We ‘met’ back in 2004. She used to read and comment on my blog, which led to me reading and commenting on hers. We then graduated to emails, IM, long, frequent phone conversations, and finally deciding it was time to meet. The only problem? I was in London, England, she was in Orange County, California.
In November of 2004, I flew out to meet her in person for the first time. I’d never even been to the States before. It was amazing. She was amazing. We had such an awesome week together that we both cried when it was time for me to go home, not knowing when we’d see each other again.
In January, she flew out to England. I proposed, she accepted. In April, we drove from LA to Vegas (and I checked ‘Fear And Loathing road trip’ off my bucket list), where we were married.
The next year was a tough one. I had to stay in England while I went through the visa application process. We saw each other several times, but not being able to be with my new wife or start my new life drove me crazy. Dealing with the USCIS was a nightmare, and the trail of paperwork and interviews felt as though it was never going to end.
I stuck it out, though. We stuck it out. In February of 2006, I got my visa. Walking out of the American Embassy that day, I remember looking around at the city I’d grown up in, the city I was about to leave behind for good. I loved my wife so damn much, and I couldn’t wait for my American adventure to begin.
It was a new life. I was in awe of the woman I’d married and in awe of the country I’d moved to. Sometimes I’d stop what I was doing and just think about where I was and who I was with and I’d feel like the luckiest motherfucker alive.
Domestica set in. We both did well at our jobs, moving onward and upward and improving our home situation. In 2008, we bought a house. In 2010, we renewed our wedding vows on Maui with her family (who hadn’t been able to be there for the original quickie ceremony) present. My wife was beautiful that day. She’d always wanted to be a proper bride, and she deserved to be. It was like being back in Vegas again, that same feeling that I’d rolled the dice with no idea what I was doing and somehow won it all.
In December of that same year, she discovered she was pregnant, and on the last day of August, 2011, gave birth to a baby boy. I cut the cord. When they moved him to the incubator to weigh and measure him, I stood beside it and marveled at this tiny creature we had created. I reached for his hand and he grabbed my little finger. I was overwhelmed. My wife’s mother took a picture of that moment, and I can’t even look it at without tearing up.
2012 was the year things started to go wrong. The house had been a bad idea, and affording it was beginning to stress us both out. My career took a downturn when I took a job that turned out to be a whole lot different than I’d been promised, and ended up doing something I hated for less money than I needed. After six months of this, we decided that I should quit and be a stay-at-home dad to save money on childcare costs. In addition to that, I took a bartending job in the evenings so that I was contributing.
But the money was an issue. Not long after this arrangement began, my wife confessed to me that after I’d left the terrible job, she’d started saving money in a second account, in case I didn’t find anything else. She’d given herself the option of taking our son and leaving me if things got too bad.
I was stunned. It was the sheer practicality of it. My mind flashed back to who we were when we met, when we were in Vegas, when we were finally able to live together. I started to realize that the girl I’d married had grown and changed in ways I’d been blind to.
Still, we hung on. We managed to sell the house and escape Orange County in July of this year, moving to Oregon, just a little south of Portland. She was able to transfer and I found a half-decent job. Our little boy, no longer an infant, was developing quite the personality.
Then I came home one night and she said she wanted to talk to me, that we should spend some time apart. I understood the reasons. The last few years, with the house and baby and job situations, had been emotionally draining. We’d grown apart and started having petty arguments that were never there before. We both thought some time apart would help. I agreed to move out.
Having written all this, I’m half-tempted to end with a ‘tree fiddy’, but fuck it, here’s the truth. I suspected she was being unfaithful. We were living apart on a trial basis and we still saw plenty of each other because of our son. We even went on dates. But I noticed an obvious change in her behavior and the way she suddenly started taking more care over her appearance and going out with friends from work.
The night my marriage ended, she asked if I could come over and watch our son for a few hours while she went to see a movie. I agreed. The little guy and I hung out for a while, and then I took him upstairs and rocked him to sleep. I sing him these bluesy, lullaby versions of Johnny Cash songs and he does this sleepy grin that just about stops my heart. That night, it was Folsom Prison Blues.
My wife came home a little while later, complaining that she felt sick and just wanted to go to bed. I left.
But I didn’t go home. I drove to the adjacent street and I sat in my car and I waited. Sure enough, a car I’d never seen before drove in to the cul-de-sac where we lived and parked. I pulled my hood up over my head and crept up to the end of my street in time to see a man I didn’t know going into my house.
I don’t have the words to describe the next hour of my life. My first instinct was murderous. I had a key. Walk in there, drag that motherfucker out into the street, and beat the mortal shit out of him. My wife, in my house, while my son slept in the room next door.
That stopped me dead in my tracks. His sleepy grin. Folsom Prison Blues. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring the violence that was in my heart to a place where he was innocently sleeping. Being a dad means a lot of things, and one of them is protecting your kid, always.
I did laps of the block, clenching and unclenching my fists, muttering to myself like a crazy person. Finally, I talked myself down and I went home, where I sat and stared at nothing at all until the next morning, when I called her and said I wanted a divorce.
We’re building something else now. We’re parents. Not quite friends, but we’re civil. I’m renting a shitty room in suburbia, but I’m going to get my own place in Portland once the divorce is final. I like the city a lot, and I think I’d stay even if being a dad wasn’t keeping me here.
And my boy…you should see him. All he has to do is smile, and it was all worth it. Every minute.
I have an NFC tag next to my bed. Every night I tap my phone against it and then go to sleep. This enables Airplane mode, disables wi-fi, data, bluetooth, and sync, silences all sounds, sets the brightness to 0%, kills all apps and sets my alarm for 5:45 the next morning.
Then when I wake up I have another NFC tag in my bathroom and I have to tap my phone against it to turn off my alarm off. (I am awful at getting up.) It also turns off airplane mode, puts brightness to auto and sounds to vibrate, turns on wi-fi and tells me how many emails, voicemails and texts I got while I was asleep.
I have one in my car that turns on driving mode and GPS, opens Navigation app, kills wi-fi and turns on screen rotation.
I have a tag at work that turns all sounds on, turns on wi-fi, sync, and bluetooth, and disables GPS and screen rotation, and then launches my Calendar app so I can see what I have planned for the day.
I just think it’s amazing that I can automate all of this, without having to touch a single setting. It makes my life SO much easier and I wanted to share that with you guys.
This is brilliant. NFC (Near Field Communication) technology has been a standard on Android phones for a year now, but I never thought it can be used like this. NFC tags can be programmed to make Android phones do just about anything. I can place a tag inside my wallet and if I wanted to check my balance, I can tap my wallet to have my bank send me a text message. Or place a tag inside my car that enables my mobile network, GPS, and searches for nearby gas stations.
$20 says Apple is going to steal NFC technology, program it into the next iPhone, slap some stupid name on it, and call it their own; a “revolutionary” step in automation and efficiency.
- Don’t chase feelings, and don’t run from feelings.
- Whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay.
One reason, I think a lot of good ideas go unspoken is because they don’t always have an immediate impact or they’re assumed as common knowledge. A lot of good information has slipped into obscurity over the years because of this.
I think another possible reason is that the foundation for almost all marketing is to make us think, at some level, that what we’re feeling about things right now isn’t okay, and some product will make our lives better. They keep us off balance so we’ll buy. This is advertising 101.
Since we’re bombarded with messages like this, people get conditioned to think that’s what life really is. To work at feeling good and to do whatever it takes to improve the shitty parts of their lives so they can, again, feel good. There’s some truth in that, since we experience pain and pleasure for a reason, and they are useful emotions, but they’re also very basic emotions. The net effect of these constant messages, I think, is that we become reduced to creatures who are basically just looking for the next high.
But we didn’t always think that way. I don’t think we did, anyhow. I don’t know, actually, I just know that we can think beyond just pain or pleasure.
In any case, the fact is, encouraging deep personal satisfaction hurts the bottom line or, at the very least, it doesn’t sell. And since most of the ideas we live by are filtered through a screen of marketers or have been filtered through that screen long ago, we just don’t see ideas that don’t sell as often. It’s just not common knowledge anymore.
I mean, think about the people you know. The vast majority of them don’t think critically enough about information to be able to pick out good ideas and discard bad ones. Lots of people were basically raised by the media, or at least they picked up their mores from the media somehow or another.
Mass marketing, in other words. Ideas that sell. They were raised by parents who were bombarded by mass marketed messages, too. It was more basic back then, but it was still an important influence. So, ideas, even important ones that came through their parents were influenced, to some extent, by manufactured messages that sell.
That’s why there are a shitload of poor people voting for Romney. It’s why people are chucking phones they bought a year ago to go buy the newest one. It’s why the divorce rate is through the roof and rising. The messages people hear are intended to make them chase emotional highs. To sell. When the high wears off, it’s time to buy something new. Or buy into something new. You’ve got people who, their entire lives, have only heard that stuff or things or these really popular ideas or this or that will make them happy, will change their lives from the outside in. When they buy into products, they experience a thrill and momentary satisfaction that reinforces the belief that x = happiness, but it fades when its newness wears off, but since whatever it is made them feel good, and happiness is feeling good, all we need to do is got get more happiness. The products don’t always have to cost money, either. Money isn’t the only currency we possess. We’ve also got time and attention.
So they get their high, then after a while it’s back to feeling like shit and being unsatisfied and trying to figure out how to get that good feeling back. So they buy in again. They pick a side. They keep chasing feelings, running from bad ones, and the cycle repeats.
I think, the biggest problem with all of it isn’t necessarily that people are chasing happiness, btw, it’s that they don’t understand what happiness is not. It’s that they’re chasing an illusion of happiness strictly defined as a positive feeling. Or unhappiness strictly defined as a negative feeling.
Happiness isn’t something the media or anyone else can define for you. It’s up to you to figure out what happiness is for yourself. Your idea of happiness may differ from my idea of happiness, but you’ll know it when you see it. But you can’t do that if you’re convinced that happiness is this or that or whatever, or that it’s at the end of some endless trail and you’ll get there eventually if you follow the breadcrumb emotional highs along the way, and if you buy this product or that it’ll help you get further along than your competitors who, incidentally, are racing you there? (da fuck?).
I can’t tell you what happiness is. I can’t tell you what it is for me, even, cause I’m still figuring it out. All I can tell you is that lately, I’ve been far more interested in pursuing balance than just about anything else, and it’s helped me gain a perspective I never had the luxury of seeing from. I feel more… myself.
The point is, though, that feelings are weather. Not end states or goal states or happiness or unhappiness. We don’t get angry at the world for raining on us even though we might not like it. We might feel better if the sun is shining, but we don’t hate it if it’s hidden behind some clouds or whatever. We don’t abandon our lives just to find sunny places. Well, most of the time, anyway. Some people do. Most of us will just take trips every so often (and we should! It’s fun!). But the point is, regardless, we live where we live, and the weather is just the weather. We adapt to it, and work with it, we don’t stamp our feet at the clouds and yell at them to stop raining. We put on a raincoat. We don’t shoot at the sun cause we got a sunburn. We wear sunblock. When it rains, we aren’t cursing the planet because it rained, even if we might not be happy with it. We recognize it as a fact of life.
You live in your own world, and emotions are your personal weather. They’re a fact of life. They come and go. When you see that, when you understand that, you stop trusting them to lead you to happiness, cause your feelings have no idea how to get you there.
Mass marketed memes have been passed down as prevailing wisdom with content tailored to teach us discontent, not personal contentment. Your emotions aren’t you, they’re all temporary, and they’re all okay. You take the first step toward fulfillment when you realize happiness may not necessarily be what you thought it was.