Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for September, 2002

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Posted by shannonclark on September 30, 2002

To a good week, and better habits

Okay, today is a day for some really bad habits of mine, but perhaps counteracted by some hopefully good new ones.

First the bad, I pulled an “all nighter” – yup, like many a night back in college I was up all night – this time working on a proposal for a client.

It is not quite as bad as it sounds, Sunday I did sleep in until nearly 12:30, so I was already opperating on a slightly off-kilter sleep schedule, and my afternoon and evening were rather quiet. Mostly I ran some minor errands, and then got back to my building for a reception after the funeral of one of the coolest people in the building – died rather suddenly at age 64 from advanced cancer.

After that reception, I rested and thought for a while in preparation – finally around 12:30am I showered and changed into fresh clothes, left the house, and went to a 24hr diner, where I sat for two hours writing out the proposal on paper, and virtuously only had two cups of coffee and ate some fresh fruit and cottage cheese.

Then I arrived here at my office, and spent the early morning writing up the proposal – not half badly if I do say so myself.

That’s that bad habit – staying up really late to finish things just in time.

Now for the good, virtuous new habit. This morning, after sending out drafts of the proposal to a few people to look over quickly, I walked home (1 mile), changed, and then exercised for 20 minutes – just on a stationary lifecycle machine, but still enought o break into a sweat, and it was according to the machine 5+ miles uphill so I did burn some calories and do some real exercises, before showering I did about 25 situps/crunchs – yeah, not a whole lot, but still more than I usually do.

My goal is to get into a habit of using that room for 20-30 minutes each morning – I listened to NPR while I cycled so the time passed rather quickly – better to do this than waste that time lounging in bed.

So one good new habit hopefully, but sparked by a continuation of a bad old habit… not sure if this progress or not.

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Posted by shannonclark on September 27, 2002

I had a great day yesturday…

until it was today, and I read a certain sign

Yesturday was a truly great day. My business made major progress on three fronts at once, which may mean that my time and revenues are known until the end of this year at least – so hard to get much better than that in one day.

Then in the evening I had a date, with a beautiful woman, who asked me to call her again.

Not a wildly passionate evening – but then those are very rare in my life, and especially when we both have to get to work early the next day (though, perhaps if wild passion was involved that would fade in importance…) but still a really great wonderful evening, listening to amazing music, but more importantly listening to and being with a really smart, really attractive woman with perhaps the most amazing eyes and smile of anyone I have ever known – eyes I could be lost in, and a smile that lights up the room.

So, after all this, I came up, dropped my bags in my apartment, and ran out to the local Walgreens to pick up some milk. And while my experience their with the caliber of clerks who staff a Walgreens after midnight on a weeknight, is, quite amusing, that is not what I am writng about here.

Rather, it was the small, simple sign posted on the announcement board for my condo that I read on my way to the elevators as I returned home.

One of the long time and very active residents, a former board member for the condo association, and one of the people I met during my first days moving into the building, died yesturday morning.

The wake is Saturday, the funeral Sunday – I think that I will probably go to at least one. Though I was not a close friend, he was someone whom I always said hello to when I saw him. He was a very friendly man.

He was also probably only in his mid-50s, may be early 60’s but I doubt that, he did not seem to be sick or suffering. Indeed I think I had run into him only a few weeks ago – though now I am trying to remember exactly when that was.

He lived four flows below me, and a unit over from where I live (well technically one and two units over – he lived with his wife in a combination unit that was built from combining a one-bedroom with a studio – into perhaps one of the nicest units in the entire building).

He also owned many other units in the building, he was a realtor and seemingly a very good and successful one.

It stopped me up short as I read that simple sign saying that he “passed on Thursday morning” – no explanation about how or why, but instructions about when the funeral, wake, and reception would be – held here in the common room (“party room”) for the condo.

Very strange, at the end of one of the better days of my life – this is what I read as I start the very next day.

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Posted by shannonclark on September 26, 2002

a quick observation about phone calls

and calls to family and loved ones in particular

While racing back to my office this afternoon for a few hours of hurried typing and returning of emails (very very busy day – with much more to go) I observed something interesting.

A woman, young – probably in college, was sitting across the aisle from me, against a window, and having a conversation on her cell phone.

It started with “I spent the night there last night”, then continued “Yes, they were there, but we’re not in high school anymore – so no more sneaking around”

Later I observed that her tone of voice was such that it was clear that she was talking with her mom, about having spent the last night at her boyfriend’s house, probably one who still lives with his parents.

Just an interesting conversation to overhear on the El – but what I observed, that I have in the past as well, is that even before someone says something like “no mommsy” or the like you can usually tell when someone is talking with a close family member (or a lover – though sometimes that is a still differrent tone of voice) – in that people seem to revert to a more childlike, and more expressive speaking manner – emotions – both good and bad seem stronger and more clearly pronounced.

I also observed that the woman seated next to the one with the cell phone seemed very uncomfortable by the whole conversation – which was rather loud – and to a point rather explicit – the woman with the cell phone commented multiple times that she needed sleep… implying strongly that much more than “sleep” occured last night. The woman on the cell phone was very relaxed, her legs curled up against the seat and window before her, the woman next to her – in contrast – was seated with a straight rigid back looking straight ahead.

I particularly enjoyed hearing about how the woman with the cell phone had left this morning – “I went to hug him, he went to kiss me, and we bumped heads” – a very cute image.

I think he then called her – but I am not sure, as right about then it was my stop and I was moving to the exit.

But a slice of life in the city.

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Posted by shannonclark on September 25, 2002

Busyness and Business

hope I spelled those correctly…

It looks likely that not only do I have a contract project for myself for the next 4-5 weeks (on the East Coast), but that I have two other contract projects for my employees to work on while I am out of town!

This is a very, very good thing – but also means that I am very busy – lots of little things that I have been putting off suddenly can not be put off any longer. From the clearing of the piles of unread documents from the surface of my desk, to the sorting of various magazines into “need to read”, “read and want to save”, “read and throw away”, or “don’t even bother, just file ye’old circular file”, the management of the pile of new business cards sitting in piles around my desk – some get rubberbanded into other piles, some perhaps get filed in my rolodex, and most should also be scanned into to my electronic contact databases (especially if I might need them when not in the office!).

Traveling for business is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it means that I have a paying customer and a good project (or projects) to work on. On the other hand it means that I am out of town and away from friends and family for much of the week – it also means that I will be living out of a suitcase, eating dinners out (but I am thus on an expense account – which is good for one’s life budget), and it means that my time is less free and less available.

Not that I do all that much “social” activities in any case – but it would be nice to hope that that will change in the future – that in the future I might have someone to take out to dinner on a weeknight, or see a movie with, or just “hang out” with (which according to something I read recently is how people define dating these days – you “hang out” until you reach the point of “going out” or something like that… not sure if I get it).

But, on a very positive side – if all three of these projects go through and we are successful, and if this is the start of a positive trend towards more and more of these type of projects (decently paying good sized projects for clients who can afford us) – then my businesses may be turning a corner – which in turn means that I personally may finally be slightly less stressed out about my finances (and my company’s finances – making payroll each month is not a fun thing).

It does also mean that I will not be attending too many networking events in the next month – which does in turn mean that my opportunities for meeting additional potential clients do go down somewhat.

Counteracting this however, is the positive effect of having recent happy customers – which are a very useful and powerful marketing tool when you are talking with a potential client. Rather than saying something like “we’re a consulting firm…” you can say “just last week we worked on a similar problem for a client of ours who was very happy with our solution, lets talk some more about your project and if you like, I can put you in tough with our very satisfied client…” much more effective.

It also never hurts when trying to get a client to make a decision to say something like “we’re on projects for other clients until …” – enhances your value in the marketplace to be able to show that other clients are paying for your services – and getting value out of the relationship with you.

On a personal front though it means that I have to value my time very carefully over the next few weeks and months – if I am working for a client and traveling nearly every week then I will have less time available for online communities, email exchanges, or just meeting friends for coffee and discussion about something.

Not to mention time spent on other pursuits such as my own writing – or, shock of all shocks, dating someone (knock on wood that tomorrow’s date goes well).

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Posted by shannonclark on September 25, 2002

BookCrossing – Home – FREE YOUR BOOKS!

Interesting concept – I agree with the spirit, but still, not sure I can do it in practice – though I do have some duplicate copies and some sources for free books that I might use as a jumpstart for this… very neat concept however.

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Posted by shannonclark on September 23, 2002

The future, today, and the past

and oh yeah, have I mentioned recently that colds suck?

This is my social week – or at least it could be.

Tonight was an event that I organized for a business networking group that I am an active member of – not too bad, over 60 people attended tonight’s event, though in total the event was a bit smaller than the second one – but still, feels great to have people complimenting you and your event all night long – feels really really good in fact.

Tomorrow night, and again Thursday night I have concerts to attend at the CSO (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) – this is very cool, though at the moment I only have a date for Thursday night.

But – yes, I, I have a date for Thursday night. With a woman. Whom I met, actually, at a networking event. Whom I have since met a few times in group settings and have talked with. Whom after I emailed her the invitation, gave me her home phone number and with whom I spoke this evening! (This is all very unusual for me – especially the part of a single woman giving me her phone number… and then agreeing to a date with me – just not a common occurance – though it would be more common if I asked more woman for their phone numbers… not something I do all that often.)

Anyway, so that’s Thursday – a date with a very beautiful, and very smart woman – we’ll meet at the CSO, attending a free wine and cheese pre-concert discussion, and the attend a performance conducted by Barenbaum of Music of Spain – very cool. After which I will drive her home.

But, tomorrow night, tomorrow night I do not have anyone to attend the concert with. Most likely I’ll end up going with my friend and employee – Lyle, who is a big fan of the group that is performing – but not at all my first choice. Not that Lyle is not a good friend, he is a very good friend – but I’d prefer to go to a concert at Symphony Hall with an attractive woman.

So that is this week’s future, and a bit of the immediate past. So far at least not a bad week – though there is much more to come.

Tomorrow I have to split my time between to different clients, and three different projects – that is a good thing, but also a recipe for a slightly crazy day, since I have still other work to do as well…

Wednesday may be a slight breather – nothing much scheduled other than one call with a client in the afternoon. There is a conference going on at McCormick place all week that I really should attend – at least to walk the exhibit hall – if I can find the time and energy to do so I will – probably on Wednesday – hopefully in the morning – go there straight from my house on the bus and then bus or cab back to the office in the afternoon – while having my call with the client that afternoon sometime as well.

Thursday and Friday – don’t yet know my plans – I have some work for various clients to work on (about 5 hours of my time this week), as well as hopefully much more of my time on another new project for a client – that’s what tomorrow’s meeting is all about.

And somewhere in the midst of all of this, I have to get rid of this cold that hit me on Sunday – the type of cold that mostly prevents you from moving your head in ways that change the elevation of your nose (leakage being an issue) – at the moment it seems to be somewhat going down, but whether that is the decongestant that I am taking – or whether it is really getting slightly better, or at least different I do not know. But I do know that I am not all that hungry at the moment (good for my diet) but also that it is draining me, and my voice.

I only hope that by Thursday I am much improved – having a cold on a first date would not be a good thing… (First date in that other activities we have both been present at have been group events where we entered and left not with each other).

She is very much “my type” – very attractive, but not in a ditzy blonde sort of way, and very intelligent – has an engineering degree and speaks three languages – and though she lives here in America now, is not American (also typical for me).

Less typical – at least to all appearances, she is, in fact, interested in men. And is also, it appears, single.

Whether my language skills in French (her first language) are sufficient for her and I to start something – still to be determined, though I am not terrible (not real great either, but I am at least comprehensable). It will be very good to spend some time with her and find out more about her, her interests, and her dreams – and to see where things may go from there.

So, a good week so far – now if only I can land some as of yet unseen new business, make some real money, get paid for my past work and debts, and have a great date on Thursday – if only…

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Posted by shannonclark on September 19, 2002

Planning and some concerts next week

Or who do I go to these concerts with?

Two years ago my Mom and Dad gave me a great present, a pair of tickets to a concert series “Classical Encounters” co-sponsored by WXRT and the CSO (WXRT for non-Chicagoans is perhaps the best local to Chicago Rock Station), the CSO is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

It was a really great present and a lot of fun to go to, there was a pre-concert wine and cheese event with a discussion about the upcoming concert. All in all a really great way to spend an evening, and one that I shared with a dear friend.

So, this afternoon, they called me here at work to see if I was interested in going again this year. This year they have changed it from a year long program to two programs, one in the fall and one in the spring. My mom had offered to buy the tickets for me again, and she was here this afternoon when they called, so she baught them for me!

As a promotion they also included tickets to the “Blind Boys of Alabama” concert on Tuesday (and the first concert is this Thursday).

So, next week is my “go to the CSO” week…. but I don’t have anyone definite to go to these concerts with…

It is somewhat short notice, but I will be asking some of my friends whether they want to go (first one who says “yes” for a given night gets to) – but really, these are the perfect type of night to go to with someone on a date – a little wine and cheese and conversation time before the concert, a great piece of music performed by some of the top musicians in the world, and then perhaps a late-night snack/coffee somewhere afterwords and more conversation – all in all a great way to spend a Thursday evening (or in next week’s case a Tuesday evening as well).

So, my current goal in life, besides my writing goals, is to go to at least one of the five concerts with a real, honest to god, date.

Criteria: An intelligent, single female, interested in possibly dating me.

Not too much to ask I hope.

I’ve basically never been set up on a “blind date” before in my life – that would be fine – or a date with someone whom I know would be fine as well.

Not that going with a friend would not be fun – it would be, it would be a lot of fun, but I also really do want to go on an actual date or two this year…. (okay, more than two)

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Posted by shannonclark on September 17, 2002

9 months, over 2000 messages sent

or, is my rate of emailing accelerating?

I should clarify, as of a few minute ago, my sent mail folder held 2029 messages, starting Jan 2nd, 2002. For all of 2001 that sent mail folder hold 2771 messages, so I guess I am roughly on the same pace?

This doesn’t count messages sent from one of my two other main addresses, nor does it really fully count all messages I have sent, there are some that have not be “caught” by the sent mail folder – whole periods of time when I used another email program – for example.

But it does make me think, 16 messages sent just today.

And this counts messages I have sent to 30+ people as just “one” message – if I were to count all the various to’s, cc’s and bcc’s in my messages, I suspect my yearly total is approaching at least 5,000 and perhaps even more – it is very common for me to send an email to three or four people at the same time, and I have sent plenty of emails to 30-40 people at time (and this counts a mailing list as just one address – that’s 30-40 individuals).

In thinking about my year, I am certain that I have sent and recieved far more emails, far far far more emails than I have made phone calls, and probably far more than I have had in person conversations. Makes me think quite a bit. I know that I write a lot, indeed most people who send me emails are surprised by how quickly I respond to them, what they don’t realize is that if I did not respond to them almost immediately, they would likely never get re-read or responded to – once I have clicked on the message and started reading it, it is generally the last time I will look at that message – though I will archive it for a long time.

I tend to only delete spam, and particularly large annoying semi-spam emails (mostly sales pitches – not pure spam because they have some reason for knowing me, but I feel I am unlikely to want to reach them again. My email folders now approach 494+ megs in size, and this is after having deleted and pruned probably a few hundred+ megs of emails.

On the one hand, rather frightening – have I really read all of this? Have I really gotten everything useful out of this that I could?

It does make me wonder, am I unusual in how much mail I get, and how much of it I keep?

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Posted by shannonclark on September 16, 2002

LIARS CLUB – The Movie – Opens September 13, 2002

Okay. Too close to home. Way, way way way too close to home.

Written by members of my class at the University of Chicago! (the background says they “met on the basketball courts at the University of Chicago in 1991” so if not specifically members of my class (supposed to have been 1995), then at least fellow students there at the same time, here is a feature film that they have written, starred in and gotten made.

And, to make it still worse, it could easily be the story of my life.

SYNOPSIS

Billy Longman (Johnny Clark) is not a loser, it’s just that he doesn’t have much experience with the opposite sex. After all, most of the girls in college weren’t interested in dating a sixteen year-old child prodigy. Even after college, Billy never seemed to find the right girl for him. All of that changed when Billy met Karen (Amy Jo Johnson), a beautiful young medical student. Unfortunately, Billy takes two years to find the right moment to tell Karen how he feels. When he finally does, he’s crushed to learn that she doesn’t feel the same way about him. Broken-hearted, Billy looks for “help” from his three best friends; Kevin (Bob Marley), the misogynist from Boston; Brad (Jason Shaw), the trust-fund baby who NEVER has any romance problems; and Jimmy (John McDermott), the struggling improvisational actor who’s even more pitiful with women than Billy. Despite their best efforts, Billy’s luck doesn’t change much. Things get even worse when dorky Jimmy stumbles upon Mae (Elisa Donovan), the love of his life, leaving Billy to face the world of dating with only Kevin and Brad as his guides. Will Brad and Kevin convince Billy to forgo his ideals and join them as frequent patrons of the Liars Club? Or will Billy follow his heart and find a new way to win Karen’s love?

Liars Club was an official selection of the 2001 Rhode Island International Film Festival, where director Bruce Cacho-Negrete took first place honors in the “Best Directorial Debut” category.

Truly scary. On the one hand, I’ll probably enjoy the film. On the other hand, it will almost certainly make me doubly depressed – not just because I suspect the main character reaches a happier ending than my life has to date, but also that classmates of mine have managed to write and get made a feature film…

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Posted by shannonclark on September 16, 2002

What makes me jealous (but also strangely happy)

or how lucky some friends are

A casual friend of mine, someone I have met a few times at conventions, keeps a journal. In it, he just announced that his has completed his novel, the one he has been writing for over 2 years.

That, by itself, would be enough to me to be somewhat jealous, and yet very happy for him. Jealous because he finished – which is very impressive, and I have yet to finish a novel; but yet very happy for him because it is just such a very cool and great thing to have done.

However, though that was cool, it is not what makes me jealous, rather, what makes me jealous, but also very happy for him, is his descriptions of his weekend.

He talked about his writing, but mentioned also that he and his girlfriend (also a writer) spent hours this weekend both writing, alternating longhand and on the computer – and he then described how he has a ritual of “having someone he loves type ‘The End’ when he finishes a piece”.

What makes me jealous about this is the understated implication that he has always had someone around whom he loves to finish his pieces of writing. It is a very cool ritual – but one I could not even dream of doing myself.

So, while I am very happy for him (and her, she’s also a friend of the same variety), I am also very jealous of the image of having a loved one with whom to share writing (and ending), and their evening which he describes as “reading juevenalia to each other” – how cool would that be, someone to explore and share a lifetime of writing with? To open up one’s earliest journals and explore how they have changed over time. Amazing.

I’m very happy for them both – very cool, but I”m also increadiably jealous.

I noticed something this weekend. When my friends and aquaintances are asked about woman – either whom they are dating or interested in they almost always describe them in terms of physical traits “sexiest voice I’ve ever heard” or “great legs” etc. (This weekend my sample was all male friends).

While that’s not unimportant or something that goes unnoticed by me (I’ll confess, my head has been turned from time to time), I’m generally more likely to describe a woman I am interested in in terms of her interests, in terms of her mind and how we met or our shared interests – and with some extremes it is really what interests me in a woman. I fall for woman when they are someone I could spend hour and hours with – some in deep conversation, some just sitting quietly together – more than anything else really that is what I want in a girlfriend/lover/significent other – I want someone to spend time with (and who wants to spend time with me).

This is not to say that physical attractiveness is unimportant – there are indeed woman to whom I am more attracted than others – but if we don’t seem to be capable of spending lots of time together talking – my interest is not usually sustained.

So, I was most jealous of my friends for the fact that they are so comfortable spending time together – sharing their work as well as personal lives.

Perhaps I am “missing something”, perhaps there is something that you learn or become more interested in over time and experience – that leads so many to want a “trophy” s/o (or wife) – so many men want beautiful and dumb woman – or at least that is the stereotype, and there seems amble evidence that many people buy into it – both males and females.

I also read that smart, successful woman are supposedly less attractive to most men – that men are intimidated by successful intelligent woman.

I don’t understand that at all, the more intelligent and successful a woman is, the more I am likely to be attracted to her.

That said, there are a few other factors that are important to me – but again, these are mental traits, mostly not physical ones. An intolerant woman is a severe turn-off (whether because of religion or political background or both). Generally a very religious woman would be less likely to be someone I am attracted to (though mostly it is the case that I can not see myself in a relationship with a “Christian” woman – i.e. someone whose identity is defined by that). An unadventurous woman would also be unlikely to be someone I would want to spend lots of time with – someone who refuses to try new foods, to explore new films or arts, who is too defined by what she will not do – very unlikely to be someone I want to spend lots of time with.

I hope there is someone out there for me – I feel certain that I am not all that I could or should be, and that there are very large, very important parts of life – such as how to live with and be with another person – that I know little about. I feel that I have much to give and that I should not live my life alone – but I do worry that at some point I will, that someday I will look back and realize that I have live my life alone – sure I have parents and some friends, but they do not count in the way that being a part of a couple would – there is something very different – and it is that difference that I worry that I may never experience.

And yet, I do not know how this will ever change for me – I hope it will but at some level I also doubt that it will, certainly the past 28 years of my life do not give much cause for optimism – I’ve had really only two romantic relationships – one four years ago (for basically only a few months), and one 8 years ago – for nine months. And that’s it. All the other relationships in my life – in high school, in college, and outside of college, have been “friendships” – whether or not I wished for more than “just friends” they were just that, great and very important to me friendships, but friendships nonetheless. And while an afternoon or evening with a friend – talking and doing things together, is far far far better than time spent alone, it has a different edge and color to it than an afternoon spent with a “girlfriend” and it is that difference that is only a faint whisper of a memory for me.

The million and one ways to hold hands.

The difference in how your eyes meet, how you or she smiles.

The meanings attached to the strangest, but shared, things – a fortune cookie, a restaurant, a soup. (Supposedly “a song” but that has never happened for me yet).

The conversations where nothing is hidden – that can only occur in each other’s arms, entangled but disentagling truths and histories, hopes and desires.

The relaxation of shared warmth, of a great backrub, of eating breakfast together – how better a way to start a day?

All just whispers and faint distant many year old memories for me now – and I am not yet old, not yet “past my prime” – indeed, for most your 20’s is the time of meeting and dating and settling down. Even now, when people are waiting longer than generations before, at 28 I am getting “old” to still be single, to have been single for most of my life.

Yes, I know that I “should lose a few pounds” but I, while not a small man, certainly not the skinny scrawny kid I still think of myself as being, am also not a blob. Sure, I am not a male supermodel wearing size 28 jeans – but neither am I beyond the norm. I have been told (though rarely) that I am handsome, but I do probably lack some measure of self confidence and self assurance to project and attract.

Who knows?

So, anyway, that’s what makes me jealous of my friends these days.

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