Category: Unfinished Thoughts Page 1 of 6

These were some posts I wrote at gohlkus.wordpress.com and then imported over here, just for the heck of it.

The Big Move: We made it!

While Dawn and I were preparing for our move and in the process of moving, I recorded my observations in my private notes and in text updates to our loved ones. Though I did not post them to this site contemporaneously, I had intended to collect, edit, and post them here; here is one in the series.

Sunday, April 19, 2020, 6:25 pm

After almost a day here, I think the new apartment is pretty good! It’s bigger than our old place and has great amenities, including a washer and dryer in the unit, a dishwasher, two bathrooms, a balcony, and a heated indoor parking spot. It also has good light most of the day and lots of stores and restaurants nearby (even more than when I lived here 20+ years ago).

Unfortunately, as one might predict would happen in a college town while living relatively near campus, some of our drunken neighbors made insane amounts of noise last night until 4 am. [Ed. note: luckily, this has not been a constant thing, and the noise has been more tolerable than we expected based on night 1.]

Today we picked up brunch and dinner from a coffee shop a few blocks away. It was a neat feeling to walk past the Capitol to get there.

Still exhausted from the drive, but we’re going to slowly get situated. The cats are getting acclimated. They’re glad we didn’t get in the van today! The movers will get here with our stuff between the 22nd and the 24th, and my first day “at” my job is April 22nd.

Monday, April 20, 2020, 6:11 pm

Did a big and successful outing today for:

  • an epic amount of supplies;
  • a cable modem and cable box, critical for working from home;
  • and my work laptop, monitor, mouse, and keyboard. (Kudos to the folks at DoIT for getting my stuff set up quickly!)

My initial impression of the people of Madison in relation to COVID-19 is that many of them will likely get very sick at some point. Masks are few and far between and social distancing is rare. We want to be at home as much as possible at this point, so it’s good we like the apartment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020, 1:24 pm

The movers left an hour ago, and I had my first meeting with my boss today. Aside from the intense amounts of unpacking and reorganizing we have to do, I can now say this: We have successfully moved.

The Big Move: York to Madison

While Dawn and I were preparing for our move and in the process of moving, I recorded my observations in my private notes and in text updates to our loved ones. Though I did not post them to this site contemporaneously, I had intended to collect, edit, and post them here; here is one in the series.

Saturday, April 18, 2020, 11:26 am

We are now in Iowa—just one state away from our new life!

Saturday, April 18, 2020, 11:11 pm

We are in our new place! Got here a little before 8 pm. Our rental minivan is in our new underground parking spot.

We knew that our stuff was highly unlikely to get here before we did. So that we would have something to sleep on the first few nights, Dawn, brilliantly, ordered an air mattress to be delivered here before we got here. So, right now, Marley is on the air mattress with us and Boris is hiding under a blanket at the end of the bed. We are exhausted but happy.

April 18 driving stats:

  • 9:26 am to 7:40 pm (10 hours, 14 minutes)
  • 449 mi
  • 7:20 driving; 2:56 breaks

The Big Move: Rawlins to York

While Dawn and I were preparing for our move and in the process of moving, I recorded my observations in my private notes and in text updates to our loved ones. Though I did not post them to this site contemporaneously, I had intended to collect, edit, and post them here; here is one in the series.

Friday, April 17, 2020, 3:05 pm

We just crossed into Nebraska. Wyoming was varied but in terms of people’s use of masks, it was generally a shitshow. We are of course always wearing masks outside the car. I also use rubber gloves every time I gas up, and we mercilessly sanitize our hands until they bleed and frequently wipe surfaces down in the car with Lysol wipes.

We also had a couple hours of traversing blowing snow in Wyoming. When I say “blowing snow,” it doesn’t at all capture the image of waves of snow blowing horizontally across the wide, flat land and accumulating surprisingly quickly on the highway.

Saturday, April 18, 2020, 12:11 am

I was just wondering, “When is the next time I’m going to stay in a hotel after tonight?” Who knows?

Anyway, 1564 miles down, 529 miles to go. Today (Friday) was the best day yet. Aside from the aforementioned (very treacherous) blowing snow the first couple hours in Wyoming (40 mph gusts of the finest, driest snow that was also melted to slush on the traffic lanes), it was a fun and relatively easy drive. We’ve been in York, NE since 9:20 pm central time. We will get up early and make it to Madison by dinner tomorrow!

April 17 driving stats:

  • 9:50 am to 8:20 pm (10 hours, 30 minutes)
  • 546 mi
  • 7:33 driving; 2:57 breaks

The Big Move: Wendover to Rawlins

While Dawn and I were preparing for our move and in the process of moving, I recorded my observations in my private notes and in text updates to our loved ones. Though I did not post them to this site contemporaneously, I had intended to collect, edit, and post them here; here is one in the series.

Thursday, April 16, 2020, 10:15 pm

All right—we are now all checked in and settled in in Rawlins, WY. The third day of driving was even better than the second day. Utah and Wyoming are beautiful. We really enjoyed the drive today.

We picked a well-reviewed hotel (Hampton Inn) to get to before sunset, which we did successfully. (It’s 16 degrees F now, with a forecast low of 8.)

Honestly, with our masks and incessant use of Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer (and washing our hands), it hasn’t felt any more risky than being in SF and going to the store. Happy to be here with plenty of time to rest so that we can get going even earlier tomorrow, allowing us to have a Plan A and a Plan B.

April 16 driving stats:

  • 11:31 am to 6:51 pm (7 hours, 20 minutes)
  • 410 mi
  • 6:04 driving; 1:16 breaks

April 16 drive

The Big Move: Reno to Wendover

While Dawn and I were preparing for our move and in the process of moving, I recorded my observations in my private notes and in text updates to our loved ones. Though I did not post them to this site contemporaneously, I had intended to collect, edit, and post them here; here is one in the series.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 2:25 pm

Given how jangled and totally exhausted we are, we decided it was important to pace ourselves slowly today. We checked out as late as we could—right at checkout time, thanks to how much Boris liked the hole in the box spring he’d found. After checking out, we spent a couple hours reorganizing, getting supplies, and trying to calm our nerves.

We are just getting back on the road. Tonight we will probably only go as far as Wendover, Utah—just over the Nevada border—then more rest.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 3:44 pm

Gassing up in Sparks now. Thursday should be a little better. We realized we haven’t taken a day off in a long, long time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 5:28 pm

We are in the middle of Nevada now (Rye Patch) at a gas station. Our destination is the Best Western Plus in Wendover, where we have a reservation we made today.

What I realized today is this: We have to take it slower than I’d initially hoped, in part because we got out later than expected (which is to be expected) but mostly because we’re exhausted from the move. (This seems to be a theme.) That puts us in Wisconsin Saturday rather than Friday, but it was probably always unrealistic to imagine I could drive 2100 miles in four days after months of

  • looking for a job while working full-time in a very stressful workplace;
  • packing up our place (while living in it);
  • securing movers and a lease while essentially locked down;
  • and the final push, packing the stuff we were still using, getting the place ready for the movers, supervising the move, and cleaning the old place probably more thoroughly than we needed to (but less thoroughly than I’d have preferred).

Thursday, April 16, 2020, 2:00 am

Had a better day today (Wednesday) than yesterday. The views in Nevada were beautiful. We are all getting along well—the cats are surprisingly adaptable.

Between 1:30 pm and 9:30 pm, we got 400 miles in. We settled in at the Best Western Plus in Wendover tonight and it is actually a real hotel, which is nice. Both hotels, at least, had decent front desk COVID precautions. I still have to figure out my mileage capability for the next few days, but I think I can drive more tomorrow than today. It’s all about figuring out how far I can get by sunset (and getting out earlier), since day driving is so much easier.

April 15 driving stats:

  • 1:24 pm to 9:26 pm (8 hours, 2 minutes)
  • 399 mi
  • 5:56 driving; 2:06 breaks

April 15 drive

The Big Move: It begins

While Dawn and I were preparing for our move and in the process of moving, I recorded my observations in my private notes and in text updates to our loved ones. Though I did not post them to this site contemporaneously, I had intended to collect, edit, and post them here; here is one in the series.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020, 2:20 am

Today (Monday) went as well as could be expected—all our stuff is on its way to Madison. The moving crew was fast and professional. We are doing our last cleanup tasks and getting on the road sometime tomorrow. Because I need rest—I pulled an all-nighter Sunday going into Monday, and am very sore from all the packing—I’ve decided to not rush out of here as early as possible. Also, since a three-day trip is unlikely, I will pace myself for four (knowing I can do a couple long days then a short day on Friday [it actually took five days]).

Tuesday, April 14, 2020, 2:21 pm

Just going to get the car now—just finished with the apartment.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 3:31 am

Today, Tuesday, we made it 223 miles between 8 pm and about 12:30 am. We got a late start after packing the car and cleaning the apartment, but (possibly foolishly) we pushed ahead to Reno anyway. Once we got past Sacramento, basically nothing was open thanks to the pandemic (including gas stations and gas station bathrooms), which meant we had to keep going.

The road conditions as we crossed the Sierra Nevada were not great: dark, cold, and a little slippery. I had planned to make it farther on the first day, so my initial research into pet-friendly places to stay was sketchy when it came to Reno. We settled on a La Quinta. I will just say this about this motel: we used a lot of Lysol wipes.

Super exhausted! We will have a good day of driving during the DAY tomorrow (Wednesday).

April 14 driving stats:

  • 7:50 pm to 12:39 am (4 hours, 49 minutes)
  • 218 mi
  • 3:58 driving; 0:51 breaks

April 14 drive

I finished The Leftovers

I first encountered The Leftovers while watching other HBO shows, both live and on demand. The network added spoiler-riffic promos for its second season at the beginning of every show for months. Despite my admittedly irrational irritation with knowing more about how Season 1 must have ended than I would like (which is anywhere north of zero), I was still intrigued, and I watched the whole show from the beginning.

I was able to binge season 1 and most of season 2. Season 1 was certainly fascinating if a bit uneven. Still, I was hooked on the acting, the characters, the science fiction scenario, and (after reading the book and finding Season 1 to be very faithful to it) I was excited for what Damon Lindelof would do with it going forward. I was a fan of ABC’s LOST and, though I found its final season conceptually disappointing, I still regard LOST as one of the best network TV shows ever.

Flash forward nearly a decade to The Leftovers. Season 1 was very faithful to the book, which was both good and bad. The story was definitely better as a TV show than as a novel. The fact that Season 1 ended where the novel did, however, created the possibility that the show would become a collaboration between Perrota, Lindelof, Mimi Leder (whom Lindelof cited as key to the show), and other writers and directors, designed specifically for TV. Seasons 2 and 3 were absolutely brilliant and I applaud the show’s creators for finding imaginative ways to work together to transcend the source material. I can only imagine the process of coming up with what to keep and what to get rid of—and how do you get to the point where someone says, “what if we moved it to a small town in Texas and leave most of the rest of the characters behind?”

This show was a huge opportunity for Lindelof to do what he does, with the latitude afforded by being on HBO, and wrap it up in a more satisfying fashion. (“We have to go back” indeed.) As far as I can tell, The Leftovers was free of the baggage that LOST carried as a pop culture phenomenon with superlatives and high pressure expectations attached. That and the fact that this really was a whole new thing (despite the obvious echoes of LOST’s themes and mysteries and manner of storytelling) I think freed them up to make something great.

[Perhaps redundant spoiler alert.] Like LOST, The Leftovers suggests to me an obvious spinoff from an obscure plot point. It would feature J-Lo and Shaq, and it would co-star Gary Busey and Bronson Pinchot. These celebrities, who disappeared in the original show, would of course play themselves in an otherwise fictional and sparsely populated world. This would in no way rival, however, what ABC should have spun off from the “Jack’s death” half of LOST’s sixth season. Sawyer and Miles, as played by Josh Holloway and Ken Leung, were a hilarious unlikely duo reimagined as detectives. This buddy cop show would have been top notch.

[This is the third installment in my ongoing series “Previously Unfinished Thoughts: long-abandoned draft blog posts edited and posted years later.” I wrote it in June 2017 and finished it in January 2021.]

Really healthy and really overdue

Tonight (or, more accurately, very early this morning), I finally finished and posted the piece I started writing in January, which may appear below this one. A post every two months is pretty prolific for me these days, but I was particularly inspired today.

I am getting better and better at this “looking for a job” thing, which is increasingly becoming a “who am I and who do I want to become” thing, which feels really healthy and really overdue. Just like with anything else, the more I try to express who I am, the more I begin to understand myself. Until now, I have given myself scant permission to attempt to direct the course of my life as much as is possible (which I acknowledged earlier is seldom much and maybe less than we’d all like to think). I have always found it easy enough to define myself by the things that I do, or that I know how to do, or have done. Accomplishments and skills are easy for me. It’s a little harder for me to get up the courage on a regular basis to actually reveal what is important to me. Instead, I have allowed the things I’ve done — and for whom I’ve done them — to speak for themselves. The result is that, more frequently than I like, I have allowed myself to be defined by the goals and the mission statements crafted by others. It’s not that I’m not imaginative; it’s not that I’m lazy; it is not even that I haven’t sufficiently apprehended the importance of showing my values, dreams, and goals to the world. It is simply that I have been doing other things. (Also, frankly, I have been afraid of myself and my own personal power and the fact that maybe I could actually accomplish some of the things I want to, if I just put myself in position to do them.)

Having no job at all for a longer period than ever before as an adult — and we’re talking barely more than a month, to be clear — has been a gift so far, as I had hoped but not necessarily expected. It has helped me shed some of the ways others have defined me and allowed me to start defining myself so much more clearly. It’s also helped me start to prioritize what will really get me where I want to go. It’s cleared away the barriers to truly thinking about what I want out of life, what I want to accomplish, and which path I want to follow.

Soon I will articulate a few of these things, some of which I spent a lot of time thinking, talking, and writing about today, but not just this moment.

2016 is gone; 2017 is here

Like any other year, 2016 came and went. It didn’t linger beyond December 31st, thankfully. I was worried that it would, apparently, given the fact that I burst into tears while kissing Dawn at 12:00:02 am on January 1st.

Previously on gohlkusmaximus.com: 2011 was amazing. I met Dawn and we fell in love (basically instantaneously, but almost certainly before the octopus and the salmon landed on the table). In 2012 we moved in together, got engaged, and started planning our wedding. In 2013, we made our amazing wedding in Oakland and honeymoon in Kauai happen. 2014 was harder: Some family issues held over from the prior year, and Dawn and I each lost a co-worker, unexpectedly, to metastatic cancer and a heart attack (respectively). I had some nice work accomplishments, though. 2015 brought family illness and much related travel, work issues for Dawn (such as an office fly infestation) and for me (an entire department got laid off, including my best friend at work)—but also Dawn’s and my first cruise, to Alaska.

2016? Complicated. Family illness begat a death in the family and more travel. I got laid off in July, but I got a very enriching temporary gig from August through the election and beyond. The election campaign culminated in the most frightening presidential result in our lifetimes to date. Dawn realistically feared a Trump win early on, while my liberal optimism allowed me to be in less exhausting denial until Election Day. But we took two cruises that were mostly great (along the California coast, and to Hawaii). And at the end of the year we had a fun visit from family about which we had no ambivalence, refreshingly. Also, Dawn got new responsibilities at work that she sought (and the flies in her office were eradicated).

2017? Beyond the rightfully dreaded ascendance of Trump, I don’t know what it will bring. Personally, my part-time gig with The Next Generation in Oakland will end and result in a couple more nice portfolio pieces. I’ll find a new full-time occupation unless something goes dreadfully wrong. Our cats like me being home more often, for sure, though I have taken to working at the library to maximize my productivity.

The changing of the calendar provokes contemplation of the future but also the past. It is the marking of time that makes the passage of time most obvious. The more years we have, the better we have to be at subtraction.

There is a particular horror-inducing vision of the uncertainty of the future, and maybe more specifically death, that has been resident in my mind as long as I can remember. I will describe it to you now, though you might find it disturbing. It is merely an all-encompassing expanse of nothingness, devoid of all light, sound, and contact with others, in which I, being fully aware and conscious but not necessarily corporeal, am receding farther and farther away from everything else, everyone and everything I have ever known and loved.

I don’t think that’s an actual future I will experience. I hope not. I’ve generally always been able to repress that image and focus on reality and the present and doing my best. But life is finite and I have no clue what comes after it. Strangely enough, this very moment is finite, and what comes after it is quite frequently the next moment. I don’t really know everything about the moment I am currently in, much like any given moment in the past, or in the future. So it doesn’t really pay to be afraid of any of it, because I’m only going to know what I’m going to know, experience what I’m going to experience, control what I can control, which ain’t much and probably is less than I think.

This blog entry seems to be about overcoming fears: of the future and of the past, of failure and of success, of life and of death. Fears I have successfully conquered were my fear of falling in love with someone who would love me back, and relatedly my fear of being truly emotionally vulnerable (that is, admitting my human foibles to myself and others). I did this in part by working to understand (and/or convince myself) that it would be worth it. But I also did it by just jumping in and trying, and after surprisingly few hilarious and confusing failures, I found someone who was so right for me. So I guess those could inform how I approach my new life, the one that starts right this moment, the one that I have had all along, the one that I will have as long as it will have me.

The Dismemberment Plan play a concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco December 10, 2013

I’m no longer that kind of concertgoer

Or “What is it about concerts? (Part II)”

(Previously, on Gohlkus Maximus.)

When I came up with the idea for writing this blog post, I never dreamed it would take nearly a decade to whip into shape. I also didn’t think I would go nuts at the Fillmore one spring Wednesday in 2008.

I don’t even slightly recall the incident (because why not block it out?), but here’s what I wrote back then: “There I was, minding my own business, rocking out to Death Cab for Cutie, at least 20 minutes into the show. The sound was amazing, I was pretty much able to see the band, and I knew every word to every song except for the new ones. Then some guy, a scant foot taller than me at about 6’4″, shoved past me and stopped right in front of me. I said something to him. He responded noncommittally. And then, I raged.”

That was where I left off in my description. I have no recollection of that incident, nor much else of that night, other than buying the T-shirt I still have. I’m guessing I blocked it out, as I did with much of that difficult time period. (My friend Chris almost certainly remembers, because he was there for that and other delightful interactions I’ve had with strangers. However, for some reason, I lack enthusiasm for hearing another “potentially dangerous things that depressed Jason did” story, and thus have not asked him about it in the five weeks since I rediscovered this draft blog entry.)

I do, however, remember the original idea pretty clearly.

Basically I had conceived of two or three main categories of concertgoers. If you’ve ever been to a concert, you probably can guess what I’m talking about.

You’ve got the enthusiastic early birds who line up before the doors open and camp out immediately in the closest possible spot to the stage (where you can see the musicians much better than you can hear them). One thing to note about standing somewhere for several hours, with the same people around you who got there essentially the same way you did, is that you feel a little comfortable. You may even feel a little entitled. Anyway, there is enough variation within this population that they form a few rows.

Those people who are evidently a bit less driven to absolutely maximize their visual enjoyment of a mostly auditory event (which is fine), well, they file in slowly (usually while the opening band is playing, which is also fine) to sort of loosely fill up the floor. They find a spot, drink their beverages, perhaps create occasional tendrils of smoke, and enjoy the show. Let it not go unsaid: They are cool. They are all right. They may be the ones to aspire to be.

And then. Then there is the other group of people who used to drive me crazy (though it’s fine if you want to argue that I was already crazy). Whenever these big jerks actually arrive at the venue, they use this gambit about two to four songs into the headliner’s set, when people have let down their guard and are focused on the show. (I have always assumed that these people arrive late, but now it occurs to me they may even be more diabolical than I’d suspected.) Perhaps they have never in their lives shown up to a concert early, and maybe they were taught early in life that it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and thus they assume everyone got their spot the way they do it. This is what they do: They push and shove their way to the front, physically displacing likely dozens of people on their way to those first few key rows, thus placing them directly in front of one or more of those people who had staked out a spot for, generally, hours.

To a certain very sensitive kind of person, that kind of behavior is very, very upsetting.

Naturally, I was curious tonight if anyone else had taken on this topic in the years since I came up with it, so I searched and found a few pages that (rather superficially, in my opinion) discuss “types of concertgoers” (and by “discuss” I mean make a list with at most a sentence or two per bullet). A couple of them lightly acknowledge and dismiss the kind of jerk I’m talking about here. (“I mean I only stood here for two hours to be in the front, but you, you definitely can go in front of me.”) Yet none of them really focus on what I used to allow to stoke my rage.

That’s the thing: As long as we have people, and concerts, there will always be assholes who push their way to the front of concerts. Most people, when faced with that situation, shrug and say, “glad they’re not in front of me,” or “it’s not worth getting mad.” But I have always had a strong tendency to want to right perceived injustices. (Especially when I’m the one who’s been wronged, admittedly.)

Even if I liked to imagine one in those old, naïve, idealistic days, there is nowhere near a sufficient enough sense of community among the people near the front of the show (especially after the lights go down) for it to matter too much to them when an aggressive jerk, usually tall, rarely female, shoves in front of someone else. It’s too temporary an arrangement to get involved with someone else’s problem. The initial aggressive behavior goes unpunished, and it’s the response in kind that ends up getting negative attention. Probably understandably. People came there to see a show, not to right a wrong (even if it happens to be getting in the way of someone else enjoying a show), and definitely not to see a lunatic yell at someone. (“Chill.” “Don’t trip.” Definitely good west coast advice.)

But in this situation and in general, the main reason not to allow anger to flame up into a full, active rage is that it simply does not pay. It is nowhere near worth it. It’s bad for your health in so many different ways (detailed elsewhere). It might also result in a fight (and I know I have friends who can’t believe I never got into one, because I can see how for a while it seemed like I was looking for one). I’m not saying I was always like that. But I was like that far more than was healthy for a relatively brief period of time.

The kind of concertgoer I have become is a different kind of enthusiastic early bird. Now I get there early enough to get a seat on the balcony (assuming the venue is large enough to have one) or a comfortable standing or sitting position in the rear of the room. Ideally, say at the Fillmore, if you get a balcony seat directly above the stage, you’re golden. If you’re in the back, sure, the performers are too far away to see, but the sound tends to be good, you can move around enough to see okay [and even so there will be a million photos of the show online afterwards], and (most importantly) no one will step directly in front of you enough to enrage you.

This all matters because my now most frequent fellow concertgoer is my wife. She has communicated quite clearly that she is in this for the long run — as long a run as possible. That matters to me. Like her, I want us both to be happy and healthy as long as possible. That matters enough for me to really have examined, and changed, my behavior.

We still like going to shows. We’re just the people who sit in the balcony or the back. And I am having more fun than ever.

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