Misery loves company, and lots of alcohol

Hop Tamale Chili Infused IPA (& rain)

They call it the Strong Beer Festival. You might think that means they serve strong beer. Other years you would be right, but this year it was primarily because you had to be strong to simply attend.

You can normally throw a dart at a calendar and hit a sunny day in Phoenix, but on February 19th, 2011, that dart would have done you wrong. It was cold, wet, rainy, gray, muddy, soggy, numbing, disgusting, and an unreasonable amount of fun.

I took it as a rare excuse to wear my trenchcoat in town without being hauled in for questioning, but even the coat, a sweater, a hat, and boots couldn’t stop me from being soaked to the skin.  Some fools who hadn’t consulted the oracle arrived in jeans and a tshirt, but my favorites were the girls in mini-skirts and stilettos. The festival was in a park, on the grass, so I’ve no idea why stilettos would have been a good idea in the best of weather, but bless ‘em as they tried to navigate the freezing mud pits in their outfits.

Jeff, Evo, Charlie, Beer (& rain)

Others were not so lucky. The mud pits claimed more than a few souls, including Charlie the Beer Guy, one of the many beer gurus I now know. The port-a-johns became a truly memorable experience as intoxicated patrons and numb hands combined with the copious mud to create mucky portals to the maw of an odiferous Hell. Through it all, local Phoenix band Captain Squeegee played on.

The whole affair was just a few quaaludes and one Jimi Hendrix shy of Woodstock. What made it so much fun was the great, stalwart local beer community.

I ran into Maureen from AZ Girls Pint Out, and local craft beer geek Rob Fullmer. People answered questions, braved the freezing rain, and bonded over the misery and tasty libations. Community is about what you share, and everyone there shared a ridiculously fun experience.

I was never much of a beer drinker growing up – I had a father who did way too much of that and it rather brutally crushed my interest in the topic. Thanks to the patience and friendship of some local hop-heads I’m already counting the days until the next festival.

I hope it rains.

How about a game of Mental Thermonuclear War?

WOPR Computer, taken from WarGames
Image via Wikipedia

One of my gifts is the ability to completely and utterly think myself into a corner. I’m like the WOPR playing Tic-Tac-Toe with itself in the movie WarGames.

It creeps up on me most times. A big portion comes from over-commiting myself to projects (another gift of mine). A dash comes from trying to make too many people happy. A smidge comes from prioritizing too highly the things I Must Do entirely over the things I Want To Do. Frost it all with my insatiable need to be forever trying new things, and you get a Cake of Unbelievable Paralysis.

I realized I was baking another one of these a few weeks back when I discovered I’d nearly lost my desire to talk on Twitter and Facebook with people I dearly admire and value. Every time I’d go to type something into Twitter, Facebook, or any of my blogs, I ask if this is relevant? Is it too snarky? Will someone misinterpret it? What am I trying to say here? Who will it piss off?  So I post nothing and it goes nowhere. Just dumb.

I draw some solace from the fact that this happens to others. It is my form of what the most wonderful Havi calls being in need of destuckification. This knowledge helps because it is a fiercely frustrating state of mind for me, and being aware others go through it keeps me sane(ish) while I work it through.

This Memorial Day weekend I’m hoping to put some of this to rest. Zen Habits has a nice article on the top habit(s) of highly creative people.  The first is Solitude – spending time with yourself and your thoughts. The second is Participation – connecting with other for energy and inspiration. I’m way too skewed to the second at the moment and it is contributing to my burnout. I think a little time with myself may start helping me get back into alignment.

In the end, you have to be true to yourself and let others choose their own paths based on that.  The world has a tendency to make unreasonable demands, there will forever be things clamoring for your attention, and there will always be someone unhappy with what you’ve done or failed to do. Trying to make everyone else happy is a strange game.

The only winning move is not to play.

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