Monday, December 08, 2008

What am I missing? (Besides the point.)

Naiveté implies a kind of innocence, which can be expected as opposed to ignorance, which implies a condition of being grossly unconscious. There is also a sort of blindness, which, like the absence of vision, cannot really be overcome.
I'm tempted to declare that women and money were my two major blind spots, growing up. Those are fairly obvious. The subtleties of both are such that even an experienced man can always find new turns in the familiar. The difference thought is that money, while complex and often elusive, can be quantified, and understood through largely mechanical methods. Women on the other hand are subtle and certainly not understood as objectively.

What I did not understand about money was that hard work and intelligence did not guarantee an income. Even when it was possible for me to be resourceful in finding work, the complexities of office politics often eluded me. Actually it was kitchen politics in my first few jobs, but the office was no less complex. Even to day, I have trouble figuring out what alliances and enmities lie beneath the surface, but I know that there will be some. The secret of money I found is that of providing a service and transforming something ordinary into something else. A friend of mine referred to it as the “Art of Turning Gold into Gold”. Just as a n example what he used to do is buy gold jewelry and coin, melt it down and make new jewelry out of it. He was of course a talented artist, and his jewelry spoke not only of the radiance and value of the materials but also the glory of life itself and the transcendence of the human into the divine. It turns out that people will pay for that. Of course it is possible to do the same thing with les valuable materials. But then you are relying on your own talent, and while I’ve always found my own talent to be reliable, people can be very fickle about other people’s talent. For example there are many talented people who paint in oils, many better than I, at making a likeness of choosing a balanced array of colors. The majority of people will admire the artist who appears to have the best ability to draw attractive subjects.

This all sound a little out there. Art is not really the best way to make money, but what I’m trying to say is that there is an art to making a business work. Even if you have all the accounting, the best location, well-made products or services, it isn’t hard to fail. So if that happens where does all that investment go? For my one friend, It’s gold, Even the stuff that hew bought as stock – raw materials – has tripled in value. That’s pretty good And the interest in his work is still pretty good because the raw material has intrinsic value. Now it really does take a lot of work to make these fie gold pieces but it doesn’t feel like that awful ‘work’ that people complain about because it really is something that he loves doing. I actually taught him how to do the casting, so he could keep more of the profits for himself. I didn’t get paid for it, I enjoy doing it so much that I just shared what I knew and cast many of his pieces myself. I didn’t even know I was being generous because to me it was part of doing my own work. I needed to have control over the casting process in order to make sure that no one over heated the kiln or damaged the centrifuge. I just got in the habit of  casting every ones work because it was easier for me to stand there with the torch and do one flask after another. Later on, there were some other people in the studio who kind of took advantage of me, and it was not pleasant. The difference was that they expected me to show them how to do it correctly or that they just wanted it done for them. And worst of all there were a few who just presumed that they could go ahead and cast without regard for any one else. 

So what was I naive about? Some readers are probably thinking; “everything.”  I was Naive in thinking that money and business were not like school where work was rewarded with a grade. And school was not entirely like that either, Looking back I can see that there was a fair amount of prejudice in elementary school, and even more in high school... I just thought it would be expressed upfront, as if the teacher were going to come up and say, “I don’t like you.” Some of them did to be true, but they were actually fairly reasonable and objective believe it or not.  I really did not care for sports that much as I was not really a strong athlete, (asthma). Later I realized how much I benefited from learning to pass the ball to other players and spot weakness in the other team. Some times a strong athlete could be a weak link because of their ego.  So I was pretty clueless about my ability to make money, in part because that people would sort of work as a team at different jobs. I just didn’t know how subtle and competitive people were in the world and I also did not realize how much of that was driven by the need to acquire money.

My problems with Women are partly the same. I’m not that good at determining peoples motivation, I cannot always tell if women like me, and the one time I was married,  think that the girl was ‘after my money’.  It was actually my parent’s money and she might not have been conscious of it at the time. I think she liked the sex too, but she was not so keen on intimacy as far as I could tell. Not at first. It was the kind of long monotonous repetitive sex that . . . well I have nothing to compare to. She would just want to get on top very soon and her face would sort of go away. There was a kind of animal ecstasy to it. But I could go for a long time like that. It was like a drug or a trance. I think that she was kind of looking for disposable relationships. She had a girlfriend that she really admired, and maybe they had a sexual thing at one time, but it was only after a long time that she seemed to care about me. I mistook the whole sex thing as real affection, but poor fool that I was, I  had little experience to compare to. The other part of that relationship was  the class difference. I really did not see it at the time, but I had this veneer of the educated elite. I went to boarding school and my adoptive parents both attended a very elite New England college and taught there for a time.

Well, I know that I’m not coming to the point here.  There was something missing with this girl. I don’t know if it was me or not. I suspect that yeah I was off too. I’d always felt horrible lonely starting in elementary school. Sexually dthe whole desire thing started when I was about eleven. I don’t know if any one else other boys had those feelings at that age or not. Some of the kids paired off imitating what they say on Welcome Back Kotter, (weird because it seemed like the girls idea and they had no roles in the TV show besides arm candy). I think it had more to do with social ranking. They had to sit in a particular order in the class room. There was actual kissing at some point, but I don’t actually know about intimacy. Later ther were a couple of kids who had a lot more experience, they went to public school where there was a lot more peer pressure and less adult presence. The first time I had a relationship that had mutual feelings of wanting to kiss, was with some one I’d known since nursery school. We really grew up together,  so it was awkward to try to change the way we were together.  I really missed out on how important that relationship was. People seemed to think that I was a late bloomer. Any way I was pretty much aware of  the opposite sex, and I read a lot about human sexuality, my mother was an anthropology professor so she thought it was important to have all this knowledge early on. We didn’t really talk about it. So in that way it was kind of useless. I was rather religious in my own way. I had a definite Idea of love and how it was mutual and reciprocal and how people could trust and care for each other. My first official girl friend was very religious in her own way and romantic in a way that was sort of unreal and more about role play. We never seemed to talk about real stuff. Like the fact that I stopped a guy from raping her in the woods. He also tried to have sex with me a few times. (This was at a Christian Youth camp. He tried something with another person and was asked to leave the program). I was in a relationship with her for about a year but we mostly exchanged letters as we lived in different states. When I saw her the next year, she really didn’t care for me much but she sort of kept things going until the very end of the retreat. I think that it had a lot to do with keeping up appearances. But as it turned out there was another girl who liked me, so my girl might have been playing me to save herself the embarrassment of finding some one new.  So in one year we went from being very similar and kind of innocent, (despite getting sexually assaulted by the same person,) to a relationship where she was pretty much morally superior and I was emotionally devastated because of things that happened at boarding school that year. I don’t know maybe she was emotionally devastated too. She never mentioned it.

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