Sunday, February 26, 2012

Doin' Everyday The Hard Way

This was my Theme song when it came out 1997 or so. I was struggling to cope with my circumstances and responsibilities, in a prison of my own making.  When the backing vocalist says "This ain't livin', it's existing." I related to that on such a deep level.  In many ways I still can, when I look at the state of the world, the preoccupations we've all developed to pass the time in lieu of the psychological breakdowns that should be the proper response to the psychotic state of humanity.

I've mellowed, learned to cope with my frustrations, to let go, detach myself intellectually, or emotionally.  I work with kids, and they are a reality check if ever there was on.  Kids don't filter their frustration, they amplify them.  When they suffer, they struggle to cope and move on.  Kids these days are thought to have it so much better than kids of the past, because of technology.  I beg to differ.  I beg to differ.  They have it worse because there are more distractions for the people who the sun and the moon to them.  There are more frustrations when those kids act on their emotions and demand attention when it's not forthcoming because an adult is immersed in those aforementioned preoccupations.  All to often the consequence for their interjections is some manner of abuse, of the emotional or physical sort.  Childhood becomes a prison for kids.  They have nowhere to go, have to rely on some authority to provide them food, clothing, and shelter.  If they agitate the authority they suffer, with no recourse, no vindication, other than growing up, becoming independent, and getting away.

When I talk to adults, about the state of the world, our environment and circumstances, it's easy to use hindsight to convey the idea that I, that we, are somehow more well-adjusted than these poor kids.  Maybe it's true?  Maybe it's an acknowledgement that we survived that prison of youth ourselves, and we can honestly relate to the trauma these unfortunate children are experiencing?  Maybe not?  Maybe we've forgotten/ detached ourselves/ moved on?  I'm not sure one way or another.  I know that i wasn't well-adjusted as a child, I was a mess.  I alternated between being extremely introverted and outrageously extroverted.  Polite and well-mannered when it was required, an absolute mess otherwise.  Knowing I was doesn't make it better now, or give me the right to judge anyone else more or less harshly.  But it serves as a reminder that regardless of how I feel about things, it ain't all good, and my personal feelings of well being are an internal barometer of my capacity to cope, not the actual condition of my circumstances.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Somebody that I used to know

My life is fully of those kind of somebodies.  I have this joke in my head that I will write about The Book of Names, or a more sacrilegious parody on the Lambs Book of Life.  In short it would just be a list of the names of all the girls/ women I made monumental mistakes getting emotionally attached to, or romantically involved with.  Oh and also those flat out crazy girls who I always kept at arm's length cause I could just tell.  And yup, the character traits and names seemed to match up.  Some of the stereotypes preceded my meeting the people who were so named, others were defined by that one impressive individual who defined it for me.

But I'm not going to do that.  I'm just gonna point out that the song linked in the title is the dopest thing I've heard in a LONG TIME, super feeling it right now, and I wouldn't doubt that my Ex of 4 years should really dig this song, more so because that list of somebodies for her is longer than mine, and the last time we crossed paths she was sorting out how she was going to reconcile her past. She was "kind" enough to reach out and "refriend" me a couple of years ago, after I'd spent the better part of a year after our break-up lowering my self to being a pathetically depressed nuisance each time she was struggling in the relationship with the coworker she left me for. I would reach out to splash around in my pool of self-pity, only to find out that she sought me out as a friend, to confide in about her new relationship and its troubles.  I never said I would be her friend.  My version of brutal-honesty over powered any moral philosophies I held, cause I KNEW I'd been screwed over, strung along, manipulated, betrayed, guilt-tripped, and  leeched from, and I let it happen.

So I was a taciturn prick, who honestly would have rather never heard from the girl again, pretend it never happened, all the while rereading our past messages, watching the profile picture associated with them change now and then, cluing me in on what was happening in her life, allowing me to make up my own version of her reality apart from mine.  I gave more than I'd ever given before, for someone who was truly special, and I can honestly say I don't know anyone anywhere near that special to me that I would be willing to give so much of myself to again.  It was a one time deal as far as I can tell.  Anyone who questions the reality of that just doesn't know the real deal, or me that well.  Getting over her, and it, was one thing, getting over myself was/ is something completely different.

When you get burnt out on love, distrustful of romance and relationships, you also develop a strange relationship with your romantic past.  You can get detached and take people and what they have to offer at face value and just "do it", whatever that it may be, with whoever might be willing to "do it"with you.

What strikes me as odd about that is that for the loveless and seeking that adopt that perspective, it also seems to downgrade your past flames as people you just "did it", whatever it was, with.  The only thing I feel like I did with my ex was make a mistake. I failed with her, better said, we failed in tandem.  We ended up in a romantic relationship because I got to the point where I was uncomfortable maintaining a platonic friendship with her.  The alternative would have been to cease being friends, and That was my first reaction to the sense that her boundaries were paper thin, and my desires were a flame waiting to burn them away.  Burn we did, bright and then out.  I mourned our relationship before it began because I felt it was doomed before it even started, and thus it seemed miraculous when it was working.  But, with my being nearly 7 years older, and at a different transitional point in my life, in my gut, I knew, once we'd both come out of the unsettled moments in our lives at that time, the chances of  us working towards the kind of life we could pursue that would gratify us both were slim to none.  I let myself believe otherwise at times, drunk the Kool-Aid of love.  I don't even like Kool-Aid.

The spell wore off eventually, for both of us, and the principles we thought we held, powered us though the roller coaster of unmotivated courtship and growth that filled our relationship.  I wasn't ready to except that she'd end up just like every other girl I shared my heart with only to see it returned, undisturbed, "refused: return to sender" sans proper acknowledgement or appreciation, response or reciprocation.  In the end, that's all she is, and on some level all I imagined she'd ever be, cause I knew her as a friend long before I knew her as a lover.

I can honestly say that I recognize the marrying kind, a proper partner, and I'm not it, and I tend to be attracted to women who aren't either.  That is reason enough for me to set romance down like a drink I know I don't really want or need.  I can appreciate it for what it is, but I don't need it, don't much like the taste of it, like I don't need any of those entries from my Book of Names, my former Rescinded Fiance's included.  But I was the one who said, "You shouldn't need someone, they should be a bonus, that way you can't resent them."  The magic happens when you forget that you don't need them.  The relief / grief comes if/ when it's over and the illusion fades and you realize They're just somebody that you used to know.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Inevitability of Death

It'll be really easy to ramble to no end on this subject, but I'm going to keep it short and possibly add to this blog as time goes by. I'm possibly abnormally grave.  I ponder my mortality and the mortality of the people I know and love often. It's what I was raised up in.  Death hovered over me in youth by the simple absence of maternal Grandparents in my life.  My mother lost her mother when she was 9 years old, and her father passed away when I was 8 months old.  I have no memories of them, but in life and death they shaped my mother's personality and temperament.  My mother lost an elder sister and brother when she was very young, so I can understand her.

I learned about these deaths when I was relatively young, whether I understood the significance of them or not.  Her siblings' deaths were tied to other things, her sister's death being a factor in my mother not being accepted into the Police academy, my first born niece being named for my uncle who succumb to cancer near the time my sister was born.

My Father's father passed away when I was in 2nd grade, and it was the 1st death that seemed to register with me, because I think I saw my father cry for the first time. I'm not sure about that memory.  What I am sure of is this:  The death of your elders, particularly the aged ones, is something we're expected to experience.  The nature of my father's professions made me fear for his life everyday.  My mother's smoking and what I recall as a cancer scare when I was pretty young made heavy impressions on me as well.  Youth and death aren't so common in our day and age, in the "1st" world, but that's not the reality I came to know.

As a preteen and teen one of my first friends I'd made after my parent's divorce resulted in our house being sold and us moving to a town home had a seizure and drowned in the Meramec river.  My sophomore year my cousin Martez was killed in an "accidental" shooting.  He was one of my heroes growing up, and somehow a rival, he was the closest thing I ever had to a big brother. By my junior year of high school 3 more classmates had died, 2 murdered, one from carbon monoxide poisoning with the majority of his family the year after he graduated.  All this time my 2nd born niece was undergoing multiple heart surgeries and immunity issues.  Our family was basically left to accept that should would live to be 4 years old according to her Doctors.  When she passed away at the onset of my sophomore year of college I was already heartbroken and defeated.

I redirected my grief, and sought to focus on celebrating her memory, and the impact of our love towards her.  At the same time popular figures were dying with each passing season, actors, musicians, comedians, mostly young, in some cases self-destructive.  Sadly, fellow students at Truman died during my years there, car accidents, health concerns, at times when they were young and vital.  By the end of my time there, two classmates and a couple of casual acquaintances had died, my father had been diagnosed with cancer, he mother died, my mother had a health scare, I'd lost several elder family members of generations past, and a mentor of mine had nearly died.  Not long after I left Truman, another mentor, Rupert Rinehart, passed away, had friends and family undergo life-threatening circumstances, young and old alike. I also had a few health scares myself.  My mentor at Truman who had a health scare passed away, my childhood role model my cousin Joe succumb to cancer at the age of 45, a year later my Uncle Junebug succumb to a similar ailment.  My paternal Great Grandmother & Great Uncle would pass away well into their 90s towards the end of the decade that saw a second wave of untimely deaths for actors, comedians, and musicians.

All of that and the knowledge that the most promising and inspiring agents of social and moral change in the history of humanity have been killed, most in the prime of their lives, relatively young, it almost seems delusional to not view life with some measure of gravity.  But, as the saying goes, it's like "Beating a dead horse".

One thing I know is, when I embraced my mortality and used that awareness to magnify my value of Life, I was revitalized from my grieving.  When my Great Uncle passed and in my heart I felt ready to honor him, how he had been an inspiration and role model in my youngest days, it sparked something in me, but that spark didn't last.  Now disassociation seems to be my default reaction.  The presence of death, the threat of it, can be overwhelming, at my school, we have a children who have lost parents, siblings, and at least one who has a form of cancer that has effectively numbered his days.  It's gotten to me.  I've lost those steadfast, seemingly immortal elders in my life, and what's left is my parents, whose mortality I am all too aware of, and been wrestling with for as long as I can literally remember.  And I'm not getting any younger.  I marvel at my great nieces and nephews, who are carbon copies of my nieces and nephews, who I help in my hands as infants, myself still a child. People fret over a doomsday prediction, when we aren't promised the next breath.  For me it's a high wire act finding a well-adjusted perspective to cling to.