Log in

No account? Create an account
Why does this happen? Part 1 of many   
10:14am 02/02/2009
  So, I'm working on a new project. It's kind of a big deal. At least for me. If I do it right, it will make money and possibly make me famous. Or at least famous-er.

Consider this a tease for it.

The project is large and requires me to wear many hats. I'll need to be a business manager, a marketer, technical support and administrator, as well as the creative department.

And each of those functions generate a list of things to do. I write them down, organized into lists. I call these my "to do lists".

These lists are fairly long. And there's multiple lists.

It's discouraging. I know what I need to do. I'm just having a hard time picking where to start. I've been thinking about this project for a month or more.

I feel pressure from the idea itself, sitting in my head, wanting me to start doing it.

The more I think about it, the more items and lists I come up with. How nuts is that? Instead of helping me organize my steps and checking the items off and slowly, surely, putting together a complete, working thing... I'm just making more and longer lists.

I feel pressure from the social, financial and political events that have caused me to come up with this project in the first place. The longer I wait, the higher these external pressures get.

It's not getting done. Instead I keep doing the same things I always do; writing blogs, going to work, running, cleaning my apartment, paying my bills, riding the bus, hanging out with friends once in a while, eating delicious food, buying groceries, logging my calories, surfing, sleeping. All of those things are entertaining or necessary, and they all take time out of my day. Time and energy. I have a limited amount of time, and what feels like a limited amount of energy, and it's all being used up by the things that I'm already doing.

There seems to be no time and energy for this new thing.

The closest I come to working on the new thing is when I come up with an idea for another item on my to do list, or spend a few minutes re-arranging the lists I already have, or when I'm surfing and I come across an article that gives me details or tools or ideas for the new project, and I rush to integrate that new information into my lists. Sure, I'm technically "working" on the project. But it's not getting to "done" at all.

And I get discouraged.

And then...

In my surfing, I came across this video (hat tip to Merlin Mann), from someone I've heard of before but have never taken the time to sit down and watch: Ze Frank.

I set the video aside, because I didn't have the time to watch it right then. A week goes by. The weekend comes, and starts to rush by. Sunday rolls around, and I decide I'm going to focus on my project completely.

And, instead, I go downtown and browse books relating to my project at Powell's Books. I go get lunch at my favorite diner. I head home, intent on working on my project, then stop at the coffee shop to get something caffeinated - to help me concentrate, once I get home, of course. I get home, pull out the books, plug in my laptop, set everything out so I'm ready to start working... and I decide I need some background noise, so I start watching Futurama from start to finish.

More discouragement. I'm not working! I'm delaying!

I start going through my saved articles, the ones I saved for "later". And the video I ignored earlier is there.

This video:

Some language not safe for work.

Wait. So... just start doing it? Even if I don't have all the pieces in place? Even if it's not perfect yet?

What the hell? Why am I waiting?

Thanks, Ze Frank.
02:53pm 25/11/2008
  is whiney today AND I AM NOT APOLOGIZING FOR IT.  
01:45am 25/11/2008
  is eating way more than he needs and it's not even Turkey Day yet.  
My letter to President-Elect Obama   
11:19pm 09/11/2008
  OK, Mr. President-elect, I supported you and worked on your behalf and donated money, and voted for you and encouraged others to vote for you. I defended your policies and decisions during the campaign, and I disagreed (respectfully, but forcefully) when I thought you were wrong... and accepted your decision after hearing me out, and continued to support you as the best man for the job.

So now you're on your way to White House. It's been a long campaign and I'm sure you're tired, but Mr. President, respectfully, there are some things I have to tell you now. Yes, now, before the celebrations have died down, and three months before you're even sworn in.

One of the very few upsides to the incompetence and malevolence of the Bush/Cheney Administration has been the rise of the new progressive movement. The mistakes of the past eight years has galvanized the opposition, from the grassroots up, and we have taken advantage of new technologies to organize and communicate effectively. We have used that organization to try to pull our leaders to the left on policy after policy; to oppose Cabinet and court appointments detrimental to the progressive cause; and to reward leaders who are already pursuing laws that will help all Americans and the world.

Simply because we now have large majorities in Congress, and a popular, intelligent and effective leader in the White House, do not expect the progressive movement to become silent. One key trait that distinguishes liberals from conservatives is the fact that liberals demand accountability from all leaders, regardless of whether they have a D or an R (or a G, C or an ID after their name (Sen. Joe Lieberman's days in the Democratic Caucus are numbered - but that's not a concern for you, Mr. President-Elect).

I don't have to tell you that the country, and the world, is in a bad way. You have acknowledged that, many times. In fact, your honest speaking about the troubles we are all in together is one of the things I most respect about you, and I firmly believe that that plain speaking was the key to your victory. Sen. Clinton had the popularity and the Democratic nomination was hers to lose - and I believe she lost it because she never spoke about the one major issue on American minds in the early part of this year: the war in Iraq and the tarnishing of our country's reputation.

Remember, sir, how just 14 months ago, when you spoke in Portland, how your stump speech specifically did not mention the two disastrous wars, in Iraq and forgotten Afghanistan? I'm glad that you did eventually add that to your presidential campaign. I believe it was the key to your victory.

But now that you have prevailed, and have begun the difficult task of transitioning from campaign to governance, now is the time for me, and all Americans who care about the direction of this country, to state for the record what our goals are.

And in another move that pleasantly surprises me... you have created a place for us to speak, and for you to communicate and listen. That gives me great hope.

In fact, it hasn't even been a week since your victory and I have already used the communication tool you've presented to give my thoughts on potential Cabinet appointees. Unfortunately, as these things go, my thoughts are negative ones: I am firmly against appointing Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to any position that requires rational thought and trusting the research and science before making policy decisions, because of his virulently anti-science stance on vaccinations, when rumors arose that RFK, Jr. may be considered for heading up the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of the Interior; and likewise, I am against the appointment of Lawrence Summers for the Department of the Treasury, since he is elbow-deep in the deregulation that led us to the massive failure of the investment banks that we have seen in the last few months.

But I am not entirely negative on your choices so far, and I do not intend to protest every single choice. I have good reason to believe that choosing Rahm Emmanuel for your Chief of Staff is an excellent pick; Rep. Emmanuel's personal politics, particularly on trade issues, are too centrist for my progressive tastes, but when he explicitly states that the Obama Administration is not going to tie policies needed to immediately help our flagging economy to Bush-requested trade pacts with other nations, that's incredibly encouraging. President Bush is the least popular president in the history of polling, and his help is not needed to move us forward.

It is also very encouraging to read that your staff have been planning for months what will happen after the election. The fact that the New York Times is reporting that you are preparing to undo as many of Bush's policies as quickly as possible, makes me realize that you were not just campaigning competently, that you had your eye on the next steps, as well.

With all that in mind, then, as one of your constituents, supporters, and advocates, I present to you my own personal top priorities for your administration, in order of their importance to myself and to our great nation:

  • Close the illegal prisons and "black sites" that hold our political prisoners. Close Guantanamo Bay, close Bagram, close Abu Ghraib, and any others that the public does not know about. Stop torturing. Stop it, and vigorously pursue criminal charges against those who implemented them and allowed them to continue. I realize that your colleagues in Congress may hold some culpability, since many of them, like Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, were ranking Minority members of various committees in the early years after 9/11. But remember how I said I, like other progressives, want accountability from all my leaders? Mine may be an extreme position, I understand that. But I still wish my voice to be heard. Stop the torture, close the political prisons. Not doing so may in fact be a war crime for your administration, not just the one that implemented it. And they represent an enormous stain on America's moral high ground.
  • Likewise, vigorously prosecute any and all crimes committed by the previous administration. You have stated, during the campaign, that you might do this. I hope that your campaign's statements were not just rhetoric.
  • Rescind the offensive extra-Constitutional powers contained in the Patriot Act and last year's FISA Amendment Act. I know that the progressive movement has butted heads with you on this before, and that you went back on your earlier campaign promise to oppose any law that included retroactive immunity. But since you supported that bill and it was signed in to law by President Bush, new revelations have come out about abuses by the intelligence agencies violating the law. Whistleblowers from the NSA have come forward to explain that they and their fellow agents were routinely violating the privacy of Americans, including the most intimate conversations, without any national security pretext for tapping and recording those calls and emails. This surprised approximately no one who has been paying attention, and the knowledge that this has been happening, in violation of both the previous FISA laws, but also the amended FISA laws, does harm to our national security and our status in the community of nations. Repeal and restore the laws that served us well for three decades prior.
  • End combat operations by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pursue diplomacy and social change as a means of combating terrorism; an example would be Michael Moore's suggestion of bringing clean drinking water to the over a billion people in the world who do not have it. The $10 billion that would cost is a fraction of the cost of putting our troops in harm's way and killing or injuring thousands upon thousands of others. Remember, again, that prior to the economic meltdown in October, this was the most pressing issue on American minds. It is still just as important as it was before. Bring our troops home.
  • Lead through Congress and sign the Employee Free Choice Act into law. Organized labor brings democracy to what is otherwise a dictatorship (though some employers may be tyrants and others benevolent, non-union workplaces are still subject to the whims of those at the top). Strengthen the Federal Labor Relations Authority to bring more accountability to our industries. Union workers are, largely, progressive workers.
  • Use the $700 billion bailout money to directly help homeowners keep the houses they tried to purchase. Repeal the flawed bankruptcy bill passed in 2005 that forced people to continue paying usurious credit card debt but walk away from the roof over their head by removing sensible bankruptcy protections for them.
  • Create a new public works program to re-build our infrastructure and create new jobs. Invest in alternative fuels and at reducing carbon emissions.

Your stump speech talked of compromise. A true compromise is when everyone gets at least something they wanted. And no one gets anything they didn't ask for. I could add more, but those will do for now. Everyone will have their own list of policies, but these are the most important as I see them.

And thank you, President-Elect Obama. This is truly an historic moment for our country and the world.
Dear world   
10:08pm 05/11/2008
  Drummers and marchers, not protesting - CELEBRATING!Dear world:

We are sorry for the last eight years.

We* hope that this goes some small way towards making up for it - though that will be cold comfort to those who have already given their final all.

As our President-elect said last night, the road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep.

But, y'know, I think we can do it.

Yes we can.

"The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice." - Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I'm going to wax a little poetic, here. I think, after the results of last night, that I'm entitled.

All day yesterday, hell, for most of my waking hours these past several weeks, I hoped and worried about the outcome. Even when the polls said that it was basically a done deal, I could not allow myself to take it for granted. Too many times have I seen something that seemed so promising and so fucking simple, taken away.

I have lived almost 44 years, and when I look back, there are very few moments I can remember being part of a joyous moment of nationwide - or worldwide - celebration. I barely remember the moon landings, I was so young at the time. And since then, for the most part, when Americans came together, it was either in grief and sorrow, or for reasons that seem trivial to me; oh, yay, a sports team has beaten another sports team, this year.

That's nice and all, but, y'know, not all that important. They'll play more games next year, starting all over.

But the grief? All too real.

Watergate hearings. The resignation of President Nixon. The troops coming home from Vietnam. The Iran hostage crisis. Wars, small and medium (no large ones, not yet). Attacks on our soil, and us attacking others. The Challenger shuttle exploding - that image burned into my mind's eye, tragic loss. The impeachment of a popular president. The jetliners full of innocents taking down buildings full of innocents.

Yes, there have been more happy moments; the end of divided Berlin, for example. But that was in spite of the involvement of my fellow citizens. Not because of.

But last night, as I stood in the bar and drank and talked to my brothers and sisters of Portland and watched the results come in (those results seem so inevitable in hindsight) I realized that I own a piece of tonight.

I got involved. I didn't simply vote. I gave time and money and, most of all, I gave attention and persuasion. When Obama said it was my victory, I felt the truth of it. My part was small, perhaps, compared to others. But I gave what I could. And now I need to give more. And I will do it, gladly, because the promise of renewing the Great Experiment of America is more than worth the sacrifice.

President Obama, I think, is a practical man. He has campaigned in a practical way, in a positive way, yes, a hopeful way, but still at his core is a man who has a firm grasp of the reality of things. He will make decisions I disagree with; he will make mistakes; he will see things differently than I do.

But I believe him when he says that he will listen. I believe this because he has, in fact, done this already. And he will explain his position clearly and he will treat us as adults, not children. Just as he has done already.

I do not see the Presidency as a king, ruling from his palace on the hill. I have far more faith in my citizens than that. I see the President as the one who enacts the will of America. We have let a small minority of citizens express that will; but I'm hopeful that that is coming to an end now. Enough of us are awake that we can communicate right back at our President, and our Congress, and make sure that all American's needs, the young, the ill, the elderly, the minority, get their needs taken care of, so that they, too, can participate in the promise of freedom.

Elections come and go, and the reaction I've seen most often is a quick "hooray for our side!" and "drats for our side!" and then quickly our attention turns to whatever is on the other channels.

Not last night.

Last night I saw my fellow citizens happy, really happy, for the first time in my memory. The same folk who have marched in protest, now danced in joy. We had been given a chance to redeem ourselves.

Let us not wait too long before we get back to work, okay?

* "We" being, at current count, at least 63,909,365 of us.
10:29am 18/10/2008
  is helping Tracy move today!  
02:19pm 06/10/2008
  met a girl who sang the blues, and he asked her for some happy news. She just smiled, and looked away.  
12:10am 06/10/2008
  is counting the seven hours until the official end of the weekend (when the alarm goes off tomorrow morning).  
08:54am 17/09/2008
  was up early to run. Next: being lazy all day!  
08:14am 10/09/2008
  Republican co-worker in conversation with like-minded libertarian co-worker on Monday:
"Palin? McCain? Of course they're lying. What does lying get them? More money in the bank and a boost in the polls! It's OK! There's a war on, and whatever it takes to win..."
Republican co-worker in conversation with friendly but opposing Democratic co-worker on Wednesday, in reference to Joe Biden's gun control position:
"He's been in the fight but he's never told the truth. We don't like liars."
...at which point I busted up laughing and practically shouted at him, "You don't like liars?"

He replied back, "Show me a documented instance of--"

I cut him off. "How about McCain and Palin?"

"Uh, uh, well, no, I'm talking about--"

"Whatever," I said. "I need coffee." And I walked away.

Felt good to catch him in a direct contradiction. That might've made my entire week.
08:10am 21/08/2008
  is not in the least bit hungover.  
Skirt versus kilt   
08:37am 18/08/2008
  As soon as she saw me sitting at the table near the stage, Stormy walked over and leaned over from the waist, which put her face level with mine, and not-coincidentally showed off her tits. "Hi! You're not usually in here so late."

"Right. But here I am." I'd started the night at a different bar but still wanted to hang out with Stormy.

I pointed at the tiny skirt she was wearing, which was little more than a four-inch wide ribbon of pleated plaid wrapped around her waist. "I have a kilt at home that's the same tartan!"

"This skirt? A kilt?" She posed and held out the sides. "Is it this short?" She turned around and flounced the back up and bent over again from the waist, looking back at me. "Can people see your butt when you wear it, like this one?"

I laughed. "No. Oh, hell no. No one wants to see that."

I was glad to be here. Stormy always makes me smile.
10:35am 07/08/2008
  is living la vida lo-cal.  
05:19pm 29/07/2008
  loves you. Seriously. Like, buy you flowers and candy loves you. But not the fattening kind of candy. The good shit.  
Tattoos and hair   
07:09pm 19/07/2008
  I've been thinking of getting a tattoo, but I've got some questions about getting, and maintaining, one.

Y'see, I'm male, and I come from hirsute stock. I'm covered in hair.

Is it worth it to get a tattoo if it's just going to be hidden by a layer of body hair?

Would the hair present a problem in even getting the ink done in the first place? How about healing afterward?

Should I actually get a tattoo, am I just condemning myself to shaving and/or waxing the body part in question? And I mean shoulder, arm or lower leg, not anything else, ya perverts.

Any advice is appreciated, but particularly from actual tattoo artists is highly prized. And if you want to mock me for being a throwback, gorilla or caveman, or other insults and taunts, g'head, because creative insults like that just are too few and far between these days.
09:46am 18/07/2008
  is gonna start his own theme park, with blackjack and strippers. In fact, forget the theme park!  
08:49am 15/07/2008
  is slightly lighter today. Yay, diet!  
Lost in space   
10:08am 25/05/2008
mood: nostalgic
In May 1981, I was already a huge nerd for movies. Specifically movies from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Lucas had come to my attention due to his writing and directing a little popcorn flick called "Star Wars" (which, not so coincidentally, opened 31 years ago today), and had followed it up by writing and producing the much-darker and almost universally acknowledged superior "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back".

"Star Wars" was for me, like many men of my generation, a turning point. But I didn't get to see the movie until late in the summer, as I recall. It opened while I was still in school, sixth grade at North Oak Grove Elementary School. The following fall, I would be going to Oak Grove Junior High, so there was already a sense of change in the air for me; new school, new routine. But my friends all got to see this movie long before me. After Memorial Day weekend, they returned to the classroom and playground with tales of Jedi, and Sith Lords, and Millennium Falcons, and TIE Fighters, and Artoo and Threepio. I couldn't make heads or tails of what they were talking about, but it all sounded like the most fascinating thing in the world - even more fascinating to me than Julie Phillips, the brunette muse that had attracted my shy attention but whom I never actually spoke to.

When I would ask about going to see this movie, my dad would refuse outright. The movie was so popular that there were lines at the theaters. Lines! Can you imagine! "No way in hell am I going to stand in line for a fucking movie!" my dad declared. This nearly broke my heart. However, through my Science Fiction Book Club membership, I sent away for a copy of the novelization for the movie, and devoured it in a single sitting. I would tell my parents and sister all about how this was just one chapter in the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, and explain that the Old Republic was legendary, but how it had fallen to the predation of Palpatine, who declared himself Emperor. It was as much, if not more, nonsense to them as my friends' explanations had be to me. OK, maybe far more. Now I knew the story but I still ached to see the actual movie.

Then, after school had let out for summer, came word that "Star Wars" was playing at a tiny little theater in tiny little Estacada, about 25 miles south east along the Clackamas River. There were no lines there. There was also no Dolby Sound and no 70mm film print in all its widescreen glory, but I was 12. I had few options unless I was willing to compromise. Mom, Dad, my sister, myself, and my Grandma Hayner all drove out one summer afternoon, and for the first and last time in my life I sat in that theater and watched what had only been words on a page become real. Even on the smaller screen, even with "normal" sound, even surrounded by the dank smell of summer sweat and popcorn... "Star Wars" took me away. All other viewings of that movie don't compare to that one instance. And believe me, I have seen that movie many many times since then.

Spielberg had directed "Jaws" in 1975, which I have never seen to this day in its entirety but was a source of conversation to my grade-school buddies, and in 1977, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". It was a much gentler alien invasion flick. The first time I saw CE3K, I and my nephew had to convince my dad to drive clear across town to the Eastgate theater, which he did, grumbling all the way, and taking back streets to avoid the horrible traffic of SE 82nd Ave. We arrived late, after the movie had already started, a huge source of annoyance to me at the time. I wouldn't argue with my dad, though; well, maybe a sarcastic remark in passing. Kevin and I had to sit near the back, and right in front of a speaker tower for the then-new Dolby sound system. If you remember the climactic chase at the end of the movie, that particular speaker was solely responsible for the sounds of the helicopters which chased Roy around Devil's Tower. Helicopters are loud.

So much so was I captured by the vision of Lucas' galaxy far, far away that it became the central obsession in my life, neatly supplanting Star Trek. So much so that when the sequel, "The Empire Strikes Back" came out in 1980, that I and my friends read the novelization, read the comic books, bought (and stole - I'm not proud of that now but I'm sure the statute of limitations is long since up by now) the action figures, listened to the soundtrack and "The Story of" LPs... everything. Everything. I was a sophomore at Milwaukie High School now. My mom drove me and Kevin out to the Westgate theater for opening night. And, yes, we stood in line. We were almost turned away, but when the theater employees came out to say there were three seats left, but not all together, we were ushered inside. I had to sit in the very front row, waaaaay off to one side, but it didn't matter. I knew that this would be one viewing out of many. And for the rest of the summer, when Terry and I had nothing else to do, we would take the long bus ride from Milwaukie to Beaverton to see "Empire".

Spielberg was also the director of the amusing but under-rated "1941", which made me and my high school budies, Terry, Andy, and Rodney, laugh at the time, but which I no longer remember many details of. I remember John Belushi in a WWII Airman's uniform, and a ferris wheel breaking free and rolling into the Pacific after being attacked by Japanese Zeroes. And that's about it. We liked it because it was from Spielberg.

So in the summer of 1981, I was now a junior in high school. I had more interest in girls but still lacked any sort of courage. I remember most of high school as hanging out with my buddies, playing Dungeons and Dragons, talking about "Star Wars", and an unending series of crushes on cute girls. I was smart enough that my classes posed no challenge to me - well, except for the obstacle of actually doing my classwork. I was distracted and often late in my work. Didn't they understand? There was a galaxy at war, people! Far more important matters were at hand. I fantasized about the Millennium Falcon landing on the high school football field and taking me away, and Han Solo reluctantly allowing me to pilot the ship, and being amazed at how well I flew for a kid.

And as summer approached that year, so did news of the first-ever collaboration between Lucas and Spielberg. It starred Han Solo - I mean, Harrison Ford. I had been burned before by learning early that Darth Vader was Luke's father, so this time around I avoided reading much about the movie. I knew it was a throwback to the pulp stories of the 1930s... and that's about it.

The movie opened on 12 June 1981, which I remember being the last Friday of the school year. I went by myself to the Southgate theater, a theater that has been not just closed, but completely eradicated from existence since those days. The building was a cinder-block warehouse, with two large theaters and two smaller ones. "Raiders" was playing in the largest theater, and for some reason I remember the crowd for that showing being rather small. There were empty seats. And as I watched and enjoyed the movie, I kept getting distracted by a couple sitting ahead of me.

It was Karen Hatton and her boyfriend, Trey.

Karen was my then-current crush. Snarky before snarky was a word, funny, imaginative, blonde-ish, thin. She was just as much into "Star Wars" as I was, which made her that much cooler. Oh, and she had gone out with my best friend, Terry Mantia, waaaaaay back in junior high, and they remained friends, so Karen was a part of my circle of friends. And so was Amy Dinkler, Karen's best friend. The four of us shared a few classes, including Drama class, and we would talk about all the important things in the world, like whether Princess Leia would choose Luke or Han (little did we know), and whether the Emperor could afford decent marksmanship training for stormtroopers, and if there was anything a lightsaber could not cut.

I crushed hard on Karen. I didn't notice Amy until senior year, when I discovered that she had been crushing on me for a year or more.

Sitting in the Southgate theater, my attention was split between the fantastic adventure on the screen and the practical drama in front of me. Trey and Karen were making out in the dark. After the movie, my head filled with images of giant rolling boulders and melting faces, my sights were filled with Karen and Trey holding hands and walking out into the parking lot and into his car. Trey, you see, was a senior. An older man.

The following week, we still had a few days of school left, but mentally everyone had checked out. The only reason we came back, I think, was to pick up our yearbooks and get them signed. As I wandered around the hallways with Terry, his gray fedora perched on his head, I alternated between telling him about "Raiders" and complaining about Karen. His advice was to stay away from Karen. "She's got issues."

Don't we all?
10:55am 08/05/2008
mood: restless
A recurring theme last night, while hanging out with Kevin, was the question of how to behave in public. Specifically, how different would we behave if we were filthy rich.

The evening began with a viewing (my second, Kevin's first) of "Iron Man", in which ultra-rich corporate executive and weapons dealer Tony Stark gets the awesomest toy ever, a red-and-gold suit of flying armor. He's also got a self-aware computerized butler called Jarvis, and holographic and touch-screen controls for said computer. Even his off-the-shelf toys are envy-producing: an Audi R8, a Bentley limo, various personal jets (I think I counted two different types but am not an aeronautics buff enough to identify them) complete with on board stripper-stewardesses and requisite pole, a Malibu mansion. And backed by the confidence that billions in assets can provide, his cocky manner becomes charm.

After the movie, Kevin and I went to dinner at Montage. The crowd there, even early, is largely made up of young and beautiful people, and I had serious eye contact with a breath-taking brunette who reminded me a bit of Alyssa Milano. But I could not get up and approach her, strike up a conversation. As I related a story from last week to my friend, which was about a similar situation of brief contact with an attractive and possibly interested Asian woman, Kevin berated me and (jokingly) threatened to strike me about the head and face for failing to follow-up.

His theory, which he himself is unable to put into practice without jeopardizing his marriage to the lovely M, is that one should discard all care and worry, and just act. He suggested that such an attitude was a perk of being über-rich. Merely pretending to be a billionaire would produce the same results. I digested his ideas as I devoured my green pesto mac and cheese and cornbread. This idea was not new to me, but still I seem unable to manage the leap that would let me attempt it on a regular basis. Is there some trick I could use to put myself in the right mental state?

It is perhaps a measure of my depressed mental state that when I think "act like you don't care" my first thought is not of the freedom that having an unlimited bucket of money, but instead the sense of looming inevitability that comes with knowing you'll be dead in six months. That's just the first place my mind takes me, lately.

We continued talking about this idea for the rest of the night, and when we reached Papa Haydn's for dessert, Kevin became a bit more show-y and assertive, and I followed his lead. A little bit. I still felt self-conscious and inwardly was a bit shocked at some of the things he said or did, but, honestly, afterward, what was the harm done? He said, out loud and where she could hear it, that the hostess was cute. He asked to be seated in the section where the cute waitress was serving. He joked about not tipping the waitress when she needed her pen back. All harmless and fun. Although perhaps socially transgressive and perhaps the staff and other customers were uncomfortable. Who knows? Maybe they were secretly enjoying it, maybe they were offended.

Either way they are not likely to forget it soon.

When I joked, "Would I look like this if I were rich?" Kevin stated, flatly, "No." I laughed and said, "Yeah, probably. I really like this t-shirt."

He said, "But you'd probably wear clothes that fit you better." Yes, probably so.

The most taboo thing I did was pick my fork up by its tines and tried to eat with the handle. And even then, I felt awkward and had to stop after just a few seconds.

But I laughed and had fun all evening. I think Kevin did, too.

At the end of the night, when Kevin drove home, and I sat and reflected on the night, I remembered having a lottery ticket in my pocket. A ticket I had not checked to see if it was a winner or not. Likely, not.

But wouldn't it make a great story if, all throughout the evening, I had had on my person, stuck away in my wallet, a piece of paper worth millions? It would be like the story of a callow farm boy who is, secretly, a prince, heir to a royal throne.

I still haven't checked the ticket. I might not for a while. Maybe it is the trick that will allow me to act with more freedom and less crippling forethought.
Getting involved   
09:33am 26/04/2008
  I walked past my neighbor's house carrying a couple of bags of groceries. Had walked up to the store and back. I was on my way home.

Election coming, I had decided to do my share, so I'd stopped at the Post Office and picked up voter registration forms. This coming Tuesday is the last day to register in Oregon.

Sitting on Peggy's front stoop was Old Barfy and a buddy, 40 ouncers of cheap beer in their hands. The dark-haired one, who always wears sunglasses, used to live in the building but hasn't for a year or so. I think he got evicted. I don't pay a lot of attention to the drama in my building.

Remembering the forms in my bag, I turned to the older men and shouted, "Hey, are you guys registered to vote?"

Old Barfy nodded, and the other guy said "Yeah," so I kept walking.

But Sunglasses continued "...but we're registered Republicans!" He said it in a challenging way.

I turned back, stopped. "Huh?" The answer confused me. Or maybe his attitude about it. Or the underlying assumption he'd made. I wanted him to repeat it.

There was an awkward pause.

"Are you askin' from the left, or the right?" he said, again making assumptions that I didn't really get.

I shouted back, laughing. "I don't give a fuck! I just wanted to know if you were registered." I turned away, my question answered, and wanting to make a larger point. "There's an election coming up. Just wanted everyone to have their say."

And besides, Joke's on them. The country is largely progressive.

Generally speaking, Democrats win when more voters participate. Heh, heh