Nearly two months ago, I turned 30. Thirty. 3.0. It seems so foreign when I read the number from my computer screen. What does it even mean? For me, it has meant starting down the path to creating my own family. Talk of marriage. Talk of children. Talk of settling down.

Ugh. Settling down. Why does that make me sound so old? But the reality of it doesn’t scare me like it did before. It seems natural. Or it did until the world decided to go bat shit insane.

Unless you’ve been camping in the wilderness without televisions, radio or facebook, you know about the Newtown massacre. You know that twenty innocent children were gunned down. I was working from home when the incident happened. I turned on the news to see what exactly happened. I turned it off a few minutes later. It was simply too much for me.

I can’t fathom how parents all over the U.S. must feel (let alone any parent that is grieving one of their angels) right now. How much you want to hold your child close and keep them safe from all those monsters in the world. The only correlation I can make in my mind is how much I love my spouse. My family. My brother. My dogs. They are all little pieces of me, and they all pale in comparison to how it must feel to love your child.

And then the onslaught happened. Tragedy turned into media blitz. FOX News just got done criticizing everyone speaking out about guns after the NFL incident last week. Now we have Newtown. People are saying guns are the problem. Others are saying there aren’t enough guns. I’ve seen friends argue that if Teachers were packing heat, lives would have been saved. I’ve seen others claiming zero guns = zero gun death. And a lot in between. To add salt in the wound, I’ve had to hear all about Westboro Baptist Church and asshats like Mike Huckabee blame the Newtown incident on a lack of Godlessness and a rising embrace of Homosexuality. So great. First we cause hurricanes, and now we are responsible for madmen shooting little kids?

The world is in this massive tailspin right now. Side vs. side. Opinion vs. opinion. What is the right answer? Is this a political issue? Is mental health widely under examined?

But then I started thinking about all the families in the world, where this is common place. The countries in Africa where militias roar through a town and shoot up children and women indiscriminately. Or the Middle Eastern conflicts over Gaza. How many families are crying themselves to sleep tonight after finding out that a bomber in the square blew up their beloved?

So the hard truth we have to face. As people. As a country. We need to decide who we want to be. What kind of culture do we want to create? One quote that has stuck by me through the years: “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” Benjamin Franklin. And it occurred to me – If we want freedoms, we have to pay a price for those freedoms. If we want guns available and accessible as expressed in the Constitution, then we have to understand that insane madmen will get access to them and do unspeakable things. If we want to rid ourselves of guns. A tool mean to kill and only kill, do we really deserve the security we’d find by denying our liberties? If someone wants to kill a bunch of people, couldn’t they just make a bomb? To be truly free, means to live in chaos. Can we handle the ramifications of chaos?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I find myself asking them. If one day, down the road, I’m responsible for a child, and he or she asks me about this, I’d like to know I’ve given it thought. I’d like to know what kind of person I want to be. I’d like to know that I’m doing what I can to keep them safe.

So at 30, I don’t have the answers. I can’t solve the world’s problems. All I know is Hate isn’t going to move us forward. Hate isn’t going to bring back those kids. Hate isn’t going to stop the violence in other countries. Love might. And I don’t mean the hippie-centric idealized love that so many scoff at. I mean love of humanity. Love of life. If we can value that, it might be a start. Whether we have guns or not, if we start loving everyone, and stop seeing the differences between us more than the similarities, we might have a much better world for my future children.

-Ry

Amazing Spider-Man Review

Posted: 07.06.12 in Comics, Movies

I was eight years-old when I fell in love with Spider-Man. I remember the texture of the comic book paper. It was more like newsprint than what they use today. The colors tended to bleed, and they often had little color check boxes on the sides of a page. The first issue I remember clearly is Spider-Man getting buried under tons of cement and pipe work after battling one of his villains.

As a young lad, I thought his powers were cool, and his costume was pretty rad. I liked his supporting cast, and his clearly articulated archive of enemies. But what stuck with me, what made me really love the character, was that issue of him buried under all that concrete. He didn’t give up. He didn’t stop. He would have to climb and pull and break his bones, but he made it out to save his friends and family. He was unflappable. Shortly after, Spider-Man (and the X-Men) led me into my first comic book store, full of nervous excitement. Spider-Man introduced me to one of my favorite things in the world – super heroes, and has lightened my checking account considerably in the last 21 years.

What I didn’t realize as I walked into the movie was how much of that little boy still lives within me. I knew very little about the film, as I had avoided most trailers and spoilers, so I could get an unbiased experience. I am a fan of the Sam Raimi trilogy, so I kept my expectations low for this reboot. But the second the opening credits flashed, I grinned from ear to ear. A child-like grin. Edge of my seat joy.

The Amazing Spider-Man was everything I wanted in a Spider-Man movie. Peter Parker was an unsure, intelligent outcast. The trauma of losing his parents was far more apparent in this version than the previous. You could really call this movie The Amazing Peter Park, as it was more his story than Spider-Man’s. And yet, they are so intertwined in my mind, I don’t think you can get away with doing one well and the other poorly.

Lucky for movie-goers, Andrew Garfield excelled at both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He was believable and likable. He was inspirational. He played well off his talented supporting cast. Emma Stone made me like Gwen Stacey for the first time. Her charm and intelligence came off effortlessly. Rhys Ifans was an equally steady villain, though maybe his motivations were a touch under-played to serve the story.

Marc Webb did an amazing job balancing the reality of being a super hero in modern times with the essence of Spider-Man’s origin. He updated it with care and solid nods to the past. He really gave us the best of both worlds – original Spider-Man and modern Spider-Man, geeky Peter Parker and confident super hero. Most importantly, he understood the core of Spider-Man. He’s not just a super hero that bounces around New York City. He’s an accidental hero standing up for good, even when he didn’t have to.

The Amazing Spider-Man felt like a present for that eight year-old kid, reawakened in my mind. One I hope many others will enjoy.

-Ry

 

Summer TV Depression

Posted: 05.23.12 in Television

It happens every year. It’s an itch you just can’t scratch. The sun falls out of the sky, and the endless night begins.

Prime time television season ends, and you’re stuck with the entertainment wasteland. You start looking around for back-up plans. Did I miss anything on Netflix? What can I scrap from the bottom of my DVR? Any movies I missed?

You convince yourself you can get by on the meager (but exciting) HBO/Showtime showings and USA’s summer season. Bad reality T.V. aplenty. But it’s not the same. It’s a T.V. snack, not a meal.

So I thought I’d create a list of ways you can entertain yourself during this drought.

1. Read. Act out new books. What would annoy your spouse/significant other more than acting out the classics? To Kill a Mockingbird! (Insert fake Southern Accent), Fifty Shades of Grey! (Careful now. Don’t use the Christmas beads), Twilight! (Spray on glitter?) -If we have to suffer, our significant others should share in our pain.

2. Become an Intellectual. And by that I mean watch the History and Discovery Channels. And by watch I mean create drinking games based on their various offerings. Then insert yourself into any intelligible discussion within earshot and announce all the things you learned.

3. Send Oprah show ideas. I love the O, but she needs help. We’re all T.V. experts, so why not pitch in? I personally want to see Oprah’s School of Management Training: How to Smack the Shit Out of Whitey

4. Work out. Well, at least from the couch to the refrigerator. Someone has to keep those margaritas coming all summer long.

5. Build the world’s largest blanket fort. If the special peeps on Community could do it, how hard could it be?

6. Learn a new language. That way you can watch a whole other country’s television programming!

7. Create a Tumblr with captioned, animated GIFs. Apparently, this is all the rage with the kids.

I was striving for 10, but lets face it, STD is a pretty serious condition. Together, we will get through this dark period of our lives. And we’ll talk about True Blood every day, all week long, because really – does any other show during the summer matter?

-Ry

Candid Conversations

Posted: 02.08.12 in Uncategorized

I’ve loved theBloggess for months now, and my favorite posts of hers is when she recounts her conversations with her husband, Victor. I decided to start chronicling the silliness of my conversations with the Giant.

The Giant and I were in bed, playing Words with Friends against each other, as we’ve been inclined to do for the past week. He’s discovered the secret to keeping my intention is communication through iPhone. He’s a genius. For reals.

Me: Why are you so… I know. You’re a Goose Monster!

Giant: You’re crazy.

Me: Rawwrrr! You’re a Goose Monster!

Giant: That’s a lame monster.

Me: I know right. It’s so lame. Kids aren’t even scared of you. You only scare babies. Under 12 months. You pop out and scare babies. 1 year-olds are too sophisticated for the Goose Monster.

Giant: Rawwrrr!

Me: And then the babies poop! So people know you’re around when they smell poo. You’re the Poo-Goose Monster.

Giant: I’m not a Goose Monster.

10 Minutes Later…

Me: Good night Goose Monster!

Giant: Shut up.

-Ry

Not Quite 30

Posted: 01.15.12 in Uncategorized

I turned 29 few months ago. 29. Almost 30.

Entering my 20′s was a roaring, thrashing affair, during my 4-year celebration of college. I don’t remember the specifics, more the general sense of freedom and carelessness. Who gets upset at turning 20? You’re almost to 21! You’re young, free, and unencumbered by the real world. 21 is even better. Booze! You get to act like a faux-adult. You express your new air of adult confidence. You own the world.

Then you leave the sweet haven known as college and enter the world. I was lucky. Jobs have been plentiful and rewarding in varying ways. 20 became 25 (a minor crisis in and of itself), and 25 became 29.

I grew up more the first two years out of college than my four in college. But I’d have to say, the most maturation happened between 27 and 29. Trauma with my family. Real-world career building. Home and responsibilities. Deciding what kind of adult I want to be. Entering a real long-term relationship. I try not to think too much about it, because it’s all a bit staggering at times.

And now I stand on the bleeding edge of 30. 30. When I was younger, it sounded beyond my reach. A distant land I wouldn’t venture into for decades. The mountains I’d have to climb first! To my current self, it seems young. Close. Looming. My memory of a perception and my current perceptions stand at a crossroad, wondering which one is going to move forward. Do I move into 30 with fear? Hesitation? Excitement? Apathy?

30 has a connotation of understanding. You’ve partied and lived and tried out life in your 20′s. Your 30′s should have a plan. You should know where you’re going and where you want to end up. Retirement thoughts pop into your head. Marriage. Kids. Buying a home. (granted many precocious members of my generation may have jump started many of these things already)

You have an excuse to live passively as a 20 year-old. You’re riding the wave. 30′s feel like intention. I should live with purpose and action. I feel more responsible for every decision. I feel like the crossroads is more than a mental flicker in the back of mind. I have to choose a path and go down it.

My brain knows this is silly. You can completely change your life at any point. Every moment in your life is a moment available for complete and utter change. You can have thousands of revolutions a year. You and your will power are all that separate you from anything and everything you want.

I know these things to be true. But I have a giant wall in my mind with 30 burned into the brick. 30 is coming. 30 is almost here. Get your shit together Ryan. Take charge. 30 is unforgiving and only fast tracks you to 40, 50 and beyond.

So I’m going to take a moment and let 30 have its fun. Seep into my brain. Scare me. Excite me. Torture me. And then 30 is going into a box to be locked away until this October. I’ll unwrap it like a present and try it on. I have no idea what it really means. What significance it will have in my life. But if 30 goes anything like 29 has so far, I’ll be damn lucky.

To all of you Not Quite 30′s. We’ll freak out together when the time comes. But until then, let’s put it away. Let’s stay 29 until the last possible second. Let’s channel that 21 year-old fresh out of college, unafraid of the world. Assumed the best. Excited about everything.

-Ry

Relaxing Your Leash on Life

Posted: 10.05.11 in Dog

I have a dog named Arrow. I rescued him from the SPCA Dallas two years ago, this coming December. Those close to me know all about his crazy antics, his aggressive behavior (to everyone but me), and his escape artist routines.

What they don’t probably know is how much he teaches me about life. How to love. How to live. How to laugh.

You see, Arrow came from a bad background. He was abandoned to the Dallas pound and then turned over to the SPCA. He had been beaten and was shy of other dogs. Well shy for all of five seconds. Ever since I adopted him, our daily walks have been a bit difficult. Anytime we’d see another dog come up to him, Arrow would sniff sniff, then kill kill. He’d go right for the throat, while I barely had time to restrain him.

That continued every night for two years until yesterday.

The manager of CityVet told me about Leash Aggression. Dogs are aggressive to other dogs/humans/zombies while on the leash. Not because they have the urge to kill, but because they are so in tune with the owner, they go on attack when the owner tenses up. You pass your anxiety on to your dog, and your dog takes it out on unsuspecting Fido.

I thought the whole notion was a load of bullshit, but living next to a makeshift dog park led me to try. So yesterday, as we walked around the dog park, I purposely didn’t tense up when another dog came sniffing up to Arrow. And the most amazing thing happened. He didn’t try to murder any other dogs. Four of our four, he just played or sniffed them.

Still skeptical, but hopeful, I tried again tonight. I let myself relax, and Arrow played with the dogs again. No murder. No kill.

Relaxing me, relaxed him. How powerful is that? My dog is so in tune with me, he senses my emotions. Shit, he probably smells them. And it dawned on me, how true is the leash law to our lives?

When you’re in a meeting, and you relax, you send invisible tidal waves of your energy out to other people. You literally calm the room just by your release of tension. The opposite is just as true. When you’re tense, anxious or mad – the negative energy from those feelings affect the room just as strongly.

So I started thinking – what if we relax our leash on life? What if we don’t hold on so tight to everything that happens, needs to happen and will happen in the future? I’m not abdicating we all give up work, head to the beach and smoke pot, but would it hurt to unwind that tense center? I’ve carried more than my share of tension balls wound up inside over the years. And I know how good it feels to let those go. I relish in how good it feels to be happy. content. relaxed.

It feels unattainable at times. That inner release.  We have to choose it. We have to let those hang-ups go. We have to stop caring what everyone else thinks about us all the time. Keeping that stress locked up inside us will only shorten our life spans and cause us physical ailments. And the worst part – stress begets stress. You pass it on to others. You spread the stress disease.

Thank you Arrow. Thank you for your unconditional love, and you’re emotional nature. Thank you for showing me that simple relaxing myself will bring out that sweet, gentle side of you. Thank you for showing me how to relax my leash on life.

-Ry

I was finally able to sift through the slew of premieres starting this past week. Mixed bag really…

Up All Night – A 30-something couple has a baby. He’s a stay-at-home dad (gave up his law career). She works for an Oprah-esque talk show host. A modern look at creating a family. Funny, but not hilarious. Some clunky dialogue, like they were trying too hard. Maya Rudolph (playing the talk show host) stole the show.

Verdict – I’ll watch it again, but it better turn up the laughs if they want to compete in a world with shows like Modern Family and HIMYM.

Ringer – Sarah Michelle Gellar returns tv as a set of twins, one super-rich and heinous, one a trashy stripper on the run from the mob. I was so hopeful for this. I love me some SMG. The special effects were Saturday Night Live quality. The dialogue was forced. The plot was oddly paced.

Verdict – Awful. Awful. Awful. I’ll watch episode two just for SMG, but I may have to find a show to replace Ringer.

90210 – We start the fourth season with a slew of backed up drama. Teenager angst has become college-kid angst. Rich kids gone wild. Guilty pleasure. Strong start to a promising season. Even though they’ve been through three other showrunners, the show has the same vibe it did last season. Fast-paced, high fun.

Verdict – Excited. Regular staple returning in reliable form.

The Vampire Diaries – Of all the shows returning, this one is in my top five. I LOVED every episode last season. Well except for Elena’s raspy wheezy voice. Caroline and Tyler go at it. Matt is in the know. Jeremy (grew up and got buff) is seeing the ghosts of his dead ex-girlfriends. Stefan is bad. They killed a regular already! It’s delicious tv fare. Only hope the Klaus/Stefan road show doesn’t drag on too long.

Verdict – Winner of the week. Saucy. Fun. Entertaining.

The Secret Circle – A girl moves to town after a mysterious man kills her mother. Too bad she’s walked into the middle of a magical conspiracy. The whole town wants something from her, including a set of brooding sexy teenagers (who are really 20-somethings, so we can ogle). The parents vs. kids battle seems unfair, but the main star is promising. The water drop scene in the forest was well worth it.

Verdict – Good addition to Thursday night. Not as slick as Vampire Diaries, but it has promise.

Next week is even bigger! Much more to come.

-Ry