Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making East Coast Friends...

I moved to the East Coast six months ago, and since arriving, I've spent most of my free time making new friends.  It's what I do.  I go out.  I network.  I meet people.  I introduce myself to complete strangers.  I become new friends with my friends' friends.  Heck, I even joined a kickball team, and of course, I go to the happy hours.  You get the point..

From all this social activity, I've honestly and proudly made friends with other twenty-somethings who have also settled and now live in DC.  These new friends hail from the Midwest, the Southwest, the South and even from so far as the West Coast (all places I've also lived), but also those who have been here from the beginning--and are still here--the "East Coasters."  This bunch, however, has been the most difficult to befriend, but why?

Without a doubt, the East Coasters maintain an "air of reservation," which I have come to understand.  Perhaps, East Coasters might lack some trust for those of us who subscribed to Manifest Destiny (but there is something to be said about the fact we all say "go back East" and "head out West").  The simple fact that East Coasters are the most difficult of all Americans to warm up to and befriend, from my experience, unequivocally stems from the reasons derived from these observations:

First, East Coasters are more reserved.  They let on much less (and a lot less at first) to new people, friends and strangers.  Therefore, it takes longer to really get to know them, and they also reserve much more about who they are, what they do and who they know.  Maybe this is because they have larger and more numerous circles of friends, but it might also have to do with old money: how far back their families go into America's history and how politically, socially, and/or financially connected their namesake might be (and don't even begin to ask about their family's coat of arms).  Nevertheless, those who have lived on the East Coast their whole lives, along with their parents, grandparents, and their grandparents' parents (who were probably Pilgrims) just don't warm up very easily.  I've even experienced this with women dating back to my very first girlfriend in high school (who was from Middletown, NY) to the more recent pursuit with a wonderful East Coast woman.  I've also experienced this with new East Coast guy friends who look at me strangely when I make commitments early, easily, or tell them I can do this or that without thinking through it all for more than a moment.  It's fair I get those looks from my East Coast buddies, and to be honest, West Coasters are synonymous with flakiness.  This I know.

Second, East Coasters are just busier, and their busyness largely results from allowing an insurmountable amount of nightly and weekly events onto their plates (which I have also started to do..).  Yet, it also has to do with making decisions about where they go and what they do in their free time a bit more carefully.  From what I've collected in the last six months, it takes a lot more vetting from an East Coaster before they commit to (let alone attend) an event, get-together, happy hour, etc.  Trust me, I've tried them on all fronts--from happy hours to fundraisers, dinners to visiting local art galleries.  It just takes more persistance, more eagerness, and you must always be honest with them, both about what to expect, but more importantly, who will be there.  East Coasters will always fulfill their commitments, which is in stark contrast to West Coasters (sorry, I had to go there), but it also takes a lot more to get their commitment.  In DC, this is more of a commonality than anywhere else because, (I mean, come on) it's DC, so you never know who's going to be out where you're going or who that stranger might know--about you, your organization, your boss or your coworkers while you're out doing your thing.  Thus, East Coasters are more reserved (see #1 above).

Third, East Coasters are more selective, but please, allow me to explain this before my East Coast friends take offense.  By this point, I simply mean that East Coasters allow a much smaller spectrum of West Coast's (et al.) fashion, style, dialects, lingo, slang, and demeanor into their diaspora.  Although the East Coast can stake their claim in the moon of style and fashion (Manhattan), and the various movements across the nation either spur from the East Coast or just plainly do not survive (read: Ed Hardy and tribal  tattoos).  Basically, most of what bleeds TMZ is really a recipe for disaster amongst the East Coast high crust/brow.  As well, East Coasters' appreciation for tradition (but not traditional), and their preservation of continuity is instrumental to their selectivity, which exists.

Fourth and finally, East Coasters have more depth.  I know I'll catch a lot of shit from some Cali friends about this, but if you read this post, you'll understand my claim..  In no specific order, East Coasters create better invitations, write more meaningful emails, leave lengthier voicemails, entertain thoughts longer, delve deeper into the emotions one feels, stay out later or longer (and to make sure you're home safe), tell you their thoughts without sacrificing their emotions, and they get straight to the point on matters.  Does this all come from their mutual concern for not letting on to others as easily and being more selective?  I think that truly plays a big part, but I also think that this nation has a melting pot of truly different people who are a conglomerate of their whereabouts.

In conclusion, I've merely tried to note a few of the qualitative differences between the people I've grown to know from living in the different parts of the nation.  My basic premise was that East Coasters have been the most difficult to befriend, and this feeling hasn't changed in the course of writing this post, but one thing is for sure, the sustainability of friendship with the few East Coasters I have made (and cherish) are unprecedented friendships.  They've not been fair-weather friends, they've given the best advice, and they've truly been there.

Night and day, I'm becoming more and more an East Coaster: more reserved, busier, more selective, and a deeper human being.  I've also been committing more of myself to the relationships I currently have (both here and afar), creating lasting friendships but also making inroads for a way of life that might soon proscribe to what's above.  However, I can only culminate as an East Coaster from my upbringing in the Midwest (Indiana), Southwest (Arizona), the South (Texas), and the West Coast (California), but never in spite of this whatsoever...

...who can relate?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

For the Sake of Men this Movember.

It's not uncommon that I support causes.  It's also not uncommon that I've joined causes, ones that are bigger than myself and claim the lives of others.  So you shouldn't be surprised to read this Dandygram about what the next one is all about...

Moustache Season--better known as Movember--is upon us, and you all can be damn sure I've registered myself this year.  In fact, I've gotten other great guys and gals to register for Movember where we'll embrace the hair of the wild.

Basically, I've pledged to cultivate a genuine, 100% face grown moustache for the entire month of November.  Why, you ask?  To raise awareness and funds for men's health, specifically cancers affecting men.  To start this month, I have sent emails to my DC Mo Bros, Mo Sistas, and am now dedicating this Dandygram to it, too.  More importantly, I would like to ask you, my trusty and fearless readers, to join me by signing up or donating or growing a moustache or being a Mo Sista or just simply encouraging the men in your life to think about our health.  Together, we can change the face of men's health and do it in a thoughtful, fun way.  

Before I get more into what the Movember movement is all about, here are some cold, hard facts and a very personal story to put my involvement into better context:

Did you know that 1 in 6 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime?  True story.  Also, 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.  Thirteen million adult men over the age of 20 in the United States have diabetes--and a third don't even know it.  One in eight men who suffer from mental illness actually seek help, and finally, a third of the 571,950 cancer deaths expected to occur in 2011 will be related to obesity, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and thus could be prevented.  Those are just the cold, hard facts of the matter.  Now, here is my personal story and the reason for my involvement this particular year:

During August 2011, my stepdad was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  He became one of the six who get diagnosed.  After a colonoscopy, a tumor was detected--and buried--in the transverse (horizontal) section of his colon and very close to his spleen.  Ligaments hold the colon in place there, so the doctor had to cut out a major part of that section and re-attach the pieces.  In all, he had about 14 inches removed from his lower intestine and now has a gnarly scar.  Presently, he is days away from going in for a second opinion to discover whether he will undergo chemotherapy.  He is just one.  One story of the millions of affected men, but he's the one that has made this month personal for me.

My dear readers - as more people (men and women both) become involved in Movember, more lives will be impacted.  It's plain and simple, but with a hairy twist!  Guys (Mo Bros): start growing your moustaches today, and tomorrow, make a statement, provoke conversation in the workplace, talk with your friends, call your doctor for a check up, style it for Thanksgiving over the turkey and dumplings, smile while riding your bike or in the coffee shop or everywhere.  For the sake of men, be healthy.  Gals (Mo Sistas): support your guys this month as they grow out a moustache, smile about the irritation from the fact we're growing moustaches, encourage us to visit our doctors and get ourselves checked out, make healthy meals with us, and remember, the moustache will be gone on December 1.

Here are the rules, and it's not too late to participate:

Now, if you truly want to take part in what I've joined (along with my friends) and start raising money for men's health, then get registered with DC Moustachery here (it's FREE and no moustache growing is required...that means you Mo Sistas!).  With that done, Movember will send you all the information you need to start raising awareness and funds on your own or with us for men's health.  We've had a good first two days -- $110 for the cause! -- but that's just the tip of the iceberg (or should I say the stubble above our upper lips) for Movember, DC Moustachery and men's health!

If you would like to participate, but don't want to register or grow a moustache, you can always donate directly to our cause by typing in "Trevor Sparks" here or "DC Moustachery" here.  All proceeds go to the cause, not me.  I promise, and it's really that simple, but honestly, more than your money and new Movember moustaches, I want you all to know it's cooler than cool to be healthy.  I just rock a moustache as a reminder (pictures and a Moustache Party coming soon!).

Movember will now forever be a part of my future Novembers, and as your friend, I ask that you please take a stand with me too.  It only takes one to make a difference, but working together, we can make and do so much more.  I leave you with a moustache style guide: