January 5th, 2010

happytoast power lines

ring out the old

aging, changing, etc.

Last year, on balance, was a very good one. It's been a struggle, but I seem to have survived my promotion and I'm slowly finding my newest voice. Moved downtown into SF. On the surface, by and large, things are well.

Otherwise, though, it's been a difficult year as well, and there's a certain air of "looming" about things as well. There's a few people reading this who have either lost a parent or a parent of someone close, so I don't feel entirely comfortable airing my own unresolved difficulties in the matter when people around me deserve and should only be hearing my condolences. That said, this is supposed to be a journal, not a means of communication, despite the fact that I've written so it can be read.

There's the litany of things that "should" or "need to be" done for myself as well, like getting out more or exercise or having the doctor take a look at the fact that I, too, am getting older. Betting pool is open as to what will or won't get done.

Writing it down is a struggle. If you've always done this, perhaps it seems more natural, but I'm habituated to keeping scope entirely in my head, and I do a fairly good job at that, so I've never learned those critical list-making skills.


Over the holiday break, I read "What the Dog Saw", by Malcolm Gladwell. It's kind of an anthology of New Yorker pieces, mostly on the topic of what I think the financial world calls "alpha", the component of return that represents skill as opposed to random fluctuation. I'm glad I read it, but it's hard to figure out if I would recommend it. I also read "Oryx and Crake" recently, which I would recommend. It's taken a while, but I think that I'm beginning to mature into a wholly postmodern view on things. "Is this Progress?" "Is there really such a thing as skill or talent?" These are questions that even when the answer is obviously "yes", are worth asking and reflecting, made more so by the numerous ways we get suprised by the times the answer turns out to be "no."

This past year has been one of handwringing, for example, for the environmentalists. Will it turn out that global warming is mostly about solar activity, or "natural" processes? Is it lying or statistical smoothing when you continue to draw and advocate the trend line, even though the last data point doesn't lie cleanly on the line? Whatever the answer actually turns out to be, the hardest thing is continually asking yourself why you've decided on what is absolutely, unequivocally, "true".


As a reward for participating in teambuilding, I received an iPod, which has given me the incentive to dig out my old collected music on CD and make it accessible to listening. In some ways, it suprised me how many gaps there were, since much of "my music" was on cassette tapes long parted with. Again, if you've been blipping or burning or whatever for months or years, it's perhaps not as cognitively dissonant to dig out your old music and be immediately apparent the degree to which a younger version of you might be moody, or sappy, and then get back in touch with that person, who you haven't seen for a while. Being busy sometimes leads you to forget about the person (the aspect of the person) in you that you like a lot, and makes you want to see more of him.

And, there's the person you want others to see. I could go on and on about other people, and for many the bizarre entitlements they seem to suffer, but in the end it's always back to the wondering about the person you are that other people manage to see. For someone who views themself as living very openly, honestly, and "out there", it always amazes me how little people seem to manage to see of me.

Social media, though, Twitter especially, hasn't been working for me. I could attribute it to some paradigm. For example, one axe I've had to grind with particularly people in the polyamory community is the Pokemon tendency- that you're judged successful by "collecting them all". Your social network is about how many people you collect (friend) on Facebook or Twitter... but I think friending is a form of materialism, whereby you're under the illusion that you're enriched by owning things, and defriending is a mutually impoverishing act.

And that said, I think there's the things I do that seem to piss people off or are perceived as others as my anger, which has been another focal struggle to overcome particularly at work. I'm not an angry young man, really, despite that fact that growing up poor and disempowered tends to teach you that anger is the appropriate response to unjust conditions. I'm not angry at you- I want to make things better and I struggle, and the anger is about the struggle. The anger is appropriate- it's passionate, it's critical to gathering the energy to go against the apparent unsurmountable odds. My boss at the antibody factory, who I call Yoda, says the important thing is not to telegraph your emotions when leading, but I'm not sure if I believe it even as I try harder to emulate that.


Over break, we took a trip to help out lapis_lazuli's mom, who is increasingly disabled, and took a truck load of "stuff" out of her house and to the dump in an attempt to make her house more handicap accessible, and finishing off a handful of "odd jobs" to make things more livable. I do understand that people's "things" represent meaning to their life- that scrap of paper somehow represents the worthwhile or important thing that you did with your life, and it's hard to let things go because then it's too easy to question if the really meaningful things were actually meaningful. But sometimes, you have to keep moving forward, because that's the direction things go. I'm not practicing a whiggishness in that sentiment, mind you: things fall apart. But you have to make do/ make the most with what you have. And, sometimes that means painful choices about where that energy and time and money the future allows you to spend will go. Sometimes it's hard being the person who sits down and says, "Ok, choices have to be made, let's make them". And no matter how easy or carelessly sometimes that seems to come off (apparently, particularly when I do it), it's always a continual struggle inside, a second guessing of yourself. And, hopefully, despite often sometimes being seen as mean, or cruel, sometimes too you get seen for what is true, and hopefully what is true is that you've been good to everyone, whatever that really means. And, occassionally, if you're lucky, you are seen as exceptionally skilled or talented, and appreciated.


So, I'm taking a few minutes at the header of the day to make a post. "I've been meaning to write" is such a hollow excuse, I'll retract it despite the fact that I've written it. To be honest, I haven't been meaning to write; I did what I did for a reason, and although sometimes these are difficult reasons and not what other people want or what is most pleasant, there it is. And it's been a good year, and a tough year. And this year's shaping up to be the unbearably difficult year that last year was looking like it was going to be.

Thanks, too, to all the people who continue to read this, and bear it with me.