Symbols & Cymbals

Taking inventory of the life

Me: I didn’t slam the toilet lid!
Her: Yes you did! How would you like it if I woke you up using cymbals?

After the breakneck pace of the past few months, I’ve had the luxury of a little downtime to decompress and reassess where I am in life.

Going back to my old saw that all of your life’s problems can be divided up into Health, Wealth, and Relationships, I took some inventory the other day.

Health
Good, not great. I’m back to wrasslin but it’s slow going because my injured leg gets tired quickly. Still, I’ve been rolling with a guy that had a total – total – knee replacement so it’s good that we get to ease into it. I’m now teaching that fencing class so that’s been fun too.

Wealth
My workload is back up to 2007 levels, which is both good and bad. It’s definitely good in that the I could use the scratch but working 14 hours days is unsustainable. Been chatting with friends on how to perhaps do something to even out the work so it’s better spaced. Haven’t come up with a solution yet but I suppose it’s a matter of time.

Relationships
With the people I care about, this is going well too. I have a handful of issues with some friends but who doesn’t? Also, the wife and I are celebrating our anniversary this month, so that’s good.

According to a published report titled, The Connubial Crucible: Newlywed Years as Predictors of Marital Delight, Distress, and Divorce, if you can make it past two years, the chance that you’ll make a marriage last is pretty high.

So we made it past that symbolic mark.

Between you and me, I totally slammed that toilet lid.

I’ll have to work on that.

Her: I got you something. (hands me bag)
Me: Oh you didn’t have to, thanks. (opening) Wait, Bacon-flavored chocolate nuts?
Her: Yup.
Me: You are the best wife ever!

Mood: content
Music: Everybody sails alone But we can travel side by side
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People used to say “And the winner is…” not “And the Oscar goes to…”

All men are created equal; we don’t stay that way

Didn’t watch the Oscars last night. Just not my thing. But I did manage to catch the very end of it where they’re singing a song to the “losers.” Found that interesting.

Because, I don’t know if you noticed, but they never say: And the winner is… like they used to; now they only say: And the Oscar goes to… .

The reason is obvious, they don’t want anyone’s feelings to get hurt. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are, indeed, winners and losers in life.

Which brings me to a friend of mine. Like most people, he only knows part of a saying and not the whole thing: It’s not just that “Curiosity killed the cat,” the saying finishes: “Satisfaction brought him back.”

That means the saying is exactly the opposite of what most people think it is.

It’s only after the cat’s curiosity is satisfied that he’s made whole again. Without satisfaction, curiosity was killing him.

As for my friend. He thinks the saying is, Everyone is the equal. That is not the saying. People are decidedly not equal.

99.99% of the course of your life depends on the parents to whom you are born.

All men/people are created equal, but time, tide, and effort means that no one stays that way.

I have been wrasslin for over a decade now, on and off. I’m terrible.

However, I’m a pretty good fencer. Certainly not the best, but definitely not the worst. And the reasons for the two are the same: time, tide, and effort.

Put in much more time at being a good fencer than I did at being a good wrestler and my injuries mean that I can still fence but not wrassle.

Getting back to my friend, he’s also my fencing student but refuses to show me the proper respect as his instructor. That’s forgivable to an extent because he’s my friend.

But the moment he even hinted at disrespect for my instructor, I had to ask him to stop coming.

He had an easy out: apologize, pay a fine, and we could all move on with our lives.

And yet, he refused.

He only knows me as his drinking buddy Logan, his equal. And when we drink, we are. But put a weapon in my hand and I’m far and away not his equal.

And the reason is simple: I earned it, I worked for it.

The problem is the same with the Oscars, with the the soccer trophies everyone wins for just showing up, and him.

They confuse equality to equality of effort. They are not the same.

The other issue is that the other students have been part of other schools, and teams with coaches. They understand that they submit to the will of the instructor for two reasons: (a) safety and (b) to get better.

He does not understand this. At some point, one earns the right to be treated as an equal but he has not – not yet in this arena at least. I’m disappointed in both him and the situation.

To excel in something, one must bend. The winners in life are not the ones that futility fight everything but the ones that bend, learn, and come back for more.

If I had to rename this blog from On (or close to) Schedule, it would be to: If you can be anything, be bendy. I’ve said it a million times to him and everyone else.

We face a choice daily to be broken or be bendy; those that consistently choose the latter are the ones that survive and excel.

The door is always open for him, if he’s willing to pay the price of admission.

And a major part of the price is to shut up and learn from someone that did just that.

Mood: disappointed
Music: I won’t be coming this way again. Burn them bridges down
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A trip to the Museum and a birthday

Our Global Kitchen exhibit at the Museum of Natural History

Been so busy these days that I forgot to mention that the wife and I went to go see the Our Global Kitchen exhibit at the Museum of Natural History since we’re both becoming a lot more conscious about what we eat.

The museum is right by our pad so we try to go every once in a while. It was a pretty cool exhibit so if you get a chance to go, it’s very eye opening.

If nothing else you’ll learn that corn is our biggest food export, bananas are our biggest food import, and that cod is getting a lot smaller because of over-fishing.

Me: Now I want a banana.

Also went to see my friend COB for her birthday. She’s actually the woman I met in this conversation. This is a good time to point out two things:

  • If you stick by the rule that: Leave people better off having met you then you will get more invitations in life, the occasional email penpal, and some homemade gifts such as the above, which she made for me and my wife.
  • Sometimes people ask me if I make up some of the things I write, like the conversations. I always tell them that I’m not that creative.

Met her fella and a bunch of her friends that day. Nice people – I would have stayed longer but I had a previous engagement. Still, it was good to get out of house for a bit.

Her: That’s the thing about California, you really need a car to get around and I didn’t have one.
Me: Did you consider car-jacking?

Mood: artistic
Music: Liebe ist so wie du bist
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I just need a pair of scissors

If you lost everything, what would be the one thing you need?

Bagpipes

Had a lot of things I wanted to write this week but I found out that an aunt of mine died.

We were never really close, but she was always there since I was a kid. In fact, I learned more about her after she passed than I ever knew while she was living.

For example, she managed people in a garment business for almost 25 years. She was hired to be a seamstress but was so talented that she was immediately promoted to manage all of them, despite speaking almost no English.

She never had much scratch because she was always giving what little she had away to charities; she had just given away several thousand to Hurricane Sandy victims and volunteered for several weeks.

She didn’t worry, though, cause she’d always say that as long as she had a pair of scissors to make clothes, she’d be ok.

That made me think: If I lost everything, if I just had a keyboard, or even a pencil and paper, I’d be ok.

Maybe teach fencing on the side for some extra coin. After all, the limits of our imagination are the limits of our world.

Getting back to her, the last thing I learned was there was no body at the funeral. She donated her body to medical students at Hofstra University and her organs to five families that needed it.

Think that impressed me the most. In her last act, she still managed to help people. We all have our three lives.

Wish I knew all of the above about her when she was alive. But we’re all always so busy aren’t we?

You never can tell about other people. Said it before, we are made in our sleep to be heroes or villains.

She was a nice old lady. Nicer even than I knew. She lived a life worth living and that’s something, isn’t it?

Mood: impressed
Music: there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
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John Fairfax killed a shark too

The limits of our imagination are the limits of our world

Bagpipes

When we meet people, we often describe them by what they do – like The Accountant, or The Schoolteacher.

Suppose it’s because we’re all know by what we do. If that’s the case, then, we can choose what it is we are.

I think that people that meet me in one part of my life are surprised by the other parts. Those that know me as a fencing instructor are probably surprised I’m a lawyer. My real estate clients are probably surprised I write.

The thing is that – I feel – the more someone respects me for being a lawyer, the less they believe I can fence.

There’s something about people that find it impossible to believe that someone can excel at two things. Let alone three, or more.

This fella named John Fairfax once rowed across the Atlantic by himself in two months. Since that was pretty well-documented, no one had a problem believing that he did that.

The problem happened when he said that during his trip, a giant mako shark attacked him so he killed it with a knife.

A reporter with the Miami Herald scoffed at this part of the story, which so pissed Fairfax off that Fairfax rented a boat, poured fish blood into the water, waited for a shark to come, killed that shark, then dragged the shark’s dead body to the steps of the Miami Herald and dumped it there.

The moral of the story is people scoff all of time when they meet someone who does something out of their own view of the world. It’s like that saying I love: A frog in a well knows nothing of the ocean.

My buddy Johnny was the guy that first taught me how to fight – I mean really taught me. He just bought a $19 million building in midtown Manhattan. My wrasslin coach also has an Ivy League Ph.D in Japanese history.

People find it hard to believe things they feel they couldn’t do. Their world is limited by their own beliefs in their own abilities.

In other words, their understanding of the world is limited by their imagination.

It’s hard to constantly stretch our imagination as we get older but I try. It helps having friends that dream too.

With nods to Michel Gondry, I’m not a very good sleeper.

But I dream a lot.

Mood: amused
Music: should have said long ago: You don’t know me
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Be irreplacable

In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different


Was in the hospital again this weekend, although not for me. In the end, everything worked out ok, so that was a huge relief.

I’m there so often, I feel I should get some sort of frequent flyer miles program.

Me: Do we have a cat?
Her: A cat? No.
Me: Then I found your slippers underneath the bed.

After almost two solid months of working 12-14 hour days, took this weekend off. It was weird. There’s this underlying guilt when you live an eat-what-you-kill lifestyle that you should be working on something.

Picked up a book for the first time in months: The Lawyer Bubble – I have a preview copy I’m reviewing for the New York Journal of Books.

It looks bleak for future of the profession, especially for the current classes and recent grads: There are approximately 45,000 new lawyers each year but only 73,600 legal jobs expected in the next decade.

Not good.

My focus in the law is pretty narrow – mainly because it’s the part I find the most interesting.

Coco Chanel once said, In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.

Think that’s true but I like to add it: …and to be irreplaceable, one has to do things that one: (a) loves, (b) can be the best in the world at, and (c) can make money doing.

That last part is from Good to Great.

I think that the two ideas combined and lead to a happy and comfortable life.

For a number of my clients, I like to think that I’m irreplaceable. And I think I’m irreplaceable because I’m doing something I’m really good at and enjoy doing (workload notwithstanding).

As for those newly minted lawyers, hope they find something for themselves that fulfill all four criteria.

Life is way too short to spend your time doing something you don’t at least somewhat like.

And having $120,000 in additional debt around your neck while doing it is no fun either.

As for me, I’m going to try and take it easy today.

Maybe have a whole-wheat donut.

Mood: relieved
Music: Let them say I was a hard working stiff and sand of the golden age
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