Thursday, August 2, 2012

What I think about when I'm not thinking about sex

It might just be that time of night, but recently all I can think about is drinking and work.  All the time.  In every situation.  When I'm home in the evening, I think about work.  And then I think about drinking.  When I wake up in the morning, I think about work, then I go there, and think about drinking.  When I'm drinking, normally all I'm thinking about is drinking, and not work, which hopefully means I'm not an alcoholic.

Of course I also do the obligatory modernesque activities and cultivate a couple of interests that define a professional man in his 30's living in the city, such as cooking, exercise, weekend excursions and the obligatory hobby (*ahem*).  But at the end of the day, quite literally, I'm not thinking about that new Point Reyes hike we stumbled upon last week, or what kind of clothes I'd like to buy.  I do think about food, which can actually be quite dangerous if I'm working from home and the cookbook is on the top of our bar.  But as soon as I eat, which is usually right after I finish working, thoughts of food flutter away and I'm left with alcohol, and work.

Tonight I finished my most important work early, which for me means before 7:00 (I think it was 6:59 to be exact).  That meant I was home, fed and entertained by an episode of Mad Men prior to 9:00.  Even assuming I would make it to bed by 11:30 - which is a stretch - that still left me with more than two hours of time to kill.  I could always veg-out with a video-game, but I'm 30 for Peat's sake... surely I could find something more worthwhile to consume my time.  Still, the options seemed limited.

I look at the preceding paragraph and the first thing that pops into my head is how I would feel if my future child were to read that.  I imagine it would be somewhat disheartening to him or her, that dad really had nothing better to think about in the evening than drinking and working.  The ironic thing is that I'm sure, no... dedicated to being the type of father that is engaged in his children's life to the point where they see me as more than the caricature of myself I'm alluding to here.  Hell, even the fact that I have a sense of irony has got to make me somewhat interesting to them, at some point.  The problem is, I'm just not sure what to do with myself until then (which is an extension of not knowing what to do with myself tonight, I suppose).

For a while during law school I had an idea to go to Somalia and learn about Somalian culture and pick up a little of the language and then come back and start a business consulting with shipping companies on how to avoid pirates.  I'm serious.  I called all of my best friends and told them about this idea.  I figured I could get some funding, and get on the first Hargeisa-bound flight to Somaliland that I could find.  Even in hindsight, it was (and probably still is, until word gets out), a fucking brilliant idea.  An American who lived with the pirates, and knows how to avoid them?  I've already been a consultant long enough to know the value that experience brings to the table.

The pirate thing, for the month-plus that it consumed me, was more than just an idea - it was a distraction and a dream rolled into one.  It was similar to how I wanted to open up a petting zoo for little animals when I was a child, and would lay in my bunkbed for hours thinking about all the people who would come to the zoo to hold the hamsters and gerbils and possibly even newts.  I even had the costs accounted for - $100 was what I reckoned it would cost to start the whole thing up.  Probably a bit on the low side, even if it was the 1980's, but the point was is this was something that kept me up at night, and consumed my time.

I'm a perpetual skeptic of those who say that we lose our passion as we grow older.  I don't think we lose our passion for taking bold action as we age, although I don't see myself moving to Somalia anytime soon.  Instead, I think we become more aware of the amount of work that would go into it, and the creature comforts we would sacrifice to pull it off.  Which is why the house-hunt that is currently consuming my life (and my wife's) is not evoking the same level of blind excitement that it would have, say, when I was 20, assuming I had the means at that point.  In other words, it's not that I don't have exciting things to occupy my thoughts; it's that much of what is exciting eventually turns into work.

At this point a lightbulb might have turned on.  "So when you say you're thinking about work, you really mean that you're thinking about how to make things happen!" (this is directed at the three readers who have made it this far into the essay without going off for a drink of their own).  And to you, I respond, no, it's pretty much just about work.  Like for example, I think about whether my boss would let me move to LA, where the houses are cheaper, or I think about whether I've pissed anyone off recently or who makes more money than I do.  And then, predictably, I get tired of this, and start thinking about drinking.

This is the point when, being an adult, I go and grab a beer.  Or a second one, in this case, which is coincidentally probably a good time to wrap things up.  There will be more on all the interesting tidbits I've conveniently dropped during the course of this posting later... such as where I go on my weekend excursions, what kind of father I'm really hoping to be, when I'm planning to assume that role, or how much that petting zoo actually would have cost.  Stay tuned, brave reader, stay tuned.


I realize that one of the aforementioned readers who made it this far into the post might be my mother.  If that's the case, I hope that she understands, and maybe even appreciates that most of the references to drinking and thinking about work are literary hyperbole.  I have a number of leisure interests besides drinking and work, such as travel, abstract wire sculpture,  reading, and engaging in satanic orgies the company of dear friends.  So don't worry, I have plenty of healthy habits to keep me occupied, when I'm not obsessing about my job and longing for that next beer.