Inbox cleaning: 199/763 (The Procrastination!)

December 30, 2008 – 12:22 am

The night of inbox cleaning draws nigh. (The apparent backslide is because I’ve added my current inbox to the pool, this web so I won’t be checking email further ’till I’ve dealt with all my personal backlog. I’ll clear my 162-email work backlog in Boston; nearly all of it is from these past few days of vacation, mind but I’m on vacation, cialis 40mg dammit.)

Before I get a round tuitt: From Planet Sugar Labs: a great post from Walter. (One point of disagreement: I’m not convinced that “we know of no better tool for learning than a computer” – that assumes there’s an universal ‘best’ for the broadly defined concept of ‘learning’.)

Today my father decided that he wanted to Go On A (Fishing Charter) Boat and Bring Us Back Dead Animals To Eat. And that we should keep him company, despite nobody else actually liking fishing (in fact, despite most of us actively disliking fishing.) So I spent most of the day trying not to vomit on a pitching deck (I do not easily get motion-sick, so this was impressive) I then napped away the nausea instead of the original plan of romping through mud (in the Everglades), and then consumed (with urging) Way Too Much Fish, my father having caught two (2) for a per-pound cost that… exceeds that of today’s desktop computers. (If anyone in the Chicago area would like to be my father’s fishing buddy, to save the rest of us from similar queasy mornings on Lake MIchigan, please let me know.)

Multiple things have made me think about what it is I want/need/expect (which word best encompasses the similarity of the three?) from… I think the word I am supposed to use here is conventionally “a husband,” or at least “a relationship,” but as many have pointed out nontraditional alternatives (including happy lifelong singleness, with friends) and the prediction (which I agree with) that I’m more likely to go for those, I’ll use the phrase “genotypically differentiated family” to denote the future group of 0+ people, blood/marriage relations or not, I might choose to share living, etc. arrangements with – folks I would merge my life into.

I don’t want something that “allows” me to pursue the calling and the work that I feel drawn to. Permission for that isn’t theirs to give, any more than I need permission to breathe – without one, I’m dead, and without the other, I might as well be.

I don’t need stability. They don’t always have to be there for me*. I do need to know if and when they can’t be. I need to be able to tell them likewise, though given 22 years of past history, once I start caring about someone, I don’t stop. I need my GDF to be okay with me caring about them even if it may temporarily not be reciprocated. (Sometimes I am illogically dumb in terms of resource allocation like that. I know I’m doing it, and choose to do so; it’s fine.)

*though that’s certainly the easiest way to do it, and I can’t say I don’t want that kind of permanence – just that I probably could live without it.

I don’t want someone to run my life, or to subordinate myself to. I’ve seen too many people sacrifice themselves too much to something like that. I already have issues with overabundance of self-sacrifice, so any more help in this department would be very dangerous in a bad bad bad bad way. At least now and for the immediate foreseeable future.

It’s hard for me to not bring my work home. I’m trying to learn how to do this, because it’s good for me to have that balance and perspective. I need a GDF that will simultaneously respect that this is is hard while helping me do it. I can’t pretend that aspects of my life do not exist; I need a family that will at least acknowledge that there are things that, in a particular context, I have done my best to put aside for a while.

I need to fight my own battles, and occasionally I’ll stagger back in to rest a while, and I don’t need to fight people in order to get back to the fight, or fussing over wherever I might happen to be bleeding. (‘Course, if I come in yelling for a metaphorical tourniquet because some British comedian has lopped off all four limbs, get me the tourniquet. And find out how I managed to locomote myself inside, because once I recover from the massive blood loss, I’m likely to want to learn that one again.)

I do not think I’ll lose my wanderlust (lakwacha) – the occasional sudden need to roam unfettered on a whim, in solitude. I want something – someone, some people – that I will love enough to stay for, even if the road is calling; something worth giving that up for must be fantastic, because following my wanderlust is the most amazing thing I know right now. This probably sounds silly, but I want a home (and the people who make up a home) because I want something to run away from, and to come back to.

I need a GDF who’ll let me go, and who’ll help me hold myself back when I ask. Sometimes I’ll have to ask them to save me from myself. (In college, used to ask my suitemates to come by in several hours and drag me from my desk, the tutorials I was running, etc. so that I would eat dinner – I knew I would forget. Think of that kind of thing, but… bigger. Though oftentimes it will be small, silly, everyday things like that.)

I need to be able to be contagiously excited – but that’s easy. I can do that around everyone. I need to be able to be tired when I’m with them, and that’s much harder. (It’s why I try to actively dispel the myth of SuperMel. SuperMel has Endless Turbo Button Power. This is not an actual implemented feature in Real Mel; it just looks like it on film.)

Sometimes I just need to fight, and need people to spar against when I can’t get myself to fight a problem, to keep me from fighting myself too much. Sometimes I need to ask people to help destroy a part of me. When I know I need to do something but can’t flat-out do it, I need to be able to stand in front of them for the moments when I’m rational and say “look, I need you to fight me on this, and I’m going to fight back, and once we start fighting I’m probably going to say I hate you, or that you’re hurting me. The first won’t be true; the second might be, but in either case I need you not to listen; keep fighting me and win.” Sometimes I need folks to convince me that a part of me is actually worth saving. That’s even harder.

Sometimes I need someone to take care of. Sometimes I need someone to take care of me. Sometimes I’ll want to be there, but can’t be there, and we’ll need to find a way to cope with that. (Aha. That’s why I train my replacements. I don’t want people to need me, because I know I’ll let them down, so I create other people who can do the things they need so that I’m free again and I don’t let them down. The story fits, anyway… interesting.)

They’re going to have to be okay with me flinching at touch, keeping weird hours, cooking strange (though usually edible) food combinations and eating them loudly, napping in random places (due to aforementioned weird hours – and snoring), being oblivious to high-pitched noises and driven absolutely batty by talk radio, being perfectionistic and occasionally hypocritical, teetering close to burnout half the time, being incredibly geeky, impertinent and nontraditional, stubborn and blunt, utterly ignoring fashion, going through piles and piles of books, compulsively optimizing for seemingly unimportant factors, vanishing in public places (usually towards a library or bookstore), being Ridiculously Hyperactive and distractable by shiny things… the list goes on. (And if they want a house full of beautiful fragile objects that are supposed to remain unbroken, then… we will have to engineer some interesting solutions to that one.) Or at least being okay with having to work with me on fixing those parts of it that they don’t like. (And vice versa. Hey, I don’t plan on ceasing the bluntness.)

The biggest risk that I am personally afraid of is of building your life to count on something that you know won’t always be there. I mean, I know that there will be nights when I won’t call and won’t be home for dinner. Some nights I won’t come home at all. I take a lot of risks, and there’s always the chance (you take this chance with everyone – or at least I’m not acquainted with many immortals) that someday – maybe for a reason you don’t think is worth it – I may not come home ever again.

I’m pretty sure I couldn’t cope with the reverse (recall previous post about deep caring + unstable emotional triggers? Yeah, that.) and would feel pretty lousy over having other people shoulder a risk I’m taking on – it may also make me overthink risks at the wrong time. For instance, mid-BMX-backflip is a bad time to be distracted by thoughts of “but… wait! I could break my neck and leave my family behind!”

I have parts of all these things I’ve mentioned. (Remember my tendency to break things into their functional subcomponents, then source each from a separate supplier?) They are distributed, and it would take a lot for me to want to concentrate more potential bottlenecks/failure-points in one location, with one person (or even one group). Reading back through the above, I’m thinking “why would anyone want to enter into such a bargain?” and I have a lot of admiration for people who do, and I’m not one of them, not now – life-merging is bidirectional, and I do not think that I could honestly sign such a bargain in return. Not now.

I do want to learn how to move towards being able to do it, though. It’s what I’m trying to do with my current relationships with family and friends. Because, you know, maybe that’s all I’m going to get – not in the sense of insufficiency or lesser-ness, but in a way of saying “look, maybe this is what’s going to grow into the rest of my life – maybe there won’t be any dramatic phase-changes.” And that’s okay.

More than okay; I’m very happy now. Unstable and conflicted at times, but those make me happy too. (And, as per a few posts back, it is interesting to see how the ending reads with this paragraph removed.)

Also, they have kitesurfing classes here. I’ve been watching the kitesurfers go at it on the waves. More importantly, there is kitesurfing in Boston… (Not to mention longboards and motorcycle classes, though I will first re-learn how to fall, then wait for spring, then tune up my bike, then dust off my rollerblades, since I think you might actually be able to wear them on the train here – unlike Chicago – if not, it’s to the longboards.)

I suspect “becoming athletic” is one of those things I have to fail multiple times at before I actually make it. I backslide less each time. Something something journey not destination?

Sleepytime!

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  1. 3 Responses to “Inbox cleaning: 199/763 (The Procrastination!)”

  2. Hmm.

    By nikki on Dec 30, 2008

  3. If I may – it doesn’t sound like you want a family so much as a geek commune. This may or may not change as you get older, and that’s okay, but that’s what it sounds like to me. As much as I would be amused to see GDF enter the vernacular, it might be worth sitting down and figuring out what it is that you want in terms the rest of society uses. It would make it easier to advertise and sell to whoever else you want in your GDF.

    It sounds like what you want is about a half-dozen people who live together, fascinate each other, and support each other intellectually, physically, and emotionally. People who challenge each other in ways that are hard, and who respect each other’s differences in ways that they learn from them and refine them. If you could find something like this, I don’t think that you would have a problem committing to it.

    Why would a commune have a problem letting you take off to Europe for a month? There’s no kids to worry about, if there’s a house pet someone else could take care of it, and anyone who had a similarly flexible job might just join you. I think the biggest struggle for in joining a group would be being there. Now, if you were needed, that would be one thing, because you are very good at being there when you are needed. However, in order to develop the bonds that you are looking for, you are talking about people who spend a few hours together daily, cooking together, sharing together, drinking together, building the bonds that allow them to call each other out, open up, and love each other (not necessarily romantically). But knowing you, I think this struggle would be vastly helped if it was a place you always wanted to be. And a house full of tinkerers and projects and fascinating conversation might just be what you need to pull you away from your job after 5 PM.

    If you do decide to put this together and I am able to find a job in Boston, you can count me in.

    By Andrew on Dec 30, 2008

  4. After re-reading this, the phrase “you don’t love someone because, you love someone despite” comes to mind.

    Andrew: My first reaction to that was “well, I’d like my family to be a geek commune!” but I think that’s not necessarily a permanent requirement I should try to force (though it would make a glorious short-term living arrangement at this part of my life, at least – want… Maker House… now).

    I’d really like to try being a summer random at pika, or living in a more populous geek apartment (I love living with Chris, and I also think I need more people to hang out with after work on an almost-daily basis). I would love to be your housemate.

    And yeah, I need to learn the words that other people use for this.

    One thing about geek coops is that membership isn’t necessarily stable. When I’m 60, am I still going to want to be in a household of twentysomething single hackers? Do I want to live only in a household of twentysomething single hackers now? I do want elders around, I want kids around, I like the richness that diversity of ages brings. And I would adore living with families.

    By Mel on Dec 30, 2008

What do you think?