Wok on Water

I’m thinking today I’ll put in for something very different…

Several years ago I had this idea, my mom lives on the channels in Oxnard, California where many of the homes have private docks at the rear of the homes.  I love to cook (I absolutely LOVE to cook) and many of my dishes are Pan-Asian inspired.  Out there the popular thing is to have an electric boat they typically call  “cocktail boats” and just putter around the channels watching the seals and generally hanging out.

So I thought to myself why not modify a little boat Bladerunner style (favorite movie ever btw) and cruise around cooking and slinging stir fry?  I named this dream boat of mine “Wok on Water” and, while somewhat of a pipe dream it’s always good to dream.  I’ve been battling a touch of anxiety lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe I don’t dream enough.  Stewing in all that can go wrong or all that is wrong often yields piss poor results for someone like me as I do just that, I stew.

I dream now and then of a food truck or a career where I can just cook so I think perhaps maybe it’s time for me to rethink and just go find me an entry level kitchen job and follow a passion.  What’s the worst that can happen?  People might say no, I might end up in a dish pit for a while, maybe I’ll get lucky and find a prep job.

It’s on

~J

The Miracle (and Curse) of Modern Technology

Poking around today looking for the next career I found myself getting incredibly frustrated.  It seems more and more every application is done online and many of them have accompanying “personality” tests.  Whatever happened to a handshake and an application directly to an employer.  How does one prove his or herself to a prospective company without the capacity for face time?

While it’s somewhat of a boon that we can fire off resume’s and applications like a scattergun from the comfort of our living rooms, there’s just no more heart in it.  I find it quite sad that through technology many of us have lost the personal touch.  People lock themselves indoors on computers or sit at the dinner table with a face buried in a phone.  No longer do we make conversation or value community connection and while we seem to possess more communications capabilities than ever before in history we rarely actually communicate.

Just  some thoughts to ponder today and maybe reflect on how we can improve our communities simply through paying just a little more attention to those around us.

~J

What I Don’t Know

Sometimes what I don’t know is a better reason for action.

This is somewhat of a two part thought so bear with me, I’ve often found four words to be incredibly frustrating to me when I either hear them or say them myself.

I Don’t Know How…….

What is this?  In the context of hearing them being frustrating I find it often simply means “I don’t want to” or “I don’t know how and I don’t care to learn”.  It seems often to be a quick and simple cop out or way of avoiding an unfavorable task.  Sometimes, this can simply be a quick and easy way of avoiding something out of fear or anxiety surrounding the possibility of failure.

A quick and dirty yet incredibly effective tactic in avoidance that often results in success.  I would classify this as “efficient” but, what has someone efficiently accomplished?  I would be a liar to say I myself haven’t used this wonderful tactic in my lifespan and it seems so efficient that I could not even remember when.  It is when a person uses this tactic on a constant basis with intention and awareness of it’s efficacy that I begin to gnash my teeth.

The idea that I could shrug off responsibility or opportunity for personal growth with four simple words is baffling to me sometimes.  There is that whole hubbub about four letter words, how about the four word phrase?  I simply cannot understand what propels someone to be content in stagnation and I do understand that to state this is quite hypocritical of me for reasons that I will get into some other time.

Let me give you some back story real quick, I managed to build a very successful career as well as become prominent in what I will call a more academic community both without any formal training, qualifications, or initial “knowing how to”.  I accomplished this through opening myself to learning, general curiosity, the will to progress, and yes a lot of hard work and sleepless nights.  I struggled and scrambled, dealt with condescension, accepted and examined a lot of criticism, and a lot of failure.  I took risks and learned how to talk to people well above my level and more importantly to listen to those people even if I disagreed.

I did this through action

I would have had a much easier time simply being content to sit and play video games, watch television, sleep, or just sit on the couch eating chips and staring at the wall; all the time making big plans on what I was going to be or do in my head.  Instead I took action reading and networking, going out of my way to network with people and get my hands on whatever tools I could to learn by myself.  I have taught myself a broad range of things from information technology to microbiology and even cooking.  I did this through action.

I’ve also managed to destroy much of this over time but again, more on this in future posts.  The point is had I said “I don’t know how to” and left it at that I don’t think my life would be so fulfilling, I have met many amazing people on my journey and experienced so many things that a lot of people out there may never get the chance to, and for that I am grateful all by avoiding those four words and using action.  Imagine for a minute if as babies and toddlers we were to use this cop out to avoid learning things such as how to eat, talk, use the restroom, walk, etc. I do not think we would get very far.  And if the forefathers of invention such as Tesla, Edison, Newton, Aristotle, and so on, had they used these words as a cop out instead of a reason for exploration I would not be typing this now.

This of course brings me to explore the second part of this thought, the use of “I don’t know how to” as a means of inciting curiosity and solution finding.  My opinion here is that this exhibits itself more internally as a thought rather than externally as a statement.  That is to say it occurs when someone sees a rough goal or vision to reach and realizes that at present there is no knowledge of how to get there.  When this opportunity appears the miracle can happen should that person decide to take action.

Having typed that thought out and analyzing it further I now wonder if I should have even used that fork in the road in this post.  The initial part of the post was meant to explore my frustration of “I don’t know how to” as a cop out or excuse, this second part I believe has more to do with a much longer string of words “I don’t know how to but, I think”.  The simple addition of three words changes the dynamic a full 180 degrees don’t you think?

I always hated bullshit affirmations such as “Thomas Edison said I found 2000 ways not to make a light bulb I only needed to find one way to make it work”, seriously??  First off every time I see the quote the number is different, secondly I’m not Thomas Edison but what does this say for my own mentality?  Am I really open to failure or should I brush them off as simply finding ways that don’t work?  I not only value but thrive on learning if I look at failure as a means to learn in this manner then I should seek failure should I not?  I think we should take every opportunity to learn from failure but place our energy into seeking knowledge through success.

In any case, of the myriad of thoughts whipping through my head I decided to reach out and grab one and you got what I grabbed.  Whether through success or failure, action or complacency, I hope at the end of my days I can look back at a fulfilling life.

~J

 

Exploring Hidden Effort

A lot of mystery happens behind the scenes and it’s great!

I’m not so much of a TV watcher I don’t own a television nor do I have any service, I couldn’t tell you the big movies released in the last few years. What I do love is older movies and TV shows, a weekend of greatness for me is zoning out over as many episodes of MASH as I can cram in while I putter around the house. I love old westerns and film noir, old war movies and a lot of other classics. I do watch some semi recent things such as Hellboy and the Riddick series, etc. but most of it is more for background noise and not so much for actual engagement.

Recently for background noise I have been pulling out a lot of DVD’s that I haven’t viewed in a while and going through the special features specifically looking for commentary from the directors and actors / what not. Because I have seen these films often multiple times just hearing the commentary gives me some entertaining background noise while I pop around not able to see the actual screen. At first it was just a need for noise and the commentary for one of my favorite films “Hellboy” which soon spurred a whole new interest for me.

When I was in information technology I used to get frustrated at the fact that often I never really achieved job satisfaction. Often the sign of success or acumen in technology is that you never hear from anybody, people don’t call when things are working and rarely do you actually get to see a “finished product”. In construction you can stand back and see completion, sales you obviously see the sale, culinary arts produces food, information technology produces an unseen electronic ether that nobody ever really digs into. How many people did it truly take to allow you sitting at home perhaps halfway across the world to read my ramblings? When I hear this commentary I get this window on the back wall where I can see huge amounts of effort from people in the background.

This morning while preparing breakfast and puttering I had commentary for Who Framed Roger Rabbit on which is what inspired this post. At the time the movie was a pairing with Touchstone and Disney and it was one of the most expensive movies made. The big comment that grabbed me was interesting; effectively they eluded to the fact that they really had 3 movies going on at once all mushed together. The thought that there was live acting on sets, about a 45 minute animation feature, and then a whole separate overlay of just special effects and composition shots. The credits alone, for just the painters doing animation cells was some 3 columns scrolling by just… WOW!

What makes this fun is the idea that there is so much imagination and talent behind a lot of what we think of as the day to day. This is not specific to entertainment or information technology, think about your favorite restaurant and whoever came up with the recipes and menu or who planted the flowers and landscaped the median you drive by every day on your way to work. There is a certain wonder for me tied to what I look at now wondering “just what went into that?” it’s an incredible thought. Now it seems people expect the biggest best whatever and have no real idea of what exactly happens behind the curtain.

Having recently started a creative project of a kind I have never done before I’m beginning to understand and appreciate more the extra efforts that are often simply unknown. As I wander around today I find myself looking at things with a different wonder and curiosity, how did this get shaped, who came up with this idea, why this shape? I have always been a quick learner primarily through curiosity and drive, to lose that curiosity is a tragedy and for today I am excited to have a strong sense of curiosity back.

Pay attention to the man behind the curtain,

~J

A Positive Day

Positive action pays off

So my last post was about keeping my head up and I mentioned that I was going to pour some effort into finding a more stable career track. Shortly after firing off several resumes my work began to pay off! I got a call for an interview which I went to this morning and the interview in my opinion went very well!

For me the environment seemed quite ideal, the hours are constant and stable, and the benefits are decent. I now play the waiting game after sending my follow up email and of course am still searching as well. The interesting thing I need to keep in the forefront of my mind is that had I just sat in a semi depressive state waiting for work to pick up I would have lost this particular opportunity. It was in forcing myself to take positive action where I found the opportunity not in sitting waiting for it to just swing by my place for dinner.

Yesterday evening I started working on a new little project I’ve been thinking about for some time now and such that most of my free attention has been focused on that I’ve really not much else to post about today. I just wanted to get the thought of positive action out there.

And just because I don’t want you to feel short changed on content I highly recommend you check out DawnSeeker’s Depression Emergency Kit as it’s well written and has already helped me.

Roll on cognitive wheel,

~J

Digging in, Digging out

Something *had* to give, and finally it did

I blogged a while ago about pulling myself out of a deep depression, sadly it did not last very long and I’ve found myself less than apt to do much.  Life has a way of being hard for everyone not just me and I must accept that.  In fact, it should be stated that I have been extremely blessed in life.  I have an extremely supportive family despite how poorly I have behaved both in the past and recently.  I have food in my belly and a roof over my head.

Stewing in all we’ve done wrong, not being able to shut our brains off and only catching sleep a half hour at a time becomes maddening

Not having motivation to do much is incredibly emotionally painful for those of us who have always maintained an active lifestyle.  Stewing in all we’ve done wrong, not being able to shut our brains off and only catching sleep a half hour at a time becomes maddening.  I found myself avoiding everyone in particular my family.  Something had to give.

 It’s a sad reality that when one plays a game against the self, he/she loses in either case

I used to suffer light depressive periods which are fairly normal for most human beings.  I never really understood a long term debilitating type of depression until now.  Short periods of pulling out and actually accomplishing small tasks such as cooking a meal or sweeping the floor, even smoking a cigarette (I don’t smoke inside) become major wins in life.  The frustration seems to feed on itself- depression keeps me from doing things, thinking about the things I haven’t done creates more depression.  It’s a sad reality that when one plays a game against the self, he/she loses in either case.

So I’ve been working here and there as a day laborer, which has paid me just enough to pay for the gas and cheap lunches with little left for living.  Yesterday (Sunday) I was prepping for a good nights sleep as the day labor game requires me to show up at 5:30 AM in the “hopes” of getting work among the 100 other people.  I received a text from a friend of a friend of a friend asking if I would swing by to talk about a job.  A job in a career field I have been in before: hardwood flooring!

This was a small lead I got about a week and a half ago, I used to do gymnasium floor installation about 20 years ago and not only did I enjoy it but I was also quite good at the work.  And so I went and met with the man, I start tomorrow (Tuesday) morning!  Good work, full time, good pay!  I decided that today I was not going to shovel dirt for no money and instead prep lunches for the week and practice a little self care.

For the first time in months I used my camera to take some macro shots of wildflowers, I folded laundry, I vacuumed, organized some things.  I’m in a good mood and am hopeful that this time around I wont slip back again.  Tomorrow morning I go back to a career I truly enjoyed decades ago and I’m incredibly excited.  I am taking today to go through and do a personal inventory of all the ways in which blessings and luck have fallen on me through my life.  No negatives, just the long list of gratitude’s.

And I might even call my mother

~J

Pulling Myself Out Of The Brink

Depression and wasted time go hand in hand, I’ve lost a week and all without taking a drink.

So over the last week a lot has changed, inside and out.  Just the last two days I’ve found myself struggling to force myself to do things, to get up and be a human.  Last Wednesday I went to take an early afternoon nap and found myself living in my bed for days.  I did not sleep much as I still have issues sleeping but I did not move.  I moved just enough to use the restroom and eat now and then.  All I did was lie in bed and consider how much I hated myself.

This obviously was not good, I could blame the overcast clouds or weather but honestly it was my own failure that wasted a week.  I had things that I committed to that I failed to do, this ended up pushing me into a spiral hating myself for hating myself and failing.  Examining this is difficult this evening but I need to avoid going through the same thing again.  The bad news is that it happened, the good news is that through all of it I did not drink!  I locked myself in my apartment and lived in my bed for a week, not good either way.

So yesterday morning I had enough, perhaps its because I had a full nights rest for the first time in months or maybe I was just done.  I went to meet a friend of a friend for work and got a line on a hardwood installation job (I used to install gymnasium flooring) and I am today still patiently awaiting the business owner to return from the rodeo he performed at over the holiday weekend so I can nail some flooring!  I planted seeds, some veggies for our complex out in the yard.  I shredded potatoes for hash browns, swept, mopped, vacuumed, and cleaned.

Then I got a phone call from a friend, his gym was doing an exhibition for a no kill rescue (I forget the name exactly and am waiting for pics and info but I think it was DMK).  I’ve spent years practicing eskrima and they wanted to know if I could do a quick 5-10 minute routine, I did a performance of a Sinawali “Heaven Six” which are the basic 6 movements in stick fighting.  Then of course I entered the ring and proceeded to get my ass beat by a friend all in the name of getting pooches adopted.

The last time I was in a ring was probably 17 years ago, it was interesting and yes I spent today nursing wounds and sore.  My pooch, a boxer named Charlie was adopted that evening!  In fact there were 8 of us doing the exhibition each sponsoring a pooch and all 8 pooches were adopted as of this evening!!  I’ve gotten used to deleting emails as most of it’s noise but today I got one that just made me smile.  Three days ago I was a bedridden emotional mess, today I can say I’m actually somewhat happy.  I’ll try and post our group photo as soon as I can get my hands on it, 8 roughnecks in sparring gear with 8 poochies of all sorts.  (it was all I could do not to bring the blue heeler home).

Tonight I hope to sleep, and tomorrow morning a phone call to see if I can go nail some flooring.  I miss the activity and the work but to walk into a massive room with a concrete floor one day and 3-4 days later to walk out of the same room with a wood floor is an amazing feeling.  I’ve got a lot of calls to make and apologies to give out but I will live, and hopefully never find myself in the proverbial “pit of despair” again.

Adopt a shelter pet!!

~J

Of not sleeping and avoiding going absolutely nuts!

So, it’s been a while since my last entry as I’ve been running at 100 miles per hour for a while now. Moving is hard enough but being a pack rat definitely exasperates the str- er frustation.

I hesitate to say struggle even though it seems that way. I have received unparalelled support from family as well as the upstairs neighbors.  I always knew I was a packrat but I was not expecting to have packed so many emotions away as well.

In particular the last two days have been filled with emotions good, bad, sublime, regretful, fearful, strong, even guilty. I have found myself so high strung and stressed that sleep has evaded me now 3 nights in a row.  It comes in little 15-45 minute spurts and I wake up with night terrors or a severe panic attack.

So I change my sweaty pajamas and try again as I know it will get better soon.  I find myself stress cooking which I don’t think of as bad.  In fact not only is it a more positive way of dealing with stress than many other methods I’ve engaged in but, I’m eating healthy food which I suppose is keeping me going.  Maybe I’ll write a cookbook on that someday “Cooking yourself sane”??

All in all I’ve made great strides, I am still throwing/giving away a lot and have listed a lot to sell.  I’m also remembering a lot of past experiences and people in my life and realizing that I’ve been amazingly blessed and lucky.  

It’s almost as if I’m reading my past as someone else’s story sometimes and thinking “this guys a few fries short of a happy meal”.  It’s not that I’ve come to realize most of my struggles and problems are self inflicted, it’s more that I’m beginning to accept it. I have always known I self destruct but change is tough.

I’m still working on changing and I suppose it’s going to be a long task.  For tonight though I’m feeling pretty okay about tomorrow, I even managed an entire 2 hour nap without waking up badly!! 

I have to confess though being on my inversion table and absolutely exhausted from putting it back together might have contributed.  In any case I figured while I wait for my “ham and bean with stress reducing veggie” soup to cool enough to freeze / refrigerate I would stop digging in boxes long enough to post.

A good friend once told me “Don’t be afraid of life”

~Joe 

(Note the image is yesterday’s stress cook not my soup lol)

My Ever Changing Life

Today I planned to take things easy, mom is leaving tomorrow morning so it was a day to get last minute loose ends tied and relax for a bit…….

HAH!!!!  Not a chance, while mom ran some minor errands I got a call this morning from a job I applied for earlier in the week asking if I could show up for an interview at 1:00 PM.  So much for spending the afternoon relaxing before mom left.

Last night we made lists for ourselves, my mother had to drop off a clock to be repaired, pick up some minor items, and we were going to drop off items for donation.  I had some simple tasks of going through things, getting my utilities and change of address stuff in, etc.  Nothing super difficult, nothing too tedious.  Then as usual, all hell broke loose (or rather we came up with more to do).  Things in my life seem to change every couple of minutes, all of a sudden I need to do this or we need to get that or, or, or.  At least my days aren’t always boring!

Between the job interview, going through stuff, getting another load from storage, on and on and on I’m absolutely wiped.  I didn’t even allow myself time to blog this morning!  I’m okay with that honestly, and truly today was a good day.  I will be sad to see mom go but also relieved (sorry mom, I love you but I also love my moments of solitude and self reflection).  I’ve got exactly a week before things double in magnitude on the hectic scale and I need to be prepared if I’m to make it through sane and sober.

All in all I’m incredibly optimistic, a little disheartened by the difficulties in changing career but this is to be expected.  If anything, I am learning to accept rejection better than I ever have and this is not a bad thing at all.  A lot of these jobs I don’t even want and would most likely be miserable after a very short time.  I have to face the fact that I need income, and rightly soon!  So, I keep plugging away in a seemingly futile attempt to avoid going back to the tech industry at all costs.  Something has to happen.

Something *WILL* happen.  I am sure things will get better over time, I’ve been working too hard at progress for it not to be achievable.  I just need to keep leaning forward and stop looking back.  Going through my belongings has made this both difficult and easy at the same time.  Throwing away some things makes me feel just that much more free, finding bits and pieces of the past here and there sometimes makes me dwell.  Odd how our brains and hearts work sometimes.  Time for a restful sleep and a good final morning with my mother.

Never trust a man that doesn’t love his mother,

~Joe

Feeling a Bit More Free

Sometimes you need to let go of some things.

If you’ve been reading any of my prior posts you will know that I am preparing for a move to a new apartment on the first.  I have also filled two storage units with items from the home I lived in about 3 years ago and have “stuff” scattered about two other family homes.  While I’m not exactly a hoarder, I must admit that uhm…. well….

*My Name is Joe and I’m a Packrat…*

Rather than my normal morning ritual of reading the paper over my coffee I began going through old CD’s and DVD’s that I have kept for the better part of 18 years.  Old backups, outdated software, just stacks and stacks of plain “old”.  Boxes filled with cd books stuffed fat, thousands!!

It took about an hour and a half before I decided anything labeled “backup June 2002” needed to just be dumped.  I haven’t had access to these CD’s in 3 years, and god only knows the last time I’ve pulled anything from them if ever.  So what was going to be a several day project quickly turned into another hour and I was done.  I pared two file boxes worth of CD/DVD books to one single book.  Yes from thousands to less than a hundred.

Being one with severe ADHD I’ve had a million hobbies over the long haul and the amount of stuff I have been dragging around since I achieved self consciousness as a child reflects that.

Oddly enough, I found the entire process rather enjoyable!  I feel a bit more free right now, dumping old files from a company long gone and a career I’m hoping to never return to felt like removing a pair of handcuffs.  In fact, dumping a lot of the things I’ve made decisions on yesterday and this morning has made me feel just a little bit lighter.

Why is it that we tend to hold on to some things that serve no utility and often really have no emotional value either?  Being one with severe ADHD I’ve had a million hobbies over the long haul and the amount of stuff I have been dragging around since I achieved self consciousness as a child reflects that.  Do I really need that electric motor from the remote control car I had when I was 12, or that sucker in the shape of a bear that someone gave me when I was 16?  Hah, not so much no.

Granted there are a few trinkets with great emotional value, and I plan on assembling a few “memory” boxes.  I see no need for a 5X10 “memory” storage unit anymore though!!  So today it is onward, hoping to do at least one more load of boxes though I don’t think I’m going to go as hard as I did yesterday.  I’ve got to help a friend figure out some technical things in preparation to a function he has tomorrow and lets face it, I’m in a good mood but holy hell I’m tired!

Keep the candy not the wrapper,

~Joe