I’m Sorry, Dad

I wrote the following text below the cut (the “read more” link; you’ll get to it eventually) on Thursday afternoon, the evening after I finally cracked. In engineering terminology, my psyche finally suffered a catastrophic malfunction. I’d been waiting for it – had been wondering why it had not happened yet, following Dad’s [tag]death[/tag] four short weeks ago. I’d been wondering if and when it would all become too much. Wednesday night, was the last straw, as it became evident to me that my two oldest siblings decided beyond all doubt that their vanity and personal demons were more important than honoring our father’s wishes.

And I broke – and only by the slimmest thread of self control did I keep from literally breaking everything I own. In the end, I wasn’t psychologically strong enough to do what I believe what my father would have wanted me to do.

And I went to a very dark place inside my soul. A dark, dank little cave that I haven’t visited since the spring of 2001, following my mother’s death; this has been my third visit to that place since December 1999 when, but for a “grave”(heh) miscalculation, it would have become my permanent place of residence. After writing what follows, I felt much better; I guess it enabled me to come to terms with my failure, that and the new cadre of ghosts that joins those my mother’s death left behind to keep me company.

I decided not to post it right away, however; I decided to give it a few days and read it over. For one reason, writing when one is emotional is not necessarily a good thing – sometimes it can be powerful beyond measure in its passion; at other times the force of that passion can completely wreck the writing, tearing it asunder and making it descend into melodrama, even as you put it down on the page. The second reason is because I have mixed feelings about keeping a truly personal blog. On one hand, I’m an intensely private person; I often fit the cliché of the loner. On the other hand, when I look at others’ blogs, the ones I truly enjoy reading, they tend to be of an intensely personal nature; they are the ones in which the authors lay their souls bare (they can write well, too). It’s probably not surprising that the blogs I enjoy the most are by published fiction authors.

So, I suppose if I’m going to keep a [tag]blog[/tag], then it might as well be one that I would actually read, were I on the other side of it (I’ll let you decide if I can write well or not; obviously I believe that I can). Furthermore, despite my private nature, there is something cathartic about publishing your innermost thoughts and feelings on a blog for all the world to read – it lets one bare one’s soul without the embarrassment of sharing that with someone in person. Plus, the reader gets the powerful words and compelling emotion without the drama and tears. If they’re uncomfortable, they can stop reading; if it’s someone I know, they can choose to acknowledge it, or not, as they see fit, when we meet in person.

For a misanthropic, navel-gazing loner who only maintains a handful of good friends, it’s the perfect psychological vent.

Another reason I’m glad I waited is that on Friday – it being early Saturday evening as I write this – bitch-ass Fate decided to deal me a coup de grâce: I got laid off from my job. That kind of helped me put everything in perspective, I think, because in spite of what conventional wisdom would suggest I should feel, I feel relieved. I liked my job, liked my coworkers and my employer, but lately, even before my father died, I had had trouble with motivation – in short, I just couldn’t feel motivated anymore to do something that I didn’t have a passion for. It has been like staying in a relationship with someone because it’s comfortable, not because I’m still madly in love with them. My career had become just a job – a cool job, but just a job nonetheless. I’ve actually felt that way about journalism for several years now, but with all of the shit going on following my father’s death, I was finding it extra difficult to do the job – I just couldn’t find it within me to care – so I think it is for the best, even though the future is now even more uncertain than it was before.

One of my good friend’s favorite quotes is from the movie Hero; the lines in question are spoken by Bernie LaPlant, played by Dustin Hoffman, to his son Joey as he explains his philosophy of life.

“People are always talking about truth. Everybody always knows what the truth is, like it was toilet paper or something and they got a supply in the closet. But what you learn as you get older is there ain’t no truth. All there is is bullshit, pardon my vulgarity here. Layers of it. One layer of bullshit on top of another. And what you do in life like when you get older is – you pick the layer of bullshit you prefer and that’s your bullshit so to speak.”

I suspect my dilemma with regard to my career and everything else right now is that the layer of bullshit I have come to prefer is near the bottom, if not precisely the bottom itself. Maybe I’ve always been that way, and I just took 40 years to figure it out. All I know is, if I don’t wake up and the first thing in my brain isn’t “Hot damn, I can’t wait to do my job today,” then I don’t want to do it at all any more, because, well, it’s bullshit otherwise. Out in California you often hear the phrase “I work to live, rather than live to work,” often to justify some heinously long commute, or to justify some mind-numbing, soul-crushing drudgery in a cubicle farm. I think at this point in my life, I’d rather just “live to live,” because everything else is bullshit, I’ve come to conclude. It’s cliché, but it’s true: one must follow one’s bliss.

Granted, truth is subjective, and so is bullshit. But then, I’m a loner at heart, and now that both my [tag]parents[/tag] are dead, the only person I have to answer to is myself. So, whatever the future holds … it won’t hold a lot of bullshit, as far as I’m concerned. I may end up living in my Subaru down by the river, but damn it, it will be on my own terms, and there won’t be any bullshit involved – I won’t have to be full of shit, convincing myself to do a job that I don’t care about, and that doesn’t matter to me at the end of the day.

If I ever get laid off again, I want it to be a tragedy, because I loved that job, and because I couldn’t wait to do it each and every day I got out of bed. No more bullshit, that’s my motto.

So yeah, whatever self censorship may have taken place in the past here is no more. I’m posting what I want and everyone else can bugger off if they don’t like it, future employers included.

But be prepared, dear gentle reader; what you are about to read, should you chose to continue, isn’t a [tag]fluffy box of kittens[/tag] with a side order of Carebears. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

OK, that was a bit over the top. But it is gut wrenching stuff, if I do say so myself. And lengthy. May want to go take a leak and get something to drink before you click.

Continue reading I’m Sorry, Dad