Sometimes I think about buying a pack of cigarettes.
There is something so visually and manually appealing to me about smoking a cigarette. It looks enjoyable, it looks luxurious, it looks like, “I don’t give a fuck about the indefatigable march of time, I’m gonna sit here and spend three minutes smoking this thing.”
But man, they do not deliver.
I mean, I can find them enjoyable at times… when they don’t immediately turn me off with their stink and flavor and headaches and sore throats and morning-after hangover.
Words are so important.
How you say something to someone is almost as important as what you’re ultimately trying to communicate. After most conversations, particularly important ones, I replay what I said in my head. Sometimes, I’ll realize I could have chosen better words or phrasing, and imagning myself on the receiving end of what I said, that it could have been heard differently than what I intended.
There have been instances where I’ve gone back to someone days after a conversation and said something like, “Hey, on Tuesday when we were talking I used the word ’embarrassed,’ but really what I meant was something closer to ‘regretful’ or even ‘ashamed.'” It may seem small, but, at least to me, there are tiny differences in connotation which can make or break what I’m trying to say.
Speaking without forethought does have value… but most of the times I’ve got what I want to say at least planned to some degree.
And that’s what I wanted to write. Maybe short things like this with no real point are how I get started… get writing again. Done.
I wonder if the things that are important in life come around more than once. You know, to sort of remind our distracted asses that they are important. Or maybe we set that up; repeat things because we’re that “stuck” on moments.
It’s not lost on me that I did what my father before me did. Sometimes I wonder if we even did it for the same reasons. So, did he feel the way I do, then, too? Did he also feel sad and lonely to watch the kids grow older and need him less? Did he wonder why it’s harder to make his wife laugh?
Does it go in more than one cycle? Will there be another round, another, before the last one? Thor said that the change I want doesn’t come for free, but I think I have been deferring the payments.
At almost 45 you’d think writing like a teenager would embarrass me. You’d be right.
I’ve been a year and a half outside the Silicon Valley work pace and I am still learning how not having work as my primary activity has and is impacting and changing me.
One thing that I’ve come to realize very recently is that my need for attention, validation, and positive feedback in my personal life has gone up. In other words, I’ve become more needy, particularly with regards to my wife and family.
I know, this theme is getting a little tired here on the old blog – I realize I’ve written about it several times in different ways. Maybe it’s because I’m realizing the thing, but haven’t yet connected all the downstream effects. I recognized that the old job was a large source of this type of “food” in my life, and could write about that, but perhaps hadn’t yet recognized which of my behaviors/mindsets were changing as a result of changes to that sustenance.
One theory I’ve been considering on the neediness I’m feeling is that it’s me attempting to fill a gap that my previous career used to fill. While I still get good feelings of accomplishment, learning, and recognition from the new job – it’s definitely not on the scale of the old job. So maybe I’m left with a dearth of that “food;” missing the dopamine or classic-male “attaboying” and seeking it from other sources available in my life and relationships.
Actually, the paragraph above makes it seems like I’m missing some alpha-male frat-boy version of recognition. And, while it’s true that may have been a type of need which was filled by my previous job, I don’t think I’m wanting to fill that hole with the same exact shape block. I think maybe I’m wanting to replace the end-result feeling I got from that work-validation with validation from other, perhaps healthier, sources. Things like child rearing, community of friends, marriage.
Anyway, there’s my neuroticism for ya. Written, as typical, in a way that paints me in the best light when some of this is actually pretty irrational and maybe just because I worry too much in general and am, for no reason other than being me, at times needy.
Love you guys; out.
Saturday we were finally able to put the first part of Mom’s ashes where she wanted, and it was nice, if a little awkward in execution.
Being Mom, she requested that her ashes be split between three places. Something I know now can be logistically challenging for those left to handle such things, and that I would not choose myself. She wanted one-third on Hendry’s Beach in Santa Barbara where she grew up and spent summer days with girlfriends. She wanted another third at a family-favorite campground in the hills outside Santa Barbara, and the last at a remote cabin in Northern California, eight hours from the former, where we spread Dad’s.
By tomorrow evening we’ll have fulfilled our part of her request, as we put her with Dad up in Downieville. I expect this will feel good; to have given her what she wanted after a long while being unable to do so given pandemic travel restrictions. I haven’t really felt sad. I think I’ve maybe done all my sad about this? This is more about honoring Mom’s request; following those last instructions. Even from the grave mothers can be onerous. Sorry, dark humor.
John and I dug the hole on the beach with our bare hands; the hole we put (part of) Mom into before covering it back over. That was a bit odd, but also very raw feeling. Afterward I had sand under my nails, little dark half-moons. I scraped them clean with my other nails. We didn’t say much of anything, there wasn’t any formality or structure or remembrances, just a “deposit.”
After, we went for lunch and drinks at a place Mom liked up in the hills. Her brother joined us. There we did have remembrance, we did talk about Mom.
I hope it was what she would have wanted. I hope she’ll forgive us having to languish in the closet until now. I hope we did good.
I keep thinking of things I want to write, and then I start writing them, and part of the way into it I just give up. I don’t know what that is… writers block is when you lack ideas, right? Or is it also when you just can’t see the ideas through?
Was thinking this past week about the old job. Not missing it, but reminiscing. I remain consistently happy with the decision we made to change things as drastically we did. There is an intoxication that high-profile corporate jobs offer… a validation, a sense of accomplishment… climbing that ladder chasing that next promotion. There’s also the notion of being part of a “tribe” that doesn’t exactly come at a small business. Both are worth remembering, and sometimes fondly… but the first one, at least, is fool’s gold.
I think it’s a dangerous pride thing. The validation and recognition I got from work were powerful enough to satisfy that overall need, making me less mindful of needing/wanting the same from other environments: home, kids, wife, parents. Money, position, respect: drugs to be sure. Not that they are inherently bad but I guess I just wanted something different.
Shifting… recasting the source of that sense of satisfaction to not one thing but to any thing, whatever today’s thing is… not a thing to grind towards somewhere out there in the future but whatever it was today: cleaning the pool, reading a book, taking a nap. Slowing down, trying to live in it. There are still four hours left in the day and they are entirely yours to do with as you like.
The other night at 9pm I made fresh pasta.
Until later then.
630am this morning and I’m in bed, thumbing through my phone avoiding getting up and getting started. Keaton, who leaves for school before 7am, comes into the room.
“Can I borrow your Led Zeppelin t-shirt?”
“It will be big on you. But, sure, you can borrow it.”
I for real had to hide my happiness.
Before she left for school I asked her quickly, “Hey Keaton, what’s your favorite Led Zeppelin song?” “I looked up three songs and know the names in case anyone asks me,” she replied. “Don’t say ‘Stairway to Heaven,'” I offer, “They’ll know you just looked them up.” “That’s the one I was going to say!,” she says. “Say ‘No Quarter’ or ‘The Rain Song’ instead,” I say.
Oh, and your favorite album is “Houses of the Holy.”