Any Friend of My Friend Is a Stranger

Facebook friend recommendations of strangers by mutual friends count:

1: friend of that guy who befriends a lot of pretty girls
2-5: 2nd-order association of my gang; doesn’t hang out at the cafe when I do
6-12: goes to Burning Man/Burning Flipside
13-18: really popular at Burning Man and is an artist or performer or something
19+: there’s a damn good reason why I’m not a friend of this person

Foot Path

My longtime friend Pat is moving back home to Wisconsin this week. 16 years is a long time to know a guy and to live in one town. I was one of the reasons he moved here in 2002. But, citing the growing cost of living here, the lack of potential in this town, and his desire to move back to live near his family, he and his boyfriend Will are packing up and kicking up gravel in their wake.

I know my future isn’t in Austin, either. I just don’t know when or why I’d move, or where I’d move to. But occasionally I wonder about it, ponder on my wanderlust. If not here, then where?

Mostly, I think about what I’d miss. The food, mostly. Thundercloud, Ruby’s BBQ (now closed), East Side Pies. Among many others. But yeah. What else? My radio club? Sure. The cafes? Maybe (regardless of how much time I’ve spent inside them). The few personal friends I still see occasionally? Certainly.

Really, I’d miss the squandered potential of my 18 years here. I could have had and done and been so, so much here. All I’d have to do is fluff up my feathers and peacock along with every other dime-store DJ dotcom startup burner techie elite. Instead, I stuck to my muted integrity (somewhat) and got nowhere. It’s not necessarily that people are excluding me, they’re just not including me. I drive around and see places and things, and don’t see the people inside. I don’t call, don’t write, don’t visit. Finding my society means I have to actually look for them, because when I’m out of sight, I’m completely out of their mind.

One day I’ll have it figured out. Until then, my love for this town remains unrequited.

It’ll suck to know Pat’s not around when I need to say Hi, but it’s good knowing he’ll be in a less tenuous locale. Godspeed, Pat and Will.

So Big and So Strong

Hey Stacy–

Remember that night after the night when we first met? We were hanging out at Maxine’s in Hot Springs, getting our buzz on. Live guitarist sang “Come a Little Bit Closer” as part of his acoustic coffee-bar set. Remember that girl, the waitress? Remember, during the chorus, she put down her tray on our table and sang, directly to me, the whole chorus, as if she meant it? I just sat there and smiled and blinked while she went through the entire rousing chorus, as if I’d never heard it before. Such an amazing, impulsive girl.

(That night was impulsive, what with my planned trip, but your impulsive ride-along — we’d just met!)

Well, something like six months after the little one month relationship you and I had, I went back to Hot Springs, just to hang out and spend the night in a motel (needed to get away, y’know?). Well, the following morning I had breakfast at Shoney’s (remember those?). Yeah. Guess who sat at the table next to mine. You guessed right: the cute, impulsive waitress…and her girlfriend.

As is the way of things, I was not her kind of man. Neither so big nor so strong.

The irony of the whole thing is lost on most of the world. But I see it. And now you do, too.

In Touch

Been compiling all of my contacts from various address books, phone books, and contact lists into one central place. It’s strange, the gaps and the old information. Missing phone number here. 10-year-old instant messaging contact name there. 5 year old email address with a service that’s no longer in vogue. Makes me realize the importance of constant contact. Each fresh relationship, each updated connection, that is the sum total of our worth. Human capital. You are who you know as well as who you keep in touch with. It is not enough to aggregate relationships; you must maintain them. I must do that if I am to maintain my net worth above social poverty level.

Subtractive, Reductive

Math is the foundation of abstract thought. Actually, they go hand-in-hand.

I faltered years ago and skipped over some important mathematical fundaments and got lost, sowed the seeds of confusion and grew the crop of poisonous mental ineptitude that killed the young abstract thinker in me. I have trouble thinking past my immediate surroundings. It knocked me out of architectural school, a computer science degree, electrical engineering. I have always been technically-minded, but my weakness in math has been my stumbling block.

I was listening to this woman talk to a kid here in the allergist’s office. He was saying that he wanted to go to architecture school. The woman (not his mother) asked what grade he was in, what math class he was taking. Ninth grade, algebra. She went “Ew, algebra. I don’t think I need to know what X and Y are doing.”

That hurt my brain to hear that. I wanted to speak up in defense of math, but held mute. Damn my shy nature. My behavior is annoying, but hers is terrifying. Don’t revel in your ignorance.

Maybe I should heed that lesson.