Saturday, August 21, 2010

Getting Readjusted

Hello all. I hope all is well with you.

So. Today is August 21; the last Get Lucky concert took place exactly three weeks ago, July 31 in Gredos, Spain. How time flies… and not just when you’re having fun.

The last post ended with me telling you about the weird feeling of arriving back home after four months of absence (well… I spent a few days at home during the month of May but work with me here). If you’re reading this, then you must have some inclination to want to know what happened next.

Well. The next three days was spent with me coping with a nasty virus.

In my computer.

To the tour, I took my Asus EEE-PC Netbook along because it’s very light and easy to carry; I left my “real” laptop, a 14” Dell, at home – so my father can use it while I’m away.

My father is, well, how to say it… Quite the technophobe. He has very little idea of how computers work, what to do with them, what not to do with them. He’s by far the greatest man I have ever got the chance to know – his life story is quite amazing, actually – but he just can’t get computers.

When I set him up with a user profile on my laptop, I had to choose whether I give him administrator rights or not. I chose to give him administrator rights so he can install programs if he absolutely needs to; in hindsight, that was a terrible, terrible decision.

He spent most of his computer time in front of Facebook, playing Poker through some Facebook application (virtual money). That in itself wasn’t too bad, however somehow he received some prompts to install all sorts of Internet Explorer toolbars, add-ons and whatnot. My father, not knowing really what to do in such cases, simply clicked OK on such prompts. That “OK” spree resulted in some virus being downloaded and executed on my computer – a “worm” that basically demolished each and every HTML file on my machine by changing them to manipulate a security hole in Windows (lets not get too technical here). Symantec’s Anti-Virus proved to be absolutely useless as it only started detecting the infection after it took place.

Lucky me, I had lots of backups done so there was no real risk to my data – I just wanted my laptop back. It took a few re-installation of Windows; the first two times, I made some rookie mistakes and accidentally executed infected files. Third time was all golden; too bad it all took about three days.

Eager to start working on my book, I caught up with paperwork and other annoyances very quickly. I had piles over piles of mail to go through. Shit! Forgot to set-up automatic payments of my property taxes, so the government now charged me $12 in arrears and penalties. OK, will prepare better for the next time.

And then…

After postponing it as much as I could…

I had to do it.

The ultimate nightmare of paperwork: prepare my data for my corporate taxes.

Two of them. Deadline: August 15.

The next few days then were spent sifting through banking statements, investment statements, receipts, you name it. Piles over piles of useless crap. I am telling you folks, it’s no picnic at all. It’s exhausting, and even worse than that – it is absolutely, horrendously boring. I worked hours over hours, days and nights to get it done…

And I did. Woo-Hoo! I’m free.

At the meantime, I got slowly readjusted to the time here. After spending almost three months in Europe, moving back to Eastern Time wasn’t very easy. Had trouble falling asleep at nights – actually, I’m still not fully readjusted – which also affected me during the day. Therefore, I really tried to keep activity level to minimum.

And then…

Back to work.

Well, I shouldn’t really complain. And I’m not complaining; this is actually a good story.

When I left for the tour, I had nothing on the horizon (work-wise). I knew I’m going to be away for four months, but had no idea what it is I’m going to do when I’m back… Whenever that might be.

Seems scary, doesn’t it? Well, truth be told, many of the people whom I met with during the tour had trouble understanding it – that is, the ability to simply get up, flip a middle finger at reality and just do whatever the hell it is that I want. Some called it courage; others called it stupidity. Really, depending on what one’s situation is in life, one may look at it differently.

What I looked for was freedom. Nothing less than absolute and utter freedom – I wanted to pack my backpack and go. While it may seem a bit “reassuring” to know that you have “real life” to go back to – let me give you a hint: it’s not reassuring and it’s a full pile of bullshit. The feeling of true, pure freedom greatly supersedes any feeling of such “reassurance”. It’s a good, purifying feeling; you would be amazed at how such “disconnection” affects your thinking.

… And that’s how I spent the tour: caring for absolutely nothing except for making it to the next concert, and writing about it.

As the tour ended, I found myself in Barcelona, on the beach. I was sitting on one of those stone benches, looking at the sea; it was a perfect, bright day. I was calm, relaxed.

I was ready to start thinking about going back to do whatever it is that I do for living. And what a great feeling it was – to approach “what am I going to do next?” from a position of power and control, rather than from a position of constraint and obligation.

I made a couple of phone calls, send a couple of emails… And apparently, that’s all that was necessary. I guess I have been doing something right ever since my career kicked-off some 14 years ago, as I couldn’t even have dreamed to get what I ended up getting. I won’t go into too much details, but I will just say that it’s an interesting short-term initiative with flexible working hours, sometimes working from the leisure of my own home, some travel is involved and I will be working at 60% capacity for the first few weeks. This is absolutely perfect for me as I want those other 40% to be dedicated to my book, and for recording some music.

Pure luck? Maybe. But whatever it was, I am thankful for it. Seriously, I couldn’t even have planned it better.

A very smart man once said the following about “freedom”:

“I don't like definitions, but if there is a definition of freedom, it would be when you have control over your reality to transform it, to change it, rather than having it imposed upon you. You can't really ask for more than that.”

If you trust, then this saying about “freedom” is attributed to no other than that superbly-gifted individual who answers to the name Mark Knopfler – yeah, the same guy playing guitar writing beautiful songs. Oddly enough, I recall an ex-girlfriend of mine once asking me what it is that I consider “freedom”; it was long, long before I became aware of the quote above, and my reply to her was pretty much along the same lines.

So, all and all when I’m looking at the readjustment process, I realize that, really, it doesn’t suck. I received quite a few emails since the tour’s end, and without exception, all of them carried the question of whether it’s too hard to get readjusted to real life. Fortunately, it isn’t hard. Actually, I feel motivated and full of energy. My complaint list is empty and I intend it to remain that way.

Working on the book is a lot of fun. After considering a few alternatives, I decided to stick with OpenOffice for editing – for whoever of you who isn’t aware of it, this is actually an open source, free office productivity suite that offers you whatever Microsoft Office offers – at least, whatever matters – for absolutely free. I have been using it for years – it has a word processor (called “OpenOffice Writer”), a spreadsheet processor (called “OpenOffice Calc”) and other goodies.

And it’s free. And it’s available in lots of languages. Check it out at

The challenge I’m facing now is with the pictures. Lots of pictures in this blog and I’ll have to weigh my options – pictures’ size, page size, margins – in order to come up with a book that will not take an entire shelf. Will keep you posted; anyway, it’s going well for now.



EL BLOG DE JU said...

Hello Isaac. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughs, keep on working with the book, I think its a great ideaand I´m really looking forward to read it!!!

Reb said...

isaac, get a mac : ))))

Anonymous said...

Julio: Coming soon...

Reb: ... Now come on. Please. A Mac? Me? No. I'm not cool enough for one.

Anonymous said...

The ability to do what you think is right, and make changes without fearing the loss and safety of the status quo, truly is the definition of freedom (and a life fully lived). I've known this for a long time- but I can't seem to do it. It's easy to justify taking the safe route if you have a spouse and kids that depend on you. I've witnessed too many real-life examples, however, that prove that having dependents has absolutely nothing to do with it. You either have the courage to live life without fear- or you don't. So far, I don't. I envy people like you.


Anna said...

Hello Isaac,

what pleasure to read your writing again!
I'm glad you're thinking of writing books and we're waiting ...
Good luck and best wishes greetings
With friendship


Anonymous said...

Hello Isaac,

what pleasure to read your writing again!
I'm glad you're thinking of writing books and we're waiting ...
Good luck and best wishes greetings
With friendship