Wednesday, May 6, 2009

85. Two words:

Itemized. Deductions.

Money is--oh so thankfully--not a major, pressing concern in my life. For the time being, anyway.

Thank you, Uncle Sucker.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

84. I'm back in action!

Wow, I went a whole month without posting? Really? This so-called "year of thanksgiving" is going to end up with more holes than the plotline of a recent comic book prequel movie (zing!).*

But I digress.

Regardless, I'm back! And so thankful for the fact that I've been on a real upswing. Everything just seems to be going incredibly well for me lately, and the past week or so has seen me in a constant state of near-giddiness (and in some cases, outright giddiness).

I feel energized. Kinetic. Frenetic. Manic, even. I have a new idea ever minute. A new possibility every hour. A new friend (or twenty!) every day. Things are moving, pieces falling into place, life--if only but for a spell--seems to make sense right now.

Get this: I'm even loving LA right now. When do I ever say that?

That said, the pendulum may (and likely will) swing to the other side any day now. So I'm doing my best to get things done and enjoy every second of this life-high.

In the coming posts, I'll share some of the specific reasons for my current state of euphoria (I want to spread this out, y'know? I might even have enough 'thanksgivings' to get me to post #100). But first, one of the major reasons, and the impetus behind my renewed blogging:

A friend hooked me up with an awesome new computer...for free!

If you'll recall, I had to go without a computer for some time. It's a long story, but essentially I sold it to one my kids in Kurdistan.

So in re-connecting recently with the guys who accompanied me to Iraq last summer, I told them of my sad estate as a technological transient. One of the guys had an immediate solution: he could score me a used iMac, one that--while in pristine condition--was no longer needed at his office.

And just like that, I now have a new--and ridiculously awesome--desktop to call my home!

I'm indebted to my friend Jon. What a great guy; what a blessing he is to me!

*If you still need help, the movie rhymes with "Wolverine."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

83. Well said, Mr. CK.

A friend recommended this recent clip from what we can now term as "Classic Conan" (i.e. when he taped his show in NYC). Comedian Lewis CK offers a pretty scathing (and hilarious) indictment of our culture's amazing lack of perspective when it comes to our various creature comforts.

All I can add is a hearty "Amen!" And hope to catch myself the next time I begin to complain about a minor inconvenience in travel or communication.

Everything is amazing, but nobody is happy. Indeed.


I've now been officially iBook-less for five days. I'll post whenever I can, but if you absolutely must have your daily fix of Dave (which raises doubts about your intellectual faculties, to be sure), you can keep up with me on twitter. I'll try to be more thanksgiving-y over there in the meantime.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

82. An open letter to my favorite purveyors of iced cream.

My dearest Ben and Jerry,

Did you ever know that you're my heroes?


P.S. Why, you ask? A silly question, to be sure, but my top four reasons are as follows (other folks' mileage may differ):

1. Half-Baked
2. Karamel Sutra
3. Dublin Mudslide
4. Mint Chocolate Cookie

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

81. Yes, a "third place."

I've previously mentioned some of the positive things that came about from a year and a half of thankless work as a Starbucks barista.*

There's another positive aspect, though--one that I'm almost loath to mention because it practically veers into the realm of corporate PR shill-ery.

See, I have this theory that a major component of Starbucks' busines model is predicated on the assumption that the company's ex-employees will become addicted to the coffee during their time as partners. And once they leave the company, they'll actually become daily customers.

It's a brilliant, evil plan, so dastardly that surely it could only have been hatched from deep within the bowels of Hell Seattle.**

I know of its power, because it worked on me. I succumbed. I became a Starbucks junkie, something I'm not altogether proud to admit.

Every day, I go to my neighborhood Starbucks--a good two minute walk from my apartment (a store which, despite that miniscule commute, was not even the one I worked at)--and order my usual: a boring old grande coffee (with room for cream and sugar).

So what's so wondrous about being manipulated through force of habit and addiction to spend $1.85 every morning, you ask?

Well, the truth is, it's become a nice part of my morning routine. And I'm probably not that addicted to Starbucks coffee; I could probably get coffee anywhere and be satisfied. It's really about the people at my neighborhood store--both the folks behind the counter and the regulars who frequent the store--who I enjoy seeing for a brief moment or two every morning.

I like how the store manager always calls me "David" (probably because that's what she saw on all the official staff listings when I was working for the company). I enjoy chatting with the various baristas--the funny Asian guy, the older British woman with a great, quintessentially British name (Moira), the cute redhead, the other cute redhead (yeah, it Charlie Brown Syndrome), the guy who lives in my apartment complex, and so on.

Some of the customers still know and recognize me from my time as a barista (my old store is literally 250 yards away), so it's nice to see them and chat with them. With perhaps the exception of the crazy old man who gabs my ear off with long-winded stories that betray some deep-seated anger issues. But even then, seeing him is a bit comforting to me; I would miss him if he was no longer there.

Before my time as a barista, I would usually walk into the store, get my drink (formerly a carmel apple cider--until I came to realize how annoying a drink it is to make), say very little to the baristas, and usually walk out with little fanfare. Not that I was unfriendly, per se; I just didn't feel like I could make friends with people I saw for a minute or two at a time.

But something about wearing the green apron for a season changed me in a small way. Now I know almost every barista at the store by name. I enjoy chatting with them throughout my time at the store (whether for a minute or two or four a few hours), relishing those fleeting moments every day that I get to share with them.

It doesn't seem like they should matter, these fleeting moments of short and simple interactions. But they do. And I'm glad that I can now see this store as a place that offers some semblance of that much-desired sense of community.

*Well, not entirely thankless. I recently became friends with a girl from church who would frequent my store when I worked there, and she sent me a very sweet note the other day, expressing her appreciation for the way I apparently beamed happiness and warmth from behind the counter. Not that I entirely believe that (OK, maybe I do), but it was super gratifying to hear, nonetheless.

**I kid, I kid. Seattle's a great town.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

80. No apples for the teacher, but still...

...I have great students this round of classes.

They're fun, gregarious, interesting, willing to interact with me, and willing to work hard to get their test scores up. And that makes my job a whole lot more enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

79. A long-overdue musical discovery.

I have my friend and former bandmate/songwriting partner Thom to thank for an important--and yes, long-overdue--musical discovery I made circa 2005.

Thom, a Brit who had just emigrated to the States with his new (Yankee) bride, gave me a proper introduction to the music of the Beatles.

See, I used to be a Beatles hater. For no reason other than the fact that they were just too damned popular. I would throw around the term "overrated" and refuse to give them a fair hearing.

But Thom gave me a few of their albums and asked me to give 'em a shot. Among those albums: Revolver, Rubber Soul, The White Album, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I quickly became a convert. And am ever so glad that I've come to see the light. The Liverpoolians' music has since become a regular fixture in my life's perpetual playlist. I'd even go so far as to say that much of my songwriting since 2005 has taken something of a McCartney-esque turn, from a more moody and melancholy sound (influenced primarily by R.E.M. and Springsteen) to something more bouncy and ebullient, if not just a little too schmaltzy and campy.

And since then, Sgt. Pepper's and Rubber Soul have catapulted their way into my top ten favorite records of all time.

So thank you, Thom, for showing me what a stubborn fool I had been and introducing me to a quartet of songwriters / musicians that, quite frankly, I had no business ignoring for so long.