The Future’s Past is Present

I deliver fridges during the day and, unlike Batman, I need to sleep at night. This poses a challenge for my capacity for creative expression, especially when my body is still reminding me that I’m no longer in the developmental stage where I’m exploring my body and discovering my blossoming manhood.

Nevertheless, my Stingy Beebee and I discuss matters of utmost-ish importance, and for the sake of keeping the creative blade sharpened upon the stone of predominantly failed writing experiments, I will divulge one of these profound realities we’ve discovered.

If success porn quotes are any indicator, we should all live in the present. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, your purpose starts today, and so on. However, as people who remember things and (hopefully) think ahead, we are incapable of living exclusively in the present.

Our attention is split between our past experiences that keep us from actions with negative consequences (like licking leeches), the present things we can do (like buying leeches), and our long-term plans (like marrying a leech). Therefore, we are constantly playing with our sense of time inside our heads.

This interplay of time periods is most effectively demonstrated by a narrative built around the words “past”, “present”, and “future”, as demonstrated by the average mindset:

The PAST scares me and makes me want to define my PRESENT to avoid it in the FUTURE.

Dysfunctional folks tend to gravitate toward a more robust emphasis of the past:

I’m terrified of the FUTURE looking like my PAST, so I ignore the PRESENT.

Another dysfunctional mentality my past self is familiar with completely ignores the present:

I want a better FUTURE, so I’ll use my PAST to define it instead of focusing on my PRESENT.

My Clumpy Pookums had a pretty ugly emphasis on the present for a while:

The FUTURE is completely unpredictable, so I will ignore my PAST and focus solely on the PRESENT.

Finally, here’s an example of an effective and productive model:

My FUTURE is undecided and defined by my PRESENT, and the PAST will give me boundaries about the best way to attain it.

Anyway, thought rumination consideration discussion over.

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Home Got The Range

Any frequent readers of this blog will know that we’ve recently uprooted all of our possessions and driven out to Corn Country Iowa. Living in De Moin, CCI has been a challenge for our family as we’ve been learning the local language and customs.

If you ever want to move to another state, get prepared for sticker shock on everything. With the exception of big box stores like Walmart, Target, and Wicks & Sticks, everything in I-owe-uh costs only an arm and they let you keep the leg.

Don’t get me wrong, these people are still Americans. I have picked up a fancy-sounding job as a Whirlpool Dedicated Authorized Delivery Specialist with some very sophisticated roles:

  1. Drive a truck in a state with a combined population of 3.1 million
  2. Open a truck’s back door and sometimes lower a ramp
  3. Unload stuff and sometimes load stuff into the butt end of the truck
  4. Sometimes hook up water lines and plug in power plugs
  5. Close the door and drive that truck somewhere else

I do kid. The job is a little more complex than that, for several reasons:

1. Truck driving is still challenging

Even though there are more grains of corn than people in this state, some people fail to understand what turn signals do. Dumb drivers are in every state, and the absence of construction or traffic jams comes at the expense of boredom-induced distracted driving.

However, the most significant traffic obstruction here is tractors, especially during sowing and harvest season. Those guys don’t understand that other people have to be somewhere yesterday and drive as if they were on a rural road.

2. Hauling stuff is heavy

Your average side-loading washing machine weighs 500 pounds because someone thought putting concrete into the housing would make it more sturdy. Your average dishwasher weighs about 100 pounds and often stacks three-high in a trailer.

My point is that hauling appliances out of the trailer, especially on a rickety aluminum ramp, is a daunting workout. In fact, I’m such a pansy girly-man macho awesome ex-flatbedder that I had to call off work early today because my left arm loudly disagreed with my brain and filed a complaint with my nervous system.

3. Home deliveries are stupid

Since the paying suckers customers are paying $3,000 for a fridge that depreciated in value 35% below their indebtedness as soon as their ferret sneezed on it, home delivery folks are anally particular about any scratches and dings that could come from a stray gust of wind.

Not all home delivery stops have folks look at you like some sort of (gasp!) blue-collar worker, but it’s still painful seeing their diminution of power to obtain some sort of perception of identity from a vastly overpriced combination of water lines, electric motor, agitator, and compressor-refrigerant system.

Anyway, whatever. I’m getting paid and the child and wife can afford to not die.

Changing Seasons

One week ago, my Pushy Pullers and Cantaloupe drove their way across flyover country to arrive in the land of the silent “S”. They rolled into the Des Moines area with my parents’ assistance the Monday before the nation celebrated its freedom with controlled explosions in small containers.

I rolled in that evening as well. I had placed my two weeks’ notice with Melton, and though they carried out the most professional form of begging possible for a mid-sized company I had to decline. Some things are more important than a lucrative job.

OTR is a challenging lifestyle and can only be tolerable when you are either able to bring your whole family along with you or you’re single and ready to not mingle.

However, I’ve now moved on from that life and am back to being a father. Our Pineapple is growing more sentient each day, and it’s starting to develop a sense that things beyond itself exist in this world. If I don’t watch it pretty soon it’ll procreate, and the cycle will begin anew.

I’m transitioning to a role at JB Hunt hauling new appliances to homes and retailers. It’s a rewarding job of heavy lifting and allows me to have a home again while paying bills and not dying of money deficiency.

In some ways, it feels like I’m coming home, but I’m still having flashbacks to my OTR life. I keep forgetting that I have more than 20 square feet to work in. I forget to use the bathroom regularly from my expectation of a 5-minute walk. I expect my diet to have a choice of destroying my wallet or my shapely physique. Most alarmingly, I tend to forget the presence of the small two-foot alien that I’m responsible for teaching how to budget and eat alongside my Candy Smooshers.

Nevertheless, I’m out of that trauma and into a new trauma: conforming to a Midwest suburban apartment lifestyle. I’m sure it will be horrifying, but at least we moved in the summer where it’s too hot to think and the humidity makes the heat more fun.

The Write Idea

The Write Idea

Creativity is like a muscle. First, you work it out. Then, you give it time to rest. After that, you let it atrophy back into mush. Then, you keep telling yourself that you’ll get on it. Following that, you buy a creativity pedometer and creative exercise equipment. Then, you have a credit card payment. I forgot where I was going with this.

Ah, yes, creativity muscley. To create is to develop ourselves, and to consume is to add raw ingredients. When you expend energy, you are burning your Slim Fast/Jim with a measurable amount of calories. Those calories enable you to work to the capacity that your muscles let you.

In the same way, creation is our mental calories burned from the psychological food we digest. In the same way that sitting on your butt burns ~2,000 calories a day, going about daily life burns mental energy. We’ll say it’s ~1,500 brainfarts, though less for most college graduates.

Unfortunately, like food diets, we must watch our mental intake. I’d have a hard time digging a hole fueled by Ho-Ho’s and Pop Tarts. If I watch nothing but the Dukes of Hazzard and King of the Hill, it will be hard for me to create a compelling science fiction novel unless it involves space rednecks.

Lately, I’ve been slacking off on a proper mental diet, but it’s hard to find anyone to hold me accountable. The internet is a dump truck of mental food, and meaningful discourse is hard to find among the droves of philosophically bankrupt consumer-gluttons. The ones who do want to discuss more often than not prefer to worship a 3-pound blob of gray tissue they’ve never seen but are convinced is better than yours.

In the meantime, I’m working through my 100,000 Tips, trying to update it to something grammatically correct and formatted according to standards a semi-literate monkey could tolerate.

Thankfully, my Woozy Drunkers is driving out of California in about a week and a half. I’d join her, but driving a small building across the country keeps me a bit indisposed to accompany her on her trip, though my parents have decided to come along. Once we get to Iowa, I’m sure we’ll find a meaningful crowd of folks that we can connect with in a meaningful way.

Des Moines is known for its philosophers, right?

Tattered Visions

Tattered Visions

Every parent desires their child to be great. Whether it’s in passing the family tradition on or invalidating the family curse, all decently humane fathers and mothers would be satisfied with a successful adult child when they look at the bag of drool and unspoken possibilities sticking their finger in that light socket.

One of the cursed blessings of being a long-haul driver is in the endless opportunities presented to ruminate and ponder pretty much everything. Since nobody told me that thinking is a dangerous hobby, I’ve done gone thinkin’, and it’s messing with my worldview.

Greatness, like repulsiveness, is rarely defined but at first blush seems to be universally agreed-upon. When you dig deeper into the intricacies of being great, it appears to be a mixture of a well-utilized personality and a fully-seized opportunity.

Unfortunately, the abstraction of an idea doesn’t do well to connect it to benefit the ones who are great. I’ve been observing a mystery that confounds me.

Greatness itself may be perceived by others, but nobody who seems to attain it ever really notices their transition into it. Was Einstein a “great man” when he discovered the theory of relativity, or when it was published? Was Henry Ford great when he developed a highly efficient company, or when his brand became a household name? Do presidents and kings become memorable as they do things, or when the consequences form?

The reality is that history has to write greatness, and it will only be written by the others who come after. C.S. Lewis did wonders expressing Christianity in a modern setting, but how many of his colleagues shared his thoughts and weren’t given credit for them?

In fact, how many ideas can we really attribute to Lewis in the first place? Or anyone else for that matter? Ideas have a funny tendency of not coming exclusively from ourselves, and any contribution we could ever make to humanity is merely stacking upon the body of pre-existing knowledge and creation that travels all the way back to Adam and travels all the way forward to the end of the earth.

No, nothing in this world is genuinely new, but it is new to each of us as we encounter it. Our own tragic fate, however, is to hold the messenger of the information in higher regard than the message, a bit like a tribal culture that worships the man who brings knowledge of carpentry and masonry.

When an idea is seen as new, it really isn’t. It is usually beyond the pale to express it, but the most in-depth pursuit of truth should drive us to squint into the distant haze of ancient history, philosophy, and storytelling to discover the most unadulterated version of the modern remix we see today.

If we want to understand ourselves and the world around us, we must see it from new perspectives. Many of those come from beyond where our comfort zone will send us.

With all of this said, this provokes a personal battle that verges on an existential crisis.

Finding room for greatness in the world of ideas and expression requires creating original and unexplored concepts and illustrations. However, with everything I said above it’s literally impossible to find something “new” that others haven’t tread upon. It seems that the more I read and discover, the smaller the box I have to work with to create something that I have no doubt will add to the incessant buzzing noise of the best digital publishing network this world has seen.

You’ll know if I come out of this existential mess. In the meantime, I’m cleaning up my 100,000 Tips and paying my bills with a good-paying mind-numbing job. This might be the logical consequence of the mental breakdown that invariably seems to come from absence from anything that looks like normal human interaction, or it could very well be something I ate.

Copy/Paste: The Remix

Copy/Paste: The Remix

The need to outperform our prior successes is inherent to our existence as humans. Unfortunately, when it comes to publicizing a personal life with the intent to entertain and educate, some seasons can make that difficult to do.

The long-wise and long-dead Solomon, Ex-King of Jewish Folks, once said in his most ecclesiastical work, Ecclesiastes, that all things under the sun are futility. In the mix of all of that optimism, he also stated how there is a time and a place for all things: a season for everything.

Since I feel an unnatural compulsion to inform and educate everyone around me about all the dumbest mistakes I’ve made, this current season’s elements of “nothing much new” dramatically distresses me for no directly logical reason.

I mean, sure my Goober Smokers and Watermelon are moving to Iowa in the next month or two. I’ve started learning to play the banjo, and she’s started to play the guitar. I’m fixing my Philosopher Accountant’s 100,000 Tips to drastically improve grammar, flow, and formatting. I have big-ish plans for everything about my website, writing career, and bill-paying career. Watermelon can now start making noises that almost sound like English. Gummy Cheesers is working through psychological torments that have plagued her from an early age, as well as me learning how to mitigate my own unique brand of psychosis. But is that enough?

Yes. Yes, it is. One of my most significant role models of late, the venerable and witty Mike Rowe, recently showcased a venerablier and slightly less famous fellow by the name of Keith. Keith artfully stated an excellent point: that happiness and satisfaction in a job well done is a greater good than any level of influence or fame or attainment.

It would be better to have a career that rewards with fulfillment than with money. A family filled with love is better than one filled with possessions. Satisfaction is better to attain than prominence.

I could go on with all of those Chicken-Soup-For-The-Soul-isms, but the reality is that the only two days worth living for are today and the day that God will ask what you’ve done with your life.

I guess I forgot about what I knew, which is ironic considering how much I’ve written on the subject, but that’s probably normal for being on this planet. Thankfully, I haven’t fallen off the deep end yet to join the crowd I have termed “Schizophrenics For Christ”. If my punctuation, HTML formatting, or logical cohesion starts to slip, please contact my wife so that she can take away my internet privileges.

Rough Road

Rough Road

If you recall what I had said previously, the lifestyle of OTR driving is somewhere between RV living and living out of your car, except that there are a few added elements to make the lifestyle even more scattered than your average hobo living.

For starters, OTR means the place you’re showering and the place you’re relaxing are nowhere near each other. The showers are inviting, sure, but there’s something cathartic about changing your clothes into extremely casual wear and then sauntering over to your bed. If you do that in OTR, you have no shame, since you’re walking past a driver’s lounge, convenience store, fuel island, and 50 trucks to do so.

Second, say goodbye to the convenience of free space. It’s a step up from living in your car, and you will have enough electricity to run anything you need, but you won’t be able to run everything you need at the same time. Checking up on the latest with your PC is going to have to wait until you’re done brewing your coffee, and that’ll be after you’ve cooked your breakfast and trimmed your nose hairs.

Third, don’t bother with work-life balance. Life comes in the form of using a computer, phone calls, exercise, sleeping, and any other hobbies you can think of that don’t take up too much space. They get smashed in the middle of waiting for shippers, waiting for the shop to fix something, waiting for the 10-hour reset to finish, waiting for a 34-hour to finish, and waiting because you don’t know what you’re waiting for.

Have I mentioned the waiting? Trucking is either rolling down the road or waiting, though flatbedders have the advantage of securing the load, tarping, untarping it, and finally unsecuring it. But it’s mostly waiting. Like right now for me. I’m waiting to get a shower because I am waiting for my truck to get out of the shop while I’m waiting for my 10-hour reset. It’s a bit hard to lose wait when I have so much of it!

On top of that, the community of truckers is made of a few broad groups:

  • 5% noble men of strong character with asphalt mixed into their blood
  • 30% antisocial people that might have too much of an obsession with knives
  • 20% rookies that are still trying to find out which way to turn the steering wheel when driving forward
  • 45% horrible human beings that are mentally incapable of being employees in any other profession

In case you’re wondering, I’m in that “antisocial” crowd.

The whole industry itself is a mess. When the weather, truck breakdowns, traffic, accidents and late shippers screw up the schedule, the truckers are at the bottom of a very tall totem pole that reaches up to the executives.

Most of the industry involves what I call “trickle-down abuse”: the CEO beats the VP’s to an inch of their life, the VP ravages the senior managers’ sense of self-respect, the senior manager calls the supervisor things that can’t be put into print, and then the laborer (trucker/forklifter/etc) is whipped by the supervisor.

Finally, if you have a family that you at least somewhat like, it can be difficult. I’m out on the road for 2-4 weeks at a time, and it can really be a strain on my Flowy Wiggles. It will later affect our Ninyos as well. The secret for a good OTR family is to like your family enough that you want to go home, but they can’t be so awesome that you miss them when you leave.

The job isn’t all bad, though. It pays well, and it’s rewarding. Flatbed work is especially rewarding, and there’s something cathartic about unsecuring the load at the receiver and being able to say “yeah, I just moved 45 tons of steel pipe across the country without it falling all over the place and killing everyone. That was me.”

But, like all other dirty jobs, the big reward for hard work is in yourself. It can’t be earned any other way than doing the thing you don’t feel like doing, but it also can’t be taken away without severe brain damage. Overall, worth the effort.