Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Some days are like that, and other delayed things.  §

So there’s this effect by which you start to save up stuff to post and then at the end of the day you’re too tired to do it, so it gets pushed off until tomorrow, and tomorrow it all happens again, until before you know it you’ve gone silent. Or you might even be making a list (ahem) and it just keeps getting longer as your exhaustion catches up to you, night after night. So here are some late payments.

— § —

The thing I hate most are “domino days.” Domino days are days on which you make one mistake early on, and even if you manage to correct it, your focus on that mistake leads you to make another mistake. And then while you’re chasing to repair that mistake, you make a third mistake, and so on. The degree to which you’re stretched thin leads to a “domino effect” of failures that monopolize the day as you race to try to put out the fires that you keep allowing to emerge as you fail to stay ahead of things.

Friday was such a day. One cock-up after another, from the word go. The morning mistake started off a string of dependent mistakes which included a missed meeting (due to head being in the wrong place), an oil spill all over the kitchen (due to rushing too fast), and other similar snafus.

At the end of such days, you pretty much want to give up. You struggle to tell yourself that tomorrow will be better, and in general, you feel hopeless and as though you’ve cocked the universe right up.

— § —

But the struggle is important. It is all there is. I read a quote from Pete Carroll:

“Guys don’t get dumber as they get old. They just get tired of fighting the fight.”

I read this (can’t remember the context), and I stopped in my tracks. Because that’s me right now. I always said I’d never be one of those that gave up. And I’ve seen those that gave up, that settled for whatever was in the living room and whatever was in the fridge right now, from now until the end. I pitied them, and was horrified by them. Even those that were well off. It was like they were just waiting to die.

And now here I am at 40, divorced, two kids, Ph.D. that will now take incredible heavy lifting to remobilize, resaturate with inertia, and turn into a career—and I feel most of the time as though I am tired of “fighting the fight.” Or rather (this is how we procrastinators do things) I feel as though I’m still too beaten today, tomorrow will be a better day strategically to start the engine once again.

And tomorrow turns into a week, then into a month, then into three years.

Truth is, there is no day when the fight is easy. You either choose to fight it or you don’t. And every day that you don’t is a day on which your mental conditioning and your inertia wane. You get less and less qualified to fight the fight, until you’re hopelessly out of the game.

I don’t want that to be me. Yet at the same time, I don’t know how much “gas” I have left in the tank.

Still, it’s instructive to think back to those other men I’ve known (if I can even call them that) who were entirely out of the game by mid-life. Who were, in effect, dead in advance. I don’t want to be one of those guys. Not for myself, and not for my children.

— § —

Late yesterday we made it (after one of those mistakes) to the outdoors Halloween fest at a local strip mall. It wasn’t a trick-or-treat event (as a multiplicity of signs and postings announced), but rather a charity event with a few streetside games, a live band, and a lot of costumes.

One of the “games” was a set of a dozen or so foam swords that kids could use to fight each other with in play, just for fun. While we were there and I was helping my son with his costume, my daughter was assaulted by a boy a year or two older than she was. (Don’t get me started on the poor parenting that is in evidence in Utah Mormon families, where the motto appears to be “the law of the jungle is God’s law.”) He knocked her down, then tried to rip off her costume for no apparent reason, leaving it torn half open. She came to me crying.

I told her while I was happy to go and give him (and his parents) a damned terrifying talking-to, she had also been learning self-defense in Taekwondo, where she is currently a green belt, and that it was useful for just this type of situation.

She looked at me, picked up two foam swords, strode back into the melee, and let him have it, mercilessly going at him with a two-handed, rapid-fire foam sword attack, bellowing with gusty shouts as he fell backward, then backward some more, stumbling in retreat across yards and yards of lawn until he landed on his backside with his hands over his face and started to yell for help and foam at the mouth, face red. Then she threw the two foam swords down at this bigger boy whose teeth were clenched in impotent rage, stormed back to me, and said “Let’s go do something else, I’m done with this game.”

As a father, I have never been more proud, or more satisfied with the outcome of a troubling kid situation.

— § —

There are two types of “white girls” that I don’t like.

I. The Crate-and-Barrel Eastern Mystic

  • Natural weave or canvas platform-style heels
  • Expensive jeggings
  • Billowy blouse with far too much fabric and uneven trim, despite costing hundreds at an upscale store
  • Studiously disheveled hair that mixes sandy and blonde in some way and cost $hundreds
  • Trite eastern symbols (ohm, yin-yang, Buddha, etc.) as jewelry
  • Starbucks cup in hand
  • Tense as fuck
  • Wants to exude “enlightenment,” is secretly worried she doesn’t

II. The “Please Find Me, 40-and-Sporty” Go-Getter

  • Lululemon yoga pants
  • Cross-training top, usually gray with pink highlights
  • Cross-training sneakers
  • Hairband
  • Gym bag containing “extreme” sports accessories, carried everywhere
  • Expensive convenience store “health beverage” (note scare quotes) in hand
  • Trying so hard it’s making her veins burst
  • Wants to exude “adventurous spirit,” is secretly worried she doesn’t

This is why white girls have the rep they have. Because it’s hard to take them seriously. You don’t know whether to make fun of them or to feel bad for them.

The kinds of white girls I like:

III. The “Who Gives a Shit, I Know What I Like” Chill Girl

  • Men’s jeans
  • Ironic, non-trite print sweatshirt or tee
  • Leather boots with decent wear
  • Natural hair (any cut, just no product or investment)
  • Backpack or messenger bag containing random actually useful stuff
  • Soft drink in hand
  • Not trying at anything, wants to get home and watch the football game
  • Likes to rake leaves and talk bullshit and have a good laugh with the guys

— § —

Forty years in, I’ve taken up sewing.

I’ve re-hemmed three sets of jeans so far and improved some Halloween costumes with a cheap Brother sewing machine. If I’d realized it was this easy, I’d have done this a long time ago.

I like having control over my clothes. It’s turning out to be a really good thing, and I keep looking around for things I can sew.

— § —

There are some people that just do not interact well together.

Everything is composed entirely of awkward moments in which each invariably gets the other wrong without meaning to. They simply speak different languages and live in different worlds, and no amount of learning can rectify this.

When you know someone like this, spend as little time with them as possible.

— § —

I have gone a long time without including post images. Oops.

For a while, I was going back and adding these every few days. Recently, work has been so busy, and the new custody schedule so different, that I haven’t yet figured out how to have the time to do this. I’d like to, though. I miss the visuality myself.

It’s also time—or at least it may be—to re-theme this thing. I am maybe growing a bit tired of the blue-and-gray after all.

— § —

Two small victories from Friday, in the midst of all of the wreckage:

  1. A cheap electric pencil sharpener, you know the kind—big, square, plugs into the wall—found at an ad-hoc thrift store stop for just a couple of bucks. Works. Made my week, if not my month.
  2. An old instance of the game “Othello” (a rather nice one, with a raised felt board and very heavy pieces) from same thrift store. The kids learned the game very quickly, even at their age, and now can’t stop asking to play it. It’s the greatest thing yet invented, so far as they’re concerned.

— § —

Also, on the games note—I have discovered, quite by accident, that my daughter has quite an interesting brain. At just-barely-six, she can count cards.

We have a deck of cards and I have been teaching them some games.

Out of the blue, as we were going through them, she started saying things like, “Now you have all of the twos except the two of diamonds!” and “No, the ace of spades and the king of spades are in the deck; the jack of spades is in my cards, so you must have the queen of spades!”

She is generally right on these things. It floors me. Very surreal. I knew that there were people that had a knack for this (I couldn’t do it even if I tried and practiced) but I didn’t think I’d experience it in my own six-year-old daughter.

But there it is. Without meaning to, just over the course of regular gameplay, she is tracking where the cards are and making game decisions based on this. Remarkable. Parenthood is a fascinating thing to experience.