Wednesday, June 9, 2010


6/09/10 I cannot begin to tell you how refreshing it is to be out and working, away from an office. It's the The Walls.  The Walls. Those horrible confining 4 WALLS. Reminds me of the Marlon Brando line about, The Horror, The Horror."  No shit, being in an office all day long is the worst.  How can you be there?  Too depressing.  I'm sitting at Left Bank Restaurant. Very cool place.  Everyone saying "Ciao."  Wonderful meal. Nobody bothering. Great service. Answering emails and doing some writing.  Just wonderful.

Things were going along just swimmingly until a moment ago.  First, you have to understand that I am at the end of the bar. Four barstools are all mine.  My computer is plugged in.  There was NO ONE else at the bar.  I had just begun to write when 3 very large, very loud, very talkative women walk through the door.  Please remember that I have been ALONE at the bar. There's about 30 feet of bar.  I am at one end.  Where do these quackers decide to sit?  Where else would they sit?  Where else could they possibly sit? You know.  Of course, you do.  They take up the three seats immediately next to me.  What is wrong with them?  Maybe they're blind.  Wait a second.  Let me check. I stick my tongue out. She sticks her's out. Not blind.  O Jesus, another one just walked in AND WITH A BABY.  Shoot me now.  Just get it over with. "Dear St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases, I realize we haven't been in touch for a while.  Right, since that last little episode with the dent in the police car.  You handled that sooo beautifully.  Nice touch with the old lady backing up at the same time and, really, it could have been her a parallel universe. So here I am again, pleading with you for another miracle.  The baby could do some projectile vomiting. Everyone (not me) gets hit with a lovely shade of green. (I can dream, can't I?)"

Wait. Something's happening.  One of them is saying something about her back.  It's been bothering her for some time now.  They're all teachers.  Now they're all complaining about standing so long in the classroom.  Everybody's back hurts.  I mention that my back hurts as well and these barstools offer absolutely no support.  No support at all.  Killing me. Backs killing all of us now.  I tell Pedro, the bartender, that we all need a table.  The stools are killing us. Five minutes pass.

Why am I sitting at a table with a group of school teachers and a baby?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yesterday, I gave away the store. Yes, I admit it and so should you. The kids come first. If the new boyfriend doesn't get along with the kids, the boyfriend will usually be out the door relatively soon. The boyfriend says a slightly unkind word to your little darling and your bared fangs and 3 inch nails suddenly appear on scene. Another lovely visual. The girlfriend tries to correct the little angel and I believe the words, "You're outta here" may be heard emanating through the aforementioned blood dripping fangs. If you are a really patient sort, you might hold out till the second attempted correction, then break out the snarls and pick axe. Of course, I am presuming your child is not so wretchedly spoiled that anything she says is said while she is flat on the floor, arms and legs flailing, screaming "You don't love me. You never have. Mom has always loved me more." And, of course, Mom has given her whatever she wants, whenever she wants, leading to the tantrum we are all now visualizing with horror and a lot of familiarity.

I think the point is made. We try to give our kids what they need and a lot of what they want. By doing that, we leave enough for ourselves but not much more. The eight to fiver won't allow it. So the idea of having extra money to hold out till the dream job starts paying gets a little more distant on the horizon. Wait, the sun has set. It's dark. There is no horizon. Hey, who's that on the floor screaming?

The current job makes just enough to do what we MUST do, maybe a little less. If a little less, then we slowly get in to, (O God, here it comes) debt. We inch ourselves into yards and yards of debt. But look on the bright side. The banks are happy. You feeling better yet? Maybe tomorrow. There's always tomorrow. Until there isn't.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To continue. One of the big problems is money. It always is. If there isn't extra money floating around, the possibility of moving on to what you really want to do is virtually impossible. I suppose some might say you could cut expenses. But with a family or, at least some familial responsibilities, there are those expenses that eat up pretty much everything. Maybe you're on your own but there was a divorce or a child. Nothing like an ex-spouse to keep the money flowing...away.

As for your child, at any age, yours or his, you want to help that child and that cost is unlimited. My child is perfect. The tattoos and piercings are invisible to me. My child deserves everything and without reservation. Example. There are some possessions you guard with your life. There are these certain "things" that are MINE. No one else can have them. OK, look at them from afar but move away, you're getting too close. Those things for me are vinyl records and fine pieces of sound equipment. I have dragged 17 very heavy boxes of vinyl wherever my life has led me. The wives have come and gone, but vinyl lasts forever. It never complains. It's always there to comfort you with the soothing sounds of the White Album or early Joni Mitchell. My God, what more could a man ask for in his life.

Anyway, the vinyl is really important to me. BUT. My 21 year old son walks in and tells me how much he loves music, that he appreciates all that vinyl I've been lugging around. He knows what a pain it's been to load up more U-Hauls than I care to remember with box after back breaking box of albums by artists that were unheard of in '68 and remain consistently unheard of today. What treasures! My son goes on to say that he realizes I would have given up all claim to the house in my most recent divorce had the wife gone for the vinyl. Knowing that, he says, "Dad, can I have all your records?" Without blinking, without breathing one more time, I say, "Bring your truck on Sunday and we'll load'em up." The torch has been passed.

More to complete this thought manana.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Do what you love and the money will follow." I love that phrase. It may be true or may not be. But the real problem is that there is a big spread between the time you decide to do what you love to the time the money has followed. Such a lovely phrase it is, but unrealistic in many cases. Not all, but many. In fact, I would say the great majority. Yes, it can be done but incredible self discipline would be the first order of the day. Why? Because if you have a job, you will be doing that for 8 hours a day to pay the bills and, o yeah, eat. Do you have a family? After work, you'll need to pay attention to them. By the time 8pm rolls around, my guess is you are ready to lay on the sofa and pass out. But, no, you're just getting started because you have to work on your new job, the one that you love, because the money will follow. At the end of a few weeks, the odds are, you will begin rationalizing the old job and you will get to the dream work as you can, when you can, when there's a little more money, when the kids are asleep, when you win the lottery, when the divorce is final, when the kids are in college or just out, when you retire and, finally, when the dog is dead, that dead dog being you. In other words, you and your life have killed the dream job.

Let me go on a bit as to why doing what you love etc. faces such obstacles. Then I believe, just maybe I can lay out what could work. You thought I was just going to leave you hanging, no hope, noose in hand, gun with 1 bullet, Kurt Cobain playing in the background. I wouldn't do that to you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

And now for some heavy stuff...

In yesterday's episode, I left you with the impression that I was heading off to this incredible adventure in Oregon. I have to say I was really looking forward to it. The plan was to visit Nick and Carmen and Eric at their very hot shot restaurant in McMinnville. 4 or 5 star, serious restaurant. I figured I would stop in Ashland then continue on up to McMinnville.

First of all, you need to understand this was a last minute thought. I was supposed to go to Dallas for a graduation, not mine. That wasn't working out. So then I got crazy and thought about Sevilla in Spain. Sounded good, getting crazier. I came back to earth and, after talking to some guy outside a bathroom in Healdsburg (men wait in line sometimes, too), he tells me how great Salem, OR is. He makes it sound pretty appealing. I link that with my friends' restaurant not far away from Salem and I have made a decision. Maybe, I think, pretty sure, not really, I'll head out to Salem. What the hell. What am I doing. The girlfriend needs some space anyway. Space is a good thing. Check out the guys working on the Hubble. That's getting away.

So I am off to Ashland but I keep going and finally land in Medford, a few miles further up the road. I don't know why. It seemed like a good idea. I walk in to the Comfort Suites Hotel and begin a very short conversation with the manager. She checks the database to make sure I get points and she sees that I am a "Taxguy." What exactly do you do, she wants to know. I deal with ugly IRS tax cases. And, of course, she proceeds (as everyone does when they hear what I do) to tell me about her ugly tax case. I won't go into detail except that, after she hit me with the part about how she cares for her mother who has Alzheimer's, I sat down and helped. She was extremely grateful and explained to me how she had been praying the last 2 weeks for help with this problem.

Now, I am probably the least religious person around. And I do not believe the Lord (whichever one you go for) sent me to help her. BUT, I do find it very interesting that the next day, I wrenched my back and had to turn back and head for home. My entire trip turned out to be about that woman who was barely making ends meet, trying to help her mom and believing that someone would show up and help her. She was convinced I was the guy. In my eyes, the drive was almost worthless until I focused on helping that woman. Cause and effect. Cause and effect. Cause and effect. All the little decisions that took me to Medford to sit with that woman. It's really amazing.

We see this sort of thing happen in our lives all the time but rarely is it so blatant, where the cause and effect stands in front of you, about 50 feet high, and is screaming, "Figure this out, Bozo." Of, course, He did get my name wrong. Makes you think. Strange stuff.

We won't go in to the part where I lock my keys in my car at a Starbucks.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quick note about some cool things

In my last post I wrote about walking and working.  Well, yesterday as I am browsing through LIFEHACKER, I bump into an iPhone app called Email n'walk.  The screen turns into a camera but with email text over whatever you're viewing.  I tried it.  It's a little nuts.  Rubbing your head and playing Beethoven.  But, it is interesting that someone even thought about this.  It is at least fun to check it out.  

The other gizmo, is something called Eeerotate, via Teleread.  It literally changes your view of the web.  It turns the screen to landscape view.  Great for reading.  Very cool.  

Ok, that's it.  I'm in Oregon. Taking pictures while driving is NOT a good idea.  I'll never do it again.  Ever.  Really.  I'm checking out this work and drive thing.  I'll let you know.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Still thinking about all this...

I really think the point of this blog is to look at how to deal with your work when you'd rather be doing something else.  Obviously, it would be very difficult to do what I do if I were not self employed.  My employer might go looking for me and wonder where I'd gone.  Where's Steve, he might ask.  Steve is in Costa Rica, would be the reply.  And you could carry this conversation on in your head about Steve is supposed to be at his desk.  Right but he's not.  He's in Costa Rica.  I mean Barcelona.  Then the conversation turns to, well, where the hell is he? Costa Rica or Barcelona? He's in Lisbon.  Or, maybe he's just out taking a walk or driving to Seattle.

So maybe that's what this is all about.  Getting away.  Seeing somewhere, someplace new but, at the same time, doing your work.  I don't want to wait till I retire to see the world.  I want to see it now, dammit.  BUT, maybe I just want to take a walk or a ride.  I don't really want to look at my home office today.

Yesterday, I decided to run to the post office, literally run.  I would walk back.  But there was work to do.  Soooooo.  Once I started walking after that run, the work began.  Out came the iPhone and the emails started flying, a few texts, too.  I made a few calls but passing car noise was a problem so the calls were few.  I did call my assistant, Susan, and asked her to make a few calls for me and request some docs I needed.  All the while I am cruising down the road, taking in the sunshine.  I think, though, that driving would be best.  Quieter.  You don't fall off a curb because you're texting.  Of course, there is no texting while driving.  Really. 

I also have found in doing this (the driving part) that you really need an assistant.  You may be having a conversation with a client but you may need someone to type the notes or look up a piece of info.  

This is crazy stuff.  I know.  But the idea that I can go. That I will not miss a beat in my work.  The idea is liberating.  Off again tomorrow on the run/walk/work or drive to Seattle/work.  We'll see.