Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Old Man (grammar checked!)

I first heard that song when things were still uneasy between my father and I, and if there's one thing Emerson Hart does well, it's capture sentiment and emotion in song.  It always feels transparent, exposed, but not quite visceral, when he writes a song.  I felt this song, I still feel it, if only via empathy and memories of the ache it evoked...

My earthly father, he was my hero as a small child, the source of so much worry as I grew from a child into an adolescent, the source of frustration as a teen, and challenging introspection as a young adult.  For his occupation he put himself in the line of fire every night, as one of the most resented public servants, a Police Officer.  Before my birth he'd already endured the bitter pill that came with being a young Vietnam veteran.  By the time I was self-aware, and aware of the people around me, my father was a combat engineer, a reservist, and would occasionally go abroad to work on projects in places like Germany, Honduras, and Panama.  I seldom feared for his well being on those trips, because, though the Cold War was on, to my knowledge US engagement in heated military conflicts was at a lull.  It was waiting nights for him to make it home safe from his duties as a Policeman night in and night out that put me in the worst states of mind.

If death came into the world through a man, death came into my life through my Father's father.  He died when I was in 2nd grade.  My father brought us into my parents bedroom to tell us, I can't remember if he cried, but remember thinking that he should.  I think we children did, but at best my Paternal Grandfather was an Enigma, a tobacco chewing man of few words who scrubbed my face like he was stripping paint off old furniture.  I remember it being February, the funeral being on a dreary day, lots of long coats.  I don't remember being at Jefferson Barracks, but that's where he was interned.  At that age I'm sure all Cemeteries looked alike to me.  I didn't know he had brothers, nor did I know they, or my Maternal Grandfather were also interned at Jefferson Barracks.  In a odd twist of fate, for his last 10 years of employment as part of the US Military my father was Director of Funeral Honors at Jefferson Barracks.

Back to past...  The first crack in the impenetrable dam of emotion my Father maintained came about a year after he and my mother split, when I asked him why he and my mother got divorced.  I distinctly remember the weight of his words when he said "Your mother said she didn't love me anymore."  It hit me like a ton of bricks and my heart sunk like a stone.  I am so far removed from that feeling now, so detached, but it rocked me then, and I will never forget.

Just about the time my father was retiring from the police force, or just after, he was diagnosed with Diabetes.  It was a bit of a shock given my father was a fitness buff, an avid cardio guy.  He was near the age I am now, and I'm mindful of all the signs of aging he began to display that I took notice of over the passage of those years.  He also began talking about his own mortality often, and after being so worried about his being in harm's way, to have him invoke thoughts of his death after he had finally escaped the Police Force intact was a cruel twist of fate.  My response, along with the onset of puberty, was to begin to feel less empathy towards my father and more alienation.  The political climate associated with urban youth culture and hip hop helped me craft out an evolved militancy that embraced the Gung-Ho rambunctiousness that came with seeing my father as G. I. Joe incarnate, and the political unrest of the Civil Rights movement revisited.  My father's own overly assertive inquisitions about my personal affairs, what little of them there were, and lack of disclosure about his own, put distance between us and allowed me to actualize in my own way, apart from him, but not in spite of him.  It gave me a chance to get over my bias towards him and against my mother.  The fact that she seemed to start dating before he did played a large role in my attitude.  Most of my resentment of my father coincided with my awareness of his relationships with women other than my mother. They needed to move on, but my existence and attitude were an anchor to their past, and I had to acknowledge it before I could get over it, before I could love them.

Every expression of pride my father expressed to people about whatever minor accomplishment I'd achieved  embarrassed me thoroughly, more so when he seemed to take credit for my successes.  The reality is that through joint custody he had me every other weekend at best, and he often worked weekends, so, though he fed me, had me do housework, and we'd catch a movie, a ball game, or play catch, but we didn't talk much about anything.  A lot of my personal convictions emerged as reactions to my peeves regarding his personality quirks.  There were other significant influences on me, peers and adults who would offer inspiration, advice, and introspection.  Ultimately it took me confronting my own mortality via a Dr.'s fear I might have Marfan's Syndrome, and undergoing those tests, and not long after, and totally unrelated, foot surgery, followed by the death of my elder cousin Martez, who was a hero and rival all once, to turn my life on its head, and drive me to pursue absolution through faith.  I matured a lot, but I wasn't yet mature.  In the span of 3 years I lost 3 people I'd called friends who were all near my age, and really started thinking "deeply" about things.  I'd started to see my parents as people, learning to appreciate who they were (more so my mother, who played the role of negotiator among her siblings and confidant to her friends often during that time). I also had my nieces Andreanna and Jammie that I looked out for, changing my role from self-absorbed kid to Uncle.  This helped me understand Fatherhood a lot better.

Once I'd gone away to college my view of my family continued to evolve, and my empathy towards them improved the more I talked to my mother, my eldest sister, and eventually my Grandmother, Great Grand Mother, and Uncle, who all offered more insight into my father's upbringing than he'd ever shared or I could have ever hoped to know.  He was finally given the opportunity, the grace, that I'd extended my mother many years prior, having known some of the details of her childhood and adolescence since I was a child.  At that point my fears about my parents mortality were curbed a bit.  Andreanna's death would break our hearts, and in my case, drive me to reevaluate the nature of familial bonds and what it means to love family.  Not long after that my Father would be faced with a number of challenges, of the professional and personal variety.  He'd faced health scares that hospitalized him, his mother passed away, he remarried, and was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer all in the span of 3 years.

At the conclusion of all those events I returned home from Truman State in Kirksville, thinking more of my father as a human being, a friend. Our relationship reflected that with the confidence he would show in me when he was troubled, at our ability to disagree and argue, but reel it in in the end and maintain a sense of respect and appreciation of one another.  When I would hear people criticize him I would jump up to defend him, something I never did in the past.  When I hear people deride public servants in general and even use the word Cop instead of Police, it bothers me, because I KNOW there are Police Officers who are righteous in their efforts.  As I see him sort out the state of the world, adjust to aging, the heavy weight of mortality bearing down on him as he loses friends & peers, my own inability to embrace the dread and pain of fearing losing him as a child and adolescent stands out all the more.

My relationship with my father encompasses all the depth and gravity of life that I can imagine broaching in thought or conversation.  He's earned my respect as a man, and taught me a lot about being decent, generous, respectful, righteous, humble, and honorable, among other things.  He's far from perfect, but he's my father, and without a doubt, I am aware of his love, and for that reason, I have always trusted that he's had my best interest at heart at times when I question the influence and intention of the people around me.  I realize how much of a blessing that is, what a relief it is to not feel the desire to live my life out in jest of him or his values.  I benefit from not having to live out the pains he endured, yet be able to embrace the wisdom he garnered.  As he has mellowed and gained more perspective into views other than the ones he was predisposed to or exposed to, we've grown more alike in our world views in some areas, and as I got to know his friends and confide in them, I found that we were like-minded, kindred spirits, and they were simply more apt to express it than he was.

I could go on about the evolution of my relationship with my father, and how it pertains to so many other facets of my life, my identity, and how I relate to other people based on how they unknowingly judge who he was and is without even knowing it, but I'll give it a rest for now, but only for now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Miss Misery (From Early April)

sometimes in their darkest moments the people who love you reach out in desperation. they feel abandoned, isolated, lonely, in need of the comfort of a loving soul who will embrace them at such a vulnerable time. welcoming them into your life warmly is like feeding a stray, they wont forget your kind gesture, nor will they any betrayals of that trust, and a tenuous trust it is.

the relief these souls seek is fleeting if the source of their ills resides in their own judgment, or lack there of.  one has to use their own best judgment to ascertain just how and why these disenchanted folk have become so alienated from the company they chose to keep; or distance themselves from.  they say misery loves company, and you have to wonder why certain people only reach out when they are down, only to pull themselves up by clinging on to you, then letting go and moving on, leaving all the heavy lifting to you.  is it some sort of retribution masked as trust?  do they resent the cautionary advice you shared that they have lived to see proven correct?

It is a shame when someone sees you as the one to come to uninhibited only after they have been jilted or abused by those they pursued.  Then they distance themselves as soon as they are presented with brighter prospects.  It seems fickle but the reality is something darker. Why would a person only share the worst moments of their emotional life with you and move on when they felt more at ease and assured in themselves and their circumstances?  It's not to say they treat you like waste, more like they treat you like a toilet.  It's a filthy way to treat another human being.  No one should stand for that.  Turn the other cheek, yes, but if you don't receive love in kind, for whatever reason, head for the door. You can lead a horse to water...

We Are Accidents Waiting To Happen... (from early April)

Every now an then a song just hits the nail in the head.
The one this lyric is culled from what's linked above came out not long before a rendezvous that would amount to an aborted relationship.  When I heard it, I knew it was going to be the theme to theatrics that followed.  I had no idea it would be a franchise though. I thought it would be a one off production.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ginger's Blues

This tune comes from the Ginger Baker Trio's Going Back Home, and it's best described as the kind of Jazz that defines my style of instrumental music, you know, that and Explosions In the Sky.  Anyway, I picked an instrumental because I love the tone and mood of the song, and I've also been at a loss for time and words. When you sleep at the most inopportune times, wake at times when you are least likely to be inspired or focused to write, the blogging grinds to a halt.

It's not a bad thing though.  Inspiration is beautiful, when frustration isn't the source.  There are positive catalysts for being creative, but my introspection is the fruit of complication.  I am not going to ever get tired of emphasizing the value of simplification in my life.  I'll be content with the complexity being reserved to Movie Plots, and the occasional song structure, so long as it's good in both cases.  If the letter of the day is that all affairs of the heart are to be complicated or compromised, I'll pass on the opportunity to indulge in the lackluster and underwhelming.  There are better, healthier ways to waste time than letting someone else down, and their reciprocating.

Sometimes love is a struggle, but if you can't lift each other up, share the load, you're going to drag each other down.  I was introducing the concept of a Lover to someone who wasn't used to hearing it.  It's gender neutral, and gets past the age specific sound of Boyfriend, Girlfriend, the PC baggage of Partner, and all that jazz.  Lover also intimates the volatility most short-sighted, impulse driven relationships endure.  Love can be so fleeting and inspire some hare-brained decisions on our parts.  And yet, it's still Love, which is as inconsistently experienced as my capitalization of the word in my blogs.  I have as much trouble committing in good faith as anyone else, so I feel I can understand why most people have more Lovers than Love.  I can't be that person, it's just not in me.  Revisit Ginger's Blues, you're listening to the peace that resonates within me.  The dissonance of some fractured tune just doesn't belong, and I am Faithful to that now.

Find your inner song, the one that slows time and cools your jets, and try and build a life around it.  In the midst of that peace, it's much easier to discern Love from a Lover, as Love harmonizes, compliments the tune, and Lovers just want to change it.  If you've truly found your inner song and aren't being Pied Piper-ed by mediated mediocrity, neither Lustful nor Listless Lover will have sway over you.  Nor should they if you Love and respect yourself.