Since my son was born I realized: soon, he’ll be three-and-a-half. Soon, he’ll be able to see who I was. And shortly after that, what he’ll be reading in the oldest blogs will be closer to his age than mine. Now, I write for him.
Any gifts and time you give to family members are investments in them as people, vs. investments in your relationship with them. It’s “I want the best for you” vs. “I want the best out of you” — a fine distinction, but an important one.
Humans are quite bad at estimating the results of different interventions, if the feedback only comes years later. One needs only to see the plethora of different parenting guides and opposed schools of upbringing thought. Such variety couldn’t maintain itself if it were easy for parents to see which methods worked and which didn’t. Thus parents are poor at knowing what they need, and hence make ineffective consumers from the economic perspective.
Also, “a lot of parenting techniques are procedural, rather than declarative.”
Career is never as important as family. The better you are at your job, the more you’re rewarded, financially and spiritually, by doing it. You know how to solve problems for which you receive praise and money. Home life is more chaotic. Solving problems is less prescriptive and no one’s applauding or throwing money if you do it right. That’s why so many young professionals spend more time at work with the excuse, “I’m sacrificing for my family.” Bullshit. Learn to embrace the chaos of family life and enjoy the small victories.
Daniel Day Lewis, getting ice cream with his father, poet Cecil Day Lewis.
After working with terminal patients for over 30 years, Dr. Byock recommends four simple expressions. “Please forgive me.” “I forgive you.” “Thank you.” “I love you.”
Filed under: death.
I’d never considered this side of having children later in life. From Julie Shulevitz’s essay excerpted in the link above:
What haunts me about my children, though, is […] the actuarial risk I run of dying before they’re ready to face the world.
Older parents die earlier in their children’s lives. […] A mother who is 35 when her child is born is more likely than not to have died by the time that child is 46. The one who is 45 may have bowed out of her child’s life when he’s 37. The odds are slightly worse for fathers: The 35-year-old new father can hope to live to see his child turn 42. The 45-year-old one has until the child is 33.
It’s no coincidence that the number-one woman on the list of self-made millionaires is Oprah. She has no kids and no husband. She’s fascinating, nice, and smart. But few of us would really enjoy her life.
Uncouple your own grief from the hopes you pin on others. All relationships stand alone; there are no replacements.
Well, this is awesome. (via) Here we have an edited transcript of Jonah Weiner’s interview with Louis CK that was used for the Rolling Stone profile last fall. Lots of good stuff here. Here’s Louis CK on the importance of those early failures and growing experiences:
Stand-up, I didn’t know what that was going to feel like. I guess I thought it would feel like it does in TV shows or movies: they’re going to laugh. That’s part of it, right? You tell a joke and then they laugh. It has this feel to it that I knew, and boy, when you realize how wrong you are, that’s a fucking cold slap in the face. I think that’s true of anybody’s first time. […] You need to enter stand-up with that cold slap in the face, or you’ll never really understand what you’re doing.
This next part rang really true for me. I thought for a long time that I was headed to grad school right after college, but each fall afterward I just couldn’t bring myself to do the paperwork. That’s me sending myself a message. CK on resisting college and keeping a day job while he chased his dreams (cf. Steve Reich):
An old teacher of mine got me an interview at NYU film school, and I brought all these videos I’d made, and photographs, a portfolio – I’d gotten into photography and stuff, and they said that they would accept me to go to film school. So I quit my job with that in mind, and I’d been doing stand-up, but not well or successfully, and then I never filled in – I got these forms from this guy to fill in, on the floor of my apartment somewhere, but I couldn’t get my brain to…I was supposed to go back to my high school and get my transcripts, and the idea of doing all that, just that paperwork – going to NYU film school was this dream come true for me, but I couldn’t fill out the thing, couldn’t fill it out and go to the Xerox machine and put a stamp on an envelope, all that stuff. It made me want to vomit. That sort of thing has always been the case for me, I can’t get that done. That’s why I have an assistant. Now if I just dream up shit I want to do, I have her to take care of it.
So I decided, “Fuck it, I’m a comedian. I’m just going to do that, I’m going to stay in Boston.” That’s when I worked at the garage. I stopped working at local-access cable. I drove a cab for a while. I started taking shitty jobs so I could do stand-up, I didn’t want an all-encompassing job. I liked that, I just liked having dead-end jobs and doing stand-up. I thought, “Fuck it, that’s what I’m going to try to do.” I had an instinct that if I just kept hammering it and hammering it, I had a head start on people, I was very young, and I was resilient, I didn’t mind living stupidly, I wasn’t anxious about making a living, just played it close to the bottom for a long time, and I knew how to do that, it didn’t bother me. I liked the freedom, I didn’t have a job-job, I’m not working for a company, I’m not going to a school, I live on my own.
And, wow, on the typical sitcom plot:
With a lot of these shows, I know what’s going on, and I think the audience does, too. Here comes the part where they’re going to walk in the door while the credits are still rolling. They’re going to trade quick barbs, “What did you do?” “I went to the store to get a coffee and they had the Michael J. Fox coffee today, so they spilled it.” “Oh, ha ha ha.” “What happened to you today?” Kind of inconsequential jokes. Joke, joke, joke, then somebody goes, “Somebody was here to ask you about this” – here comes the story, and it gets quiet, and then, “Oh, I can’t go, because I have this thing,” “He’s only in town for one day,” and now we’re laying pipe and it’s getting quiet. “What are you going to do about that?” “I don’t know,” because here’s a joke about the character that is an outside world joke or observational joke, and then the blow, the big fucking blow to get out of the scene – you have to have a blow, a big enough laugh, and it’s something really contrived: people sat there in the writer’s room, fucking eating fast food and going, “Where’s the blow for this scene, I want to go home.”
Then here comes the funny character, the guest star, who’s in town, and we find out what the lead character hates about him, and then there’s the guy, the character, that carries all the jokes. He says dumb things and keeps it going, there’s this energy, he’s like a circuit or something, just does this one thing. […] So there’s a guy on every show that does that, he has his one way, he has his variety, about eight different joke formulas, and you refill them with different stuff. He’s either the dumb guy or, like, Lisa Kudrow’s character on Friends or whatever. “I thought coffee was from Brazil.” “Ugh, no the guy’s name is Coffee. He’s from Italy.” Garbage like that. Then you start building the story, then you go away on an act break. Then you build a third act that just is the train wreck of not really much fun, but it pays everything off, it leaves everybody feeling exactly the same way they left, that they felt before the show started. That’s what shows are meant to do, is leave on par and leave a few jokes behind, to be printed in Entertainment Weekly’s sound bites.
On kids and growing up:
Having kids, you don’t escape from it, you seize onto it, it’s a big, stressful, exhilarating, real life thing. And it’s permanent, it’s something that you have to evolve for. Some people don’t, but I think you have to actually change your values system, and you have to revolutionize yourself in order to do it properly, because kids can’t raise kids, and I think you’re somewhat a kid until you have them, then you really have to grow up.
Lastly on being in control, experimenting, being wrong, being interesting:
I’m not a dictator, because I’m not in control of anything, I’m just deciding what to try. To me, it’s not that I control a bunch of people, it’s just that nobody controls me. There’s nothing above me except responsibility to the product. That’s the ultimate responsibility, is if the show sucks, then what was the fucking point of being in charge? I’m right about these things on the show, and when I’m not, it’s interesting to watch me be wrong. I don’t think you have to be perfect, you just have to be compelling in the work you do.
Find some way to bring me back.
My daughter just turned 16 years old, and you can see it on MTV’s [‘My Super Sweet Sixteen’], where they get cars, and things that depreciate and just don’t mean nothing. I wanted to give my child something that she can grow and build and nurture. So I gave her her own label.
My parents. A family friend dug up some photos I’d never seen before.
Family first? This is one of the best things I’ve read recently.
I can think of a few questions to gauge what is important to someone:
If you could only achieve one thing in your life, what would it be?
If you could only spend your life doing one thing, what would it be?
If you could only know one person in your life, who would it be?
How do you want to be remembered?
How do you want to be perceived right now?
Whose respect do you most hope to earn?
Whose admiration do you most hope to earn?
Whose love do you most hope to earn?
What ideas/principles are you willing to die for?
Who are you willing to die for?
What is the most meaningful thing you can do with your life?
What is the best way you can spend your time?
What is the best way you spent your time today?
If you knew you had only weeks to live, how would you spend your time?
If you knew you had only hours to live, how would you spend your time?
If you knew you had only minutes to live, how would you spend your time?
Of all the things in your life, which would you be the most sorry to lose irrevocably?
What would you most like to gain in your life?
Solid gold. By all means, read the whole thing.
Family. Friends. Health. Work. Pick any three.
Berlin, North Dakota. A Google Maps view of the small town where my father’s father grew up, and where my grandfather’s father is buried. I remember stopping by here on a family road trip out West a couple decades ago. I thought it was cool. Big land, big sky. And it was also awkward. The town had, as I recall, a population of 38 or so. Nothing happening. Dad was getting all sappy and wistful about this place, where he’d never spent much time anyway. It was nice for a bit, seeing Grandpa’s old stomping grounds, the school, the gym where he played basketball. But I eventually I got to thinking, come’on, y’know, let’s get to the Tetons already. At least Mount Rushmore or something. This place is windy and tired. And now I’ve gotten to an age where I want to go back and sort of wander around. Walk through some fields and daydream about where I came from and the generations that got me here.
Arndt & Margaret Larson. My dad’s father’s parents. North Dakota or Minnesota, 1910s maybe.