Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Living Vicariously

I wish I could be.. British?

Random Observation/Comment #238: I congregate with such an odd lot of friends. My crew would probably be on the cover of some diversity poster at NYU.  Maybe I just like the phrases we make up. Wordlife.

It was the day after St. Patty’s Day. One of my best friends and I were sitting at McSorely’s drinking a pair of Darks, when all of a sudden, a pretty girl sits next to us and starts a random conversation.  Of course, we all chat and give the 2-minute well-practiced glimpse into our little complex lives, but then she finally speaks of her underlying motive.  What she wanted to know was how these two (handsome) men on the opposite spectrum can sit together and enjoy a beer together.

On one side, she saw an artistic adventurist; glistening with a new tattoo slightly covered by his tight white t-shirt.  The skinny jeans, huge steel-tipped boots, and freshly shaven head told a different story from when he expressed his perspectives on Applied Psychology.  Somehow he spoke about his subjects with such passion and interest that the whole room seemed to listen intently.

On the other side, there was a quiet thinker; wearing a sweater-vest and rimless glasses with his carefully chosen words and tendencies to drift off into semi-intelligent tangents.  He told stories about traveling, but he had spoken of these times as if they were from a different life – not much could be done as this new phase has taken over his purpose (or lack-thereof).  He seemed interesting in his own way, but only because he would probably do your math homework if you asked him to (and definitely get you an A).

At the time, we deflected the question with the answer: “We go after different women and different women come after us, so there’s really no conflict of interest.”  This is very true – in a random line-up of diverse and pretty women, our tastes would never overlap.  I tend to go after the intellectuals with quirky personalities, while my friends would prefer typical blonde-haired blue eyes or skinny artistic girls.  It’s convenient, but just because we like different women, doesn’t mean we’re best friends – it’s not like we’re always chasing after tails – What? I said always.

It could be our similarities.  I like beer.  They like beer.  We drink beer.  Fair enough – we have a good pastime, but then again, we can’t always be drinking beers.  Maybe it’s our sense of humors?  Sometimes there’s no other knee slapper like someone else’s misfortunes.  It sounds mean (and it definitely is) but I can’t help but laugh if a guy gets hit in the groin or if a clown falls down the stairs and makes squeaky sounds on the way down.  That’s just funny.  Plus, I hate clowns.

It must have started when I was younger. I hung out with kids who weren’t exactly bad – I mean, how bad can a kid be in elementary school? – But they weren’t exactly straight-A students, or considered “good influences.”  He was (and still is) one of my best friends, but our differences in childhood and circumstances has always fascinated me.  In many ways, he was the adventure side of my childhood.  I listened to my parents and studied, but also went against their rules and played in the dirt with friends that may or may not upturn all of their hard work.  Now that I’ve grown up a little, I can see how dangerous this influence could have been to me.  If I had followed a similar path to his, I would have wound up in a different life.  There would have been some jail-time here and there, and probably a few children lying around (not that it happened).

In another light, although he was indeed a bad influence on me; I was actually a good influence on him.  I can’t imagine how much more trouble he would have gotten into without my conscience stopping us – well, I still thought digging a hole for a swimming pool was a great idea too.  It’s not like I’m doing some charity work or letting them use me; we’re all friends – and damn good friends.  If I ever needed them, I could call and depend on them to be there for me.  As I tell them stories about my past adventures, current endeavors, and plans ahead, I expect them to be brutally honest and tell me their true perspective without sugar-coating it too much.  They know when to pick me up with a few comforting words, and they know when to push me with some tough love.  I guess the best way for me to explain it is that we’re just best friends.  We do the same thing that good parents do for each other, but we’re the same age and our advice is not considered “out-of-date.”

My friends and I always say, “With our powers combined, we could get any girl out there.”  In a more general sense, we all provide a crucial piece to the puzzle.  Honestly, I’m not going to fool myself in believing that I could do everything (actually there are many situations that I would definitely avoid), but at least I can be friends with people that have walked that path – I can live that story of life without going through all of it.  It’s all a complicated adventure where we influence each other’s decisions and branch off into our own developed-story.  Although we’re an odd lot, it works for us and I wouldn’t trade this community for anything.

~See Lemons Thankful for Friends

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A Fear Come True

petrified, horrified, terrified.

Random Observation/Comment #237: I’ve reduced my global status updates to weekday observations about work and recommendations to the really cool and geeky stuff I read when I get off work.  In my opinion (and many will argue if this is true or not), I’m giving some useful information and relatively staying on topic without flooding people with useless updates.  With this in mind, I feel there should be a limit to the number of updates some of my friends should be able to post.  It’s like the whole Mitch Hedberg idea of the car horn. “I wish I hadn’t seen Jimmy on the street!”

This will be the 4th post I’ve had after working for 7 weeks.  I find this lack of writing blasphemous! I had so many fun topics that I wanted to rant about, but they were somehow pushed aside by my overall lack of desire to do work outside of work.  I’ve brainwashed myself with the phrase, “Hey, I worked a 9-hour day in front of a computer – all I want to do is turn off.”  It’s everything I feared from working coming true.

Even though I have free nights for optimal coding and writing, I spend the bulk of this free time doing my old time-consuming crap that I told myself to stop due to un-productivity.  I’m not exactly sure why I want myself to be this well-oiled crazy working-machine, but I think it has something to do with the fact that this world is so damn-fascinating (or damn fascinating).  Whatever the motive, I find a certain bitter taste in my mouth about this decision.  I appreciate the praise from my parents who have become so thrilled that I’ve stopped my “useless travels around the world,” yet there is a side of me that feels like I am letting a small population of friends down.  My move towards finance and settling down is like Anakin Skywalker turning to the Dark Side.  Somehow, the power of money and greed has poisoned my desire to pursue education and capture the full extent of the world.

How did this happen?  What happened to “All is well?”  Where is that passion now?  I wish I could say it hasn’t taken a back seat, but it’s hard to fit it in between my winks of sleep.  I was fully aware that this move was a risk towards my metaphysical levels of freedom.  I can treat it as a learning experience to expand my knowledge of a working routine all I want, but at the end of the day, it’s just so different.  Was I supposed to feel overwhelming success and pride in representing the company or crossing off tasks?  Should I jump for joy because I did a good job writing documentation? I think there needs to be something more to keep me enthralled.  I’ve come up with the little things along the way, but maybe I need a big thing.  I need a new approach that will just revolutionize work.

Back in the day, my parents didn’t have a problem finding that goal – it was a sacrifice made from love for children and family that led them to keep working.  Maybe I can make the same sacrifice they made for me to let them discover the next phase.  Well, it may be true, but I don’t think shifting dreams back and forth should be the driving force. We’re not living on a see-saw – I want to see the arrow or web or huge matrix – Whatever it is.

I guess I don’t want to just treat a job as a source of income – I want to treat it as an adventure.  It’s the whole idea of finding a career and specializing in something that you’re good at which should be a driving force, right? And if what you’re good at is in high demand, and you get really good at it along some crazy coin-collecting route towards a level-up, then I think success will follow.

Although I still have an inconsistency with my current plan: What is this finance thing, again?  I don’t know anymore: It’s just a part of the adventure.  If my life is a book, I can’t wait for the chapter where I lose my mind and live on an island with fiber optics.  I’d just do stuff for free and pick up star-gazing again.  Hey, look: a new dream to add to the list.

~See Lemons Avoid a Routine

The Daily Grind

mini peoples

Random Observation/Comment #236: I can write a whole article about how facebook status updates are a competition of being witty or clever while telling people what you’re doing.  I won’t, but I definitely can.

The daily grind has already somewhat settled.  From the job perspective, I am strategically making myself more and more useful and indispensable in my group by prying and solidifying parts in less mature projects.  I constantly talk with coworkers around me to get a better idea of what they do so I could compare the boringness of our daily routine and perhaps choose the lesser of two evils in the long run.  I deliberately spend time just walking around to give my wrists and my eyes a rest from that damn Outlook page.

Coffee in the morning is mandatory.  By 3PM, I desperately need a nap, so I drink my second cup of coffee to stop myself from dosing off at my desk.  “Oh, look; another meeting to take place in 15 minutes, I guess I will read a techcrunch article until then.”  “A conference call with London where I have no idea what they’re talking about and their weekly support updates don’t affect me – I wonder what techmeme has to say.” “That was such a satisfyingly well written email. Wait, let me add it to my to-do list and then immediately check it off to relive the feeling of being productive.”

Anyway, I can’t be stuck doing the work of someone else’s brain-child.  I’d always want to feed my own side projects and feel, not only the rush of giving it life, but the rush of seeing it grow.  The only way I see myself completing this work is by making this project my own and giving it my own little personal flair.  I think that’s the way it should be – not some business analyst telling a code-monkey to pump out these specific features.

I don’t want to see these brilliant people become box checkers or task crosser-outers.  I want to see them smile from their managers telling them that they’ll use their ideas for the next release, or have them excited to improve the program instead of just getting the work done.  It makes me sad to see their routine, and then scared at the thought that I could become one of them.  I don’t want to be infected… Are they already part of the living dead?  What is the point of living if you’re just a sheep? – A sheep at work pleasing your boss and then a sheep at home pleasing your partner.  It’s seeing lives like these that made me consider living in the mountains.

It’s not that I don’t like this job – I’m just used to a lot more excitement and pizzazz.  Based on my track-record of hiking around the world, I guess I’m not a person you would expect to sit at my desk and work on one project.  In fact, I think most people want me to write about the torture and agony of not having the choice to leave class and take a train to Prague on a whim (Yeah, life was good).  But the truth is, if I compare anything to those 6 months, I would be rightfully depressed and living in the past.  Fortunately, for me, those memories are just there to make me smile that they happened, and not sad that they’re not happening now.  The adventure is not looking back; it’s always been moving forward with time – and with that mentality, I do not hit my head on my keyboard and build monuments on my desk with office supplies (only when I can’t find bugs).

~See Lemons in a Daily Grind