Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Invariable Cliche

I ran across a blog yesterday evening, one I normally wouldn't read. There was this vague connection that made me stop and read...and read... I found myself starting at the beginning and reading everything, about five year's worth of blogs.

I can't say that it is expertly written, heck I can't say mine are expertly written. I can't say that the blogs even explored a subject I knew anything about or identified with. The writer and I have little, if anything, in common.

The twenty something guy writing the blog is working his way upwards in the world of professional sports and struggling with hiding his sexuality. I'm old enough to be the guy's father and I liked the Orioles as a kid but that's pretty much about as "jockish" as I get. As far as the gay thing goes, I have lots of gay friends whom I adore and I have a man crush on John Barrowman, but that's about it.

So why did this blog strike me so? I think it was a resonance that sort of opened my eyes. This kid has made some tough choices in his life, struggling with them daily but has kept his focus on achieving his dream, all the time in desperate fear that it could end with the beginning of one good rumor. It was this "kid's" fierce determination and focus that pulled me in.

I enjoyed, via the young man's blog, watching his self confidence and courage grow. I wondered at the sense of excitement as he took risky steps in his personal life, and found myself rooting for him as he battled injury, both emotional and physical, to come back, maintain his focus and, although invariably cliched, keep reaching "for the prize". Thanks, Slugger, you opened my eyes. I owe you one.

I've made no secret that I have been struggling. Ironically, it started about the time the dude I've been talking about started blogging. In July, when I got fired, no other way to put that one, I hit an impasse. I have just not been unable to function normally, only forcing myself to little by little maintain any kind of life.

My phone has been off since July. I turn it on occasionally to see if anyone has called about job interviews and quickly deleted the many, many phone calls from friends. I've posted a couple of things on Facebook, but have responded to nothing. I just wasn't able.

Basically, I found myself wounded beyond hurt in a physical and mental place that I couldn't stand. I actually left this area of the country almost fifteen years ago because I just couldn't stand waking up every morning angered at the quaint disregard of personal respect known as "Southern Hospitality". I seriously do not mean to offend, but that is how I feel.

So I find myself jobless in East Tennessee and living with no end in sight with my seventy year old parents. Cable sucks, Internet is even worse, my good computer struck down by lightning three days after arriving, opportunities almost nil because of the caste system here that no one is bright enough to see exists. My future looked to be nothing more than sitting around this house with Mom and Dad waiting to see which one of us kicked the bucket first.

I know something is wrong, but I have been unable to even seek help. The few places I turned to turned me away or were "just unable to find the time". I live off of Tylenol PM and Sominex. Most of my fillings have fallen out, and I no longer have insurance even if I could afford the co-pay, so eating is painful. What I do manage to eat rips my stomach up as my ulcers are now back in high gear.

Going out in public is a nightmare. I use to get comfort and refuge by going out to very public places by myself. Now, I sweat profusely and if someone even says "Would you like fried with that" I can't answer the question. I've been forcing myself, but it doesn't take long before I end up back in my car sobbing uncontrollably and physically shaking until my chest hurts.

I have been afraid, literally paralyzed physically and mentally by fear. Somewhere along the way I stopped doing something that was the foundation of my very being. I didn't realize it but I made a choice to stop in order to stop the pain, and my life has been painful for quite some time. Life gets that way, and I would do anything to get it to stop.

So I started "settling for". Oh God, how many times did I consciously convince myself that "this is fine"? It's not what I want, but I accept it. I even stopped making my own decisions, allowing everyone...anyone to decide what I needed to do next. I have suddenly realized that the point that am I in life is what all that got me.

You see, I stopped dreaming. I stopped allowing myself to obsess about something that may or may not have been possible. I was always the poor kid, the only child, the odd dude and the one that people either made fun of or didn't stand out enough to warrant remembering. I also came in at the tail end of things that seemed to crumble shortly after I arrived. I reached the point where I thought if I got involved my mere presence was the destructive force that brought it to an end or that it wouldn't turn out the way it did in my head i.e. let's bring on more pain.

Granted, I probably only have time left for one last cheap thrill or two. I'm not a senior citizen by any means, but definitely closer to the middle of middle aged, so I'm not delusional enough to think I can play "Romeo" or even "Hamlet", but I've got to stop, I WILL stop, dismissing my every thought as impossible with a painful result. I have taken away my own "hope" and compartmentalized it as an impossible dream that has passed me by forever.

I won't promise myself a painless, easy rest of breathing but I am promising myself that I will try anything and everything that I decide I want to do. I will no longer chastise and punish myself for creatively wasting my time. It's my time, and right now I have no choice but to waste a lot of it creatively or I will lose what's left of my effing mind.

I admit to an obsession with Twitter. I'm no good at it, but I have been enjoying trying to decipher what the heck people are saying, and getting a little stalkerish thrill out of kind of knowing what a lot of perfect strangers are doing and thinking. Maybe sometime, I'll even be good at it.

And I enjoy these two blogs I've kind of toyed with. They first started as an attempt to make me feel human. I used to blog A LOT on MySpace. Then all this stuff started happening and I just couldn't do it. So this one I will keep in the vein of the MySpace blogs; thoughts, feelings...whatever pops into my head. It will be a good way to track my own progress and focus. If someone reads it cool. If someone wants to leave a comment or get in contact, once again, cool.

The other, "Odd Rocks Across the River", also here on blogspot, was meant to be a place for me to post a continuing homage to the dying daytime drama with a slightly mean poke at the Southern lifestyle. The intent was to post "episodes" linked together by reoccurring characters with no real end. I will still do so, labeling each of those with the word "episode" and a sequential number, but I will also use it to post any works of fiction that I spin. (I like to compartmentalize so there--fiction/insanity track)

I will also in the next twenty four hours on this blog post the first chapter of my other obsession, a novel I have been working on for, well I'm not so sure but, I haven't bought underwear in three years and I know I've been working on this novel longer than that. The first chapter is the only thing I'm happy with, so I'll let it out there. I know I'll never be happy with it, but I also know that I'm at the point where I probably just need a good editor. Not that posting Chapter One will help, but at least it's more pro-active than creative masturbation.

I'm not sure what to focus on yet, but I've just got to get the flood gates to the mind open up, listen closely to my heart, then toss the good parts up to my brain and run screaming forward with all the strength I have.

The progression being instead of taking one step at a step to dream one breath at a time.

Proudly, if a little wobbly...the chicken dances on.

P.S. Thank God for Sluggers, dreams and spellcheck