me

A Ha's Take On Me

Though I guess I am technically a child of the ’80s, I didn’t hit my teen years until the early ’90s and it wouldn’t be until later in that decade when I would find an appreciation for 80’s music.

Everyone may have their own ideas about which songs, artists best define the music of the decade. And I would have to wonder about anyone who doesn’t have A Ha’s “Take On Me” on their list. The song, along with their famous, era-defining music video would certainly have to be counted among the art defining the ’80s.

As I get older and we move further and further from that turbulent decade, I find more and more appreciation for the music that came out of the ’80s. “Take On Me” is no exception.

I had intended to share my own lip-sync of this song, but it seems the copyright holder has blocked the content outright. So in lieu of that, I hope you enjoy the original.

I may try to upload “my” video to my website directly, but that will take more time than I’m willing to commit right now. Sorry.

If you were really hoping to see me, here’s the first one I did all the way back in October of 2016.

I’ll have to do more of these so I have a catalog just in case this keeps happening…. In the meantime, enjoy it. And happy Music Monday!

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Me hatted and sunburned

In September 2004, I returned to Ohio for the first (and I think last) time since I graduated college in 2001. Having moved to Hawaii in 2002, this was the first time I saw a lot of these folks since leaving the continent.

The above picture was taken on the last night of the trip. Was I really ever that young?

I was there to attend the wedding of my friend Doug. “Snoop,” as he was known to us, a college friend and fraternity brother. Yes, I was in a fraternity. Don’t judge me.

Sadly, I don’t really have any “good” pictures from the actual wedding. The camera I had at the time was a piece of shit. I chose this one to share. The look on Snoop’s face as he tries the cake, with his new wife looking on, cracks me up.

The wedding was an opportunity to take some time to visit with other Ohio-based friends from my college days. Not everyone I had the pleasure to catch up with are in the included pictures.

My closest friend from my college days, Hal, had a friend who lived relatively close by and owned a boat. So we, along with some other friends spent the day before (I think) on some lake enjoying a lovely September day of sun and swimming. And, of course, good company.

Here’s me with some of my “crew” from our Oxford days. Left to right: Erin, Melodie, Melissa, and me. It was good to see them and we had a good time catching up.

Sadly, I don’t really keep in touch with any of these girls. But we had some good times back in the day.

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Self-Isolate

It’s been roughly two week since I’ve become even more of a home-body than normal.

While I remain confident that not only do I not have the Coronavirus, I have not interacted with anyone who does. Still, out of a combination of shared self-sacrifice and alternative-lacking, I have spent nearly 24-hours a day in my home for almost every day of the past two weeks.

As an introvert, you might think this time has been like a dream come true for me. Lovely long days spent alone with my thoughts, my work, and small apartment. It is not.

A friend shared on Facebook this article (https://introvertdear.com/news/introvert-but-quarantine-sucks/). Being single and childless, I can’t completely relate, but it does nonetheless hold some “truths” for me.

Being an Introvert Doesn’t Mean Solitude is Preferred

Last year, after a couple of different experiences, I wrote about what it really means to be an introvert. I used to think being an introvert meant we prefer solitude to other people, but that’s not true. Rather, it means that social interactions can be taxing both physically and emotionally. Solitude is necessary for our balance and for “recharging”. That’s definitely true in my case.

This experience has reconfirmed that fact for me. Not being able to go out (except for necessities), not being able to interact with friends and colleagues in the real world. Not being able to visit the Capitol, etc. All these are taking their tole on me.

In fact, I’ve understood for years that being cooped up in my house is a recipe for downward spirals. Under other circumstances, even without any of those things, spending an afternoon in a coffee shop was a welcome respite from the concrete cave that is my apartment.

Years of therapy have taught me this lesson well. So much so, that I’m able to often correct my trajectory so as not to completely lose it. In this way, I feel lucky. I imagine there are lots of people who will experience depression during this period of isolation, not recognize it for what it is, and won’t know how to deal with it.

Introvert or No, This is Hard

In addition to being an introvert, I’m also prone to depressive episodes that can last any where from a few hours to weeks at a time.

More than anything else, what keeps me on an even keel (under normal circumstances) is my work. So long as I feel productive, those depressive episodes are shorter and less frequent.

2020 was supposed to be an action-packed year. A legislative session pushing for advances on progressive issues, a flurry of local candidate campaigns, a presidential campaign, and county, state, and national Democratic Conventions. The Coronavirus has upended all of it and I’m struggling to fill my days. My professional work has all but come to a grinding halt.

Sure, there no end to all the reading I can and should be doing. And of course there’s writing and photography and walking I could undertake to keep myself busy. The trouble is I work best under deadlines. With no end in sight to this way of life, I struggle to get myself motivated to do much of anything.

What’s more, I tend to work and think better when there is some level of background noise and activity around me.

In college as now, quiet work spaces are not for me. Libraries, as much as I love browsing bookshelves, have always been a terrible place for me to get a lick of work done. Some of my best writing and thinking has taken place in bustling coffee shops blanketed with hi-fi headphones and a well-chosen playlist.

A Routine Built on Externalities

Yet another quirk of my brain is the need for at least some structure and routine. For me, entropy is a very real issue. Within a margin, deviation from a routine is jarring to me. It causes stress and can trigger depressive episodes.

So many of my friends are true “self-starters” who are able to find productive things to occupy themselves and their time. This, sadly, is a skill I’ve never been terribly good at developing. I can do it in fits and starts, but it’s always been short-lived.

Maybe I should see this global crisis as an opportunity to improve myself in this area. I am trying, but entropy, the relative quiet, and solitude makes it difficult.

To Do’s

While I’ve learned not to commit to something I’m not fully prepared to do, I leave here both for posterity and motivation a list of tasks and activities, at least some of which I hope to undertake as this global health crisis and necessary isolation persists:

  • Do more photography
  • Do more writing
  • Restart video blogging
  • Learn the ukulele
  • Take walks
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Goodbye 2019. Welcome 2020.

So. I’ve never actually written a year-in-review type post before. At least, not that I can find. The closest I can come is this post from the beginning of 2018. It’s not a year-in-review so much as a forward-looking post at 2018 in front of me. As that post says, I’m not much for New Years’ Resolutions. Though I am all about reflection, so this revelation is actually a bit surprising to me.

Or, maybe because I’m so contemplative on a regular basis it’s never really seemed worth the effort to write an end-of-year summary. That streak ends today, as I look back on 2019 (and a bit at 2018). There’s no doubt the last year or two have been some of the most interesting and challenging of my life.

2018: A Quick Look

The year started off normal enough; school, work, politics. I had no idea what was in front of me.

Taking a night dive into uncharted waters, in March of that year, I left my job in the Governor’s Office to take a position as the Campaign Manager for Kim Coco Iwamoto in her bid to be Hawaii’s next Lieutenant Governor. I left the stability and safety of a dead-end job for an exciting new one which I didn’t know where it would lead. Or what would come next.

Finishing a disappointing fourth place, it was nonetheless a tremendous experience I’m glad I had. Not understanding how hard things would get financially, I took the remainder of the year to try to stand up my own consulting business and finish my Master’s Degree at GW.

2019 Began with Hope and Energy

2019 saw me graduate from George Washington University, my first official consulting client, and travel for work.

By the time January came around, my bank account had dwindled to pennies and my credit card debt had exploded. But I was hopeful because I also was making better-than-decent money consulting.

I was doing the work I loved on causes I genuinely cared about. Things were great. My business was taking off and I thought I was on my way.

But then the dumpster fired of a legislative session came to an end. And so did my contracts. At the time, in early June, I was still somewhat hopeful that it would only be a matter of time before the next gig came around.

Then, Reality Kicked Me in the Head

Again my bank balances dwindled, credit balances continued to rise and I didn’t actually find any other work until the end of October.

Being self-employed can be great. Freeing. Fulfilling. For me, there’s not much better than sitting down at my desk with freshly made coffee still in sleep attire. No shoes or pants required.

It can also be incredibly difficult and lonely. I went from working in an office full of other people to spending more than a few days working from home. It’s not an exaggeration that I am not social. Even in the office, I’d rarely talk story with my co-workers. Except when I did.

Having the choice was something I didn’t think I’d miss. But now I can easily spend a few days not leaving home except to venture out for meals or smokes. Being alone with my thoughts can take a depressing turn at any moment. Staying focused can be challenging.

I started to think maybe I had made a terrible mistake risking stability and comfort to venture out on my own. I applied and interviewed for a few full-time jobs back with the State, though none went anywhere. Had it not been for the love and support of my parents, it’s likely I would have been forced to pack up and move back as a failure to my high school bedroom to start anew.

I’m an Odd Mix of Hope and Brutal Reality

My life in Hawaii hasn’t been without challenges. From long bouts of unemployment to a chronic illness diagnosis and major surgery, my 17-plus years in the special place has molded who I am as an adult. Despite these challenges, I’ve always managed to land on my feet. Sooner or later.

So, while I continued to struggle toward the end of 2019 I started to think, again, about packing it in. Then, I received a call for a job that sent me to Mississippi for two weeks of work. It couldn’t have come at a better time. It was a great experience I’d happily take up again. And it kept me solvent for another month or two.

Strangely, when it comes to my personal life, I have long since given up on the possibility of “meeting someone”. Instead, I’ve chosen to focus on other parts of my life. Professionally though, I’ve always managed to stay mostly positive. Despite struggles and financial ruin (at least twice now), I continue to hold out hope that it’ll work out in the end and that I’ll be successful. Eventually.

Looking Toward a New Start in 2020

While I contemplate how best to deal with the crippling debt I’ve acquired over the last few years, new professional opportunities present themselves.

The 2020 Legislative Session begins in just a few weeks. And it won’t be long before the election season kicks into high gear. It will no doubt be a busy, stressful, and challenging year. As I sit here with my morning coffee on January 2nd, I am hopeful. Hopeful that income will begin pouring in. Hopeful that at least some of the projects on which I’m working will be successful. Hopeful that 2020 will see my business grow.

Here’s hoping. And here’s hoping 2020 will be a positive year for all of you.

Time to get to it.

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Hope In Career

Those who know me would likely not describe me as overtly optimistic. In fact, I think many think of me as cranky, curmudgeonly, and pessimistic. And honestly, I probably wouldn’t contradict them. I’m definitely not one overflowing with positivity.

I have a friend who is one of the most positive people I know. I don’t see her much anymore, but I’m often reminded of her and was again just yesterday.

Spirituality and Divining What You Want From Life

This friend of mine is… spiritual. She talks to her dead mother and the spirits of her ancestors. Not believing in any of that mumbo-jumbo myself, I always thought it strange. But acknowledging the beliefs of others without judging is something I really strive for, so I never really gave her a hard time about it.

But here’s the thing; it worked for her. I don’t mean she was content and it made her feel at ease. I mean she’d ask for things and they’d come true.

There was a time when I would spend Christmas with her, her family and some friends at a beach house in Mokuleia. One of my favorite places in the whole world, I never missed an opportunity to spend time there. I recall one year the forecasts predicted rain storms the whole week and we talked about not going. My friend made a “request” of her family ancestors, her mother, for a “puka in the sky” and told me the beach house was a go.

It may seem like a silly story and I was certainly skeptical at the time, but it turned out we had great weather the whole week. Do I believe her “request” is the reason? I’m not sure.

And way back when I was still trying to find my own way, a path and career I was passionate about, she used to tell me to just picture it in my head. Ask for it. Believe it and it’ll happen.

My Own Experience with “Luck”

After that, I began to think about it and reflect on my own life. And you know what? There may be something to her approach.

Despite more than my fair share of adversity, I’ve been incredibly lucky. Most recently, I gave up a secure and easy job with the Governor to take on the new challenge of managing a statewide political campaign. I knew the odds were slim we’d actually win, but I believed in the candidate and was ready to move my career in a new direction.

After we lost, I spent the next several months unemployed while I finished my Master’s Degree. As money grew tight, I thought maybe I’d been rash in leaving the Governor’s Office, but I eventually found some work and continued to do work I so enjoy.

Then the legislative session ended and I was, once again, unemployed. While I worked to brand my consulting business and search for clients cash again began to dwindle and credit card debt skyrocket. The months passed and I resisted the idea of finding “another job” or (ack) drive for Lyft or Uber.

I kept telling myself something would come along. As it always has. I’ve always managed to somehow land on my feet.

Stick to Your Guns in Life

A few days ago desperation grew as I started to wonder how I would pay next month’s rent, I reached out to an old friend for a loan. Sick to do it, I told him anything would help, but that I couldn’t promise when I’d be able to pay him back.

While he talked to his wife and I waited to hear from him, I got a call. A firm I’ve done some work for previously called me, out of the blue (kind of) and asked if I wanted to do some campaign work on the mainland.

Whew! Just hours later my friend regretted to tell me he couldn’t help at this particular moment.

Though desperation was taking hold, I stuck to my guns knowing (hoping) something would come through before I was forced to do something that would move me in the wrong direction. And just like nearly every time before, luck kept me on the path I wanted.

In 48-hours I fly to Mississippi and Louisiana to help coordinate field operations in the last stretch before this year’s elections. I’ll get to do what I so enjoy doing and I’ll be getting paid pretty well to do it.

My money problems will continue as I work to dig out from under a mountain of credit card debt, but I’ll be level for a while. And I expect more work upon my return as the next legislative session approaches.

A Pessimistic Optimist

I’ve never been one for faith (spiritual or godly). Given all the terrible shit in the world, it’s hard for me to believe in any kind of God. Nonetheless, I didn’t know when or how, but I was never really worried something wouldn’t come along. Sure, I wish something would have come along much, much sooner. But I didn’t give up the fight for exactly the kind of work I want to do.

So here I am, scrambling to be read to step on a plane for new places, new experiences, and new people. I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity.

When I forget what can happen when you wait for what you really want, I’m reminded how life can somehow work out. It’s just not always how you want.

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