The entrepreneur’s journey

 This may or may not be of interest to the non-entrepreneur or business-minded persona. So it goes.

Step one is brilliant. At least that’s what I think at first. Two days later? Fuck me that was silly. Two days after that? Maybe it wasn’t fuck silly but it hindsight shows alternatives with clear advantages.

“There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self.” Carl Jung. I heard this on a podcast a while ago. And it’s proving true true true.

What does there is no linear evolution mean?

So now I have these grandiose ideas. Which always feels like step one. Right? There’s that sparkle and uncertainty and surge of creative energy. There’s the unknown and the possibility. And I’ve noticed the way ideas which were initially brilliant have proven bastardly stupid—some of them. Not all. Some have proven resilient, solid from the get-go. But now, at an idea’s wild inception, I look suspiciously. I inspect inspect inspect.

What I’m finding is that inspection is good—homework, research, prudence, sleeping on it. But ultimately, in the end, inspection requires action. I mean after all the safety tests and simulations the damn ship must be put in the water. The storm must come. And be weathered.

I have all these ideas for law practice. Developing an expungement app to make things cheaper and easier for clients. Other states have them, just not Minnesota. Reversing the model of specialization, and offering myself as a generalist. Why, because this is really what millennials want. They don’t wanna a lawyer to sock them for the long haul. We millennials want a lawyer to say yea or nea, point us in the direction and then leave us alone. A $50 investment versus a couple grand.

But the conventional wisdom is specialization, specialization, specialization. The industrial revolution was founded on this key manufacturing principle. Specialization is essential. The rationale in professions like law and medicine is that expertise across all of the discipline is impossible. Why? Because as a generalist lawyer you’re always at a disadvantage compared to the guy who just does taxes. Or just does wills.


HelloDivorce, for example, is a new website that offers minimal legal guidance to an increasingly DIY generation of YouTubers.

Who knows. Keep plugging. One carbonated water at a time.

A bowl of kelp noodles

Mmm chopstickked dinner. Dish towel over my shoulder. One leg tucked under bum. Hat cocked sloppily to the side. Salt lips. Sautéed mushrooms. Two over easy eggs. Organic ground beef. And….kelp noodles. Have mercy the kelp noodles.

Listening to Alt-J. 0-1-0-0-0-1.

Listen to Aretha Franklin all morning. While flour-all-over-me rolling out quiche dough. Life as a coffeeshop kitchen cook. I put in earbuds at 9am and listened to a CLE on arbitration best practices. You wouldn’t think it, necessarily, but it’s fascinating stuff. Judges don’t like those big ass binders, the panelist judge said, speaking from experence. So don’t submit your exhibits or evidence or whatever in the binders.

Kate went out to Thai food with her sister and brother for siblings night.

McLaughlin Law, LLC is almost fully operational. A few tweeks here and there.

Aren’t there always? A few tweeks.

We desperately need a new toilet. The bottom ring is leaking. Little by little. A stream trickles into a lake at the base of the toilet. Clear turns to rust.

After Kate got home from work, and I had just sipped my first afternoon cup of Kenya coffee—I know Kenya is in Africa, but don’t have a damn idea where… in the middle?

I drove to the county court and talked with a clerk guy who was separated from me by a plexiglass window and wore a purple Vikings polo. Is it casual attire all the time, or just Fridays? Anyway, he was helpful. I need to send two $15 checks to the BCA and authorize them to release our criminal records AND send to Dakota County. I commented on how complicated this whole thing was. That I’d been back and forth multiple times. He nodded, stapling various papers. This one is nothing, he said.

I thought about what practicing law will be like.

I could keep frying eggs and eating them. Keep waiting for the translucent to become white and edible.

Splurged at Aldi, this afternoon. Bought La Croix for a dollar more.

Uncle Pat

Some days it feels like there’s nothing to say. Just meh, luke warm, exhaustion or indifference. And other days, there’s so much happening upstairs. Not just one pinball in the machine, but a thousand. Any selection of ideas or thoughts would be misrepresentative.

I feel so grateful that expressing the size and shape and dimensions of my gratitude risks sounding as cheesy as Christmas on the Danna side, which is Italian lasagna and spaghetti and parmesan galore.

I’m writing this from the car outside Sociable Cider Werks.

I spent the morning and early afternoon with Ellie while Kate worked. We finally organized my desk and the spare bedroom, which contains my closet and her diaper changing station.

The funeral yesterday meant something to me. I didn’t even know Don. I saw him once at a Christmas gathering. They were planning farkle. Not sure on the spelling. Or how to play. But the priest talked about family. Even the church meant something to me yesterday. Almost as much as the family, but not quiet. I’m god damn realizing that family is the alpha and the omega, It’s like this guy named Dog at the VFW luncheon said: everyone else will fuck you over, but family takes care of ya. I did this kids dreads once in Georgia, only once, and he kept saying ‘bet.’ I guess it means good, or word, or yeah man. Just something to say. Family is bet. And I mean that in the sense of dope, rad, the shit. You get me?

It’s taken 31 years. It’s taken becoming a father. And having that baby crawl to one year of age. And then start hobbling around.

Family is odd, just to speak of it as an entity. But there have been several family gatherings lately, and many since we’ve moved back to Minnesota a few months ago. It’s almost like the family is an all-encompassing entity. We get insurance from family. We get babysitting from family. We are obliged to rake the yards of family. We eat the Sicilian spaghetti sauce of family. We watch their kid when they go on vacation. We sweep the floor and massage the back of the family whose back went out or whose ulcers started screaming.

You get it.

I didn’t.

Don’t know if I fully do now.

In middle and high school, my friend Nathaniel Petrich periodically had “family day.” I’d ask him to play basketball or run or ride bikes to Taco Bell and he’d say no because it’s family day, and I’d say the whole day, and he’d say yeah the whole weekend. And he said it matter of factly without disappointment. And I was like what the fuck dude, you’re my only friend.

Family is so big it’s bigger than divorce. Because it means someone is always there for you, even when you and your spouse are imaging dartboards on the back of their skull, and baby carrots that are in your hand for the month of Whole30 are imaginary darts. What I mean is that you can’t divorce the family, the whole family, because you are part of the whole family, and the whole family is like moving from the city to the state to the nation to the globe to the universe….it gets so big it swallows you up.

Not like a whale swallows minnows, but like the stars swallow the night.

It grounds you in purpose. Of course it’s also overwhelming and judgmental and non-progressive and some people support Trump, but you just have to learn how to stop resisting. Accept, damn it. Fall in love with the potholes.

I’m rambling. Which I promised at the outset.

My uncle Pat keeps saying thank you every time we part ways, even though I never did a damn thing worth being thanked for. I initially thought it was senility, which accounted for this habit. But it’s a pretty dope thing. To be that bloody grateful all the time.

Becoming a lawyer

 $247 to change your name. I asked if there was a free option. The court clerk handed me some forms.

At home I made sure to wipe the chicken grease off my hands while filling out the forms. Explain your circumstances is the last box. I thought and thought because these kinds of open ended questions always provoke the existential in me.

I worked a double a Black Sheep today. Construction crews have been tearing up the street since we moved here. The dust never settles. Even though a truck comes and sprays water on the dirt each night. Pete, the boss at the coffeeshop, said today’s numbers were down.

My dad says effective lawyering is about short sentences. I think this is correct. Same mantra for social media. What short sentences to I write in the box at the end of the petition for a name change. It’s not silly willy nilly. Kate asks if I’m sure. That we can’t make it as Loveeachother. I say we have a duty to provide and Loveeachother doesn’t get hired as much as McLaughlin, for example.

It’s so hot the dog doesn’t want to walk and he’s stopped pulling on the leash when we do walk.

I’m wearing a white Fruit of the Loom shirt and it’s smudged brown but it’s okay because I bought a pack of five from Groupon because I’m trying to clean up my life and minimize and focus and why not start with my damn shirts.

Marriage is hard because I have several complexes, most notably a control complex.

The shrink is scheduled for next week and when she says so what is going on, I wonder what the most true answer will be. They say anxiety goes down about a problem just by talking about it. What am I most anxious about?

I’ll confess something. You can be an alcoholic and heal yourself but you’re never really healed, even though you kind of are. You can feel it in your genes.

Why isn’t it free to change your name?

The dog is chewing a bone. The ac is churning. Days go by like this, don’t they?

Dear Mom


Did you and dad fight? How did you move past it? I’m asking you because I inherited dad’s memory, which means he probably doesn’t remember. Or, like me, he remembers in ways that reinforce a narrative that looks kindly upon him. Saintly, almost.

Did you and dad fight in front of me when I was little? I’m asking because I don’t remember and maybe dad does, but I bet his opinion is skewed. Maybe all men’s opinions differ significantly from women. Or all husbands from their wives. I know people don’t like talking about gender differences, because equality yada yada, but I’m just paying attention to what’s in front of me.

When you called your parents and said that dad was drinking and that you were going to leave him and take us kids, why didn’t you? Why didn’t you just go? Did you ever ask dad to see a shrink? Did you ever see a shrink? Some people say we all see shrinks—some eat, some run, some go to church. Where did you find god?

Did you love dad like really love him, or did you just tolerate him because he provided for you and us? I realize these are hard questions. And I bet you’re thinking that I’m asking because I’m in that situation but I’m asking because I’m curious about real life and how strong people manage to walk on wobbly water. Notice that Jesus never got married. What does that say?

You and Dad always had coffee together on the deck. When did that start? I remember going out after dinner to ask a question or whine or complain about the girls watching the wrong thing on TV and you would send us back inside. Mom and Dad are having coffee, you would say.

Did you and Dad ever have sex? You don’t want to talk about that, I know. Was it good? I know that’s not going to be answered either, but every kid who grows up and really comes to terms with his parents as human beings and then looks in the mirror and looks honestly begins to wonder about who he is and where he came from and where he’s going.

When you and Dad got into fights, and you said he needs to be better at this, and he said you need to be better at that, what were those things? Do you think I inherited both sets of vices? Are they vices, always? Or are they just points where the jagged edges on two rocks rub against one another?

Were you the person who says I’m sorry first? Did you ever slam a door? Did you ever say fuck you?

You were married for 25 years, right? Did children bring down the romance in the marriage, but up the overall meaning? What does this mean? How many months or years after me did you have a date night? What did you and dad do for date nights when I was a baby? What would you have liked to do?

You know I’m asking because EllieRoo and Kate and I are all growing up, each in different ways, and as a part of growing up, we ache and stretch and scratch and whine and cry and drool. Teething hurts. Not that Ellie is teething. She’s got a runny nose, though.

Dear Mom. There’s a funeral on Tuesday for one of Kate’s close family members, or friends of family who is so close it’s like family. Funerals are odd places for me because they are in churches and because you never had a funeral, not really, not a church one. And that’s weird and incongruent like a wet Cheerio. Or like Cheerios that are destined to be soggy, forever. Like the extinction of dry Cheerios. You are the one person in my life who I needed to have a funeral for. Who I needed to bury myself. Shovel by shovel. Every son needs this. Or maybe just me.

In any case. I had a dream the other night that I was held hostage. And it didn’t have anything to do with you, but now that I’m writing I’m wondering.


The Strange Similarities Between Writing & Parenting


I’m the father of a 1-year-old. Which means, in practice (and as a metaphysical statement), I can only write one sentence at a time.

And then comes the Fisher Price phone. Little Ellie Rump is offering me her phone. Which is odd for a baby whose never seen TV and whose parents don’t share phones. We share much but phones, no. That’s a rabbit hole, there. Addiction, privacy, etc.

I’m writing more now because she’s asleep. I’ve put her down on the bed once, but I’m okay with her on my shoulder. This is how we do it. Me and her. I cautiously and carefully ruin my right thumb as I single handedly phone type.

I was thinking today, back, on her nap schedule and how it’s changed. I can’t remember the precise evolution. But I’m sure now it’s changed. Perhaps this is always the case with evolution and memory.

Or perhaps it’s just the neurologically handicapped brain of a former alcoholic. I’m not shaming myself, just thinking out loud. Or maybe I’m just inattentive to dates and need to up my own observational powers in that department.

Do you marry, as opposed to mere cohabitation with long term commitments expressed privately, for some higher good to strive for? To create some god, some heavenly star, between two mere limp carp handshake humans? Is it the same contract between father and child?

Green beans and garlic have been sautéed. Potatoes shredded and browned into hash browns. We have salad and eggs in the frig. Dinner is soon, baby is sleeping, air conditioning is roaring.

My first time meditating


It was a Sunday. Hollow, wooden, wet. Even though it was partly sunny ad 80 something. Imagine how that could be. Two contradictory states simultaneously coexisting. Wet Sunday. I’m speaking about mood. By wood, I must mean I was tense because I had the past two days to myself and the glass ego bubble was soon to be shattered. I must have known that on some level. It’s an open question. Whether the self help books are misleading to classify our ignorance as ignorance instead of stupid malevolence. Like, are we failing because we want to fail? Or we mean because we’ve decided to be mean? Crabby. Cheap. All these unfortunate states with accompanying unfortunate stories that we tell to ourselves. And retell.

I wrote this …and the “this” goes on…about the afternoon Kate and the baby were coming home from a weekend away. It starts out pretty humble. Though if you read between the lines, you can see the age of the tree, and what’s really going on up there on the upstairs balcony of my brain.

Taking back Sunday. As I finished coffee, and more coffee, while forehead scratching through my first legal brief since law school, which was a million ought six years ago, I pulled at the bag of tricks stored in the cupboard. Just a few morsels of splash, Ziplock bagged between the peanuts and the goldfish.

Then Kate and the baby came home.

And insert a story here about a man who shatters his ego, or gets his ego smacked upside the fresh head, because yes as always the world does not revolve around me—

In other words, two hours after this marital spat.

I consciously left my phone in the kitchen, out of reach, so I could meditate. Five minutes, I told myself. I closed my eyes. Watched breath for a minute Smoothed out its edges. I could really feel it. I felt the way it, my breath, really is the control valve. If I stopped breathing, I felt the transfer or movement of energy freeze. I noticed the thoughts that came up, and I noticed that I had several distinct personalities, a family of them, each with a the last name Worrier. And then I focused my attention on a problem, a specific problem. One at a time. Me not letting go of my mom, my obsession was saving money, and my fear about not succeeding as the new me, or a lawyer.

This story goes on, with the lessons I learned and the whys and the hows and whens wheres of those separate and distinct but also related sub stories.

But there is no time for sub stories.

I have a wine glass full of wild rice milk I made myself loaded with Stevia and a wee bit of maple syrup.

In other words, nighty night.

How Funerals Teach You To Win The Science Fair

There’s people in my head, see, who tell me things. These people in my head they say things like hurry rush hurry you’re going too slow. They keep talking and sometimes they’re quiet but then I think about it and it’s because there’s this other group of people in my head that’s just talking over them, talking loud. But the point remains. There’s people in my head who tell me things.

Don’t eat the chocolate chips. Is one example. And it travels all the way down the road, turns right, then left, and then walks to the end of the road, which is cliff. There are people here, too.

Walk off, they say. By that, the mean porn. Bud. Bottle. Bitterness. Name your vice and it’s in this crowd of contaminants and I see them and hear them and no amount of wicked earwax that I q-tip-spin out of my ears will diminish their numbers.

This is the war of the worlds between my ears. Herculean lords versus pythonic demons.

Even the dead don’t shut up, I read.

A funeral is scheduled for Tuesday. For real.

I wonder what it would sound like if you amplified the voices inside one funeral attender’s head during the priest’s talk about how the dead man or woman was loved and contributed to society and how god forgives sins and so now this little saint is with god. What is one attendee thinking about? Lighting a Marlboro? Or the traffic going home on 35W?

I wonder, like an art project or something, if you amplified everybody’s thoughts at the funeral just like that and played them over the priests’ voice. Like a tapestry of headspace. A choir of sin.

Is it a fractal to say that that amplifying all the funeral heads science project is precisely what i feel inside my head?



Back home. Wash diapers, wash sheets, go to Aldi, get new tire at Discount Tire, listen to CLE on bike law, order books on LLC, play with baby.

Networking is talking to people. Somehow it comes easy now. Six years ago I ran from it.

Bad deeds don’t go unpaid. Says karma. Guilty conscience weighs you down. It’s an interesting Jordan Peterson proposition.

I made bars: dates, rice cakes, chia, peanut butter, banana, Ezekiel cereal. Very delicious.

Gotta hang the diapers out to dry.

​How I Tend To Diary:

List what I ate. It's the most honest way to summarize the day. At least in some sense.

We tend to lie. We lean that way like a man with one leg that's longer than the other. Or a woman. Or genderless corporate entity. What if that's the future of this PC campaign? LLC status for all human beings. Banish gender and sexuality altogether. Just invoke tax status. LLC, C-Corp, Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Etc.

Lists cut against the tendency to lie. Pumpkin seeds, rice cracker, salami, goat cheese, water. Rice cracker. Chicken. Sour cream. Peanuts. Coffee. Cheerios.

At lunch I almost called 911. Kate said she'd meet me at noon. We're in Duluth for a Solo and Small Practice Lawyer Conference. Free burritos at noon. She didn't show up at noon, or 12:15 or 12:30. Then she texted and said her phone died and the baby was asleep on the blanket. I went from scared pale white like a ghost and almost calling 911 to angry that she need to be better about plugging in her damn phone.

Post squirmish I realize I need to listen better because she said I MIGHT meet you at noon....depending on the baby's sleep sleep sleep. Listen. I need to listen more. And listen more carefully.

I half ass things. I half assed the hotel for example. The Downtown Duluth Inn. Appears nice from the first few pics on Google and it appears close enough to Canal Park. But close enough isn't INSIDE Canal Park and these differences add up eventually. Small differences add up over time. I'm not saying to what they add up exactly, but they do. It's a matter of math, right?

Salami and rice crackers and goat's cheese. I said I wouldn't eat the rice crackers or cheese, but once we sat down at 8pm at the wooden table and bench outside the deli on Canal, I ate the crackers and the cheese and the meat. We got Andouille sausage mmm damn.

I learned quite a lot during the sessions today and spoke with a handful of very helpful people, and a handful of meh, and a handful of dud fireworks. I'm very grateful to be here and for the knowledge and for the mumpa walka walka walka all around the evening social event.

She's such a hoot. Makes everyone smile.