"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Now You Labor Every Day

Returning to the romance.

It's been a dark fall so far, hard-pressed and shut in. I'm looking forward to getting healthy so I can go back to getting drunk like a sailor, heaving to and fro, freewheeling and going where I will. Getting out on the road was good, but work-travel is more draining.

High time now to ride another wave, to get up on it and roll. It's unlikely that I'll have any less work to do anytime soon, but like every self-help manual teaches (and my own philosophy preaches) the X factor you've got real control over is your mind, not your circumstances. Big changes begin as shifts in perception. Mad lib it. Fill in the blank with confidence and everything will be fine, or as fine as it can be.

So there's an inflection. My situation can be seen as being overwhelmed by an unreasonable and untenable tumult of todos, or a raging whitewater sluice of opportunities to be rafted. We're in the deep fast water now, the difference between going under and riding it for all its worth really comes down to attitude. If we head into this thing with joy, it should work out. If not, well, there's a reason the skaters say fear is the mind-killer.

But what's really missing from all this is the romance, and really it's nobody's fault but my own. I'm pretty much impossible to please, my desires in love taking on the same grandiose scale as the rest of my outsized ambitions, even as my ability to invest time, energy, effort ever dwindles. What exactly can you expect?

Of late I'm all wrung out and hung up, exhausted, scheduled, and sick. No room for special lady friends. No time to be genuinely interested even — so long since I've been smitten — just the dull sense that I'm missing out and a flickering hunger.

I'm reminded of an old girlfriend I had back in the day who related some advice from her mother upon hearing that she was feeling stressed and overwhelmed at college. "I think you should be having sex," was the gist of it, pointing out that getting laid can be quite the boon to ones self-confidence in addition to providing a bit of an endorphin rush and being a way to get unstuck from a situation. Pretty logical family; Russians.

So it occurs to me now that in the same way that going and running on a treadmill would be a good thing for me, so might participating in some uncomplicated physical congress.

But how long has it been since that's happened? Quite a while, I think. Years even. Somewhere in the mid-decade I lost the whimsy jaunt one really needs to, as the kids say, "hook up." Not that it hasn't happened, but it's been different. More laden with expectations and baggage, even if only my own. I miss that old swashbuckling sexual goodness, that simple faith in fun.

It takes a certain kind of purity of the heart, an essential self-trust and self-love that I seem to be lacking. Is this something that can be recaptured? I'm not sure. Maybe this is why people go to therapy.

Actually, scratch that: I'm pretty sure it can be recaptured. When I was down in Uruguay, on my last night in Montevideo I met a fabulous girl and had just that sort of time, carrying on in the streets and making a bit of a scene in the hostel hallway. It was another of my "king of second base" experiences (no sex, even by Clintonian standards), so perhaps this doesn't quite prove the point, and it's probably getting a bit of memory gloss, but I think that essential feeling of freedom and rightness was there.

It's a bit cliche, but the traveling connection creates a situation where you have no choice but to embrace the moment, move with what's happening. There's also a lot less in the form of accountability; no reason not to say, do, feel, act. No day but today.

Finding the equivalent moral and emotional latitude in the day to day is somewhat harder. And to be honest that whole thing probably wouldn't have happened if I hadn't spent 10 days decompressing on a remote beach with no cellphone or laptop.

So there's a lesson there. All work and no play makes Josh a dull boy. Blindingly obvious as this sounds, it won't be until I can regain more of my schedule to myself that the romance returns. "Now You Labor Every Day / Love Life Drifts Away."

Anyway, good to be back in California. Stockholm was a great old european city where all the pretty girls ride bikes in freezing cold weather. Austin is a mecca, the Portland of Texas, and full of fabulous friends and collaborators and (apparently) cheap rents and wild wide-open american scenes. Tempe/Phoenix is a desert dream city, full of neon and fresh asphalt and the wide open blue skies that only the Southwest can deliver. But I'm happy to be back home.