Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Far Along

29 May 2010

Dear J-

It has been a difficult day, compounded by various derelictions of duty (mostly mine) and the disruption to our schedules — given that figgy is in daycare more days of the week than not, we’d have been better off adopting the right naps and activities rather than expect changes to be accepted without question and challenge. It has also been the first warm day in a few weeks; instead of heading out in the promise of sun and fun, I succumbed to a mildly acute attack of agoraphobia and stayed indoors, half-asleep and marking time until we could head out as a three-person team instead.

We ate at two restaurants today — to find authentic food, you end up at places where natives will flock, and we’ve been, more than once, the only Asian folks around for blocks, it seems. Today the hunt was on for fried chicken and waffles, which led us to Chollas Creek and later, the right ramen put us down in our own backyard of Kearny Mesa cruising around a food festival I’d completely forgotten about. There’s always something to be done around here, and it’s too easy to ignore the challenging in favor of the comfortable.

Without rain no plants would grow, but it’s important to remember that sun is needed too. There’s a saying in auto racing circles: Speed costs money; how fast do you want to go? There’s also the classic pick-two but not three Hobson’s choice: fast, cheap, easy. So what have we learned today? Scratch that, what have I decided to change — after all, the only change I can effect is within — because of today? I’ve gotta be bigger than frustration; the phrase “You Make Me” just won’t cut it — I am in control of myself if I choose to be.

Mike

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Thanks Be

26 November 2008

Dear J-

It’s a short week, which makes it an odd week. After going in early this morning, we came out with some daylight (it’s rainy out there again tonight) and marveled at the novelty of being able to see where you’re going. The world hasn’t been plunged into perpetual darkness; I just need to pick up some habit that takes me outdoors occasionally during the day.

Still the earth keeps spinning. The recent ruling in Florida reveals more hope for the future; some of the arguments for the law banning the right for gay couples to adopt sound firmly rooted in the same tortured pseudologic used to justify all sorts of abridged rights in the past. The moral absolutists in the crowd don’t realize that when there’s always a wedge to drive between people, at some point, you run out of ground to stand on; if you truly believe in the individual, there’s always some point of differentiation between you and everyone.

We fear the unknown in terms of the known; we phrase things in small words and hope that the point comes across by relating it to concrete examples. The late surge for the Yes on 8 folks came with ads decrying the teaching of same-sex marriage in schools — much of the early returns showing a comfortable lead for No on 8 came from the abstraction of the idea: how would allowing same-sex marriages affect our marriage, our lives? The answer, then and now: it wouldn’t, it won’t. Yet you drag emotion into it and kids — oh, kids — and anyone would react strongly. It speaks to the secret fear that gay is a choice and gives wings to the lie that repression is a better choice than education.

Mike

Nucla Naturita

14 August 2008

Dear J-

It’s nice to see new folks come on board — not folks new to our group, which are many, as there’s a tremendous amount of horizontal mobility, but folks new to the site entirely.  That look — the mix of hope and fear untainted by despair — it reminds me that we’ve got a long ways to go before we are sufficiently interesting to young people.  I know I’m not precisely the oldest guy in the group, but even ten years is starting to feel like a gulf.

Do you remember your first job?  What counts as the first job, anyways?  I used to stock shelves for my parents in the grocery store when I was seven, but that doesn’t really count (hopefully any child labor law violations will have run their statute of limitations by now, anyway).  Or do I count that first adult volunteer job, working as slave labor just so I didn’t have to go home that summer in college?  Not wanting to go through summer school again, I walked up to a professor and volunteered myself because I thought his name sounded interesting; he naturally jumped at the chance to get a pair of hands on his project.

Nope, gotta be that first real paying job in Sacramento, not so long ago.  (1998!  Mike has been a productive member of society for ten years)  The job title said engineer, but the scope did not; I sat in a cubicle and connected points on the network to bring data across the country, but mostly just to local spots.  I learned my telephone manners there; we had to talk regularly to local telephone service providers and sure, you had your big locals like Qwest and Pac Bell, but more often than not, I’d end up on the phone to someone like Nucla-Naturita Telephone explaining all the nuances of our orders.  Be quick, but not clipped; brief without being rude — the facts, the request, the answer, and always say thank you.  It astonishes me that telemarketers will call me and, as I answer, continue on their conversation with someone else in the call center.  The pay was good, but the people were better — long lunches, excursions to the mall (hey, that pay had to go somewhere), and team-building exercises showing that you’d hang out with these people even if you weren’t forced to eight hours a day.

Motivation’s a tricky thing, but I know for me it has to come from me; you telling me that I should be happy or I need to get this done doesn’t do anything but exercise your lips.  I do it because … because I’m confident I can.  Every so often we need new folks in the office to remind me how.

Mike