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It started with me climbing out onto my roof to nail a piece of siding back into place.  Not exactly how I prefer to start the day, but sort of exhilarating in a way.  Probably, I would have rather gone jogging.  Or slept more.

My home is inching closer and closer to equilibrium.  And thus I am starting to destress.  A little.

I successfully pressured a contractor into coming back and redoing my tile floors.  The kitchen is done.  The bathrooms get done this weekend.  As satisfying as it is to have a new, correctly installed kitchen floor, I hate arguing with people.  The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve strived towards a live and let live approach.  So having to fight with people puts a pall of negativity about me.  I hate it.

But all in all I think I’m liking this home ownership thing.  It’s too bad I couldn’t have made it happen sooner, but ah well.  There’s something deeply satisfying about being in a place that I make better by the day.  There are few things that can calm the mind as powerfully as a collection of small successes.

This morning I repaired my siding and saved myself from having to pay someone to do it.  Possibly a couple hundred bucks.  Win.

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If the first three cups of coffee didn’t do it, then it might be time to just queue up some Explosions in the Sky and space the fuck out for a bit.

In the interest of randomness, here is a photo that I found on one of my blogs this morning that made me lol for no reason in particular.

Little fucker’s gonna getcha.

Also, John Connor is a big ol’ commy hatin’ Republican.

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I’m trying to upload some of these snowpocalypse photos to Facebook, and the damn thing’s not working.  Everything is coming apart around us, mother nature has turned against us, and now… et tu, Facebook!

In either case, the real danger today is icicles.  It’s above freezing, and the melt is sharpening giant ice lances that are breaking off and hurtling towards the ground.  It’s a risky affair stepping outside.

I read this morning that Baltimore is currently the snowiest city in the U.S.  I wish I could say it feels good to be the king.  I’ve gotten out and made much merry in the snow, but I’m getting a little tired of being penned in.  I want to go to the gym.  I want to visit other parts of town.  I hope it stays warm and this crap melts off quick.

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Man, check this out.  There’s this thin swath of “warm” air from Long Island up to Cape Cod.  The rest of us are covered in ice.  (Click through the link and click again for the full version. It’s neat.)

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Alright, I officially need to start working on my Spanish.

I was at Rosa’s grill over in the market at lunch today, and the girl who was helping me at the counter didn’t speak hardly any English.  It didn’t annoy me or anything, that’s not where I’m going with this.  No, what happened was I started ordering in Spanish without even really thinking about it.  And as soon as I started speaking spanish to a Latino, I was reminded with a crushing sense of embarrassment just how bad my Spanish sucks.

I know enough Spanish to follow along with really basic things, and I mean I should be able to order off of a menu.  The problem is that as soon as I try, I become extremely self conscious.  I feel like the whitest of white white guys ever.  And most of the time when I’m in this situation Latinos who’ve come up north here kinda give me this look.  Not like a dirty look, more of an apprehensive look.  Like, “Oh god, he thinks he can speak Spanish, I’m pretty sure this asshole is about to get bossy.”  Which is not me at all, though I’m guessing that that sort of thing probably happens to immigrants here (maybe a lot).

Anyway.  The girl at Rosa’s was super sweet about it.  She actually seemed relieved that I knew a bit of Spanish.  Even if their food weren’t super awesome and super cheap, they would get the win for that.

But still.  I eat Mexican food like I was raised in Texas or something.  I’ve even gotten to cooking it lately, which means that I’ve been frequenting the Mexican grocery stores.  I always have these strange encounters there.  Like, there’s this cheese, it’s the most amazing god damn cheese ever, it’s like Mexican string cheese basically, and you order it at the deli counter and the dude pulls off a giant rope of it from this huge cheese knot.  The dudes always call it “fajita cheese”.  This not being good enough for me, a foodie, I ask what kind of cheese is it?  “Fajita cheese!” they say.  And I press again, and the dude realizes that I’m asking where it’s from or if it has another name, and he just kind of mutters it under his breath, way too fast for my whitest of white guy ears to pick up, and we end up just keeping with the fajita cheese thing.  (Btw, it turns out the cheese comes from Oaxaca–you can find it in some Latino grocery stores as queso de Oaxaca.   It’s fresher at the deli counter, though.)

What I could have said to the deli counter dude is, “De donde es eso?”  Which I think is the right way to say, “Where is this from?”  But I’m not really sure.  And it’s that hesitation that is killing me and making me feel like the whitest white guy ever.  I need to own it.  My accent will probably always suck, but at least I can speak with confidence and not sound like an idiot.

So maybe I should get on this.  I really don’t have time for it right now, but I should look into taking a class.  Preferably one that ends in a trip down south or something, or at least has some sort of interactive component to it.  This is something that I’ve been putting off for way, way too long.

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Looking around, I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one.  People just going about their business.  Buying their groceries.  Going to and fro.  Or people hanging out, drinking a beer at the bar.  Friends even, doing the same.  A nagging impulse tugs at you:  how do these people feel about it?  It, of course, being their life.  And it keeps nagging at you:  don’t they want something better?  Don’t they want to be their best?

But of course there’s no way to know.  You pass some stranger, going about his business, as you go about yours.  How is he doing?  Is he doing everything right?  Maybe, who knows.  You look at your friend as you’re tossing back beers at the bar, and of course you’re a palindrome.  You match exactly, except for your outfits (hopefully!).  At that point one begins to question the element of judgment, and once the element of judgment has been questioned it is immediately thrown out.  No, we’re not judging anyone.  But we’ve got a devil (or an angel?) riding our shoulder, and we’re so engrossed in finding this in ourselves that we look for it in the eyes, expressions, and demeanor of others.

We are, of course, entertaining a selfish thought.  And that’s really what this is about.

I’ve always had this bug up my ass to be a better version of myself, and yet I’ve soooo many times completely failed to hit the mark.  It becomes an ongoing cycle.  I guess this is probably how it works for most people.  Or those who care to try anyway.

I’ve been slow to get myself into a motivated, productive mode here.  That’s what I’m getting at.  I need to be more selfish.

After getting wa-hay-ay-sted on New Year’s Eve (and after losing a day to the ensuing hangover), I went out and partied until four in the morning last night.  This is not me being my selfish best.  I had an awesome time.  I mean, it was a fucking blast.  But I need to be better at practicing that art of “no”.  A friend texts you, “come meet me at this bar” and you need to be better about saying, “sorry, man, next time.”

I’ve always admired that selfishness in others, actually.  I remember I dated this grad student awhile back, and sometimes we’d be out on a Friday or something, and we’d be making the rounds through our cell phones, looking for playmates.  Many of her colleagues would decline the festive invitations, instead spending the time cloistered away, hard at work on their intellectual toils.  Part of that is just the grad student’s life–really the opposite of the nine-to-fiver’s life (which I was obviously living)–but still I admired that about them.  It’s a book I should take a page out of right now.

Selfishness can be a beautiful thing.  Or a productive thing, anyway.

I didn’t get much done today.  Mostly rested and got myself ready for a month of twelve hour days with almost no breaks.  I have some very simple but difficult goals lined up for the next few months.  But I have loftier notions for what may come later in the year.  I’ll be 33 this year, and I’m tired of being beholden to my past.  It is time to dig in and shed some ties so that I can move forward unfettered.

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Well, okay, not head.  But a new header!!!  Check it out!  Now my blog has a custom header, and now you know that I am SERIOUS!  This is a very SERIOUS blog now!

My good buddy Paul whipped it up as a special favor.  His graphic design work is amazing, and he’s been pretty busy lately.  Check him out. Also take a look at his Deviant Art page, if it pleases you.  Drop him a line and let him know how supremely awesome he is.

This is exciting.  I’m happy to see this humble little page coming together.

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