Posts Tagged ‘modern life’

Some weeks are so disjointed, so fractious, that I find it difficult to settle on a topic for my regular post.

This has been one of those weeks.

So far today I’ve written about 6,000 words and deleted about 5,950. I’ve pinballed between topics—the debacle of our political system, my 27th anniversary working in the same shop, the evolution of a short story that’s been simmering in my head, the upcoming birthday milestone that I’ll hit in December, the character of this year’s autumn display, a recipe for acorn squash soup that’s really good (and easy)—without being able to settle on one of them.

At such times, my mind can’t hold onto anything, not long enough, anyway. My attention, buffeted by gale-force winds, gets blown off course, lost at sea. Between radical changes at work, drama in the political sphere, and the very real possibility of life- and lifestyle-altering projects currently in the offing here at home, I simply cannot concentrate.

However, I’ve decided that this is okay.

Not every week is a winner.

Sometimes just making it through to the end is the best we can do.

Here’s hoping for better.



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Simple LivingMy world has become meaner, of late, and I’m guessing yours has, too.

Mean, in the sense of “harsh, spiteful, and cruel,” but also in the sense of “crude, lowly, or ignoble.”

Work, politics, society, and even some relationships have taken on a more callous, retributive aspect. People don’t want to listen — They don’t even want to care. — and it feels like the whole social contract has begun to unravel.

My world has indeed become more mean.

In response, I find that I have becoming meaner, as well. Patience has vanished. Reactions have intensified. Empathy has hit rock bottom.

And I hate it.

So I’m doing something about it.

I’m changing the only thing I can.

Me. (more…)

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SFC's Little Men by Warren GoodrichI’ve always taken pride in being a generalist. Robert Heinlein, in one of the few quotes of his that I like, said “Specialization is for insects,” and for myself, this feels like truth. For me, it fits.

While I am thoroughly capable of obsessing about…well, about pretty much anything…I am not capable of concentrating on one topic, to the exclusion of all others, for the years it would take to become an expert. My freewheeling curiosity is impossible to constrain lest it becomes bored, not through having learned all there is on a topic (far from it), but because my mind tends to wander as I wonder, leading me astray from the path on which I began.

As a result, my history is littered with cobwebbed interests and skills, all of which were at one time a grand passion but which now have been shunted to the side by the necessities of surviving in our rapid-fire and increasingly frenetic world. So, while I can play a concerto, compose a sonnet, cure a pork belly, repair a pocket watch, restore a fountain pen, landscape a garden, tune a car (or a piano, for that matter), cook a goose, shoot an arrow, renovate a kitchen, arrange flowers, write a novel, and make beer, I am at best (by my standards) a journeyman in these subjects, and far from expert.

Unfortunately, generalization is not a valuable commodity in today’s world. Where once being a “Renaissance man” was a thing to be admired, now it is an anomaly, a throwback to an earlier time, anachronistic and useless outside of dinner parties and a guest spot on QI.

Normally, none of this bothers me, but this past year has been a tough go, fraught with missteps and failures, chock-a-block with mediocre results born of my mediocre talents. In many cases, were I to do as my grammar school teachers instructed and simply “apply myself,” I might be able to acquire the expertise needed to achieve my desired goals, be they in the kitchen, in the garden, or in the writing studio.

This isn’t a pity party, though. Nope. Check your sympathy at the door. I don’t need it. Thanks, but no thanks.

I don’t need sympathy because, when I begin to doubt myself like this, it’s because I’m judging myself by yardsticks of others instead of by my own, and that’s a sure sign I need to step back and reevaluate.

I’m a generalist, and I prefer it that way. I just need to come to terms with the ramifications, and remind myself of the advantages that decision brings.

This above all: to thine own self be true…



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Gossamer WheelTake coffee with cream in a glass mug:
When the dollop of white plunges into the dark liquid depths, I see the beauty of swirling nebulae and brief-candle galaxies, fluid artwork made just for me.

Learn to cook at least one thing really well:
It not only provides my dearest ones with the anticipation and enjoyment of a favorite meal, but it also comes with a big side of love.

Enjoy five-minute vacations:
Be it windswept mountainside, lonely seashore, or busy coffee shop, having a personal oasis where I can relax enough to untie the knots of modern life makes getting through modern life a little bit easier, even if I only have time to imagine myself there for five minutes.

Observe the world’s cycles:
Whether it’s the Apache dance of dandelions across my lawn or the fact that my cat is most finicky during the dark of the moon, an appreciation of the long-phase patterns of life slows down the whizzing whirl of time and gives me time to catch my breath.


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Dragons AheadThe team’s PO, PO P. O’Pio, was really PO’d when he found the PO at the PO.

I work in a perfect storm of acronym-happy industries: IT, health care, and insurance. They all just love their acronyms and initialisms, and while I’ve never seen a sentence as bad as my admittedly over-the-top example above, I’ve seen some that are close.

Yesterday, a chat window popped up with the question:

Did you RP to the OPL INC with the PBI?

The only thing that would have made it worse (to my language-loving senses) is if it had also incorporated text-speak:

did u rp 2 th opl inc w/th pbi?


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TFL ProblemYesterday, I started and then deleted no fewer than six posts. My mind was fragmented by circumstances and events, leaving me unable to concentrate on anything.

I started posts on the usefulness of writing conventions, on the reasons for using a pseudonym, on office “open” floorplans, on my reputation as an arrogant bastard, etc., etc. I tried repeatedly, but could not cohere my thoughts to a single subject long enough to form a reasonable discourse.

What was going on? (more…)

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There is nothing so infuriating to my liberal mind than FWPs–First World Problems–and this week I have been beset with them.

Why do I find them so infuriating? Because with each FWP, with each annoyance, with each disruption to my life and my regular routine, as I climb the mountain of frustration, as I reach the pinnacle, the apex of exasperation, I am also acutely aware of how lucky I am.

I know that, should I step away from the desk in my home office, take my iPad and a fresh cup of coffee out onto the deck and wirelessly tippy-tap my woes out into the social medium, my friends (who are also online) will rally to my side, nod sagaciously (albeit virtually), and say “There, there” in their myriad, understanding ways. I also know that my rant, were it to come before the eyes of someone outside my tiny, privileged world, someone who had real problems, it would be met with gaping incredulity.

  • I have a connection to the internet.
  • I have a handful of devices with which I can connect to the internet.
  • I can connect to the internet wirelessly.
  • I can connect from my home.
  • I have a deck on which I can take a break from my job.
  • I have a job I can do from my home.
  • I have a job.
  • I have a home. 
  • I have fresh coffee.
  • I have water. In my home.
  • I have food. In my home.
  • I have a loving spouse.
  • I am healthy.

So, as the top of my brain is screaming because the latest upgrade to Widget-Master 19 has completely destroyed my DirectAccess Connectivity Assistance Service, thus forcing me to lose two whole days’ worth of work as I re-install and re-configure everything on my workstation, as my inner Time Management Center goes ballistic because the weeds in the back garden are growing faster than I can find time to pull them, and as my personal I-Want-It-All-Now nodes are confounded by rain (no drives in the convertible), the rest of me, my deep-brain reality receptors, they know that it’s all hogwash; it’s all just silliness and maundering.

In short, I’ve got it good, and I’m going to shut up, now.


Simple Living

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