Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thoughts On A Wednesday Morning In September

Stella is still asleep, and will be for probably the next half hour or so. Randi is awake and getting ready for work. I am here, of course. It is 6:40 a.m. If you had told me back in high school that I would ever be able to get up this early I would have laughed in your face, if I wasn't already asleep that is. I was always up late, reading, I guess. And I found it extremely difficult to get up before 10:00 a.m. I always attribute that to laziness, but I think that there is a biological reason for it as well. I had read somewhere that teenagers' brains are wired to sleep in late. I am not sure what the genetic advantage could be of this. Maybe it was so the rest of the tribe could have some peace and quiet back in the stone age and this kept them from literally murdering the teens in their midst. I am certain that if I did some research into this I could find out more, but I don't feel like it right now.


Trying to slowly gather some momentum in the Louisville area, mainly with writing. I am working on a freelance piece right now, although I won't discuss it for superstitious reasons. I am also working to meet with other editors and the like. Beyond that I have a meeting within the next two week at a local university to get oriented for their grad programs for education. I have had a hard time figuring out exactly what I want to do, should I move in this direction.

Classroom teaching seems like it would be very satisfying in many ways, but also a total frenzied, burnout-producing grind. I love kids, and love to instruct, but I think I would have a hard time trying to keep a room of uninterested high school or middle-schoolers engaged and interested. The thought of having to be a disciplinarian for so many kids seems wholly uninviting to me. Look at this, I am already assuming they would not like my class.

I have thought about guidance counseloring, which I do realize is not a verb. It would offer the opportunity to help a kid one on one, which could be very rewarding. And I would get an office, and wouldn't have to be "on" the entire time in front of a class. I would get to help kids find what they want to do with their lives, which I think I would enjoy. But it might not be as directly rewarding as teaching.

I guess I can't know, as I really haven't done either job.

One of my favorite parts of my past few editing jobs was my ability to work with other folks and help them get better at what they did. Mentoring, I guess, although I hate that word, as it's become such a trite, lame cliche. I thought of it as simply helping them, not being their mentor, so to speak. But it seems the young adults I worked with closely have thrived and continue to do well. Some of them even learned a few things from me, I believe. Of course their success is the result of their own hard work and brains, but I like to think I helped them learn a few things for the limited time they spent with me.

That I liked. I liked working with smart people, and helping to make them smarter, on a one to one basis.

I have been told that I would make a good college instructor, but I don't know where I would begin to get such a job, or what the job would even be. Writing instructor, I guess? Journalism professor? I am not sure what the qualifications needed for such a job would be, or even, for sure, what the job is. I guess there are always ways to find out, such as reaching out to people who already do this job and talking to them. Usually people are pretty good about spending 10 minutes, or so, with folks who have a genuine interest in learning more about what they do for a career. So, maybe I should do that!

In other news, I am still getting used to Louisville. I don't feel like I really know the heart of the city just yet. In NYC you could tell, from the moment you came in, that this town has a strong identity, one impossible to ignore, in fact. It is THE CITY. We even called it The City growing up in NJ. There are a million different scenes in this world, some easier to learn about, some took more time, but they were all there.

But I don't have that feeling about Louisville. There doesn't seem to be a real city vibe here, or at least one I've seen yet. It's a cityburb, or at least that's what I've started to think of it as. It's not quite what I consider a city, yet it is not really a suburb either, it's kind of both at the same time. There doesn't seem to be a real logic to the layout, either. Everywhere I go there are just these cool little spots, and out of the way stores, and the like. It is definitely funky.

One cool thing: barbecue smokers. This is something I never saw in NYC. As I drive around town I see, again and again, that many businesses have barbecue smokers parked in their parking lots, actively smoking up meat every day. I have seen this in at least a half a dozen places. It just seems so southern to me. And I'm not really even a big BBQ guy, but this is just cool. Of course you vegetarians out there will not agree.

One thing I miss is the feeling of a large, humming downtown. In NYC I could take or leave Midtown (though I liked Times Square, most hate it). But I always loved downtown, and could spend hours walking around there, looking at the shops. Brooklyn too had whole neighborhoods chockablock with dense, urban things going on. Concerts, stores, boutiques, guitar shops, next to delis. You know, urban living.

Downtown here is very, very mellow. You can get a parking spot right in the middle of town during the work day for god's sake! On Sundays the place is practically deserted.

Not that this is bad, but it's an adjustment. I do realize NYC was not, and is not all that perfect. But I miss walking through dense, urban areas. It's the only place Spider-Man could ever have been a superhero, know what I mean?


I am reading "The Snowball" a biography of Warren Buffett. He tries so hard to come across as a folksy, lovable guy who just happened to get lucky. But he is a complete and total genius, with an ungodly ability to analyze stocks and invest. Right now in the book he is 25 years old, and will sit all day, every day, analyzing stocks and companies, and really breaking down what they do. At this point he had been doing this for at least 10 years, all day, every day. It's astonishing. If you met him when he was 15 you would have remembered him; he would have been the smartest, most socially awkward 15 year old who ever shook your hand. He was always, always obsessed with numbers, probabilities and took an active interest in calculating longevity. He had a near photographic memory, and later on knew his finance textbooks better than the people who wrote them. In short, he was born a numerical genius, with an almost unheard of amount of brain power, but had to learn how to interact socially to charm people and succeed. But his brain was akin to a cannon, where most people have a pea shooter, and the smart among us have a handgun. The dude was and is gifted, but not in the usual ways. To his advantage. Replicating such genius, of course, is all but impossible.

But I am also inspired. I know I will never, and can never, be a math genius like him, but his ideas can be applied to other folks. The book is called The Snowball because that's the central metaphor for how he sees life: you start small with a good idea, or money, or an area of expertise and just keep adding to it until it compounds. That I can relate to.

And I do know something about investing, as I wrote about it for years. I am not going to be a genius stock investor like him, no one is, but I can apply myself to examine what would be better for me, and us, than keeping the money in the bank, doing nothing. I have some ideas and look forward to putting them into play.

Mainly I am inspired by Buffett's ability to plan and think long term. I am often reactive, not proactive. Things either happen to me, or they don't. But it doesn't have to be that way. One way we, as humans, can shape our world, is to make plans. Map things out. Set reachable deadlines, use the skills we have to achieve things that will improve our quality of life.

Money is important. I never wanted to really admit that before, it made me uncomfortable, but it's a self-defeating attitude to believe otherwise. It should not be why you do what you do, or else you will be not fully engaged in your own life. But it is important, and there are ways where you can plan and likely find ways to get more of it. And why not have more if you can have more?

So far that's my take away. Planning is okay. In fact it's a good idea. Set deadlines, goals and learn to think beyond today, or even this week. It's not illegal, you know?

Anyway, that's it for now. My hands are starting to cramp, which sucks. Maybe I need a new keyboard.


Stephanie said...

Dave, I love your quote about the most awkward teenager to shake your hand!

Scott said...

Dave, you should definitely take the family down to Old Louisville this weekend for the St. James Art Fair. It is one of the biggest art fairs in the country, and a great place to capture a little bit of the vibe of the city (for better or worse).

David Serchuk said...

Hi Stephanie,
You wrote me all the way from Oman! Thanks! And yes, Buffett seemed like a real piece of work as a youngster. He was also a thief. Crazy right?

We will be there, will you? If so, let's meet up! It should be a lot of fun!