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Proposals aren’t easy on guys. Like it’s a great problem to have, but I didn’t want to have a standard story.

So last Tuesday I picked up the ring but told her I was going to petco. I’d also planted the seeds that I wanted more water conditioner a few days in advance, by doing REALLY CLEVER stuff, like saying, “Man, I should buy more water conditioner!” on the Sunday. And then, “crap, too late to go out now I’ll pick some up tomorrow.” Ah yes. You can take it from me, a master deceiver, that no one — even me — was the wiser.

I did actually go to petco too. While there, I took a picture of a great looking oto and texted it with the caption “OMG A SHINY OTO LOOK AT IT.” This was to succesfully annoy her. Then at petco I asked the guy to give me a bag of water. He looked at me like I was a goddang weirdo. I told him I’m also buying water conditioner and I want to test it first. He kept looking at me like I was a goddang weirdo. I smiled and told him I’m kidding, but I’m about to (maybe) get engaged and want to put the ring in the bag and pretend it’s a fish to surprise her. He still kept looking at me like I’m a goddang weirdo, but he also finally gave me the bag. I paid and went home. Before I went upstairs I put said ring in said bag.

This is the moment that’s quite scary.

At home she saw I had a bag with what looked like ANOTHER swimmer and I went “THIS ONE’S REALLY COOL.” and went into my fishroom/office. I heard her sigh, but she also likes seeing the swimmers so, she came in. I put the bag on my desk and went “So….I got that water conditioner.”

“Uh huh…..”

“And, also, I got a new shiny…”

and then I got on the knee.
Oh man. I wish I had a video of her eyes. The bag had like a liter and a half of water, and the ring is something I can put a lot of pride behind, but it’s like….not so obvious in a big bag — trust me, a fish that wasn’t sunken to the bottom would be easier to ID. But she still sees that I’m genuflecting and starts freaking out. Like she was looking at me, the bag, me, for an escape route, then the bag again, within 3 seconds.

“Wait, are you serious right now? WAIT. Is that a fish. THATS NOT A FISH. OMG ARE WE DOING THIS.”

After about 2 minutes I had to go “So …..yes?” because I’d been kneeling / holding for a long while and the bag was getting really heavy. I hadn’t factored that part into my plan, so, isometric work out was me.

She said yes, and minutes later her fitbit went off because her heartrate was so high it thought she’d just had a work out.

It’s been as much of an eye opening experience for me, as anyone. I don’t even want to detail it further than that, but having a new f-word in my vocabulary is enrichening. I was technically wealthier before we did this, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.

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I’m taking a 15 minute break to point out,

some weird mental stuff happened this weekend. There’s a good battle scene in my favorite fantasy trilogy where the overly skilled, plot-armored main characters are trying to complete a battle but they’re just….exhausted. And I don’t really melee, but was reaching that level of burn-out — even depression, but,

I slept

I slept a LOT. I think I slept more than 40 hours in the last 4 days which is pretty alarming.

I’ve been getting 4 hours on most work-nights. And this three-day, man that helped. After sleeping so much, learning the value of a physical exercise and how I can make it meditative, man

Life might not be perfect,

I might not end up being every point of relations perfect cup of tea,

but I feel swell! Cool enough to have drive but not be impulsive and also explore — and that too me is a verve that’s the opposite of depression.

I want to say that my greatest privilege in life is being able to work towards results I can be proud of, and here we are 🙂

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You’re walking in the woods

There’s no one around and your phone is dead.

In the corner of your eye you spot hi-

No I kid.

I still don’t really have a hard definition for smarts…..I don’t like thinking of myself as smart. I prefer thinking of myself as “not dumb”. Dumb is easier to define and prove. Dumb is “Doesn’t get solutions.” Dumb is “results in problems.” Smart is easy to define as “the opposite of dumb” but, that’s not the most precise definition. It’s still problem-oriented, and there’s a solution-oriented definition that’s even cooler.

The thing is, there’re so many ways to create solutions to most things! And relativity fucks up all objectivity — trying to figure out who is smart in a room full of smart people is usually the type of juice that’s not worth the squeeze. That room should bring different solution bringers that prove why smart is an x factor. That guy who’s creative enough to see past the functional fixation of an object (“This pen can be a stabby device too”) and be resourceful is smart. That gal who can retain data AND have it at hand enough to gain insight based on an established set of details is smart too. That worker who is self-knowing enough to recognize what effort is needed, how long it will take to apply, and conquer with a work ethic is also smart. And that idea guy who can innovate a novel solution based on knowing what’s possible is also smart/the literal genius……there’s a reason that a smarter definitions of “smart” is not-dumb.

Shmart.

Well one thing that makes a humans one of the most uniquely powerful forces on Earth I think is perceptual problem solving. Saying “what don’t I understand to achieve solution” and then getting it, is genius. And we’re talking more than relabeling something — you can ‘expand’ a vocabulary by relabeling known-words with new word-sounds — but compare that with expanding a vocabulary by learning new words with new meanings.

Originally, I thought that humans had creativity over AI….and we still do for a bit longer, but if AI can still only expand a known ruleset in amazing ways, then creativity isn’t our chief advantage.

I think the actual spark of human genius is being able to see outside of what’s internalized. That ability to go from a baby with sensory overload to understanding why the sky is blue is something really special. This means that psychologists can have a certain genius that programmers reach for. Being able to see and intuit mentalities outside of our own little scope and world-view, that’s something special.

And it’s almost as if that drive to see and understand new things explains a lot about why smarty-pants are also often curious folks by nature.

If you think there’s wisdom in saying “we see everything through ourselves”, consider “it’s basic to see everything through your own lens.” Some folks are so quirky and different that understanding them isn’t a far cry from understanding why the sky is blue.

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I love my dad tons. In so many ways – including dem urges to do incredibly silly things – I’m absolutely his son. And nature’s pretty neat and means that offspring aren’t parental clones like in most 90’s cartoons. So, those differences show up too.

We also grew up in such different ages. He’s part of the baby boom generation. I’m one of the first millennials. I do think my kind should fall within a sub-genre of millennial with typical millennial distaste for later millennials, and be typed as “millennial falcons” but that’s a word-wall for later.

Dad also got to live in a one-of-a-kind kind of America. One where his parents ideals about racism were clearly shifting. Where “achievement” meant something entirely different than basic freedom or land ownership. Good households were nuclear families that never divorced, which meant that the pipe-smoking dad’s judgement was the pipe-smoking dad’s judgement. So long as the right bills were paid and no one died, it was an ok day.

But you also had weird byproducts of being of my dad’s one-of-a-kind weirdality of existence. Good men demonstrated certain rules: You got up, and went to work. (Conduct at work had a different set of rules.) You were motivated to get paid. Your worth could be tied to your demonstrated value. There are those of your kind that you’re supposed to be better than. Don’t forget lots of folks will view you as a racial token. You will get certain opportunities and are supposed to take them. “A job” is directly related to your value.

A bit of irony is that both of us are weird in what we choose to do and not do. I could almost link it to a genetic similarity. Can make us both pains in the asses. And we both had periods where it didn’t seem like the opportunities lined up right, so we did our own thing. And by “did our own thing” I mean, didn’t have “jobs”. (This is that period where I explored online stuff hard, had stints of bartending, and worked at a warehouse, and applied to be a meat inspector (no one even called me back) and dreamed and feared and lived off of savings and managed things in weird ways until I was starting to scrape by. I was also writing and getting some stuff published throughout. NYC can be tough. Behold its glory.)

Today, publishing a book is extremely easy. Publishing it successfully — where it reaches a wide audience and can become a full-time profession — is extremely hard by a factor that makes the extreme ease of having a book published shittily not deserve the word extreme. Ideally, you will have the following skills and talents:

The vision to create awesome stories.

The language skills to pen awesome stories.

The self-awareness to see imperfection in your awesome stories.

The editorial skills to perfect awesome stories.

The connection to reality that is real enough to make awesome stories relevant.

The charisma to obtain and drive a following.

The drive to connect to market.

The research skills to connect to market connections.

The marketing skills to package your awesome and perfectly edited stories to market connectors.

The support system to keep you alive enough to stay driven.

The health to not die.

The stubbornness of a lunatic, so that you will not take simpler opportunities in life.

I might be missing a couple.

I’ve been certain that I have at least some of the above. I spent some of my life reaching some writer milestones that I’m positive 95% of other people never will. And I’m sorry for how it sounds but I’m milestoning a little farther than “having written a book.” I have some things to be proud of, and there is a point where earning that pride means you have to assume lots of angles that will make you not look great, and others will attack. And I’m not referring to anything involving being a pain in the ass to others — or a jerk. I’m talking the gall to prioritize “attacking my keyboard like a shrimp attacks biofilm.” If a family member wants your energy or support, you’re gonna have to practice some time management, and others may not understand why you’re just not more at their disposal. It’s not like you can say “I’m being paid by the man, and you’re not the man so fuck off.” And pushy ones might figure “Can’t you just do that anywhere?” (No.) “What are you doing all day?” (….) “You can schedule your writing time like I can schedule the times that I am most motivated at work, right?” (Yes.) “You must not be humble in some ways.” (Could say the same for anyone with this style of thinking.)

And I don’t 100% know what my dad figured or where he fits into that weirdness. I have some guesses, like writers get hired at writer places and get to sit down and Clark Kent at a 9-5. (I mean ….I’ve also accomplished that and, there’s a reason I have two occupations listed in my taxes.) Or maybe you get some sort of agency agreement and are a professional writer paid for having an imagination and deep thoughts (maybe? But only in outlier cases, and still after a massive combination of time-spent, risk and luck.) Or that writers work “real” jobs and happen to become big ole writers. (This one I think is actually not inaccurate.) Or maybe that writers are writers no matter what, but as citizens they still also need to succeed conventionally.
I don’t know. Can only speculate.

But my dad was also my landlord for a while, and it was awful. And for stupid pride and clarity, I wasn’t regularly paying to live in his home. Family had extra property that was unoccupied, and I got to pay a discounted rate money wise, and pay for it in other ways because I’m also a family member. With greater privileges comes more responsibility, right? So maybe this made dad think he could do things as a landlord that a landlord couldn’t do to another tenant. Like show up randomly and decide a random stranger should enter my home and dissect the ceiling — no warning or notice. So we also fought. And there was one fight where he tried to use the barb that I was just marketing the third manuscript I ever penned. Said something like, “You know, are you even doing anything all day?”

I was very stern and went “Yes.” And I remember imagining a cliche then and feeling it chambered, but it also felt like a cliche and I didn’t wanna have to.

Although he kept it up.

“You know, it’s been a while since you had a real job.”

So I laid out my feeling pretty plain. It was early, and my day was being stripped, “You know, that’s a special angle for you to take. And just because I’m living off of my savings and not reporting in for some paycheck doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything. You have no idea how hard I’m working to try an succeed. No idea.

And then he said a pretty jerky thing. I’d say a parent should only say it if their kid is actually delusional, and even then I think there are superior ways to express it:

“You know, some people think you might be delusional?”

Omgerd triggered.

“Because I’m trying to do a thing that they wouldn’t?” So triggered. “Let me tell you something, I may succeed at a dream, I may not. Trying seems to be the only we’ll ever know if it was worth the shot, but let me make something clear.” I started making sure I was yelling. At this point I’m definitely yelling. “I don’t think I’m delusional because I know I don’t know if I’ll succeed. But here’s something I do know: I know I know what it takes, and how I’m working towards it much more than you do. So I know that if I don’t know, you certainly don’t either. You hear me? You have no idea how high I can fly. No idea! Now leave me alone!”

I sort of regret that these sorts of interactions happen. But, I say sort of because I recognized some really corny things later. I heard him bragging that I’ve had books published. That was like, within a month later, because it was to another plumbers-butt plumber I had to let in. Around the same time I saw him tell my aunt who was starting to demonstrate that older school mentality where “a job” sort of became a loaded statement that should be written with italics, and he started to explain to her that the world has changed and she doesn’t know what it takes. Right in front of me.

Sometimes fights are good. And I don’t want to demonstrate my dad as just a jerk because he’s certainly not. He can just be a bit of a bullheaded derp sometimes and to be fair, me too.
But this was one of those fights that maybe had a bit of an impact. He stopped being as harmfully pushy, and I think sometimes you’ve got to make others wake up by asserting the right to explore and define your own self-worth. That’s what freedom fucking is, man.

And with that said, I think I’m doing pretty damned good by today’s standards too. It’s obviously resulted from a combination of my entire family’s support and some talent, drive and skill. I want to be humble about it, but also realistic. Realistically, I’m pretty proud of lots — including my especially weird family. So I feel like I can be proud and open of some flaws, too.

/endrant

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Suppose that being sane is really boring. Suppose that your brain can hear how things could be more interesting, but to be the way you ought to be — you know, to survive in the safest fashion possible — you choose to be bored like all the time.

I always believed that most high functioning people accept this. Today, I’m not so sure.

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“Are you such a fucking loser, that you can’t tell when you’ve won?”

“What’d you call me?”

“Nothing. I didn’t make a statement. I asked a question. Would you like me to ask it again?”

*loose-cannon-potential deathstare*

“Mm-hm.”

Are you such a loser, that you can’t tell when you’ve won?”

*Strong eye contact*

~Best exchange in what is obviously the best vampire movie of my time: Dusk Till Dawn

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The Secret to being a fine team player

I’ve managed enough projects to say that even that even with all the technology and process available anywhere

don’t care if you’re talking going to Mars

the hardest part about managing projects = the people factor.

I’ve been managing other people’s workload and output enough to have a lot to say directly about what’s observed in others

First rule is that trust is critically important in a workpace — as a priority, “Being trustable” is just under “Deserving to be trusted”. I think those are the top 2.

We’ve all met people in charge who think they need to scowl — as in actively doing more than RBF, and I think that’s completely unnecessary and even disadvantageous. It says “I’ve adapted to working with bozos who need open obvious stimuli to compel active fear to make them responsible.” And I want to say fuck that vibe. Like most, I want to relate and connect and say “hell yeah” and “great” and “thanks” at the end of the day. And trust enables that.

But reality is, some people also just don’t warrant trust.

Some people aren’t super duper intelligent. This is more than ok. I think expecting folks to be savvy is expecting a lot out of the universe itself — and again, I don’t think it’s the woist if someone doesn’t seem to be the brightest lightbulb in the factory. I think it’s great to leave the door open to have someone work for and with you who is much smarter than you at the work load — and this means having “smarter-than” offs is one of the dumbest things someone can do. The key is to be able to focus on output, more than outputter.

Some people also won’t seem super duper hard working. This is of course also more than ok. Most jobs and occupations are weird if you think about it, and it’s impossible to gauge someone’s motivation in all things. (I’ve met people who think they can — and they’re all kind of arrogant dicks.) Plus, some people work smart and not hard and still get great results cause they’re that bright and in the right environment for it. The same folks can also burn-out and suck more than the diligent person who was less bright….in the end it’s a risk that means always squeezing the most juice that you can out of people is a lousy idea.

In the end, everyone’s equilibrium between smart and hard work is as simple as calories in vs calories out for energy balance. Output very good = Person very good. For anyone reporting up or down, the idea is to be some combination of smart and hard working and contribute. That’s being a team player. Combine that with conscientiousness and you’re bound to be a really fine one.

My approach is generally to try and see people’s assets and what needs to happen and optimize. It usually works really well, and usually there are even good memories and lols along the way.

But sometimes, you have someone who is just the obstacle. I said that trust is most important, but when you see sign and sign again that someone doesn’t deserve it, this can make someone who wants to be nice go nuts. And I think this is one reason new yorkers do a lot of great business … there’s a great culture of “wait a minute this doesn’t look right and I’m about to go nuts so what’s going on” here.

And there’s always going to be the example of that employee who either can’t see the big picture, or doesn’t care. Or that person who doesn’t do things unless told (compared to the guy who will ask if they should) and then provides a squirt of work. It’s like they miss the point that it’s easier to do that squirt of work oneself. Or just not recognize that their work is lousy.

Of course some people ought to ask themselves really, why they have a job. And if the response is rooted in disrespect for who they work for and with….well maybe they person should do better things with their life. Let’s chalk this up to nothing recent, but recent processing that’s hitting me with a ha. I can now say that I’ve experienced simultaneously not wanting to say “this is not good enough” and knowing I have to — think that’s called a hard choice where the right answer is still clear.

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Personal covid death toll is now up to 9 people within 3 degrees of separation as of this weekend. Last two additions are an uncle and grandfather together….

As far as I care, the pandemic today is a race to get the vaccines distributed ASAP, and anyone who works against that is a fucking idiot.

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First thing I saw when I opened up this page was the last entry. Need to add another number to that.
Times are tough, and I feel like I’m still coasting off of crazy efforts.

We accomplished a thing at work. Right now that wagon is going downhill on a targeted slope, but it’s going, and we’re making sure it’s the ride to the docks expected. I had a good 10 hours of adrenaline this week from my job, and I like that. It wasn’t bad adrenaline either. Eustress. We did it. And I want everyone to join me, get on board, pats on back, and then we do another thing better. I like these milestones. When you make a thing — the kind of thing that can’t be taken back — that’s….it’s a damn good feeling. Up there with kissing your crush for the first time because they wanna too.

The Pot by Tool has great lyrics. I don’t love poetry, but that’s poetry.

Lastly, I just saw an ad for dirt cheap tattoo removal. Not sure why that’s what I’m being targetted with, but I realized something, even though I think my ink could have been better done, I like it and the only way I’d get it removed was if someone paid me an exorbitant amount to do so.
And then I’d use the money to have it done better.
I like that too.


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4

I know 4 people now who lost someone close due to covid-19. One lost a wife, and 3 lost their dad.

It’s fucking painful to have compassion for and empathize with. But I think it’s disrespectful for those who are gone to not. And I find it’s easier to get mad at the people who are disrespectful to the recently and suddenly dead than it is to relate. So at the moment I don’t care about gamestop and that’s my morning.

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