Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Some albums need to be listened to all at once and don't work as invividual MP3s. Radiohead's In Rainbows is one, another is Thom Yorke's Eraser. I was feeling sad that "listening to albums" was a thing in the past with electronic music but apparently with good storytelling, which a well-conceived album is, the pieces of the story are drawn to each other and you just can't break it apart. It wants to be told that way.
Trying to decide if I like being called a "man." My impression of man as a kid which I guess I still hold is coffee breath and stinking up the bathroom. No offense dad.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I name the folder where emails from my bank get sent with a "z" so they're not right in front of me when I log on. I changed an angry ex's name in my cell phone address book to "Take a breath" so I'd see that when she called. In my laptop I call my "work" folder "workin" and once, when I had a shitty job, I changed that folder to "I'm so grateful I have a job." How did people practice denial before technology?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day '10

Had a really nice Father's Day. The boys made me cards and E bought me the most perfectly chosen Dad-type gift on their behalf. Most unexpected present was from Merry, who has no familial obligation to me but wanted to get into the giving spirit, a keychain with a rubber sandle on it that said, "I ♥ Chad."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Capitalism, in 140 characters or less.

I am an unlikely capitalist. I fell into business by accident, well actually I chose it, but during a period of uncertainty and I'd say even weakness. I was really more of an academic, non-profit kind of person. Not too far out of college, well, of dropping out of college (I finished not too long after) a friend of mine from school got married. All of these people were there at the wedding who I hadn't seen for a year and a half. They all seemed to have jobs in Manhattan working in "Marketing." I was working as an evening supervisor in a homeless shelter on Long Island. Another friend of mine, my best friend from high school, had a job at a startup software company. He got me a job writing for them; it was 1998; it was exciting and people in .COM were looking for anybody smart and interesting even without traditional business experience. That one wedding led me to make a decision I'm still living with today. I've been trying to dig my way out ever since. I'll write more about that later.

Anyway. I spend a lot of time thinking about "business" and whether or not it is evil or useless. I had progressed and got jobs at large corporations where I saw very smart, very cool, very creative people do amazing things together and always thought, if only they were building bridges or wells in India or something rather than selling home theater systems and potato chips. Some of these people never see their kids anymore. For what? I wonder if someday their children will look back and think "I never saw my mom growing up, but it was for a good cause. She grew the Pop-Tarts division at Kellog by 25%." I toy with communism, which is a recipe for total frustration, because good luck with that one.

Over the past 11 years I've seen capitalism at first as evil, then as an unecessary evil, then as a not necessary but realistic and practical evil given human nature, and then I guess just seeing it as the-way-things-are. Lately my thinking is more positive. Many people in the corporate sphere are trying to do some good and believe in what they're selling, even home theater systems. And then there's, you know, Band-Aids and dish soap and bananas and shit you need. I don't think the failure of communism is not having three hundred different brands of toilet paper --- I don't need that. It's having none because bureaucracies don't do a good job getting people what they need.

So, I meditate, and sometimes when I do that answers to some of the things I philosophize about during the day in my car or walking the dog pop into my mind very clear and simple and inarguable. Today the thought arose:

"Everybody needs things that they have to buy."

The diapers and band-aids and bananas have to come from somewhere. Also, who am I really to judge what people need. My ability to play mp3s is arguably unecessary but man, it adds a lot of dimension to my life to have music.

Everybody needs things, and currently, they have to buy them. So they have to be marketed and sold. This makes me feel a little better about the time I will spend helping shareholders at large corporations, many of whom are probably nice people looking to build college and retirement funds, make money. The messed up thing is, I entered the business world to make money, and I'm still not really. When I do actually start making money in business I will feel even better about it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The TV Diaries.....

.....Week of June 16. Working from home with the kids this week and getting an interesting cultural education.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13, 2010

Hot advice for males who love Big Lebowski and keep trying to share it with their ladies, who don't seem to get it. As much as you love the John Goodman bits, skip over them.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

June 8, 2010

Trying to plan what to do with this sliver of very productive time, the pre-10:00 am hour. The annoying and desperate part of my brain is pushing me to write, as if this is the last time I'll ever be able to. What I feel like doing is studying for an exam, the subject matter is fascinating. So it's raining and I'm going to sit here in the comfortable chair by the window with two dogs sleeping nearby and read through these notes. It occurs to me I'll get restless in maybe 25 minutes. My urges burn themselves out quickly. Then I'll be interested in writing and do it when it comes naturally. Writing will get old, and, naturally, I can move on to the next thing in the list with my full attention. If I force any one of these activities during a time when my natural energy for them is at its least, that activity will be so exhausting it will leave none left to do the others.

A successful man is like a piece of bamboo on the surface of rough water. Hollow of intention, he floats gracefully on the cresting waves of his undiagnosed A.D.D.

Monday, June 07, 2010

More on June 7 - after afternoon

I was talking about the subject of the earlier post with E and she said she's known a lot of people who kept it all together as drunks, but were maybe more self-centered than others. Self-centered could mean unapologetically selfish, or just clueless about the effect of their actions on other people. I told her I thought I was self-centered, and kind of a fuckup. She said "absent-minded." This reminded me of something.

I was in New Orleans 11 years ago wandering around at night and came upon a girl with a palm reading stand sitting in the dark. Nearly nobody was around, it was in the courtyard of St. Louis Cathedral which was closed up for the night from visitors or services. Side note, her face was painted white and she had black lipstick and she said she was a Satanist. Anyway, she read my palm for five dollars. Sitting there in front of me she studied my hand. She said I've had what I didn't realize were some "million dollar ideas" so far in my life. Tell the truth, there've been a few times I thought I was on to something I later did nothing with. She listed off some things about my life to come that I don't remember but one of them was getting married, which she said in that same listing way, as if she were telling me I'd buy toothpaste more than once over the coming years or have a mailbox on my home. The tone was different than the comment about the million-dollar ideas, which the way she said it sounded like she found me interesting. Then she paused, studying more closely, and there was a look of what I perceived as caution or alarm as she said "...and you'll have two kids." I didn't know what to read into that. It scared me. Would they be born hopelessly deformed? Would they die? Not so far. But that comment was another story. What I remembered today was her saying I had a long life line, but that I was very accident prone. This much is true. And it certainly extends from being absent-minded. She was also right about the marriage.

I don't know if I'm a fuckup, or self-centered, or just absent-minded. I do know I feel sometimes messily put together. When we're that way, it's the unique and creative, adaptive way we sew it all up again that makes us interesting, isn't it?

June 7, 2010 - afternoon

At odd times memories of my drinking days come back to me. Today, driving home from school, maybe I was thinking of a guy I saw flip his Harley and survive a couple years ago on the same highway, I remembered that saying from AA "God loves children and drunks." I don't know about the children part. A lot of inexcusable things happen to children around the world every day every second. But it is true, drunks seem to make it through lots of disasters implausibly unharmed. Walking away from car wrecks for example. It's like the feeling you have when you're drunk, that you're wearing a heavily padded spacesuit looking at the world through a fogged window, affects the physical world and things bounce off of you. Thinking about it led me to think about some of the recovering alchoholics that I've known. Most of them were "drinking people." They had a hard-living approach to life and drinking was a part of it. Then there are those rare few people you'd either never suspect of drinking or of having their drinking be a problem. Really quiet socially awkward people on the one side, on the other rich professionals who drink a lot openly but still keep it all together. This led me to this question, are most alchoholics fuckups first, and alchoholics second? I don't have an answer. I seem to be both at once.

June 7, 2010 - morning

Was cleaning up this morning, putting in order and removing the dust from things so that I could set up an environment to write in and there were two movie cases on the table. "Gamera" and "Kiki's Delivery Service." Before they were swept up and placed squarely on top of each other I noted that these choices seemed like the types of things you'd find laying around in a house where we both lived. Started thinking about the director Miyazaki in particular. His movies ask you or invite you or trick you into entering a place where you have to accept spirits and gods and maybe immortality. There's already some room in my beliefs for things like that and in fact there are some actual ghosts and deities way back in there. Elizabeth not so much. And yet thinking about some of the things she reads and watches if you had to generalize them would be fantasy. Sometimes the differences between what she and I believe seem very different. And this morning I was thinking maybe not so different. We're both willing to entertain the idea of these beings from the stars and shadows I just take it a little too far. That made me think that with people in general it's not so much what we believe that makes up the distinct philosophy of our singular personalities but the stories we like to hear.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Dogs, three different ones.

My dog. I tried to take a picture of her a few minutes ago and she wouldn't look at the camera. She acted guilty and shied away exactly like she does when she's taken a dump in the house. But I didn't find any. I must seem mad because I keep leaning down and looking directly into her face.

Cassie not looking at the camera.

Lydia on the other hand, still sprawled out on the bed, thumped her tail happily when I went upstairs to get her picture. She is bold, brassy and slightly aloof. In some ways the "L"s in their names were the only thing Lincoln and Lydia really had in common. Lincoln was constantly behind, next to, and around us, where she spends much more time alone. He happily went along with it when you grabbed him and pulled him close to you. Lydia will cuddle, but completely on her own terms, and she has to initiate. She sleeps in the bed with the humans, and when she's picked her spot, she seems to summon weight out of the air and drill herself down into the mattress. You kick her and push at her; she leaps up for a second and retakes the exact place.

Lydia thumping her tail on the bed.

Like a dog Lydia will eat nearly anything. Cassie, I have to lock her in a room with her food, then go in there and repeatedly pick up and place the bowl in front of her until she finally, tentatively noses a few kernals out onto the floor and nibbles at them. She won't fetch. In so many ways, I'm still convincing her to be a dog. She most often has a look of nervous anticipation and cluelessness as she paces the house (E is taken to calling her "Pacy") following you close and then stopping in front of you while you're walking, like a gate.

I'll post better pictures of both dogs later. The camera is having issues.

But she'll tuck her head into your lap when you pet her, never leaving until you stop. She clacks her teeth together when I come home and leaps up to put her paws on my chest. She stretches out next to me on the couch and we spoon. She has charmed and adopted Elizabeth. Another story, how I got her, but her breeder knew she deserved and needed a family back on the Collie farm (when her name was "Classy") because of these qualities. At last, at night, Cassie abandons all her aprehension and becomes as much like a dog as she is capable, belly up and oblivious. No longer seeking our company or approval, peculiar characteristics that are uniquely her own come out and you get a glimpse of a mysterious and inscrutable self. Like people, dogs hold tight to something of their own. And like people, the feeling in your chest of forever reaching for another glimpse of someone's secret self is probably what we're talking about when we talk about love.

Perchance to dream stupidly.

I haven't slept much the past two nights. Part of it is being wracked by stupid dreams. Here was one: Elizabeth and I were working on a “social media strategy.” Apparently this involved taking a ride along a canal in a medium-sized boat to collect and dispose of diaper footballs.

I remember the boat was kind of nice. It had stripes painted on it and brass rails, a cabin below. Fronting on this canal were a series of luxury condos, and really nice restaurants with big glass windows. Inside one restaurant, which had pale yellow exterior stucco walls and trim cut from rich, dark wood, you could see big potted plants and tables with white tablecloths set for lunch. This district was like some of the posher stretches of the London canal system. The canal was narrow and the boat traveled really close. You could step off right onto the balconies of these buildings.

Apparently, the balconies were littered with diaper footballs. (Non-parents: a diaper football is when you fold a used diaper up tightly, securing the contents into a ball you can easily toss into the garbage). We got rid of the footballs by tossing them overhand into the water. My girlfriend was telling me why it was important to get rid of them as soon as possible. If you don’t, she explained, they freeze overnight and become like rocks. Homeless people throw them through the windows of people’s home and of businesses. Then they rob them.

The meaning behind this dream: not sure. Work is preoccupied with social media lately, there's a child in the house who has still been in diapers --- which tends to be more apparent when warm weather brings out the essence of things --- and Elizabeth is smarter than me. She usually has to be the one to explain things. Also, workwise, I think this dream confirms my whole mind is in agreement about being done doing shitty jobs.