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I’ve been thinking a bit lately about motivation.  In part, I suppose, because that is part of my job these days.  I should be keeping my techs motivated to do good, accurate work.  It’s tough, though.  I suppose I try to just be fair and lead by example, and maybe I haven’t gotten much further than that with it right now.  And that’s institutional motivation anyway.  Everything is different when working within an organizational framework.  One needs to consider corporate culture.  Ethics.  The law.  It’s complicated.

Shouldn’t personal motivation be simpler?  Sometimes it doesn’t seem so, but I’ve been keeping at it.

I really got my ass kicked in broomball Thursday.  It was a good night, let me be clear.  I got my first assist, and I had some shots on goal–even if they weren’t great ones.  But man did I push myself.  I was aggressive and kept pushing.  In the second half, I started to go too far and felt it immediately.  I was playing wing, and I could feel their defense getting tired.  I scrambled like mad on a few back to back plays, sprinting harder than I had since basketball in high school.  I rotated back to the bench a minute later, out of breath and panting like I’d just gotten run over.  My breaths came so deep and hard, for a second I thought I would hyperventilate.  Right there, mortified in front of these teammates who are still very new acquaintances to me.

Things cooled down. I caught my breath, and in the end we chalked it up as a somewhat successful loss, as for the first time this season we were playing with some real teamwork and putting pressure on goal.  I spent the next day completely laid up.  I’m getting old, man, I can’t keep doing this.

And yet I do.

I’ve been striving for discomfort lately, and from it I’ve been finding a new reserve of self motivation.  It’s tough when you’re in your thirties, and so many things in life seem to be on…. I want to use the phrase “cruise control” here, but instead I think I’ll say schedule.

You live by the schedule, you die by the schedule.  You have a career–an organization and a set of peers that have daily expectations and challenges for you.  You have a home–a never ending set of responsibilities and projects.  You have a family–where do I even begin with that one?

You live by the schedule, you die by the schedule.

It’s easy to lose your motivation when locked into a circle. A routine that can seem as meaningless as it can directionless.  I’ve taken to the inconveniences to break it up and keep me moving.  The problems, the challenges.  Too many people let go and let the schedule make all the decisions for them.  I mean, it’s easy.  I can’t even call someone lazy for simply checking in every day and meeting those tasks of career, home, family.  After all, there are many who fail to even do that.  Those destined to wipe the schedule clean and start over.  Once, twice, maybe again and again. We all know a few of those folks.

It’s tough, but I’ve been at it in little ways.  Playing in a more competitive broomball league is just an example.  It’s hard, it’s kicking my ass, I have no idea how successful I’ll be, and yet I’m keeping at it.

I woke up today sore as fuck and yet as refreshed as ever.  Decided to hell with stopping by the office on a weekend (I had planned to go in).  Today I’ll set my own schedule.

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I see the appeal of it. It’s neat, it’s concise, it’s convenient. It’ll track everything for you, all but eliminating gift duplication. And it lets your guests know not only what you want, but what you really need. It’s wedding season right now, and of course I am talking about wedding registries.

I’ve had the pleasure of perusing a few of them lately, and I’m trying to figure out what to make of them. You see, for me this is all relatively new. Very few of my friends got married young, so now that most of my folks are hitting their late twenties and early thirties, the wedding bells are a ring ring ringing. And I am a shop shop shopping.

Part of me doesn’t like this. I guess I should throw that right out there. I propose that there is something at least partially effed about registries, and I suppose that explains my need to explore the thought.

Let’s look at one wedding: one of my best friends’ little sisters. I just purchased for the lucky young couple a voluminous footed bowl. Now, if I could entreat you just for a moment not to snicker at the name of the voluminous footed bowl, I will assure you that it is a very fine piece of glassware. It’s a table bowl. The type of fine crystalline object that ensconces a bunch of apples (as pictured) or whatever other decorative bric-a-brac one drums up, and while displaying such decorative objects, indeed in doing so, ties the entire room together. It is an ornamental center piece, ready to anchor many a room for many a years to come.

But what does it mean? What the hell does it say about my relationship to this young couple—what personally—that I just bought them a fucking bowl for a gift? I don’t know, and that’s what I’m struggling with. I guess I want every wedding gift to be intensely personal. I mean, I at least had the class to get the couple an ornamental, elegant centerpiece instead of, say, towels. Or forks. Or an over the sink colander.

With the other wedding I just shopped for, I did at least a little bit better. I went BBQ themed, getting them some grilling items and a cookbook. The registry site even allowed me to gift wrap them neatly in one box. I’ve toasted with this couple many times, especially the bride who I’ve known for some time, over many burgers, beers, and such. But does the BBQ gift set belie a closer connection between myself and the couple… or did they just have a more eclectic registry?

With the last wedding I went to, I actually went out on a limb. Unsure at the time if I was being appropriate or being foolish. I went half on the registry, half off. Of course this was a gift for a friend who I know a lot better and have some history with. And the off the registry gift was a risk too—it was a board game. What kind of schmuck brings a board game to a Tupperware party? The couple can neither sleep on it, cook with it, nor use it as a chip n dip. But this is a couple who likes games, and besides games aren’t cheap anymore. Good ones run $50 – $100. And besides besides, they liked it.

I’ve got my sister’s wedding coming up, and that’s the one that’s really driving me nuts. It’s my little sister.  I want to get them something special, and I sure as hell don’t want to get it off the registry. I mean, is the registry only for more distant friends and family in the first place? Is that the point that I’m missing? Maybe.

But I’m working on this one. Something special for my little sister and the luckiest guy in the world. I need a home run on this one. Nothing short will do.

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Here she is. My little joy Juno.

I’m actually still working on the name. Everyone things that she’s named after the movie. Read your damn classics, people. That’s all I have to say.

But she’s what I’m focused on right now.  The little bundle of joy I have waiting for me at home.  She is adorable and playful and cuddly and all of the things that a kitten is supposed to be.  And she’s the only positive thing I have to focus on at the moment.

My grandfather passed away this week.  I’ve searched for some profound words to say about it, but all I’ve got is a messy ball of feelings.  His health had been in decline, so the family was prepared for this… as relative a term as that is.  One is never truly prepared.

But there is something profound about the expiration of a generation.  I never met my other grandfather, actually, he passed away before I was born.  And both of my grandmother’s passed on a little while ago too.  I was too young then to realize what I was really losing… I guess that’s the way things go for many of us.  And now that’s it.  My parents are the last generation.  And after that it will be mine. We march, rank and file, a step closer to the end.

My grandfather was a quiet man who kept to himself. I sometimes wonder if anyone ever really knew him.  I’m glad at least I got to visit with him one last time while he was still lucid. And I don’t have any profound words to offer about his life either. He fought in the war. He was a company man, a family man. He loved his football. About as American as they come. I suppose in looking for something profound to say, I’m digging for some deeper way of expressing that I’m simply going to miss him.

The week has generally sucked in other, less dramatic ways as well…. I started to write about that here, but you know what, skip it.

It’s strange. I haven’t told any of my coworkers yet about my grandfather. I mean, I’m genuinely depressed about it… I wonder if it shows. I’m in a training session all week and even though I’m not running it, it would still behoove me to be energetic and social. But it just feels like me and them right now after this loss. There are only two men left in my family. It feels pretty lonely.

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There’s a certain thrill to it.  I mean, it’s basically a scavenger hunt.  You set out with what you want, and you return with what you get.  Each discovery in the hunt brings an individual rush.  There’s the excitement of following hunches to sudden, new plans.  And then there’s the best part of all:  everything’s on sale.  The retailers are unloading:  please take this garbage, they say.  Make it your treasure.

I’ve been pretty deliberately putting things off this year.  Spent the last month or two playing grownup and haven’t had the time or energy to sink into it.  That’s okay.  Everyone has off years when it comes to the holidays.

And when it comes to my family this year has been especially off.  I didn’t post about it here in my journal, but I did not spend Thanksgiving with the family this year.  Well, basically the family didn’t have a Thanksgiving.  It was…. strange.  Exactly thirty two times I’ve sat down at the dining room table to enjoy (or pretend/attempt to enjoy) a Thanksgiving feast with my family.  After the drama that went down this year… yeah.  Didn’t happen.

But there will be no escaping Christmas dinner.  In fact, it’s looking increasingly like I might get snowed in up there with everyone.  Something I both hope for and dread. 

But I will come bearing gifts.  I spent all my money on my house this year, so there just isn’t much for gifts.  So I decided to bake for people.  Going to give everyone a goodie bag of handmade treats.  I think it’s a good idea.  In fact, I’m a little proud of myself for reining it in for once.

And it is now down to the wire, and I have three days to it.  The one nice thing about baking for people for Christmas is that you have to do it all last minute.  That has afforded me plenty of leeway in avoiding the holidays up until now.  But it looks like I’m gonna spend all of Friday baking.  Should be fun.

Other than that I don’t really have much Christmas shopping to do.  Going to pick up something special for one or two folks who really came through for me like champs.  But for the most part this is looking to be a low key Christmas.  I’m curious to see if taking the emphasis off of gifts for once will allow the Christmas spirit to swell and represent itself in other ways.  I especially wonder about that considering how things have been with my family.  I guess time will tell.  Only three more days to go…

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Yup, only a few days out and still no Halloween costume.  I’ve got an idea for something that’s very obviously last minute in sort of a slap-stickish way, and I’m thinking I might do that.

It’s funny, the real issue is much less laziness right now than that I can’t really be bothered with holidays.  I’m hella busy. I mean right now I just don’t have enough free time.  So I haven’t had the mental energy to plan a costume, and honestly, this year I just don’t really care.  I let it go a little while ago and left room in my brain for planning other things.

The thing I’m looking forward to most this weekend is seeing my friends and seeing how their parties come together.  The big picture of Halloween pageantry just doesn’t interest me that much at the moment.  Maybe next year we’ll really get dolled up and hit some of the fun spots about town.

What’s more, as I was thinking about the other holidays coming up and was perhaps a little disappointed to find that I’m not interested in them either.  Thanksgiving?  Jesus Christ.  After the major family drama that went down but a very short time ago, the last thing I want to do right now is sit down with the family over dinner.  The possibility of another fight errupting is not exactly minor.  And you know what?  Life is good right now.  Why would I want to bother with that kind of stress?

It’s a strange and in some ways sad place to be:  happy and away from family.  But it doesn’t feel sad.  Like I said:  happy place.  I’d like to stay here in this place, yet I can’t help but worry a little that the holidays will come a knocking and reunite me with those who have made my life hell. 

This is my holiday wish this year:  happy and independant.  It’s the best place I can think of to be.

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I’m thinking about making it an all Radiohead kind of day. I’ve always loved Radiohead, but I find that I don’t listen to their albums very often. I sometimes feel like there’s some sort of emotional commitment to a Radiohead album. Like, what’s the point of listening to this if you’re not going to feel it, you know.

But I’m starting with the Airbag/How Am I Driving? ep, which is sort of cheating. This is the Radiohead album that some would probably say is only a Radiohead album by relation or by birth. Like it’s some cousin to the other albums and not a part of the true lineage. Unlike the other albums, I don’t feel the need to tap into this one on that same level, which I guess is why I listen to it sometimes. It feels in some ways like Radiohead doing their own arrangements of someone else’s work. You can listen to Radiohead without having to get Radiohead.

Anyway.

I woke up this morning feeling like I’d arrived at some sort of fifth stage of grief or something. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what happened this summer, and that’s why I haven’t been writing in my journal here. If you don’t know what you can or should say, then just keep it to yourself–that sort of thing. I’ve accepted that something has happened to one of my family members and that I’m going to be okay. Acceptance. That’s what they call it. I should apologize, you should have been there with me for some of the other stages. Anger, that was a good one. I got into it with my father. I haven’t been that angry since, I don’t know, high school or something–back before I’d learned to channel away negative emotions through heavy metal music. There has never been a heavy metal song written–and believe you me, I have heard the attempts–that summons the fury I felt after one particular phone call.

The depression stage was what you’d think–plenty of booze there. I actually went to my doctor at one point and got her to prescribe me stress meds, but I’m too fucking stubborn to take them. Nope, pass me the whiskey. I’ll take the poison I know over the poison I don’t. Besides, pills are a tragedy that has blighted the lives of several family members–sometimes through negligence and sometimes not. Either way, I fucking hate pills.

And there was reasoning too. After the last dramatic episode, I spent a good deal of time seriously, seriously considering changing my name. Clean start, you know. I even had a smart-ass journal post typed up, making fun of the idea. Yes, I did spend some time reasoning about how I’m not like the other members of my family. And I feel comfortable in the knowledge that I am not, but it would probably have been a real hassle having to explain to everyone why I had the name changed.

Here were my top choices for a new name, by the way:

– Jonathan Makers Mark
– Turok
– Commander Adama
– Agamemnon

Though in the end I’d settled on Jonathan Evan Wyatt as my most preferred. Who knows, maybe someday it could happen. It does have a ring to it.

In either case, my name remains in tact and for the most part so does my sanity. It’s funny, looking back over a few posts here, I was quite convinced at a number of times that The Great Family Drama of 2010 had subsided, only to be quickly proven wrong. So watch me be proven wrong tomorrow.

But today I feel alright. I played my part and played it well. That was actually the most frustrating thing–other members of the family patting me on the back for being such a good, you know… person. Even if you did everything right, you don’t come out of a serious crisis like that feeling like a good person. And if you do, then you’re a fucking sociopath, I’ve got news for you.

Anyway, it is now time for some Radiohead. I believe next we will hear the most classic of classics: OK Computer.

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Well not really.  But sort of.  One is by way of marriage.  The other is really my cousin.  But since my mother and aunt are twins, we are 50% genetically identical.  Ie: half brother.

The half one is coming to town tomorrow and wishes to see me.  I am told that he looks exactly like me, except blonde.  And 17.  We both rock out to heavy metal.

I kind of want to write about my relationships with my crazy extended family, but before I do that I need to make a mental note to myself to remove my blog link from my facebook page so my one cousin doesn’t see my post about my other cousin.  Not that I’d be afraid to discuss this with her.

I’m really nervous about this cousin thing.  For reasons that have less to do with the cousin than with the aunt and uncle (and another cousin).  Having crazy family explains a lot about me, and it’s not something I generally share with people.  I joke about it, but distantly.  I do that hiding in plain site thing, where I joke about my crazy family, but don’t fill in any of the details.  So people are all like, “Psh, yeah, my folks are nuts too.”

Trust me, they’re not.  Your folks are annoying.  Mine are fucking crazy.  Mine will fuck your shit up with a boxcutter.  Tomorrow I get to see the one who I might have more in common with than any of the others.  But I don’t know where he, you know… is right now.  If you have crazy family, then the italics in that line should make good sense.

It’s funny:  one of my favorite shows is Arrested Development.  Yet it’s a show that I’ve never watched to completion.  Too close to home.  I often think to myself lately that I’m the Michael Bluth of my family.  It’s easy to feel like that I guess.  Which is why the show’s so popular.  Well… so sub-popular.

But with my folks it ain’t no joke.  Part of the stress of settling down in this house this year hasn’t been just working myself to death and being broke, but it’s also been the creeping sensation that I’ve boxed myself in.  That these fuckers are coming for me.  Perhaps I should have run for the hills.  Perhaps I should have paid off all my debts and applied for any federal job overseas that I could find.  Instead I did a thing that made sense.  Tomorrow I might get some of that sense licked into me.

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It challenges a deeply cultivated sense of luxury to consider a roasted chicken as a delicacy.  I suppose there are plenty of top notch chefs out there whose roast chickens are by their very nature the finest of meals, but I’m not talking about that.  I’m talking about a Sunday, make it at home yourself roasted chicken.  Just a regular old Perdue roaster.

I roasted a chicken tonight.

I really, really wish I had taken a picture of it, but I was so blind with hunger that I tore into it immediately.  I prepared it with this Hungarian chicken rub that I found, along with potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic.  It was simple, never meant to be more than simple.

When I was a child we ate broiled chicken breast most nights of the week.  Never in my life have I learned to loath a dish more than broiled chicken.  This was my mother’s lazy standby for my two sisters, me, and my parents.  It was a daily test of endurance, and I soon learned to stock up on other foods during the day so as to avoid an appetite at dinner.

Roast chicken, to me, tastes more or less like broiled chicken.  I want to note that.  My instinct is instant distaste.  Sometimes when I’m eating out, I’ll get a chicken dish and the chicken will turn out to be roasted (esp, for example, when ordering chicken enchiladas).  I have to pause and remind myself that I’m not at home.  That my mom did not make this.  It is mine.  And it is delicious.

I absolutely do not need to eat a whole roasted seven pound chicken all by myself.  I should have called some friends over (and, truly, I considered it).  But this was the first time I’d roasted a bird, and I just had to have it all to myself.

There’s something wonderful, wonderful in the truest sense, that occurs when one pulls that bounty out of the oven and beholds it, overcome by its savory redolence and weak in the knees from a well earned appetite.  A bounty.  A giant bird, veggies, trimmings, whatever else you made with it (tonight: rice!).

There were two things commingling in my mind:

One, a sense of ability.  The ability to provide a bounty.  To take $7.00 worth of chicken and probably $3.00 worth of veggies, some spices, and to make a feast appear.  It’s a small miracle, and as many times as I’ve witnessed it, I’m not in the habit of performing it.

Two, a sense of…. this one’s more complicated.  It’s a sense of my mother.  It’s a reproach against the resentment the became ingrained in me over those disgusting, execrable chicken dinners.  It struck a chord as a failure to me, on her part, but this is because my sense of providing a home and her sense of providing a home are so very disparate.  To her meals were sacred, but not for the food.  Her food was always slapdash.  It was for the sense of company.  To me, the company is imminently critical, but nowhere near as paramount as providing for that company.  Just this weekend I had the chance to make breakfast for someone, and the level of care exercised on my part was considerable (I have at long last discovered my personal secret ingredient for omelettes!).  We didn’t even finish the breakfast, and that’s not the point.  I don’t care if some of the food was wasted.  The point is that when I play host, whether for a friend, a lover, or my family, it is important to me that I perform.

And somehow that brings me back to… chicken.

I guess this was just one of those places where Mom and I differed, and differed dramatically.  And man, oh man, oh man did I learn to hate that fucking broiled chicken.

Tonight I roasted a chicken, and it was fucking awesome.

I can’t wait to have my mom and her husband up here for dinner, so that I can roast one for the both of them.

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