Finding a New Groove

Sarasota Bay Marina. Tuna Tower.
Sarasota Bay Marina. Tuna Tower.

Today in Sarasota was a pretty Sunday. Spring – in February! – feels like it’s right here.


Sunday morning’s ritual is for me to pick up my friend, another Tim, and find ourselves a good place for coffee. You would be surprised how few choices there are in a town of this size. We’ve made valiant efforts at discovering that splendid combination of good coffee, outdoor seating and decent people-watching. Many places don’t open until nine o’clock on Sunday; some are havens for bums; some have unpleasant atmospheres and something called Starbucks is just all-around awful.


But we persisted, and have found three places that have all the right attributes in varying degrees. Today was a day for sitting by the bay at O’Leary’s: the warm breeze from the south, lack of people and quiet made it a sweet morning.


And it was sweet for a more subtle reason, a more personal reason. Today I saw the first glimpse of how I might be able to follow the path I’ve (tentatively) chosen to walk up. I noted in myself the motivation to meet the people I want to meet, the people who might become my customers. And in a further good sign, my recruiting of Tim into my plan might be showing a small result, in that he talked to his housekeeper about getting together.


Small, yes. But for now, that’s just fine.

My Time Conundrum

The bluest bike you ever saw.
The bluest bike you ever saw.


For, let me see now…21 months, since May 2011 I’ve been on nights. It’s a weird gig that has me leaving home each night at just before 7:00 pm, returning the next morning at around 8:00 am.


It’s a thirteen-hour working day. Most nights I can grab a nap (in a car) for forty minutes, a blessing if ever. That shut-eye can make a huge difference to the way I feel for the last half of the shift. Back-of-the-clock work always requires fighting against the body. No matter how long you’ve been on the schedule, at some point during the night, you’ll find a strong temptation to lie down and take a nap, unless you can pre-empt it.


As soon as I’m in the door, I have a routine to clean-up, set-up for the next night and get to bed. First, make sure Miss T-Tail is okay; fed and watered, cat-box cleaned. Then I organize my lunch stuff and thermos. After that I put some multigrain and flax cereal on to heat while I shower. I eat while I’m checking my email.


Sleep time is blissful, of course, although never long enough. And here’s where my conundrum lies: by the time I wake up and get set to go back to work, I have only two hours. That’s two hours I use exclusively to find a way out of this job. Two hours to call prospective customers. Two hours to (maybe) meet with prospective customers. It never, ever feels like enough time, and yet I’m constrained by the fact that I have to work.


So there is no choice but to make that two hours a day count.

The Travel Paradox


The Devil's Tower, north-east Wyoming.
The Devil’s Tower, north-east Wyoming.

Now that I’m fifty years old, I have a little perspective.


I’veĀ  seen a few things. A good chunk of the world, for instance. Good and bad in people, for another. Good and bad in myself, for yet another. There’s no unifying theme here, other than experience can teach you, and the best kind of experience is to move.


It’s funny that they call travel, “travel”. All travel really is is taking a portion of your stuff and yourself to another location. It’s just moving. There’s nothing particularly romantic about moving, especially if you own a lot of stuff.


We all move, every day, even if it’s only to the bathroom and back. The one common article we always take with us – every day, don’t you know it! – is our headspace. Wherever we go, we cart along our biases, habits, pre-determinations and entire history. The good news is that we can, if we choose, also take with us enthusiasm, open-mindedness, anticipation, and wonder. I’m thinking that the more emphasis we place on these mental states, the more like traveling moving becomes.


But with age and a history of travel/moving comes a resistance to leaving home. Home is wonderful and familiar and comforting. I figure that for most people, seeking comfort is the biggest driver in their existence. I am no different. However, because new places fill me with fascination, there’s always the tug of checking out somewhere I’ve yet to visit. Discovering the new, the people, the vista, the coffee shop, the air, etc is a delight…even if sometimes I’d much rather be at home.


It’s a paradox – experiences are what we remember of life, but life is beautiful just by itself.

Government Servants

Mt Rushmore, South Dakota.
Mt Rushmore, South Dakota.

I have just written a check to the United States IRS and placed it into an envelope. An envelope they thoughtfully provided, mind you, helping me in any way possible to ensure my payment is made in time.


The amount: $230.00.


It’s the agreed dollar figure that I am to pay until my debt to them of around nine grand is paid off.


Frankly, it doesn’t bother me that much. The reason I am paying past taxes by installment is that I failed to pay them for around three years when I was a limo driver. It was my fault entirely, of course, not seeking advice and understanding that, as a “contractor” to the limo company, I was responsible for paying my own taxes.


Oh, yes. Although Limousine Larry liked to think of us as his “employees”, we black-suited knights of the road were self-employed, which essentially means we were treated (and paid) like wage slaves and taxed like corporate titans.


I put it into the “live and learn” category. A colleague, Steve, who ignored this state of affairs for years had his entire checking account emptied by his government. He woke up one day without any money. Think about that for a while. In that context, an agreement for modest monthly payments looks like a bargain, especially when the other party acts like a ravenous gorilla on heat with an appetite for money like a Donald Trump spouse.


For and of the people, my ass. We work for them now; we are all government servants.