Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Party of One

Snow No. 15 today. It's pretty and will push us toward 60 inches officially on the year, although the number is surely higher since we're a little inland. The official measurement is at Logan, which is right on the sea and totals generally change pretty quickly as you move away from the coast.

I don't know if we'll have many snows left. Despite the hassle sometimes, I really love the snow.

And despite yesterday's ranty post, I don't want to give the wrong impression... things are good. My life is good.

Of course there are things that could use improvement. I really want to lose weight and be healthier and more physically appealing. I guess that's shallow. Oh well.

Ferris was right... things move pretty quickly. I don't want to miss any more than I have to. And that's the bummer, we DO miss things. We CANNOT have it all. There isn't enough time. I want to see the world, I want to be better at life in all facets... fact is we're all going to have to cut some corners every now and then. That's hard maybe to accept but I believe it.

I'm not calling this a "bucket list" because I think that's a totally fabricated concept. But, there are some  things I want to do. But, I also think that I won't complete this mission. The first one is just to see the amazing sights in the world, and I just don't think there's enough time. When I read "Into Thin Air" I couldn't believe the hacks that basically paid Sherpas to haul their asses to the top of Everest. "I climbed Everest!"

No, fuckheads, you didn't. You didn't spend years learning how to mountaineer, you spent money to achieve a faux "accomplishment."

I'm never going to be like that. I've earned my scars, paid for them in tears, and they're real. And they're spectacular.

It's been almost 16 months in Boston now. I'm only recently starting to feel like it's "home." It's still so foreign in so many ways, and what's been harder to acclimate is the fact that the people are a bit aloof and reluctant to bring you into their circles here. It's hard to fit in, and a lot of the "natural" social circles aren't available to me. I don't participate in a religious setting, a school setting, anything like that.

My only real options are neighbors (they kind of suck), work (always dicey, for all the usual reasons, plus here co-workers don't even sometimes live in the same state) or people I meet randomly. Except here if you start a random convo with someone they eye you with suspicion. No, dude, I'm not trying to pick you up. No, toots, I ain't hitting on you.

But I think in the last couple of weeks I've kind of adjusted my thinking on this. If people aren't welcoming me into their world, I'm going to throw a party of one. Not to get all Stuart Smalley, but I feel like I'm a good enough person to be worthy of friendship. Some people pay lip service to that; I don't.

So, you know, if you want to be my friend, let's hang. If not, that's cool too, because I've got M, I've got the hounds... and I have ME.

So the next time someone tells me to go fuck myself, I should take that as a compliment, right?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Write said Fred

You may not know this, but once upon a time I got paid to write little stories. I wrote a lot of them. Usually several a week.

And they actually got published! Really. I've got boxes of clippings to prove it. Even though over time I've pitched probably 75 percent of that stuff.

I wrote some columns, but most of the stuff that got published was not personal at all. To this day, even here, I have to make myself let go. I tend to try and write things from as detached a position as possible. It's not really that easy to open those doors.

Today and two days ago, I got some things published here. It's my first byline in a big paper in a long time. In the 90s I was in three big newspapers; it's been a while since I had a quality placement.

It feels good. I really wanted to do a great job, even though these are small pieces and will be quickly forgotten. But not by me.

I thought I had left newspapers for good in 2000. I had a chance to take a dream job in a dream location, and I was smart enough to know that the business was struggling and that things were going to get worse. The timing was pretty good.

A few years later, though, I had the chance to jump back into journalism. It was with a lot of quality people who I had worked with before, and an exciting venture that held so much promise.

For the next six months, we had a ton of fun producing a clever publication that without some underhanded shit from our competition, could have been truly epic. Instead, for reasons I think still haven't been fully explained, we had to shut it down.

At the time it seemed like a complete disaster for me and 25 others. That was going to be my second farewell to journalism. But it turned out OK. I wound up going back to school and completing my degree.

And, setting up my third farewell to journalism. What made going back to school possible was taking a job at a third-rate newspaper near the university. There were some nice people there, and a handful of lifelong friends to meet. But in general, the place was populated with dead-enders, suck-ups, and hacks. Most of them in management roles.

Nepotism. Favoritism. Sexism. These were just some of the entrenched "isms" there, and overcoming them was difficult. Some people were allowed to screw up over and over. Some were allowed to be lazy. Some were allowed to be routinely incompetent.

And as I would discover, the office politicians had the best shot at longevity. Boat-rockers were shit-listed.

It was probably inevitable that it would go bad. It was almost five years ago now, that day when 16 heads got lopped off. It was no surprise that many in this jettisoned group would have one thing in common: We valued the quality of the product more than we valued kissing ass.

Most people lament things that happen in the workplace. Dilbert, The Office, Office Space... workplace bullshit is so commonplace that everyone can relate.

Some of the people let go that day have gone on to much bigger and much better. Although one of the leftovers, we would learn, told the frightened remainder that they had been retained because they "were the best of the best."

Some of them were really good. But the day of the lopping, they slashed two of the best at their jobs they had. And another who went on to a successful career at one of the region's biggest employers. And another who got a graduate degree and now makes globally recognized films. And another whose axing sparked a community outcry that got him re-hired quickly. And me.

"Best of the best." Fuck you, John, you coward.

Anyway. Now I work someplace great with amazing professional co-workers. They treat one another with respect. It feels incredible. I used to hate going to work. Now I look forward to it. The days fly by. We have fun, we do a great job.

And I get to be part of it.