I’m on the record as being a big fan of taylorswift as a performer, a songwriter, and a woman doing the music biz her own way. I contain multitudes when it comes to pop.
But beyond all that, her tumblr is just super adorable…she’s clearly doing it herself (except when she’s not, and those posts are marked), interacting with her fans, having fun. She gets it. She does memes. It’s endearing.
(And no, I’m not creeping. She’s way closer to my daughter’s age than mine. Get your mind out the gutter.)
((But Taylor, if you see this and need a really solid, experienced guitarist for studio work or touring, holla.))
The Tuesday thing
My problems are huge and intractable; my problems are tiny and trifling.
All at once.
- I was finally approved for my life insurance policy. I mailed the premium in, and am 100% certain I’ll be hit by a bus in the day or two before they receive it, leaving my family penniless.
- Need to have The Talk with my son soon. We bought a book to help, but unless that book can give the speech totally by itself without stammering, blushing, or inappropriate giggling, it’s of little help.
- I’m rapidly scrolling past all social media posts celebrating autumn. Not sorry; not even a little. Fall is to winter as being shot in the brain is to death. For my part, I am striving not to complain about the dark seasons this year. It’s like being the only liberal in the financial district. There’s no point. No one cares.
- If the construction remains on schedule and we bribe the right people at the Department of Buildings, I only have four more weeks of listening to Racist Greg every day. His latest trick is to berate his coworkers every morning on the phone with a mouth full of food. I’d shank him, except I expect one of those coworkers will do it first, saving me from prison.
Michele wrote something this morning that really grabbed me. Read it all, but this part really spoke especially loudly:
You never know what people are carrying around. You don’t know everyone’s burdens. People you think have it together aren’t always as together as you imagine. Everyone has their problems. You just never know what is going on in a person’s life unless they are willingly sharing it with you. So as you go through your day, just remember that nearly everyone carries some kind of burden. Treat people gently. Be kind to each other. Mean it when you ask “how are you?” and listen with your heart when they tell you. You may have your own cross to bear, but sometimes it’s necessary to put your own cross down and take up someone else’s. Make it lighter for them. Walk with them. Hold their hand. You never know what someone is going through.
So, so true. Especially, I think, in social media venues where it’s quite easy to portray one’s life in unrealistically positive ways. There’s so much unseen suffering all around us. In recent years, I’ve been trying harder to do what she suggests—to be kinder, to empathize more, or in some cases, just to not be a flaming jerk. I think I’m doing better, but that’s really for others to say.
As I thought about all this today, though, an unfortunately corollary appeared in my mind. Sometimes, we are the least kind to those whose struggles we know the most about. We are often at our most unkind with those we love. That needs to change, too. Those closest deserve that better treatment as much as anyone, maybe more. Something to work on.
(I’m saying “we” but I really mean “I.” But maybe it applies to you, too.)
the whole and nothing but
- I can’t decide if it’s a feature or a bug that observing the socially correct minimum horizontal following distance on an escalator puts your face at someone’s exact butt level.
- Something fierce, huge, and venomous has bitten my shin at a point where every nerve ending in my body apparently meets, a spot where there is coincidentally no muscle and not a lot of skin atop the bone, and I cannot express to you how much I want to blowtorch my own limb right now, jeebus, make it STOP.
- Speaking of setting myself on fire, I’m car shopping right now. Worst first world problem? Worst first world problem.
- After waiting far too long, I was finally stirred to action early this morning on a difficult-but-right thing to do, and then promptly thwarted by bureaucrats. I’m not done, though. (STM, kinda.)
- What’s missing in a person’s life that leads them to be a self-described fan boi/grrl of a company that makes consumer electronics? And then drives that person to spend the day on twitter hammering the products and fan boiz/grrlz of competing consumer electronics companies?
- I’m traveling to the Jerz for two days next week. Never been except for driving across, to and from NYC. I’m planning to dress, style my hair, and speak exactly like Paulie Walnuts to fit in better.
The random cornstalk growing in the middle of a soybean field—sickly, yellow, stunted, unwanted, the result of a lost seed, clearly unaware that corn is So Last Year?
Don’t feel too bad, cornstalk. Soon, someone’s gonna harvest all those beans, too.
I haven’t done one of these in a while
- Men’s T-shirt manufacturers are watching too many superhero movies lately. 99.99% of us don’t have the bodies for the recent trend in tees (super tiny waists and 1” sleeves) and it’s horrible for everyone concerned, including innocent bystanders. Stop.
- Memes and ideas blow through here in big, tsunami-like waves. Good or bad, just wait, and it’ll pass. It might even sweep stuff clean on the way through. But every once in a while some piece of years-old, rotted flotsam washes back ashore long after you thought it was gone for good. That usually signals break time.
- I am fitnessing more actively than at any point in my life, exercising 5-6 days a week—lifting weights and running, and biking when time permits. I have also modified my diet to be higher in lean protein and less carb-y. And sure enough, my body is changing dramatically! Except it’s in ways almost diametrically opposed to what I expected or wanted. This is beyond stupid, but I am going to keep doing it anyway, if for no other reason than to prove that I am some genetic fluke. Maybe someone will write a paper about me.
- Otherwise intelligent, rational people adopting bizarre, New Age-y spiritualities as they approach old age: why is this a thing? This is a bad thing. Ditch the magnets and go read some Kant.
- 10+ hours per day of digging through the life’s work of a complete fucking moron takes a toll.
Modern medicine can do two heart transplants on a guy and do them so well that he can finish in second place in the world’s most difficult golf tournament.
But show them a kid with mental health challenges, even minor ones, and they’re like, hell, I dunno, what do you think we should try?
- Thank you all for kindly helping me through my emo yesterday. I don’t want to be too alarming, nor do I want to go into a lot of detail. Basically, my son’s dealing with anxiety. I know it’s fairly mild relative to some of the difficulties I see others going through with their kids. It’s just where we are. I’m clueless. I’m bad at clueless.
- I learned today that there is a service that will, for a fee, make investment recommendations based on your astrological readings. With all due respect to those of you who engage in astrology, whether for fun or for reals: I hereby stand ready to take the other side of all those trades.
- I need to be less invested in professional sportsball/sportspuck teams. I need to not care when they have a bad day (week/month/season) at the office. Let’s say I had a fortnight like Brent Seabrook is having…where I showed up drunk, pantsless, and spent the days writing with my own feces on the walls while shouting random nouns. Would any of them be angry or feel bad the next day? This relationship is imbalanced.
- I know no one—literally, not one person—cares what I think about the latest atrocity in the news. I am posting accordingly.
- I bought a tube of Starbursts that turned out to be so stale they hurt my teeth. Worst? Worst.
- David and Kelly’s wedding was a magical thing, for all the obvs reasons (lurve, community, etc.). But I have to mention the food one more time. I will marinate a tenderloin in ranch dressing for 48 hours. And right soon.
- Relatedly (to the wedding, not the meat), Robin is the best houseguest ever. Gracious, polite, great with kids, does not snore loudly enough to penetrate a closed door. She will even post flattering photos of the 3 square feet of your house that aren’t filled with kid clutter. A+++ would houseguest again.
- I’m becoming my father, episode 425: I crave weird, oily, salty/savory snacks when I come home from work. Stuffed olives, giardiniera straight from the jar, sardines, boiled peanuts in a pinch. I haven’t stepped up to pickled herring yet, but I can see it from here.
- I don’t think you don’t have to be a programmer to understand that having a code base with classes called “StrategyContainer” and “ContainerStrategy” which do wildly different things is confusing. I have my work cut out for me.
- A small thing but a big thing: my new office is 3 blocks west of my old one. But over at the new one, closer to the river, there is more open space, and therefore direct sun when you step outside. Heliophiles unite.
- 70mph winds and hail tonight: you can blame me, because I planted over the weekend. Enjoy the afterlife, little green pals. Your lives were short but packed with meaning.
- Everything about the ad campaign for “Halt And Catch Fire” (maybe you’ve seen it on tumblr umpty billion times?) infuriates me. That term has a meaning that dates back to the Jargon File. It’s like turning verses from a sacred religious text into dubstep samples.
- We have a houseguest this weekend! Shenanigans are planned. SO EXCITE.
True, but whined out like the Spandau Ballet guy
- I’m enjoying the second day of my two-day retirement. Saw some skits at the school, stimulated the economy via the Costco/Home Depot/Whole Foods/Jewel circle, gonna work out, maybe garden a little if it doesn’t pour, and probably cart some kids around later. It’s good. A man could get used to this.
- I’m geeked to start the new gig tomorrow, too. The idea is that my next retirement will be a lot longer than two days—all the days, ideally—and hopefully it happens before I’m too old and decrepit to enjoy it. Hopefully this job could facilitate that and be fun in the meanwhile.
- Spring has me thinking about Jake, and specifically where to spread his ashes. Some will go in the yard here, some in the woods by our old house, and some at a beach in Lakeside, MI where we once had a great vacation. That’s probably good enough. I don’t plan to keep any of him here in the house. He wouldn’t want to be on a shelf.
- Long before I had kids, a wise friend told me that babies are the easy part. She said it gets hard when they start becoming people, people with their own ideas, problems, dreams, and setbacks. I refused to believe her. She was absolutely right.
A few troofuses
- It’s always a bit weird to get back to the regular stream of posting after a Chicagoish weekend—partly due to stage fright from all these new people (hi!), and partly just recognizing that the thing is over and here we are, back with our mundanity for another 11.75 months or whatever.
- I vagueblogged about my work situation last week. Over the weekend I caught some of you up on what is happening. Since then (like, in the last two hours) there have been favorable developments. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about it in public for a little while longer. But things are looking way up from where they were last week. More to come, promise. It’s good.
- You can’t spell “crush” without “chsh.” Sorta. Don’t judge my spelling right now.
- California, here I come. 46 hours from now we depart* for Santa Monica and Malibu. I will be in the shade of palm trees and dipping my toes in salt water soon, and my past experience informs me that these things fix just about everything that ails me.
* note to bad guys: armed house-sitter protocol will be in effect.
I am drawn to apocalyptic fiction and fantasy, as recently alluded. Particularly the human side of it.
It started with reading Nevil Shute’s On The Beach in high school. The premise is that a massively nuclear WWIII has wiped out the northern hemisphere, leaving Australia and New Zealand unscathed. Unfortunately, the radioactive fallout is working its way there and they know the end is coming soon. The story follows a few months in the lives of people there as they prepare for the inevitable end in their own ways. Heartbreaking. There’s no happy ending.
And then in college I discovered one of my desert island books, The Stand. I’m sure I read it the first time on a two-day bender, straight through, without sleeping, showering, or eating anything that didn’t come in shrink wrap. While I love the book as a whole, it’s really the first half where Captain Trips works its way through the population, killing everyone, and the way the survivors coped that gripped me. It was heartbreaking, and if you consider the first movement of the book by itself, there’s no happy ending.
Movies, too. The other night, when I should have been sleeping, I got sucked into Contagion. It was on TBS, so they stretched it into about 4.5 hours. I love Soderbergh, and they actually filmed some of it in my office. Look for a brief shot of an abandoned trading floor, and a fancy conference room with this weird, fake grass on the table. But that’s not what got me. It’s how people bonded together, or didn’t, as the world appeared to be ending. And even lesser movies have had the same effect on me, like Deep Impact. (We can forget about Armageddon, though, except for any scene involving Liv Tyler.) Same deal: even though the apocalypse wasn’t total and there were plenty of survivors, you’d have a hard time arguing those are happy endings.
I get sucked in every time, like a bug to a black light.
In each of those stories, there is a point where a few elites know the truth before the masses do. There’s usually an effort to conceal the information, but it’s futile. At some point, enough people are dropping dead and the truth is plain to see. That usually goes badly for those elites. Either there’s backlash from the mob, or they get sick, too. Not a happy ending.
Tuesday in my head
Oftentimes when I’m alone in a contained crowd—on this train, in a bar, at the store—I game out what would happen if the group of strangers I was with at that moment were somehow suddenly, permanently isolated together. Say, transported via a wormhole, or maybe the only survivors of an instant cataclysm. In a flash, we are the last people on the planet, and we have to decide how (or if) we are going to survive together. What kind of leadership structure would emerge? Who’d be in charge? Anyone here know how to raise food or hunt? Who’s going to be my friend? Who might kill me for sport? What about a possible mate? Anyone know medicine? Who looks like they know how to weld, or repair masonry? Am I a burden or an asset here?
That’s how I brain.