Monday, October 10, 2011

Top Five Common Mistakes

Blogger hardworker said...

top 5 common mistakes next please"

The man in the van always aims to please his loyal public. Now, since it would be difficult to list the top 5 common mistakes made by everyone, I'm going to list my own top 5 mistakes. I'm a narcissist anyway and I'm only comfortable writing about myself. 
"I see the world through a small hole in a huge mirror," I once said.
But then I read that all artists have this affliction. There are two worlds they constantly juggle, the one that happens and the one they reflect on for later reflection. And I go out of my way to reflect ad-nauseaum because I think it will get me to think like Hermann Hesse. That is number 1 in my top five mistakes.
1. Intentionally reflecting/pondering about life in order to develop the self-reflective mastery as found in a Hermann Hesse novel. "If mental masturbation were an Olympic sport," someone once said to me, "You'd win the gold medal."

2. Falling in love with women who are totally indifferent to my love for them. This has caused me so many problems I could write a textbook on co-dependency and its pitfalls. The first chapter would be titled "You Aren't in Love With Anything but Your Own Ability to Arbitrarily Manufacture Unhealthy Dependencies"

3. Intentionally not using all the tools at my disposal because I want to "test my ability to adapt." This has only hindered my projects. If Survivor accepts me then this might turn out to be useful. Otherwise it was foolish. It's like I'm an engineer with a superiority complex and low self-esteem and a tight wallet.

4. I watched a program about a serial killer and the main point the investigators made was the killer had an impeccable ability to "compartmentalize" in the sense that his violent murder of a dozen strangers in his own town had no affect on his ability to live, go to church, raise kids. Homicidal tendencies are totally unrelated to this ability. I'd say that this compartmentalization skill is essential for soldiers, cops, doctors, actors and very important for the rest of us.  I must've been absent from class the day they taught it because I really can not separate any part of life into an isolated region in my mind. Whether I crimp wires to pins or play guitar, that activity will resonate with me for years or at least until it finds a permanent place in my ever-expanding worldview. Ex: I wanted to be a trapper in Alaska so I bought some rabbit jaw traps and set them with granola bait and a day or two later I went back and I had caught a Snowshoe Hare. Yeah, what a big hero I was. The animal had not been killed by the initial trap snapping and breaking his forelegs in half, so it had chewed its own legs off and then limped away on stumps a few yards and died. I skinned it and made a memorial hat of its fur. I kept one of his big snowshoe hind feet "for good luck" even as I considered the family of rabbits that depended on him to return with food that dark winter night and never saw him again.
This still weighs heavily on me and for that reason I would say it is a mistake that I can not put that in a box labeled "Oggy being dumb" and close the box and go to work as a pool cleaner or something. If there's a Hell then that bunny and his friends are waiting for me there. Maybe it isn't a "mistake"  to allow the weight of the imperfect world to weigh heavily upon my conscience, but it does. Or maybe it is my defense of this affliction that is the mistake which is related to #1.Or maybe...

5. I'll cop out and say this mistake is a combination of all the other 4. Is it called procrastination if you plan something out for so long that the original reason for planning has become obsolete? Or is that good planning? It took me so long to figure out how to attach screen material to my escape hatch that all the bugs in Labrador died. It took me so long to write the novel about the 68 Year World Championship drought of the Red Sox that they won a world championship after 86 years. But when I ultimately wrote the book I think it is basically what I wanted to write. Sometimes it is better to do things you are too dumb to know would be difficult. Because the chances are good you will actually figure out how to get them done rather than quit. But if you think about things too much and do some research and get informed then it's very easy to know too much and quit before even starting.

I think humanity owes its existence to young people having unprotected sex. Because once you grow up and realize the diseases and other consequences of bareback sex then your whole approach changes. If reproduction were left up to mature, sober adults then mankind would be extinct in one generation. Fortunately, like John Updike said, "New people keep showing up thinking the fun has just begun." In most cases it's better to be too dumb to know when to quit. Hell, the most fun I've had is when I didn't know what trouble I was getting myself into. So I guess my mistake is trying to be prepared.
These seem kind of generic. Maybe I was supposed to be more specific. I think this list is a work in progress.

Leaves of Change

Returning to a semblance of normalcy in the land of 40 houses/40 lawnmowers is a process of decompression that is never easy. I live in a van, see, and it is actually easier to continue living in the van and picking apples and fighting my demons in coarse anonymity than wearing plaid bell bottom pants and motoring around town on my 1974 Vespa Ciao looking for respectable work. Hell, I was more motivated to write blog posts when I was in the middle of Nova Scotia and Internet access was 100 km away than when the computer is 5ft from my face and I have nothing to say. I cleaned up my act and the parade is over. Even clowns have to take their makeup off and then they blend in.

What now? I want to finish my rug hooking project that has me wondering how I'm going to define the outlines of those stars with 1/8 inch strips of wool.

The crow hardly looks like a crow and most people will think those yellow and red leaves are animals. And you can't see the moon and the crow feet because the wool I used is off white and blends in too well with the burlap. Let's hope it pops out a bit better when I put in the violet background. This reminds me of the mosaic tile project when I realized that you can only define sharp outlines with tiny pieces and tiny pieces means you will be on your swollen knees in pain for hours upon hours. I need to reevaluate my plan to get rich off rug hooking.

What have I done so far?
Consolidated my dirty laundry.
Way too much teen lesbian porn
Found my plaid pants and Beatle Boots.
Looked for my other shoes and failed to find them.
had a crappy meatball sub
spent several hours putting that van photo collage at the top of my blog
learned the memorial bridge is closed
missed the cheese festival
felt sorry for the jewelry artists at the Strawberry Banke market
Wrote a list of Van-related projects:

"Fuel Pump.
2ft fuel hose
pcv and grommet
flush radiator
alt. gauge?
door gaskets
return broken multimeter
oil filler cap
spark plugs

the list is as long as my arm and doesn't even include the major project of fixing the broken transmission. I have strong suspicions that the van only has two gears and that only happens when the transmission band breaks. The band can be replaced without removing the transmission but I need a flat piece of ground without cars racing by my crippled toes to do the work and I need all the materials laid out next to me and also some snacks and music or else this will never get done. And I need to have another vehicle standing by to drive me to the hardware store when I strip some essential screw. This is a big project but I know that once it is complete and the rims are painted and I've buffed out some rust then the van will be in the best shape ever. That's all that motivates me.

I found my tennis racquet and played a game or two today in the Columbus day sun with a buddy who worked at the crimp factory with me and has a lead on a good paying gig in Lawrence at a solar panel plant. IS that what I want? My bank account has the louder voice in this conversation. I don't have a place to live and my memory of sleeping in my van in Portsmouth last winter is not pleasant. I need a job and a room for my instruments and I want to play piano at the Clipper home every night. Van life doesn't allow for that and a van with two speeds and leaking fuel pump really doesn't allow for that.

"Time to Prioritize" was a motivational sign in a math class I had in High School.

My buddy from West Roxbury came up with his whiny dog and we had a hot dog at Gillies and managed not to get into a fight.

"The problem is that when we were twenty-four years old we thought time was cheap." I said with a nauseating arrogance. "I figured I was either immortal or would die before it mattered what I did. The possibility of growing as old and decrepit as my father never occurred to me."

"Time is cheap," he said and validated this by saying when he is with his 2'9'' son that nothing else matters.
I had no response because the closest I've been to having a kid was working as a kindergarten teacher.

We discussed the various approaches to child rearing that our parents had:
Me: Hopeless. No plan. Last people on earth who should've had kids.
Him: They had plans. They had dreams but life got in the way. Take some of the blame.
Me: Bullshit.

It was a mature conversation as the arrogance that dictated our youth was deadened by disease and experience.
"There are no shortcuts," we both said at one time or another and sounded shockingly like our idiot fathers.

I try to break down life to its basic level, a summation you could put on a motivational poster.

"You develop skills and apply them." 

"Maybe you start a business related to your skills and then develop new ones."

"Life is a series of trade-offs, pain management and compromise."

"Hopefully you can contain your psychopathic tendencies" 

"Trust one or two people and forgive the heartless insults slung in your direction."

I don't want to be flippant because that would immediately call for the revocation of my philosopher's license. As soon as life becomes routine then I'm in effect living off the interest of my memories and the false promises of the senile future. I couldn't do that if I tried.

"Successful people spend their youth preparing to be an adult," I say to my inner child. "Failures spend their adulthood acting like children."

"You get good at what you do and what you do is what will kill you," I say in mysterious response.
"You sound like a 10 year old boy," said a comrade in Mexico. "Can you at least grow up and be 11?"

I have some other trite saying that are my attempt to sum up my ambivalence. (I admit had to spell check that word)
I don't want all the answers; I only want enough answers so I can ask a different question.

"All these lawns should be small farms," I muttered as we overlooked the neighborhood. "It's insane to buy cucumbers."
"We'll get there," said Roxbury.
"But the problem is that we were already there, in 1820. And now we have this. We're going in the wrong direction."
He shrugged. "Oggy, don't worry. We'll get back there."

And lately I've been thinking of the old Gandhi line: Be the change you want to see in the world.
Because I think that's the only goal line there is in this ridiculous game.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.