A Work in Progress
I was having a conversation with my wife last night about why I spend so much time working, obsessing, and contemplating this blog when she looked over at me and said, "After all darling, it isn't like you're getting paid to spend all that time working on it. So why are you spending all that effort on it?"
I thought about it.
I'm a work in progress.
I have been for years and this blog is just an extension of that process. I started remaking myself in the ninth grade when we were sitting in the lunch room and I was surrounded by the same two friends I'd had since I was in preschool and all I could think was I can't go on living my life without kissing a girl or talking to a stranger. I have stand up and shout out that I cannot be ignored and that I'm more important than anyone would have ever thought!
Then I continued shaping myself as I used alcohol and my sense of humor as crutches to support my lack of a personality so that I could talk to people I'd never met before. But that doesn't take you far because eventually you run out of liquor and there comes a time when you can't think of anything funny to say because you're not a monkey getting paid to dance in the street. Naturally I found myself looking out a window and wondering if it would really hurt that bad to take one more step and for some reason I started reading Nietzsche like he had all the answers.
So here I am at twenty drinking brown liquor in a plastic cup, pretending like that's acceptable at seven in the morning, reading the words of a guy who died never knowing what it was like to enjoy a minute of his life without pain and all I can think is, If this son of a bitch could make an impact felt the world over why can't I?
I read the words God is Dead on the day I turned twenty-one and climbed into a van so that I could find out if I could drink my weight and survive and it turns out that you can if you remember that you're not a child of the past but an entirely new thing moving beyond the failings of all your yesterdays onto the promise of your tomorrows. And I threw up all my hopes and dreams in the morning as I hung my head over the tail pipe and breathed in the disappointments of a future failure that never stopped trying.
Two years later I'm sitting on the edge of my bed looking at a grade point average, that if it were an earthquake wouldn't even wake you up, when the phone rings and I find myself looking at it like the jailer had come to lead me to the gallows. I just sat there looking at it as it rang wondering what I was going to do with my life. So I called an old woman who had seen the Great Depression and still carried it in her heart and asked her how I moved on. "Son," she said with a tenderness I neither deserved nor wanted, "sometimes life pushes you over the edge and you punt."
Move forward six months and I'm working seven days a week and sleeping three hours a day but I'm having a blast. Such a fun time, I say, as I open up my second pack of the day and I've got six more hours to go. I'm drinking like a fish and counting the names of the Saints like it might help me find my immortal soul and push me off this world when I see a girl who makes everything stop. I can feel the world spinning out from under me when she takes my hand for the first time and I swear to you that if she had not held me so tight I would have been flung far off this planet and into the sun.
Ah, but she's got a boyfriend.
I want to ask her if she's ready for a man friend but I find that shyness creeping up into my throat and I disappear into my work and then into the bottle when I can slip away. But my brother is worried and I miss him terribly so I start skipping the drink and start smoking with him on a bench just outside of Hell instead. And she's there. She's there with that pitiful boyfriend who doesn't like her nearly enough and I'm trying to steal her away but I keep forgetting to say, Hi.
That fool forgets himself and pushes her away so that he can screw this little twist instead of staying with this girl who would make Aphrodite give up her godhood so that she could walk a while in her shadow and I'm there to catch her tears on my shoulder and soon we're living together.
I've got Nietzsche barking in the back of my ear as Hell breaks loose on me in the summer of '05 and I'm told a lie that shatters my world but she's there to pick up the pieces. I lose myself in her eyes, get married, and break the sound barrier as I move more tonnage in an hour than some countries produce in a hundred years.
It's the lean years for us and I'm working seventy hours a week, running every Saturday, and counting my pennies hoping that we've got enough to keep the lights on. She's at school and I'm eating pinto beans because I can't afford to waste the money on real food and I start reading Hume, Kierkegaard, and the Stoics because my soul needs hardening and my body's breaking. I see her right at shift change and kiss her on the weekends because I don't know what else to do and I disappear into a book that shakes me to my knees as we wait for a call that I know will come and she's convinced never will.
We fall of the mountain together and end up in a valley where Satan summers because the heat's warmer than home. She's miserable and I'm reading Tuckman, Robb, Gygax, and Plato hoping to find the way back when we get a call after three years down in the Devil's Playground to move up the mountain then half way down again.
I'm counting stairs and she's holding the baby's hand whispering that it'll all be alright if we just do this together. And I know that she's right but I keep rambling about demons and the difficulty class of climbing a smooth wall. My pockets are stuffed with dice and I honestly can't remember the reason why I have so many as we grind our way up the mountain dragging half the county behind us.
Then I'm sitting there reading to my son - who gives not one fuck about what I'm saying and only cares that I'm saying anything at all - when I start reading the Republic and other Utopias while telling him tales of Shatner's future where technology becomes a drug and people forget how to talk like the modern man and speak like it's 1950 again. So he's sleeping and I'm reading and these thoughts keep coming into my head so I push them out onto the page hoping to push myself to something beyond what I am and you're reading all this so something must be working.
I look over at her, with those big, beautiful eyes of hers, and say, "I'm not really spending that much time on it. I'm just working on getting to where I want to be."
And she smiles at me and says, "Well, just so long as you're enjoying it."