Focus 2018

I have been a member of Facebook since 2007. The service has provided me with connection and reconnection, convenience, information, and at times, a distraction. It’s been over ten years since I joined the club and Facebook has become a behemoth, as has its Messenger and Instagram apps. While I usually limited my consumption during the day, I found myself the last few years spending more time than I care to admit on these three apps in the evening. After the kids went to bed. Or even as I sat in my bed. 2018 arrived and I decided I had better things to do with my time. I could read actual books more, you know, like I used to do. I could sleep more, which is never a bad idea, especially when I rarely hit the recommended daily intake during the week. Or, I could fill my time with other productive activities.

As January comes to an end, I am happy to report that I have spent limited time (almost none) on the apps mentioned above. I have not deleted my accounts, have not given up on smart phones in general, but have greatly reduced my exposure to social media (with the exception of LinkedIn). I still read news and attend to email, but I don’t whittle the minutes away on those sites any more.

And I don’t feel like I have missed anything (although I have missed conversations with one particular person). I have exercised more in January, have read more from actual books, have reorganized my desk and closet, and have even slept a little more this month. I am also still acutely aware of how many issues our country and world face in today’s hectic times – I’m not shutting myself out from the world – but I have controlled the source and filter of my news rather than handing it over to an algorithm.

The key from here on out is to replicate January eleven more times. If I can do this consistently well in addition to my other goals I am focusing on in 2018, I will be ready to call this year a success.

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Origins

We hosted my dad and two of my siblings at our house over the Christmas holiday. Many memories were made over the short time we spent together, but what I may remember most is my dad, not always the sharer of experiences in his past, opening up on Christmas night to share some of the stories of his past. I couldn’t waste the chance to write this one down.

My dad started college in January at a no-name school in a small town. This was a month after he arrived in the United States, mind you, fresh off the boat, as they say. My mom, an American, was a young freshman from the largest city within a four hour drive and was probably unexposed to much in the world at that time, but was smart enough to get herself to college. One cold Sunday night in February, a month into my dad’s American dream, my dad’s roommates ended up calling around to various girls’ dorm rooms seeing if they could score an invite to come over. One of his American roommates made the pitch that his roommate was from Europe and these young women ate it up. They had to meet the foreigner. The guys came over and my dad and mom ended up meeting for the first time, sat together, and shared a conversation that Sunday evening.  Of course, as fate would have it, they ran into each other that coming week on campus, my dad asked her out, and the rest is history, as they say. By August of 1978 they were married and by the following July I was born, in that same small town, to a young happy couple who had just completed their associates degree (back when that meant something) and were ready to move on to bigger and better adventures together.

I know I’m not including a lot of details here, but with this basic outline, I can fill in the rest. I have never returned to that small town, for I feel no connection to it, but I feel that perhaps one day I will return, walk the campus where it started for my parents, where my origins began.

 

There goes another one . . .

Another year, that is. It feels like just the other day I mentioned that ten years had passed since I started this blog. Now, another 365 days have passed and we are at eleven years since I started Sound to Sound. I was a new associate at a law firm in lower Manhattan when I started posting online for the world to see (however few of you are out there). The world and my life was ahead of me. I didn’t even have any children back then. Boy, things have changed; boy, how things have stayed the same.

700 East

Twenty years ago I lived on the corner of a busy intersection on 700 East, Salt Lake City, Utah. At the time, I wanted to escape Utah, but this City and this road keep pulling me back. Even without intending to, I have found that my daily route to and from the office takes me on 700 East, where I am pulled, encouraged to stop by the wayside at a park they call Liberty, to walk, before I begin my busy day on calls, in Outlook, in legal documents, in meetings. Oh, the meetings.

In the sunrise, in the light of the moon, the drizzling rain, the afternoon heat, I walk briskly, or sometimes stroll, alongside 700 East, the cars next to me, heading south. I have consumed book after book in the park of Liberty, headphones on, movies in my head, ideas, sadness, drama, excitement, words fill my ears, various accents, genres, time periods, locations, some real, some fictional. But all alongside 700 East. I have not escaped the pull of the road nor the City of Salt Lake, but I have escaped through my saunters in the park, accelerated my car up and down the road, timing the green lights headed north, then headed south, day in and out. 700 East. My road. My escape. My daily drive . . . .

Oh Canada . . .

I made my first trip to Toronto this past weekend. The city left a good impression on me. Here are a few insights into the trip:

  • Urban Canada is a true melting pot, much more so than much of the urban U.S.
  • Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America
  • The PATH underground the downtown financial center could fit 19 Mall of Americas in its labyrinths
  • I thought I was brave enough to do the Edge Walk, but showed up at the base of the CN Tower and realized I could do just fine without walking along the edge of one of the highest structures in the world
  • The Nuit Blanche festival on Saturday night was both disappointing and mesmerizing (what were all of those people doing outside at that time of night, and where was the art we were promised?)
  • I enjoyed the Hockey Hall of Fame more than I thought I would
  • Ditto on the Maple Leafs game
  • The poutine I ate at the Maple Leafs game probably took a few years off my life
  • The St. Lawrence Market neighborhood seems like a great place to live, if I could ever afford it
  • Toronto is a great city; perhaps I should include it in my next job search . . .

Fifth Grade Memories

My oldest daughter, yes, the one whose birth I announced and wrote about on this blog more than a decade ago, just started fifth grade. Where has the time gone? Yes, it’s hard to imagine life without her, pre-kids, but if I sit still, close my eyes, and think, I can remember fifth grade myself. I know who my friends were back then. I can see my fifth grade teacher, remember her name. I can remember my school and the long bus ride to get there because they were completing the new elementary school in my neighborhood. I can remember how I spent my recess, can remember the school play I participated in that year, and I even remember that time when the girl I had a crush on kind of liked me back. I remember NKOTB was the popular music group and the end of the twentieth century was more than a decade away.

So, yes, fifth grade for me feels like a long time ago, a lifetime ago perhaps, but not really. As I sit here, watching the sun go down, I am reminded of just how short life truly is among the cosmos and eternities of the universe.

SF Thoughts

I was recently in San Francisco for the first time since I left California in June 2011. It was good to go back and brought back many memories. It is hard to believe I spent only two years working in the Financial District of San Francisco given that I have now doubled that time here in Salt Lake. The time has flown by. But with my visit, I had two main thoughts.

  • From a pure city standpoint, I like New York City more. It fits me better. If I were single, New York would be more attractive to me. However, since I am not single, were I to choose to move back to either New York City or San Francisco, I would be more likely to choose San Francisco, as I would much rather be in the suburbs of the Bay Area with my family over the suburbs of the tri-state area of New York City. However, I don’t plan to do either anytime soon.
  • The prevalence of ethnic and national diversity available in San Francisco when compared to my current location was extremely noticeable. The trend in Salt Lake is definitely moving in the right direction, but I am one who strongly believes there is unity in diversity. The trend cannot accelerate fast enough for me.