My new office chair arrived today. Reza asked about how much it cost and I lied to her, told her it was cheaper than it actually was. She’s been very money conscious lately and the last thing I wanted her to do was to compare and contrast against the space her mom is in. Not that it’s bad, don’t get me wrong. Ivonne lives in a cute little apartment in mid-city by the airport, but she’s in a space of transition right now and that has Reza a bit on edge. I project a bit of what I think she might be feeling onto the situation, I admit, but I don’t think that allaying her fears is a bad thing right now.
I’m heading to New Hampshire tomorrow for a long weekend; I’ll be back Sunday. I don’t get to go out there as often as I’d like, but we try to make the most of it when I’m there, Sarah and me. I have to get up at 6:00 and I think I’m done packing, but I’ve gotta do the dishes real quick, ’cause the last thing I wanna come home to is a sink full of five-day-old unwashed bowls. No thanks.
But, I’m heading to the tundra. They got a couple feet of snow the last few days, so it’s straight up Winter Wonderland steez. I’m in.
I got my last assignment submitted for my Intermediate Creative Writing class today. The one thing that bummed me out about this class was the lack of legit critique. I get it – you want to build a community where peer feedback becomes your signposts – but let’s be honest, some of these people couldn’t write themselves out of a paper bag, Anne Rice style. You won’t remember the details when you look back on this, but this one chick straight up wrote the worst romance novel bullshittery you’d ever read. It was absolutely, insanely awesome. I gotta give her props for writing what she wanted. You go, crazy romance lady.
I still don’t think you write about a woman’s love handles, but that’s just me.
I finished the last few episodes of Parks and Rec tonight and why the hell did that show fuck me up the way it did? The last season was funny as shit, but damn, with the feels. Fuck. I’ve been pretty sensitive the last couple days but it’s legit a good show and got me in the strings.
I sent Stats the vox demo of a track we’re working on. I’m not convinced he’s into it or that I think its the right direction for that music, to be honest. Can it be better? Am I psyching myself out that it’s not? I hate this part of the creative process, when you can’t help but shit on it. I guarantee, though, that if I sat on it for a year, went back and listened to it, I’d wonder why the fuck I didn’t do anything with it. So, sit on it, homie – just for a few days – and get back and finish it. You’ve got a great thing going here and this might be your last chance. Make it happen.
It was a bit gloomy today. Six packs of tortillas to bring to East Coast friends couldn’t lift the clouds, but they have a way of parting just when you need them to.
Reza went to bed on her own tonight. I checked in on her at about 10 and she was passed the fuck out. Getting up early, lots of Physical Education (she won’t stop bitching about her knees! ahahahahahah) and comfort can do that to a kid. She’s going to her mom’s tomorrow, though, and I’m not gonna lie, I get real used to having her around. I went through a real transition phase where I was embracing the solo time, and that’s not a bad thing. I needed to get my head on straight. I’m gonna miss her when I’m gone, but I’ll have her for a couple days when I get home. I’ll be glad when we do this week-on-week-off schedule; just means I won’t be home alone by myself as much ’cause I’ll be able to travel for work. For the time being, anyway. But we went clothes shopping the other day and I dunno man, time is flying. It’s going to fast and you can’t keep up and as hard as you try she’s getting older and she’s not going to need us anymore.
Maybe that’s the thing. I always knew I’d be a good dad, but not the let’s-go-build-a-treehouse or …
I have a lot of regrets. Let’s just leave it at that for now.
Anyway, back to today. It was a good day, looking back. I got everything done I needed to do, I’m taking off to see my girl tomorrow, Reza is comfortably asleep in her room and I’m a really lucky person, believe it or not.
I think the end of this month is gonna be hard. I should have expected it, but it just kinda hit me out of the blue. It took years for me to get to the point that late March didn’t turn me into a werewolf and I’m afraid this one – this series of years, I mean – is gonna be just as bad. No telling, really, until it’s over.
I’m just feeling especially nostalgic and wistful. I miss Iceland. I stood on top of that promontory overlooking the glacier and it was just me, so small, so infantile next to the overwhelming brilliance of this blue river of ice. I felt so small, so alone, so alive.
This doesn’t feel like a depression, though. This feels different. Like an especially difficult day of molting.
I’m feeling down and shit is starting to sink in a bit. Not that the plight is dire, just that somewhere an ego is bruised and I wonder if I’m going to make the same choices. I’m terrified of that.
I lost my job in 2010. Reza was almost four. It was a particularly formative period that was marred by the self-doubt, immaturity, and rationalizations of the man in her life who swore to be her supporter and protector. (I’m getting a bit down on myself, but it’s ok, I gotta work through this.) Instead, I drank a lot. I piddled away trying to learn how to make music. In fact, heh, the irony is not lost on me: Just the other night, I was listening to a re-recording of a song I wrote during that year and a half, a song about her. Ivonne teased me, asking me how often I listen to myself; it was a small green sprout from a land where crops are just starting to be sown again. It felt nice. But I digress.
I’ve spent the last day and a half fielding messages from previous coworkers and members of my team, all incredulous. I haven’t the heart to tell them that I face crippling self-doubt that I may have deserved this, even though I know in my heart of hearts that there was no way to avoid this particular fate. None. That’s not hubris or assuaging of one’s ego, that’s the bare truth, naked to all eyes. I knew this was coming. Still, I question. What could I have done better?
I know those answers. And when I look back on this in a few years, from a different place, it’ll be enough to know that I didn’t want to give what it would have taken to keep this job because I know now what I knew then, that it wouldn’t be worth that effort, not for this ignominious end. Does that mean I’m weighing my family’s future against my own work ethic? If so, how do I prove to myself – and to them – that my innate nature was correct?
These coworkers, these work friends, my team. They wore black to work today in solidarity. For me. That meant a lot. It was a small gesture and it’ll be forgotten in time, but for today, for tomorrow, when the leadership group will sit in that banal training room and be told the company line, it will be more than a bit vindicative that there will be a portion that will have questioned the wisdom of this move. Seeds will have been planted; others will take root. Others still will bloom and float away. All in their own time.
But this fantasy, this not-so-secret desire for martyrdom needs to stay here, on these pages. The real world awaits, outside the greenhouse of that toxic garden – and I find myself, for the first time in a long time, ready and willing to accept what will come. The question is whether I will squander the same opportunity I once had… or will I own this moment.
I have a healthy fear of relapse. I think about it in waves. Sometimes it’ll be on my mind for two or three days, then weeks will go by before I can recall the last time I thought about having a drink. I haven’t thought about it at all through this, except to remember what I did last time. I feel a lot of shame for that. But I’m not that person anymore and I won’t torture myself to recall my shitty behavior – but I wasn’t much of a dad then, nor a husband. I was so self centered, so able and willing to wallow in my false sense of indignation, and if it didn’t feed those destructive animals, it wasn’t worth my time.
I’ve wanted to tell Ivonne how much I regret taking that stance back then; it really wasn’t that long ago, but it seems like a different life. But I’m holding the space that we both need right now to continue to sow our seeds. I think she knows, and I think there’s a real part of her that, while she remembers what it was like, isn’t worried that it’ll become that again. I’m more than thankful for that. Had this happened two years ago, different story. Fuck, I’m glad it didn’t.
But without that chemical layer to hide under, I face harder and harsher realities than self-aggrandizing notions of doing what needs to be done to support my family, thinking that’s the measure of my part, my role – to check the box and kick back playing video games. That’s not how this works. That’s not how being a human works. I clearly see the crossroads in front of us, in front of me, the opportunity to peer into the distance – away from the fog of instant gratification – to see the long game. Which direction does happiness lie? What are my options? What do I want?
Because of that, I have a healthy fear of relapsing into ennui, of mailing it in once again and expecting a medal for minimum effort. I want to work hard toward fulfillment and growth, toward the moment when I can look back with confidence and security that, while I was just as imperfect as the humans next to me, I did the right things, the good things, and I’ve made the right choices – regardless of what they are. Because make no mistake, future me, all the choices in front of you are good ones. Right ones. Because you fear. Don’t forget that.
The next brick in this structure is the one that becomes the cornerstone to that which will become your legacy, your mark on the world, the moment when you can look at your wrinkled face and thinning hair with the confidence of a life well lived. We must, at some point, be willing to embrace the possibility of success, when success is defined only as making the journey. Step. Just… just step. There you go. One more. Then another. See, they build on each other and they become a path, a compass heading, a place of newness, growth, and self-actualization. This is the time to grasp what that should be in order to be satisfied in the journey. Because, don’t kid yourself: The road you are about to travel, no matter which route you choose, will not have been the one you expected.
I don’t feel so down anymore.
I told my oldest friend how much he means to me today. I needed to say it. He needed to hear it. I walked into the kitchen and wept.