Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

"Thirster" (Triple-Triple) for 144 points

The advantage to any quantifiable pursuit -- be it golf, making money, or Scrabble -- is that it can provide a sense of progress where none actually exists. One can live a fairly consistent, unchanging life, but as long as you have some number to watch -- a bank balance, a score sheet, whatever -- you get to pretend that you're actually going somewhere.

Leila and I were commiserating last night about where we're at in our lives. It was talking to her that I finally put my finger on something. "It's not that there's anything bad about my life. I love my life. But my life isn't going anywhere right now. When I worked with the SKS, or for RGI, there was a sense of mission, that we were progressing towards something big, something life-changing and important. My life now is so much better than back then . . . and yet I miss that sense of going somewhere."

Many friends have told me that when you've got young kids, you're pretty much parked, and that's the way it should be. It may be purely an ego-desire, to have a sense of every day in every way getting better and better. But somewhere down there I sense a vocation . . . or, at least the need for one. And no amount of bingo plays is going to fill the void.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Husband downsized

Some guy in Michigan has made a little PR stunt by going "on strike" to protest his wife co-sleeping with their two kids. (I would give you the link, but I don't want to give him any more Google money by driving his ranking up.) He set up a tent on the roof of his house and put up big signs. The national press picked it up, as a part of what Sandra Tsing Loh describes as the "wacky news" circuit: "Husband goes on strike to protest loss of love life."

My wife, and all her Attachment Parenting friends, are incensed. The only thing that keeps them from firing off angry letters and press releases is the knowledge that it would only fuel the attention the guy is getting and potentially move him from one day of "wacky news" to several days of "serious" news.

A few observations:

There are probably lots of husbands out there who aren't getting enough attention from their wives. None of them, however, look any stronger by making a public display of it. It's pretty pathetic, actually. "Oh, woe is me, I'm not getting any." Even if you're sympathetic, you can't respect the guy.

I have always been suspicious of whatever monstrous notion brings people onto national TV to spill their guts in front of a live studio audience and millions of other emotional voyeurs. I suspect that they really, really believe that they are right, and if only people knew the story they would agree, and then they could finally win the argument. And yet, somehow, it never works out that way. They are always, always diminished.

More importantly, the guy should know by now that the world does not revolve around him. His wife is more concerned about the kids than about him . . . and that's the way it should be. Even Dr. Laura, for all of her well-timed support for "the proper care and feeding of husbands", comes on the air by announcing, "I am my kid's mom" . . . not, "I am my husband's wife."

Nor will removing the kids from the bedroom make the kids' nighttime needs go away. It just moves the needs down the hall . . . and the wife will probably go with them.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Standard Disclaimer

I just got back from three days away from home. I can't be held responsible for any opinions I might hold at midnight under such conditions. No warrenty expressed or implied. Your mileage may vary. Some settling may occur. Do not drive or operate machinery while reading this blog.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This is your brain on TV

I had forgotten what a powerful anaesthetic television is for the mind. I came back to my hotel room just beat, ready to do another RGI flop into oblivion. Had Jeff not told me about the Subway down the street, I would never have even powered up to get something to eat. But I turned on the TV while I ate, and suddenly I was watching some vapid Vin Diesel movie, and in spite of my usually good taste, I kept watching. The thinking part of my brain kept rolling it's eyes, but the stress of the day started to fade . . . and then a little Law and Order, and a bit of a Julia Roberts movie, and I had almost, almost forgotten how depressing it is to be away from home in some hotel. Not that it made me happy, exactly . . . just dulled the pain. And maybe there are times when dull is not so bad . . .

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tolerance by reason of insanity

I heard on the news this morning that the Christian convert who was facing execution in Afghanistan was released on grounds that he was "mentally unfit to stand trial."

I was relieved. How often have arguments run right up to the brink of violence, and then one side or the other pulls back, saying, "Man, you're just crazy." Tolerance, after all, is just everyone agreeing to think that the other guy is nuts.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Blood and Glory

This morning I got word that a software start-up that I had worked for for a number of years was finally sold, and I will finally be cashing in my stock for a signifcant payoff. Not a life-changing amount of money, but better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Within minutes of this news, I found my dog howling in pain in the back yard, trying to pass something that wouldn't pass.

Guess what I spent most of the day thinking about?

Yeah. The dog. My puppy of six years was more important than six years of sweat-equity. It's weird that the events should coincide . . .

The dog is better now, we think, though she's still on a 24-hour poop watch. Our next door neighbor had given her an enormous ham-bone, which we think she must have demolished and eaten, because we can find no sign of it in the yard.

So, in triumph and adversity, remain philosophic.

This, too, shall pass.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Flat Tax Now!

There is nothing like doing my taxes to get my political wonk up.

Why does it have to be so freaking complicated? We have created a system so complex that it takes several days a year of record-keeping and calculating just to pay our government. There is never absolute agreement on how to prepare a single return, even among the accounting experts . . . so how can we expect the IRS to find the errors and outright scams?

It gets back to what I wrote about earlier . . . our insatiable need to try to engineer society. We want to encourage some behaviors (like giving to charities and driving hybrid cars) and discourage others (jump in and out of stocks, tap into your retirement savings). The tax code is a convenient lever on the populace, since nearly everyone pays taxes and would like to pay less.

And yet . . . is it really working? I mean, I'm a trickle-down supply-side kind of guy, and even I have to wonder sometimes if the tax code is really changing enough behavior to be worth it. Do more people save for retirement, because they get the tax break for doing so? Does the system reward the just, or just the clever?