if you took a snapshot of me at hour x of the day

if you took a snapshot of me at hour x of the day, you would be certain i was living out the best years of my life. wait an hour or so, take another snapshot, and you’d wonder if the picture was of another man.

i successfully avoided getting laid off, unlike half of my workplace, all of my department, and millions of my fellow americans. i failed to find a single lover or close friend in these dark years since d left and the markets crashed.

i paid off my car and am closing on a condo in less than a week while much of the country is still unemployed and incapable of being approved for a home loan, but haven’t had the money to travel like i’ve dreamed of traveling for years, and pretty much live from paycheck to paycheck.

i have built up an array of computer skills whose overall breadth and depth is unparalleled by most, but i can’t stick with any program to educate myself on a new subject to leave this web career of woe.

i ran a half marathon in 1:45 — 8:00 miles the entire way — but i’ve been drinking almost every night this year.

i’ve maintained a positive mentoring relationship with an underprivileged youth in the community for a year, unflinching in my commitment, but can hardly keep to a routine of keeping my apartment clean.

i don’t know which is worse, a snapshot of you when you’re deluded about who or what you really are–yet it’s a grand and glorious snapshot; or, a snapshot of you when you’re clear-headed and completely aware of who and what you are–and it’s a mediocre snapshot, at best.

Admit it

Admit what you’re looking for when you check your email, scan Facebook news, read the latest from around the world, pause at your phone for that errant attempt to reach you. Admit before it’s too late.

Confess to what it is you’re really trying to fill yourself up with, when you absorb information or booze.

At least be honest with yourself for why you might deviate back into oil painting, or research some topic you really don’t care about.

Yes, I drank too much. Yes, I spent too much money

Yes, I drank too much. Yes, I spent too much money. I drank a six pack of tall boys Friday night, and a four pack of Guinness on Saturday. I’m drinking a six pack of Modelo tonight.

I did nothing Friday night except watch the latest episode of Fringe, and nothing Saturday night except contemplate the mysteries of me.

I believe I might have visited D’s Facebook page while at my drunkest, and read little of my Finance books.

But, I shaved my head down, and went to church. I mentored my Little Brother, and agreed to drive him to meet his family up in Round Rock.

Mostly though, it was about going to church. It’s taken me four months since I first had the strong urge to get back into it. After walking out of the Catholic classes last year, I’d grown wary of church. I didn’t want to face the extremely nice people who eventually reveal their cliques and politics like every other organization does.

But, I laid down a clear mandate to myself to push myself past all the whiny little excuses—excuses like, “it’s Easter, I don’t want to go this week because every phoney-baloney will be in the pews this Sunday,” “it’s the weekend of the Capitol 10K, I’ll have trouble finding a way to get to the church,” “I haven’t ironed any of my good shirts,” “I’m tired,” “I haven’t visited my dad in awhile,” “I’ll probably not make any friends there, anyway.” Finally, I just said, “look, I either want this in my life or I don’t. It’s my decision. All these excuses are just excuses and none of them are valid reasons for not going. If I don’t really want Church in my life, I should just say so, and build my life without it. If I do, then none of the above matter, and I’m going simply because I want Church in my life, not because I want it to be a friend or future wife resource.”

And, so I went. And, it wasn’t so bad. I mean, yes, I got a few looks of apprehension at my social awkwardness, but I didn’t care.

I am beginning to build the me I’ve always intended to build, minus all the pretense and artifice around trying to be cool and impress the arbiters of hip.

Come springtime, and I’m missing it—those moments back in ’05-’06 when I flew high

Come springtime, and I’m missing it—those moments back in ’05-’06 when I flew high. I had a girlfriend of sorts, who was skinny and often blonde. She provided relatively consistent sex and validation for all of my ideas. But the coolest thing was the sense of grand importance that came from getting the company to pay for you to fly to a city, and drinking adult beverages in airports and hotels. What could be more wonderful than being put up in a three-star hotel in San Diego with your garment bag in hand, and a weekend of doing business ahead of you? These days, I’ve become immersed in a sludge I can’t seem to shake off, and I know for certain that it’s killing me.

Trudging up the stairs to be resident “web bitch,” while class valedictorians from five years ago call the shots. Sitting in the room and knowing I’m more clever, well-read, well-informed, better-skilled—all around more qualified than any of these jackasses and bitches, and knowing there’s not a damn thing I can do about it because I maintain my job from being resident “web bitch.”

The real errors in some of my thinking that have occurred throughout my career have now piled up to really bite me in the ass each day. The first major error was in thinking that by learning a little html and flash, I could land a six-figure salary at any organization I happened to walk into. I realized the error in this thinking soon enough when the dot-com era ended, and there were millions of me out there competing for web jobs. The next error in thinking occurred when I presumed that once I convinced the management I could do sales for them, and lost my fear of making cold calls and meeting strangers, the money from commissions on endless sales would just start rolling in. The third error in my career-thinking came when I began to believe that I could get involved in politics or work at a non-profit and find a great sense of reward and job satisfaction, in spite of just being the “web bitch.”

Finally, I’ve come around to understanding myself and what I really want a little bit better. Of course, I want to make money and yes, I do want people to constantly let me know that the work I’m providing to an organization is integral, even mission critical. And, I still want to help others. However, my misguided notions about where I should work to accomplish these goals have changed drastically.

Want to make money, travel, and do important stuff? Do that over here.

Want to help others and make the world a better place? Do that over here.

Sure, there are a few jobs out there that combine these, but there are very few. If you decide you want to do something important, help others, and make the world a better place, chances are your career will not include making much money at it. Want to make lots of money, travel and have people look up to you and listen to you when you open your mouth? Chances are quite good you will not be helping the poor and improving the earth. Any job or career that combines the best of all these worlds is the exception, not the rule. Someone who appears to be living your dream is the exception, not the rule.

And, after all of the dishonesty, self-aggrandizement and coldheartedness I’ve seen practiced in the non-profit world, I hardly hold the non-profit career up as the model for making the world a better place. Meeting people at networking events who do what they do to make money, but give back to their world in a separate fashion—those are the people I’ve come to really respect and more importantly, understand.

The non-profit world is just filthy with people who think they are somehow better than the unwashed masses by virtue of working at an organization that is allegedly helping others. Some of these people actually command rather impressive salaries, some don’t. But, too many of them carry this insufferable attitude that because they’ve ended up at an organization that isn’t the giant corporation, sexy startup or ad agency, they are still somehow just as superior and important than some grubbing little office schmuck at, say, an insurance or real estate firm.

I’m a bit of a weird person in that I really don’t have respect for you based on the acronyms you can put after your name, or the charisma and charm you’re trying to put over on me. This makes me very few friends, because it’s clear that this sort of thing is what wins you friends in most any professional environment. I look for more subtle clues to develop my respect for you—are you sloppy and careless with your writing, your scheduling of meetings, your words—do you say one thing emphatically and then completely deny it two days hence? Do you work your butt off, or do you just put on a show of working your butt off? Are you so full of yourself that you act completely flustered when I interrupt your Facebook and personal email time to ask a quick question about something YOU’VE asked me for in the first place?

Through time, I’ve generally developed a rather low opinion of people in the non-profit world, because they operate in this bubble that they are somehow sanctified by most of society. They aren’t religious or political in the sides they take (or so they think), but they are still doing good (or so they think) while private sector employees are simply making money.

the day began well with the new realizations

the day began well with the new realizations. the ones where i wasn’t going to descend into trying to access allies for my pity party. the one where no response from anybody meant nothing.

the natural supplements and caffeine stopped working around 3 PM.

the lady i do mail with on tuesdays i think has a crush on me. she goes to a pentecostal church, from what i can tell.

i wonder about this–i mean in terms of what God wants for me. i grew up in that church, and while i sometimes can connect with pentecostals especially, i don’t know that it works beyond the fact that this is what my mom threw herself into.

there is this whole dynamic with that overpaid intern l and her strategizing and business skirts. i hate those interactions. i know computers a little, humans a little less. this lady’s like some cyborg from an unpleasant future that’s now mine. i don’t like interacting with her at all.

i keep hearing this song by this group phantom planet in my head now called california — stupid cnbc and their endless replay of their documentary about enron. i guess it was popular on some teenie bopper show back around the time i was going to california on a semi-regular basis.

it gets me thinking about some imaginary past with d circa 2005 where i was the golden sales boy at mcelroy and i was gonna have my home in west lake and my condo in sf, and we’d take on the world with a troop of metrosexual yuppie alternative hipster gangster friends.

why this got me depressed for a better lived spring, i don’t know.

why i think there’s any better lived spring than the last one, i don’t know.

why i still think d could provide anything remotely approaching happiness, i don’t know.

then, at the dog park, rs. shows up, and i’m so glad to see her. i can’t figure out from her words or her fb page whether she is still in a relationship.

there was n who talked of her esposa that brought her to austin, who turned out to be divorced and single after she left so damnit why didn’t i make a move.

there was mm who wore no wedding band but three months later mentioned her husband, and turned out to have one except i held mm up to be the geeky guy’s ideal

then, rs who talked a lot about a long-term love while at uw, but does no more, and doesn’t advertise it on fb.

rs is one of those ladies you will fall in love with and not really know why, but i think the reason is that she is the real deal–she’s a wysiwig kind of gal–you don’t get doey eyes to be later greeted with witchy ones, or fiery coal eyes to be later greeted with victimy ones.

you get a sexy tan petite woman true to who she is–but i don’t know that that is quite yet.

rs just makes me want to dive into her world completely, even as i know that would scare the crap out of her were i to take that approach–whereas some women i’m attracted to you just kind of feel obligated to dive into their world to impress them to get to the good stuff.

rs embodies what any non-profit should hold up in its culture. she is super-sharp, but not the least bit like that cyborg, career-grubbing weirdo l. rs is the ideal non-profit employee–completely dedicated to the mission, but full-on eyes-wide-open against all that damn koolaid drinking bs that allows people like db to obtain power.

This is an attempt to define the ideal E

This is an attempt to define the ideal E, in the sense of an E at 34 as envisioned by E at 24, but with the given that Real E at 34 isn’t quite there yet. It assumes no major world, self or familial catastrophes in the next ten years. It assumes a world essentially like the one E has been allowed to operate in for the past ten years. It doesn’t attempt to know what God wants E to look like–rather, it is an attempt to visualize an E of this world, free of the fetters of lifelong curses, stigmas, dogmas, unfounded assumptions–but balanced with a realistic outlook of what E is capable of (and really wants).

In other words, it is simply the E that E would like to be, given similar past opportunities.

The goal becomes composing a young man intent on growing up, acting his age, finding his footing in social areas where he is many years behind, and becoming all-around more well-developed.

1. E is free of the “pity party” mentality. E doesn’t seek friendships and relationships with any hidden expectations. What people see is what they get. E doesn’t create endless mini-crises for himself throughout the day in hopes that later others will commiserate with him, or that booze will assuage the pain of a million self-inflicted little wounds. E doesn’t hold grudges toward others when he is truly slighted. E resolves problems that are solvable, and gives the rest to God.

E doesn’t waste time in misery over those who do not want to be his friend. If a friendship/relationship connection just isn’t happening, it’s probably for the best.

E’s attitude toward women represents a fundamental shift that cannot be stated or meditated upon enough. While he has for years understood the basic patterns of behavior that most sane women find unacceptable, he’s only very recently come to the realization that many of his gambits for a relationship with the opposite sex are driven by subconscious urges to have them “come to his rescue” each time he has a little mini-life crisis.

2. E is free of the “sex weirdness.” E operates under the assumption that he is an average, straight white guy with average, not peculiar sexual desires.

3. E is free of the urge to drink to escape. E drinks socially, and only dares get drunk under circumstances where it is clearly acceptable to everyone in the room–and even then carefully considers whether it is in his own best interest or not to do so. E considers the choice between spending $25 a week on booze, and saving it for a vacation.

4. E isn’t sloppy in his displays of inner monologue. He approaches others with a full understanding of what they, the audience, do not find acceptable, or are expecting from him.

5. E cares about his appearance but not to obsession. E purchases new business casual clothing items, especially button down shirts, on a monthly basis. E keeps his clothes ironed, hung or in a drawer. He dresses as part of the overall New E Aesthetic, or way of being–not in anticipation of higher ups finding him capable of more responsibility due to the way he dresses, or in anticipation of young ladies wanting to date him based on the way he dresses.

E does pause to pay attention to what is fashionable to men, but doesn’t obsess over it, or attempt to own particular labels.

E does some type of physical activity every day beyond the basic dog walking. Ideally, E at least does 100 crunches in the morning and evening, and 25 pushups in the morning and evening. E also runs for at least 30 min each day. This is not to realize a particular “model body,” but to stay in all around peak fitness above average but below obsession.

6. E seeks out one social or cultural activity a week. He freely goes by himself, with the understanding that he is doing this to improve himself, not in desperate hopes of meeting a special someone.

7. E attends church twice a month. Same sort of thing here.

8. E spends his down time learning about the economy and financial markets. E does this to better understand the world he lives in, make something of his tendency to assimilate wide varieties of knowledge, and participate in a grown-up activity that is less licentious than straight gambling or strip clubs.

The other purpose of this exercise is for E to see himself less and less as a web guy, and more and more of a man of business. E will look toward being an investor, rather than an entrepreneur or wage slave.

E will NOT get caught up in the love and interest of money for its own sake. The focus is always on seeing the markets as a gauge for human activity, human progress, and always reflecting back on how anything taking place in the markets benefits the welfare and stability of society.

9. E enters the outside world with a clear-headed vision of the Ideal E, the New E Aesthetic. He relies on this vision to inform his behavior, rather than waiting for others to provide clues for him to react to and modify his behavior. E ignores those who are disappointed in or disapproving of the E aesthetic. E refuses to become enmired in conversations of petty arguing about politics, celebrities and local drama. E stays informed of these things, and participates by voting and making life decisions, but is circumspect in his choice of conversation partners and friends–attempting to maximize time spent among grown-ups sharing innovative, grown-up ideas, and minimize time spent discussing television shows and sports.

E avoids anyone who is especially rabid and with an agenda, be they on “his side” of politics and religion, or not. E appreciates open forums, inclusiveness, diversity, listeners, sharers of wide varieties of ideas and topics–those who carry on rich inner lives and have deeper, wiser appreciations for the world he lives in.

10. E continues to give of his time with new volunteering opportunities, but looks more and more outside of the United Way and charity dogmas for how to help others in his community.

11. E carries in his vision of the New E Aesthetic a world traveler, a man walking streets in major cities, appreciating museums, cafes, architecture, booksellers, wine bars, etc. E saves his money to travel once every six months. — Once a year to a major American city, once a year to a European city or country.

12. E stays on top of the value of his condo purchase. This is an investment to be sold when the time is right. E invests some of his tax credit in a high growth, no load mutual fund–like an Asian market one.

The key, at the end of the day

The key, at the end of the day, to solving the negatives and accentuating the positives, is to just keep asking: why is it this way?

For all that you cannot control, give it to God.

For all that you can control, keep asking, why am I doing this? For, within any easy answer root cause, there often lie at least a half dozen other root causes, or complex, systemic issues.

Why am I so irritated with my boss for asking something additional from me when I clearly think I’ve given her what she’s asking for already?

I’m irritated because I’m still chafing over the dismissal of better-liked colleagues in my department.

Why am I still chafing?

Because I need excuses to look outside of my employer for opportunities, and it gives me fuel for conversation with A.

Why do you need to look outside of your employer for opportunities?

Because I’m unhappy with what I’ve been doing in life, and have been for many years.

How are you going to get happy if you keep focusing on all that makes you unhappy–and making excuses to look elsewhere instead of just doing it?

Why do you need fuel for conversation with A?

Because I like it when we seem to resonate in conversation, and it gives me the illusion that I have a chance with her.

So, you are ultimately acting like a brat and idiot at work because you can’t simply stand on your own two feet and walk to new opportunities, and because you somehow think this behavior will make A like you more, and ultimately have sex with you.

Pretty much.

And, you can clearly see how ridiculous your behavior is–as well as your escapism from avoiding the hard choices about where to work next, and who you really stand a chance of going to bed with.

Yes.

So, make it clear to A when you see her and smile at her that you’d prefer to have lots of sex with her–grin subtly enough that it doesn’t become sexual harassment, and remains good-natured flirting, and deal with your employment situation until you get focused enough to work toward new opportunities instead of always running from negative ones to negative ones.

And, be sure to revisit and reread your insights instead of just writing them down and forgetting about them while you repeat your mistakes.