How much do I need (to drink)?

Now that I’m older, I tend to get sick before I get drunk; not vice-versa.

Now that I’m older, when I’ve had too much, I know before it really hurts me.

Now that I’m older, even if I don’t feel like I’m controlling myself, I am. At least more than I used to. Now that I’m older, I know myself well enough that I hardly recognize how well I know myself.

I don’t need much. Not much gin, and not much of anything else. I’m quite content, really.

Nicotine

They say that in small doses, nicotine causes heightened awareness, focus, and even slight euphoria. But, taken in larger doses, the effects seem to reverse. A large dose of nicotine encourages relaxation.

This seems to describe the difference between cigarettes, on the one hand, and pipes/water pipes on the other. It’s the same mechanism, the same product, the same vice — but used in completely different ways.

A lot of things in the natural world seem to work this way. Poisons and antidotes. It’s dialectical, almost. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

Threes are good.

So are fours and fives.

Beyond that — it gets to be too much. I think I’ll focus on threes for now.

Cash flow

I read a few pages of a book. It described “cash flow analysis” as a widely-regarded “black art” of finance. I think this is true. People may intuitively understand assets and liabilities, and they may even understand how assets and liabilities impact their income statements — revenue, cost of goods sold, R&D, miscellaneous expenses.

But the third aspect of finance, the cash flow statement, is more abstract. It’s the Aristotelian “transcendent third.” The child. The Holy Spirit. The “friendship” between good friends as an immutable entity in its own right.

Now, this is all to say that I don’t understand cash flow. But I want to. If anyone would care to enlighten me, I’d appreciate it — because I know it’s important.

Temptation

It’s very easy to look at someone and think, “I want to be like that.” It’s not so easy to look at someone and admire what they’ve done, but not to feel some kind of envy. We read about wealthy, entrepreneur-rocket-scientists and we envy them — why aren’t we wealthy, entrepreneur-rocket-scientists? Alas!

But it’s almost certainly the case that replicating someone else’s success is a recipe for failure. Or, at the very least, disillusionment in success.

I need to start from basic principles. To dig up the unspoken words and understandings. To learn about what everyone else thinks is too simple. To not be embarrassed about it. Nobody else knows, either, and they’re very afraid to tell you that.

Don’t try to be like them. It won’t do you any good.

Library

Sex in the Therapy Hour

Sexual Exploitation in Professional Relationships

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Listening to Prozac

Family Therapy

Couples in Conflict

What would a married, literate, 17th century gentleman think of these titles? I think I’m going to pick a different seat.

The Prince

The Prince wanted to be a good man. To effect real change in the world. He felt he had the potential, and he certainly had the drive. But his drive was humble, not prideful. He wanted to eliminate the poverty, hunger, and human misery that surrounded him.

Whenever The Prince met a young woman or man who had some kind of problem with their lives, he more often than not had the answer. They had seen counsellors, they had taken drugs, and they had despaired for years. But to The Prince, their troubles were simple and easily fixed. He would gently suggest the solutions to their troubles. Those who accepted his advice would prosper.

But these personal relationships, while fulfilling, did not please The Prince. He knew that he had so much more potential to help the world. To reach more people. To tell them what they were doing wrong – to give them a chance.

And so The Prince bought a tailored suit, cuff-links, and a revolver. Within several months, he had a lawyer, a personal assistant, and three bright college graduates managing the books. He was in business, and business was good. He would only have to extort and kill for two years. And kill he did. Three men died gruesome deaths.

The Prince, by the end of his fifth fiscal year, owned and maintained hundreds of acres of land, several commercial buildings, sat on the board of two multinationals, and employed thousands. He no longer offered advice to fix peoples’ problems. He fixed their problems himself. He employed them, he reduced their rent, he gave them loans, and he sent their children to school. He sent them gift baskets and insured them against their health and their lives. He provided for their families.

And when The Prince laid down to die, he died a happy man. For he had touched thousands of lives by killing only three men, and extorting only a few more than that. Yet, the secret of his origins would be taken to the grave. And men for generations would try to emulate The Prince’s good character and success – not knowing that one must break a few eggs to make an omelet.

Anger

I never thought of myself as an angry person. Really, it was the last thing I’d ever say about myself. The only thing I’d every say was that I was “easily frustrated.” But that never manifested itself as something I’d call anger.

A lot of people have told me that I’m an angry person lately. But in a sort of admiring way. I’m “different.” I “march to the beat of my own drum.” And I’m “sort of angry.”

Yet I’m a happy person, I think. And I see this as no contradiction.

Capital

It is remarkable how pervasive the criticism of the middle class is in popular culture. Three examples: Boiler Room, House of Cards, and Office Space. And these are only my examples because they’re very popular, and I’ve encountered them (mostly accidentally) in the last week.

Boiler Room: Two Jewish boys are in a Ferrari together, talking about how all the Italians at the firm, even though they’re making six figures a month, live paycheck-to-paycheck. They’re consumers, and they will never be wealthy, no matter what their salaries are.

House of Cards: A quote I’ve seen a few times.

Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power. In this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.

Office Space: Main character feels repressed, and depressed, by his passive-aggressive work atmosphere – a normal office. He is salaried and hates it. He ends up with a job pushing wheelbarrows and shoveling, and likes it a whole lot more.

Most of the people who watch these things are middle-class Americans. But the people who make them are not – indeed, they are far from it.

I think that the homeless people on the street are quite close to the upper class and the upper-class mentality. I think that the middle class is very far away from that. But really, “Middle Class” is a mentality that can afflict anyone at any pay grade.

Stop being a tool.

Shameless

I have very little to lose. The more I realize this, the more I can stand to lose. It’s like a virtuous feedback loop. The sensation of freedom when there is so little to be lost… it’s empowering.

I don’t need your approval, and I’m not going to take your shit. People are used to people taking their shit. I get my jollies from their expressions when I just… don’t take their shit. The people who smile are worth talking to. The people who stutter are not worth anyone’s time.

When I was in the hospital, I’d show anyone my junk. Now that I’m out of the hospital, I’d still show anyone my junk. I do not operate within the bounds of decency that you and your bourgeois friends have carved out for yourselves.

And that’s why I’ll never have a white picket fence.