Posts tagged big boy talk

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On the perseverance of Bostonians and marathoners

Since leaving for college so very long ago, I have spent a grand total of one year in Boston. I have lived in Amherst, London, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Prague. Yet, there is never a doubt about where I am from. People find it hard to get through an initial conversation with me without the issue of Boston coming up in some way or another. The Bruins during their 2010 Stanley Cup run in a Shanghai bar. The liberal politics of Massachusetts during the 2008 race between Obama and McCain. The obvious reverence foreigners have for the colleges and universities of Boston. Debating the relative merits of New England Clam Chowder versus the Manhattan variety in a San Francisco seafood restaurant. 48 hours ago, sending an email to a Chicago running friend with a link to an article about what makes the Boston Marathon the greatest in the world.

In short, it’s easy to know where I was born and raised. In reality, that mindset is prevalent throughout Boston. We are a very insular and proud society. Sometimes, I well know that it comes off as rudeness, or arrogance. Sometimes, it is. However, this exceeding (or excessive) pride in where we are from may sometimes show up as a character flaw, but it is also the greatest strength of Bostonians. We are all proud, yes, but such pride fosters an incredibly strong, and unique sense of community.

You see this community when Ben Affleck won for “Argo” and my mother, an eminently reasonable woman, called and asked “Did you see we won Best Pict-hah?” (Of course, in years past, this question could have referred to Pedro winning the Cy Young). You see it when students who come to Boston for school decide to never leave. You notice it as young boy who was stranded in a broken-down car as a hurricane approached and strangers invite you, your father, and your two siblings into their home. (To this day, every time I walk or drive by that house, I get a wonderful case of goosebumps). You see it when people stand up for hours on end cheering for complete strangers to keep going. You see it when they give those same strangers water, orange slices, beer, high-fives, and hugs. You see it on Patriot’s Day, at the Boston Marathon.

Simply put, Patriot’s Day is our day. Bostonians are taught from a young age that America wouldn’t exist without their contributions. (It doesn’t matter whether or not your great-great-great-great-great Grandfather was there or not, because, again, we are all one). Is this arrogance? Yes. Is it fact? Indubitably yes. Crispus Attucks. John Adams. The Boston Tea Party. The Battles of Lexington and Concord.

For those not from the area, it’s those battles that took place in two Boston suburbs that gave birth to the state holiday. It’s the commemoration of the beginning of a armed resistance to tyranny. It’s an excuse for just about everybody to get a day off, watch the Sox, and watch the Marathon with family and friends. It’s a day for kegs and eggs. It’s a day of somber reflection, and for Massachusetts residents, serves as a second day to honor our brave men and women in uniform, both past and present.

Patriot’s Day is more than that. My birthday often falls on the first day of spring. However, due to the cruel vagaries of local climate, it’s often still quite cold and glum in the last days of March. Patriot’s Day is the unofficial first day of spring for harried Bostonians grateful for a three day weekend. Even better, it serves as the first Monday of April vacation for Massachusetts students and teachers. In short, there is no better day in Boston, a city that thrives on hope and expectation of what is to come. The Sox have just begun. Spring has just begun. Summer clam bakes, mini-golf games, and playoff baseball are hopefully around the corner.

In short, Patriot’s Day has always been a very specially unique Boston day. Yet, it’s also a day when Bostonians are exceptionally welcome to outsiders. Rooters for the visiting team at Fenway are backslapped and poked fun at (we’re laughing with you, not at you). Out of towners seeking the finish line or Fewnway are walked to their destination. Foreign runners who conquer Boston become legends. Uta Pippig. Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, and so many others. Hell, Cosmas Ndeti was so welcomed here that he named his son after Boston.

In the wake of such an attack, it can be very tempting to become distinctly unfriendly to outsiders. Nothing is known yet about who perpetrated this cowardly attack, but regardless of mental malfunction, regardless of perceived dissatisfaction, whether legitimate or not, some symbols are off-limits. For Bostonians, this attack was a triple whammy: our most sacred holiday, our unquestioned global jewel: the king of marathons, and the day upon which hope is renewed after a long, brutal winter.

Then again, in a twisted way, it makes sense. Terrorism is not about body count. Sure, sick fools have been successful in racking up murders of innocent people, but terrorism isn’t about end games or total victory. It’s about symbolism, and changing people’s way of life. Making people afraid to fly, or causing people to get nervous at big events like the Super Bowl, a concert, or the Olympics. It’s about victory by a war of one thousand cuts, said a monstrous subhuman currently feeding the fish. In some ways, that strategy has succeeded. Ultimately, it won’t:

                                      

This isn’t about some bellicose American chest-thumping. No country is perfect, and no country is #1, at anything. However, the spirit of America truly does come from the first days of our founding: you can beat us, you can try and break us, but you will fail. Boston is a microcosm of the American ethos: a somewhat dysfunctional family, but ultimately, a family that closes ranks. We may fight about things like gay marriage, or the legalization of marijuana. We may fight about matters as ultimately trivial as:

Sox versus Yankees

Pats versus Jets (and those lucky Super Bowl Giants teams)

Celtics versus Knicks

Bruins versus Canadians

This sense of community so beautifully defined by Boston can also be seen in a different way across our land and even across borders. It can be seen in the beautiful sentiments coming out of New York and Montreal sports teams in the last 24 hours. See, the insularism of Boston isn’t limited to merely a few zip codes. In fact, it’s no insularism, at all. It’s a family thing. Perhaps it comes from the Puritanical founders of America, who frowned on liquor stores being open on Sunday but were big on family boozefests. Maybe it comes from Bostonians fighting side by side with people from the other colonies to repel the British. Maybe it just comes from the little brother mentality that naturally comes from a wonderful city that fast gets considerably smaller vis a vis other American metropolises. Whatever it is, a distinct sense remains:

We can pick on each other, but God help the outsider who tries to start trouble – we will rally together and bring hell down on him or her.  In the days to come, I have no doubt that law enforcement agencies in Boston, as well as national and international agencies, will come together and nail somebody to the wall. In the meantime, I’m more interested in that rallying together aspect: that’s what most families do. It just so happens that most families are considerably smaller than 625,087. Really, considering the number of Bostonians who aren’t currently living within the city limits, but still consider it home, the number is much larger. On Marathon Monday, those numbers swell even more. Particularly yesterday, when all went to hell. Police and EMTs ran towards the danger. Marathon finishers ran towards hospitals and blood banks to volunteer. Strangers ran towards strangers and ripped off their shirts to serve as tourniquets. Let the professionals run towardsthe scum who did this. I’d encourage all those who read this humble blog to run towards one another: find your family, find your friends, and tell them how much they mean.

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The next big thing

"The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open."  —Chuck Palahniuk

So, in less than 36 hours, I uproot my life entirely. I’ve done so many times before, whether it be when leaving for college, or moving to two different countries. However, in some ways, this will be the hardest transition.

There isn’t an 18 year old in the world who doesn’t worry about going off to college. However, there also isn’t an 18 year old to be found that isn’t irrationally confident about their skills, drive, and chances of success. As such, my first few months at school were somewhat lonely (my first extended time away from home) but also filled with the rush of meeting new friends and trying new things. Fairly soon, I got to the point where being anywhere but on campus felt a little strange.

The moves abroad were certainly daunting in some senses, but both came with benefits. In Prague, I was confident in my ability to find work. In Shanghai, I had a job before ever departing the U.S. There’s something about promised income that makes risk seem a little more tolerable. Of course, there are other differences between those moves and this one, but I’ll get into those at another time. 

For now, I’m trying to be as positive as possible about a decision that has long been in the works. During much of 2012, I spent my time trying to analyze my thoughts, dreams, and values in a thorough manner, with the goal of improving myself and enabling myself to make clear decisions about what would come next. 

Put simply, I’ve put a lot of thought into what comes next. So, it’s somewhat unsettling that I’m still a little bit unsure about it all. Perhaps I’m still inspired by the wise words of an important influence, who encouraged me to “take risks.” This move is of the biggest two I’ve ever taken. Keep your fingers crossed that this one pays off. 

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Tracking my resolve

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It’s the last day of 2012, and I guess we should all be grateful we made it this far, Mayans be damned. The turning of the last few pages of the calendar tend to be a very cliche time to examine one’s life and make goals for the next year. Since we are still in 2012 (my Chinese chums excepted), I decided to look back and save the looking forward for my next post. In that spirit, I wanted to re-examine my resolutions for this year. I did this at the quarter pole of 2012, but neglected to do so since, so I’ll be discussing the last 8.5 months or so. I’ve also included the original reasoning behind each resolution. In order:

1. Work out/run around 5x a week

I had a good gym routine for the last few years. I managed to go to the gym between 3-5 days every week, and get a good workout in. However, one thing that happened in Shanghai is that I was largely unable to work in an occasional non-gym workout. Like playing basketball or soccer. The sort of things that make you remember physical activity is fun, and not merely a means to an end. 

Status: Mixed bag

I’ve managed to do well with the 5x a week figure for working out. I’ve managed an excellent routine around time of day, days of week, and different workouts. As with before, these workouts tend to be dominated by the gym, rather than recreational sports or outdoor running. However, I did mix it up by getting into cycling, and going for long walks. I also have hope for 2013. The best run of my year came in 20 degree weather along Lake Michigan, and if I could gut out 80 minutes in that environment, it will certainly get easier when the weather warms up. I’m also looking forward to meeting some new peeps by getting into a soccer league come springtime. So, some successes, but I will continue with this resolution throughout 2013. 


2. Write more - blog and for a Shanghai magazine

Part of my reasoning for returning to Shanghai in 2012 was to dive into the writing scene. I had soured a bit on the teaching I was doing, but had found a new part-time job that would cover expenses and give me some time to write. Partially, I wanted to revive a blogging tradition that dated back years but had fallen by the wayside. However, I also wanted to look into writing professionally. Shanghai is chockablock full of websites and expat-centric magazines. I had a few connections, and was planning on dazzling the literati of the city with my witty analysis. I figured even if the work was unpaid, it would bode well for the future to have some published clips.

Status: Mixed bag

I’m pleased with the consistency of my blogging here, particularly in the first half of the year. Admittedly, it took a bit of a hit during my return to China and the period after my return.  There are a couple of factors behind that, such as some frequent (and extended) trips away from home and my trusty laptop, that I hope to work on in 2013. However, in terms of output, creativity, and breadth of topics, I’m pretty happy, and look forward to growing this blog more in 2013.

As for writing for a Shanghai maggie, that goal got rather Hindenburged by my living approximately 12,000 miles away. So, pretty much a fait accompli failure. However, I’m resetting that goal for my new digs in 2013 - more to come on that down the line.                                  


3. Cut down on restaurant dining

Part of the unusual working hours in Shanghai meant that most days, lunch came at 5:00 p.m. It can be awfully hard to eat steamed broccoli in a utility closet when you’ve had a long day - you want to get some fresh air and have a little downtime with your colleagues. Of course, I also liked to meet friends or someone special for dinner. As a result, I probably ate at restaurants 5-6x per week. Dining in China can be fairly inexpensive, but it adds up. Of course, restaurant food also adds up on your waistline. So, I decided to try and cut back. 

Status: Resounding success!

The only time I’ve even come close to approaching this number was my time in NYC, Dallas, and Chicago. When one is visiting old friends, there’s a natural tendency to go out and eat some good food. (Also, my time in China was filled with restaurant and hotel meals, but hey, the bosses were paying for all my grub, so I’ll give myself a mulligan there).  When one is visiting old friends, there’s a natural tendency to go out and eat some good food. As I noted in March, it

Turns out one of the upsides of being newly single, living at home, and having your friends scattered around is that you really need to work to find a reason to go out to eat. Breakfast consists of something simple, I usually make a sandwich or soup for lunch, and someone in the family will whip up something for dinner.

A few things have changed since that time. I’ve made new friends, and deepened relationships with some existing friends. However, this has been a two-edged sword. One of my better friends enjoys cooking as much as I do, and so I’m given extra motivation to cook at home or at her place. I’ve been given extra motivation to save some dough for some upcoming big purchases and expenditures, so that’s even more of a reason to stay in rather than run up a big bill for bottle service. All in all, I’d estimate my dining out sessions at 1.5/week, which means I comfortably met my goal. 

So, there you have it. Scoring 1 for a success, 0.5 for a mixed bag, and 0 for a failure, I scored 2/3. Not a bad year. Of course, it leaves room for improvement next year, but hey, that’s what resolutions are all about, right? In terms of my resolutions for this blog, I’m looking forward to some new design changes and new content in 2013. My life resolutions will be one of the first posts of 2013. Happy New Year, everybody!

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Car crashes and comebacks

                                  

Tiger Woods has always been a very interesting figure. In some ways, he has been in the spotlight since he was a toddler and appeared on the Ed Hope program showing off his golf skills. Lots of childhood success stories like that flame out in a big way (Lindsay Lohan being a good contemporary example). However, he only got better with time, and of course, became the world’s best golfer by a wide margin. 

However, even when he was the best, there were many people who didn’t like him. Usually when an individual or team is utterly dominant, they have detractors. People like parity in most instances, and so one team always winning is a bit of a turn-off. However, in Tiger’s case, people wanted him to win; they wanted to see him shatter records and crush foes. People appreciated his excellence. 

However, Tiger came across as mean. Churlish. Aloof. Sometimes extremely immature when he hit a bad shot. Of course, he was also a lightning rod as a biracial man in a traditionally white man’s game. So, there were plenty of people who disliked him personally or for reasons of bigotry, but still wanted him to do things they had never seen before. 

Then came Thanksgiving 2009. Pretty much the worst holiday one could have without a death occurring. He crashed his car, and his marriage fell apart over a string of infidelities. Of course, he was hardly a sympathetic figure, and many people verbally castrated him. In the aftermath of the divorce, his game and his physical state suffered, and he’s never really been the same since. In short, he hit rock-bottom, and there were plenty of people who gleefully were shoveling dirt on him. 

This has continued for several years, and every time you turn on ESPN you couldn’t go 20 minutes without someone mentioning his name in the worst way possible: “Is he over the hill?”

Thus, it was very gratifying to see Tiger win his first tournament in years this past weekend. I admit, he’s not my favorite person. I think most of the trouble he went through he brought upon himself. There is an old (paraphrased) belief in America that we put our heroes on pedestals so that they when they fall, they fall further. In other words, everyone likes to see the perfect person fail. We embrace humility, and things that humble people. For a painful example: no one liked the 2007 Patriots.

However, I think that narrative is slightly misleading, because it is not complete. Americans like to see their heroes/idols fall, but what we like even more is to see a hero dust himself off, stand back up, and throw themselves 100% into whatever it is they do or want. Movie screens, political offices, Fortune 500 companies, and playing fields are filled with people who fell upon hard times and came back to reclaim glory. Tiger is the latest to do so. Honestly, I hope he wins his next tournament, and the one following that. Not just because it’s good for the sport of golf to have him back. More than that, it’s inspiring to think that no matter how deep a hole seems, hard work, dedication, perseverance and not letting go of your dream is a good recipe for success. Congratulations, Tiger, and welcome back. You’re serving as inspiration for many, including me. 

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Cheesy Cravings

                                     

I sometimes sarcastically state that if I had to choose between no cheese and no beer for the rest of my life, I’d just quit living. After all, what’s the point?

It’s odd to think of how differently I approach the two things I most enjoy putting in my mouth. (That’s what she said?) When it comes to beer, I’m a purist. I enjoy great beer, savor each mouthful, and generally look down upon cheap, watery brew with the same disdain as I do curdled milk.  Don’t those people swilling the cheap stuff know what they’re missing out on when they don’t drink Chimay Tripel, Budvar, or Racer 5 IPA? I’m so obnoxiously dedicated to good beer I even felt comfortable retelling the famous joke about American beer and laughing knowingly. Oh you know the one:

Q. What do American beer and making love in a canoe have in common?

A. They’re both fucking close to water.

                    

Of course, it must be said that I sometimes have dipped into the shallow end of the beer pool, but it was only based upon fiduciary or location-based restrictions. I’m wasn’t proud of it. I felt dirty inside. 

So, based upon my supercilious attitude towards suds, you might expect me to have a similarly contemptuous attitude towards cheese. However, when it comes to cheese, I am the ultimate equal-rights proponent. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I’m an equal opportunity offender. As in, I offend everyone with my poor taste in queso. Oh, it’s true that I crave camembert and aged cheddar, adore asiago, and am gaga for gorgonzola. However, I know nothing about good cheese - I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a $7 wheel of brie and a $700 wheel of the same. However, my secret cheese shame goes far deeper than that:

                          

For my foreign friends, that particular delicacy is known as American cheese. This particular version of the species comes pre-wrapped, and it’s possible it contains no actual dairy product. Or, for that matter, anything that is actual food. American cheese is heavily processed and rather bland compared to most cheeses. It’s generally used for burgers or grilled cheeses - where the primary asset of the cheese is not taste, but how gooey it can get. 

So, it would take a particularly masochistic man to willingly eat American cheese without it being overpowered by beef or buttery bread. Unfortunately, I am that man. In the past, I have been known to unwrap a slice and just house it. Of course, this dining habit disgusts most, so I furtively sneak it when I can. However, with any other cheese, I show my love loud and proud by eating it whenever possible. 

I think of this after I made a strange decision tonight. I had made some vegetarian tacos and was in the process of of assembling them when I stared towards the cheese drawer. I realized I didn’t particularly want any cheese. It was more than simply trying to make a healthy choice, I simply had no desire to top my meal off with my favorite dairy delight. While chomping down, I realized that I hadn’t had cheese in weeks. It was another reminder of how addiction works: the longer one goes without engaging in an activity, whether it be sex, drinking, drugs, or potato chips, the easier it gets to avoid doing it again. This is certainly true in my case. People don’t always believe me when I say I don’t get hangovers, but I wake up feeling great after a night of drinking. Sounds great, right? The problem is that hangovers are a message from nature. I don’t get the message, and so I wake up and want to drink again to relive the good times. However, a few days without the boozedrink, and that urge goes away. It’s a valuable lesson to remember in this new era of healthy living. Alright, that’s enough serious introspection for the evening kids, I’ve worn my little brain out. Good night, all. 

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Impermanence and imperfection

                           

When we are young, it’s hard to grasp that not everything, and in fact, very few things will last forever. Of course, forever is something that we can really only grasp within the timeframe of our own mortality: something that existed before we were born and continues after our eventual death in some way seems permanent, even if it doesn’t meet the literal definition. I was reminded of the relative fragility of humanity and the infinite scope of history yesterday by two events: the retirement of Tim Wakefield and a death in my family. 

When I was a child, there were two things I particularly loved about Christmas. Of course, the first was the presents. Every child loves presents, and waking up extra early to sneak a peek at what Santa had brought before my parents and grandparents woke up was a real treat. However, the second thing I loved was Christmas Eve. On this night, my family would bundle up and travel to 4-5 houses of family members who lived nearby to eat, drink, and be merry. It was a simpler time when one could eat 14 brownies without feeling remorseful, and the strongest thing I would drink was eggnog with a bit too much cinnamon. Each house had a different feel, and it was even coordinated so that each nuclear family had something a little different on the table. I got to play with my cousins and tell all my older relatives what I hoped Santa would bring. Of course, all this excitement served to tucker me out, which made it easier to fall asleep with visions of Nintendo and G.I. Joes in my head.

                             

Over the years, that tradition has slowly been evolving and eroding as relatives age and eventually pass away. In 2011, my family only visited 2 houses. After this morning, I imagine 2012 might bring further changes. My great-aunt passed away this morning, and although I can’t profess that we were incredibly close, I do worry for her sister (my grandmother) who has already had a rough couple of years with bad news coming all around her. Perhaps it is true for everyone that Christmas steadily becomes less fun as you become a young adult (I imagine it becomes more joyous once you have children and the cycle begins anew) but to know that I will see at least one fewer relative at Christmas 2012 is not a fun thought. 

If death is the final milestone in one’s life, than retirement is certainly one that marks a point somewhere beyond the halfway mark. Of course, for professional athletes, retirement usually comes at a significantly younger age than us working stiffs. Perhaps the relative youth of our favorite athletes is one of the things that makes it difficult to cope with the fact that we will never see them play a meaningful game again. This shock is particularly acute with the retirement yesterday of Tim Wakefield, a long time Red Sox. Wake is best known for perhaps the following:

1. Being a consummate professional and unerringly unselfish player

2. Consistently doing good in the community without seeking credit

3. Throwing a knuckleball

There are many athletes that are said to do the first two, but very few have done so at a level that Tim Wakefield has maintained for his entire career in Boston. Even the muckrakers of the early 20th century would have a very difficult time finding anyone or anything that would tar the reputation of “Wake.” However, in throwing a knuckleball successfully, he stands in an even circle. You don’t need any toes to count those in the history of professional baseball, which dates to at least 1869, who have prospered while throwing a notoriously difficult to control pitch. The uneven motion of the ball might be impossible to hit, but it is nearly as difficult to control. This all stems from the unusual grip:

                         

Needless to say, watching Tim could be equal parts delightful and stressful. However, a knuckleball is also unique because it places less stress on an arm than a curve, slider, or fastball. Knuckleballers like Charlie Hough are notorious for being able to pitch for days straight, and normally retire far after most of their contemporaries. So, if any career could go on forever, it was Timmy’s. Yet, yesterday we learned what had long been suspected: 2011 would be the last year Wakefield would pitch. It’s ironic that a man with so much success may be remembered by many outside of Boston for a moment in which he failed: a game-winning and series-ending home run allowed to someone who shall go unnamed in these pages. It should be noted, however, that part of Wakefield’s charm was his imperfection: he threw a pitch that went no faster than an average 13-year old can sling it, and so he seemed like one of us regular guys. When he got shelled, there was of course disappointment, but very few fans truly got angry at him the way they might at a bum like Roger Clemens. 

Furthermore, any true Sox fan knows how much Wakefield did for the hometown nine. His tireless transitions between the pen and the starting rotation, his incredible 1995 debut season with the Sox, or many other contributions in so many roles. For me, the indelible memory of Wakefield comes from the fall of 2004. In the ultimate unselfish move, he forfeited a chance at a start in Game 4 of the ALCS in order to try to preserve the battered Sox bullpen. Four games and one Wakefield win later, the Sox had become the first team in history to rally from a 0-3 (games) deficit against a team I shall name: the New York Yankees. A few days later, Wakefield started the first World Series game the Sox had played in since I was a wee little one. He wasn’t great, but he left with the lead, which sometimes is all you can ask of a starting pitcher. Of course, every player on that 2004 World Series team are legends in Boston, but few players will have conducted themselves with the class and professionalism that Wakefield always has. Best of luck going forward, Tim, and know that in the minds of many, you have gained a sort of immortality. What more could one ask for? R.I.P, Aunt Rita. 

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Addiction week continued…

                                  

It is a tradition* that between the twin bacchanalia of the Super Bowl and my birthday I refrain from consuming adult beverages.

*It may be a bit grandiose to refer to an activity that is currently in Year Two to be a tradition, but hey, like Newt Gingrich, I sometimes have grandiose ideas. 

Last year was a raging success in abstention from raging in that I unerringly navigated 40 days of life with nary a drop of alcohol touching my lips. Saint Patrick’s Day was tough, as were several other occasions, but in my version of lapsed Catholic Lent was well worth it. I felt healthier, looked better, and had a clearer mind than pretty much any other time since high school. 

I vowed at the end of that period to make it a tradition, and reaffirmed that vow when New Year’s Day 2012 came rolling around.  Of course, this had an up and down effect: I knew I’d be abstaining for a significant period, so in the time between January 1st and the Super Bowl, I consumed at a prodigious rate, rationalizing that I would have plenty of time to make up for it with my healthy 7 weeks. Unfortunately, this had developed into a bit of a pattern - it would be no lie to suggest that I got a little drunk on my birthday in 2011, and several days afterwards, as well. This also tends to happen on vacations. I live the healthy life for months at a time, only to watch it fall apart while on the beaches of Thailand or the restaurants of Nanjing. This binge and purge lifestyle is no way to live:

                                       

In that spirit, I have decided to extend my traditional booze ban. I don’t have a date chiseled in stone at present, but it will go beyond my birthday and into the late spring/early summer, minimum. There’s a couple of reasons I’m deciding on such a tack, of which I am sure I will elaborate on in the future, but I think it will be an interesting experience. Of course, it’s easy to say that in the beginning, it could be quite different during the dog days of this project. In any case, wish me luck, and keep your eyes peeled for the next post to conclude this epic addiction trilogy in style. Have a good one, friends!

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Life as of Late

Roughly a week ago, my biggest worry in life was where and when to watch the Super Bowl. A game that started at 7:15am Chinese time Monday morning didn’t seem to be a good fit for a working man. Of course, I am overstating the case a bit - I had just started a new job, and that was a large source of worry as well. However, on the whole, life seemed pretty good and I was looking forward to an unforgettable Year of the Dragon in Shanghai. 

As you’ve probably tumbled onto if you scrolled past my beautifully crafted header photo, things have changed significantly since a week ago. Without getting too deep into what’s happened, let’s just say that I found reason to move back to the U.S. on short notice. Generally, booking a next day intercontinental flight requires having resources like this fella:

                           

However, I was less worried about the net outflow of cash than about what would, and will, come next. I had ample opportunity during the long flight home to think about what I want from life, and what I need to do to get it. Surprisingly, unlike everything else, those things haven’t much changed in the last week. So, I have three goals that I intend to chase down in 2012 and beyond. Two of them remain the same as a week ago. However, their importance has flipped, at least in the short term. In addition to those two mystery goals, I have one more: to find a job that is truly rewarding. 

I’ve always been of a mind that money is less than important than happiness, and I’m moving forward in my life with that value intact. Of course, this is an easy attitude to have when high-paying jobs aren’t exactly being handed out on silver platters. Nonetheless, it means I will be chasing down a job that I want to do; not the first thing that falls into my lap. I have some money saved up, and I would rather spend it while looking for a job that enhances my life than on a new iPad or trip to South Beach. Ideally, I would like to get into something that allows me to write and do good. Trying to decide exactly what jobs in America offer those is going to require two things:

1. An examination of the U.S. job market for the first time in a good long while

2. Some meditation on what, exactly, I am good at and what, exactly, I want to do

Granted, proper meditation is going to be difficult for a guy who has trouble sitting still for the 22 minutes it takes to watch “How I Met your Mother.” In light of that challenge, I’m thinking that my meditation will take on a little less intensely focused quality. Instead, I’m going to go the isolation route for a few days to try and get inside my own head. It’s time like this I wish I had a remote mountain cabin somewhere. Oh well - I’ll make do. Make sure to check back in this space for a chronicle of my 3 pursuits, as well as the occasional serving of snark when it might be warranted. I’ll be going for a 89:11 high-brow: snark ratio. Wish me luck with the next big thing!

Filed under Big Boy Talk