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Friends in the Work of Life, Friends in the Fun of Life


One day I was lamenting the loss of friends post-divorce that I had felt close to throughout the marriage.  It was not that I did not have other friends in my life at the time, but I was confused by why people I had once felt close to were now no longer talking to me or even trying to be a part of my life.  It was then that my therapist said to me, “Well Doug, some people are friends in in the fun of life and some are friends in the work of life.”  I found that to be an evocative sentiment at the time and it has grown on me even more since.

These “fun of life” friends were people who got together some few times a year at parties that all followed a pattern.  We gathered and had conversation for about an hour or so that celebrated our wit and said very little.  We never delved into each other’s lives.  We never talked of hopes, dreams or fears.  We never talked of pain or hardship.  We absolutely never spoke of feelings.  Then after about an hour or so the drinks began to kick in.

Once the alcohol started flowing through our veins we became louder, more sarcastic, and more judgmental for our own amusement.  The evenings flowed through a period of recollection and nostalgia that generally followed the pattern of recalling the same stories we had told the last time we got together. After that, things would get even louder, games might be played, music would start, dancing may ensue and the evening would reach its inevitable tipping point.  Soon all would be drunkenness.  This is fun, in a way, but it is also empty in more meaningful ways.

Eventually someone would fall over and we would realize that the evening probably best be drawn to a close before we all fell over.  We would retire and wake up in the morning craving carbs and Advil. Slowly people would muster up the strength to get in their cars and leave.  We vowed that it was a fantastic time and we were fabulous people who loved each other just so so much.

We never spoke of the mental illness suffered by one of the friends who lived a paranoid schizophrenic life in a one-room apartment with a refrigerator full of only beer.  We never spoke of the failed relationships, unhappy marriages or daily struggles that made up the lives of the guests.  We never encountered anything real in each other.  We reveled in the fakery, drenched ourselves in nostalgia, drank like fish, and called that love and friendship.

Friends in the fun of life.

Then later in my life I began to form different friends. When we got together we surely had fun.  We told stories, we laughed we ate and we sometimes drank.  Lots of time we ran. We ran in any weather all year around. We went to events together.  We celebrated each other at special times.  We created special times so that we could celebrate together.  We celebrated life.

We also knew each other for real.  We knew who was sick, who was suffering, who was hurting and who had a joy to share.  We acknowledged that life was a winding road and we took each other’s hand and said “Let’s walk (or run) together”.  We met weekly or many times a week and looked at those times as highlights of our week.

Friends in the work of life.

The fun of life is a good thing.  It is not to be completely disparaged.  However, if relationships only seem to have a toehold in that reality they are certainly of dubious value. Or if relationships like those are the only ones you have than your life will surely be wanting for deeper connections.

The work of life is what we each face each moment of every day.  It is joyous but messy, happy but sad, celebratory but painful.  It is in the reality of these dichotomies and struggles that we connect at the level of our soul’s daily striving to touch the divine in all of us and be one.

Friends in the work of life.

I wish them for you all.  I treasure mine.

Walls, Windows and the Nature of Intimacy


Humans are meant to connect with others.  This drive is built in to our wiring.  Though we may have the need we do not always have the ability or abilities are constrained. We are generally much better at building walls than we are at creating windows.  Yet is only these windows into ourselves and others that can ultimately let intimacy in.  It is easier to put up a wall but not better.

Relationships can be built on many other foundations and still serve helpful purposes without reaching into the realms of intimacy.  However, this still leaves a primal void that will seek other ways to be filled, some perhaps unhealthy.

Many of us become involved with addictions, depression and perpetual distress.  We may also see people who fill voids with materialism treating their lack of intimate connections with connections to widening array of self-aggrandizing stuff.  Of course there is always the love of work.  We feel so noble when we throw ourselves into hyper-performing professionally.  The irony is it generally leads to more money so you can feed the materialistic urges too.  What a perfect deal. There no end to the number of habits that we will conjure up to give ourselves some comfort from the pains in ourselves.

Intimacy is not a single state.  I believe it is a process of ongoing revelation and growth.  There are four key elements to it.  I borrowed these from the Johari Window model.   The “other” in this case could be any other person but in this case I am speaking primarily about love relationships.

  1. What you know about yourself and you share with the other so they know it too.
  2. What you know about yourself and do not share with the other so they do not know it.
  3. What the other knows about you yet you do not know it about yourself.
  4. What neither you or the other know about you.

What You Know About Yourself and Share

In an intimate relationship this window should be the largest.  It should also grow as you become of aware of new things and seek to share them.  The things that you know about yourself are both positive and negative (as well as everything in between).  There should be no fear or shame in sharing these with your partner and they with you.  It is the source of the deepest bonds. When a relationship is growing and thriving this will be the area where intimacy thrives.


What You Know About Yourself and Do Not Share

This is not an open window but rather one with the shades drawn.  It can be a dangerous place where we keep things about ourselves hidden and try to manipulate reality.  I am not sure I know of any good reasons to do this though I am sure some people would say that you cannot share everything and some things are best left unknown in the interests of everyone.   I think things should move from this category to number 1 as much as possible.

What The Other Knows That You Do Not

This is like one of those windows in the police station where you can see through it from one side but not the other.  Relationships can suffer when this window gets too big.  Sometimes the other may realize things about your nature that you are not willing to see in yourself.  This denial breeds conflict and pain.


What Neither You Nor The Other Know

Though may seem like a hopeless dilemma it is actually where some of the greatest opportunities for deepening intimacy may come from.  As we open up to ourselves and become more intimate with ourselves, there is more to share.  This also relates to the concept of loving yourself which I recently wrote about here.

I believe we all sense the need for intimacy.  We seek connection.  We hurt when connections are damaged.  We fight when connections are threatened. Here is to the forever flawed and achingly imperfect process of finding our way through our own journeys in intimacy.  Build windows…not walls.



Things Men Say on Dating Sites

I was wondering what ladies experience on dating sites.  I believe the following examples probably touch upon many of the pithy and engaging ways that my fellow males manage to lumber their way through the process of awkwardly trying to get someone, anyone to give them the time of day.  I have included not only the masterfully engineered come-ons themselves but I also offer a little sense of the complex and nuanced sub-text behind them.

THE DUMB ASS  (meaning they have typed this 4 million times and are still dumbfounded that it has not worked yet)

Cute pic!  Check out my profile and let’s hook up.

What he really means:  You look female.  That’s pretty much all I’m looking for.


T.M.I. GUY  (obvious head case who probably messages after taking 4 Xanax and the better part of a vat of gin)

Oh my God you look so awesome and nice not like the total bitch pain in my friggin’ ass ex who I found sleeping around with the garbage freaking collector who hated me because I always had too much garbage after Christmas.  Plus you look like my mother who was the greatest person ever except that she took away my Ninja Turtle binkie when I was two and now I’m all f-d up.  Call me.

What he really means:  Please take care of me. I’m crashing and burning.
BOB RESUME (he’s honed his elevator pitch over years of sales conferences at the home office in Sheboygan, WI)

Hello!  I’m the National Sales Director for Aerodyne Plastics where we manufacture custom inserts for all manner of industrial products.  Based on your profile I believe we would have many synergies.  Please contact me to explore a win/win scenario.

What he really means:  Sweet Holy Mother of God please admire my achievements.  They’re all I’ve got.


MR. IT’S ALL ABOUT ME (He actually believes he is convincing someone with this stuff)

Hello:  I read your profile and I would like to highlight several areas in which I would be a fit for you:

  • You like to cook:  This is a perfect fit for me because I eat sometimes several times a day
  • You like dining out:  See above.  This also works for me because if for some reason you have not cooked then I will still be eating.
  • You like movies:  I enjoy completely zoning out and ignoring everything and everyone around me.  You could watch a movie then.
  • You like exercise:  This is helpful to me as well.  Just don’t let it interfere with the cooking
  • You are looking for an honest man:  I am a human male thus meeting the primary part of your criteria.

What he really means: I’m really tired of making my mother do my laundry.  You do that, right?

CLUELESS JOE  (This is honestly the best he can come up with. Really.  This is it.)

Hey there!

What he really means:  I’ve got nothing.  I have no clue.  I’m desperate and you are the 14,369th person I contacted tonight.  Next.



I don’t play games and I am athletic and sensitive.  If that is what you are looking for, drop me a line.

What he really means:  I weigh 380 pounds and my hands are orange with Cheetoh dust.  Any chance at all?


Let me know if any of these ring true or if any others should be added.


Loving Yourself, the Heart of it All


Songs, poems, movies, paintings buildings and lives have been built to celebrate the power of love.  Often it is about our love for the “other”:  a deity, a romantic partner, a family member, a leader, a friend or even a trusted animal.  Very little in human experience has plumbed the depths of our collective soul and generated such a massive outpouring of attempts to describe that which seems at one in the same time to be both universal and indescribable – something completely understood in the roots of our shared experience yet inscrutable as to how to explain or articulate it. Forever inadequate to the task, we plunder forward, each new generation feeling as though they, for the first time, are feeling the exquisite pain, the longing and the joy.

The curse of humanity is that we are intelligent enough to be disconnected from our creator.  We have brains with oversized egos and ideas that haunt our waking days with the realization that we are perhaps insignificant or meaningless.  Yes, we can launch rockets into space but all we encounter is more soul-defying vastness that disrupts our perpetual desire to be unique, special and full of meaning.

I love love.  It is the window to the universe and to all that fashions it.

I think that lost in the talk of love is the importance of its most essential building block- love of one’s self.  By this I do not mean celebrating one’s ego, wit, beauty, or accomplishments.  Self-love begins in the darkest places of our experiences.  It begins where we find the tipping point between our best selves and our worst selves.  It begins where the negative emotions of fear, shame and loathing cast their shadow.  Can we love ourselves at the core of our most desperate liabilities?

Each of us brings our own wounds and insufficiencies to this life.  Oftentimes our greatest strengths are just the B side to the Greatest Hits compilation of our greatest liabilities. It is usually just a matter of degree.  We are bound to fail.  We are bound to be undone.  Can we love ourselves when our best and our worst meet in the exquisitely imperfect dance of our flailing lives?

People look for other people to love and to love them back.  I’m not sure that effort can yield much success until you find the room in your heart to love yourself.  It is the heart of it all.  In your ability to love yourself through ups and downs, strengths and liabilities and you open a window to universe in your heart.  Loving yourself in this warts and all fashion makes it possible and to love another with the kind of beauty and grace we wish for ourselves.  Love yourself, truly, and then give that same blessing to the world.  It is what life asks of us is we are willing to rise to the call.

Shrimp Suspended in Green Jello Mold

bad food art shrimp aspic

In the annals of Bad Food Art, there is a consistent theme around the concept of food being presented in a molded shape.  Anytime you can take a series of ingredients and make them appear to be something altogether outside anything that occurs in the natural world it represents a triumph of human technology.  Jello molds are the consummate example of this (though they are closely rivaled by the “loaf” which may get it’s own wing in the Bad Food Art Museum soon). Read More

Velveeta- Golden Glory

bad food art velveeta

I believe we all secretly fear that Velveeta is made from the same basic materials as traffic cones.  When it is depicted that way it only drives home the realization that have no idea what we are putting in our bodies.

When I first began assembling the Bad Food Art Museum, I thought that the 1950s exuberance over all things heavily manufactured or processed was lighthearted and fun.  It is, but as I have become more aware of the challenges created by our American diet,  I also began to realize that this time period is the ground zero of the bad food bomb the fallout of which continues to settle over us today. Read More

Wonderful speech on how to fulfill the promise of internet marketing

One of my favorite thinkers concerning things web-related is Avinash Kaushik.  His most recent blog post contains the text of a speech he gave to a gathering of Canadian marketing executives. The point of it is that we fail to take advantage of the promise of Internet marketing because most of us find “shout” marketing and interruption advertising to be more comfortable.  It is brilliant.  It is controversial. It challenges us all.  I just really like it.  Take the time to read it here.  Send your comments.

Social Media Campaign Management Tools

Spinning off this recent article that lists the Top Eight Social Media Campaign Management Tools I thought I’d add two more that I like and make it an even 10 tools that can really help social media marketers better engage their audiences and track results. There is a always a great deal of movement in the industry as new services launch and existing ones change hands or get acquired. My hope is that this list will still be accurate at least 17 seconds after I publish it. Read More

Social is even bigger than we thought says Neilsen study

Social media is a major force not only amongst marketers and their peers who find the topic fascinating but amongst our actual audiences too. Nielsen’s Q1 2010 Consumer Confidence Survey, Q1 2010 @Plan reports and Audience Measurement tools are citing some striking facts that paint an even more dramatic picture of our immersion into social media than we might have thought.  I was particularly surprised by stats such as 21% of U.S. adults own or publish a blog or that 2/3 of global consumers refer to online product reviews when making a purchasing decision.  The complete excerpt is below:

Read More

Foursquare will begin to offer free visitor analytics- begins to gain more traction

Foursquare, a location-based micro-blogging service that launched in 2009 seems to be on the verge of relevance. In preparation for their marketing push at SXSW they announced that they have added 500,000 new members bringing their total to somewhere in the 1 million area. Additionally, they are launching a free analytics service for business owners so that could create interesting marketing opportunities for businesses that are based on foot traffic. I’m rooting for them because this could become a very interesting marketing medium. This recent article in the NYTimes explains the new analytics service in some detail with examples of how some of the beta-testing businesses have been using it. Read More