Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fluctuations in My State of Mind Over the Last Few Weeks, As Illustrated by the Lyrics Searches Found in My Browser History

So you treat your love like a firefly, like it only gets to shine for a little while.
Catch it in a mason jar with holes in the top and run like hell to show it off.
Oh, promises were made when we'd go walking; that's just me and Charlie talking.

Just hoe your own row, and raise your own babies.
Smoke your own smoke, and grow your own daisies.
Mend your own fences, and own your own crazy.
Mind your own biscuits, and life will be gravy.

I’ve been man enough to tell you that I’m sorry when I’m wrong;
You never will admit it when I’m not.
Maybe you will finally forgive me when I’m gone,
But I won’t be there when you apologize.
Heads, you win; tails, I lose.
I can’t get the upper hand no matter what I do.
You’ll always be the winner, and I’ll always be the fool.
Heads, you win; tails, I lose.

You've seen your future from your present state,
And filtered through your past, it may not look too great.
If you could have your future generate your now,
You'd probably sit back, relax, kick off your shoes,
And just allow.

'Cause I can't be anyone but me, anyone but me.
And I can't keep dreaming that I'm free, dreaming that I'm free.
I don't want to fall asleep and watch my life from fifty feet.
My hands are on the wheel so I'm driving to Idaho,
'Cause I hear it's mighty pretty
In Idaho.

So I play my hopes and play my dreams
Just like two coins in a slot machine.
Sing "Glory, Hallelujah!" if everything works out fine.
My life is like a lemon drop;
I'm suckin' on the bitter to get to the sweet part.
I know there are better days ahead.
Lord, I know there are better days ahead.
Thank God!

Imagine your best friend and your worst enemy
Begs you to stay and then wishes you'd leave.
Like Marilyn Monroe, she can be who you want her to be.
You can't change her mind (even if you wanted to).
You can always try (she'll see through to you, she'll see through you).
If you think you're the only one she'll want in this world,
Then you don't know nothin' 'bout girls.

I set my sails for a new direction, but the wind got in my way.
I changed my course, but my definition of change just ain't the same.
I'm gonna sit right here, stay away from there.
I'm gonna make pretend I just don't care.

Motherfucker, I’ll be back from the dead soon.
I’ll be watching from the center of the hollow moon.
Oh my God I think I might’ve made a mistake:
Waiting patiently was waiting taking up space.
We are waiting taking up space.

You’re too mean, I don’t like you, fuck you anyway.
You make me wanna scream at the top of my lungs.
It hurts but I won’t fight you.
You suck anyway.

Never would've seen the trouble that I'm in, if it hadn't been for love.
Would've been gone like a wayward wind, if it hadn't been for love.
Nobody knows it better than me;
I wouldn't be wishing I was free
If it hadn't been, if it hadn't been for love.

I backed my car into a cop car the other day.
Well he just drove off; sometimes life's OK.
I ran my mouth off a bit too much, oh, what did I say?
Well you just laughed it off; it was all OK.
And we'll all float on OK. And we'll all float on anyway.

Sometime, can you feel the pressure does unwind, sometime?
Sometime, through the day and through the night, sometime.
Sometime, you can make the pressure does unwind, sometime.
Sometime, it's for your spirit and your mind, sometime.

I walk and cry while my heartbeat keeps time with the drag of my shoes.
The sun never shines through this window of mine; it's dark at the home of the blues.
Oh, but the place is filled with the sweetest memories, memories so sweet that I cry.
Dreams that I've had left me feeling so bad, I just want to give up and lay down and die.
So if you've just lost your sweetheart, and it seems there's no good way to choose,
Come along with me. Misery loves company. You're welcome at the home of the blues.

She loves to tell me she hates the things I do.

Sometimes you've got to bleed to know that you're alive and have a soul.

Just remember to fall in love. There's nothing else. There's nothing else.

And they’ll be quick to point out our shortcomings,
And how the experts all have had their doubts.
Ain’t it like most people? I’m no different.
We love to talk on things we don’t know about.

It's been so long since I've seen her face.
You say she's doin' fine.
I still recall a sad café,
How it hurt so bad to see her cry.
I didn't want to say goodbye.
Send her my love; memories remain.

How 'bout me not blaming you for everything?
How 'bout me enjoying the moment for once?
How 'bout how good it feels to finally forgive you?
How 'bout grieving it all one at a time?
Thank you, India.
Thank you, terror.
Thank you, disillusionment.
Thank you, frailty.
Thank you, consequence.
Thank you, thank you, silence.

Friday, August 7, 2015

High Brow Literary Allusions

So Thumper was watching Cartoon Network the other day, joyfully. We dropped digital cable awhile back because the content is generally awful and the cost is ridiculously high. But somehow, when I moved into the new apartment and I was activating internet service, I lost my mind and allowed myself to be lead by the nose into the land of "we're a bundling company, so it'll be a better value for you if you get all of our services rather than just one!" What can I say; I wasn't thinking clearly then. I'll rectify it soon, but in the meantime, the boy gets spectacularly awful Cartoon Network and Disney Channel and Disney XD shows.

Speaking of which, if Disney is a premium American entertainment company, producing, especially with their acquisition of Pixar and the Muppets, high quality works of contemporary pop culture art and children's programming, how on earth can they wake up in the morning and look themselves in the collective face knowing that they are cranking out an incredible volume of the lowest quality schlock and feeding it directly into the brains of millions of children worldwide? Have you watched any of those "sitcoms" on Disney Channel or Disney XD? The writing is awful. The premises are ridiculously half-formed ideas. The humor is so formulaic that you could mix and match virtually any of the characters and settings and the storylines would be indistinguishable. And they use the laugh track like a sledgehammer. The number of those shows that the same stable of child laborers, er, actors, appear on would lead one to believe that Disney Studios is a sweatshop, and those same kids are probably the ones writing and producing this awful canal of sludge that's flowing steadily into my home.

So, anyway, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah. How I see metaphors for my life everywhere I look. I realize I hadn't gotten there quite yet, but that's where I was going with this.

Cartoon Network, which does produce some of my favorite kids' television programming, including "Adventure Time with Finn and Jake" and "The Amazing World of Gumball" (both of which, incidentally, may be less "kid's television programming" and more "programming for dope-smoking teens and young adults") has apparently completely given up and decided just to air "Teen Titans Go!" 24 hours a day. It's so bad, this is video Thumper took of me one of the times that he asked, "Can I put on Cartoon Network?" and I said, "Sure," and it was frigging "Teen Titans Go!" again:

So in this episode, which shockingly I had not seen before, Beast Boy gets frustrated that he's not as smart as the other Teen Titans, and he steals Raven's spell book to cast a spell to make himself smarter. I'm not sure why every spell she utters is the same: "Azarath... Metrion... Zinthos!" But anyway, he steals the book, casts the spell, screws it up, then tests his results with "The Ultimate Test of Smartness," a box with various shaped pegs and holes. As he's doing his best to jam the round peg into the square hole, Thumper says, "Everybody knows you can't fit the round one in the square one. Everybody knows that!"

And it hit me in that moment that I, like Beast Boy, spent a lot of time and energy thinking that if I just! Shoved! Hard! Enough! that fucker would finally slide right in there. Ha. Everybody knows that.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Can't Argue with That

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Change seems to happen so quickly now. When, on Monday morning, I look back on Friday, I think, "It seems so long ago, and I was a different person then." It's hard to grasp how long 23 years is, and how long I lived as that person, that Husband, and how strange it is, now that I've been out for a few months, stumbling back into that house again, that house where I was Husband, and finding it so foreign and inscrutable.

So I thought I was going to tell you about my weekend, but I don't want to now.

I want to tell you about me.

I want to tell you about the things I'm learning.

It's been 7 months since the word "divorce" was first spoken aloud. Within days, I quit drinking, and I haven't had a drink since. Not because the drinking was the reason the word was spoken, but because I knew for years that it had to be done, and instead I had put it off. Suddenly, it felt like there weren't years left. That word, "divorce," was a big part of the push that let me finally stop. I also sought help, most importantly and lastingly and profoundly from my friends and family, whose outpouring of love and support has overwhelmed me and changed me in its own ways. But also from a professional. I found a counselor that I loved, and who was damned good at her job. She listened well and asked the right questions at the right time, helping me find my own way to the path I'm on now. We parted ways with a hug, in full agreement that it's a great path to be on. I also went to my primary care physician to talk about medication to bust me out of the depression that led up to that word, a depression that oddly didn't evaporate on the destruction of my marriage. I'm off those meds now, and moving forward, thinking and talking and writing a lot about who I am. There's nothing more exciting for me than finding out who that is since it's not who I was for all of those years.

That in itself is a difficult thing to understand, how I am and am not the same.

I've been thinking of the negatives about myself that I've lived with for decades and struggled unsuccessfully to change. They were key to the failure of the marriage, character traits of which I was ashamed, but never enough to really change them. Now that I've seen that which was most important to me detonate, in part because I would not or could not change, I'm beginning to see those traits as central to my character, and not as hated flaws.

We were married young, and neither of us knew who we would be 20 years later. I, and perhaps she, saw the struggle as an act of love, trying hard always through the years to be what she seemed to want, and always, or almost always, failing. And trying more and more, especially through the last half of the marriage, and definitely always failing, to get her to be what I wanted. I failed to love her enough to be the person she wanted and deserved, and I thought she didn't love me enough to be what I wanted and deserved.

But now, I have deep and profound gratitude to her for seeing that it had to end and for having the courage to persist through all of my objections and efforts to save it. It wasn't salvageable, and that's OK. She set me free to begin the journey that I'm on now, and I will forever owe her a debt of gratitude for that gift she gave me.

It hurt like a motherfucker, though, and it still hurts. Not because I'm sad that I'm not with her any longer, but because there is so much history and emotion piled up that it's hard to sort through. And because we both said things intending to hurt each other, and the memory of the hurt is almost as painful as the hurt itself. I don't always understand what it is that I'm feeling, just that I'm feeling it on all cylinders and can't do anything with it but to cry.

I couldn't think of the word I wanted, so I consulted the Oracle at Google, and found myself at the Wikipedia entry for the concept of "reappropriation." I'm sure that it's terribly racist and sexist, and probably other ists too, for a heterosexual middle-aged American white man to apply reappropriation to his own situation, but fuck it. I'm doing it. That's one of probably several hundred new mottos and maxims and philosophical tropes that I've adopted as guides to my new life: "Fuck it. I'm doing it." Or, "Kiss my ass, I bought a boat." I am reappropriating these hurtful definitions of me, and making them my own. I suppose it may seem like venom, repeating the words that were said about me out of anger and frustration, but it's not. It really isn't. I'm done feeling venomous.

I never could keep my fuckin' mouth shut.

I've decided what I want most of all in the world to be is honest. Simple. Straightforward. Direct. I want always to seem to be what I actually am. I certainly can't control other people's perceptions of who I am, but I'm telling you right now: if you have interactions with me, believe I'm not working you. I'm not playing any games. I am not manipulating. I'm not acting in such a way that you will be forced, tricked, or otherwise induced to respond in a certain way. I am being me for my own sake. If I want something from you, I will say it out loud, probably using too many words. If you want something from me, just straight out ask me, because I'm not committing any more mental resources to trying to figure out what you want, and if, when you did this, you were actually trying to say that. That shit's exhausting and not good for my self-esteem, so I'm not doing it anymore. I'm just going to be me and expect you'll be you.

And I will talk about it. Best believe. I will always overthink it, and analyze myself in endless circles. And Facebook it. And blog about it. I'm not secretive, is what I'm saying. I think. I am. I do. And I talk about it. A lot. I think out loud. This is who I am. If it's not something you particularly like about me, well... Sorry (not sorry), as the kids say today.

I do want to be better at keeping secrets, though, and not talking other people's business. Because I do that, too. More than I should. I will be talking my business though. And if yours and mine overlap, you might want to know that from the start. And don't confide anything to me unless you make it really, really clear that you want me to keep my mouth shut about it. I mean, I told a kid once what my brother was giving him for his birthday, and I haven't really gotten any better at it since.

I'm a lazy piece of shit.

OK, not the piece of shit part. I know with certainty that I'm not a piece of shit. I'm an amazing guy, and the more I get to know that guy, the more I like him. But it's a fact. I'm lazy. At least when it comes to things that I don't care about, which I'm thinking of less and less as a character flaw and more and more as just pretty normal, actually. I do not prioritize housework above very many things. I cook and wash dishes and do laundry and such, so that the household operates just fine, but I do not choose, for example, to sweep and mop the kitchen floor over, for example, going kayaking. Or reading a book. Or playing video games. Or sitting on the porch listening to music. Or staring off into space. Or anything else, really, until it reaches the point that it draws my attention every time I go in the kitchen.

This used to make me feel like a terrible person. This used to be a constant struggle, to transform myself somehow into a person who wanted to sweep and mop the kitchen floor. I made schedules for myself that I didn't follow. I set up Outlook reminders. I put a dry erase board on the kitchen wall. And then I wouldn't do it anyway, because there was always something else I'd rather do. I was angry at Aerie that it seemed to matter so much to her when it didn't matter to me, and I was angry at myself that it mattered so little to me when it seemed to matter so much to her. Now, I have my own space, and it's a source of joy. I walk around naked when Thumper's staying with her, and I clean when I find myself thinking, "Gross, dude." As a parent, I will have to balance this with teaching Thumper to take care of business, because ain't nobody 'round here his servant. But my own standard of acceptability is just fine.

Re-reading this, I realized that the fact that I walk around my apartment naked when no one else is there has nothing to do with anything. But like I said, I overshare. You're welcome.

So there you go. That's what I'm thinking about today. I am who I am. I will continue to work to improve myself, especially as it relates to diet and exercise, because I want to and not because it will make me who I should be instead of who I am. I like me a lot these days. I don't hate me for not being someone else. And I don't hate her for wanting me to be someone else, for marrying me before she knew who she was, or who I was, or what she wanted from herself or from someone else. That's what I'm learning. That's what I wanted to tell you. I'm a lazy piece of shit of who never could keep his fuckin' mouth shut, and I'm pretty happy with that. Is that the wrong thing to say? Fuck it. I'm doing it.
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