Monday, March 28, 2011

Sundae Experiment: Jassen

This week's Sundae experiment presented me with a new challenge. My 'subjects' were relative strangers to me. As you probably noticed, my first three interviews involved friends, which in itself was cool and interesting, but they were 'safe', for lack of a better word. How would things go with someone I knew only in passing (e.g. getting ice cream every week)? Someone who didn't allow me the head start of already having a pretty good feel for who they were and where they came from. I must admit I was a little more anxious for these next two, but as luck would have it, I picked a couple of great and easygoing folks who made it as easy as chatting with old friends. It was a warmish sunny day, so I decided to take it to the backyard of the shop, overlooking one melting Nashawannuck Pond.

My two Sundae Experiment volunteers, Jassen and Ali, are married, and although there's definitely a similar theme to both of our conversations, I've decided to post just one at a time. I particularly enjoyed the story of how these two ended up together, but you're going to have to wait until Ali's piece for that part...

Up first, Jassen..

What’s the favorite part of your day?

I'd have to say when I get home and start cooking dinner. I like what I'm doing, but I've always wanted to be a chef. My mind goes away when I start chopping vegetables and getting spices prepared, just getting dinner ready. I love the smells that come off the stove or out of the oven.

What do you do for a living?

I work in sheet metal. I write programs that punch out the metal and bend it. Stuff like that.

Is your career a big part of your life? In other words, do you work to live or live to work?

I work to pay for what I live for. I go to work and while I'm there I'm completely dedicated, but the minute I get out, I'm out and it's time for my life. I try not to let the two mix. I don't bring work home. I do have to work overtime sometimes and once in a while I do think about stuff at home, but I try hard not to. Luckily, there’s not a lot I can do at home anyway.

Do you have any kids?

Actually, you’re the fifth one to know, we are now expecting.


It’s exciting and nerve-wracking a little. We've planned it so it's not like it's 'oh my god'.

I can edit that out if you're not ready to go 'public' with the good news.

No, it's ok. I think most people know already.

You've always struck me as a happy guy, with an easy laugh.

I am. Why worry about things you can't control. Live each day, enjoy it.

Do you think about it much or just live your life?

I don't know if I work at being happy. I just let the little things make me happy. Like driving to work and the sun is coming up, and the sky is bright red. That puts a smile on my face. It’s the little things. I enjoy the little things. At the same time, I try not to sweat the little things. I try to stay pretty upbeat about everything, as long as I'm healthy, my wife is healthy, and my family is around.

Which is more important - money or time?

Time, definitely.

I wouldn't sacrifice time for more money at work. What good is money if you're at work all the time, not doing the things you want to do? I don't know, I try not to live beyond my means, but money definitely isn't happiness.

Here’s a variation of a question I’ve asked a few times now, customized just for you – what advice would you have for your newborn baby as he or she enters the world?

Never eat yellow snow. (laughs)

I don't know. I guess it would be treat others as you want to be treated. I know it's very cliché, but it's also very true. Treat everyone equally. Never hold a prejudice before you get to know them.

Then it's fine to hate them. I’m kidding.

If you really don't get along with someone, you don't have to get along. Just don't be evil for the sake of being evil.

It's simple stuff, but it really does go a long way.

It is. I guess that's just the way I try to live.

Everyone tries get more, and have more, and do more. Just tone it back a little bit. This is fantastic; we’re sitting here by the pond on a sunny Sunday and eating ice cream. This is as complicated as I want to be right now.

Is there a person, place, book, or event that had a significant influence on you?

There's this one summer about five or six years ago, I'd just gotten out of a bad relationship. I went home to see my parents, not related in any way to my break-up, just a visit. I told my Dad a buddy of mine had taken me out fishing in kayaks recently. I told him we should buy kayaks. We'd always gone fishing. Well, we did and when we got the kayaks, we ended up going every Sunday for that entire summer. We’d meet at 8 in the morning, have breakfast, load up the kayaks, and go fishing. I spent every Sunday of that entire summer in this boat, on one of the local ponds. You learn a lot about yourself when you're trying to catch a fish with a little plastic worm. You think about a lot. There’s a ton of time while you wait for that nibble on the end of the line.

The reason I brought up the bad relationship is because that summer it was fresh in my mind - what went wrong, what happened, how did it happen? What do I want out of the next one? I’m always trying to improve. That's just where everything kind of clicked. Just fishing and thinking about life. What do you want out of it? I used to be on the go all the time - in Boston every weekend, go, go, go. Just slowing down that summer is what really changed my perspective on things. Slow it down. This is all your need – a piece of string, a hook, and a worm. And someone to hang out with. That's really all you need.

Relationships can be good like that, even when they end badly. I think it's when you actually grow the most. It’s easy to not think about stuff when things are going well.

That summer was awesome. Talking with my Dad. We had separate kayaks - he'd go one way, I'd go the other, and we’d meet in the middle. ‘How'd you do?’ Then there were other times when we'd just follow each other along the shoreline and just talk about stuff. ‘What do you think about this? What should I do about that?’

I bet if I interviewed your Dad, he would probably tell the same story. Quality time like that with Dad can be rare and precious. Guys don't usually have long conversations with each other.

I agree, even now if I call him up it's a three minute conversation. ‘How are you doing? Good and you? Fine, I’ll talk to you later.’ But we do still go fishing. Our schedules have changed a bit, but when we go it's just like it was that summer. How's married life, the house, the job, etc.? It expands from there. It starts with a simple ice breaker then goes on to many things about life.

Things are clicking right along for you. That's great.

Life is good. That’s not to say I don't have any stress, because everybody does but I try to make the most of it. You never know what's coming next.

You know one thing that's coming next for you, good luck with everything. I'm sure you're going to be a great Dad. And thanks for joining me, it’s been fun.

I agree, this was fun, and thanks for the ice cream.

1 comment:

Mark said...

So cool. i love these.