The main problem, I think, is my impatience.

I’d much rather sit down and have a novel appear on the screen in front of me without much time put in on my part.

Here’s what happens:  I sit down, I think for about 20 minutes.  Dissatisfied with taking so much time and not doing anything, I begin to type.  I write a paragraph.  I write a couple more sentences which are then deleted because they lead too quickly to the ‘next thing’ instead of making my writing richer in content.

And I don’t go on with it.  I give up and start another project or idea rather than finish something that I consider to be less than good.

I’ve been trying to produce something and I find myself vastly unhappy with the result.  It makes me sad because I feel pretty good about my writing in its non-fiction forms.

Now I’m going to go check up on my cohort to see if he’s managed to produce anything yet.

-Greg

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Poor poor compy.

October 3, 2007

For the last year and a half the ol’ computer has been slowly falling apart.  It began when one of the USB ports on the front of the case stopped working.  Then, one by one, all the ports started failing.  Now I’m down to 2 functioning ports.

The floppy drive (yes I have a floppy drive, shut up.) works only halfway – recording or reading only half the data that I require.

And now whenever the computer is even nudged slightly by my overactive foot the power fan slows to about half speed.  It then gradually works its way up to full speed until I nudge it again.

I could fix these problems, given enough time and patience.

I think that instead I’ll just try to save up and buy a happy new computer.  If I actually do that it will be the first time in my life that I’ve simply purchased a computer rather than build one.  It’s a strange thing to consider.

That’s all.

Troublesome things

June 5, 2007

I’ve encountered a new first in my career.  I have met with a family recently who is within a decade of retirement- who have pretty much no way outside of winning the lottery to achieve their retirement goals.  My partner says “Well, we’ll have to remember to smile, at least.”  I wonder if that will help.

I get the feeling that they were hoping for some kind of approval of their retirement plans, or perhaps some kind of suggestion that will magically make their money dance itself into an interest-earning frenzy.   The simple fact is that they make too little money to reach their goals.  They’re either going to have to keep working long after they’d like to, or lower their expectations. (A daunting task for a family who lives on so little.)

Alas, I have no such dance-inducing spell.

At least, not for money.

Of course we will make suggestions, and if followed, the family may find that they are able to get pretty darn close to their target retirement income for the first few years.  But it isn’t going to sustain them forever, nor at levels that grow with inflation. The upside is that they may be more willing to suggest we talk to their children and prepare them for retirement in a way more suitable than “Well, I have a 401k.  Isn’t that good enough?”

Life is strange sometimes.  I think I would hate to get to within a few years of retirement and find myself looking around wondering where my money went.  I got into the business because I was worried that my parents were in this situation.  Turns out they’re pretty much okay – much to their own surprise!  (and my relief.)  But now as I meet people who are really facing this problem – basically being forced to work till age 75  or beyond – I feel somewhat helpless.

Strange strange world.

Magic 8 ball, don't fail me now!There are two things – essential characteristics, as it were – in the balance as far as my job goes.  First:  It is emotionally rewarding to be able to help people.  I really enjoy sitting down with young families and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they find that they, too, can be financially responsible.

Then there’s the counterbalance:  I  haven’t made a dime doing my job yet – and I’ve been at it for a couple of months.   Yes, some money will eventually arrive, just because of contracts already signed and the like, but those checks are so small and so far between that it’s hard to feel perpetually good about my own life – even when I’m helping other people with theirs.

I find myself wondering if I’m doing the right thing.  I met with a young family today who made 17,000 dollars last year and who have their own home and 1 other lot that they’re going to build another house on, then sell the first for about 160,000 dollars of profit.  As for me, I am living off my last month’s worth of savings and wondering how much longer this financial drought can go on.  Should I just give up and go back to the food-services industries?  Or do I stick with the job that promises huge dividends in the unknowable future?  Where’s my magic 8 ball?

Today it just piled up on me again as I reached the end of the list of people I know personally.  I used to feel confident that I could make a living out of this job – but today I am not so sure.  I had decided in the past to keep it up for as long as I can.  And it may be that I find that it’s not the job for me.  But I might find that I am able to survive the next year – and perhaps even thrive in the future.  I just don’t know.  Not knowing leads to discouragement.  Discouragement can lead to giving up.  Giving up can lead to switching jobs.  Switching jobs can lead to… other jobs?

Reporting live from discouragedville,

-greg

The who, who is me.

October 12, 2006

the anthillyet again.  I know. I know.  But it’s not in a bad way, just in a curious way.) thinking about the future.

I had wanted to be a business major once.  Like when I was a freshman.  But, after taking a few classes, I decided that I would not like to be a business major.  My decision at the time was based mostly on the type of person I saw in the department.  I decided I didn’t want to be in a line of work where I had to associate constantly with that “personality.”

More recently I have been able to realize that it wasn’t that I disliked the personality type, I just didn’t understand it.  And because I couldn’t understand it I mistrusted it.  To this day I still don’t comprehend that strange and mysterious “managerial” personality.  It always seemed so over-positive and over-optimistic and over-energetic and so on.  I interpreted it as insincere.  I still do, to this day.

Yet I find myself contemplating a future that will put me exactly where that sort of personality thrives and finds great success.  This leads me to two possible outcomes.  1. I will learn to understand, respect, and embrace this sort of personality and these traits to the point of changing myself or 2. I will operate without ever becoming this kind of person.  But could I learn to trust these people?

Lately I have been feeling unsure of myself.  I worry that I’m unlikely to get any of the kind of career or lifestyle I would like just because I’ll be detected at the door.  Just like nerds can detect jocks through walls, the manager can spot the philosophers long before the interview.

Well, we will find out sooner or later.

-Greg

Blame and thoughts

June 21, 2006

I'm working on a review of research done on the topic of Blame.  In interesting side note  to regular life, there was an event that I experienced tonight that dealt with my review.Tonight a couple came in to the restaurant, my last table, and had some conversation and dinner.  They started out nice and polite, laughing a bit and being sociable.

After a while the conversation (as I heard in bits and pieces only while I walked past) turned to your vs. my method of relating to so-and-so. 

By the end of the meal it was nothing but an argument for the sake of arguing.  It was like they had got so used to arguing that it was all they had.  They were constantly looking for the other's faults and mistakes – trying to get the other to slip up in some way: "But you just said you hate when people do that."  And then "I never would have done _____ if you hadn't done/said _______."  "You shouldn't have to _____ you should know____." 

I have no idea what the content of their conversation was, but it was obvious in a few words that it was delivered through blame, anger, defensiveness, and the desire to hurt the other more than you had just been hurt. 

And neither of them would stop.  Neither of them was willing to accept blame for anything.  And when confronted would fight tooth and nail to re-aim the 'fault' to the other person, while simultaneously looking for the tiniest flaw to dwell on – thereby avoiding fixing the problem.  It was like some horrible tennis game where the ball is some sort of black tar that spatters each time it is hit, coating the combatants in sticky black gunk.   Whatever it was they started out talking about, they ended with nothing but attacks at each other. 

It's just a friendly game till somebody gets spattered with the tar-ball.

Hey, you spattered me.

It wouldn't have got you if you had just played like you're supposed to.

If I remember correctly you're the one who taught me this game.

Just cause I taught you doesn't mean you learned right.

Maybe if you had been a better teacher.

and so on.

and on.

and on.

Anyway, just before 11, I decided I wanted to go.  I asked them to pay their bill so I could go help my fiancee move some stuff into the apartment. 

"Oh, you help your fiancee?  Of course we could help you out for that.  You help the woman you love."

"I bet she even appreciates it. Doesn't she?"

*aggressive signing of generous tip*

Somewhere, people fall into destructive patterns.  They stop trying to fix the problems that we all come across every day, and instead try to console themselves by saying "It's not my fault.  It's yours." 

And as soon as you say it out loud, you're stuck with it.  You've committed yourself to a position and it takes some serious humility to say, afterwards, that "I was wrong, and yes it really is my fault."  Do you know anybody with that kind of humility?

Maybe it would be better, considering our glaring lack of humble, to just avoid blaming, and dwelling on the faults of other people, and instead just try to fix the problems that we come across.

I couldn't help but think of my upcoming marriage.

Shock.

I decided we won't be like that.  Because both of us love the other more than we love being right.  To be honest, she's a lot better at it than I am.  She loves and respects and listens to me like nobody I've ever met.  It makes me nervous – which motivates me to work hard on being my best for her.  And when I'm wrong, it seems like she just loves me more. 

I've never met anybody like her.

I'm glad I've taken this summer class on small group communication.  I've tried to do every little thing the instructor has said, even the suggestions.  And it's turned into a potentially life-altering event.  It's helped me set goals, and re-focus on having good communication.  The skills I learned on my mission are being applied very well to my current life.

Well, I'm tired.  

What's the conclusion?  What did I learn, and what should I have learned from this experience?  
I see it as another warning sign that there are bad paths that people can choose to take that lay ahead of us no matter where we are.

-greg

The Why

May 6, 2006

engagementSomebody left me a note that said that he or she thought it was really sad that people who serve missions marry so quickly after getting back.  This post is in response to the unsigned coment:

"You know return missionaries usually marry within six months after their missions end.

I think its sad.

Really, I do."

I don't know who this is or what this 'sadness' is referring to.  I think it could be either sad because 'dang, there goes another one that I can't have' or it could be 'dang, they're so naive.  They don't know what they're doing, they don't know who they are…'

I'm guessing this comment reffers to the latter.   That there's something wrong with getting married quickly after having been a missionary.

I can't imagine what the problem is.

So I'll just go about explaining me.  Why is it that I'm getting married just a bit more than 4 months after having returned from a mission.

I suppose the first and most important thing to do is ask the question "Is there something wrong with marriage?"

To me, marriage is the best relationship a man and woman can share.  It is the beginnings of the best relations I've ever experienced – those of family.  I know what a successful family can be like, and I know what it takes.  I feel sorry for those who feel that there is no such thing as a truly happy marriage.

Now, assuming I'm right, why wouldn't I want to get started on my own family as soon as I can after having put it off for 2 years?  Why would anybody put it off longer than the 18 or 24 months they had already put it off?  Obviously some people can't help it and every circumstance is different, but if I'm right wouldn't it be something to persue? 

If you love somebody…   And you know that that person has all the qualities you've ever hoped for in a spouse…  And you enjoy being happy…

Why wouldn't you embrace happiness?

Maybe the problem is some sort of negative view of serving a mission and the changes that take place in a person.   I've heard people say upon my returning, "You're going to need some time to re-adjust."

I suggest these people are missing the point.

I didn't go on a mission just to come back.  This wasn't a trip up the ladder then back down again.  The mission was supposed to change me.  I went because I wanted to become somebody – not just visit a personality then leave it behind.  I came back with no intention of 're-adjusting' to anything but spending more time alone.  But even being alone wouldn't change who I am and who I want to be – that person which was developed as my 24 years of life were plugged into a 2 year ideal.

And in terms of marriage… Why wouldn't I want to marry when I'm at my best?  I want her to expect me at my best.  I expect it of myself.  I want to expect it and get it forever.  There's no reason to wait on that account. 

The only other reason I can think of to put it off would be concerns having to do with how long and how well you know your potential mate. 

On this count, I think 9 years is a sufficient amount of time to get to know my future wife.

But obviously I'm not every returned missionary.  And yes, there are lots who find a girl and marry her within a few months of getting back.  Why do they do that?  This is a harder question for me to answer.  But I can tell you that your capacity for real love grows immensely while serving a mission.  Those who have served will probably tell you that they loved the people they worked with just as much as they loved their own family and closest of friends.   Maybe that's part of it – that these people are simply able to love harder and faster and stronger than other people can understand or believe.   Maybe it's that they feel there's something hugely important about marriage.  Maybe, to them it's more than just an outdated social custom.  Perhaps even essential in developing the most desirable of human relations.  And maybe, just maybe, there is a God and he cares enough about each person who dedicates 2 years to His service to get that person in contact with his or her soulmate ASAP. 

I honestly have no idea.  I'm not in that situation.  I am marrying a girl I've known for years and who fits me better than anybody I've ever met.  I love her.  I want to commit to her.  We knew we would get married even before I left for my mission, so I have no desire to wait any longer than I absolutely must in order to make my committment to her official, binding, and more permanant than is the already deep and rewarding friendship she and I already share. 

I hope this answers somebody's questions and creates more understanding and trust in a world where it's easy to be hurt, then afraid, then doubting, then cynical.

-Gregzor