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Monday, August 4, 2003

A brisk summer breeze was blowing in off the ocean this afternoon while I was watering the garden. As I was standing there pointing the hose into the wind, a fine spray was being blown directly back into my face. It came to me that this was a metaphor for my life. I don't plan things very well.

In fact, I hardly plan things at all. Mostly I just let them happen, and react in whatever way will keep me dry until there's another unexpected shower, or keep me on the road until the next bump or bend. If life were frictionless, I'd just slide on through and never leave a mark to show I've been here.

There probably shouldn't be any shocking revelations left about who I am, after writing an online journal entry every day for more than three and a half years. Sometimes I'm surprised that strangers I meet on the street don't know everything there is to know about me.

Why doesn't the supermarket checker ask me about my rosemary potatoes? Shouldn't people walk up to me at random and start conversations about telenovelas, or the Giants' bullpen, or the latest Maeve Binchy novel? Everybody knows what I do, where I've been, and how I feel about everything I feel anything about. Right?

Yet I keep discovering I don't even know very much about myself. And what I think I know is about half wrong, so what good does it do me? Sometimes I paint myself with a pretty broad brush here, even when I'm focusing on narrow details. If you read the last few entries, you might think I'm lazier or grumpier or even less competent than I really am.

I'm all of those things, but sometimes I'm none of those things. It depends on which way the wind is blowing, I guess. Today it was blowing water in my face, and it came to me how poorly I sometimes think things through.

Take the tropical fish tank, for example. That experiment failed because I assumed too much. I assumed it would be easy, just a few simple steps. I assumed I could do it. And I assumed, as usual, that there would be someone there to bail me out. Wrong, wrong and wrong. Now I have a mildewed tank full of rocks and water and signifying nothing.

I'd been talking about an aquarium for so long that you'd think I would have planned it out better. Instead I just forged ahead, and now I find myself a few steps behind where I started.

It's no wonder I failed as a retail manager, those many years ago. I did fine with customers, because all I had to do was react to their needs and try to solve their problems. I didn't have to think as much as react. But when it came to inventory, I had no control. I bought more than I could sell. That store no longer exists, but some of what I bought is probably still on the shelves.

This quality of mine is also the reason I don't like playing games. Or, to be more specific, I don't like strategy games, like chess or hearts or backgammon. I'll play Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit any time, anywhere, because all that those games take is a little remembering. You'll never draw me into a game of Risk, and that's a promise.

4 August 2003

Visitors to the water cooler.

For someone who isn't good at planning ahead, I think I'm pretty well organized. Maybe that's how I manage to get the minimum level or work done and yet appear to be fully in control, as long as you don't look too closely. The best planning I do is figuring how much I can get away with not doing.

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Speaking of bad community theater (and I assure you I've spoken of it somewhere, some time), there's a lot to like about Waiting for Guffman. Some of our local productions feature cheerfully incompetent actors performing with all the earnestness of Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy in "Red, White and Blaine," the historical pageant in the movie. I've even met a local director who reminded me of the Christopher Guest character (Corky St. Clair). He's gone now, this fellow, but I don't think he made it to Broadway. Anyway, this is a very funny pseudo-documentary on the order of This Is Spinal Tap, but I liked Waiting for Guffman a lot more.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: The Night Before
"It's like the night before school starts. Really, that's how I measure excitement, even though my high school class is celebrating its thirty-fifth reunion this month (without me, of course)."

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