoever. But hey, at least I can talk for an hour and change every week.

I love music though.

I go through phases when I love it more than others. I wouldn't consider myself an audiophile by any means. Although, I do find it odd that we have technology today that can make songs sound more beautiful than ever and yet our culture is obsessed with jamming as much music as possible per kilobyte. Let the songs breathe everyone.

Sorry. Tangent. Let's get back on track.

I'm listening to Pink Floyd as I write this. They are amazing. Thanks Jacqui for reminding me of their awesomeness.

I imagine that people's taste in music is generally the same: you either like it or you don't. You probably don't know why you like something. Most of us, who aren't musicians, never know enough about music to be able to explain why we like something. Which is strange because music is something that is normally essential to a culture. If not music, then at the very least art. I guess you could throw in a few none art-related things to define culture...but why would you?

To me music is one of the most powerful ways to communicate. How else can you describe utter sadness, pure joy, or spiritual enlightenment. Words, regardless of language, normally fall short. Music has a way of transcending what we can say and hitting instead at what we feel. Then one person can share how they feel with another.

Despite this our society is putting art on the back burner. Funding keeps getting cut in schools. The business world owns the music labels and is only interested in turning a profit. None of this has stopped music, of course. YouTube is filled with thousands upon thousands of supremely talented musicians Every day someone records a piece of music that is truly great and uploads it for the world to hear. Art keeps surviving; some would even say thriving.

Here are some of my favorite songs. I'll write a little bit about why I like each, but for the most part you can feel free to listen.

Fredric Chopin's Prelude in E Minor

I think I first fell in love with this song while I was watching an episode of The West Wing. It's incredibly moving. Apparently simple but terribly complex. It's all about the timing; which is something I could never pick up while playing the piano.
Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah

Also a West Wing song. If it comes on at the right time I tear up. It's unavoidable. It's hauntingly beautiful. I think I can say without a doubt that it's my favorite song. At any given moment I might say something different, but if I take time to think about it...I always come back to this one.
Pink Floyd's High Hopes (Live in Gdańsk)

Okay to be fair, this was the song playing as I was writing. And yes, I posted this a couple of days ago. I'm high on Pink Floyd right now; get over it. This entire song is amazing, but the back half features a few solos; one on metal strings, the other acoustic; that are quite possibly the most beautiful things ever. That's my take at least.
Howard Shore's Concerning Hobbits

Shore's work on Lord of the Rings is a masterpiece. Whether or not you like the movies, the score is one of the greatest things produced in my generation. Concerning Hobbits is a simple choice because it makes me feel so damn happy. I will literally start skipping, dancing, or just moving whenever I hear this song.

If you're able to listen to the music above, if you are able to read the words I'm writing, if you are able to dance; then you are truly blessed. Too often we forget the simple joys of being alive. We get bogged down in the business of our lives. Don't forget how amazing music is. Or how fantastic it is to be able to laugh and love with the people around you.

late night thoughts

by talkbackty on Jul 14, 2011

When I have class at 8am I can't sleep.

When I have no class I go to bed at 10pm.  

I write excellent poetry when I'm in love,

or depressed.

I always write excellent poetry.
Played this at least 10 times on repeat today.  Last four minutes are magic.

"You don't remember what happened.  What you remember becomes what happened." -John Green

In this case, I wish I could remember falling asleep three hours ago.


by talkbackty on Jul 12, 2011

Got my invite to Google+, finally. Thanks Izzy and Kandace for the near simultaneous invites.

I'm not a guy who minds multiple social networks. In the past six months I've started a podcast, two twitter accounts, three new emails (in addition to my 3 old ones), this blog, and, now, Google+. I can handle the social scene okay.

I'm no pro. That's for sure. But I do alright with the managing part. So Google+ wasn't that big of stretch for me.


Like any new site, especially one still in Beta, it doesn't know what it is yet. Not to seem ironic, but in The Social Network Jesse Eisenberg says, "We don't know what TheFacebook is yet, we just know that it's cool."

Google+ is cool. It's got some serious possibility too. When you bring the power of Google to a social network you I expect big things. The Sparks section could really take off. Right now on almost every page I visit there is a little +1 Google symbol. Now that symbol means something. Every time I read or watch something on the internet I click that and bam, Sparks adapts and changes to fit my needs. It still needs work, but the idea is good.

Here's the real kicker. And this is specific to me. I don't want a replacement for facebook. I want a replacement for Twitter. Twitter is great because it allows me to connect with everyone from Kevin Smith to James (TalkBack guest host from Australia). Without Twitter neither of those things is possible. But Twitter is a mess. The message board is beyond pointless if you have more than 10 friends, which if you're like me and trying to spread the word, you do.

That's where circles can come in. I can categorize my celebrities in one circle. My friends in another, my strangers in another. And still get all the functionality I need. Wow, great concept.

What Google+ lacks right now, at least for my needs, is the public connection that Twitter has. I consider this the hashtag. Greatest invention on Twitter ever. Say I want to mention LOST in a status update. And I want my update to be seen by people who like LOST. #LOST. Done.

Google+ has no way to connect with anyone that you don't specifically know. Not even something like Facebook groups. I don't personally like Facebook groups, but I love Twitter hashtag. If Google+ can incorporate that somehow, and really expand the user base. I'll be sold on it as my new public profile.


What I want Facebook to become is the super exclusive site. I want only my closest friends on that. The ones that I'm actually interested in talking to. Maybe 50-100 tops.

All my high school, college, work, life people- go to Google+. That's where I could, theoretically, interact with people I'm interested in following but not interested in staying up to date with.

"Hey, Tommy is visiting Canada. That's way cool. But I still ain't talking to Tommy anytime soon."

On Facebook these are my "Like-only" friends. I don’t' comment, chat, or wall post with any of them; but I will "Like" if they have a witty status update or cool photo.

Again this is all very specific to me. I know other people are looking for something to completely replace facebook, or don't care at all about Google+. What I want is for there to exist two profiles; my private (facebook) and public (Google+).

If there's anyone out there who agrees and has some power over the direction of Google+...make that happen. Pleaseandthankyou.

Unrequited Love

by talkbackty on Jul 7, 2011

"You like someone who can't like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot." -John Green

Take a moment to bask in the beauty of that. The truth. If you completely disagree then you may want to skip this post because it is going to be along the same lines, and more personal than normal.

I honestly wish I could write like John Green. That's a little dishonest. I wish I thought the things John Green thinks. Reading and watching him speak, he just seems to get it. I don't know what it is. But he gets it.

I'm a big believer in the above quote. Unrequited love is easier to survive than once requited love. At least for me. I'm a sucker for my once requited loves. All of them. Do I still love them? No. Took me awhile to figure that out but you can't love someone whose not present. Let me rephrase, I can't love someone who is not present.

But I do remember them.

Memory is an interesting thing. Some people seem to have it in droves, some can barely remember their own name. I don't know what kind of memory I have exactly. It's not photographic (an astronomically low number of people have that), and it's not all encompassing. I've started to forget things as I've gotten older. My memory is good.

For example, I am currently sitting at my favorite spot within 1000 miles. There are literally only two humans on the face of the earth who can say where that is. One is me. The other, a once-requited love. I didn't come here to relive our relationship. I came here because it's my favorite spot to think.

But there are memories of her here as well.

The instant I began the familiar drive, memories rushed back in. All 87 times we've been out here. I remember them each, vividly, separately, and in detail. The conversations, laughs, cries, and kisses are one wall away. But that is not a wall I care to bring down tonight.

I'm here to write after all.

When I go home the same thing happens. I remember my high school girlfriend. Every moment we spent together. Drive by school, thousands of memories. See a park, thousands more. I specifically try to avoid my old room so I don't have to constantly be bombarded by memories.

Let me be clear. I've lived a happy life. Most of my memories are good. My memories are not solely made up of once-requited loves. The same thing happens with guys I played baseball and football with. Teachers, coaches, family. The same thing happens with them. These are not horrible flashes that drive me into a deep depression. It's just a constant stream of memories in my mind. That's how my brain works. I'm not in yours, so I don't know what yours does.

But it can be exhausting.

Which brings me to unrequited love. Who doesn't have at least one of these? To me it's nice. It gives my brain something new to focus on instead of my own memories. I think that's why I started this blog. Why I started the podcast. Creating things also allows me to focus elsewhere. I can't remember a time when my mind was completely idle. I've gotten it to calm down through meditation. But never idle. I'm always thinking. So I think (I'm discovering this as I write, forgive) I turned to creation as a way to keep my mind rolling on something other than my memories. If I stop, even for a moment, my mind immediately starts going over memories.

So I directed it. Not control. Direct. I focus on unrequited love because there are less memories. There is fantasy. I imagine scenarios. Picture what I will say. Most people do this. From what I hear at least.

But it's beautiful.

I choose to focus my mind on someone or something that I know will not return my love. I do this because it's fun. I do this because it's safe. I do this because it is endurable. Maybe some think that this is unhealthy.

"Tyler if you like someone you should tell them, pursue it, take a chance."

Perhaps. In fact, yes...normally. Life's too short and too unpredictable not to take a chance at sharing your feelings. You know what's the very worse that can happen? Someone will know, even if only for a moment, that they are admired. That another human being on this planet really, truly likes something about them. Their personality, their looks, their laugh, their eyes. Whatever. That's the absolutely worse thing that will happen. And that's pretty damn amazing when you think about it.

But I said normally.

Sometimes I need an unrequited love. Sometimes I like letting my mind be directed at creating something, instead of reliving it. I'm still working on myself. It's an arduous process, at best. Maybe one day I'll be able to create, fantasize, remember, and live in the moment; all simultaneously.

But not today.

Today I have my unrequited love. And I love it.

The Fourth of July and Symbols

by talkbackty on Jul 4, 2011

Today is the fourth of July. An important symbol of American independence from Great Britain and the trials she went through in becoming the country she is today. Unfortunately, it seems that a good chunk of Americans don't know anything about this date. 25% don't know the year we declared independence. 20% don't know from what country. And I'm guessing on this one- most don't know that the fourth of July is a pointless date in the grand scheme of things.

The United States declared her independence on July 2nd, 1776.

The Declaration of Independence was finally revised and approved on July 4th the same year.

The Declaration was made public on July 8th.

The majority (as in 50 out of 56) signers of the Declaration signed their names on August 2nd, 1776.

So the only important thing that actually happened on the 4th was that a bunch of old men said, "Ya, that'll do." 

 Let's get piss-drunk and blow shit up!

Oooo pretty...forget everything I'm about to say.  Blowing things up is fun!

The date became a symbol over time. It was first adopted state by state, then declared a national holiday (albeit, not until 1870), and is currently being celebrated all across this country. But it is important to remember that it is a symbol. Not a fact. Not doctrine. Not worth much of anything.

Symbols have power because we bestow them power. The Fourth of July is important because of what it represents. Freedom, liberty, independence. However, those are ideas. If you understand them then you never need a symbol to be your beacon of representation. When you understand what those concepts mean then the Fourth of July should be nothing but a date on a calender.

We care too much about the things that have too little importance. Fights will break out today, anger will be felt between people, someone will die today over a meaningless date. I can say that because statistically it is true. Too many people will do something stupid for someone not to die.

Six months from now the same thing will happen during Christmas. A time that should represent all good humanity has will be tainted by division, anger, and fear. Jesus wasn't born on December 25th. And yet some will get offended when told so. Or when someone says to them, "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

We put too much emotion into symbols and not enough intelligence. It is too complicated for some. They want simple boxes and explanations and classifications. What is the Fourth of July: "when the Declaration was signed and America declared her independence from Great Britain." All false.

The Fourth of July is an important symbol. But not because it is a symbol. Ideals of freedom, liberty, representation, independence, and unity have become beacons across the world. They are the cornerstone of numerous constitutions. They are the reason for hundreds of millions of deaths. They form the back bone of our society.

These things are too important to be simplified into a day of BBQ's and explosions. These are things that everyone should talk about every day. I honestly believe the United States is a country built on high ideas. Ideas that were unique and ground-breaking. Ideas that should be remembered and talked about and spread continuously throughout the world.

Ideas that are worth understanding.

Happy Independence Day.

For a little fun here is a good quiz.  I got 9 out of 12.  Let me know how you do in the comments.