I’m winding down my professional career as a designer and getting ready to ramp up a new one as a programmer. What kind of programmer I’m to become has not really presented itself yet but it’s plainly clear that after about 20 years working as a professional graphic designer I just don’t have the taste for it anymore and can’t see a future in it any longer. While I do enjoy the building of projects for people, those enjoyable projects have become few and far between and it seems like all the fun’s been taken out of it. I’m a bit sad but somewhat relieved at the decision to exit the field because I still do enjoy working to create with type and imagery, my future in that will come exclusively from a pure want to create and it’ll have to be the right project at the right time and not just because it’s my job.

I’ve seen the field change in some ways but what really got me was how it didn’t change and I never learned to accept how design in certain companies is viewed as a necessary evil of sorts and the opinion that decisions are largely arbitrary and can be made by anyone with the power to tell someone else to do it. There’s just no respect for design talent in certain companies and it’s left me cold. I’m tired of fighting a battle that will never be won and even if it was won, wouldn’t be worth it in the end.

Biscuits and math.

For the past few days, a disconnected phrase has been running through my head that makes me giggle and I feel like I should share it cause I’m no longer connected to the people who were privy to it originally so the phrase itself carries very little meaning simply spoken aloud without context.

When I was in college, there was a group of friends that I’d hang around with and we frequented a small area of the campus called the hub. Ok, not very original I know but that’s not really the story so pay attention. Among this group of friends was a guy named Kurt who was appropriately nicknamed biscuithead. I don’t really know the origins of the nickname necessarily, but it fit and I’m sure you can imagine a rather unfortunate fellow who has unfortunate things happen to him on a regular basis with this kind of nickname.

There was also another group of people who would hang together that were essentially the purest and most perfect examples of misfits. One was a rather portly dude who didn’t really care much for personal hygiene, a blind girl who always dressed in pink sweaters, a few other nondescript people and a really short girl who I swear had a club foot but it was a long time ago so I might be wrong about that. This story centers around that girl.

One day, a presumably normal day for poor biscuithead, he was on his way somewhere in a hurry and being himself was running and not really paying attention to his surroundings. As it was relayed by him, he rushed around a blind corner near a stairwell and happened upon the previously mentioned, most decidedly vertically challenged girl. And he happened upon her in a way that met with a decent amount of force that would knock any normally sized person to the ground.

The description of the collision could probably be described in greater detail but since I wasn’t there I’ll save you the probably imaginary details—let’s just say that books, papers and tiny people were flying in a way they weren’t meant to. What happened after was the thing that brings us here and eventually to the phrase that stuck with a few people for the rest of their college career together. As poor biscuithead and the short girl (for lack of a better name) attempted to deal with this sad accident, there was a flurry of “I’m SO SORRYs” and a lot of silence. As he helped he pick up what appeared to be her entire weight in books, papers and pencils it just got more uncomfortable and more silent, right up until the end as she had everything in order and turned to walk away, only to turn back and look him right in the eye and say, ” I have to go to math.”

Now, was that phrase necessary of this wordy explanation? Not at all, since it wasn’t what she said but how she said it that stuck with us and became the trigger for much laughter in the next couple years. Imagine the girl I previously described very pointedly saying that particular phrase like Gollum from Lord of the rings. It was the kind of thing to catch someone off his guard enough to flip from panicked embarrassment to insane giggling all the way back to relay the entire incident to his group of friends.

Now don’t you feel special?

With a newfound need to not be sedentary, I’m looking into all the old activities that kept me busy and I’ve still some gear for. I got that bike thing out of the way. Well, my old one was stolen so I can’t exactly blow the dust off that one and I like my new bike a little more than the other one anyway. I guess it’s the bigger wheels?Either way, with the summer approaching an end in the next few months, I’m gonna need a winter activity and sliding down a hill on waxed wood sticks and boards was always fun so let’s do that!

The shop I got my bike from turns its gear over to snow stuff in mid-October and I’ve got a few things I’m gonna have them polish up. I’ve even got an initial “why not” from my wife on whether or not she’d join me for a ski session. I’m looking forward to the time I can get the whole family out on the slopes or trails so I better get her used to it sooner than later. She’d be one hot ski bunny and I need some practice.

Thankfully I invested in a pair of skis that had demo bindings and are easily adjustable for different size boots. They are the longer/faster pair of the two I have but we have the same size feet so maybe the other pair could work as well without any adjustment. I’m not much of an expert when it comes to skis.

We do have a really tiny ski hill just down the road from us that I dragged my dad out to a while back and that was coincidentally the last time I was up on skis. I’m not even sure what year that was. Same with snowboarding but I’m pretty sure that one went in storage just before leaving for college so that would be about 94. So 20 years. I’m sure I’m still really good at it.

Ha.

Slowly but surely, I’m inching my way down towards my goal weight of 180 pounds, which would put me back at the weight I was before going away to college and from what I can remember, a very comfortable weight for my frame. I broke a three week plateau this week and hit 197. Along with running a mile in less than 9 minutes, I’d say it’s been a great fitness week. Still lots of work to do.

Drenched. (Or, fuck you, serious bike snob.)

While listening to the (occasionally) snooty NPR, I heard an interview with a woman talking about biking in Chicago. More specifically about how bikers who don’t spend upwards of $3k on a carbon-framed road bike or refuse to ride in the rain aren’t serious about cycling.

WHATEVER. Why must I conform to your idea of what serious is to be dedicated to cycling?

My father is a wine lover and has been for quite some time. He reads up on it all, the current crops and vineyards and enjoys it daily. He notes what he likes and doesn’t like and keeps track of it all. By all accounts, my father is serious about wine. Although he has imposed a $25 a bottle cap on himself and that, if you take the snob’s definition of serious, would make him less serious about it or not even serious. Well, that’s really just some serious bullshit.

I have a sub-$1000, relatively heavy mountain bike that I ride 10+ miles on pretty much everyday. It has taken me from about 212 pounds to 197 in about three months and given me a definite need for daily physical activity. I take very good care of it, seriously good care. I wipe it down after every ride and do a pre-ride check before going out. I love my bike and my wife refers to it as “my girlfriend.”

So really, the objection here is to the word serious as it pertains to how much money I’ve spent on my bike over how much I ride it or how well I take care of it because that is, frankly, crap.

I did do a 10 mile ride in the rain and got completely soaked today though, is that serious enough for you or just half serious? I’ll see you on the trails, serious bike lady.

Dark.

Like times before when I laid myself out bare to the night, I find only questions with no answers. Questions about love, questions about money, questions about sex … the simple things. Questions that only bring about more questions until I’m faced with fatigue and cannot ask any more questions.

Night.

When I sit in silence, only the wind dancing with the trees and myself fixated on some unseen point in front of me, can I find some calm. Some rest. Some peace. And then come the questions.

But not tonight.

Tonight I find myself not asking any questions, for I’ve grown too old to be chattering on like a child with many years ahead of him, but demanding answers to the questions I’ve whispered into this very same night some time ago. I’m finding that the night is angry with me.

It has been providing answers all this time but I’ve not been paying attention, and that’s not a good way to get someone to want to help you.

Here I am, dear friend. Asking of you the same things I’ve asked before, but older and more determined. I pray the answers have not changed from years past but will accept my fate either way. You know my questions, please tell me again the why, the what and the whom.

I am listening.

So for the first time in approximately 13 years, I weigh less than 200 pounds. Only 2 pounds or so less but hey, it’s a start. Everything began at the beginning of spring when I bought myself a new bike. Nothing fancy, but a new bike that made me realize how much I missed being on a bike. My last one was stolen off my deck during the night about 10 years ago but truth be told I hadn’t ridden that one in awhile anyway. I did like it very much but the new one is more comfortable. The older was a larger frame size and slightly heavier.

In addition to the exercise, I began tracking calorie intake and the combo of the two seems to be doing the trick. When I started, I was 212 and now I’m 198. My goal is around 180 but if it ends up being more or less that’s ok. I’m really just looking to lose the extra weight I gained in college (too much pizza and sugary cereal. don’t judge!) so I may continue on this earth longer and more comfortably.

While I don’t really have a tendency to do things until I’m darn good and ready (to those that love and influence me: I am sorry, but thank you) this began much later than it should have. I will give a large part of the credit to my wife for staying stunningly gorgeous all these years and getting herself back into shape after two children. She has always been an inspiration to me even thought I’ve lacked the will to act on it. Other reasons include: not wanting to be the fat guy who huffs and puffs while coaching his son’s soccer games and really just not wanting to be the fat guy who huffs and puffs ever again. And maybe an excuse to buy some new clothes.

Type, delete, type, delete.

I’m trying to figure out the best way of cataloging my thoughts as they come to me. Since I don’t carry this laptop around with me everywhere I go, it’s a problem to have a good idea for a post and then not capture it fully only to attempt it later and wind up falling into what seems more like a typing exercise that will only result in breaking the backspace key.

There have been three good post idea that came to me in the past week but once I got down to attempt organizing my thoughts everything’s has kind of evaporated like a mediocre dream. Interestingly, there’s enough going on in real life and I’m not sure how it’s all going to pan out anyway so maybe it’s best to let it play out and write later? We’ll see.

Love and Loss

I asked some Twitter followers for a list of sad songs to listen to recently and got a list of really great songs but none of them reached down and eviscerated me with the precision of the ones that I’d had already; then it occurred to me that none of the people I’d received recommendations from had children.

Granted, not all the songs that I listen to which turn me into a blubbery mess have to do with children and that’s certainly not meant to take away from the power of the songs that I was provided with but it gave me insight on my current perspective on life and where I’ve come from.

One overwhelming theme of the provided songs was loss. More specifically, loss of a partner due to a break up. It’s possible that I’m not affected by these songs as much as other sad songs because I’ve never experienced a loss that really killed me. Of course there’s been emotion and such but nothing that really stayed with me where some many years later I’m moved to tears by thinking about it. As far as relationship songs go, there’s nothing that tops “I will follow you into the dark” by Death Cab for Cutie. Mostly because when it turns the waterworks on, they are all happy tears. Every. Single. One.

And it’s because I’m positively certain I have found the most perfect person for me.

The other song that now does things to me that it never did before, since it’s a song that I’ve heard pretty much my whole life, is “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin. Since my boys were born, I can’t help but listen to that song through their eyes and IT KILLS ME. Completely.

I’m terrified that I will look back and remember just once that I didn’t choose to spend time with them over doing something pointless or that just couldn’t have been done later. They are more precious to me than anything ever and I’m doing my very best to ensure that they don’t ever have a time in their lives where they look back and remember me saying “Not now, I’m too busy,” and they knew that wasn’t the case.

I think that I’ve pretty much come to a point in my life where my own personal losses are nowhere near as frightening as seeing people I love hurt and must do my best to make sure that doesn’t happen. Especially by my own actions.

“It takes very little to make a happy life.”

A fortune cookie fortune, taped to to my cabinet for the last four months. A tiny reminder that my life is different now. Better. Simpler. I don’t have to look very far for things to make me happy. In fact, most of the time they walk up and say hello-or smack you in the face.

And you look forward to it. Everyday.

Jimmy says hello.

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