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What's your story? Uhhh...

Peter McCormick

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A few years back my wife and I attended the annual dinner meeting of the Passamaquoddy Yacht Club, of which we were new members. Sounds kind of snooty, doesn't it? Ahhh, names often belie the true nature of things.

The Passamaquoddy Yacht Club is half sailing organization and half social club. Its locale is a triangle of ports (Eastport and Lubec, Maine, and Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, where our summer place is located) near the entrance to Passamaquoddy Bay, off the Bay of Fundy, home of the highest tides in the western hemisphere.

Ironically, there are some sailboats but no yachts in the area other than perhaps a "lobster yacht" or "picnic boat" visiting from Mount Desert Island -- home of Acadia National Park, Martha Stewart, the Millikens and the Rockefellers -- about 100 miles to the south. FYI, lobster yachts were originally working lobster boats converted to recreational use so the moneyed gentility of coastal Maine could use them for picnicking on board or on the out islands. The early converted working boats have yielded to custom picnic boats crafted by Maine artisanal boatmakers such as Hinckley or Ellis, and available to anyone with a half million or more in folding cash. That is not us.

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A Hinckley picnic boat. As the old saying goes, if you have to ask how much, you can't afford it.

We were encouraged by some friends and neighbors to join the PYC even though we don't own a boat..The joke is, when asked what kind of boat you have, you simply reply "gravy". Everyone understands.

In any case, I was enjoying a beer and snacking on some appys prior to dinner when I turned and came face-to-face with an obviously free-spirited woman ten years younger or so than myself. It was one of those semi-awkward things that occasionally happen at cocktail parties or when browsing the groaning table. She was with a dapper fellow about 30 years her senior.

Since part of the initiative was to meet new people, we both took a half-step back to regain some personal space and said hello.

"So what's your story?" she asked.

Huh? Say what? I guess I gave her a blank stare and 'hominy-homonied' a bit, because she then said, "Yeah, who are you? What do you do? What are you all about?"

I guess I gave her a blank stare and 'hominy-homonied' a bit, because she then said, "Yeah, who are you? What do you do? What are you all about?"

I first thought that was a fairly frontal question from a near-bumpee, but recognizing her free-spirit and happy smile, I played along. It was a curious exercise.

Put yourself in that position. On the spot, with no forethought, distill yourself down to a couple of sentences that would capture your essence and convey it to a stranger. I guess I'm still trying to fine-tune what I should have said, since I still remember the incident and reflect from time to time.

Of course I had to return the question, to which she didn't hesitate in responding. "I'm 49, single, a writer, renting for the summer down the road a bit, and my friend here is gay and a lot of fun." Okay. Obviously she had rehearsed.

It has since occurred to me that we go through a similar exercise when deciding what to put on our social media profiles. Are you a spouse/parent first and foremost, or does your career identity take precedent?  Dogfather? Foodie?

My Twitter profile states: "TurfNet founder, Boston Bruins fan, bucket list guitarist, family man, dog-father, foodie, craft beer lover, Kubota jockey and man of Stihl."

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That has been tweaked a couple of times over the years, and is really in need of further adjustment. I used to have "Golden Retriever snob" in there but since our pack of Goldens has dwindled to one and our most recent canine acquisitions are rescues of other breeds, the snob thing really doesn't apply anymore. We are EODLs, or Equal Opportunity Dog Lovers.

I must have written that profile blurb in the winter or spring due to the prominence of the Boston Bruins fan thing. That would have likely been farther down the list in summer, but it's in prime time right now!

"Foodie" and "craft beer lover" probably wouldn't make the cut if I were to write or revise it today. I still enjoy good food but a real foodie loves to cook, and while I do at times, I simply don't do it that much anymore. It's not as big a part of me as it once was.

Same goes for craft beer. As many craft beers have eclipsed the 8% ABV mark, and given my propensity to consume more than one ("The first is mouthwash," I would say), I have realized that 16 oz 8%+ beers are not my friend. 12 oz cans of Founders All-Day IPA at 4.7% ABV are just fine, and don't blow my head apart should I choose to drink more than a couple... which I also rarely do anymore.

The periodic exercise in introspection is what is important here. Does your career come first, or your family? Dog before spouse? Hobbies? "What hobbies?" you say. Tsk, tsk. Everyone should have a hobby or diversion.

Since Twitter is mostly a business thing or me, "TurfNet founder" takes top placement as there is only one, and that's me. No ambiguity there. "Husband of 40 years to the same woman" and "proud father of two great daughters" should be up at the top, although I somewhat vaguely covered that with "family man".

Bucket-list guitarist has to stay, as I've only been at it less than four years and it has changed my life. We are never too old for a new challenge.

Bucket-list guitarist has to stay, as I've only been at it less than four years and it has changed my life. We are never too old for a new challenge.

The Kubota/Stihl thing still applies, but to a lesser degree. I enjoy my time in the woods, but after ten years of it and hundreds of trees felled my muscles and joints ache more and my stamina suffers with age. 

Mickey McCord also constantly admonishes me to not work alone with a chainsaw. After having a close call with my foot a few years back, and with the guitar causing a newfound appreciation of my fingers, Kubota and Stihl have also taken a step back among my priorities.

I recently realized that "voracious reader" and "Jack Reacher wannabe" never made the list. They should. I average about one novel per week. I don't read non-fiction as there's too much of that in real life these days.

Part of the take-home here is that things change over time. Our lives and priorities change. Our jobs change. Our outlook on life changes.

I often encourage people to look back five or ten years years and see how their lives have changed. Could you have predicted where you are today? Many of us could not.

The flipside of that is to be aware of the rate of change as it accelerates into the future. In my opinion it's naive, if not downright impossible, to plan more than five years ahead, 'cause it's a crapshoot beyond that. I'm not recommending not saving for retirement and things like that. Rather, stay flexible and go with the flow without too much predetermination.

In my opinion it's naive, if not downright impossible, to plan more than five years ahead...

Back to my Twitter persona to close this out. I have been chastised for using salty language about hot-button topics on my @TurfNetMaestro Twitter account. I suppose they are right, to a degree. I should separate that out.

One of my fellow turf media folks referred to me awhile back as a "grumpy old prick". Hey, I like that, I thought. So I went ahead and registered @GrumpyOldPrick as an alter-ego Twitter handle. Seriously. I did.

I haven't resorted to using it yet, partly because I'm working on that 'grumpy' thing. And that's a benefit of this whole introspective, who-am-I, what's-my-story exercise. A problem recognized is half-solved.



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You really do kill me Mac. Time to use that pseudonym handle for some rants. Just wish I'd thought of the handle sooner. You've now got 3 followers.

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