The Eternally Moving Broom

I ran into my friend Emily at one of the Zinc Kings gigs last week, and she asked what exciting projects I’ve been working on at the big house.  I didn’t really have a good answer, in part because of the holidays, and in part because the low hanging fruit has all been picked.  What’s happening now is a lot of mowing, sweeping, setting up and tearing down of holiday decorations, and walking the dog. In other words, the important stuff. I have some projects I’m interested in finishing, others I want to get started, but most of my “house time” is maintenance, or at the very least finishing projects that were “done” a while ago and left a mess.  I guess it’s a philosophical shift into middle age. That may sound like a rather dramatic pronouncement, but I’ve observed a shift in how I do things lately.  In part its due to the fact that I can afford to hire people to work for me, eat out every once in a while, slow down and read a book (and not feel guilty), and I don’t have to bust my butt finding gigs just to keep the lights on.  I think it’s also in part due to the fact that I’m not 20 anymore.  Or 30.  Soon I won’t be 40 anymore. Being “not as young as I used to be” doesn’t really bother me.  I feel good, and while maintenance of a house (or myself) isn’t the most sexy thing, it really fits well with my personality.  I like pushing a broom.  I like weeding the garden.  Changing...
Live Free or Buy

Live Free or Buy

Some years ago I came across the word “freegan” in my day-to-day reading, and I’ve been ruminating on it ever since. In short, freeganism is the practice of eating food that has been thrown out from groceries, restaurants, or other sources, under the (usually correct) notion that it’s still healthy and edible.  I’m not comfortable eating from the dumpster, but I do see that we throw out a lot of good and usable stuff in this country.  Food is just one example, but just think of the things people leave out for the garbage man: furniture, working electronics, clothes that don’t fit. Of course there are thrift stores that operate entirely on donated goods, but that sort of underscores the point that we have so much stuff.  We have so much in fact that we can just give it away. I’ve spent most of my adult life in college: either taking classes, or standing in front and leading them.  The upshot is that I’ve spent most of my adult life making do with very little income.  Ironically, I lived in section 8 housing while working as a professor, but that’s a discussion for another day.  I’ve gotten pretty scrappy with my material belongings though: repair before you replace, know the difference between “needing” a thing and “wanting” a thing, and experiences are more valuable than things, no matter the cost. So three and a half years ago when I became a programmer full time I jumped in salary but tried to keep my head.  My first focus was dumping some of my student debt, and the second was on getting a...

Dear Fuzzy

Dear FuzzyGalore, I’ve been a follower of  your blog for some time and I have a thousand questions.  The thing is, I haven’t asked them.  Not to you anyway, mostly to myself.  Part of it is that I’m embarrassed to ask questions.  Not for some macho reason, or my sensible and stoic Midwestern upbringing, but because I’m not sure answers will do me any good right now. I recently read your post about things not making sense sometimes, and using writing to pull yourself back into gear.  I know that trick pretty well.  I used to do that all the time, but now when I write it’s about technology stuff, in part for my job, and in part to make me better at tech stuff.  Writing became work and I stopped using it as therapy. I’ve never been one to take photos of my motorcycle rides.  I have an old Honda that I got by bartering tuba lessons with an older student.  I think we both ended up feeling like we got the better end of the deal, which is the way a good barter works.  Anyway, I finished grad school, moved a couple times and eventually hit it good: job, paycheck, bought a house, paying off my student loans… So back to those questions I wanted to ask: all the motorcycles I’ve been tracking for years, you own them.  I know you love your Ural, will I love one too?  I know you love your Enfield, will I love one too?  I need a reliable road bike I can saddle up heavy, like your Triumph, but I think I might...

That One Time that Flying Didn’t Suck

I look forward to flying about as much as I look forward to sitting on a tack.  Now that I think of it, I’d rather the tack. I’m the proud owner of a 1998 Toyota Camry with 276,000 miles.  That high mileage is due in large part to the active role of airlines in making people miserable.  By people, I mean me.  Miserable enough that I’d rather drive to NY than fly. Now, I can make a rational case for driving over flying.  I work in NY, so when I get up there with a car, I HAVE A CAR.  And buying gas for a Camry isn’t too traumatic, especially compared to a plane ticket, parking fees, cab rides…  But let’s not kid ourselves here.  We all know what I’m really talking about. I’m talking about misery. And powerlessness.  When you go to the airport, you have to accept that you are a leaf on the wind.  You might be a leaf wearing expensive loafers and a $200 haircut, but you’re on the same flight as everyone else.  And yours is just as likely to get cancelled as anyone else’s.  I will never pay that kind of money for a haircut. So I’d rather drive 9 hours than fly 3.  Because it’s never 3.  The cost of that trip is not dollars or hours, it’s failed expectations as well.  3 hours of flying involves 3 hours of air time, plus an extra 3 hours of layovers and TSA molestation.  And you never know how long any of it will take.  At least with driving you can make yourself believe...

People Like What They Like

I have a motorcycle.  I love having a motorcycle.  But I don’t love my motorcycle.  Not right now anyways, and that’s something that needs to change. Recently I started reading a blog, fuzzygalore.com, written  by a woman motorcyclist on Long Island, NY.  Her tastes tend toward the retro, the kitschy, but still practical styles of motorcycle: Royal Enfield, Ural, Triumph.  Basically, the stuff I’d like  to own “someday.” But when is someday? And I guess a better question is, when did I fall out of love with my Honda?  Is it the constant mechanical problems? The noise of the aftermarket mufflers?  Is it that the seat is so short that my hips hurt after an hour in the saddle?  (My hips hurt? Since when? I’m not getting old, dangit!) Or is it that I’m finally ready to move on to something else? I remember my friend Mark commenting that it was a great starter motorcycle.  I remember thinking, “Starter? How could I want more than this?” I guess I...

We’ve Been Had

I was raised on 80s movies, 80s music, 80s sensibilities.  I remember movies like Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, and on and on.  Adults were one-dimensional foils for the real center of attention: us.  The kids were the real story. I was raised on that, and so were you.  I remember watching Scooby Doo and hearing the thwarted bad-guy say, “I’d have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!”  To me, those meddling kids were grownups, but it reinforced the idea that anything past childhood is sort of dead.  Grown ups put on zombie costumes to scare people away from the theme park so they can…  heck I don’t even know why.  But the “kids” were the good guys. Most of the adults I know now would probably not dress as a zombie just for the sake of scaring people.  The cool ones would.  But thank goodness there are other entertaining pursuits, like cooking, or riding my motorcycle, or going to a ballgame with friends.  Even working on my house is fun.  Until it isn’t, and then I go find some wine and a book. What I keep realizing is how awesome it is to not be a kid anymore.  Not only can I drink wine, and cook, and all the other things, I get to keep doing them.  I outgrew Scooby, but I get to do this stuff, the fun stuff, for as long as I want. I guess that’s why it’s so hard to watch TV shows where they glorify childhood.  Let’s admit: it was a mess, and life didn’t head downhill after...