Farewell

I was going to end the blog in June after my wedding, but as the date gets closer, I am starting to realize that this wedding thing might actually take up more of my time than I thought. So I’ve decided to say goodbye on a high note and not be one of those bloggers that just fades away with fewer and fewer posts.

It goes without saying that this has been an incredible journey. Almost two years ago I made a decision to take control of my life by doing something simple: talking to strangers. It turned out not to be so simple after all and I never could have imagined ago the impact that my decision would have on my life.

It’s not just the obvious boon of meeting and marrying Michelle. Or the relationships with countless others, both profound and mundane, that I’ve nurtured over the course of the Project. The result I’m most proud of is the change in me.

I used to overthink things and the dialog in my head about what the other person would say if I started a conversation would be too much to overcome. Does this person just want to be alone? What if they don’t like me? What if I embarrass myself?

Now, it’s not that I don’t care, I do, it’s just that I know most people like people. And those who don’t, the people who say “Fuck off,” well, I’m better able to brush it off. Because I’ve racked up some wins, I can better ignore the defeats.

Talking to people has become second nature. I really am that guy in the elevator now who says, “How’s everybody doing?” (Okay, maybe not really like the Sparklets guy, but I have spoken to a lot of people in elevators.) I just like the excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen when you interact with another person. It still makes my heart race when I approach someone, but now it’s exciting, not terrifying.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I’ve become the person I never even knew I could be. Sure, maybe I’m unemployed, but that doesn’t seem to matter right now. I’m about to go on this journey with Michelle and it just feels awesome.

I know I’ve said most of this stuff before. After two years, I’ve said pretty much everything I can think of. But one thing I don’t think I’ve said enough is how much I appreciate the support and emails and comments from the people who’ve been following this Project. For every comment you see, I get a few private emails from people telling me about their lives. About how they’re shy or just in a situation where it’s tough to meet people. I respond to every one of them and I tell them if I can do it, so can you. Sometimes, it’s heartbreaking to hear about younger kids–teenagers or college students–telling me about how hard it is. But trust me, the hardest part is taking that first step.

I don’t want to be all self-congratulatory, patting myself on the back for my own successes or for being all “inspirational” to other people. But I have learned a lot and I think it’s worth sharing. It all boils down to this: people were not meant to be alone. We need human interaction. It’s what makes life worth living. And unfortunately, sometimes that takes effort. Sometimes it takes a shitload of effort. But it’s never not worth it.

Staples Cashier

I went to Staples just now and bought some fancy pens for the sign-in book for our wedding. At the cash register,

I also saw some Slim Jims. I don’t know why Staples sells Slim Jims, but I happen to enjoy a Slim Jim now and again as you may recall from my incident at the Ralphs when I bought 14 of them.

I don’t know why Slim Jims always get a reaction from the cashiers. They sell them, shouldn’t it be no big deal if someone buys them? Now I was buying 5 but that’s not that many.

The woman said, “You really like them Slim Jims.”

I said, “No, they’re for my dog.”

She looked at me kind of weird and said, “For real?”

“No, they’re for me. Are you happy? I’m buying five Slim Jims for myself, okay?”

She said, “I don’t care. As long as you don’t give ’em to your dog.”

First Dance

We’ve been finalizing our wedding plans and that means lots of trips to flower people, cake people, caterers, and bands.

We decided we wanted to do something different and cool so we’re having a live Brazilian band at the wedding. Neither of us is Brazilian, obviously, and it’s not like we know anything about Brazilian music, but it’s cool, and different, and so we’re meeting with Brazilian bands.

So we went to listen to one band at a club they were playing and we had arranged to meet with them during a break. These guys were great and we wanted to hire them to play the wedding. So we negotiated the fee and everything seemed perfect, and then I remembered we wanted them to play a non-Brazilian song for the first dance. It’s kind of an inside thing, but Michelle and I really like this song called, “Song Beneath the Song.”

So I said, “Oh, I forgot, can you just play one song that’s not Brazilian?” I explained the story and told them the song.

And the bandleader, who’s this Brazilian woman, says, “No.”

I’m like, “Seriously?”

She said, “We only play Brazilian music.”

And I said, “I know. I get that. I’m just saying the one song for the first dance.”

And she looks at me and says, “No. You want a band to play that shit from Grey’s Anatomy you can hire a whiny American band.”

I couldn’t believe it. So I turned to Michelle and said, “We should talk about this.”

I told the bandleader we’d get back to her.

Am I crazy here? Is it really a major faux pas to ask a Brazilian band to play one song not from Brazil?

The End…?

S. Dillinger writes:

Hey, I was wondering if you could share some of your stats info with us. Like just how many readers stay current, or do you find more people finish the blog and move on once they get up to speed.

I saw someone mention that you’d been name dropped on a radio station, I was curious as to how many others have shared your blog that are in a position to have a lot of listeners/followers check out your project.

Also, do you see an end to this thing in the near future now that you’ve acomplished some of your goals. I mean do you plan to stop blogging and just continue a normal life filled with conversations with strangers?

Side note: I tell tons of people about this thing, you’ve done a great thing here and have helped many, even if it’s something as simple as a conversation about the weather, it’s a good thing.

Thanks for the kind words and spreading the love.

It’s hard to say if people are sticking around or if they leave and are replaced by new people, but the numbers have been pretty steady over the last several months. The only “public” mentions of the blog that I know of were a couple of times where a celebrity tweeted about it. Someone invited me to do a radio interview a while back but I didn’t accept and I don’t know if they mentioned me anyway.

To answer the big question, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and the answer is yes, I am going to end the blog in June. It’s been very time consuming with work and my new boss, and I know a lot of people are going to be upset when it ends, but ultimately, I think it’s served its purpose, especially for me. And besides, I think that ending it on my wedding day will be a nice poetic close to this saga.