Three years ago today, Katrina and I got married. This was quite a surprising event on several levels. Neither of us intended to get married. We weren't from the same country. We just didn't think that's where things were going. But hey, here it is three years later, and you know what? It's gotten stranger still. But first, let me recount our wedding.
We invited about 50 people to our wedding. It was held in an American Legion hall, but the nicest one I've ever seen. It looked beautiful. No, really. The fifty were fairly well split between our personal friends, and/or relatives and some of my parents' neighbors. It was a very unique event, starting with the fact that we employed our friends and my parents to do all of the work that the wedding entailed.
I will no doubt forget lots of things, but let me try and mention some of the highlights. First, my Mom and Dad and some of our friends put together a lot of food, which was augmented by dishes requested by special people in our lives. We had all kinds of great food, including a three layer (three flavor!) pound cake, made by our lovely friend and frosted in gooey chocolate as per our request. I remember my Uncle Basil making some bread for us, including his famous onion bread. There were all kinds of other treats that just aren't directly in my face, but all of them were our personal favorites, and well known to be the specialty of their maker in most instances.
Our friend, Bear, did the music, and also helped us with (yes) Karaoke. Kat bought a karaoke machine just before the wedding, and that thing went through its paces that night. Forget the fact that I didn't have the timing of the food down. Forget that I had to rush out and buy serving spoons during the few minutes before we went down the aisle. Forget that Kat and I bought her bouquet at Stop & Shop the morning of the wedding, the both of us having forgotten to bother with such things. Woo!
I married my best friend. She is amazing to me. Katrina is the most emotionally intelligent person I know. Her uncanny ability to carve through all my long-winded and wordy blather to find what I'm really trying to say is amazing in its own right.
I often say that the coolest thing about Kat is that she knows how to raise up my ego when it needs lifting, and she knows how to pop my balloon a little bit when I'm a little too big on myself. Another cool thing is that she believes in me. When I go and tell her my big dreams (formerly the kind of things my old friend Jon and I would talk about on the hill in High School days), she says that she thinks that's a great idea. Never mind that I never do approximately 99.999974% of these ideas I come up with. She just says that they all seem like great ones.
Katrina is very practical. She likes things simple. She doesn't have expensive tastes, and she doesn't usually want THINGS as much as she wants good times and good experiences. She wants the world to be fair. When she can't have that, she at least wants her life to be fair. I try hard to make that the case, wherever I have a say in it.
She's an artist in ways that I can't put my head around. The things she can do with fabric amaze me, especially since my life is all 2 dimensional. Her eye for color is something else. But then again, here's another thing. When she goes to the fabric store and I get to help her pick things out for her quilts, she actually listens. She is all about getting input from various sources. That's rare, and impressive to me.
Oh, and then we had a baby.
Katrina works harder at being a mom than anyone I've ever known. There are lots of great moms out there, and there are moms that know this and that and the other thing, but Katrina has more desire, more drive, more internal challenges to herself to succeed than any person I know.
She makes me want to be the best that I can be, and that's saying a lot in itself.
Happy Anniversary. You say bonjour.
9.22.03 Road Trip
Next week, we're going to take a road trip up to Maine for a vacation. We'll be seeing some of Kat's relatives, including a real character of a little boy who is known for saying the funniest things. It'll be a little haul, lasting more than four hours or maybe closer to seven. I forget. So, what I'm asking is: what would you listen to for such a long road trip?
I'm thinking of getting some David Sedaris out of the library, because he's always a laugh riot. There are times when I am crying from laughing so hard at his stuff. What do you think would be equally good and fun? Just curious.
As a kid, I used to hate riding in the car for hours and hours. I wasn't good at reading on the road, and I usually couldn't fall asleep. If I did, I'd get a neck ache from the weird angles. I'm really hoping Violette doesn't follow my lead. I hope she falls out cold somewhere after the Hampton tolls.
I've never taken road trips outside of New England. Go figure. I guess that's just how provincial I am, eh?
Boy, there's something really great about being paid to write. I just got a stipend in the mail for a little piece I did a short while back. When the official link comes up, I'll forward it to you all. One other thing: this publisher was the nicest person I've yet met in the business of writing.
I don't have a lot else to say. Work has been crazy hectic. Home life has been good, but equally busy. We're really planning a lot of things coming up in the next few months, and we're just working on those things.
I love fall. You?
09.16.03 Working For It
One thing that's always difficult for me is striving for a goal that's a little too far off. I'm really great at the short term stuff, but I don't seem to have a lot of stamina for the long haul. My novel is coming to mind as I'm saying this, but I mean just plans in general. I'm like someone who's a natural short distance runner.
My goals for the next few years are to pay off my debts, save a little bit, and then find a piece of land somewhere next to a pond where I can turn a vacation camp into a year round residence. I will leave corporate America for this job, and then it'll be up to me to find ways to pay for the things I won't be able to grow or raise on that land.
There are several fears that attach themselves to a dream like this. One: I have a little girl who will require plenty of medical check-ups throughout her growing years. Without medical insurance, which costs a fortune to pay for out of your own pocket, I'm afraid that I won't be able to help her if she gets sick. Two: if I make this leap and things don't go so well, it'll be really hard to reach escape velocity to come back out into the corporate world again, especially in the current economy where things aren't so great right now.
I have a host more fears than this. What's great about even writing down such fears is that it gives me a little more power over them. I can look at them there, on the paper, and try to decipher whether or not some of them are from the Matrix, which is what I call that shared reality that most of us live in. Yes, from the movie, but no, not the same literal interpretation.
Working where I do now isn't *all* that difficult. I get paid a considerable sum of money to help teams of people achieve technological goals. I just drive here, rove around an office, write mails to people, and keep track of a lot of things. I am paid mostly to be an organizer, a reminder, and a motivator.
When I escape this life, it will be harder. I will have to do several things to try and make money. This usually scares people. It scares me. People hate not having enough money to do what they want. What I've found out, however, is that no matter how much you make, your debts and obligations grow to fill in that amount of money. So, if I lived a little lighter, I'd still be able to survive, just at a different dollar amount. I survived when I was making half what I do now just fine. It's just that so many other things have rushed in to fill up that other half. A 80 mile daily commute doesn't help. Neither do all the other myriad things I pay money for, simply for the pleasure of going to work. See the loop?
That's what I think of as the Matrix. I'm paying money to work at a place where I am doing well, but not doing what I want, or what I could. So are most of us. If you are dead happy in your job and are thrilled with the life that surrounds your job, I am happy for you. Me? I'm not. I am passionate about this company, in that I've given almost 7 years of my life to it, but I don't have this as a long term future goal. Two years more. Maybe three. We'll see.
Anyhow, I'm just thinking about that. Thought I'd share.
09.15.03 Weekend Update
This past weekend, I had a chance to do some artwork. The turtle to the left of this text is a small version of the full work I did. This piece was nice because I got to work with multiple layers to get the details. It started with a blue oceany background. I put the green-yellow lump of the turtle together. And then, I sketched in all the details, like the shell and all that.
I did this work the other day for a friend's birthday card. (I only added the text the other day).
What I like about this art is that it's a digital watercolor. All the spots are from adding salt to the paint once it's done, which sucks back in some of the pigment. The three women are added in with a nice flowy liquid ink, and then I used an ink eraser to make the neat ripples at their legs, and on the middle person's neck. It was interesting, because I had no real concept of what I wanted to do before I did it. I just thought about the recipient and worked from that.
Otherwise, I had a chance to do a few things I'm not known for doing. I also went to a great party with an ecclectic bunch of people, which was nice for what it was. I am so happy to know all those variable people, even if we don't always have lots in common overall. They're just nice people.
One last thing we did on Saturday. We went to a yard sale and came back with a really wild collection of older records, all in nearly perfect shape. Some Ray Charles, some Louie Armstrong, some western cowboy albums. Just fun stuff. Oh, did I mention beer barrel polka music? Hah!
I hope you're doing well.
09.12.03 Down Day
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I had a really bad dream that left me filled with shame and guilt, and I couldn't shake the feeling. I went out on my morning walk with that same bad feeling. During the walk, I twisted all the discussion such that it was ammunition for my internal Critic. I really had a bummer morning because of all that.
Things at work have me feeling all antsy. I feel bad, because a couple of coworkers are really misconstruing my information about this whole situation. It isn't a really bad thing, just a culture change. But even as I'm saying this, it gets me a little edgy, because the changes will be hardest felt against my team, and that means we'll be motivated to really push others harder than we're used to pushing. It means requiring even more oversight in the interim time frame, and I really hate working from that place.
My recent escapism dream is to have all the funds ready to purchase a cabin in the woods by a pond or lake by 2005. It's do-able, especially if we can do an owner-financed kind of deal. They're not a lot of money, because they don't normally sell at the same price as a home. This is also because they're really remotely located.
There's some questions facing me that I have to consider. Do I lock down a degree so that I can fall back on it if things don't work out in the woods? Is that just another fear thing? In one of my books, I read about fears and that we should all write down a list of the things we fear, and face each one of them head on. That's weighing in my head. Anyhow, I'll leave the thoughts of this paragraph unfinished.
This weekend, we're going to an orientation program for Habitat for Humanity. I want to help out, all the while learning carpentry skills and whatever else I can pick up from the experience. It'd also be a good way to meet new people, and that would be equally nice. I hear there are projects all around me starting.
Finally, I wrote the second chapter of my novel last night. It's going fairly well, and I still feel like I've got all kinds of material.
09.11.03 What the Attacks Changed for Me
Okay, everyone's doing the "look back at 9/11" kind of thing today, and I thought I was exemt, but I'm not. Lots of things changed for me after 9/11, whether or not I wanted them to change.
For one, we conceived Violette directly around this time frame. Two weeks after 9/11, Kat took a pregnancy test and it was the shot heard round the world for me. I remember telling everyone that I wouldn't change my life for my daughter. I was going to go on doing what I'm doing, and the kid would fit into MY world. Oh, how wrong I was.
Second, and more important, I lost my frantic pace of producing fiction and art directly after September 11th. It was gone. What happened was this: I suddenly felt that fiction, creativity, and everything I was doing wasn't as important. I felt as if I had to retool myself, change the way I was looking at the world. I believed it was time to grow up, to be more practical.
That fiction-art drought has been going on for some time. It's only been the last few months that I've finally been able to *really* create some art. I've been doing it in dribs and drabs. I've been writing stories and stopping them, drawing pictures, and then discrediting them. It's only lately that my work seems to stick, that it has some sense of being "real" again.
I don't blame terrorists. I don't blame anyone. It's just how I reacted to the things around me.
There are lots of other changes. I don't like big cities. Or rather, I like them even less than I already did, as I'm no fan of large metropolitan areas. I'm a lot more spooked by airplane flight, though I managed a trip to and from Newfoundland a few months back without a lot of woe. I am only now getting back to news fasting, meaning that I'm sick of the news, and that I find it rarely has much to do with my day to day life directly. Unless I'm going to attempt to change the news I don't like, I have no need to hear it.
I am better than I ever have been, but it was surely a climb to get back to where I am now.
By the way, I should announce, for the sake of celebrating my efforts, that I am hard at work on a novel. The first chapter FLEW out of me, and I've got lots more material before I get nervous and tired. I'm really excited about it.
09.09.03 The Importance of a Mission
When I look at life as if it's just what's in front of me, I don't do very well. everything just looks like a neverending series of pointless endeavors. Take my job, for instance. The things I work on are temporary. They are the quicksilver of technology: important today, but not tomorrow. The fruits of nearly seven years of my work will be easily forgotten in as many years hence. It just doesn't mean a lot to me. So, having a mission, or a tool by which I can focus on the value I want to deliver to the world at large, gives me a strength that my day-to-day work life doesn't.
One thing about missions is that they take a long time to craft such that they make lasting sense to you. Mine has been in constant flux, as I strive to come up with something that best suits the moods and drives of my present set of goals, and especially as I try to make a mission that will be flexible enough to encompass all the various aspects of my life.
What I like best about having a decent mission in front of me is that it helps me establish good focus on the roles I play, and then use these tools to forge goals in my life. From there, I can try to ensure that the things I'm filling my week with are the things that matter most to me, such that I'm constantly working towards that which fits into my mission.
Missions are normally private affairs, but I'm willing to share what I'm using right now. I keep it up on my fitness page, anyway. but here's what I have going right now:
*Be present and celebrate life.
*Strive for personal mastery.
*Replenish my spiritual world.
*Love and support my family.
*Value the contributions of others.
*Serve others my best.
*Review and renew.
The first line of the mission reminds me to stay in the current moment and be aware of what's important at that given time. It also tells me that I should appreciate nature, people, and the general flow of things around me.
The second line is an all-encompassing one, that includes my goals of fitness and nutrition, my emotional and self-esteem work, my goals of learning. It's a catch-all for the things I want to do to improve ME. This is vital to the success of the other roles below it.
Replenishing my spiritual world is a tough one, and something I'm still not good at yet. I have a poor sense of spirituality, but I'm trying to build it up again. I am finding this difficult, but believe it's important to my continued success.
Loving and supporting my family is a reminder that my family comes first over all other commitments outside of my self. It's important to support the ones I love, which means I must support them, even if they make decisions that might be different than what I might've wanted. I'm thinking in the future with this one, as my daughter will certainly lead her own life. This is how I will center my other roles, and that's why it's in the middle of my mission.
I use the line about valuing the contributions of others to remind me of how I want to interact with other people. I must practice compassion, and be non-judgmental. I must remember that everyone is doing the very best they can at a given time, just as I am. This is an important one to me.
Reminding myself to serve others my best is two-fold. It tells me to serve, because I believe that one's life isn't just about satisfying your own family, but rather that I must give back by contributing to others for this life to matter. I mention my best, because it's important that I do my best, and not just give an "okay" effort. People deserve my best, including me.
The last one is self-explanatory. It just means to get back in there and take a look at what I'm doing, check it all over, and then remind myself that this is a constant process. I must do this often, as entropy is ever present in my life. I'm good at starting, and need help in following through.
Missions aren't for everyone, but for me, it's a really useful tool that helps me in many ways. My life works better with a mission to use as a focus. And I think it helps me remember what's important versus what's urgent. I am working on my self, and trying to build my value.
I wish you the very best.
Two of the biggest triggers to my self-esteem are when I feel powerless, and when I feel someone is disappointed in me. Oh lucky me. I have both going on in my day right now. I thought that I'd write about the feelings these things bring up, as a means to understand how I feel during this situation.
When something happens where I feel like I don't have power over my outcome, I feel instantly like eating something. I think that what's happening is that I have at least SOME control of that. I can put food in my mouth. It's one of the basic needs of a human is to be fed. Maybe this gives me some kind of sense that I have power. However, if I put bad food into my body, that has repercussions that go beyond the moment when I feel powerless. That lets me feel shame and guilt over the eating instead of feeling bad about being powerless.
The disappointment thing is much more straightforward. When someone acts as if they're disappointed in me, I want to flee. I feel like either they're jerks (so that I can protect my own feelings) or that I'm not good enough to be here, and that I should go somewhere else. I'm feeling that right now, or rather, a mix of both.
What I used to do during these times wasn't really working well for me. What I do now is first, I reach out and vent to someone. I just want to get it all out there, so that it's seen. So that I'm heard. Thereafter, what I try to do is process everything, look for ways to see it from the other person's eyes, and try to look at everything surrounding the issue objectively.
Another thing I like to do now is cancel out my Critic. My Critic is the guy who says all the really annoying things to me, such as, "You're just faking it at this job and they're going to fire you any day now." It's the voice that fills me with the most fear about my decisions.
What's really true is this: sometimes, I will disappoint others. Sometimes, I will feel powerless over a situation. What I must do is ask whether the situation is really important. I must also clearly state my feelings, my needs, and my desires about the situation at hand. If I do this with complete honesty, then I can't feel bad that I haven't at least expressed my side of the story. Whatever happens will happen, but at least I've done my best to tell the other person that I'm feeling a certain way.
That's how I handled it today. I called someone who matters to me, told them all my stuff, vented and what not, and then I got back into the game. This isn't important in the long run. It was just a little frustrating to hear bad feelings and judgmental responses from a source where I didn't expect it.
I'll get past.
9.05.03 Movin' Right Along
Last Saturday, one group of friends moved. This Saturday, another group of friends are moving. I'm going to try and pitch in a few hours, though that's going to be a bit tight because my parents are bringing our daughter back on Saturday so that they can attend a special party. I think we can give two hours (or just under) in the morning, and I hope that's helpful. Boy, lots of folks are moving.
I've moved a lot in my life. I've lost count, but I think it's up to 20. It's just how things have turned out, really, and I find it odd. So many people have the opposite story. They've lived in one house all their life until they got married, and then they moved into a house and have stayed THERE the rest of their lives. Or maybe they've moved once or twice, but surely not as much as me. So, what's that about? Who knows.
One interesting thing about changing the music I've been listening to is that I often have much better snatches of words in my head repeating themselves than normal, but one of the songs we added to the exercise mix has been circling in there today, and I keep hearing, "Diamonds are a girl's best... diamonds are a girl's best..." over and over and...
We had a company party last night. I enjoyed it, and there was some really excellent food there, including something called a steamship cut or something? Have you heard of this? If not, it's the BIGGEST PIECE OF BEEF you've EVER seen. I had a little sliver, and oddly, the man who cut it for me gave me a big fat hunk of fat to go with it. I didn't eat it, though it seemed an interesting choice of cut to hand me. *shrug*
Anyhow, I'm doing well, and I hope you all are, too. There's a couple of really good new photo shoots on Violette's website. Check 'em out, if you'd like.
09.04.03 Darned technology
I was sitting on this new site update for so long, it's silly. Sometimes, tech is not my friend. Take my car, for instance. I had to buy new tires ($550), and now a new power steering rack ($175, and that's just because my warrantee protected me from the $1050 charge), and a new battery ($55), and another fix that I can't tell you what it was but it stopped my SERVICE ENGINE SOON light from coming on ($200). Oh, and I still need an inspection ($25).
I left my cell phone at home. Instead of thinking, "Woo hoo! I'm free!", I'm thinking, "Oh God, I left my cell phone at home. Oh God!" There's no end to the permutations of bad things that I imagine happening because people can't reach me by phone.
My God I'm too wound up.
Let's not even get into what I do for work. If I still had my old journal, I'd be bitching up a storm about a few coworkers who seem to have a disconnect between the natural human world and the little slips of paper that are handed out in meetings. On these seemingly harmless pieces of paper are written these fortune-cookie-like things called TASKS and these TASKS have something we call DATES, and these all seem to somehow relate to the FUCKING REAL WORLD, YOU BUNCH OF...
Oh. I forget. This is a family show.
Anyhow, I hope you're all doing well, and this was a bad lesson regarding my attempts to be compassionate and non-judgmental.
09.02.03 Weekend Update
Kat and I made a point to celebrate the fruits of our labor this past weekend. We talked about that on our morning walk yesterday. I'm very thankful for my job. In fact, lately, I've felt a renewed energy and enthusiasm about what I'm doing here, mostly due to the hiring of a new VP for the technical group. His new energy and higher expectations have prompted me to really engage my efforts more than I have in previous months. I am also expecting more from myself in several aspects of my life, and I'm sure that helps, too.
Yesterday, I canoed for two hours on the little lake up by my house with a new friend. The lake itself is a tiny man-made reservoir and isn't that large. We crossed that in about 20 minutes. However, at the far end, there was the tributary that feeds the lake, and that was exciting. We followed that for the other forty minutes, and turned around just past a bridge that I'm guessing was in New Hampshire. We are going to go back some time soon and take a few more hours to go further up that tributary, just to see what else is there. It was very relaxing, and we saw all kinds of nice wildlife, from water lillies, to wild grapes, to all kinds of birds and even a few fish.
I worked on a birthday card for a friend's son. He likes two things: diggers and trains. Well, I put a digger on the back of a train, complete with a big shovel full of earth. What's fun about this card is that I couldn't draw a digger (I didn't think), but I just started with the scoop and worked from there. It went well. Looks like one to me. Let's see what HE thinks of it. I also did a moving card for a friend. I just have to print out a sample to show her. One more card to do and I'll be done with the three most current cards I've been working on. It's been great doing art lately. I want to write more, too, but haven't managed it yet.
We had a nice dinner with the folks on Sunday. It's great to see them and check in on a lot of things. They had a friend over, and she's thinking about making some really dramatic life changes. We were excited to talk with her about that.
I'm still really working hard on my personal development. I came up with a really well-built mission statement that seems to cover everything I want to focus myself on, and it's cross-functional, in that it deals with my work life, my home life, and my future goals all in the same phrasing. I put that in my fitness journal, as part of the introductory materials.
Anyhow, I hope you're all well.