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Month: November 2019

That Damned Voice

You know that voice in your head that hates everything you do?

This idea is so stupid.

Why are you wasting your time? Just give it a rest.

No one gives a damn about this garbage.

I hate that guy. I hate the way he talks to me. I hate the way he affects everything I try to make or do. I hate that he is always there, always nagging, always loud, always getting in the way of exercising the creative juju that helps me feel like a whole person.

But, you know what the worst part of that voice is? That voice is me. One hundred percent, inextricably me.

I wish I could blame his negativity on some external influence, but that would be dishonest. That jerk telling me how much I suck is me.

The voice is something I’ve always struggled with, especially when my job was more creative. I would stress and stress while working on a cut, wrestling with that voice the whole time. They’re going to hate this. This sequence doesn’t make sense. I am a fraud. This is horrible. I will never work again.

The voice was a constant companion back then, like an overly sensitive smoke alarm placed directly above your oven door that goes off at the slightest provocation. He would smell my lack of confidence, sensing that I was about to put my core in front of the jury and he would start screaming, screaming, screaming. Relentless.

Eventually, fear of failure would drown him out and I would push through the noise to get things done. That was the cycle. Project starts -> stress stress stress -> down to the wire -> recognition that I had just enough time to get the thing done -> execution. Far from the best way to work, but I managed to squeak by. I never excelled, never enjoyed the process, but always enjoyed the creative flow-state that resulted when the voice drove me to the precipice of fear. Then I could work.

Pretty frustrating. No use dwelling on what could have been had I unlearned this bad habit decades ago, though. You can’t change the past, only the decisions you make today.

Now, he’s a less common visitor since my work is, overall, much less creative than it once was. Now, I have numbers and math to back up the decisions I make and, as long as those make sense, there’s less uncertainty, less of my self on the line. The voice no longer has such frequent opportunities to make himself known.

But when he does?

It feels like he’s making up for lost time. He shouts about everything tiny choice I’m considering. The din is nearly impossible to cut through. I can feel it in my chest and in my head and in the jelly of my eyes. Without the fear to drown him out, I have no escape. The voice grinds until I cast that day’s creative idea away and give in to easier pleasures. Then reprieve.

Reprieve, however, is short lived. My mind is never quiet and during that easier pleasure I recognize the pattern of emotional self-abuse and get angry. Angry at myself for letting the voice win again. Frustrated for another night of giving in to an unearned reward. Depressed that this is just how it will always and forever be.

Luckily, that pattern, too, is just another bad habit. The only real way to do away with the voice is to unlearn his language. So, here I am, struggling through this post to try and shut him up.

Noodle

In case you were wondering yesterday what Noodle looks like, she looks like this:

Where have I been?

Hi there, The Black Laser friends. It’s been a while. Nearly three years, in fact, if we’re judging by the date on my Donald Trump post directly following this one. And, boy, is that post still unfortunately timely.

But where have I been since January 21, 2017? Here! Everywhere! Lots of changes! In the interest of keeping things brisk, let’s do a nice, vaguely chronological list.

  • I quit my job at Wax and left the industry all together. I loved my crew there, but I was burnt out on the ad industry and needed to change. My energy output was far greater than my energy input.
  • I moved from New York City to San Jose, CA. Similarly, I was pretty burnt on New York City. It’s the most fun place when you are 28 and single, but that gets old and you get married and move out to Queens and, one day, you wake up and think, “What the hell am I schlepping through the fucking snow for?” So we moved. Even better, I moved away without writing a break up letter with the city. Feel free to search for some examples of one of those on the internet.
  • I started a construction company that focuses on greenhouses called Verdant Construction with JJ, his dad John, and an Australian named Jason. I figured that it would be easy to jump head-first into an industry I knew basically nothing about. Whoops!
  • We moved from San Jose, CA to Soquel, CA, which is not too far, but the quality of life near the beach is wildly superior to San Jose.
  • I bought a monster grill that I get to cook on 4 times a week, even through the dead of winter. I haven’t seen snow, or my arch-enemy “the wintry mix,” in nearly three years.
  • I spent a semester at Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA taking some basic business classes. I realized that, suddenly!, I was a business man who knew pretty much nothing about business. Whoops again! So I thought to fix that problem without having to learn everything the hardest way: by failing.
  • After whetting my appetite for higher learning at Cabrillo and recognizing that community college was never going to meet my standards, I started an MBA program at the business school at Santa Clara University. Because I was not busy enough working full time and traveling all over the west coast for work. Whoops whoops whoops!
  • Our old cat Henry died. He grew more and more threadbare over his last six months and spent a lot of time sick, barfing much more frequently than even his usual high level. Eventually his motor control gave out and he quickly wound down. Rest in peace, business cat.
  • We got a kitten, Noodle, to keep Baby company. Her name was Dixie at the foster home, and I wanted to call her Cup. Sarah thought Cup o’Noodles which matched the fact that she (the kitten) is a floppy, cross-eyed, little cuddle monster who loves belly rubs. And, it turns out, that Baby didn’t want to company. We hope she warms up to Noodle over the next year.

And that’s pretty much it for me for the last 2.8 years. Many changes, some good, some not great. I’ve been a lot of places, met a lot of characters, and eaten a lot of sketchy burritos. Life is pretty good overall. I’ve got some upcoming projects to share, a strong new theme for 2020 I am getting started on early but won’t share quite yet, and a bit of a bug to exercise the old space bar. So, yeah, hi, I love you. Thanks for reading.