sturdy up your heart
December 5, 2017, 4:52 pm
Filed under: insight, when I grow up

[A quick scan shows December is a rare thing in these archives.  Has it always been a dark month? A busy one?]

This has been the heaviest birthday.  Too much time to ruminate and shake around the facts to try and make sense of why has, maybe, not been the most prudent use of time.

On one hand, there is a list of everything that has gone right, which being reasonable (and having any sense of perspective) looks like a semi-charmed life.

On the other, there is the question:  is this where you thought you would be right now?

Are you who you want to be right now?

What are the things you thought you’d make time for over those years that got missed?

How will it feel if you never doing those things?

Will you be happy if the second half of this trip looks mostly like this first round?

Do you even have enough time to change any of these streams?  If you do, how close is it to the escape hatch blowing by, the point where it’s much hard to change streams?

Are you making the most of this stupid short time in the universe?


It’s hard to talk about this with most people.  Complaining about a solipsistic existential crisis when so many people have real, hard, non-existential stuff that is happening is apex jerk.  Whining about having too many options and wondering if there are better-than-good options.


Not asking these questions, at least privately, is the scariest thing right now.  Just floating on, continuing to ride the path of relative middle class first world success.  When examining this first act, the worst fear is that maybe too many easy routes were taken.  It’s easier, in some ways, to do things to make another person happy than it is to protect your own happiness.  It’s easier to do things you’re obviously good at, although perhaps unsatisfying, than to fail a bit at things you’d like to be good at.  It’s easiest to conform and hide than to challenge and be criticized.



I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner
April 26, 2017, 1:06 am
Filed under: insight, nostalgia

On the street, passing by, is it?  This is about to get Alanis Morisette 1995.

It’s easy to put a lot of the pieces together.  She’s still around, years later.  Did she know, then, who the clothes in the closet belonged to?  Did she know anything?  Since me, it seems, only her.  Almost satisfying.

They’re not married, not engaged, she puts up a picture of a faux rock, makes a joke.  In that way, you know.  The picture stream is:  disposable beverage cups, gym selfies, a Vegas trip or two, some generic warm holidays (but not so many, and nothing too exotic).  Collects stuffed animals.  Posts average plates of food, variable lighting, enthusiastic captions.  Makes fun of his outdated wardrobe, comments he hardly cooks.

This is what’s so strange.

He always cooked for me, sometimes we’d cook together.  Have dinner parties for friends. He was particular about his clothes and holidays, expensive taste.

She’s not much like me.

Everything is as it should be, nothing seems dark, nothing seems private.  No wit, no mess.  She gave up her career, or what seems like a career, to muddle along out here in a hard stream that doesn’t seem to be paying off.  The ultimate supporter.

All this time, I had imagined this fabulous life after me.  Someone perfect, more challenging, funnier.  Someone with her life together, who could carry the conversation at the party that much better.  They’d spend holidays on the ski hills and at expensive island resorts.  He’d buy her romantic gifts and cards, the kind I can’t remember getting, make time to visit her.  They would live somewhere amazing, a perfect house, this remarkable life.  Effortlessly successful and happy.  Everything we never were but should have been on paper.

And there wasn’t much regret, because it went on too long and was often so tepid (why are all the memories this white noise fuzz? Where there should be bright flashes?), but don’t you wonder if sometimes his mind wanders all the way back through those years, to the last wild thing, the crazy one.



March 27, 2017, 11:54 pm
Filed under: insight, unrelated thoughts

Seven years ago, almost exactly.  Not so much has changed.  We get into all kinds of astrological mystery calculations for guidance over tequila, as accurate as any career counselor.  A recruiter emails a personal message; it’s like getting hit on at a bar on your bachelorette weekend.

Lately, the body rebels, if the mind was at all being tricked into staying, the body is voting.  It’s a bit easy sometimes to think – just a month more, just a month more than that money would be enough for [fill in the box].  Where the mind tricks itself about exhaustion, the body sends out small aches:  don’t even think about it.  Ping.  The massage therapist says “there’s a lot of tension here” and prescribes things like a heat bag and chiropractics.

The steam room smells like eucalyptus.


tea leaves
November 16, 2016, 1:19 am
Filed under: insight

It started with some fudging, what exactly is lost to time and old email accounts.  Have you ever done this before? Sure.  The initial gig was crap but from it within a short time came a handful of marketable skills that led to the next job.

Once there, gradually, responsibilities accumulated and training opportunities appeared.  Sometimes, someone in another industry would offer work. That job had so many things that were personally enjoyable: slightly physical work, interesting customer interaction, the potential to constantly expand various skill sets, a type of detailed organization, flexible scheduling.  The money wasn’t even bad.

I think about this now, trying to find the thread back.  If not this, then what?

Would it have been different if that moment away had been parlayed into an apprenticeship here in the city?  Would anyone have even said yes?

It doesn’t matter, but maybe it can say something about the future.

After the Anesthetic
April 13, 2016, 4:57 am
Filed under: insight, when I grow up

Pushing two weeks post-op, things are ok.  Wobbly and scattered, but ok.  Quitting the Tramadol after about five days was one of the worst parts – total neurotransmitter chaos, systemic bodily disruption, and all for a few blurry opiate-like days slipping into hazy naps.

This is the first time in three and a half years being unplugged from work.  Not checking in.  Not checking email.  Not having anything forwarded, or worrying that some emergency message will be missed, or that someone will be angry.  Not mapping out a return to do list or staring at work brought along just in case. Mental silence. Absolution.

Time to think and look around.

In the overall grand scheme, this has all worked out okay.

Every month at work there is a mental notch that is hit or else it is deemed a failure – most of the time, the notch was my choice, an internal goal.  Almost always, it’s just out of reach, which means constantly failing even when that’s not objectively true.

In my mind, every month, I’m a micro failure.

But when the noise of this arbitrary, consuming goal is dialed down, this isn’t a story of failure.  It’s the story of a long, hard push – so hard and so fast that we didn’t look back to take in the view.  Building the happiest place I’ve ever come home to, piece by piece.

A hundred things are imperfect. The push is far from over. But the view from here is pretty okay.

Where Are Ü Now
January 14, 2016, 3:44 am
Filed under: insight

Add to the list of titles that will feel dated and strange in five years.

Sometimes it’s down the search engine hole on a night where there should be work/chores/fitness/good behavior.

What about that one?  The one that got completely deleted, the point in life where it became okay to not maintain the vestiges of half friendship, when it was clear this time there was nothing more to say?  Did they make it where they were planning to be?

Nope!  It turns out they’re living the same city as you, the whole time.  One more thing to ruminate over when considering how under-dressed is too under-dressed to get groceries.


He’s sitting the hallway like it’s ten years ago.  Of all the hallways, in all the cities.

There’s still nothing awkward.  Why has there never been anything awkward?  There probably should be, in that montage of young and dumb, it was more sitcom than drama.  He says your name slowly like it’s still a decade ago and you blush a little bit.

Part wants to say:  you’re a good memory, one of the best.

You won’t know until later which ones can leave the perfect moments unspoiled.  It won’t be many because people are human and vulnerable and, sometimes, mean.  That bitterness at the end will splash over those long rosy days and the memories will always be different.  Sometimes this just comes from trying to make something good last too long, to make it meet the wrong needs.

But every once in awhile there will be one that was just goodness.  Nothing that would have gone the distance, but uncomplicated happiness.  Human connection.

Part wants to say: I hope you feel the same.


The airport is really small and what’s appropriate is the casual “oh, hey!” that both is and is not spontaneous.  The warm smile is prepped, eyes wash across and… they don’t meet.  They have averted their eyes.  Panic.  No one looks at each other.  Friends with one on facebook.

Remembering why moving to a new city at the end of being a teenager was a good plan.  A very good, eye-contact-inducing plan.

Meeting the Person You Wanted to Be at a Party Ten Years Later
September 21, 2015, 12:47 am
Filed under: insight | Tags:

It’s a row of glasses, never empty, but the party still veers into small talk.  Some of us knew each other way back, and the conversation gets more interesting there; years of gossip to review and compare notes on.

Recognizable, immediately (it’s been a decade), it’s her.  She’s out here, living in this part of the world.  She’s at this party, now.  It’s her. Her.

Then she was at the top of every list; she would always be one of the ones that made it.  The perfect resume: extracurriculars, references, connections, reputation.  It was obvious that grad schools would roll out the fully funded red carpet for her, that her peers loved her; everything she did just seemed right.  I was just finishing being a teenager and took note, modelling some of my own choices after what was observed, making some of the same connections.  Who to talk to, how to move in certain circles.  Before I had fully formed the conclusion that nobody gets it perfect, she represented something to become – she was one of the last people that I really remember aspiring to be like.

We started talking, she did not seem aware of my past idolization.  Thank god.

She did make it all the way through and is now working in the field I wanted to be in.  All of those gold stars really did work out into a qualification.  There was a short, sharp twinge of what if?  What if I had followed that path a little further.

“You were part of that club, right? On the student counsel?  I barely remember.  I must have been drinking a lot,” she said, unironically.

“Yeah, I switched out the year after you graduated.”  We talked about what I ended up doing instead.

“Huh, yeah.  Do you like your job now?”  She asked.  I answered honestly, which is to say, not really.

She suddenly revealed regret having ever pursued grad school, let alone all the way through.  A flurry of things were mentioned – student debt, not really liking work now.  She was deeply, visibily unhappy as she talked about it all.  I didn’t know what to say.  You were supposed to be everything I had missed out on.  She suddenly backed up, the alcohol maybe momentarily clearing to remind her that this was personal information shared with a stranger.  Back to small talk, and eventually we both shuffled on. Later I would throw up in a sink and likely secure my disinvitation to all future parties at this residence, albeit not feeling terrible about this as an overall outcome of the evening.

There isn’t really vindication in correcting these perceptions, or finding out what I had imagined wasn’t so great in reality.  When I was younger, a significant part of my time was spent imagining what things would be like – what it would be like to be other people, what it would be like to go certain places, how it would be to have certain skills or abilities.  There was a sense that there were good things just beyond the horizon.  This fell away, lost to the pragmatism of adulthood and experience.  The thing about believing less in magic is that it is the belief in magic that conjures it up.