Monday, May 25, 2009

Male pattern betting

Nobody likes to lose.

Gather a group of men who have found general success throughout their life, and that desire is increased exponentially. My brother doesn't beat me in ping pong, and I don't lose at Twister.

The addition of money only furthers this concept. I was reminded of my disgusting desire for glory a couple of nights ago when I unemotionally bet that the Cavaliers would beat the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. A $40 bet now dominates my thoughts.

My beloved Hawks have been defeated, so emotionally I could really care less. However tonight, as I watched the Magic vs. Cavaliers game I was completly attached to the Cleveland team. A missed shot hurt my heart and as their chances faded my mood turned negative.

A lighthearted bet with a good friend is now among my top concerns.

Win or lose, I lose. It isn't worth it, but I will continue to make needless, rash, and uneducated bets. I'm a man, that's what we do.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fearing my newfound freedom

I’m not sure if I should tell you what I’m doing right now.

By law I should be enthusiastically seeking employment. Maybe I should be in the gym. There is even a possibility I should be moping around my house feeling sorry for myself.

I’m not sure if I should tell you what I’m doing right now, because if I was at work and was doing what I’m doing right now it would have made me spitefully jealous.

So what am I doing? Aside from nothing, I’m drinking a pitcher of $3.25 beer. I’m watching this girl with a fedora drinking a diet coke at the establishment I’ve ended dozens of drunken nights. I’m typing this nonsense with a half smile on my face.

I’ve been granted an excess of free time. For the first time in my life I don’t know for sure what I’ll be doing tomorrow, next week, next year. And without a concrete decision I’ll continue to do nothing. My singular goal through this process is to avoid falling into something. I want to pursue something – a volunteer position, a job, a business – but I don’t want to happen upon the next thing that can sustain me comfortably.

Undefined amounts of free time are somewhat of a curse. Society, both fairly and unfairly, frowns on idleness. This principle has been ground into my brain. So I’m making lists, driving around town doing research, and begrudgingly checking job boards.

If someone calls I make a point of mentioning no less than three things that I’ve completed that day. If someone asks what I’m doing tomorrow, I’m likely to give them a dozen imperative tasks.

However, all too often I’m doing these things without happiness. I don’t pretend to think that there is a career out there that I will enjoy every day, but there is surely something I will be proud of. Right now I’m hoping that something involves me revolutionizing the Atlanta popsicle scene, but I’m ok with other equally important undertakings for which I’m capable.

Surely there is a future for a hybrid journalist/product manager with a gift for flipping the most perfect omelets.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Unpaid vacation

Let me start by saying my trip to Europe was near perfection.

I shared a bottle of wine with a member of the opposite sex, my feet dangling over the Siene in Paris.
I danced with Spanish girls, with whom I couldn’t communicate, in the most impressive club I’ve experienced in Barcelona.
I experimented with mind-altering substances in Amsterdam.
And I drank pints of unfiltered cask ale with an obnoxious Brit.

But that is only in retrospect. If I consider my objectives before leaving, it was a near-failure on every account. I had several reasons for making the trip, but my reasoning was questionable by most standards.

I was kind of chasing after a girl that I’d met a few years before, and kept up with since. We’d spent time together when she was in the U.S., and video chat flirted when she wasn’t.

She’d tell me I should come to London frequently, but it was the kind of invitation intended to stimulate conversation. The same way phone sex only works if you have plans to meet at some point in the near future. Just we weren’t discussing sex. She’d tell me about the amazing Italian place that she’d just found or a new market she’d discovered, and end each sentence with, “we can go when you visit me.” The constant invitations, and my constant, “Ok, I’m really going to come,” made the distance feel much more conquerable. And while I tend to get prematurely over interested in girls, the concept of going to London to chase her felt romantic.

At the time I was employed at AIG. The deteriorating insurance giant, that owes the government over $100 billion. I sensed that my non-critical analyst job could easily be dropped, and the thought of failing to use my paid vacation hurt my heart. So I planned to use all of it on a single trip, and when I returned I could live without the fear of not having an opportunity to use my paid vacation.

Lastly, I had some extra cash that I felt like throwing around.

I’ll quickly summarize how my trip turned out:
• The girl is now a close friend.
• I got laid off before I could use all of my paid vacation.
• And it turns out that cash wasn’t really, “extra.”