REPORT A PROBLEM
Walking into the building this morning, I realized that I don't go to meetings anymore – they're conference calls. Today we found out our reporting structure is changing and our group will be reporting to someone new. Immediately we all began to deconstruct the situation for political nuances. Later I discovered I sent an important e-mail to the wrong distribution list, making me feel shitty because I don't have a great track record with distributing things. But, the president approved a letter I wrote for him without changes, a major boost to my ego. I just can't seem to get leveled-out.
I keep running into this guy in the bathroom at work, a real physics teacher type with an odd technique of taking a leak. I know guys do it this way, but I can't understand how he could feel comfortable doing it this way: standing at the urinal doing his business with his hands in pockets or on his hips. I don't have that kind of confidence, I have to guide myself for fear of pissing all over the place. I mean I've seen it before – mostly guys standing there with both hands on the wall – but it disturbs me.
Didn't get as much done today as I had hoped. Cleaned out the gutters (fourth time in the last 12 months) and attempted to prune the trees in the backyard that hang over the house. Going to have to hire someone to do it because the branches are too big, plus I'm not crazy about heights and I don't want to kill myself falling off the second story. We're finally going to paint this place to get rid of the Smurf blue that the original owners painted, which means I have to finish the brickwork and take down the shutters.
I'm so tired. Life with my son is very intense. He doesn't stop for anything, go, go, go all the time, into everything and only stops when we put him into his crib where he falls asleep almost instantly. Of course life goes on – laundry, lawn mowing, errands – but I know I don't get the brunt of it. My wife does. Despite everything, I don't think I've been happier. And happy isn't someplace I know well. I'm actually content where I am at, this moment that I'm in, not worrying about the next. I think I will go to bed.
At my last place of employment we had serious employee morale issues. To counter these corrosive forces, my boss decided that we should celebrate more things. Our first celebration was Cinco de Mayo. Of course the company couldn't afford to pick up the bill for refreshments so we were all assigned to bring something – salsa, corn chips, black bean dip, whatever. So at the appointed hour we all gathered and spent 20 or so painful minutes looking at each other and wishing the celebration was over. We all felt stupid because it was a couple weeks after Cinco de Mayo.
When I was in high school, everyone knew about the strange guy who rode his bike around town. No one knew much about him, except he had hippie hair and always wore the same clothes. We thought he was crazy. It was rumored that he lived with his mom because he had gone to college and fried his mind with too much LSD. In the summers, he was always at the pool, swimming with his goggles at the shallow end with the little kids – until he was asked to leave because of pictures he was taking with an underwater camera.
Irrational guilt and phantom fears, random pain from the past, and jet black self-loathing, it is so very hard to be positive sometimes because I cannot accept, I do not accept that I am human and make mistakes – it is easier sometimes to be drunk and alone instead of working to improve my emotional state; but life is not easy, not meant to be easy, it is my choice what to do with my life, yet I want to be coddled and pitied for my life, almost like I can't stop my thought patterns and wanting my selfish little wants.
A chilly frost rode the wind, swirling the dried leaves around the Logan fountain, which had been drained for the winter. Sitting on the side of the fountain, he looked down the parkway at the museum and felt the loneliness of the empty flagpoles deep inside him. Absorbed in attitude of detachment, he didn't notice the haggard little man until he felt something being pushed into his hand. Looking down he saw a page torn from the Bible with the words
you have seen me and still you do not believe
underlined. When he looked up, the man was gone.
I do my best not to let anyone know, covering my tracks with lies and deceit and half-truths and misdirection. Acquaintances don't notices that I slur my words in a subtle way, but it gives me away if you are paying attention. Most people don't know me any other way. I hide in the warm blankness that it offers me, watching the world go by I tell myself, but really I'm just coherent enough to get loaded and pass out. I can't remember how many blackouts I've had. Although people I know tell me I have a really good time.
On days like today, it makes me really sad that I'm not closer to my family. We met up with them so that my son and my nieces could get pictures taken for my mom. There is some kind of undertone of no one really wanting to be together that makes for some uncomfortable situations. It usually leaves me frustrated and mad at them. They just don't seem to care about anything. But I have been trying hard to remember that the whole thing isn't any one person's fault. It‘s the way things are and I have to accept that.
For Mother's Day, I went with my wife's family to a very popular sports restaurant for a buffet. What is it that makes people lose all sense of decorum when they go to an all-you-can eat buffet? Grown men and women shoving into line, jockeying to get something before it's gone, and insisting to go to every single carving, omelet, and waffle station no matter how full they are. It really annoys me. I mean, there are times people act like they've never seen food before and it starts to look like CNN footage of third-world people getting humanitarian aid.
For months after I was laid off from my last job, I had a cancerous hatred that bordered on homicide. I lusted for revenge, terrible violence, or at least a public scandal that would force their management to resign in embarrassment. I knew my anger was out of control, yet I was justified. I was poison and they did this to me. Today a friend let me know that my former employer needed freelance help. I jumped at the chance. I no longer care about what they did to me. In fact, I don't care about them at all anymore.
I've never really thought of spring as one of my favorite seasons. Fall is my favorite because it is so atmospheric, a brilliance of the sun on crisp days. Summer is my least favorite because I always had crappy summers. Winter was up there, but as I get older I just don't care for it as much. Spring though. There is something to it, a lushness I've never paid attention to before. I now long for the color of Tulips and Irises, the greenness of winter wheat as I drive, the flashing flight of crimson Cardinals and squawking Blue Jays.
I heard back about my possible freelance opportunity with my former employer. It seems that my former manager wasn't prepared "to go there" to get his work done. It just made me laugh. The money would've been nice, but I didn't think he would actually hire me. My friend said it confirmed her suspicion that it was personal, which he denies. I knew it was. It made my wife mad, said he's out there sabotaging me. I don't doubt that. But I'm not going to live in fear or perpetual hatred. It's too much energy to waste on a charlatan.
Seeing us head for the counter in the small town grocery just off the main drag, she hung up on her friend and ran back to ring us up. She was still in high school and reaching the apogee of her life, a confused mixture of maidenhood and motherhood from being her mother's best friend and her sibling's surrogate mother. The straight blonde hair, dark eyeliner and tight clothes betrayed her innocence – she was too young to know the full power she could wield over men two or three times her age, but old enough to fully enjoy the attention.
I wanted to be a disc jockey, but in college I discovered that most radio people are complete assholes, so I opted for the music biz. One of the first people I met was Kyle the CBS Records college rep, who was my entrée into the local scene. Kyle was a music encyclopedia and owned the largest record collection I've ever seen, taking up an entire walk-in closet. Eventually I left for the East Coast to pursue music journalism and lost touch with him. I always wondered what happened to him, until today. He just opened his own record store.
My lack of sleep is catching up with me. Not that I've ever had a good relationship with sleep – mostly I have trouble falling asleep, or rather, tuning my brain down enough to fall asleep. Once in junior high I asked the girl who had the locker next to me if she ever thought so much she had trouble sleeping. She didn't. Sometimes, I find myself just wishing to go to sleep. Not read until I can't keep my eyes open. Not drink until I pass out. Not watch TV. Just close my eyes and get a good night's sleep.
Sunday night is always a let down. No matter how great or how lousy my weekend was, the end of my weekend always leaves me feeling a little moody, like I've forgotten to do something or I didn't get everything done I wanted. Sometimes I just don't want to face the upcoming week. Sometimes I can't accept that 48 hours is all I get. And sometimes I simply don't want it to end, like when the amusement park is only open for another hour or I'm waiting in the airport, bound for home on the last leg of my trip.
I saw the
yesterday – something about it is bugging me. At first I thought it was the cliffhanger ending (man, those really annoy me, especially when they are calculated to bring the maximum number of people to see the next installment - movies should be complete stories). I think it is the whole Zion angle. They spent so much setting up Zion to make sure you care if it is destroyed. The only problem is Neo doesn't care about Zion. He is on a path of enlightenment, which can only come from self-knowledge. At least the action sequences delivered.
When I was single, the only way I could motivate myself to do laundry was to drink at the laundromat. To make sure I never got kicked out, I rotated among about three places. I'd hit a drive-thru to buy a six-pack, fill my thermal mug, and then I was set for the endless drama of the laundromat – watching other losers like me fight over the laundry carts and jockey for dryers. If I got really bored, I started creating stories in my head about the people I saw. Which was pretty easy because you can't drink in nicer laundromats.
Time is such a strange thing. I've never experienced something as multidimensional as time. I mean what is it really? A linear progression? A cycle of night following day following night? Little chunks of now that are constantly being replaced by other little chunks of now? The thing that amazes me about time is how years are compressed into instants. Today, for the first time, I watched my son climb up onto our fireplace to play and then climb down on his own. It was only yesterday that I fed him from a bottle. Or was that a year ago?
I have taken this step before, but have only moved so far along the path. I must now look inward for my character defects ask for them to be removed. Fear of people. Fear of rejection. Holding on to secrets. Inability to take ownership of my mistakes and errors. Self-pity. Negative self-image. Emotional shut downs. Inability to forgive, accept my parents and family of origin. Excessive Internet use. Lying. Egotism. Each day I become stronger, more stable, less sick. But I only make this progress if I pay attention to my motivations and strive to do the next right thing.
My high school chemistry teacher's son died of cancer. It started in his leg, near where a CB radio was in his car. She swore it was due to the electromagnetic energy given off by the radio's tubes. Others say overhead power lines cause leukemia and other cancers in children. Still others claim cell phones give hardcore users brain tumors. Electromagnetic energy is the cause. I only mention this because I've started to use my laptop while sitting in my recliner. It's amazing the amount of heat it gives off. I wonder if it's going to sterilize me or something.
I'm feeling very edgy, a complete change from eight hours ago when I felt very content. After breakfast I shaped the barberry bushes out front and dug out an old rose bush that hadn't bloomed since we've lived here. Ran to the store with the family, then trimmed the other two sets of bushes and dug out two stunted lilacs. It was a beautiful day to work outside, cool with a warming sun. Finishing up, I felt the satisfied weariness of having completed all my chores. And then I did something I hadn't done in years – relaxed and sunned myself.
I knew his father, we went to school together. He was a couple of years ahead of me and on the football team. He didn't play much, just kinda sat on the bench with us underclassmen. He was the kicker and occasionally ran a pass pattern, getting just enough attention to have the girls take notice, especially when he won a couple of games with field goals. After he graduated, he joined the service, the same as me, and spent six years serving Uncle Sam, even being posted in Germany. When he came back he bought some land and farmed.
Three years ago today, I had my last drink. I hadn't intended on quitting, it just happened. In fact, I had spent the better part of two days getting paid to drink while manning my company's hospitality house at the Memorial Golf Tournament. You know, keeping the beer iced down, the tables bussed, the trash picked up. I showed up at home late and drunk, my wife not happy. Two days later she caught me sneaking liquor into the house after she went to bed. It was a turning point – either change my life or throw it away. I changed.
Realizing how much time I spend inside the idle drone of PC-generated white noise, I opened the window to listen to the night. A car passes by, it's movement amplified by the waterfall sound of wet pavement. Far away is the endless hum of the interstate, trucks rolling in the darkness several miles away. A delivery person drives by tossing out the community newspaper with a wet smack on each drive in the neighborhood. Here and there the last of the rain spatters on the roof. It is quiet, but not completely still. The outdoors has its own white noise.
For years I've prided myself on being an easygoing person, riding the waves of what comes my way, not getting too upset. But lately I've been paying more attention to my moods and emotional responses, I now realize I'm volatile. My moods are easily turned into pissy funks. Two hours ago, on the way home with my new dishwasher I reveled in the pleasant evening watching the farm fields go by, excited about installing something new. But my wife didn't want me to install it because we have to wait for the instructions to be faxed. Now I'm feeling pissed.
I'm sitting here watching Leno for the first time in a while. One year, the organization I worked for booked Kevin Eubanks to headline on Sunday night of their annual jazz festival, which was cool because I worked backstage. My friend who was driving the bands during the weekend told me him and his band were funny and that they wanted to eat at a greasy spoon as soon as they were picked up. Even though I didn't meet him, I did have a brush with fame. I got to pop up on stage and give his drummer a towel.
One hundred words come so easily when I'm at work, I can almost do it unconsciously. But right now for myself, my cursor blinks at me from a blank page. I wonder if I really have anything to say, if some Midwestern father living in a bedroom community can speak to the depth of the human condition. It is my vanity I struggle with, the ego that says I am something more. But it is crushing to have to accept my smallness in the universe and know that I create expression only for myself. Maybe this is the universal experience.
It never bothered me to work late or on the weekends. I wore it as a badge, a blue ribbon that everyone could see and know I sacrificed my time for the company. Now I resent the very idea. Maybe it's because I'm older or I'm sober now or I want to spend as much time with my family as I can. I don't know. But I do know that it pisses me off to have to sit here in front of this damn laptop like I'm chained to the slave next to me in the belly of a galley.
The Tip Jar