Wednesday, May 24, 2006



This is my attempt at a Friday NYT puzzle. Just in case you're not familiar with the online crosswords, the little red triangle means I had to cheat on that one. I circled a few of the ones I got with little or no help. I'm thinking of going pro.

The trip to North Carolina was glorious and heartbreaking. Many of the things that I loved about Raleigh are gone. Almost all of the things that I loved about Raleigh were people. They have moved to better jobs or in with significant others or just left. The city is still great. We ate at Porter's and the Rockford, Bojangle's, the Rodeo, and even had an honest to god cookout. I got to see a few people who haven't quite left the area, but are on their way out in some manner or another, and a few people who seem to like the city as much as I do, and are content to stay. Charlotte was strange and distant. It was good to see family, but everything else felt foreign. I invited a dorm-buddy out to a bar because I couldn't stand to sit around the house and watch any more movies on Sundance. When she showed up, I told her that I thought it was a little awkward, us not seeing each other in three years. She disagreed, and we had a great time dispite my caution, and sung Aretha and Gloria Gaynor and Kelly Clarkson all night. The wedding was interesting, the food was really good, and I didn't make even one joke about the bride's new name (J. Lo) or how hot her sister was. I think she was pleased.

Next on the list is Chicago, depending on how well the money tree is growing. I had to buy a new computer yesterday, but I reeeeaally wanna see Spoon and Ted Leo at the end of July. Keep yer fangers crossed.

Monday, May 08, 2006

They always say that when something important hits you, you'll know it. I'm not so sure if that applies to me. Things hit me a lot and I tend to roll with the punches, and do my best to ignore them. Things that hit me are generally ludicrous, inane, or only funny and interesting to me. For instance, a week or two ago I was sitting at my desk staring out the window, when I suddenly decided that my calling was documentary filmmaking. At one point in college I applied for a job bathing kids with Cerebral Palsy and other depressing conditions because I thought that the selflessness would do me good. I lost money traveling to Cleveland with a "promotions" firm four or five years ago, "promoting" very little and watching quite a bit of Indians baseball, simply because I'd never been before. My gut deceives me quite often. However, for the past few years I have had an idea of limitless potential burning inside of me. I never told anyone because it seemed like a silly idea that only I would ever think useful. But on Saturday afternoon, sitting in the sun behind the bar, I told a friend my idea, and he was surprisingly receptive. I'm going to attempt to explain it here for the same reason that I think it would work in the long run: reinforcement. Tell me if it's stupid, or tell me if you think you would actually be interested in it. I'm honestly curious, and I'm honestly at a point where I wish I had such a service. I promise you won't hurt my feelings.

The common refrain of "You can't change him/her" usually refers to nitpicky details that shouldn't affect a relationship anyway -- he leaves the toilet seat up, she eats in bed, he pees in the shower, she snores and spends too much time on the phone and never cooks dinner and makes him get water for her in the middle of the night even though she's got two legs, too (*NOTE none of these examples are taken from real life!). But there are things about everyone's personality that can have big effects on many aspects of their lives, not just personal relationships. Interrupting conversations could cause you to blow an interview. Talking too fast can make you look nervous and weak, giving dominance to the other party in a conversation. Looking and acting depressed could make that handsome man rethink approaching you at the bar, but it could also cause you to stay in the house on Saturday afternoon instead of getting outside and walking around, killing any chances of meeting people in the first place.

My idea is simple: one-on-one personal assessments focusing on either a) general improvement, or b) on a particular facet of a person's life (i.e. dating, business, friendships). To anyone around, the sessions would look like a date, a double date, or going to the museum with a friend. The client and consultant spend x number of hours talking -- conversation generally led by the client and geared towards his or her interests, problems, worries, etcetera. When either the client or consultant feels that that enough time has been spent observing, the session is ended and the client would receive a case report, detailing personality traits that may be detrimental, beneficial or a combination of the two*. The client has the ability to determine the action taken following the session(s). Hopefully, detrimental traits can be minimized and beneficial traits would be further developed and utilized to the greatest extent possible. This would not be therapy, however. Any alterations to behavior would be undertaken solely by the client after the case report was presented and the business relationship has ended.

The key to this business model's success is the completely unbiased report of observations. Telling a friend that they are depressing because they've been talking about their cat who died five years every single day for the past five years could ruin an otherwise working relationship. Friends are friends to a point, but no one would tell a friend to lose some weight unless they believed it to be seriously physically damaging.

That being said, the crux of the model depends on the theory that people do not realize flaws in their demeanor and presentation that can impair relationships. If this proves to be false, than one would be able to sit down and compile a list of traits that should be minimized or maximized on their own time, without paying for it. The basic question (and possible roadblock) is, "do people who don't wear deodorant know that they stink?"

Also, on Thursday I will be traveling to North Carolina for five days worth of reliving my college days in Raleigh and four days of hanging out with my Mom in Charlotte and one day of a friend's wedding. I'll get in to Raleigh Friday around three in the morning. If I forgot to mention it to you, I apologize, but I'll be around. Hopefully the literary will include trips to HYO, Jackpot, Sadlack's, Porters, Forrest's place, Mo's, Schoolkids, graduation keg parties, and maybe King's or the Cradle if there's anybody good in town (doesn't look like it... Brian?). Oh and the Rodeo. Like I would forget. Holla!

*There is a fine line between traits considered offensive and traits considered positive. For example, an assertive salesman may very well be happy with his above-average ego on the sales floor and at the bar. There is also a point at which simply having your negative traits outlined would do little good, as in a person with extreme depression.