11 January 2009

Dudes Who Lunch, or What I Learned About My Animal Nature

In the four plus weeks that I have been unemployed, I have be inducted into a special group of fellows, one that you probably have not heard of, but may gain currency in the weeks or months to come. An elite group, possessed of a certain elan, or ‘joie de vivre’ if you will. Well, maybe not that ‘joie’ when it comes to ‘vivre’, but spirited nonetheless. I will call this group ‘Dudes Who Lunch’.

I chose this name for two reasons:
1) We are all dudes.
2) We had lunch.

Brilliant, no? I thought so. There are four dudes in this group, counting myself. I have known one of them since 1989, another since 1997 and the third since 2007. I have worked with all of them for varying lengths of time and at different architecture firms since graduation back in 1989. One of them is the closest thing I ever had to a mentor, and I have no qualms calling all of them friends, even if I haven’t been the best in keeping up my end of the bargain. Upon the event of my lay off, I have contacted each in turn for the purpose of rekindling friendships, scouting out opportunities and getting career advice. To that end, I have had lunch with all three over the course of the last few weeks. To my surprise and deep gratitude, each of these fine fellows bought me lunch. To a chowhound like me, that is of no small importance. Having someone buy me lunch is like finding money in the pocket of a jacket you hadn’t worn in a while, or maybe a kiss on the cheek from a supermodel: unexpected, undeserved but so very cool.

The most important part of these free lunches was not the food. It was their generosity with their money, time and advice. Each of these guys gave up a perfectly good lunch hour of their own to spend it listening to whine and ask questions and generally kvetch about my poor lot in life. For those of you who have spent any amount of time around me, you are probably saying to yourself, “Why didn’t he buy THEM lunch?”. And I wouldn’t dispute that too much.

I learned a lot about myself, how others perceive me, and what might suit me best should I decide to continue a career as an architect and project manager. One of the most insightful bits of advice I heard was something like this (paraphrased):

Dogs will go anywhere, mostly do anything they are told to do and won’t ask a lot of questions. Dogs are just happy to be surrounded by other dogs. Dogs are embarrassed when scolded. Dogs are happy about most things, whether they knew about it or not. Dogs are happy to go wherever their masters go.

Cats do not go for walks on a leash. Cats do not have masters, they have people who share a house with them. Cats like to know everything about their environments. Cats like to observe without necessarily being seen. Cats do not do anything they did not mean to do. And if they do something they didn’t mean to do, they act as if they meant to do it.

Kevin, you are a cat.


Shit. Guess who has been wrong all these years.

I was led to believe I was a dog, and I bought it. I modeled my life goals as if I were a dog. I did what I was told, I tried to be a part of the pack, I sniffed a few butts. I even agreed to have a collar and leash, and it never did fit very well. Now, all of this worked, for a while. I even felt at times that I was indeed a dog, that this really wasn’t so bad. Most major life situations, and virtually all my career decisions, were influenced by or predicated on me being a dog. Over time, the dissonance between what I am and what I thought was created stress cracks, a near lethal build up of friction manifesting as anger and anxiety and dislocation, the origins of which I failed to comprehend. The problem is now painfully obvious: I acted on a dog nature that I did not possess.

If I may wax poetic: I am not a retriever, I am a jaguar. Or at least, in the jungle of my mind, that is how I am beginning to see myself. I have to, if I want to survive in this, the next chapter of my life. Perhaps like a shaman I can shed my skin, dissolve into the earth and resurface wherever in the world I so choose.

Night is falling. I step out of the puddle of flaccid fur and skin around my feet. I still have four legs. I still have strong jaws and teeth. But my claws are longer and sharper. My vision is keener, my coat is sleeker, the muscles different. Flexing and stretching, I breathe deep of the thick, wet air. Everything smells so fascinating. The jungle is alive with possibility, and I realize with a sense of relief that the jaguar-me is hungry. And I haven’t been hungry in years.


A PLEASANT BIT OF YARDWORK

I have been blessed in recent days with a whole new contingent of followers on this blog, an occurrence which continues to astonish, amaze and delight me. I have also received an amazing number of comments lately, which is also contributing to an increase in my hat size. (Don’t worry, a few minutes around Wee Lass will take care of that.) One post in particular, “Blood Of My Blood”, has attracted the most comments of anything I have done to date. Ordinarily, I have been responding to comments on a one to one basis, but I have not been able to do that in this particular case. (If I haven’t gotten back to some of you on this or any other posts, please know I am not ignoring you) There are two main reasons:

1) Time constraints – between the blog, job hunting and domestic maintenance I’m running out of hours in the day.
2) Every time I open the comments to respond, I end up rereading the post. And then I lose my shit and have to calm down again.

Thank you, everyone, who left such amazing comments and encouragement. The things you said and the thoughts you shared were truly, truly heartwarming (and had me reaching for the hankies!) and gave me some serious food for thought regarding the direction I should go. Oh, and Smarty Pants Rants? I am indeed a dude; two swift punches to the groin (gasp!) confirmed what I have long suspected.

In addition, I have received an unexpected award! On yesterday’s post, the lovely Belle nominated me for a Hoy award, for “The Best Profile Picture Award”: (and the blog aint' bad):


I am honored and flattered that she took the time to suss me out, and get me linked to her blog. Please do drop in on her and say hello. There are rules to go along with this, as usual, but I have a terrible time keeping up with that sort of thing. Especially when I am tired and pressed for time. I will attempt to fulfill some later, perhaps tomorrow.

I am flattered and happy that so many folks have decided to join me in running through the lawn sprinkler of my mind. I’ll keep the water running!

32 comments:

  1. You deserve the award and I still think of that post :)

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  2. Now I am singing G n R and thinking about having someone put a collar on me and being led around mmmm but in a good way. : )
    You deserve every award! I look forward to your posts and can't wait to see what kind of path you choose!

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  3. Of course, the best part about being a cat is that you get to unselfconsciously wash your private parts in a public place. But then we've all been doing that for years anyway, haven't we? No? Just me, you say? Ah...

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  4. Hey there. I too have just dropped in. From where I cannot remember, but spending a couple of hours just flitting around and there you were.
    So now just read that I must read about Blood of my Blood and I'm hooked in!

    Just off to have a rummage around - hope that's OK.

    Oh and I used to LOVE Max Headroom.

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  5. Just read it. Hmm, methinks you may have quite a few female fans right now!

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  6. I think I am a three toed sloth.

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  7. I'm particularly happy that you recognized the jaguar in you because jaguars don't use litter boxes. I'd have been disappointed if you had visualized yourself as a house cat. Keep flexing. You'll know when it is time to pounce.

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  8. oh man, I'm glad I came to your blog - you are an amazing writer. I went back and read some of your older posts and can just sit here in awe and envy of you. I wish I were half as good a writer as you are. I look forward to reading more of your posts and will continue to visit as often as I can. Take care and keep up the good work.

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  9. Thanks for sorting out that dog and cat thing... helpful.
    Good luck in your next round of job searching this week!

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  10. I wandered over from Fawty. She is right - you have a great profile picture (and the post ain't too bad either).

    Good luck with the lunching. Buying lunch during a rough patch is definitely a sign of true friendship.

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  11. another reason i was drawn to you. i am a major cat person.

    it would appear that the door closing on your job opened another for you. the reconstruction of yourself. i'm no architect but it seems to me the remodel is coming along very nicely my dear one.

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  12. As another Cat, I can understand intimiately this dissonance that you speak of. I am glad for you and your family that you have this cleared up. You will be more able to create your own happiness now. That is no small thing. I like reading this blog and responding, but honestly, I can see how many people visit that you respond to regularly. If you dont get to me, its cool. I am just happy sometimes to observe without being seen ;)
    You shouldnt let this blog turn into a stressor, it would change the tone entirely.

    So do you think if Obama really creates Green Jobs--that you might find new opportunities as an Architect or project manager designing green buildings? And I will take my answer off the air LOL. Just something I wondered when reading your job issues.

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  13. Based on those terms, I am clearly a platypus.

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  14. The most important part of a journey such as the one you've embarked on is figuring out where you don't want to go... if that makes any sense to you. And I'm glad you have.

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  15. At least now you know you are a jaguar. It's all good.

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  16. Jaguars are amazing, very good choice. Plus no more butt sniffing.

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  17. Do you have a slip and slide in there too?

    Hi! I've seen you at Steenky's and Mama Dawg and you are one funny commenter. So I had to come read you for myself. And you are one good blog writer too.

    Have fun at your next man luncheon! Do you guys sip Mint Julips while you ponder the lives of cats and dogs?

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  18. What's the hybrid of a cat and dog? Cause that's what I am...or a platypus. One of those.

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  19. Shit, I just went back up and read Grant's remark.

    I have the market cornered on obscure shit like that. Back off Grant.

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  20. Congratulations, you sly dog...er, cat, you!

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  21. Being a cat..is just what you are. hehehe..

    I think I'd rather be a cat then a dog any day..just because cats are rather..self sufficient.

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  22. My cats think they're dogs! So maybe that's you too.

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  23. Let's just go for a walk to the Pub instead. Turn that water off. That shit costs Money. And we're both Unemployed. (But I do have an Interview on Mon. Landscape design. That's almost Treehouses, right?

    Dogs. I still like Dogs. Canis lupus familiaris. I like the Pack. It sometimes takes a Village. But then again, I'm always the one that is Exiled and wanders just on the fringe of the Pack. Just in case. You know.

    Sorry about going on in you comments area. that means I have to buy the first round, I reckon.

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  24. Yes, please turn off the water..or just redirect it to my house and save me $85 a month...like the blog.

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  25. Question; Do you have be male to be a dude? The guy at the vegetable market call me 'dude' all the time. Should I be worried?
    Also - I'm a Dragon. What year is the Jaguar Dude?

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  26. I am totally a retriever. Throw a stick and I'll go get it. Also, spill beer on the floor and I'll lap it up.

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  27. To continue your analagy, I used to be a dog. Then I decided to see what the feline lifestyle had to offer. Best thing I ever did. I've lived life the feline way ever since. Perhaps you'll give it a go?

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  28. Michelle: Thank you!

    Sarah: You know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby! Rawr! Thank you.

    TBF: That WAS the best part, and then there was that unfortunate incident with the lady cop and the UPS guy…sheesh, you lick yourself just ONCE in public and people freak out…

    Tara: Max Headroom: AWESOME! Visit from you: AWESOME! Glad you liked it!

    Lee: All creatures are welcome in this jungle o’ mine. I’ll remember my manners when I get hungry, though.

    Beth: I flirted with house cat, but I really like the symbolism of the jaguar. The Mayans were on to something…

    Tony: Thank you! I’m glad Heinous gave me the recommendation to drop in on you. Look forward to hearing from you!

    OAM: The analogy became crystal clear as I heard it. FINALLY! And thank you.

    VM: Are you hittin’ on me? If not, would you, please? ;)

    K: Thank you on both counts!

    MIW: I like having my chin scratched by the ladies…the problem with an architect remodeling his own house is that he never finishes it. Still, should be a fun trip.

    SEC: Me, too. Thank you for stopping in. The short answer: ‘green’ is in, and I need to get my training done!

    Grant: And platypuses (platypi?) also have a place on the Mandala Of Life. Interesting choice…

    Anndi: That makes perfect sense to me :)

    CG: I am digging the jaguar. Love their coats!

    PHST: They are, thank you. And now I only hope to sniff butts purely on my own terms.

    TMM: Yes, I do! Hey, welcome! I have seen your moniker, too! MD and others dig you, I just haven’t had time to stop in for a visit. Thank you! And Mint Juleps, no slurping. We got manners, ya know…

    MD: CatDog! See http://www.nickelodeon.com.au/toonroom/xtoonroomcat.php. There was even a cheese cracker based on them! Yum!

    Cat: Thank yew, thankyewverramuch…

    BEW: I know that now. Whew! I do like the self sufficiency.

    Joanie: Perhaps I should have a talk with them…

    cIII: Doh! forgot about the water bill. First round? Bro, keep talkin’, keep talkin’…and I hope the interview goes well!

    That girl: The blog saves you $85 a month? (grin) Thank you!

    Belle: According to some, apparently not! Perhaps if you shopped naked…and I am not sure what the Chinese Year equivalent is, maybe the Tiger?

    MoMo: I…But…uh…forgot what I was going to say. That image of you lapping up the beer…

    Robert: Excellent! Good to hear of a success story. And yes I am planning on giving it a go

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  29. Hm. But what if you are a cat AND a dog person? Like, what if parts of you are very cat like...but sometimes you are very dog-ish? I feel I am both, though my inner self secretly wishes were dolphins. Dolphins are smart and they can kick sharks' asses.

    I love free lunches, too. And dinners, and coffees. I'm pretty much a big mooch if people will let me. But if I have money, I return the favor.

    Networking is good, Kevin. You'll find your niche soon--it just takes time and patience. And woo! Free lunches! You go, Kevin!

    :-)

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  30. You deserve the award, congrats! It's nice to have so many people show an interest, isn't it? Nice, but hard to keep up.

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  31. And I didn't realize that was one big post.

    I love the advice you got and that it made you rethink your approach to life. It makes sense that if you're a "cat", you're not going to be happy doing the dog thing. I hope you find what you're looking for... writing perhaps? For real American cashola? I say do it, I'll buy.

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"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."


-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...