Thursday, October 31, 2013

This is Fall

The first time the temperature drops below 50 in September or October, people start saying things like, "Well, so much for Fall," or "I guess we got cheated out of Fall again this year," or "Welcome to Winter. We went straight from Summer to Winter AGAIN." Guess what, you idiots? THIS IS FALL.

Fall is not some half-assed summer where it stays between 65º and 70º. Sometimes a Fall day starts at 37º and then creeps up to 55º for mid-day. Sometimes a Fall day is between 60º and 65º all day. That's what Fall is. Fluctuating temperatures. Cold. The leaves don't turn if it stays warm all Fall. 

Fall is figuring out if you should just wear a sweater or grab your winter coat and always choosing wrong. Fall is wearing a hoodie one day and wishing you had gloves the next. Fall is making fun of SEC football teams for wearing long sleeves and face covers when they play someone up north and the temp is below 60º. Oh wait. SEC teams never play anyone up north. In the Fall, things get cold. Sometimes it even snows. That doesn't mean it's Winter. Winter has it's own level of cold and snow. Unless you've completely forgotten about February in Chicago, you know what I'm talking about.

So let's stop talking about how we never have a Fall (or Spring) and recognize those seasons for what they are. Schizophrenic transitions between Summer and Winter. And quit your whining, I happen to think this weather is fantastic.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Letter To My Daughter #6 -- Be Yourself

This one may be the hardest one I'll have to write. Not because I don't know what I want to say but because it's the hardest advice to take. It takes a very mature person to truly live this lesson. I'm not sure I'm doing it even now.

Be yourself.

What does "be yourself" mean? Good question. Glad to see you're thinking about what you're reading. "Be yourself" means a lot of things, but in this case I mean that you should never be afraid to be different. You may not see it now, but being different is a good thing. You don't want to be just like everyone else. Being like everyone else is boring. The only person you want to be like is you. 

How do you be you? I don't know but you're doing a pretty good job of it so far. I don't know how to be Scarlett and I never will. Only you can be Scarlett. Only you know what you like and what you don't like. The way you find out what you like is by trying things. Try everything you have the opportunity to try. If you don't like it, you don't have to try it again. If you do, awesome -- there's something new for you to add to your list of "Things Scarlett Likes." Just try, try, try. Never stop trying.

You'll probably find something you like that no one else you know likes. Or maybe you'll dislike something that everyone else seems to like. That's perfectly okay. You don't need to be like everyone else. In fact, you'll eventually discover that it's pretty cool to not be like everyone else. If it's something that you like and it's not hurting anyone, you should do it and you should be proud of it. You might be surprised at how being confident in your choices can really change the way people think about your choices. You might even turn some people on to a new thing they love.

Look, you're already different. You have red hair. Most of your friends will have blond or black or brown hair. You might think you stick out like a sore thumb with your red hair and you might feel like you want to blend in. Don't. Embrace your red hair. Stand out. Don't apologize. Your red hair is part of what makes you you. In fact, I guarantee there will be plenty of kids in your class who wish they had red hair like yours. Learn to love it now because you're definitely going to love it later.

Fitting in is okay and there is a time and a place where learning how to fit in will serve you well. However, you should never, NEVER compromise who you are just to fit in. That's when fitting in becomes the easy way out, the coward's path. It's takes bravery to be who you are and to let the world see who you are. Find that bravery. If you're not feeling brave, come find me or your Mom. We'll always be proud of who you are and we'll always be there to help. Sometimes bravery is a little bit easier when you're doing it with someone you love.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's Been A While

Look guys. I'm back!

That's right, I'm posting on the ol' blog again. I was doing pretty good there for a while but now it's been about three weeks since I've posted anything. What happened?

I'll tell you what happened. Work happened. I had to travel to Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA in the span of three weeks. Sometimes my very important position as Chief Muckety-Muck In Charge of Various Tech-Related Things at my company, Law Craftspeople Incorporated, LLC, requires me to travel. The past three weeks was one of those times. Well, two.

You see, Law Craftspeople Incorporated, LLC has this really sweet travel deal where they pay for all my travel. Well, I paid for it but then my company (who is legally a person) reimbursed me. All I had to do was get receipts for most of the stuff I did and give those receipts to the Mayor of my company. The Mayor then deposited a fat stack of singles directly into my bank account. ISN'T THAT INCREDIBLE? I skipped over the part about filling out lots of forms but that's basically how it worked. Even with the forms, it's still pretty amazing.

ANYWAY, I know you felt a void in your soul while I was gone but you will be happy to learn that while I was in Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA I was careful to collect experiences about which I could write. I can't recall any of those experiences due to the smog (Los Angeles) and fog (San Francisco) but I can give you a few tidbits about what I did while I was there.

I discovered that downtown L.A. is where they film all of the car commercials. Not a surprise, but I felt like I should have been surrounded by impossibly clean cars and floating lists of features and APRs.

I saw and smelled the LeBrea Tar Pits. They are just right there in the middle of L.A. I mean, L.A. is huge but they're right there well within the city limits. I also learned that going to the Tar Pits is a rite of passage for elementary school children in L.A. similar to going to the Museum of Natural History for Chicago-land elementary schoolers.

I impressed my friend by eating every last bite of a very large sandwich at a delicious Jewish deli. He'd never seen anyone eat the whole sandwich before. I also finished a plate of fries. The Tar Pits make you very hungry.

The faceless non-staring statues
In San Francisco, I was not stared at by these three faceless statues that stood directly out of my office window.

I went to a Chinese place and had breaded crab. However, the breading was on the OUTSIDE of the crab shell. This meant I had to eat the breading off of the shell, then crack the shell to get to the crab meat. Thankfully, I've eaten peanuts at a baseball park before so I was familiar with the general process of tasting the shell and then releasing the juicy morsel inside.

I watch the Notre Dame-USC football game at a Notre Dame friendly bar in downtown San Francisco. I did not know a single person there but I totally knew everyone there.

While at that bar, I was hit on by what can only be classified as a Cougar. Keep in mind that I'm 37.

I also met her daughter who had just graduated from college.

That very same night the guy I was sitting next to was offered Adderall by the very chatty woman sitting next to him. He declined. I was not offered any Adderall presumably because my intent and consistent focus on the Notre Dame game clued her in to the fact that I do not have ADHD.

I answered the question, "What is something you've never done before?" With, "Successfully potty trained a child."

I hugged a Vikings fan. He really needed it.

All on the Law Craftspeople Incorporated, LLC company dime. Well, not all of it. I couldn't figure out how to submit a receipt for "getting hit on by a Cougar" and I definitely don't feel like I need to be reimbursed for my hugs. Or my drinks. I didn't submit my drinks but otherwise it was all free. Sure, I had to work all of both Friday nights and most of both Saturdays but it was worth it.

Anyway, that's why I haven't been posting the past three weeks.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A Letter To My Daughter #5 -- I Don't Know

You haven't realized this yet, but I don't know everything. There are questions you're going to ask me that I won't know the answers to — especially if you start asking about Disney movies. I don't have all the answers. No one does. In fact, people who are experts in their fields of study don't even have all of the answers to the questions about their field of study.

And that's okay.

It's okay to not know. If someone asks you a question and you don't know the answer, it's okay to say, "I don't know." There is no shame in not knowing. We all must learn everything we know for the first time. Until we learn it, we don't know and there's nothing wrong with that. 

There is a responsibility that comes with saying, "I don't know." Once you say it, you've now discovered a hole in your knowledge. It's up to you to fill it. It's your job to find out the answer — if there is one. Ignorance can be excused once, but not multiple times. Don't be intellectually lazy. When you have to say, "I don't know," that should be your cue to leap into action and do some learning. Of course, there are some exceptions to this. If someone asks you what you want to be when you grow up, you can answer "I don't know" until you're, oh I don't know, 40. By then you should probably have a pretty good idea. Until then, feel free to say, "I don't know" if you really don't know. 

Don't abuse it, though. Whenever you're about to say, "I don't know," remember that those three words are a great way to start a conversation where you and the other person (or group of people) end up learning something new by the end. "I don't know" should never be an ending but always a beginning.


P.S. — If you've ever wondered why your stuffed animals seem to move around your room while you are sleeping, don't ask me. I don't know.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

An Interview with Myself

Sometimes you run across a site on the Internet that is written by some self-help guru and designed to help you improve your life. More often than not those sites serve as a platform for the author to brag about his or her amazing life and how you should be just like him or her and then you will be happy. I found one of those sites and it told me to interview myself with the following questions.

So I did.

Dear self, you are 37 years old. What do you have to show for it? Are you living the dream?

What do I have to show for my 37 years? Do you have about, I don't know, 37 years? Number one, I have a tiny human being of my own creation. Sure, I had some help with that but it's still pretty fucking impressive. I mean I MADE A HUMAN. This little human is funny and happy and cute and smart and generally delightful. I am a creator. 

I've got a wife. She's the one that helped me make that tiny little human. She's pretty awesome, too. She's smart and funny and thoughtful and über-tolerant and she has good credit. Ooh, I have good credit. That's a thing. Also, my wife is sexy. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that she was sexy. 

I've got a house. And a condo. The house is nice and it's big. I wouldn't say it's a big-ass house because, holy shit, have you seen some of the houses in these suburbs? They're enormous. My house is plenty big for my family. The condo was obviously too small for the family so we had to leave. We still own it, though. I guess I also have two mortgages. *Sad trombone*

I've got a car. Well, I have two cars. Well, we have two cars. Cars are dumb, though.

I've got my body. It's in pretty good shape for a soon-to-be old guy. Sure, it's showing a little wear and tear. My hair has been graying for some time and I'll soon be full-on Anderson Cooper but things could be worse.

I've got a steady job where people like me and I don't hate going to work. My boss is awesome.

So that's what I have to show for it. What do you have to show for it? A list of places you've been? A bunch of pictures of mountains and stuff? Yeah, I've got that too. Maybe it's not as extensive or impressive as yours but what's the goal here? Are we trying to out-list each other? Are you trying to help me be happy? I was in a pretty good mood until your blog came along and started asking me the kinds of questions that make me feel inadequate because I haven't lived my life exactly like yours.

Also, can we really have anything? It's all just fleeting, ephemeral stuff that we use and discard and move on from — even experiences. All we really have are our bodies and minds.

Am I living the dream? Not your dream. Hell, I'm not even living a dream at all. I'm living a reality. A good reality. One that is frankly none of your business, Blog On the Internet. 

What's next, self?

What's next? Well… In the short term I plan to finish typing this sentence. Long term? I plan to get off this train and go to my car and then drive home. Longer term? Bedtime. Even longer term? Die.

Why do you do the things you do every day?

How am I supposed to live if I don't eat or drink? Or poop. Pooping is underrated as a regular, important activity. It's extremely important. If I didn't poop, I'd die. I mean, those are really the only things I do every day no matter the situation. There's other stuff I do on a pretty regular basis but you didn't ask about that. You asked about the things I do every day. Sleep. I also sleep every day. If you don't sleep you go insane and probably die but I can't be certain about the dying part. 

My life is mostly about not dying. Not yet, anyway.

What do you really believe in? (What do you know to be true?)

Can we really know if anything is true? Am I in a dream? Are we all plugged into the Matrix? Is truth even real?

What I know is true:
French fries are delicious.
Anyone who tells you they know anything definitively about God is lying to you.
I sweat more than the average person.

Where do you find your security?

In the lobby. They're always hanging out down there in their ill-fitting blue suits.

What bothers you, and what are you doing about it?

Blogs that pretend to know what's best for me because they've decided that happiness for everyone can be attained the exact same way they attained happiness for themselves. Either we're all unique, beautiful, snowflakes or you're selling bullshit to people who trust TV to tell them how they should be attaining happiness. I'm leaning towards the latter but I'm just the kind of cynic that brings everyone down.

What am I doing about it? Posting on a blog that no one reads. Take that, Snake Oil Salesman.

What worries me?

Just about everything relating to my daughter. Death, disease, assholes, anything that she might encounter in life that I haven't properly prepared her for.

My wife dying. My dog not dying. Running out of M&Ms.

If you had one year left to live, how would you spend it?

Practically, I would try to make sure I do everything I can to leave my wife and daughter as financially secure as I possibly could. But that's not the answer you want. You want me to say something like, "I'd travel the world and learn all the life lessons the world has to teach me," or "I'd feed the hungry children." Honestly, I'd probably try to write a book and fail. I'd probably be pretty tired from all that financial securing and typing and, you know, dying. That tends to take a lot out of you.

Satisfied, Internet Blog?