Looking at one of the Sunday crossword puzzles over dinner yesterday, I saw:
F _ A P _ _ _ _ _ _
With the clue, “Nonsense.” My brain went right to “flapdoodle,” and I felt the warm buzz of a connection made, although I cautiously checked it against the old blue dictionary that lives on our table to be sure.
In any profession, you need to understand the materials you’re working with. In my desired profession, I look up a lot of words.
The word made me happy, and it returned this morning while I showered. I knew that today’s post would have the word “flapdoodle” in the title.
Maybe because it’s appropriate for the feckless pursuit of writing. Of blogging.
Am I fighting against fate with this dream of writing? This flapdoodle?
My family name is Carpenter. (At one time it was Carpentier, but the “i” was stolen from us by jackbooted government thugs.) I wonder about that name and the way many names came from professions, sometimes with a “son” tacked chauvinistically on to the end, but not in this case. Was there really a lot of Carpentry in my family’s history?
It seems possible that we have a mechanical bend in our genes. My dad is an engineer. His father — Grandpa Louie whom I wrote about earlier in Low Blow Pimento — was a lineman for Northern States Power and a Machinist’s Mate in the Navy.
And myself? I’m an “Information Technology Professional.” That’s my paying profession, and it has taken care of me and my family well enough for many years, for which I’m grateful. There are things about working with computers and logic and programming that I love. I must have those carpentry genes. But I’ve come to think that I/T work — at least the kind that I do, the way I see it — tends to suck hard. Am I doomed by my family name and my genes to carry on this way?
The CEO of my company recently talked about “engaged employees.” Employee engagement is a big topic in the corporate world, and rightly so. You want your people to care. “What are you thinking about in the car on your drive into work?” Engaged employees are the ones thinking about the challenges ahead of them in their work day, he said. Shower time is also a classic time to think about things that matter, although he didn’t mention that. (I think talking about “shower time” makes people uncomfortable, but you’ll notice I am fearless in my expositions.)
I want to write. (Really? Maybe.) But doesn’t everyone want to do what they love? Yet here so many of us are with our day jobs. (And we feel lucky when we have them, lately, no matter how intellectually and emotionally unfulfilling.) Paul Graham wrote this great essay, “How To Do What You Love.” In talking about the different ways you might do this, he says:
Life tends to get more expensive as you get older, so it’s easy to get sucked into working longer than you expected at the money job. Worse still, anything you work on changes you. If you work too long on tedious stuff, it will rot your brain. And the best paying jobs are most dangerous, because they require your full attention.
I don’t want to be ground down into the dust by tedious I/T work, and I don’t want to spend my time in the shower and the car thinking about how I can optimize supply chains. I’d rather fill my thoughts with flapdoodle, and contribute to a future that holds the common family name of “Bloggerson.” (With apologies for the implied gender preference and patriarchalism. You should understand I just threw that out there as one last bit of flapdoodle.)