John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Ticked Off

jyb_musingsSometimes I can feel so ticked off that I am not even sure who or what I am mad at.

And when I get so mad I can’t figure out who or what to blame, it usually means the thing or person I am so angry with … Is me.

And then I feel embarrassed. But not nearly as angry.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Hidden Value of a Legal Education

jyb_musingsThe headline today in the Courier-Journal reports a sharp–even shocking –decline in law school applications for the three KY law schools: 60% at UL and 40% at UK and NKU over the past 3 years. And this decline follows national trends for law school applicants.

The verdict? A law school education and the debt incurred to complete it is no longer as good an investment as it once was given the current market crunch for new attorneys and the projected income for those who do find legal work.

That is simple math and, frankly, a bursting of the law school bubble, so to speak, has been long overdue.

But for someone who is a graduate of law school myself and works both inside and outside of a law firm, I would like to make a personal and emotional plea to those who are considering law school but for whom the math doesn’t quite add up.

First, it’s not just about the math. To paraphrase former President Clinton’s famous 1992 campaign slogan, “It’s the education, stupid.” I know that is easy to say for someone like me who went to law school over 20 years ago when tuition was a fraction of what it is today. But I contend a legal education shouldn’t be a decision like investing in a stock in a mutual fund. It is about something far more personal; more intangible; more defining. A law school education is stepping up and putting yourself on the line as you attempt to go through one of the most intellectually challenging, invigorating and gratifying rites of passage that exists in the world of higher education. (And, yes, you learn to write long-winded and dense run-on sentences like the one I just wrote.) But there are many other benefits, too.

When I was an undergraduate student I went to see a movie with a couple of older students and a newly minted attorney. After the movie I asked the attorney what law school was like and how he liked being a lawyer. He said practicing law wasn’t that enjoyable but “being a lawyer” was great. He added, “You just don’t get intimidated by others or put people on pedestals.” He pointed to a TV with President Reagan speaking and added, “I wouldn’t even be intimidated if I were in a small group of people talking to President Reagan.”

That conversation obviously left an impression on me. And it wasn’t from the comment about not enjoying practicing law. I wanted to be able to have a conversation with a President and not be reduced to mush. That happened to me 3 years after I graduated law school and I got to meet President Bill Clinton while he was campaigning in KY for re-election. He was still the President but he was also now–to me—just “a law school graduate.” Like me. And I stood confidently and initiated a short, pleasant and sensible exchange.

But these benefits are only some of the, shall we say, shallower benefits of going to law school. Law school, after tearing you down, does eventually build you back up and boost your confidence. Somewhere late in my first year of law school, I decided, “I had what it takes to be a lawyer.” I had completed a long and difficult assignment and was recognized with an award for my work. I felt catapulted to a whole new level. I went from being a successful college student with a liberal arts degree to someone who was capable of doing important things in the grown-up world.

The day I was offered my first summer internship at a top Kentucky law firm, I cheered alone in my apartment as wildly as I did when UK’s men’s basketball team nearly made the Final Four two years later. Except mine was a victory. A voice inside me —one quieted by the rejection letters from several top law firms earlier that week—roared, a little that day. Or maybe was born. And that inner voice has stayed with me and served me well in periods of self-doubt.

Still and all, attending law school is a very personal and tumultuous life decision. How does one know how to make this decision? I can’t offer a clear-cut guide. I suspect the decision is akin to the decision made by a mountain climber when staring at the highest mountain he or she has ever faced. In the end, they climb it because it is there and that’s what mountain climbers feel compelled to do. This statement, I suspect, will spark a good deal of disagreement. But I will stand by it in the broadest sense.

Put another way, if you are intellectually curious and interested in institutions like government, business, economics, and community and drawn to ideals like justice and fairness, truth and reason –then you are likely an intellectual mountain climber. And need a mountain to climb that’s worth climbing. And law school, I believe, is a worthy mountain to climb.

Legal education is a process that stretches all your intellectual faculties and then hones them in a forceful and focused manner. It may suffocate some creativity but when you are finished, you’ll feel the three years in the legal laboratory helped you be, intellectually, “All you can be.,” as the Army used to promise. Students get whipped into shape through a form of intellectual boot camp. And that process provides an intangible value that can’t be easily quantified or measured on a spreadsheet alongside an entry level banking or finance position that pays the same as the average attorney, including law school, over a 10 year period. Some things just aren’t made to fit into a spreadsheet cell. But they still matter. Maybe a lot. Possibly even a whole lot.

A legal education, I contend, is the best educational preparation for most any profession outside of a technical or scientific specialty. I also have an MBA and am grateful for that education. My business education, if I had to describe it quickly, was “informative” but my legal education was “transformative.” And legal training has been useful to me in all my different and varied occupations–from start up businesses to corporate executive to elected official to practicing attorney to consultant and lobbyist and to adjunct college professor and whatever else may lie ahead. Whatever I am doing in 20 years, if I am still alive, I will owe To some extent,  to my legal education. Even if I am a professional fly fisherman. I will at least be an orderly and logical one who is trying to be better than the fly fisherman down river–who didn’t go to law school. (Yes, you will be forever competitive about even the most trivial things thanks to law school. But you were already wired up that way. Law school just ran the electricity through your wiring and lit up your competitiveness more than you ever wanted others to see.

And I believe that those who believe the intrinsic value of a legal education is actually quantifiable are the same  people who believe everything is quantifiable (and probably would have been better off taking more liberal arts courses in college). The intrinsic value of a legal education isn’t something with clear contours and can’t even be articulated clearly. But this intrinsic value does become part of a completeness you feel about yourself when you are sitting alone and wonder if you have asked enough of yourself. Sound hokey? Perhaps a little. But “hokey” matters more than we want to admit when we are young–especially when we are trying to seem together but don’t quite feel it yet inside

And then there is the practical benefit of networking that law school provides. If you attend a Kentucky law school you will be in a class with many of Kentucky’s future leaders in their legal, business and political community. You are exposed not only to your class but the two classes ahead of you and behind you. And within 5-10 years you’ll find yourself with “friends” (former classmates) who are now serving as judges and law partners and heads of local organizations or corporate executives and business people as well as elected officials all across our 120 county state. The guy you sat next to in Torts I  and wouldn’t dare ask to  borrow notes from now has his own courtoom. And his older sister two years ahead of you in law school is now in the state legislature.  And you all will belong to the same club they do: Law school graduate

The club or fraternity (or sorority), exists as the result of successfully enduring a common endeavor that at first seems like an overwhelming challenge. But proves not to be. And along the way, you learn your limits –and capabilities. You learn the extraordinary capabilities of others. You face yourself as you really are. And you surprise yourself with what you are capable of doing. I remember during my second year of law school asking a fellow law student I worked with the summer before, John Roach, “How can we possibly finish these assignments? There is no way we can complete all these projects in the short time we have!” I waited anxiously for John to provide a reassuring strategy as he always seemed to do. But this time he didn’t. He just shrugged and answered, “We have to do it. We don’t have any choice.” That is law school in a nutshell. And you somehow get it all done. Because you have to and don’t have a choice.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there are deep friendships that develop. My first summer internship I worked in a narrow corridor of carrels that was closed off to the rest of the law firm. We were a bunch of nervous and hard working ambitious young people whose private grandiose plans were counter balanced by our secret fear that we would eventually not amount to much of anything. But we were impressed enough with each other that we started to figure maybe we had more going for us than we thought. And the more we got to know each other the better it made each of us.

That summer I sat next to Robert Weir, who later was one of the best men in my wedding, and is now a U.S Magistrate Judge and finished first in our law school class. Behind me was John Roach, who was general counsel to a governor and served on Kentucky’s Supreme Court and who now has his own thriving private law practice. Next to Robert was Matt Nelson, who ranked among the top 5 in our class and seemed to plow through writing legal briefs like a champion swimmer swims through the water in a meet. Next to Matt was Will Montague, a trusted and long-time friend who has been a successful partner at several of the state’s top law firms and now has his own firm. And across from Will was John Butler, a lovable guy from Green Co, Kentucky who left the law to coach high school basketball instead, breaking the long family tradition of practicing law but boldly and bravely choosing the life he wanted instead —and with all of our blessings and full personal support. And there were other extraordinary people, classmates, who filled up those remaining nondescript but hallowed (to me anyway) carrels making up that narrow corridor of law school interns.

The next summer my closest friend was David Hale, who became Kentucky’s U.S Attorney and is now the nominee for US District Court Judge. And Ben Fultz, who now has his own thriving law firm starting with his last name. And I have had an interesting, rewarding and diverse career myself and have many of these individuals to thank for helping me along the way, personally and professionally. And each of these individuals are, I dare say, friends for life. Even if we go long periods without seeing or talking to one another. And the same can be said with most every other law student in our class who I sidled up next to as we slogged together through the arduous law school mountain climb.

This Sunday afternoon before last I was out driving with my family and got a call from an old and dear law school friend. The call was to tell me of the members or our “corridor group” from the summer of 1990, had taken his life. Although our group hadn’t spoken in weeks or months –or in some cases even years– we quickly lined up as though it were late August in 1990. With our spouses and graying and thinning hair and paunchier midsections, we stood together on a hillside in the rain and watched one of our dear friends be laid to rest.

I hadn’t seen Robert Wier since his investiture ceremony several years earlier. I patted him on the back and hugged him and he hugged me back. He was from Benham, Kentucky and told me shortly after we met, “I thought I wouldn’t like you at all, John. I assumed you’d be a spoiled entitled jerk. But you turned out to be just the opposite. After getting to know you, I now think of you as one of the very best people I’ve ever known.” I consider that passing comment from Robert many years ago, perhaps the highest compliment I’ve ever received in my life. But we were now back in the present and it was nice to be standing next to my friend again after far too many years. I whispered, “I figured they’d have a special seat for you today, Judge.” Robert’s eye’s gleamed as they always had as he smiled warmly, “I’m just hoping to stay balanced on the side of this hill like everybody else.”

After the funeral, many of those from our original summer group and many other former fellow law students, huddled together and talked, and laughed, and talked some more. it was never said, but clear that we were grateful to have each other.. We tried to put together an impromptu lunch but everyone seemed too busy to make it work on the spur of the moment. We promised to get together for lunch sometime soon but probably won’t. But in law school I was taught the perils of ever assuming anything. So maybe we will get together for lunch soon. I hope so.

I hugged John Roach goodbye and thanked him for always “stepping up” in our group. I told him, “If my car broke ever down at 3am and I had only one phone call to make, I would call you. Because I know you’d be there as quickly as you could. There would be a long lecture for me to endure and you would make some good points. But mostly, you would just be there. And I thank you for that.”

I hugged and shook hands with others and waived goodbye and within minutes I was on a conference call and whisked back into my old and own little world. But as I drove away I felt a familiar rush. But not the rush that I could do anything or was finally good enough. But the mature rush of feeling grateful to be part of a special group of special people and honored to call each of them my friend—22 years after law school.

Was that feeling –and all the experiences I just tried to relate— worth the tuition? Were they worth the time and toil? Were they worth all the debt incurred?

Hell yes they were! Every penny. Every moment. Everything.

Perhaps, you might think, this is my conclusion because I believe that the decision of whether to go to law school isn’t mostly about the math. And if you think it mostly a decision about the math, you probably shouldn’t go law school.

But if you see value in the law school experience beyond merely the questionable spreadsheet analysis of “investment dollars” versus “future projected income,” then pack your mountain climbing gear and head up to the base of the mountain. They will be holding a place for you. But sign in quickly so you don’t lose your place. And get ready for an experience of a lifetime that you will be glad you didn’t miss—and one day not be able to imagine your life without.

Am I an idealist? I suppose I am. At least a little bit. And I hope I always will have that small flickering flame of idealism. Idealists never let a little fuzzy math get in the way of a greater cause. And if I  can look back on my life and feel that I have succeeded in keeping that flame alive, I will  have my law school education, in large part, to thank.

Will Meyerhofer: Learning From Barry Manilow

Will MeyerhoferIt is remarkable how often I listen to clients worrying themselves sick over people who don’t even seem to like them.

The other day a woman complained she didn’t know how to handle a guy who’d treated her like something under his shoe.  He didn’t call, didn’t pay attention to her life or any of the issues she was facing at work or with her family.  He pretty much just talked, and cared, about himself.

But she couldn’t seem to get over him.

He called again, wanted to get together.

“Should I see him?”  She asked me.

The answer was obvious.  Every time she’d given in – and it had happened plenty – the same pattern played out.  He was considerate and nice for a week or two, then went back to the same old routine of ignoring her needs and focusing entirely on himself.

I told her she needed greater wisdom than I could summon.  She needed to listen to Barry Manilow.

You probably have some sort of opinion regarding the creative output of Barry Manilow – which is to say you probably either love his music or you hate it.

If you love it – really, really love it – then you’re a “fanilow,” a Barry Manilow super-fan.

A friend of mine visited Las Vegas last year with his two elderly aunts, and – mostly to humor them – went to see Barry Manilow play at one of the big resort hotels.  He posted his response up on Facebook:  “I’m a fanilow!”

He was wowed – like plenty of people who actually go to see this hard-working, talented performer who gives everything he’s got on stage.

Barry loves his fanilows.  He thanks them, he signs their programs, he tells them again and again that he owes them everything, that they’re the reason he can keep on performing and doing what he loves.  They love him – and he loves them right back.

On the other hand, I read an interview a few years back where the reporter got a bit snarky with Barry, hinting that his music was widely dismissed as camp, mere sugary trash.  I don’t remember Barry’s precise words, but he said something like this:  “I take my work very seriously, and if you aren’t going to treat it with respect, I’ll end this interview right now.”

He had a point, and he made it.  Barry Manilow does what he loves, and there are many people who celebrate him for it. He doesn’t need the haters.

You can learn from Barry Manilow.

Find your fanilows – and hold them tight.  Cherish them.  Celebrate them as they celebrate you.  Those are the people who deserve you in their lives.

The haters?  The critics?  The people who take you for granted or tear you down?  Push them away.

There are plenty of people in this world.  You can find some fanilows – starting with yourself.  No one loves Barry’s music more than Barry – and that’s exactly how it should be.

Here’s a good ground rule for dating (I call it “the Manilow Rule”):  Don’t even consider a relationship with anyone who isn’t a fanilow – your fanilow.  If the other person isn’t excited – thrilled – ecstatic –jumping up and down with enthusiasm about a date with you, push him aside and find someone who is.

Be your own biggest fan – and start a fan club.

If you’re hoping he’ll call, he’s not a fanilow.  A fan doesn’t leave you wondering – he lets you know you know he’s dying to see you.  That’s the guy for you.

Does surrounding yourself with fanilows sound a bit dangerous?  A bit too easy?  Would it turn you into a self-satisfied egomaniac, unwilling to hear criticism?

It doesn’t have to.  I’m sure Barry reads the critics, and he ponders their suggestions.  He takes everything into consideration – then he makes his calls, his own decisions about his music and his performances.

You can have a suggestion box, too.  And you can invite people to write down their suggestions and stick them in.  And you can read them, and consider each and every one on its merits.  If they have a problem with you, they can say so, and you’ll listen.

But at the end of the day, you have to make your own calls.  You decide who you want to be – your most authentic, best self.

Then you go out into the world, and sort through the haters – and the fanilows.

The haters you can listen to politely, and push aside.

But the fanilows are the ones who celebrate you, and make it possible for you to see what’s best in yourself.

Be good to the fanilows.  Treat them like gold.
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Postscript:

 

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My new book is a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance.

Please also check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way-Worse-Than-Being-Dentist

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy: Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

(In addition to Amazon.com, my books are also available on bn.com and the Apple iBookstore.)

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Here I Come!

jyb_musingsWell world…here I come today!

One more sucker…running onto the field. And today I am going big! And starting early to get a head start on the rest of the world. Willing to totally humiliate myself in every way possible —and doing so loudly and proudly.

I will either achieve greatly or fail spectacularly. Or (most likely) do something in between.

But I am ready and willing to outfail anyone who gets in my way. And that is what matters most!

Let’s do this thing!

Will Meyerhofer: A Bucket of Cockroaches

Will MeyerhoferMy client – a second year corporate associate working in a foreign office – compared remaining at her biglaw firm to eating cockroaches.

“You know, on one of those reality game shows where they dare you to eat a bucket of cockroaches and they’ll pay you a million bucks if you do.”

I requested she elaborate.

“My point is, at some juncture you stop and think – and this is probably a rational part of your brain: Hell, for a million bucks, I’ll do it. I mean, for a million bucks, you’ll do anything, so long as you can get it over with in a minute or two. The plan is to keep repeating in your head a million dollars a million dollars a million dollars until – bingo! – all done, and you’re rich.”

Alas, there’s a wrinkle.

“It should only take a minute or two to eat a bucket of cockroaches. You hold your breath, close your eyes, keep swallowing, and a minute later you’re a millionaire.”

“Then you realize it’s not so easy. The problem is, once you’re actually there, faced with the situation, you can’t get them down. Maybe one or two cockroaches, but then you’re gagging, and it all comes back up. And then you’re on all fours puking your guts out with half a bucket left to eat and you realize this might not work out as planned. You can think to yourself – I can do this, I can do this…a million bucks, a million bucks…but the fact is, you can’t pull it off.”

Why does eating a bucket of cockroaches serve as an apt metaphor for working in biglaw? Because at some point in many lawyers’ careers, you’ve paid off – or mostly paid off – the loans. And you know you’re not sticking around for much longer, because you hate it more than anything you’ve ever hated before in your life – it’s literally unbearable. On the other hand, without the loans, you are faced more starkly than ever before with the reality of why you pursued a career in the legal profession in the first place: Money.

Remember money? That was the whole point. Back when you thought a law degree could actually earn you some.

So here’s your chance. All you have to do is stick around for another – what? Six months? Eight months? A year or so? A year and a half? Pick a date – maybe the end of this year, until just after bonus time. Then you could have something like $100k in the bank. We’re only talking about a measly few more months – the money is hitting your bank account now, not going off to pay loans. If you could last a couple more years – no, that’s unthinkable, you hate this job with every cell in your body…still, if you could, how about a quarter of a million dollars luxuriating in an S&P index fund, accreting value for a rainy day? You’d only have to suck it up and suffer through two or three more years. How hard can it be to focus on the money the money the money the money the money…and then Bob’s your uncle! A quarter of a million bucks. That’s the down payment on a house – a nice house.

Mmmmm….money. Money good.

There’s just that little problem of the cockroaches. Eating the damned cockroaches.

Does the following monolog sound familiar? I’ll say it’s one of my clients talking, because that’s what I always say in these columns, but in reality of course, it’s a chorus, a collective unison chant, the composite harmony produced by the voices of dozens of miserable lawyers all complaining at once:

“I haven’t had a day off all month. I’ve worked back to back all-nighters. The partner is an irritable, unpredictable, condescending, unpleasable psychopath. And that’s not the bad part. Deep down, from the day I got here, I realized I loathe this work. I hate law. I hate detail-driven, obsessive paperwork – the heaps of pointless minutia that no one ever reads, the noxious waste product of billionaires grinding their way through the economy in search of more money to stuff into their bulging off-shore tax shelters.”

Oh, c’mon, we collectively respond, in high dudgeon: Quit whining. You’re collecting beaucoup greenbacks to compensate for any inconvenience. Plenty of people – unemployed real people in debt with degrees from third-tier schools – would donate organs for a chance at your job. So shut the fuck up.

But we needn’t waste our breath chiding biglaw senior associates for whining. I work with plenty of these folks, and they acknowledge you feel no sympathy for their predicament. Any elite associate in a position to contemplate injesting a bucket of wriggling insects realizes no one else – including you – is willing to evince a shred of pity for what he’s attempting to do. He gets it – you’re jealous. You want a chance to gobble the little buggies and pocket the quarter million bucks too.

So, yes, we’re all on the same base, and no one’s kidding anyone – and yes, it all seems rather simple. It appears axiomatic that, should one find oneself getting paid a ton of money essentially just to keep doing what one is already doing, then one should stay as long as possible – at least until they fire you or lay your ass off – and pocket aforesaid ton of money. You play a tape in your head that sounds like “one million dollars one million dollars one million dollars” – and eat the effing roaches.

That’s because money is fun. One lawyer client recently admitted to me she’s putting away roughly $10k a month in savings right now. We take turns intoning that figure in our “Dr. Evil” voices: TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!!! Then we emit diabolical cackles.

And yet. It’s awkward to point out…but there’s that wrinkle again – neither one of us is certain she can make it to the end of the year to collect a delicious bonus on top of the other goodies. That sort of amazes us both, but there it is.

Don’t get me wrong, the money is obscene. But then, so is eating cockroaches.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell, according to yet another client:

“You stare at the jar of cockroaches and you think – there’s got to be an easier way to earn a million dollars. And maybe, if I’ve been reduced to this, I don’t really need a million dollars. Maybe what I really need is a life I’m not terrified to face each day, where I don’t have to go to a place that’s making me sick. Today I ignored my email – just ignored it. I thought, fuck you, and waited a few hours. Last week that was unthinkable, but today I did it – I went back to sleep. Fuck them, and their money – I don’t need it that bad. Not bad enough to eat a bucket of cockroaches. Last night I ignored a document I was supposed to proof. You know what? Fuck it. It’s probably okay. If it isn’t, I’ll be long gone by the time they find the typo.”

This client is leaving her firm. She isn’t sure when, but she’s leaving – that much she’s certain of. The loans aren’t completely paid off, but she’s managed to reduce them to…well, it isn’t about that anymore. She simply can’t eat any more cockroaches.

Our agreement at this point is to take it one week at a time. If the partner’s out of town – that’s a good week. If the partner comes back and my client gets assigned to a deal from hell – that’s a bad week. If the deal dies and things are quiet – that’s a good week. If she has a vacation and can actually take it – a really good week. If the deal re-opens and she’s working all-nighters, for the other partner, whom she hates above all, the one who makes sarcastic comments about her work and emails her in the middle of the night and expects her to reply immediately and piles on work without checking if she’s already buried….That might be the breaking point. That might be the cockroach she can’t choke down.

I can already envision the letters I’ll receive from biglaw attorneys insisting they love their jobs. Well, okay – there are also people out there who enjoy eating insects. Travel to Ghana or Thailand or even Mexico and you’ll find contented diners chomping grasshoppers and bamboo worms. My client admits there are people at her firm who enjoy their jobs – or say they do. They like the money, and the status that comes with working around the clock for billionaires. A certain type of slightly dorky, detail-driven, competitive personality thrives in the corridors (and tiny, colorless offices) of biglaw. It’s a matter of taste – or predilection.

However, for most of us, working in biglaw appears to resemble eating cockroaches when you’re one of those people who doesn’t like eating cockroaches. And the answer to the question, Why would we then eat a bucket of cockroaches? is simple: The money.

If you need to pay off loans, then they own your ass, and you haven’t much choice.

If you’ve killed off the loans, you’re probably feeling it’s payback time. So if you’re like most of my clients, you’ll hang in there as long as you can bear to – you might even go for the gold, aim for the dream – make it to the end of the year and that sweet, juicy (though by Wall Street standards, paltry) bonus. At very least, you won’t leave that god-awful law firm until they fire you or you’ve stowed away $100k minimum in non-retirement savings. That’s non-negotiable. That’s axiomatic. You’re determined, and it’s time to cash in and you are committed one thousand percent to money money money money money.

Then they hand you that bucket filled with fat, wriggling legs and feelers and wings and thoraxes…and it dawns on you some trade-offs aren’t worth the price.

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My new book is a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance.

Please also check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way-Worse-Than-Being-Dentist

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy: Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Life stages of how we “Greet the world” in the morning

jyb_musings1) Childhood — “Welcome to my world, everyone else is just living in it.”

2l Teens — “I can’t believe I have to deal with this lame ass s***”

3) Young adult — “How will I ever find my place in the world –much less take it over?”

4) 30’s — “I think I can….I think I can”

5) 40’s –“It’s Mr Brown to you, son.”

6) Early 50’s — “………….What? Oh. Yeah,, I’m here.”

7) Late 50’s “Well, I may not have become President of the United States but I did make it to director of my division. Not bad. Not bad at all.”

8) 60’s — “Life is good. Not dead yet….hehe”

9) 70’s –“Not dead yet.” (But without the “Hehe”)

10) 80’s and over “Still not dead…but can’t believe that bastard down the street is still alive.”

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Apology Form

apologyThis is my first “Apology Form” to Rebecca and I checked “Other” for the reason for bad behavior –and wrote I was merely “creating a growth opportunity” for Rebecca.

Rebecca appreciated the effort and felt like it was “a start.”

And asked if I got several pads of Apology Forms for the future.

Rebecca also noted I put down the wrong date (11/13). I told her I would fill out a new form with the correct date and to just hold on to this one for me to use in mid-November.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Mondays

jyb_musingsSlow down people.

It’s Monday. We have all week to get on each others nerves.

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Some mornings I wake up and look over at my lovely wife Rebecca and am overcome with joy at how lucky she must feel to be married to me. God is good.

I just smile and let her sleep. And keep my happy thought to myself.

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Deep thought:

If thinking something –but not saying it— is almost as bad as saying it, does that mean that saying something –but not thinking it –is almost as bad as thinking it?

Note: I didn’t think about this or say it out loud before writing it. I just wrote it. And am probably going to keep it that way.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Circling the Drain

jyb_musingsThat feeling you are “circling the drain.”

For some it signifies the end. For others it signifies being on the brink of a new beginning. And for others still it means the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning or, for extreme pessimists, the end of the end.

For me, though, it feels more like an extreme sport. Hangin’ 10. From near the drain. At least some days. Like today.

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Some days I feel like I am hitting on all cyclinders and am a masterfully mindful multi-tasking maniac.

Other days I feel like my brain is operating aduquately for a 1963 model.

And every now and again it seems concerningly quiet and uneventful up there –like I am mentally moving at the speed of the video game Pong. And my side forgot to show up.

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“I’m way deep into nothing special”

How I feel today (quoting Steely Dan, West of Hollywood)

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Look, I get it. It’s not my post. You just aren’t in the mood to “like” something right now.

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“It’s not personal; it’s just business.”

Really means for the person hearing this that it is no longer “business” and just became “just personal.”

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Groups, ironically, seem to be the best place for us to learn how to be better individuals

–Leaving my men’s accountability group this morning

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: September 12th

jyb_musingsI know this is probably not politically correct to say but I personally believe Sept 12th is a more significant date for our country to commemorate than Sept 11th.

Because it signifies that no matter how horrifically shocking the terrorist attack was 13 years ago, that it lasted only one day, and on Sept 12th, we began picking up the pieces and moving ahead, chastened and somber, to be sure, but also united and wiser and unbowed.

And that, to me, is important for us to remember and celebrate today.

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