It has been quite a busy week, both professionally and personally. Sites to work on, drinks and dinner every night, meetings — and nary a moment to blog, or blog well anyway. And yet I am hell bent and determined not to fall into that oh so American trap of never feeling that one has enough time for anything. Our perception of time and pressure is very much self inflicted, I am always amazed at people who act like all this just befell them somehow, that we aren’t responsible, each of us, for structuring our lives (actively or passively) to be so filled with so much…stuff. There is a lot of space available to us if we allow it, but we are mostly a people obsessed with the idea that we are missing out on something, and that is really a shame. The biggest thing we are missing out on is taking notice of the here and now. We are missing out on being present, so wrapped up in the next thing we have to do. I always know I am in this bad head space when I forget something simple, like locking a door or leaving something behind when leaving the house. It means I was already focused on the next thing, and not properly being where I am, with each moment being tended to.
Oh, before I went to India, my experience with Indian food in New York was limited to the bevy of 6th street establishments in the East Village, most of which are frankly not very high quality. Since returning, however, I am delighted to be finding delicious, excellent (and often cheap) Indian delights (or close approximations). After my fabu frankie a few weeks ago, today I finally tried a Kathi roll place that friends of mine have been raving about, and with good reason. I can highly recommend the Kathi Roll Company in the west village. In some ways more authentic than the frankie place (which gets a little inventive with the menu), and super delish. I scarfed down a chicken and lamb roll and took a short trip to heaven.
I had another interesting dream(aren’t they all?) last night. I wish I could remember it more fully, but all I remember is bits and pieces, like accidentally purchasing 30 discounted tickets to a George Michael concert and trying to sell them. Some of the people purchasing them were people I hadn’t seen in many years and didn’t even know well. There was also a life size replica model building of the Starship Enterprise that people were taking tours of. I was directing some retirees up the winding staircases of this building and helping to prep some performance for them by other retirees. And there was also a moment when I was lounging under a table on the grass with four other people. The three on my right were friends (but I am not sure who) and the one to my left was some really handsome guy I was into. One of my friends said something to him, implying he was straight at which point he smirked and kissed me. And then I woke up, alas.
In the White House town hall meeting yesterday, Obama made reference to one of the most popular voted on questions solicited on his website:
“Do you think legalizing marijuana is a good strategy for growing the economy?”
To which he answered with a smirk,
“No, I do not think that legalizing marijuana is a good strategy for growing the economy”
It is sad that there are certain things that are untouchable in politics, even for someone as gifted as Obama. He must know what an abject failure the drug war is, and that treating drug abuse in this country as a criminal justice problem (rather than the public health problem it is) is likewise a costly failure. But there is a belief that there are some issues so radioactive one must never challenge the status quo, no matter how awful the status quo is. These issues exist on both the left and the right of course. They are kept in place by the willful ignorance of the electorate, and steadfast denial of reality (which would be fine if it wasn’t so costly and didn’t result in so much violence and death).
Obama apologists can hopefully and helpfully point out that he didn’t say he was against legalization, he only said he didn’t think it was a good idea for growing the economy. But the fact that he brought it up in the context he did, and passed on one of his teaching moments (remember how great the race speech was?) rather than ignore it completely was designed to appeal to a certain audience (and hint, hint: it wasn’t the legalization crowd).
Overwhelmingly, I have been pleased with the actions Obama has taken thus far in his tenure. And I give him wide berth on a number of things, waiting to see how these will pan out in the coming months. I understand strategically why Obama, with everything else on his plate, was reluctant to go there with anything resembling the cool logic he applies in most other circumstances. But it sure wasn’t pretty to watch.
And so I bid a wistful farewell to SF (after an amazing meal at a place called Laiola last night), and return to my new hometown of New York. San Francisco will always be one of those places to me that feels so comfortable and a lot like home, as much for my long history and friends here as anything else. It always seems right there where I left off, frozen in time somehow even as time does march on.
As I have been getting more work, I have been thinking more about contracts, and whether I need them, and if so how elaborate they need be. For most things, I prefer to work without them, and my individual projects are small enough that it seems to work out. Here is what I know about contracts:
1. They are not self enforcing.
2. They are only as valid as the good faith efforts on the part of all parties to them.
3. If a contract is broken, you had better be prepared to shell out a lot in legal fees and stress or to just let it go.
Noting the above, I have decided for now not to have a contract for any project worth under $10,000. Life is too short and I know from past experience how shitty an experience it is to take someone to court. The person harmed most is yourself. Better to let anything under that amount just go, it isn’t worth the hassle. That isn’t to say that there aren’t scope of work documents and specs to lay out exactly what I will and won’t do for a fee. But outside of those, I prefer to work in a trusting environment and get burned a couple of times rather than to start from the assumption that everyone is out to screw me (in the bad way, that is). There may come a time where I will ask for money upfront or other such things to protect myself. And there may come a time that I will send reams of legalese to a client. But I hope that time doesn’t come soon.
Today was one of those easy breezy San Francisco Sundays, where everything falls into place so naturally. Brunch with Pete and Kevin at 2223 (although the quality has gone downhill alas), followed by some beautiful walking around The Castro, coffee, a nap, and drinks at The Pilsner with friends and my cousin Ben. It turned out that my friend Olaf was in town and invited me to a German dinner at a place called Walzwerk with some friends of his, and in true SF fashion I knew several of them. It was a great meal of catching up and silly conversation. It was just one of those days that makes one want to move back to this place.
It has been a couple of days of working and catching up with friends. I am surprised by how much there is to do actually. No less than three website projects and some tech support work, and I got a call to come for an interview at the Clinton Global Initiative when I get back to NYC. I have spent the past few days in Berkeley, but will head into the city tomorrow to meet up with other friends and take in San Francisco once again (although Keith, Marites, Lisa and I did have a wonderful Mexican lunch today at a place in the city called Nopalito).
As luck would have it, I caught an earlier flight at the airport, getting me into San Francisco 2 hours ahead of schedule. As planned, I called my friend Marites to pick me up from the North Berkeley BART station. The train was fairly crowded and as we moved between the last two stations on the way to my destination, I noticed a somewhat heavyset 50 something guy about three seats over start to breath in a funny way. Then I noticed his eyes were kinda out of it and his breathing was really odd, sort of rhythmically gasping and shaking. I looked around and people saw him, I was sure, but didn’t seem to want to get involved. I dropped my bag and went over to him and asked if he was ok, but he couldn’t hear me, he just kept shaking and gasping and foaming at the mouth a little. I yelled for someone to call 911, then pushed the emergency call button on the train and spoke to a somewhat incredulous conductor, screaming at him that a guy in our car was having a heart attack or something and to call 911. “What are his symptoms?”, the conductor asked, to which I simply screamed back, flustered, “Just call 911, he is dying!”. I was totally freaked out. They stopped the train at the next station, which happened to be my station, and by that time others in the car had gathered around as they held the train and waited for an ambulance. Not seeing what else there was to do, I walked out to meet Marites upstairs where she was waiting. It occurs to me that I have no idea what the proper medical response would be in a situation like this. I hope he is ok.