It’s Monday. Again.
I have 30 Zoom meetings on my calendar this week (yes – I counted). It’s a light week for Zoom meetings since I have four board meetings this week, which each takes up a big block of time, limiting the total number of Zoom meetings for the week.
Did I say that it’s Monday?
My Whoop recovery score is yellow again. It’s yellow almost every day. I get plenty of sleep, but it’s still yellow. Sometimes it’s red. It’s rarely green these days.
On Sunday, I turned the pages of the New York Times with mild disgust. The only day I look at news is on Sunday, and then it’s only the New York Times in physical format. It now takes about ten minutes and I’m not sure why I’m doing it anymore.
Amy and I made a small change to our life algorithm this week. Instead of having the dishes pile up until one of us does them, we are alternating weeks. I’m on dish duty this week. We use the same plates over and over again.
I did my laundry again on Sunday. Every week I do my laundry on Sunday. I take my running clothes out of the sink in the mudroom bathroom and toss them in the washing machine. I grab my laundry basket from my closet and throw them in also. I set the machine for 1:06, pour in Tide Sport, and press Start. When it beeps, I put them in the dryer for 0:40 and press Start. When it beeps, I take them out, fold them, and put them in my closet. They are the same clothes every week.
I’m either running or swimming at least four days each week. Since my Whoop is always yellow, I keep thinking that taking a few days off will help. When I swim, it’s in the same pool back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. When I run, it’s in the same 0.94-mile loop – sometimes clockwise, sometimes counterclockwise. Over and over again.
It’s Monday. Again.
Brooks the Wonder Dog passed away yesterday. Somehow, a long time ago, his vet started referring to him as Brooks Batchelor. Mail came to Brooks Batchelor. His pills, which he took a lot of lately, are labelled Brooks Batchelor. Amy and I giggled everytime we saw this.
Brooks was an awesome dog. He was dog number 3, following Denali and Kenai. Definitely the cuddliest of the three. Always happy. He loved bagels, salmon, and tissue boxes. We ran in Keystone together and did laps around my house at St. Vrain for years until he couldn’t run anymore. He loved chasing bunnies, even if he never caught any. When he was young he loved to swim, but decided that wasn’t for him after he walked straight into the deep end of our new pool on his introduction to our St. Vrain house (we laughed so hard it was challenging to fish him out …)
When Amy and I talk about “Golden Retriever eyes” we are thinking of Brooks. Deep, black, and full of love, especially if you were holding a bagel. Or a piece of salmon.
At some point, he decided he was going to sleep on the bed. Early on we tried to convince him the bed was just for the two of us. I traveled a lot, so when I was gone he slept on my side of the bed. When I was home, he slept at the foot of the bed. Eventually, we got a bigger bed.
When he was a puppy, Kenai took good care of him (Kenai is on the left, Brooks is on the right)
When we got Cooper, he was annoyed for a while. Apparently he forgot that Kenai helped him grow up. Cooper was inscrutable and the first difficult puppy we had. Brooks figured this out before us and, while he’d occasionally assert his dominance, he generally gave Cooper a wide berth. When we sent Cooper to doggie boarding school for a month, we could tell that Brooks didn’t miss him. But, when Cooper came back, enough had changed that they were suddenly (and finally) buddies.
Cooper was extremely patient with Brooks the past few years as Brooks aged. When they ran together with me, Cooper would do his thing for a while but eventually hang back with Brooks who trotted along next to me at my slow pace.
Several months ago Brooks had a seizure. It turned out that he had a significant brain tumor. After being at the vet for a few nights, he came back home and was basically non-responsive. Amy and I cried all weekend, just hung out with him, and were ready to let him go.
We decided to give it one try with the vet where they dialed back some of his meds to see if he could get a few more months. While he still slept most of the time, he was ambulatory, happy, and somewhat responsive when he was awake.
Last Monday he had a series of seizures. Back to the vet he went, where the seizures continued. He passed on Saturday.
I thought of him a lot of my 12 loop run today. I write this with tears in my eyes. Brooks Batchelor, you were a wonder dog. Thanks for being part of our lives.
There was a disturbance in the Force yesterday.
Our old dog, Brooks (age 13 – on the left) had a seizure mid-afternoon. He spent the night in the hospital where he had another seizure. He’s there now being inspected and detected.
We are lucky to have great vet care and a Rover co-parent for Brooks who loves him as much as we do.
I called it quits at 5 pm shortly after my last scheduled meeting. Amy and I watched a few more episodes of Breaking Bad and went to sleep early. I got a good night sleep, but woke up feeling sad, scared, and disoriented.
Meditation and coffee has helped a little, but there’s definitely a part of me that wants to write off the day and just lay the couch, read a book, and play with Cooper and Brooks.
It’s another Monday in the time of Covid. Recently my family had an email exchange about prom and it reminded me of the following scene from Contagion.
This morning, my mom (the artist) reminded me about her email and suggested I start the week off with something joyful. So, I thought I’d write about her prom with pictures from 1959. Her email is in italics below.
S – Remember when we talked about “Prom” and you said it wasn’t a big deal in Boulder and I said it was definitely a big deal in New York back in the ’50s and 60’s.
I found these pictures of Prom 1959. There were two proms that June, one from my high school (Music and Art) and one from Grandpa’s college (Columbia). I was a senior in high school and GP was a senior in college. I told you I had two fancy dresses. We think the color picture is from the Columbia prom and the black and white from M&A. My strapless (!) dress was actually a pale blue which looks white in the b&w photo. It looks like I am wearing a tiara in the color picture. Fancy, schmancy! Notice the high heels and corsage. GP with hair!
I was minus six years old, which is kind of mind-bending to consider since that was over 60 years ago.
Mom / Dad – y’all both look awesome in these photos. Awesome, and super-duper happy. And, Dad, you had hair!
I hope this helped start your Monday off with a smile.
Earlier this evening we celebrated my dad’s 82nd birthday using the appropriate COVID-19 social distancing approach.
St. Patrick’s day has always been a special day for my family because of my dad’s birthday. Ever since I was a little kid I can remember the outrageous green outfits with the green buttons and the green bangles and a bunch of other green things my dad would drag around each year on March 17th.
My mom always makes a super delicious chocolate cake. We usually sneak in chocolate ice cream sometime during the day. If I’m lucky, we pull off a DQ Choco Brownie Extreme Blizzard when my mom isn’t looking.
While we weren’t together in person this year, we had 30 minutes of laughter on video at the end of another intense day.
My parents are healthy, happy, and settled into their own social distancing routine at home in Texas. I have a small family, but deeply love my parents, my brother and his wife, their daughter, and my wife Amy. In times like this, I realize how lucky I am.
Dad, thanks for being you, even on days when The Hulk would be jealous of your outfit. And Mom, thanks for always being there with the cake and the candles.
We create narratives about ourselves that become deeply entrenched in our minds and ways of being. Many of them are useless and counterproductive.
One of mine is that I am bad at learning languages. This is an artifact from junior high school. I took two years of French and, while I did ok, I didn’t love it. I hated my French III teacher, fought with her, called her an inappropriate name one day, and got kicked out of class. That was the end of my French language experience.
I have no recollection of why I chose to learn French instead of Spanish. I grew up in Dallas and now live in Colorado, so Spanish would have been a much more useful language to learn.
I recently spent two weeks in Mexico. While I was there, I realized that I was tired of not being able to say simple things in Spanish. More importantly, I was endlessly anxious whenever I said buenos dias, buenas tardes, or buenas noches since I always got them mixed up.
I had a similar childhood narrative around horses. My brother had a horse accident when we were little kids and I decided I was afraid of horses. He went the other direction and got a horse and became a great rider. Amy loves horses, so this has been an inhibitor in our time together since I never want to do anything involving horses. A few years ago we did a week-long vacation at a place that had a program to get comfortable with horses.
I painted a horse, I groomed horse, and I rode a horse. After a week, I was able to delete my self-limiting narrative about my relationship with horses.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been spending at least ten minutes a day on each of Duolingo and Busuu. They are different but both good. While a few hours on an app is a tiny beginning to learning a language, I already feel more comfortable just being around Spanish, saying a few words (mostly greetings), and am recognizing some of the things others are saying.
These days, when I catch myself repeating a self-created narrative, I’ve begun questioning each one of them. So far, none have held up to scrutiny as an actual thing.
I’ve always been a vivid dreamer, but I’ve been getting a lot more REM sleep due to the combination of a CPAP machine and the prostate reduction surgery I had last year (solving a “getting older” problem.)
Following is the doozy that I had on Tuesday night, written down shortly after I woke up on Wednesday.
I’m being tossed around in the passenger seat of a car with a blindfold on. As I shout out to the driver, “Where are we going?” I’m met with silence, then a very loud version of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell playing on the radio.
The car abruptly stops. The blindfold is off. I’m at my house. I run inside and pack my bags, grabbing all my computer stuff and tossing it in with my clothes. We drive away to a plane that I get on alone which flies while I read a book. We land in the mountains.
A car, without a driver, drives me to a big mountain house with a giant construction ditch in front of it. My parents are there and say hello. I run inside, dump my bag, and race around in my underwear for no apparent reason.
People start showing up.
I can’t find my phone or my computer, but I know I have a conference call starting to finalize the shutdown of a company. I race outside and start screaming, “Where is my phone?” My cousin Jon is there and we run around the construction ditch. There are lots of dead, old mobile phones around the edge, but none are mine. I find one that looks like mine, feel relieved, and then realize it’s not mine. I’m screaming at my parents about my phone, my computer, and they are just staring at me. I run in the house to try to find a computer to log in to Google and figure out the dial-in number. All of the computers in the house are too old to use a web browser. I run around some more but can’t find my phone or computer and start smashing keyboards randomly.
Agitated, I walk into a big room full of people. They are just sitting down to get ready to listen to me about something, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to talk about. I go to the refrigerator and try to open it, but the door sticks. Eventually, I get it open and get a yogurt. Everyone is staring at me, waiting for me. I’m still in my underwear.
I go to the front of the room, sit down, and start describing how in 1992, a small group of us got together in Burlington, Vermont and came up with the idea of the Montana future, where no one would want to live in big cities anymore so everyone would migrate to the west, set themselves up on big pieces of land, and work from their houses. We called this event a Chautauqua and my business partner at the time (Dave) came up with the idea for “The Wall” which was a video wall of TVs that you interacted with.
Lots of bugs started racing around the floor. They were exotic with lots of colors, different body shapes, and multiple segments. Everyone ignored them as I became increasingly agitated by them. I finally said, “It’s time for dinner” and everyone got up and went to another room.
I run out of the room and started squashing the bugs. I got to a bathroom where the water in the sink is running and try to turn it off, but can’t quite get the tolerances right. My parents were in the next room, so I went in there to look for my computer some more. There was a giant scorpion-like color bug on my bag and I asked my dad to get rid of it. He grabbed a tennis racquet and started swinging at it, bouncing it off the wall and then smashing it into pieces on the ground.
My computer and phone were on the top of my back. I had ten notifications in the Messages app with requests to join the phone call that I had missed.
I wake up.
I wonder why we ended up in Colorado even though the Montana future seems deeply imprinted on my brain …
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.“
This is a confusing time of year for me. Hanna Ingber described it well this morning in her article My Jewish Sons Have a Christmas Tree, and I Need to Deal.
Fortunately, I don’t have children, my wife isn’t divorcing me, and she’s remarkably mellow about my Christmas confusion. But, when I read through Hanna’s article, I kept nodding my head up and down.
When I take a vacation, I generally go off the grid completely. But the last two weeks of the year never feel like a vacation to me. Many people in my world check out, go on vacation, and stop working. The pace of everything radically changes.
That’s ok. I spend my time writing, catching up on stuff that’s been lingering for a while, and read a lot.
But my disorientation really amplifies when I venture outside the safe confines of my house. Amy and I went to dinner Sunday at our favorite local Chinese place and faced an onslaught of Christmas music. She commented on the paper cutout snowflakes hanging on the windows. Pride lights were everywhere which made me smile until it occurred to me that they were probably simply Christmas lights.
“Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the blogosphere
Not a VC was writing, not even an associate.
VC Twitter showed exotic holiday trips and Medium was vigilant,
In hopes that the partners soon would be back.“
We decided to be completely American-counterculture this year and take our vacation in the middle of January when everyone is back in the madness of the new year. We’ll be celebrating the run-up to Chinese New Year.
Until then, I’m substituting Hildegard of Bingen and Sigur Ros for Christmas music.
Simply begin again.
I turned 54 today. I’ve always marked the start of a new year on my birthday rather than January 1st. As part of my birthday tradition, I write myself a letter about my upcoming year. I started posting these publicly when I was 51 and they serve as a nice reminder of where I was at v52 (focusing on what I want to do ) and v53 (exploring what I want to be).
I established a daily meditation practice during v53 after many years of fake meditation and several years of reactional meditation. I used to believe that my running was equivalent to meditation, which I’ve since discovered was completely incorrect. During v48, I learned how to meditate, but ended up only doing it when I was stressed, anxious, or depressed. After 192 days in a row in v53, meditation is now a real daily practice, first thing in the morning, every morning.
For v54, I’ve decided to have no goals. Sure, I’ll do a lot of things. I expect that I’ll accomplish plenty and fail at some while declaring victory on others. However, I’m not going to focus on outcomes.
Instead, I’m embracing the moment. Every moment. Simply being in the moment. Being present with whomever I’m with or whatever I’m doing. But that’s not a goal. I know I’ll drift – regularly – just like my mind does when I meditate.
And that’s fine because I’ve learned that when my mind drifts during meditation, I acknowledge it and simply begin again by bringing my focus back to the breath.
As I embark on my mid-50s, my mantra is Simply Begin Again.
Amy and I have been watching The Handmade’s Tale. Simultaneously, I’ve been listening to the book on Audible while running. Last night I said, “The Hulu adaptation of the book is really good.” And then we both grimaced, as we’ve each commented many times over the past week about how incredibly bleak the show is.
A different dystopia is coming to our TVs soon.
As we roll into the end of 2019, almost all of the new near term sci-fi I’m encountering (reading and watching) is dystopic. And many of the people around me have pessimistic views of the future.
Amy and I are fundamentally optimistic people. But I wonder whether it is easier to be optimistic if you’ve had a lot of good fortune.
My year begins again on December 1st (my birthday) rather than January 1st. I’ve been in my head a lot the past few weeks as I finish out my year. My v53 was complicated and had a lot of ups and downs. I have been re-evaluating some of my premises, based on the poem Old Maps No Longer Work by Joyce Rupp that Jerry Colonna pointed me to earlier this year.
I’m rebooting as v54 in a few days. With new, and hopefully improved, software.