MSNBC published a story yesterday that confirms what many of us already know: The almighty dollar is a lot more elusive these days, as Americans are working harder for less money. That’s been my experience, as I have to scrap a lot more now to make deals happen. Thankfully, there are still deals. For that I’m grateful. But my Mom put it best when she said, “They party’s over!” It sure is, Mom. It sure is. The upside: I got complacent at the party. So the down economy has been just the kick in the pants I’ve needed to double my creative efforts. The paper chase lives on!
The girls and I just got back from a sweet vacation to Teton, Yellowstone, and Montana. It was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, given all the sights and activities we were able to participate in. One of the coolest “features” of the trip: no cell reception, internet, or TV at our cabin. We were utterly disconnected, which allowed us to be completely present in the moment. “It totally changes the dynamic of the group,” my wife told me yesterday. It sure did, for the better. Can’t wait to go even longer without a connection next time.
Be back in a bit
No matter how frequent you train, running is a constant challenge. Last week, during one particularly sluggish run, I found inspiration to keep pushing myself from an unlikely comrade: an unfamiliar long-boarder approaching me from the opposite direction. Continue reading…
While in San Diego recently, I went surfing for the first time. As my wife will tell you, I’m pretty proud of myself. Regrettably, I was unable to stand after two hours of riding. But I did get up on both knees a couple of times, so that was pretty cool. The score so far: Ocean 1, Blake 0. In any case, I’m totally taking up surfing as a hobby. Just need to find a nearby ocean.
I got the new Punch-Out for Wii today and have been reveling in the nostolgia and reliving the combos required to beat each opponent. Currently I’m stuck on that frackin’ Great Tiger, who uses tricky teleportation punches to win. Cheater. My older brother Brooks was always better at this game. Where’s a good wing man when you need one?
Is it possible to have an identity complex a year before turning 30? After changing my hair two weeks ago, I decided to wear high socks with shorts today (I need new pants, plus the weather is nice, okay?). Excited about my throw back to ’90s sock fashion, I asked Lindsey what she thought. “You look like a five year-old,” she proclaimed. Maybe so, but I’m tired of anklet socks. Besides, it’s kind of fun to be different, and who do I need to impress? (I’m married.)
I haven’t taken a fortune cookie serious — let alone keep one — since… well, forever. Rather than predicting actual fortunes, almost all of them instead state the obvious or reference vague generalizations like, “Your friends have heartbeats,” or, “You’ll never know what you can do until you try.”
My latest fortune cookie, acquired last month after overpaying for an uneasy meal, was a keeper, however: “The project you have in mind will soon gain momentum.” I excitedly thought to myself, “Really? Which one? How soon? Tell me, omniscient Confucius!” I then slipped the two-inch piece of paper into my pocket and later onto my desk as a reminder of my fortune. After a discouraging precursor to Q1, I was willing to let even a cheap, dry cookie have an effect on my professional life.
Yesterday, I closed one of those deals — a reputable and ongoing account that is sure to bolster my portfolio and bank account. As a result, my faith in fortune cookies has been restored. My faith in suspect Chinese joints, on the other hand, has not.
Related: Let me dislike sushi in peace, please
Last month, after an unresolved argument with my wife Lindsey, my three year old (Sadie) walked into my home office and on her own initiative asked, “Dad, are you being a jerk?”
Ouch. Her assumption was dead on. Out of frustration, I had been spiteful with her mother only moments before. I bashfully answered in the affirmative, and with her outreached hand in approval, proceeded to make amends with my better half, who was calmly sitting in the next room.
I knew from experience that kids say the darnedest things, but I had no idea they could cut to the core at such a young age. In any case, I’ll take all the help I can get.
After seven long years, I have finally retired spiky (aka disheveled) hair, some three to four years since it went out of style. In recent years, I would periodically rock the faux hawk for fun, but my decade mainstay was usually spiky — until now.
Before the spike, it was an outdated Caesar cut. Before that it was a naturally curly shag and sometimes Afro cut while in high school. Before that it was a bowl cut in middle school. And before that it was a clean-cut part in elementary school — no funny business.
I’m not sure what to call my new do, but I’ve started “swirling” it from my non-parted side to my parted side, thereby disguising any part whatsoever. I guess you could technically call it a “Reverse Cowlick.” Some hipsters I see when traveling to San Francisco or New York display a variation of this cut, but much more delicately than me.
Whatever it is, I’m happy to be spike free. It was time.
After a seven month hiatus (having only read 4-5 books last year), I caught the reading bug again. To stay the course, here are a dozen classics I’d like to read in 2009:
War and Peace
The Adventures of Huck Finn
In Search of Lost Time
The Stories of Anton Chekhov
The Catcher in the Rye
For Whom the Bell Tolls
I’m currently reading
Out of Africa and plan to re-read the following: Hamlet, The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea, and To Kill a Mockingbird (I remember liking them in high school). Off a recommendation from a well-read friend, I’m also excited to read Water for Elephants and The Kite Runner. And for cheap thrills, I’m going to read The Firm and The Rainmaker, two Grisham novels I missed.
Anything I should add?
Robinson Crusoe, The Count of Monte Cristo, Of Mice and Men, Measure for Measure, the complete Jane Austen collection, Man’s Search for Meaning.
Amid the great economic apocalypse of 2009, Lindsey and I sheepishly took an undeserved (as opposed to the popular “well-deserved”) vacation to Fort Lauderdale this month, while my mom watched the girls. It was the best trip I’ve had in a while, considering the stunning beach, lovely weather, great food, and cheap airfare and accommodations. We liked it so much, we plan on returning with the girls as soon as possible. Here are some of my favorite photos taken during our stay: Continue reading…
Some runners are automatic. Day in, day out, they hop on treadmills, negotiate cross-country trails, or sidestep pedestrians and cars in the city. It’s as if “Just do it” was baked into their DNA.
I am not one of them. Despite my efforts, I still get discouraged and have to continually assure myself while running that “I can do it.”
To be fair, I haven’t run that much. I ran the 400m in grade school, taking the coveted, second-to-last-place finish at state finals. I ran religiously for four months in 2005, after making a fleeting new year’s resolution, which resulted in my quitting. And I ran intensively for another four months last year in preparation for a half-marathon, an event I had to postpone due to a ruptured disc in my lower back, which also put my running on hold until earlier this month.
I admit that my limited running accomplishments get me through my runs better than I would without, but I feel almost as discouraged now as I did while training for my first long-distance race. Is it unrealistic to hope to become a robot runner — one that doesn’t have to play mind games during every workout — say after running three times weekly for an entire year? I’ll keep on trucking regardless, but it sure would be nice.
Lindsey and I gave few gifts for Christmas this year — virtually none to friends and family (gulp). I justified the stinginess given the imminent economic apocalypse.
Now, as the wee hours of Christmas are upon me, I feel like a grinch. Only I have no sleigh full of toys to return to double the size of my heart. Happy Holidays?
At least my three year-old is getting something.
After a three year hiatus, I exhumed my turntables from under my bed last month. The “wheels of steel” proudly rest beneath Joe DiMaggio in my office now, and I’ve officially rekindled my love for analog sound, which is deeper and more “alive” than the high-fidelity of DVDs.
It’s hard to explain the enjoyment that comes from mixing and interacting with records (also known as blending or beat-syncing). It’s not as liberating as playing an instrument, but it’s not as passive as listening to a CD or MP3. The turntables are more microphone than music player. The records are the voices and are highly manipulable, thanks to the hands-on approach and tempo-shifting abilities of standard direct-drive tables.
While Lindsey and I (and PBS Kids) teach Sadie a boat load of stuff, I cherish the innocence she teaches me. I’m not sure how she came up with the following, but this is what she wants for Christmas:
- A pink flashlight
- A “key,” so she can pretend to unlock doors in our house.
That’s it. $15 of awesome.
“Blake is abandoning the internet until Monday,” I wrote Wednesday afternoon on my Facebook status. It wasn’t a pithy attempt to grab attention. I meant it. And I’m happy to report that I stayed the course.
In doing so, I was able to unconditionally enjoy my family’s company during Thanksgiving. It also reinvigorated my professional spirits, ideas, and motivation as I turned to off-line content (you know, books). Granted, I rarely, if ever, have a case of the “Mundayz,” because I enjoy what I do. But today, I’m rearing to go, more than normal. And the break provided some much needed inspiration.
I’ve gone longer than four days without using the internet, namely during designated week-long vacations. But from now on, I’m committed to doing so on the weekends as well. What a novel idea, eh? Taking a break on the weekend.
Note: I’m (still) planning my attempt to ditch the Internet for an entire year
This year felt a lot like last for me. I liked that.
That’s not to say they’re weren’t any life improvements — there most definitely were. But it did feel like business as usual with a few notable exceptions. Lindsey and I went on a lovely vacation to the Caribbean in February. Sadie started dance class and abandoned diapers over the summer (rad). Maddie started walking and her colorful personality has filled our house with 100% more smiles. We visited my parents home in Georgia for the first time in three years. And I started two new writing gigs.
In sum, here is what I am most thankful for this year: Continue reading…
Confession: We do not shut bathroom doors in our house while relieving ourselves, that is unless guests are over.
Lindsey and I inadvertently started the bad habit as newlyweds living in a small condo, wanting to maximize our conversation time. The practice has stuck, and often times one of use will even sit in the hallway to carry on a conversation, as if the other was merely sitting down as opposed to going to the bathroom. I guess we’re a modern day Adam’s Family.
Last week, I was making lunch for the girls while Sadie, our three-year old, dispensed u-boats in the guest bathroom toilet. As usual, the bathroom door was wide open so Sadie and I could talk should the “urge” arise. It didn’t take long.