Monday, September 28, 2009

As I Am

I'm kind of sick of trying to make everyone happy with who and what I am. Though I thought I was doing this before, maybe I was mistaken. So let me be clear: from this moment forward, anyone who wishes for me to be involved in their lives will do so on the condition that they stop criticizing the things I do and say, the way I live, how I think, and who I am. Anyone unwilling to meet those conditions can kiss my merry ass.

Why the tirade? I'll tell you. In the last two weekends, I've been out with "the guys" on two occasions. This is unusual for me. I rarely go out on weekends, and when I do, it's almost always a family or couples event. Also, I rarely drink more than one or two adult beverages on any given outing, if I drink at all. I'm not given to excess. So on the occasion that I do overindulge, I'd like everyone to recognize that 99% of the time I'm perfectly functional and sober. Also, I think I deserve a damn break: I'm 36 years old. I'm a good man and a hard worker. If I want to get drunk with the guys every now and then, so be it. So long as I continue to earn our family's decent living, don't come home and trash the house, don't blow the car payment on booze, don't wake everyone up when I get home, don't operate under the influence, or any other such behavior that constitutes conduct unbecoming, leave me the hell alone.

And on that subject, the first of the two aforementioned weekends, I did, in fact, overindulge. It was partly by accident; I'm not as young and robust as I used to be, apparently. It was partly on purpose (see the last half of paragraph 2 above). And I did feel like hell the next day. But guess what else I did the next day? I got out of bed on time (before 7am), showered, and went on to meet every single obligation I made that day (which, taking into account I was volunteering at a meeting of ~100 exchange students, was considerable). I puked. I felt like crap. I cold sweated and I'm sure I was pale. I don't know whether anyone other than my wife could tell, but it wouldn't have made a difference anyway. Because every single time I needed to excuse myself, I did so graciously, and I came back within a few minutes, and every moment in between those episodes I was on track, body and mind. To make my original point: nobody suffered that day because of what I did the night before EXCEPT for me, so anyone who wishes to pass judgment can, well...refer to the last sentence of paragraph 1.

The second of the two aforementioned weekends, I did not, in fact, overindulge. I made this decision consciously as both a physiological and financial matter. I volunteered to drive instead, believing I ought to contribute something to the shindig, as it was an impromptu birthday party for a buddy. Good times were had by all. Two guys got pretty plastered, as was their right. The birthday boy got to pick the bar because he's into one of the waitresses, which is also his right, and after seeing her totally understandable. As it happened, I ended up next to this woman (with my buddy on the other side). This led to the perpetuation of a certain label these guys (with whom I work) have given me, which isn't entirely respectable. I usually take it in good stride; after all, we're all just guys messing around with each other's heads. But they insist on doing this at work, where (surprise!) there are lots of other people who DON'T really know me, who DON'T really understand that ALL of us guys actually qualify for that label on more than a few occasions.

The people hearing this joking are people whose professional respect I am trying to either earn or keep. Though I already knew it to be true, it struck me today: no matter where we go, or what I do, when I'm with these guys, I will always be the one who gets this label, and no matter how much I might tone myself down, they'll always adjust their rating scales to ensure I fall into the category they've chosen. It kind of pisses me off. I have realized the only way to change this (because appealing to their mature sensibilities will only serve to get me a new label) is to be a dick about it, call a spade a spade, and basically tell them to STFU.

And so, I'm done. I'm canceling my subscription. All of y'all who want me around are just going to have to put up with me. Any of y'all that have something negative to say may at least get walked away from, or at most get told where to shove it. I've got things to do and people to take care of, and I don't have time to try and fit into your expectations of me. If being your friend means bowing to your criticism or taking your crap, go find someone else to be your friend. I'm all done. Have a nice day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Circle K

A coworker noticed my serious nature and inquired whether I was in a funk. I replied that no, I was in fact in a groove, getting lots done, but as a result realizing the daunting amount of work ahead of me this week. Does this mean I'm in a funky groove?

* * * * *

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

I looked back over my writing a week or so ago, and it was apparent then I'd skipped more than a few significant events in the past months. I've let more than a few affecting news stories go uncommented on. I've let more than a handful of emotional benchmarks slip through my fingers. I've let many a family event go by unrelated. I've changed a bit, and documented none of it.

This is a problem for me. It's a problem because my memory is terrible, and also because normal means of documenting daily life are erratically or completely ignored in our lifestyle. Paper journaling, that classical, elegant predecessor to blogging, is simply out of the question. Pictures are taken mostly of (or by) children, mostly at events which are more important to us than them, and are almost universally forgotten about until the memory card is full. (And then, as is probably the case in most households, promptly forgotten about AGAIN until the computer's hard drive crashes, which prompts lots of regret and moaning about lost digital images that hadn't been looked upon for longer than it took to offload them from the camera.)

* * * * *

Yes, the Circle K reference, which I thought was so funny, and might appeal to other children of the 80's to whom Bill and Ted's excellent adventures were such a milestone, was written yesterday. The train of thought got lost in a work day, and when I picked up on it today, it was gone.

I mention this only because it's a perfect example of the emotional benchmarks I said I've missed so many of. Here it was yesterday, I felt I had something to say (really, there was much more coming), sat down to say it, and then *poof* it was gone, in a puff of orange smoke.

As I said, this is a problem for me. I told a friend who also blogs recreationally that writing is critical. To not get out those thoughts or words or feelings in their time of validity is to lose an essential part of yourself to the maelstrom of day to day life, from which nothing escapes unless there's an overdue dollar amount attached to it. And unlike more concrete aspects of thought (like those overdue dollar amounts for instance), you can't put your need to write aside and remember where you were emotionally or intellectually that day when you finally have the time to record it. You don't get much of a backlog; the Muse will only wait so long.

These thoughts make up who I am. How I express them, consciously and otherwise, through my words and actions, creates a kind of user interface for everyone in the world with whom I interact. My children will know me each day by how I love and discipline them, by my expectations and disappointments. My coworkers will know me eacy day by my expertise, curiosity, and professionalism (or lack thereof on any count). My friends will know me each day by my opinions, my sense of humor, and our shared experiences. My wife will know me each day by how I express my love for her, and how I care for our marriage.

I am known--and judged--by everyone around me in so many different ways, and by so many words and actions, simply by how I express what's inside.

So, what IS inside?

Some days I think I know, but what's known really is only valid in any given context or situation. Most days, I'm only going on program, following a mental to-do list or maintaining a routine of tasks because they're familiar or necessary or both. In this way, those exterior words and actions are there for all to see, expressing the stuff inside me which I am taking no trouble to either monitor or maintain. This seems counterintuitive.

In any conversation with myself, all that stuff inside is the whole point. Of everything. Even when I'm only "on program," as far as I'm concerned all those things I spend my entire day doing are specifically for the benefit of those around me, and are a direct result of the interior desire to provide for them. Maybe that comes out through my actions, or maybe it just looks like I'm running myself ragged, but either way I do it not only because I must, but because I want to--not only for them, but for myself.

So anyway, my whole purpose in ever thinking about about the insides are to make sure I keep getting better. It's important to me that I am a good, productive person, and it's important to me that I become more so as I age. The ONLY way I'll ever be able to benchmark any such progress is by taking some kind of snapshot of what's inside from time to time, and comparing it to other such snapshots.

This is just a very long way of saying that unless I blog (or otherwise write) those thoughts or emotions or events that strike me on occasion, I'm only shooting myself in the foot: I have no way of knowing whether I'm making any progress in my personal development. So I better get on the stick.

And on the subject of lost trains of thought, there it goes. But what I managed to get out in my short expressive window was, I think, pretty good. It helped me, anyway. And if that's not good enough, I respectfully suggest you hit that "next blog" button at the top of your screen. After all, this isn't here for you; this is my own gift to myself.