Lust

Every man is a living mystery waiting to be discovered:

In her eyes I smell the fumes of intrigue.

Belonging breads longing.

Desire swirls like a black hole of lust,

Be careful of radial motions,

The sinking waves hypnotizing and teasing.

Her frame gives me a preview of ecstasy,

The anticipation stacking layer upon layer.

The struggle is guaranteed, the climax is not.

Cruelty and pleasure intertwine in the depths of tension.

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Outsourcing Novelty

To expand my mental landscape, I’ve purposely built in a system that outsources novelty. Actuating raw potential depends upon a steady flow of ideas to be tested and acted upon. Somewhere along the line I realized that the brain is not a perpetual motion machine, the same ideas with produce the same results. My first course of action? Spend a little bit of time everyday researching new things with my old buddy Google. That got old fast for two reasons: 1) It’s hard to look for new things without any starting direction 2) research gets tedious very quickly.

Then I remembered Tim Ferriss’s brilliant question: What if I did the opposite?

The opposite of “looking” in this instance is “receiving”. Illuminated with this insight I signed up for weekly email newsletters in topics unfamiliar to me. My favorite newsletters right now are Farnam Street, Design Luck, James Clear, and Recommendo. Savvy web users can take advantage of Google Alerts to receive periodic email alerts on topics of their choosing. Google Alerts helps me zoom into specific news on a subject without sifting through click-baity trash.

Another way to increase the odds of running into new ideas comes from disabling predictive suggestion help on both Google search and YouTube. When enabled this feature uses your previous search history to suggest similar content. Over time the algorithm learns your preferences and neglects to show things outside your usual interest. Without knowing it you become confined to a small sub-section of the internet tailored for your liking. A whole new realm opened when I decided to escape this invisible bubble.

My favorite tactic for exposing myself to new ideas is connecting with a diverse range of people. Every person is a universe onto themselves and I often find that they have discovered rabbit holes that I never stumbled upon. Remember: Everyone in the world knows something that you don’t.

Farewell for now – Barry

Write Now

I don’t care what you write but you need to do it right now.

Write now.

Silence your insecurities. Banish your self-doubt. Extinguish your worries.

Right now.

A muse awaits in wonderment. When will you work? When will you execute on that glimpse of inspiration? Will you deny that dream it’s right to life? Who are you do suffocate an idea before understanding it’s true nature. Get familiar with the idea. Jot it down. Converse with the idea, see it from another angle.

How do you get familiar with an idea? You write.

Write now, right now.

Daydream

“I memorized your face just in case you try to murder my friends.”

I paused a moment at this audaciously honest remark. A part of me wanted to howl in laughter – another part wanted to reassure her that I’m a “good guy.” Instead I matched her bold stare and replied, “That’s fair.”

Because it was. I was about to get into a slick Purple Mustang with three tipsy women I had just met 20 minutes before at Molly’s Pub. Somehow, I became an honorary member of their girls night out. They eagerly stuffed me in the backseat. Within a few seconds I heard the heart-thumping roar of the Mustang’s engine. There was no turning back now.

Our next stop: Karaoke.

Sunroof down, spirits high, and speakers booming we raced to Reno’s. Barbara looked at me from the passenger’s seat quizzically, “Barry! What song should we play?!”

“I’m in a Kendrick mood, put on DNA.”

My request received a glowing smile of approval and soon after Kendrick’s lyrics assaulted our ears with rap glory. The song ended right as Carla pulled into Reno’s parking lot. My brain finally caught up a bit at the strangeness of the unfolding events: Am I living in a movie? Who the hell cares, get me another beer please. Okay brain sounds like a plan.

Without recalling my legs moving I ended up standing by the girls night troupe at the Karaoke sign up sheet. Our current struggle? Deciding what song to sing. My eyes soaked in the environment at all the merry drunkards singing along with the main karaoke performer. Faint puffs from smoke clouds combined with the fragrance of hard liquor put me at ease. The right bars smell like a unique form of happiness.

The ladies were still deciding on song when I suddenly heard Lauryn Hill’s voice wave over me. Sentiment wiggled into my heart as I put my eyes on the floor, “My mom loves Lauryn Hill.” Suddenly I felt pressure gripping on my left wrist. It was Barbara, “Come on!” Without warning she led me to the center of the dancefloor. My body came to life as I held her hands, unconsciously leading her with my motions. No words were exchanged, but our bodies flowed in perfect sync. Without warning I stared serenading Barbara while our eyes locked. The moment was a vivid daydream. We danced for three more songs.

I escorted her back to the girls night group and quickly escaped to the bathroom. When I returned Barbara lightly touched my bicep and whispered, “You’re the best man I ever knew.”

In that moment the dream became real. In the back of my mind I knew there was a chance I would never see her again. – Barry

EW

The story starts out the way all good ones do – in a bar. Union Tavern to be specific.

Ya boy Barry was casually chillin there alone with the goal of eventually talking to someone. From the bar counter I scanned around for someone who looked open to speaking with a stranger.

Nope, too old.

Nope, too tall.

She’s wearing a hoodie, that’s really suspicious.

Welp, guess I’ll just stay here.

My brain has decided today is not the day to exhibit social courage. Besides, if I don’t babysit this corner bar stool then who will? A few drinks later a 53-year-old man wearing his blue striped working polo tucked into faded jeans sat down adjacent to me. He reminded me of Earl Grey tea for some reason. His name must be Earl. His body language signaled he was in a chatty mood. The feeling wasn’t mutual.

Too late. I’ve already commited to being anti-social.

After ordering a Miller Earl performs the same scan I did earlier.

Please don’t talk to me.

Earl’s Radar isn’t picking up anything. He starts looking at people around the counter.

Please don’t talk to me.

I refuse to look in Earl’s direction and pull out my phone to discourage conversation.

Please don’t talk to me.

Earl takes two quick sips and looks at me “How are you sir?”

Damnit.

“Not bad just relaxing.” The phone recedes back into my pocket.

“I hear that man. I’m not here by myself, I’m actually meeting someone here soon.”

“That’s nice.” This guy is definitely here by himself.

In that brief lull of the conversation the bartender speedily paces from the backroom with a mountain of Solo cups. There isn’t much space behind the bar so she bends down to set them on the floor. She scurries away again, probably to get more cups.

Immediately after Earl inches closer to me, “Yo man, did you see the ass on her?”

Of course I did. Anyone who has eyes probably saw. I reply, “Yeah I guess” then direct my attention to the mounted television. Looks like the Lakers are playing.

When the bartender returns I see Earl’s eyes follow her movements with a trance-like focus. Her body was the pendulum inducing his libido into a hypnotic sex-stupor. Maybe he’ll be so distracted he forgets I’m here.

Spoiler alert: That’s not what happens.

“Jesus man, if I weren’t married I would take that one home.”

“Mhm” This is getting a bit weird.

“Are you married?”

*shake my head no*

“You should take a shot at the bartender, I’ve never seen a woman like that before!”

I shoulder shrug in disinterest. She’s a petite red head wearing colorful mosaic leggings, an exposed belly ring, weird body tattoos, and a sizable wedding ring. She kinda reminds me of the Wendy’s logo, well if Wendy grew up to be bartender working in Houston.

wendys

“What!? Your crazy man, don’t worry I’ll talk to her for you.”

Great. That was the exact opposite of what I wanted to happen. Earl summons the bartender with a come-hither hand motion. As Wendy is approaching I’m thinking of ways to apologize for the predictably gross words about to be spoken on my behalf.

Wendy arrives, “What can I help you with sir?”

Earl gulps some liquid courage and begins, “I just wanted to say you have an incredibly nice ass and my single friend here told me he would pay 1 million dollars to lick every single one of your tattoos.”

I embody the word “Ew” as my body flinchs from disgust. It feels like I’ve just been drenched in green Nickelodeon slime.

Wendy pauses a second, “That sounds great, but I don’t think my husband would appreciate that.” Off she goes without missing a beat.

“Well man I tried for you.”

“Oh wow look at the time, I gotta go now.”

Time for me to find a different bar – Barry

Houston, we have a Barry pt 2

Where did I leave off? Ah, yes – The car thermostat proudly declared it to be 101 degrees Fahrenheit. The scorching heat paired with unlimited humidity made me feel like was living in a sauna – minus the middle aged naked men of course.

Looks like I’m here.

I triumphantly pulled my Chevy Equinox into a parking spot of the apartment leasing office. I grabbed the deposit along with the paperwork and strolled inside. An normal looking woman raised her head from her computer monitor to greet me: Hello, how may I help you?

“Moving into apartment 1416, I have the deposit and all the paperwork.”

She resumes on the keyboard for a moment. Clicky clackity click click. “Oh great, I see it here. Hmm everything looks good, let me get the key.” Ms. Normal rises from chair and scoots off into some unknown corridor of the office.

In a few moments I’ll be able to nap and figure out my next move.

More than a few moments past. Ms. Normal returns with a confuzzled expression that inverts her two eyebrows.

“You said apartment 1416, right?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure because I don’t see the key for the apartment.”

“……….”

Somewhere, on the great African plains of the Serengeti tens of thousands of years ago, one of my ancestors encounters an enemy of a rival tribe. Food supplies remain scarce – it is a matter of survival. They lock eyes and my ancestor brands the inflaming battle roar into his very spirit. The blood in his veins turns to fire. His raging spirit prevails in combat and his people live another day.

In this moment that I realize I am my ancestor. I didn’t drive 10,00 miles across the country and sleep in my car for three days straight for shits and giggles.

Ms. Normal immediately senses my compounding fury, “Oh okay let me make a phone call quick.” She scurries off back into the unknown hallway. When she returns this time it’s with a key for my apartment. I force out a bitter, “Thank you” and proceed to search for my new temporary home.

Now for the moment of truth. I slowly unlocked the door and turned the knob. The door unlocked to reveal a beautiful one bedroom apartment. My balcony overlooked the apartment complex pool and a few lanky palm trees. I had a kitchen, washer, dryer and my very own bathroom.

Looks like your move up in the world!

Next step? Take an epic nap – Barry

Houston, we have a Barry

Two month ago I set course for Houston, Texas. The 3 weeks heading up to my departure saw a hurricane of activity: I filled out 37 pages of employment paperwork/clearances, turned in two course projects, finished an internship, trained the incoming graduate assistant replacing me, partied at Capitol, moved out of my apartment, drove five hours through a thunderstorm to Pittsburgh and stayed four days, drove five hours through another thunderstorm back to Stroudsburg – took a pit stop at Denny’s in Bloomsburg to catch up with my buddy before leaving for Houston, arrived in Stroudsburg, cleaned up the house for my going away party, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs at the party, crushed my friends and relatives in backyard volleyball, and finally drove three hours that night to Harrisburg en route to Houston.

Yeah, it was a smidge busy.

Luckily for me, the 24 hour drive alone down to the good ol’ southwest gave me time to process through all my anxieties. After all I was about to intern for NASA. Somehow the whole experience felt surreal, like a daydream suddenly adjoining with reality.

What do they expect from me? Do I need to know a lot about space? Will they test me? How should I study for the test? Do I need a No. 2 Pencil? Shit! I don’t own any pencils!

My favorite scene during the road trip came as I passed through Louisiana. I cruised over an expansive 4 lane highway elevated high above swampish bayou territory. The reflective water brimmed with green ick and partially submerged trees. The sight felt authentically southern and unlike anything I’d seen in the Northeast. My mind scintillated with a childish awe.

A few rest stops and a gas station burrito later I arrived in Houston. My immediate first impression? Damn it’s hot! It felt like I was developing an intimate relationship with the sun. The car thermostat proudly declared it to be 101 degrees.

Will continue this story later, until next time – Barry

Interesting…

0Why

I want to be a dating coach.

…. Interesting. That wouldn’t have been my opening line.

Brain, what do you mean? It’s the truth, I want to be a dating coach.

Well yeah that is cool and all but what about the other stuff?

I’m not following you.

Dude really? NASA, Moving to Houston, Salsa dancing, Random girl tickling you in the bar – is any of this ringing a bell?

Haha oooohh you mean my life events! Yeah! Sounds awesome. The tricky part about all this is remembering the details. I am a writer therefore I should write. The equation is straightforward and the execution difficult. It appears Brain developed a writing phobia too, so I need to soothe back into the blogging thing. By the way, I still want to be a dating coach.

Barry why? It seems really random.

For the longest time I convinced myself that dating didn’t matter to me. I masked my frustrations with clever rationalizations and embraced the “lone wolf mentality” for years. Self-deception remains an insidiously effective poison. Behind that stoic shield of solidarity stood a vulnerable lifetime insecurity. In truth, my failings in the dating world made me feel extremely stupid. More than that – it felt like an invalidation of my masculinity. From the outside looking in, it seemed like no other men struggled with this issue. Clearly, that means there’s something wrong with me then? The symptoms of toxic relationships, manipulation, and scalding resentment played themselves out for years until finally I got the courage to diagnosis the underlying issue: ME. I refused to acknowledge and heal that deeply rooted insecurity, letting it embitter my view of women, men, relationships, and the whole goddamn universe. The time came to metaphorically look myself in the eye and ask, “no bullshit, what do you want?” The unapologetic answer is I want to amazing at dating! I want to own my masculinity and feel competent and attractive. In the process I could pull guys out of the rut where I started.

That’s all for now, until next time – Barry

Invisible Obligations

Rip up the intangible contract.

Forgo the unwritten lease.

Abandon the silent script.

Every day I see people doing things not aligned with their best interests so that they can fulfill an Invisible Obligation. What is an Invisible Obligation? Barryiam-Webster defines it as “Unstated rules or obligations we unwillingly invent or conform to.” What’s wild about invisible obligations people is how tightly people grip onto to them. Many times these invented obligations have no real consequence attached to them either. So how do we spot an Invisible Obligation? It usually begins with the qualifier(s) must, should, need to, have to.

“Unstated rules or obligations we unwillingly invent or conform to.” – Invisible Obligations, Source: Barryiam-Webster

For example:

I must go to Kathy’s party or everyone will hate me.

I don’t like the way John acts but I should hangout with him since he asked 5 times.

I really need to get my parent’s approval before I consider moving out of this apartment.

Becky walks all over people but I have to keep my mouth shut or she’ll get mad at me too.

In all of the examples provided the person weaved a tale in which they were relinquished of control. The inconvenient truth of the matter is besides eating, drinking, and staying alive you do not have to do anything. Obviously, there are unpleasant consequences attached to living certain ways, but we always have a choice. Bucking expectations only feels impossible. Take a quick browse through your memory banks and I guarantee you can find instances of people boldly abandoning what’s typically expected. Maybe it’s the class clown who always pulled gags and interrupted lessons. Maybe it’s outspoken teen who mother’s insisted she “speak like a lady”. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. The difference between them and you is a willingness to make a different choice.

“Courage is your birthright.” – Mel Robbins

Don’t be ashamed of taking ownership of your own agency. All I ask is that we be courageous enough to replace “ I have to” with “I choose to.”

It’s late now, I choose to go to bed – until next time – Barry

Crazy things I’m up to: 2x Speed

In an effort to keep my hyper active mind at ease I engage in a number of self-imposed challenges. I often refer to them as my “experiments” because I feel like I’m treating myself like a guinea pig. My latest experiment is a reaction to my massive impatience and absurdly low attention span. The driving question was this:

“Is it possible to watch Netflix on 2x speed?”

Barry what the hell? Why would anyone want to do that?

Let me break it down like this: Time remains my most valuable asset. I don’t want to squander it all on a Netflix binge-a-thon, but I still want to consume entertainment. Besides I have trained my ears to listen to podcasts at 1.6x speed, a movie shouldn’t be THAT different!

Results so Far…

Turns out it’s pretty simple to get faster playback speeds on Netflix, just look for a Google Chrome extension and presto! I supercharged the speed on the Rom-Com America’s Sweethearts and the result? Totally lifechanging! 2x speed turned out to be way to jarring for my unadjusted eyes – I hit a sweet spot at 1.3x speed. My eyes hardly perceived the change in speed and the faster pacing made the corny jokes a lot funnier. It’s only been a day however so I’m confident I can get my eyes to adjust to watching a movie 2x with even practice. This feels a bit counterproductive, watching a bunch of movies with the goal of watching less movies…

The absurdity of it makes it more fun! – Barry

Plan B

The other day I learned something crucial about myself: I would rather die than be someone’s Plan B. Specifically to know that my partner essentially “settled” for me.

Even the thought of this coming pass deeply disturbs me. If I’m the romantic equivalent of a silver metal what stops them from chasing after the gold? Even if my partner eventually valued me at gold status how could I reconcile with not starting there? Or does that really matter in the end?

My personal history book is spattered with chapters of unrequited love so obviously I am biased. A one point little miss codependency hovered over my shoulder too and during that time I experienced death by gaslighting. I’ve out run manipulation three times over only to greet her at the finishline. I drove myself to extremes for hundreds of miles for people unwilling to walk the last ten feet. I do not say this to garnish sympathy – simply to demonstrate the dangers of being someone’s consolation price.

Jordan Harbinger said it best: “You’re treating them as a priority and they treat you as an option.”

Never settle for being someone’s Plan B: You’re either Plan A or Nay.

Until next time ✌ – Barry

Return to writing and ideas

Sometimes I have to rummage through the foxhole hole of my mind to find good ideas. Like earthworms they wriggle around in the dirt waiting to be uncovered. Occasionallly bad fertilizer causes mind rot and all the ideas die. So what do you do then?

My secret? Train your brain to think in stories. Even the average can be transmuted into a spectacle with the right story. A simple start begins with inner dialogue. For instance Instead of thinking, “I need to go to the store” try to a quirky twist to it, “I must adventure to the modern marketplace” or “I’ll need to rendezvous at the supermarket later.” Once practiced repeatedly your brain will naturally begin to dramatize even the tiniest moments. I love writing because it allows me to elevate my experience in a way that’s fun and entertaining.

And what’s life without a little fun? – Barry

Appreciation Invitation

In the flurry of day to day madness easily allows us to get lost in the mundane tasks of life. Slogging through emails, texts, notifications: it’s like playing a never-ending game of mental air hockey. In those moments of monotony, we can feel reduced to unfeeling biological automatons. Compounded over a long enough timeline the daily drudgery can chip away at vibrancy of the human spirit. To alleviate this condition, I extend a simple invitation: give appreciation.

Give honest appreciation to those people who hold a special meaning in your life. Express to them explicitly why they are important. Fill them with a sense of everlasting gratitude. In this department action is key – The intention to appreciate someone weights nothing compared to the gravity of authentic praise. If you need permission here it is.

I hope you accept my invitation to appreciation – Barry

Emotional Contraband

Don’t hide the evidence! Get rid of it!

As a passive viewer of a crime thriller it drives me crazy when characters do seemingly irrational things. Audiences of horror movies are acutely aware of this fact, “why do they always split up?” Ironically, our life is the exact same way. To an unbiased spectator we are the unwise teens who intentionally run into a dimly lit cave. Luckily, you have some control over the screenplay of your life.

Setting the Scene

Imagine a typically Wednesday. You’re just chilling on the couch when suddenly you hear a convergence of footstep just outside your door. Before you have time to respond a squad of burly men equipped with riot gear brutally invade your living space. The Captain rattles a saltine colored search warrant inches away from your face demanding answers! “Where is it!” His thundering voice howls with an unquenched rage, sweat beads gliding off of his bald head into his unkempt beard. The shock of the in the dramatic turn of circumstances leaves you paralyzed. “What the heck is going on?!”

dea-nso-group

Hope you have a good lawyer!

Well the DEA (Department of Destructive Emotional Actions) got tipped off that you were illegally hoarding emotional contraband in your apartment.

“Emotional contraband?”

Yes, one the most insidious types of contraband there is to own. The law defines it as any physical object or memento that causes unnecessary emotional pain. For example: pictures of ex-partners, old love letters, gifts from now estranged friends. Why do we feel so deeply compelled to hold on to these objects when all they cause is pain? Well I do understand. I harbored a deep sense of guilt whenever I looked at this wooden hippo that was gifted to me from a former friend. She bought it in a cheap gift shop in Paris because it reminded her of me. After a silent feud we had not communicated in almost a year and half, but everyday this hippo sat on my office shelf reminding me of her presence. It hurt to look at that damn hippo as it drudged up conflicting memories, yet I voluntarily kept it in my line of sight. Without a doubt this falls under self-inflicted cruel and unusual punishment.

Emotional Contraband – any physical object or memento that causes unnecessary emotional pain. For example: pictures of ex-partners, old love letters, past gifts from estranged friends/family.

One day I gained the courage to throw it away. Guess what? I felt an overwhelming sense of relief afterwards. With that tiny act I purged myself from the guilt of that lost relationship.

What is your wooden hippo? – Barry

Work/Life Balance

g-crescoli-468248-unsplash

*I orignally wrote this for a Graduate Discussion assignment about Work/Life Balance and got carried away…*

My approach to Work/Life balance is simple: Take a systems perspective. By this I mean people should design a system in which balance in built into your schedule so that it not something that needs to be consciously performed. My primary strategies for maintaining balance fall into the following categories: scheduling, routines, rewards, boundaries. I like to think of this approach as the “Triple Redundancy” because if scheduling fails you can always rely on the other pieces of the system.

Scheduling

Recently I’ve begun preparing a weekly schedule in which I assign time slots in hour-long increments to all of my activities. The rigid items typically get inputted first so things like class, office hours, internship hours, morning routine. Secondly I look for spaces with the gaps to fill with miscellaneous activities I enjoy: Creative writing time, laundry, podcast, going for a walk. I find that adding fun things onto my schedule helps me treat them as a priority.

Routines

About nine months ago I began experimenting with a daily morning routine. A morning routine is a deliberate and habitual set of activities that an individual performs everyday. Creating and sticking to a morning routine has been beneficial for me because it gives me a sense of stability in a otherwise chaotic day. For those interested my routine looks like this:

Wake up 6am

Gym 1 hour

Shower 12 minutes

Meditation 10-20 minutes

Breakfast 25 minutes

Experience shows that my routine typically lasts around 2 hours so I never schedule anything to interfere with the first 2 hours of my day.

Rewards

Another tactic I exploit to maintain work life balance is a personal Rewards system. I have a mental contract with myself that if I perform certain activities I am allowed a very specific reward. One that has helped me get healthier is very straight forward: If I exercise during my morning routine, I am allowed to shower that day. Otherwise I am not allowed to shower. I LOVE taking showers so if I get lazy and miss the gym the punishment is I am not allowed to shower that day. I find the technique to be powerful, I typically do not go longer than 2 days without showering/exercising. Another experiment I’ve been running involves using visual rewards to reinforce behavior. For those interested look up “The Paper-Clip Strategy” and the “The Seinfeld Strategy”. These strategies are good for creating long term habit formation.

Boundaries

Lastly to maintain work life balance I have refined a clear set of boundaries around how I use my technology. Essentially a list of rules of engagement for my smartphone here are some for example:

  • No smartphone allowed in bedroom during bedtime
  • No checking email before my morning routine
  • No checking phone while I am driving
  • No  distracting social media apps allowed on my smartphone

I have also disabled most of the notification noises and alerts on my phone (with the exception of the default text message app).

Until next time – Barry