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Showing posts from 2009

For Laura Hanley, wherever this may find her

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Spring, 1980 I was twenty years old, working at a frame shop in downtown Dallas. I lived alone in a trailer, in a field beside a freeway.  I was saving my money to go to art school in Philadelphia in the fall. Through a friend of a friend, I met Laura Hanley. Laura had just come home from Brown University. She was a thin girl of medium height, with short, wavy brown hair. I never had a photo of her, but she looked like astronomer Bethany Cobb. Laura had a quiet grace. She’d studied at the Providence Zen Center so I talked to her about the ideas I’d gotten from Alan Watts. I developed a huge crush on Laura instantly, and plotted to see her as often as I could. One spring day before the awful heat, I went to White Rock Lake with my usual gang of friends. Laura arrived with a handsome, bearded young man, and I didn’t know if he was her boyfriend or not. She wore a summer shift, printed with Van Gogh drawings. I went crazy inside wit

2009

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By the time you get to be my age it's like you're having breakfast every fifteen minutes. —  Kitty Carlisle Hart Three of us, Tilden Park, December . Hello again. I hope life was good to you in 2009. Weren't we cleaning up from New Year's Day, just a few weeks ago?  The major events in our family this year: Max began Kindergarten and Japanese Saturday school, we took a vacation, I got laid off and got a new job right away. We can't ask for better luck than this. So why am I so exhausted?  We are well. Max is much bigger, more difficult, and more interesting to be with. Recently he said to me, " I’m too busy to be even talking to you! Please don’t bother me!" Shades of our future. In truth, Max is a busy boy. He goes to school six days a week, five to English Kindergarten and once to study Japanese on Saturday. He already has homework almost every night, to which he submits gracefully, for a little boy. Family life has been compared to runnin

Breaking Free From My Possessions

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I'm throwing stuff out. Again. The photo above is from 1985. This battered Volkswagen Van contained all my possessions at that time, and the pillow tied on top is my futon-bed. It wasn't much stuff, and yet this load weighed me down. Several times on the road from Philadelphia to Dallas, I was tempted to park the van and walk away from it.  There's a wonderful scene in Franco Zefferelli's movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, in which young Saint Francis gives his clothes to his father in the central square of Assisi, then walks away naked, toward sainthood. The actor playing Francis, Graham Faulkner was young and toned; this helped us stop wondering what he would do a few minutes later, when thorns and bugs attacked him. Nevertheless, we tend to over-estimate the usefulness of things we keep, and under-estimate what keeping them costs us, to the extent we consider this at all.  The cost reveals itself at odd moments. While recovering from a devastating break-

Gratitude

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Here we are, approaching the big holiday of Thanksgiving.  Holidays. I'm both attracted to them and repelled by them. Thanksgiving delivers a wonderful idea—let's appreciate what we have—and an undertone of accusation: You need to be reminded. You're not grateful enough on your own. You don't really deserve what you have, it's just luck or a gift from God that He plans to take back soon.  Does anyone else feel this way? Maybe not. Guilt is my general reaction to everything. So guilty or not, here are some things I like. They keep me going. Max [right], seen here with his friends, lining up for Kindergarten. Living close to the ocean. It's a mental pleasure, since I'm never getting in that freezing water, like these brave surfers. Brightly colored houses. A misty drive back from the grocery store. 

A Few Days in October

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In October, 1989 I lived in the Richmond District of San Francisco. I was married to a tall southern belle, and we rented an apartment with 15 windows and sweeping views. We'd come to the city two years earlier, with all our stuff in the back of a station wagon. The city had been good to us.  I painted outdoors a great deal, on the cliffs around Land's End. I had accumulated enough work to participate in San Francisco's Open Studios event. I found a group space at an industrial building on York Street, and paid to show my paintings there. The other artists in the building showed a wide variety of work. Some of it, like the sculpture above, was thoughtful, accomplished and interesting. On the other hand, the idea of "art" is often the refuge of the criminally insane.  A few feet away from my earnest, boring rectangles, a group of aging white guys—The Architects of Doom—built a large installation, resembling a 1970s rumpus room, a place where the Brady B

New Job and Samuel Gottscho

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Exactly two weeks after I received notice that I would be laid off, I accepted a new job at my company. Many thanks to each or you who encouraged me during this time. A lay-off can happen again, to either of us, just about any time. This was an interesting experience. It opened my mind to many ideas, and tested my understanding of how the world works. I plan to write more about these subjects later. In the mean time, if you want to put yourself in the best possible position to endure a lay-off, I recommend Keith Ferrazzi's book, Never Eat Alone:  And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time  Ferrazzi's approach has worked well for me. He writes: There has never been a better time to reach out and connect than right now. The dynamic of our society, and particularly of our economy, will increasingly be defined by interdependence and interconnectivity. In other words, the more everything becomes connected to everything and everyone else, the more we begin

Big Change, Good Food and Two Maxwells

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I apologize for the long gap in posting. I want to resume posting weekly. However, the blog is likely to have more gaps for the time being, due to life changes: In the field of opportunity, it's ploughing time again. — Neil Young Last week my employer told me my position will be eliminated in mid-November. In the next few weeks at least, I will devote most of my attention to setting up a new job. I like my current job, so this is a major shift in plans. So far, I have many indications that the transition will be positive. Misa and I have prepared for this possibility, and my company is being very helpful.  This is a surprise opportunity to re-examine what I want from working, and what value I'm offering in return. It's a lot to think about. I needed an outside kick in the pants, to focus my attention on these larger questions.  To help me concentrate, Misa serves me wonderful dinners. They are just as delicious to the eye as to the palate. Last week she cook