Better Guy X

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A Change in the Season

So I’m 13 stories up, overlooking Washington, DC from 12th and Eye Streets, NW. It’s a warm day for mid-winter. Except for the fact we just had 8 inches of snow, with the ground still partially covered or wet. The air holds the anticipation of spring, and now people can’t decide what they should be wearing. I’m at work, it’s a Sunday. So a couple of questions arise: What am I doing at work on a Sunday, sitting on the roof top, and why am I telling you about it?

Rooftop at 12th and Eye

Rooftop at 12th and Eye

Quite simply, this is my last day in this building, a place I’ve spent more than 12 years working in one capacity or another. What you realize, once you become an adult, is that most of your time is not spent at your home or apartment, not out at cool clubs hanging out with your friends, but in buildings like this one, with cubicles, offices, water fountains, and if you’re fortunate, it has a gym in the basement. There are a couple of nice restaurants in the area or at least a good place to get some coffee. This is where you spend 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. So if I’m sounding nostalgic about an office building well, it’s because I am.
I’m on the roof because it’s one of my favorite places in the building. It looks out over downtown Washington and the city that I know and love. Why I like this vantage point is that the view allows me to see the changes. Where I’m sitting, I’m facing due east. When I first sat here, I could see all the way to Anacostia. I could see the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, because the skyline was that clear. Now, I can’t see more than a few blocks. I’m looking into the offices of Google; I’m looking into the offices of Ernst and Young. I look at all the new retail and residential that has cropped up downtown. Commerce that didn’t exist 10 years ago, didn’t exist 5 years ago. This roof is a place where I had lunch with colleagues, where we used to have happy hours, until the building management decided it was a liability. I did work up here and when I ran Be Better Guys, I’d take conference calls up here, edit articles up here. It seems like the right place to spend a few minutes as I pack up my cubicle, take my pictures off of the wall, pack up my coffee maker and move those things into my basement office at home.
Work is work, but given the amount of time you spend at a building, with people, on a issue or product, that time should mean something. The people in this building–from the maintenance crew to the security guards to my colleagues–saw me get married, saw both of my daughters born, watched me transition professionally. So I am a bit nostalgic. So I saved my Opus X Short Story to have here, with a cup of coffee and some solitude.
Before anyone gets the sense I’m being fired, know that I’m changing positions and a part of that change is a change in location. For everything, a season. Now, time for a change of scenery.

A Resilient Child, Or Follow the Michelle Wie Method

Michelle Wie on the cover of Golf Digest 10/14Resilience. I was in a parent-teacher conference with my wife for our 4-year old daughter. The teacher and her two aides (how lucky is that?) talked about our daughter’s resilience, her ability to go with the flow, to bounce back in unfamiliar situations, to be adaptable. The two of us did a mental double-take, thinking about the number of meltdowns that occurred over Goldfish instead of Cheez-Its, or over watching Sponge Bob (her sister’s choice) instead of Lion King. “WTF is she talking about?” was our mindset, but that’s not the sort of thing to say during an affirmation moment with the person who will spend more time with the fruit of your loins than you do on most days.

In fairness to the 4-year old princess lover, she does exhibit a greater ability to say f— it and move on to things than her 7-year old sister. The youngest has already seen two stints in the emergency room for stitches, and never breaks stride. The oldest likes consistency, operates with as much care as a 7-year old tomboy can have. While the 4-year old made the transition from day care to school with a minimum of fuss, her sister figuratively gave everyone the bird for the first 6 weeks in school when she transferred. No conversation, no engagement, to the point I got daily calls from the teacher’s aide to get her to stop crying about going back to day care. Then again, I did call a neighborhood kid out of class to take me home in 1st grade when my mom was 5 minutes late. What I’m saying is that maybe resilience isn’t exactly a family trait at that age.

Which leads me to Michele Wie. If you follow sports, you may recall a precocious 13-year old girl from Hawaii driving a golf ball over 300 yards. Wie played in PGA and LPGA tournaments before she turned pro at 16, wowing people with her talent. But at some point, she needed to win. Wins come hard in golf and questions about her resolve arose. Wie missed several cuts, took 4 months off due to injury, and pulled out of tournaments she was in and playing poorly, with the inference that she didn’t want to look bad missing more cuts. Is it fair criticism of a 18-year old that she’s is more style and substance, maybe pulling back when things got hard? How was your resolve at 18? Wie didn’t quit, she kept playing, while attending Stanford, slowing putting together a game that matched her talent. This summer, she won two tournaments, including her first major, the U.S. Women’s Open. Now, she’s the cover model for the Grit Factor issue of Golf Digest.

Wie mentions the unwavering support of her parents as a source for resilience. The 4-year old may never win a major, (or celebrate by twerking–please no) but having resilience, resolve, grit are traits I want them both to have. It doesn’t have to be through sports, I just want them to learn that to grow you have to keep trying. Maybe I can get Wie to give her a pep talk and back on her training wheels bike.