hook 142

I’ve mentioned that, of late, I am finding myself feeling a little… “less.” Less sure, less secure, less confident, less strong. It’s been sort of a creeping thing, really… snuck up on my for the most part; caught me with my guard down, perhaps. But there was one sort of lightning-bolt moment that, in retrospect, I can look at with a little humor. Let’s explore…

One of the bigger draws, aside from the nearness of family and a change of pace in lifestyle, to moving from California to Florida was the fact that we’d be close enough to get annual passes at Disney World. As soon as we’d established our Florida residency we bought passes, and we’ve been doing our level best (COVID gap notwithstanding) to get our money’s worth from the purchase.

On one recent trip, Sharaun and the kids headed to Epcot after school let out, and I drove out to meet them after getting off work for the day, so we had two cars at the park when it came time to leave. We all walked out of the park together, and out to the lot where we’d both parked, actually not far from each other in the same section & row, by happenstance. My car was a little further down the row than Sharaun and the kids, so when we got to their vehicle I told them I’d see them soon and kept walking. I smiled and waved to them as they drove away while I continued to walk towards my car.

And I kept walking. And I kept looking. And walking. And looking. Walking. Looking.

Ten minutes passed. Fifteen. I sent a a slightly irked yet still mostly cheerful message to Sharaun, “Hey I cannot find the car, I’m actually still here walking around. Just wanted to let you know I’ll be a little behind you.”

I ranged up and down the rows, knowing right where I thought the car should be… but never finding it. I held the fob to my chin and used my entire mortal body as an antenna while pressing the panic button, straining my ears for beeps. I imagined the scene from above, painted an imaginary search grid in my mind, and set-out to methodically cross off squares.

Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes.

I flagged down a security truck to alert them to my plight. The lot is now beginning to thin-out, people are leaving, the park is long closed. I still have not found my car. I am still walking, and I have already walked for hours, so I am getting tired. I am also getting frustrated, and feeling increasingly stupid. I send another message to Sharaun, “I’m still here, I’m still walking. I’m really sort of upset now. I’ve talked to security. Do you think people steal cars from the Disney parking lot?”

It’s getting dark. There really aren’t that many cars left and I swear I’m in the right place. It’s been forty minutes of me shuffling around. I am well and fully defeated. I actually feel like I want to cry, like legitimately sit down and cry. Somehow, this situation is all my feelings of “less” come-to-life, given corporal form and mocking me. I can’t find my car; I’m this stupid; what is happening to me?

Sharaun calls to say they’ve arrived home. It’s been an hour and I’m still walking around the lot, now in a state of mixed desperation and shame. I don’t know what to do, I’m starting to question everything… Am I on the wrong side of the park? Am I misremembering entirely? And, again, what the hell is wrong with me? I am not irresponsible; I don’t lose my car; I don’t forget things. This. Is. Not. Me.

It’s so empty here. It’s dark. The pavement is still hot from the Florida summer afternoon, though. I’m sweaty and so tired of walking. I have no water. The car must be gone, stolen or whisked into a black hole or… or I don’t know. I have lost my edge. I am not who I think I am. I am incapable. Is something wrong with me? Should I go to to a doctor? I still feeling like crying, I think I might be breaking.

Eventually, over an hour after Sharaun and the kids left I managed to find the car. It was in the section I knew it was in, in the aisle number I knew it was in, just a few hundred feet further down than I remembered… and apparently I walked around it the whole time and never managed actually see it. I got in and drove home, hitting a massive backup on the highway which delayed me even further.

I don’t know why but this experience really took it out of me; wrecked me. Writing about it now it’s not painful anymore… but man at the time I was deeply embarrassed. I felt stupid. All I could do was laugh (nervously) at myself.

change isn’t free & new is scary

I feel like so much is changing right now.

I’ve gotta work my use of “hedging language,” which I incorporate into my verbiage by habit, turning what should be matter-of-fact statements into apparent ponderings, as a way to soften them. Phraseology like “I feel like” and “perhaps” and “maybe” and “to me…” I do it mostly to give me wiggle room. Did you catch that “mostly” in the last statement? Case-in-point.

So much has changed. So much is still actively changing.

Even when change is positive, is forward momentum, even when change is the realization of something you may have wished for – it’s still change and change can be scary. I find myself working to balance happiness over positive change with the natural anxiety change brings.

Because I process verbally, I have talked at-length with those I love about it. While discussing why I might be experiencing such anxiety as things change around me, two friends made statements which have stuck in my head:

I think you fundamentally hit a switch on your priorities, you put family first where it was a source of tension before. That doesn’t come free though and now your brain is figuring out how to reconcile. – Alex

Because it’s new. It’s that simple. – Jeremy

I have been trying to use this as a sort of mantra: Change isn’t free and new is scary. While I am still feeling the feelings, that mantra is a nice reminder that it’s OK and maybe even expected.

Everything has always been good, but somehow it’s getting better.

an imbalance

I think too much.

In certain situations it’s a strength, like the game-theory work that I feel helped me maneuver corporate politics (when I was still a corporation man), or in a leadership role when having to deliver a tough message to someone, or even in conversations with our children about important or weighty subjects. My tendency to plan and think has helped me dodge pre-considered pitfalls in many a potentially-thorny conversation, and I’m thankful for that.

In certain situations, though, it can be a real deficit for me. Particularly when the amount of neurons I’ve burned on a seemingly small matter heavily outweighs the amount of thought whomever I’m engaging has invested. In these instances there is an imbalance, and my habitual overthinking can project an air of obsession – the level of thought I’ve afforded something swelling it’s perceived importance far beyond the actual, at least to the outside participant.

For instance: When a heretofore un-broached subject arises in conversation between us, there is every chance that, for me, I may have already thought about it for hours at some point in the past. For certain subjects, this is more than just “it crossed my mind” level thought, it’s sometimes full-on overblown analyses, perhaps even including imagined conversations where I examine a mental fishbone of all possible directions the discourse may go and have some notion of my responses to each.

Good, perhaps, for debate prep… but in real-human conversation I think can be frustrating. I imagine it would read as forceful… or me being on the offensive with no apparent rationale.

I remember being critical of my mother for shades of this same exact over-thinking. I don’t want to be doomed to inherit that. I am working on it.


coming in hot

Last night I picked up Sharaun from the airport around 9pm.

She’d been gone for four nights, and I’d also done a quick overnight day trip during that time, so I was super excited to catch up with her.

I guess maybe a little too excited because I totally put her on her heels with my, in retrospect probably pretty frenetic, “welcome home I missed you!!” energy. It was a bit of an assault of attention, I think.

A guy gets happy, you know? Sometimes it just boils over and can scare people. Is just a little bit me.


my self-inflicted plight

One of the things I decided when we moved to Florida and consciously downsized our living situation was that I was going to take care of my own yard again.

I do not judge nor scoff at the outsourced yard-care model… it’s inarguably a wise time/money trade when the circumstances are right, but I came here to have less time focused on the office and more time on the not-office. That, and, the physical labor aspect of it is attractive to me, at least in concept if not always in execution.

I bought a battery-powered rechargeable mower, edger, trimmer, and blower – really went all out. I dislike working with gas, although not doing so does seem to diverge a little from the 1950s suburban nostalgia I’m half-consciously channeling in this yard care fantasy. Bought a few batteries so I can rotate and always have one charging/charged if one runs down on me while I’m working.

This is all to explain how I find myself out here, sweating, smelling of grass and dirt (and sweat). Sometimes I’ll wear my wide-brimmed hat and no shirt, when I’m feeling extra manly. I listen to music and take a few breaks to hydrate and try to breathe the soupy Florida air a little less gulpy.

I imagine the conquistadors, wearing bits of armor over clothes, hacking through the dense growth, and feel a little better about my self-inflicted plight.


In recent months, I’ve had the realization that the fragility of my ego is at a notable high.

It started with feelings. Odd, unbidden, irrational feelings. Feelings of insecurity, of anxiety. Feelings that, in my life of privilege, I’d not before had much exposure to. I didn’t immediately recognize these feelings as being related to, or caused by, a fragile ego… at first I was confused as to their source/reason. I knew felt overly sensitive and needy, but I wasn’t entirely sure why. After a lot of talking with good friends, with myself, with Sharaun – it became apparent to me that this is an “ego” thing. Let me try to expand.

In 2018 we made a choice to change everything. I left my career of nineteen years, we moved into an RV and traveled the country for an entire year as a family. We homeschooled the kids. We explored. We breathed each other deeply every single day and night. In 2019 we moved across the country. We left old friends. I started a new job, an entirely different animal, something meant to fix all this. In 2020 we quarantined. Oh, and I started a business with a bunch of close friends. That business no longer exists. Thankfully, though, the friends still do. (That’s another thing I need to write about, but haven’t yet had the motivation.)

And while it wasn’t something which was obvious to me along the way, with the benefit of hindsight I can now plainly see a handful of events/developments in the last two-plus years which would have impact to ego (as well as the somewhat toxic notion of “male pride”):

  1. The old job had no lack of food & feeders for ego; the new job does not offer such sycophancy
  2. The business I started “failed” and I put dear friends in precarious situations
  3. The new job pays less and so our discretionary income is under new scrutiny
  4. Guilt over the feeling that I took the family away from social connections in California

Full. Stop.

Funny… the simple act of concentrating on capturing the above list clearly in words almost has my brain shouting, “No duh Dave!,” to me. So… while it’s still a developing line of thought, I am coming to understand that the “feelings” I am seeking to understand from above are most probably me experiencing the diminishing of the person my pride & ego had convinced me I was.

My theory, then, is that this unacknowledged feeling of loss has sent me subconsciously seeking to replace the sources of ego-food in my life; you know, to keep that bigger-than-the-real-me persona fed. Because of this, I have over-indexed on, become overly-reliant upon, a narrow set of sources for ego-food. This is not only unsustainable, but wholly unfair to the people who happen to be in that narrow set of sources. To me it is quite obvious that single-sourcing one’s sense of ego and pride, particularly through another human, is a recipe for a fragile ego.

Five paragraphs. That’s what this writing is so far. But man, it has been nearly two years since we left. Writing this, I realize that it has taken me these two years just to comprehend some of the change that’s happening – the change I wanted. And that’s just the dawning moment, the realization that you’re experiencing something.

So, I am experiencing some fragility of ego. Great. Eureka, even. What next? What I find, in retrospect, hilarious (and confirming), is that my first thought upon sussing this all out was, “OK great! I just need to find new sources of food for my ego and I’ll feel right again.” I mean, easy, right?

But how stupid is that? I had the desire to leave because I was chafing against certain pieces of my environment. I’m struggling for the right words here, but it’s almost like my ego was trying to fit a round me into a square hole. And I could feel that, subconsciously. Thing is, I don’t think it was a 180° situation… I mean there was enough of me in there, doing things I truly enjoyed, that the sharp corners just felt like the stuff I had to deal with to keep going.

Feed that? No. Starve that motherfucker out.

A good friend said real change doesn’t come for free. I feel like maybe that’s what I was thinking: Oh yeah, we left our friends and our home and our roots and careers and… and everything is totally breezy man, no big deal at all – 100% adjusted to those changes and thriving over here. But really that’s where I think I was… like that transition was just going to be an overnight thing. No thought of the fire that comes along with refinement.

I don’t know… maybe I am missing “the old life” more than I’ve been willing to admit even to myself?  Maybe I’ve wanted to be the “strong one” in the move, and have been repressing any disappointment I have re: things I like less “now” than I did “then?” I also think a lot of this is tied-up in the various unpaid debts that we as a corporate collective consciousness incurred during the worst of the pandemic in 2020.

Done writing but not done by far. Feels good to work on yourself; to have time to think more than before; to feel a little more deeply.


warm onion flesh

I enjoy cooking. I’m not very good at it but I like to try and make dinner for the family once a week. I like being a little creative, like the thanks that come from folks as the enjoy food, like the way my hands smell like onions for days to come after.

No, really, l love that lingering I-cut-onions-with-these-hands smell. I’ve even written about it before. So much so that, throughout the week, I’ll make my hands into a hollow fist and slowly blow warm diaphragm air into them, you know like you’re warming your hands on the ski slope, because it brings out the smell more.

Last night I made a Julia Child recipe. Was good. Family was happy.