42 III

When I started this blog, it was dedicated mostly to my fiction pieces that were expendable. I didn’t really have any full investment of time in them—most were written in one sitting from random topics or fleeting visions. I interjected a few rants, some personal entries, maybe a review or two. For the most part, this has been a place to put things that were finished, but not worth attempting to publish—or unfinished and “prolly-not-gonna”.

It’s my intention to change that. We’ll see how it goes.

You may notice a few things have already changed. I’ve been trying to write something every day. I’m attempting to group these posts, thus the numbering of a repeated word for the title. I think I’ll keep that up. I like it so far.

I am a man obsessed and addicted to both structure and randomness, and randomness of structure, and structured randomness. It’s a fucking nightmare, sometimes. I have inherited my paternal grandfather’s perfectionism—which was often mistaken for procrastination. On the other side, I have my maternal grandfather’s creativity and aptitude for constructing things from small components to create a larger object of utility.

Yep, you guessed it, one was a mortician, and the other was a carpenter.

The carpenter to creativity/construction correlation should be obvious, but what about the mortician to perfectionism? Have you really ever paid attention to what goes into the preparations for a funeral?

Compared to weddings, funerals are permanent. You can forgive and forget a dropped wedding cake, or a stray shower, or a passed out groomsman—short of the AWOL bride or groom, there is so much about a wedding that is fleeting and extemporaneous, regardless of the planning that goes into it. Ultimately, it’s trivial in the long run—it’s the emotional and mental and physical connection between the two getting married that has meaning and depth and purpose. People want to make the wedding more than that, and I think it’s absurd. The marriage will last forever (maybe), the wedding is a couple of hours.

A funeral is the end, period. It’s the grand send off. You only get one. Well, you don’t get anything if you’re the dead one, it’s really for everyone else. It’s the last chance for a good impression—that last look at the shell that once held the living essence of your loved one or friend or distant relative. It is the absolute last time you will see them “in the flesh.” A botched make-up job is going to mar that, forever, no mulligans. If Grandpa Willie’s dimples aren’t puckered just like they have been his whole life, well, how can you really be sure that’s him? Maybe it’s some bizarre doppelganger that has been mistaken for Grandpa Willie. How can you rest for the rest of your life if you don’t know for ABSOLUTELY SURE that it’s really, actually, without a doubt, Grandpa Willie’s cold dead body laying in silk there? Ask Joyce Byers about that shit.

My grandfather made it his business to ensure that every man or woman whose body crossed one of his embalming tables, looked absolutely the best that they possibly could (given the circumstances). He had that shit down, and he did it until he died. The viewing, the service, the procession, the internment, the whole process from choosing a casket and a plot and vases and headstones, etc. It was my grandfather’s business to make it all perfect. He was good at it, and people knew him for it, and they knew to look for him when it came time to say goodbye to someone that had died.

A lot of people freak out about the cost of a funeral. Knowing what it ultimately amounts to, I can understand how it does seem an excessive expenditure for such a simple thing. At the same time, there’s a ton of background legwork that goes into it all. Guess what, you can’t just bury people. You also can’t just set them on fire. You can’t just pick up a dead body from the morgue. You can’t order an autopsy. You can’t NOT embalm a body. There’s certificates, and forms, and releases, and licenses, and regulations. The casket manufacturers want a cut. Fleets of hearses and limos, organs and pianos, gold chandeliers, escorts, granite headstones, marble vases, and bronze plaques, musicians that know how to play that one song from that one movie that Grandpa Willie used to whistle when he made his egg sandwiches. That’s all money, and it’s all middle-men for the smaller funeral homes to have to go through. I get the cost. I get that there are some sick greedy morticians out there, too. We are forced into capitalism, all of us. It makes snakes, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good people doing good things for other good people because it makes them feel good. Both of my grandfathers were that type of person, and that type of worker and businessman.

But I’m straying from my purpose in this post.

What am I? I guess I’m a data manager. And that goes for my personal life, and my career.

The number of on-going projects in my life has grown almost unmanageable. I’m watching a shitload of television series in order, researching world history, prehistory, philosophy, ancient mythologies, teaching myself to code, in college for coding, trying to complete my backlog of video games, trying to learn Spanish and Japanese and German and French, methodically going through a culinary cookbook to teach myself the history and science of cooking, trying to write fiction, trying to blog, brainstorming a podcast idea, refreshing myself on music theory, learning to write screenplays, becoming a better pianist, trying to be emotionally and mentally available for my girlfriend, trying to stay the fuck out of my girlfriend’s bubble when she’s trying to do something goddammit, trying to keep my cat from hunting and eating his own tumbleweed hairballs, trying to manage a friendship with the ONE male friend that I have, trying to pretend like I have time to be a son, a brother, an uncle, trying to be a good employee, a forward thinker, a go-getter, a good account manager, a wise and industrious journeyman at the career I’ve offhandedly found myself tied to for the last fifteen years. It’s all just data I’m consuming, repurposing, and using to manage and consume and repurpose more data.

It IS unmanageable, alright? That’s not going to stop me though.

I’m working through a way to organize all my projects into a daily/weekly/monthly schedule while still injecting an amount of randomness into it. Key to this endeavor is my new ability to write code. I could already write code in Visual Basic, and Turbo Pascal. I was already well-versed in making Excel act and look like a more complex program, but now with C#, my arsenal has grown and I fully intend to keep learning more languages until I have a massive arsenal and portfolio of work to show for it.

Right now, I’m just missing an essential step. I need to learn how to put data into a database and pull it out using C# and SQL. I know the basic theory behind it, I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. My last class ended right before that chapter, and the rest of that class was canceled for the next semester, so I’ve just been trying to work through the book from the beginning, working all the exercises and examples in the book.

It’s made me a better programmer, but I’m still a fledgling coder. I see a distinction in those two monikers. I can write programs all day, in my head, longhand, shorthand. That’s the carpenter spirit from my maternal grandfather. I can see the structure of the program in my head, from component to object to android. What I can’t do is write the actual code to make those programs real—not with the confidence and knowledge that I’d like to have and currently don’t.

I want to create a program that schedules my projects for me. I don’t want canned code, I have to do it for myself. It tells me on Monday, “This is what you’re going to do today: 1 hr practicing piano, 1 hr playing Far Cry 2, 1 hr writing code from exercises, cook this, lift this that many times, go to bed.” I thrive on that type of routine and rigid scheduling. Inject that with randomness, and that is my paradise.

More on this randomness to come, because I have some really fucking cool ideas about how to live life randomly and absurdly in accordance with your own existential eccentricities and how to do it all through apps you write and tailor to your own life yourself.

I just need some time to cook them—can’t serve raw randomness.

Neither of my grandfathers were born as what they became. The mortician started working at a funeral home when he was in his teens. The carpenter had a father who was a carpenter to be an apprentice to. I have the internet, and books, and a job that is willing to let me play around. And I’m fucking MAD, I tell you. MAAAAAAD.

I’m 42. I can give my all for another 42.

What I am and what I will be are woven in the same tapestry that began with who I was, and it will all come together, and it will be perfect because it will be me.


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