Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Losing touch with friends

I haven't written in awhile. I don't have any legitimate excuse other than I'm busy at work, but that isn't anything different. Anyway, the last week or so I've been looking back at previous journal entries. In particular, my 88 page life story in which I chronicle every memory from when I was a little kid up until I started my journal at age 21. It truly is amazing how much life changes and how the people in your life change.

The only people I still keep in touch with from my childhood are Mike Binns and Brett Chambers, but I don't even see them very often anymore. There are of course obvious reasons for why friendships fade. People move away, develop new interests, get significant others and meet new friends. However, I really think that a lot of times it doesn't even happen for any particular reason. The friendship just fades over time until your left wishing a person a happy birthday on their Facebook wall.

Thankfully, I've been lucky enough to still keep in touch with my good friends in high school and college. However, I worry someday I may drift apart from them as well. Maybe that isn't so bad though. Sometimes it can be good to stray away from old friends because it gives you a chance to meet new people. I know that I've met some of my best friends in the last three or four years. These are friends that I am confident I will always be close with. That's the thing, the friends that really matter, that really have staying power, will always be there. I'm a pretty open person in terms of expressing my feelings, but I only feel comfortable having deep conversations with a few people and they know who they are. Nothing compares to good friendships in this world. I've always believed it's better to have three or four, or even one best friend, than ten friends. That is why I have never believed in just hanging out with one group. I've always hung out with a couple people from all different groups because I just feel like it is more interesting to hang out with different people who bring different things to the table. The fact is every group is made up of three or four subgroups anyway. I've never met a group of 5 or more where every person is equally close to each other, just doesn't happen.

I have a lot more to say on this subject but I'm sure I will incorporate it into other entries. There is nothing more important than having great friends who will be there for you through thick and thin, so if you have that appreciate it.

I hope everyone enjoyed the great weather of the last couple weeks. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Timing is Everything in Life

Timing is everything in life. I say this probably more than any other phrase, and I'm sure it annoys my friends. I truly believe this is true though. This blog is going to focus on timing in terms of stages in a person's life and how it affects relationships.

It is sad really, because a lot of times relationships end because two people meet at the wrong moment. I know for me, even if I met an amazing girl right now chances are I wouldn't pursue it because I am not ready to be in a committed relationship at this point in my life. Would we have worked out in 5 years, who knows, but the what if game is pointless anyway. I remember my dad always saying there comes a certain point in life where you want to settle down, and that you will know when that time comes. The problem with that is, what if that time comes and the girl/guy for you is gone. I guess the counter to that would be if the person really was right for you timing wouldn't matter.

I think the hardest part about timing and relationships is getting two people who are on the same time schedule. For example, one person might be ready to get married and settle down, while another, though they may really like that person, is looking for something less serious, or rather is at the time of their life where they aren't willing to settle down. This can also work the other way around. I feel like some people get married or get in a serious relationship because they feel that it is appropriate or expected of them, not because they actually want to.

I think the most frustrating thing about timing is that it creates this "what if" thought in your head. What if you had met that girl when you were 30 instead of in college. What if you had decided not to go out the night you met someone, would you have ever met that person, would your life be drastically different. I guess the fact that I think about this stuff all the time is kind of counterproductive. There really is no way to tell if something doesn't work out because of timing, or simply because it wasn't a right fit. Any comments or stories you would like to share about your thoughts on whether timing is everything in life would be appreciated.

One more thing. What an amazingly beautiful weekend it was in the Northern Virginia area. I always hope that weekends will be this nice but rarely does it happen. I had a great time overall and really feel I am in a good place right now in my life. Time to go on my nightly walk and think about ideas for my next entry. Thanks again everyone for reading!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Comfort Zone

In life it is easy to get " too comfortable". Whether it be in relationships, work, food,music, anything really. I am the poster boy for this. My good friend Hayley made a great point last night when she told me "Karl, your best and worst quality is that you are so predictable." It's all true. I am one of the most routinized people you will ever meet. The scary thing is I am much better than I used to be. I think the reason I'm like this is because I love my life and I'm content, or at least I thought I was. The truth is, that even though my life is pretty damn good, it could be a lot better if I stepped out of my comfort zone once in awhile and tried new things. This would help me in relationships and the workplace.

Let's take music for instance. In high school, I literally only listened to Tupac Shakur for four straight years. I was content with just listening to him, because well that was all I knew, and I liked it so why change. But when I stepped out of my comfort zone and started listening to other genres of music I realized there are so many other great types of music out there. I remember for years I always hated on country music, but now I can honestly saw Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts are two of my favorite music artists.

I think being able to step out of the "comfort zone" is really all about being confident, and that is something I have always lacked. This has especially hurt me in my relationships. Sometimes I won't try because I am scared to fail. I don't plan events or surprise anyone because I am afraid that what I plan or do is not going to be good enough, even though the effort is really what counts.

The "Comfort Zone" is probably the hardest to break at work. I enjoy my job but I feel stuck at times. When you do something everyday for a year you get in a routine and suddenly you look up and realize your in the same place you were a year before. It is especially hard to step out of the bubble in these economic times. Not to mention the fact that I am still unsure of what I want to do in my life. Work right now is the definition of comfortable, but I want more for myself than that. I don't need to make millions, but I want to be successful. More importantly, I want to do something I believe in, and that challenges me. How do you find that balance between trying new things and being able to pay the bills? Maybe I'll find out soon enough.

Their is a lot more I could write about this topic but I'm going to stop there for now. I want to thank Hayley Shelton for being one of the only people that is straight up with me and keeps me in line. She is a bit tough but I know she does it because she thinks I have the potential to be a better man. I also want to say that the words in my blogs are not all original thoughts. They are mainly from conversations I have had with people and stories I have heard in my life.

Before I leave I want to say Happy Birthday to my sister Emily. She is the best sister a guy could ask for. She has always been in my opinion the "good kid," of the family. Her maturity and drive is something I hope to achieve at some point. Thanks again for reading my blog and I hope to write again soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The 3 C's that make or break a relationship

I'm writing this entry tired as hell after a long day of work. I don't know if I am ever going to adjust to the fact that for the next 40 years of my life I won't feel the fresh air till 5:30 everyday, 5 days a week. I guess I'm lucky to have a job. I now have this new found appreciation for my parents, who not only had to work the 9-5, but also had to deal with raising kids, mortgages, helping with homework, and trying to maintain a marriage. But I digress.....

I want to start off by making it clear that I don't claim, and never will claim to be an expert on relationships. Please recognize that what I'm about to say in this blog is purely opinion, and I am going to try not to generalize or stereotype as best as I can. This is simply based on my own experiences in relationships, and stories and thoughts I've heard from friends and family.

I want to start off by putting to rest this cliche that trust is the most important aspect of a good relationship. I'm not saying trust isn't important. But the fact is, if trust is the number one issue in your relationship you shouldn't even be in one. I think the three biggest issues, which I will call the 3 C's(how original) are Communication, Commitment, and Compromise. All three of these intertwine together, but I will go over each one separately. I want to concentrate on how men and women approach each of these differently.

Communication plays a crucial role in every type of relationship, but especially in a romantic one. We all have heard the old adage, "men are from Mars, women are from Venus," and it couldn't be more true. Seriously, men and women will never understand each other, but in the relationships that last, the guy and girl at least learn to reach a middle ground. A lot of times women will expect the man to know what to do in a given situation, or for the guy to read their mind. It's like women get in their head an idea of what they want the guy to do, set the expectations, and inevitably the guy lets them down. This goes both ways though. Guys, especially me, tend to be absent minded when it comes to relationships. Women tend to plan more, to know what they want to do next, while men kind of fly by the seat of their pants. That's one of the reasons women are just better at relationships in my opinion. They are naturally better communicators and relationships are all founded on good communication.

One of the most widely overlooked aspects of a relationships is compromise. Some couples do not have this problem because they simply like the same things and are the same type of person. I've never actually experienced that, but I've heard it does exist. However, most of the time one person has to participate in an activity he/she doesn't want to do to make the other happy. This creates problems, especially for men, cause generally men want to their own thing. I feel like a lot of times men compromise for the wrong reasons. They do things because they don't want to get in trouble, while women do things to make the guy happy. Again, to all the ladies out there reading this, I'm sure your man does things for you just out of the kindness of his heart, but just know that it does happen. Compromise doesn't really come into play until later on in the relationship. I always say you don't truly know a girl/guy until 6 months in, when the honeymoon period is over and the true personality comes out. After that differences become more apparent and the compromise period starts.

Lastly, and maybe the biggest obstacle to a serious relationship, are the different ways men and women see commitment. For the most part women are more likely to want a committed relationship then men. Let's just say that when the word marriage comes up guys and girls for the most part have different reactions. For a guy, commitment can be a scary thing. We tend to think with our heads in a more realistic way, and women tend to think more with their hearts, in a more emotional way. Personally, I wish I thought more with my heart. I want to get married someday, but at this point in my life the idea of committing to a lifetime with another person is down right frightening. I have been in relationships with two amazing women but I always had commitment issues. I mean the divorce rate is at 50% and I'm surprised it isn't higher. Not only do you have to deal with the day to day communication and compromise issues of being in a romantic relationship, but the older you get the more extra responsibilities you get, and the less time you have to work on that relationship. Don't get me wrong, being in a serious relationship gave me some of the best moments of my life, but I just felt like I wasn't as committed as the other person.

To be honest, you really can't blame women for wanting to be in a serious relationship. When you think about all the times women get hit on on a daily basis, you realize that commitment isn't just about love, but about protection. I think that is one thing that is often overlooked, the feeling of being safe. I think guys take advantage of this. We try to push the envelope because we know that the women will always forgive us. It is a downright crappy thing to do to a person but it happens everyday.

I think one of the biggest reasons a relationship ends is because one person, usually the guy doesn't put in the necessary effort to maintain it. Relationships are work no doubt about it. In my personal experience, relationships have taken me to highs and lows I could never experience as a single guy. The key to making it work is that both people are on the same page and want the same thing. If that isn't the case it is doomed.

I apologize for the generalizations I may have made tonight but again these are just opinions and I would appreciate any feedback from the readers on what personal experiences they have encountered. While I enjoy the single life, I admire everyone who is in a committed relationship, because while it can be extremely hard sometimes, it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Thanks again for listening to me blabber and I hope to write again soon. Time for my nightly walk then resting up for the last day of the work week. Good night!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Potomac River

I'm writing this entry on the Potomac River on a stunningly beautiful early spring afternoon. The leaves are budding from the trees again after a long winter. Small waves lap against the shore as the wind blows in from the west. It is a cloudless sky with the faint hum of an airplane flying overhead. The melodic chirping of birds to my right coupled with the loud pecking of a woodpecker across the river create an amazingly peaceful atmosphere. Three green headed ducks just drifted lazily by me, twisting their heads back and forth. This is the life and there is nothing I'd rather be doing.

I was going to go kayaking today but the recent heavy rain and strong winds would make writing this entry very difficult. Instead, I decided to bring my lounge chair down to the edge of the river, turn on my Kayaking Jams playlist, and write about why I love the Potomac so much.

Anyone who knows me can probably tell you that next to my dad there is probably nothing I talk more about than the Potomac. Ever since I was two years old I have lived within walking distance to it, and some of my best memories have come at the river. I remember when I was a kid, spending weekends with my Dad and neighbors stacking up rocks and sticks trying to build dams, only to have a big rainstorm wash away everything we had worked on. I remember floating down the river on an old mattress on countless summer days. How could I forget all the kayak trips with my Dad where we would talk about anything and everything and just be one with nature. I'll never forget the time I capsized during the winter and was almost pulled away by the relentless current. It was freezing cold water and somehow I was able to pull myself and the kayak to shore and hang on to a protruding tree root on the shore. The memories of countless spring and summer evenings watching the yellow glow of the sun disappear under the horizon, emanating an incredible pinkish purple radiance. How could I ever forget all the canoeing trips with my friend Alex Pogozelski, drinking a few cold beers, listening to great music, and just talking about life. I could go on for hours about all the amazing moments I have had at the river but I am sure I will reference them in later entries.

The Potomac River has always been my sanctuary. I've been there on my best and worst days. There have been so many changes in my life, but the one thing that has never changed is the Potomac. It has and will always be here, and I know I can always count on it to make me feel better and clear my mind. I can only hope that everyone has a place they can go to help them through the good and bad times. I think a lot of time people don't take enough time to just relax and reflect. As you get older you get less and less free time and more and more responsibility. That is why I think it is so vital to take some time out in the day for yourself. You may find it puts things in perspective.

One more idea before I go for the night. I have always been a fan of the Ask Amy and Ask Carolyn advice columns in the Washington Post, and have always wanted to start one of my own. An advice column on relationships or anything else from a guys perspective Hayley will probably laugh at the idea of me giving advice on relationships, but I might as well give it a shot. Please write anything that is on your mind, I would love to hear from you. Thanks again for reading my blog!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The best father a son could ask for

I'm writing this entry on my recliner on a rainy Wednesday evening. I've finally succumbed to the cold virus that has been passed around my office for the last couple weeks. The last time I had a sick day was honestly probably back in grade school, but tomorrow could be the first if I don't feel better in the morning.

I want to talk about my dad and his impact on my life tonight. My dad is and always will be the person I aspire to be in life. I always tell people if I can be half the man my father is I will have succeeded. It's funny how sometimes you don't recognize what type of sacrifices parents make for you until your older. You take for granted the fact that they work to put food on the table for you, they help you with your homework to help you get into a college that they will probably end up paying for, they teach you morals and values that they hope will keep you safe.

My entire life my dad has always been there when I needed him. Every night he would come home from a long day at work and cook the family dinner, then help me with my homework. As a kid we would play Parcheesi in the upstairs office and listen to oldies 100. I always felt and still feel to this day that I could ask my dad anything and he would know the answer. The guy knows everything. I really hope when I become a dad I can have that wealth of information.

He's not your typical dad. He is highly successful but on the weekends just looks like your average guy. My dad has never cared what people thought of him. I remember one time, while waiting for me outside of my dorm at Umass, he laid down under a tree and a cop came by thinking he might be homeless. You will never hear my dad brag about anything. The few words he does speak are always thoughtful and intelligent. His patience might be his most amazing attribute. My mom, though I love her to death, can be a bit overbearing and intense sometimes. My dad somehow always keeps it together and always acts as the voice of reason in the household. Speaking of my mom, she is also an amazing person, and I plan to write about her and my sister in a later blog.

On top of everything he does for his family, my dad has lived a pretty cool life. He biked around the world his first year out of college. He traveled to India, Afghanistan, Thailand sleeping in bushes on the side of roads. He saw people and places most of us will never see, especially in this day and age where that kind of trip would no longer be possible. His job working for the World Bank takes him to countries like Brazil, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Bosnia. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, graduated from Harvard, and you would never know it if you saw him in the street. His idea of a good time is similar to mine. Out on the Potomac, on his kayak on a summer day. He likes living the simple life which some people look down upon, but I tend to admire. He is a California man through and through, always wondering "why I like seasons when in California everyday is sunny and warm." In addition, my dad is a huge 2pac fan, his favorites being Hit em Up, Hell 4 a Hustler, and When Thugs Cry. He also has been know to work out to a few Usher tunes every now and then, haha. My dad is truly unique and doesn't really care about fitting in. He puts his children and wife above himself. I really hope I can be the same type of father to my kids someday.

It was really hard to write this blog. There are just so many things I can say about my dad and his impact on my life that I am probably leaving out. What I will say is that I am the luckiest guy in the world to have someone in my life like him. I always know no matter what stupid stuff I do, how hurt I feel, what type of career I choose he will always support and be there for me 100%. I think being a good father is really all about loving and taking care of your family above all else, and their is no better example of that than my father. Thanks for reading and hope to write again soon!