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Steve Jobs Eulogy

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs

By MONA SIMPSON

Published: October 30, 2011

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild. This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.

We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter.

I told Steve I’d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.

Steve told me it was a good thing I’d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful.

I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.

Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.

That’s incredibly simple, but true.

He was the opposite of absent-minded.

He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.

When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.

He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.

Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.

For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.

He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.

He was willing to be misunderstood.

Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.

Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.

His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.

Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.

When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.

They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.

This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there.

And he did.

Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning.

Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.

Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.

With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun.

He treasured happiness.

Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.

Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.

I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.

Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes.

“You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.

He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.

I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.

Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham.

One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially.

I told him: Steve, this is special treatment.

He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”

Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.

For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to.

By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.

None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.

I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.

What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.

Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.

His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.

He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.

Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.

He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.

This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing.

But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:

OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.

Mona Simpson is a novelist and a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She delivered this eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, on Oct. 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University.

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Steven P. Jobs, 1955 – 2011

My thoughts and prayers are with Steve Job’s family, both immediate and work.

In 1987, I wrote my first report on an Apple. I worked at my high school newspaper on an Apple. The office I worked in at college was an Apple computer. I entered the business world and it was IBM only. In 2004, I bought my first iMac and I was back with Apple and I never looked back. When I started my own investment firm, I bought iMacs against the industry standard. I bought the first iPhone two days after it’s release. I have owned 2 MacBooks, 1 MacBook Pro, 5 iMacs, 3 iPads and 3 iPhones (not to mention the 5 iPods for my family). I made my 72 year-old dad buy an iPad for my 70-year-old mother, and she loves it. My son is watching Toy Story 3 (Pixar) as I type this.

Apple products have been there for most of my life. I wish the best to Apple the company, Steve’s family and the computing world.

We lost one of the great visionaries today. Every computer on every desk, every laptop at every coffee shop, every tablet everywhere was influenced by in a way by Steve. He’s left his mark on the world. If the goal was to leave this life better than you found it, Steve Jobs did just that. Thanks for encouraging us to “Think Different”.

Rest in Peace, Steve. May god bless your family during their time of loss.

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Why I don’t remember Sept. 2001 like everyone else.

Leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I, like most people, are reflecting on what that tragic day was to us personally.  Do the events of that day conjure up thoughts of American Pride, anger, sorrow, of course.  But for me, personally, I have mixed emotions from that month.  NO, I don’t plan on writing about my frustration with airport security, or the issues around ground zero.  The other half of my emotional spectrum is joy.

On September 11, 2001, my wife, Jennifer was 9 months pregnant with our child (I didn’t know if it was a he or she at that time).  He was born on 9/26/01 and we named him, Truce Gehrig Souza.  A lot of people at the time thought that we named him that because of what was going on at the time.  That was not the case.  Truce Myers was Jennifer’s great Uncle and he’s named after him (Gehrig is after my favorite baseball player of all time, Lou Gehrig).

Following that days after 9/11, Jennifer and I poised the big question; What kind of world are we bringing a child into that things like this happen? My son was born into the war on terrorism and two weeks from now he’s going to celebrate his 10th birthday.  He’s never NOT lived under the flag of war.

But 10 years ago, there was no such thing as a “War on Terror”.  There was only me, my beautiful wife and our soon to be born son. There was no such thing as autism.  It existed, don’t get me wrong, but to us it was Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.  It would be 3 more years until we became connected to autism.   There was Jebadiah the wonder dog, and Junebug but no Eve or Bella.  There was 2003 Westview, but no 1516 Bowman.  There was a Nana, not the memory of her. There was an A.G. Edwards & Sons, there was not a Souza Financial Group.

My 30’s have given me the best damn 10 years of my life.  I’m happy and grateful for so many things that I can’t begin to name them.  America, I love ya, however I’m going to spend the day relishing in the joys you offer us, not in the tragedies of the past.  I have a pork butt on the grill and there is a full day of NFL games on.  If that doesn’t say “America”, I don’t know what does.  God bless the families of those lost on 9/11 and everyday in the war since. God bless everywhere.

Happy Birthday to the greatest thing to happen in September 2001, Truce Gehrig Souza.Truce Souza 2011

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One Month Left

Indians celebrate 16th inning win on 8/31/11.Here we sit, on September 1, 2011 and the Cleveland Indians are in 2nd place, 5.5 games back. No one, and I mean no one, predicted this. At the beginning of the year, every sportswriter, blogger, and fan of baseball (including me) had my beloved Tribe finishing 4th in the AL Central. All of the so-called experts had the Indians winning 70 games, 75 tops. The Indians record right now is 68-65. For them to be 3 games over .500 with a month left to go in the season is remarkable. The fact that they would still be hanging in this race with all the injuries and the lack of experience on this team is a testament to what Manny Acta can do as a manager. (I have to give kudos to the White Sox for hanging in there too. It’s got to be tough having Dunn & Rios suck 8 at-bats every night from your lineup and still be in contention.)

Good times, good times
This season has been fun for me. Because we are winning? Yes, that’s part of it, but seeing this team gel and put together a beginning of the season like they did (remember the 30-15 start?) It’s been fun to see, for all practical purposes a AAA ball club, stay in first for most of the season. It reminds me of 1994 when the Indians had guys like; Thome, Belle, Alomar, Lofton, Ramirez, Nagy, Baerga. While we have the advantage of time and can see how those young players went on to great things, back then they were a young, inexperienced team that had not proven a thing. Only Sandy Alomar’s Rookie of the Year trophy hung in the glass case. Is this team going to go on the run the ’90’s Indians did? I don’t know. I’m not looking for a dynasty, I’m looking for a team that I enjoy watching. I enjoy watching this team.the '94 Indians team

Anyone who has gotten within earshot of me for the past several years has heard me complain about Eric Wedge’s management of the pitching staff. Wedge is one of those managers that when the 6th inning rolls around and his starter gives up a leadoff walk, then a single, then hits a batter, he sends the pitching coach to talk to him. Next batter up hits a bases-clearing double, then Wedgie would go get him. That was my existence from 2003 – 09. Besides the run in 2007, it was a long 7 years. THAT, my friends, is not fun.

Don’t you want to win every year?
I got into a conversation with an old schoolmate who is a Yankee’s fan. I like to jab at his Yankee supporting comments and he gives it right back. It’s fun. In the middle of one of our exchanges he asked, “Wouldn’t u like for the Indians to spend more money and be a true contender each year or u happy with them spending bottom money and being a contender for a few weeks?” Good question. My answer: “Would I like a contending team, yea, but it’s been a hell of a lot more fun this year with them coming together than expecting it every year.”

From 1995 – 2001, I was right there along with him. I expected to be in the world series every year. We went to 2 and won none. I guess I like to live my sports life somewhere between a dynasty & doormats. I want to know that my teams have a chance to win it all.

Our Fate is in our own hands
Will we make the playoffs? I hope so. Will I stay awake and watch (via my iPad) a 16-inning game against the A’s on August 31st? Yes. Because for me, its about being a fan and rooting, rally cap and all for my team to pull out the win. We have 29 games left. 14 are against the Tigers and White Sox. So, if we are going to win the AL Central, we are not going to be scoreboard watching. We win big in those 14 games, we make the playoffs. We don’t and we rest up for next year.

Go Tribe.

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Coffee-crusted Ribeyes & Grilled Veggies

Coffee-crusted ribeyesI have declared this the “Summer of Coffee-Crusted Steak” with all apologies to George Constanza. I have fixed steak a few times this year and every time, I used this rub. This Sunday, we made what has become the Souza Grill staple; Coffee-crusted steak and grilled veggies. Both are so simple to make, I thought I would share.


Coffee-Crusted Steak
Here’s the rub recipe:
1 tablespoon finely ground dark-roasted coffee (don’t make this too hard, Folgers works fine)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, optional

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together with your hands. I usually double the recipe for 4 steaks so that I have enough to cover every inch of them. If you have extra, store it in an airtight container, because you will use it again. Lightly coat the steaks with oil. Put the rub on the steaks, coating evenly. You can stop reading now, if you feel comfortable grilling steak. If you want a tip or two, read on. I would suggest that you set your grill up so that all the coals are on one side (we call this indirect or 2-zone in the grilling biz). Start with the steak directly over the coals to get the rub crusted on, about 3 minutes each side, keeping the lid on as much as possible. Then, move the steak to the side without the coals to cook the rest of the way. Use an instant-read thermometer and look for an internal temperature of 130-135 for medium rare. Note that your steak will continue to cook after you pull it off the grill for a few degrees. I put some foil over my steaks and let them sit for 5 minutes or so to rest before serving.

Grilled peppers onions and mushroomsGrilled Vegetables
1 or 2 Vidalia Onions
1 or 2 Red Bell Peppers
1 Package of mushrooms
3 cloves of pressed garlic (or as many as you want, I was trying to be nice, I usually use 5 or so)

Here is the scoop. Cut up some onions, red peppers, mushrooms in chunks and add some fresh garlic in a bowl. Lightly coat with oil and add some salt & pepper and mix together. If you want to use any other spices, here’s the time to do it. I usually throw on some vegetable magic or one of the other many spices that I have on the shelf. One grilling item worth its weight in gold is my Weber vegetable basket. It’s about $20, but we use it all the time. Put the veggies in the basket and put directly over the coals. Grill them until they are done. I usually look for a little char on the red peppers as my gauge. Keep your spatula handy to keep mixing them up. Pull them off the grill and serve as a side or throw them on top the steak.

cream cheese stuffed jalapeñosADDED BONUS:
Bacon-wrapped Jalapeño peppers

12 jalapeño peppers (look for the larger ones, they are easier to fill)
1 brick of cream cheese softened
6 strips of bacon, cut in 1/2 (you need a 1/2 strip for each jalapeño)
Some spices (mix in what you want, what you like, try different stuff)
24 toothpicks

Mix your brick of cream cheese in a bowl with your spices. I like using soul food seasoning, but any rub, garlic salt, anything will work. You want to get that mixed up, so that the spice has time to release and mix in with the cheese. You may want to wear gloves when handling the jalapeños. I don’t, but almost always rub my eyes at some point and burn the hell out of them. Stupid is as stupid does. Cut the tops (part with the stem) off the jalapeños far enough down so it makes a cap (about 1/4”). Using a thin knife, cut all the guts out of the jalapeños, be careful not to pierce the outside from within. Make it easy on yourself and put the cream cheese/spice mix in a baggie and cut a small corner off the bag to use as an icing tube. Stick the corner down in the jalapeño and fill it with the mix. Put one of the 1/2 slices of bacon over the opening and wrap it around the pepper. Put the top back on and secure it with some toothpicks. Put them on the grill, but be cautious because they will char up easily. I would try to near the coals, but not directly over.

This is a great summer meal, leave your comments, suggestions & questions below.  I took some more pictures:

grilled jalapeñosveggies and jalapeños