All of this doesn’t matter that much

I’m a huge fan of Million Dollar Listing New York. I barely watch tv outside of sports, but I’ve seen all 8 seasons of this one and all 17 of Project Runway. What those shows have in common is the importance of problem solving and working within a limited window of opportunity. There is only so much you can say to make that construction next door a positive when selling an apartment. Have to make a dress with what you find in a floral store? No sweat.

However, this season of MDLNY is full of sturm und drang because the market for million dollar listings is in the toilet. The brokers the season follows, Fredrick, Ryan, Steve, and Luis, now have to really struggle for every sale. For a group of Type A high achievers, this is a daily struggle against the expectations they set for themselves.

I like them all personally, which is probably why I enjoy the show so much. I read Fredrick’s book, I downloaded Ryan’s, and I have a strong fondness for the searching that Luis allows himself. They feel real to me.

In this season, it’s Ryan who has a really tough go of it, and his wife, Emilia, has to calm him down.

Emilia: All of this doesn’t matter that much. You have to calm down.

Ryan: Every day. Every day. On the fifteen minute mark, I get yelled at because the market is crashing. It’s my fault. I can’t control the market. I can’t control what things are selling for. The things that people say to me are so fscked up. All I want to do is do good work. Do good work.

Emilia: You just said you can’t change the market. You can’t freak out about something you can’t change.

Ryan: It’s just tough right now.

Emilia: It’s always going to be tough. You put so much pressure on yourself. You’re going to have a heart attack. You’re so young. Is this how your dad was? (Ryan nods) Children learn from their parents. This is your safe zone. You should be laughing. Otherwise, when does this end?

She’s right. There is only so much you can do, and it’s not worth destroying the peace of home to make right what is essentially out of your control.

In the end, all of this doesn’t matter all that much.

The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants

I left work early today to pick up a job and a few things for an upcoming event. As I was coming out of the first stop with purchase in hand, a guy pulled in and said, “Hey, you passed me on the highway.”

Despite having a 225 hp turbo under the hood, I drive like a much older person driving a much lesser car. Really. So, I knew I wasn’t a jerk to him.

He continued, “What year is that car?” When I told him, he just stared at it. “I was going to buy one of those, but I got into an argument with the dealer over cruise control. I bought a Civic instead.” He was driving a Honda but not a Civic.

“It’s my favorite car I’ve ever owned,” I noted.

“Yeah, I bet if I bought that, I would still own it too. Have a good day.”

Sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. Don’t let a petty argument get in the way of a great ride.

A Different Egg

My mom lost her favorite cousin Gary last month. He was 69 and died of a stroke suffered after the removal of a brain tumor.

Gary was the son of Paul “Rusty” Rostock, my mom’s uncle and oldest child of Elizabeth and Paul Rostock.  Rusty was an entrepreneur and a very formal gentleman who was married his entire life to his college sweetheart. Gary was gregarious, informal, and very laid back.  I have to think Rusty saw his oldest son as hatched from an entirely different egg.

Married three times, Gary could exhaust someone who operated on a strict schedule. His third wife would channel his talents when she put him to work as a sales person in her appliance store.  He had recently retired from the business when he passed away.

When I lived in Boise, ID briefly after graduate school, my mom and I spent a day with Gary that would become my favorite memory. He was selling insurance at the time and had to visit a vacation home in McCall to assess its insurance risk. We drove the hour north to a lovely A-frame home with a spacious deck, which stopped about twenty feet from the edge of a meandering creek. After walking around the house, Gary announced he was tired and was going to take a nap in the loft before we departed. To be clear, this wasn’t a friend’s house. It was a potential client’s house. However, the mood struck him, and he wanted to nap to the sound of the water. And so he did. It was the kind of informal, off the cuff decision that I think of when I think of him.

As a person, I’m more like Rusty, who was one of my very favorite relatives and a great mentor and friend. I’m more structured and tend not to make snap decisions. Despite my best efforts, I am not laid back. I have an admiration for those who take life at a more relaxed pace though. There are different paths, and different speeds, for all.

Rest in peace, Gary.

Gary Rostock
Gary with his then-wife Linda in our living room on Sunset Avenue, Boise, Idaho. The back of the print photo says, “We had a birthday party for Gary, and the children gave him a hat.” January, 1982



I wish smart phones were smarter

“I wish smart phones were smarter, more intuitive. If you open your browser or platform or email it can sense your emotional and psychological state and deny you access with screens like, ‘Maybe give it an hour,’ ‘its not a good time to see this,’ or ‘okay, that’s enough.’” – Marc Maron

Radical Desire for Time Travel

“I would say we’re in the process of radical desire for time travel, which is something different. There was a survey – really fascinating to me – done of Republican voters in this last election by the Times. Seven out of ten of them wishing America could go back to how it was in the 1950s. This is very interesting point for me because that kind of historical nostalgia is only available to a certain kind of person. ”

Gross: “A white person.”

“Mainly. I can’t go back to the 50s. Life in the 50s for me is not pretty. Nor is it pretty in 1320, 1460, 1580, 1820, or even 1960 in this country frankly. That is interesting to me. The historical nostalgia that is available to some but not to others. And I am also historically nostalgic. The left is also nostalgic. As tempting as it would be to apply the solutions of the past to 1970s semi-socialist England to the present problems, I don’t think that is possible either. I think the idea is that you find some way to restate the thinks that you find valuable in the past – if you find them valuable – in a way that people live with – in a way that is livable in this contemporary moment.”

“That interests me. how to deal with nostalgia, which is a total human train on the right and the left – but in a way that is clear-eyed and factual. ”

-Zadie Smith and Terry Gross on Fresh Air


I’m a huge Project Runway fan. I’ve watched every season, and I think there are lessons in there for life. First off – don’t complain or argue. I’m a creative and the vast majority of my work is collaborative. Negative feedback is inevitable, so take it with grace and find the nugget you can use. Those who do that on the runway always make it. This week’s episode told another story. In a team challenge, one member didn’t speak up enough and was bullied by the other two into accepting their ideas and doing most of the work for a collection that failed. It was infuriating to watch, but the lesson is in there too. Speak up. Your future depends on it.

Uncle Rusty

I lost my great uncle Rusty last weekend; although, I didn’t find out until this weekend because my mom knew I was on vacation and didn’t want to upset me. He was the first born son of my German great grandparents. They spoke German to him until he went to kindergarten and returned home confused. He served time in the US Air Force and was an entrepreneur. He retired from his own business at 68. When I returned to Boise after graduate school in ’97, I would frequent his kitchen table where we would share a glass of wine with his lovely wife and then take in a BSU basketball game. He had season tickets. Those were the first sporting events I ever attended. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more – the deep conversation or the game. He was great company. He lived to be 93, which is a year older than my great grandmother, who died on election day 1992, a few weeks shy of her 93rd birthday. Rest in Peace, Rusty.

Room for everyone

“No books. No effort. Does not function as a member of class.” – Report card of Joey Ramone as seen at the Queens Museum Ramones exhibit. A reminder that this very large world has room for all kinds of people and all kinds of talents and skills.