Daily Calendars and The Danger of 365 Days of Planning

On New Year’s Day, my wife and I were going to go out and do some shopping.  We just needed to get out of the house, and it was too cold to do anything truly ‘outside.’  So we ended up at Barnes and Noble, and while we had each got our share of calendars as Christmas gifts, my wife suggested I get some kind of daily calendar.  You know these calendars that you remove a sheet each day, and there is some fun joke, or fact, or word each day.  The reason she suggested it, was because I used to love these calendars.

On a few occasions, I’ve purchased for myself daily calendars mostly containing the ‘italian word or phrase of the day’ in an attempt to learn Italian.  It’s a fun way of passing the time, and I put it on my desk at work, and I always enjoy them, for the first few months at least.

When she suggested that I buy one, my response to her was “I’ve never finished a whole calendar” because I end up leaving a job and it goes in a box for ‘later’.  When I got laid off in 2016, there was just a month and a half left in the year, and we found the calendar months later.  Before that, I left a job I hated and the calendar got lost in the process.

So, in one of my rare fits of superstition, I decided not to buy a daily calendar, for fear that I would not end the year at my job.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of options in which that is a great thing, and I won’t fight it if something amazing comes along, but I guess it was mostly out of a fear of losing this job.  I enjoy where I am work-wise, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s pretty damn good, one of the best atmosphere’s that I’ve been in a long time, and I don’t want to lose that.

Also, I don’t want the job to become something I hate and then lose.  That happened at my last job, it was a great job, with a great atmosphere, and then the last 6 months were terrifying, and ultimately ended in me getting laid off.  I don’t think it makes it better when the job deteriorates first.

I just realized— just now, while I’m writing this— that I’m starting 2018 from a place of fear.  Which totally isn’t what I feel like overall, I’m very excited about where I’m at, and where I think I’m going, but ultimately I just don’t want to make any plans for work that consume the next 365 days.

Happy New Years everyone!  Don’t worry like me!

I Absolutely Love Being a Father

Sometimes, our lives get busy, and we tend to overlook things.  We get into a rhythm and things get done more from rote memory than conscious decision.  This doesn’t mean that those things aren’t important, or wonderful they are just easy to not give much thought to.  Then a curveball comes through, and we are snapped back into the reality of our lives.

Thursday morning before my son or I woke up, my wife left to fly back up to Massachusetts for one of her best friends’ baby shower, and so I have been on sole parenting duty for two and a half days.  I knew for months that it was coming, but I’ve never gone so long without a pair of helping hands with him (14-15 hours max probably) and so I was a little nervous.  Would he sleep well, I had to work Thursday and Friday and needed to get some rest, and so as a pessimist I had all the possible negatives run through my head.

None happened.  The last two days have been the best I’ve had with him at least since I went back to work.  We’ve played, and had pizza, and he’s slept great, and got himself stuck in numerous large toys.  It hasn’t been without him crying, and there have been all the lesser quality everyday baby things (i.e. Diapers) but it’s been a blast.

It reminded me that I love being a father, and I really needed to be reminded!  The thing with a lot of things in our lives, is that the repetition makes us forget, and with things like fatherhood, it’s easy to forget.  I never forget that I love my son, when I look at him, I feel it instantly but that is a different feeling than loving being a father.  And I’ll be honest, I may only love being HIS father, maybe it’s just he’s the perfect kid for me and I’d love it less with another kid, but I love being his father, and for right now that means I love being A father.

This experience has made me realize that when things get busier in our lives, if my wife needs to go take care of things, I can definitely step up.  I think I could definitely do a longer stretch of time, and that it would only make me happier.

These several days away from wife, also made me realize that I love being a husband, in addition to loving her.  I love that I can hold down the fort so she can do the things she needs to, and so she can get a little bit of a rest.

(Now just in case I made it sound like I don’t do much on a normal basis, that’s not really the case.  I change diapers and get up at night regularly, and I think my wife and I are split close to down the middle. Also I realize that getting pizza and not cooking probably sounds much easier than many parenting situations and I don’t for a second think this is as hard as being a single parent.)

I am a Fucking Coward

Most of us like to think we would be the hero in a crisis, we think we would be the person to stand up to a bank robber, or to risk our own lives for the sake of our families or the greater good.  Most people never are faced with a choice like that, and those who are often don’t act the way they hoped.

Today, not in the face of anything that personal, but something I believe to be as important, I found out that I am not a hero, I’m not even an ordinary man willing and able to do the very bare minimum.  I’m a coward.

Over the last several years, there have been protests that I’ve believed in, but I was able to justify not attending because it was always ten or not hours away.  I lived in Massachusetts, so when the protests were going on in Ferguson, it was easy to justify not going because it was too far.

Now I live in North Carolina, and so I’m closer to where a lot of the protests are happening.  Today, in Charlottesville Virgina (which is only about three hours away from me) the Klan, Neo-Nazi and an other white supremacy groups were organizing a rally in a park called Emancipation Park.

I should be going to counter protest, to lend my body to the ranks of people trying to show they have more support than the literal haters.  But I haven’t gone, and I’m not likely to go.  The reason for my absence isn’t moral ambiguity, or lack of time, instead it’s fear.  The truth is, if there are beatings, or pepper spraying, or God forbid worse violence, I’m scared of the personal impact.

All day today, the more I have heard about this ongoing event, the more I have been overcome by guilt and shame.  I cannot think of any argument that I have been more clear on in my head, and yet my convictions aren’t enough motivation to go stand for what is right.

It may seem less obvious to many of you, but to me, it seems today’s events are a clear movement in a worse direction.  There has been a lot of talk about the ’emboldening’ of racists in this country over the last two years, but this is coupled with a federal government unable to accomplish anything, and talking now about possibly suspending the 2020 elections due to illegal immigrants voting.

I’m terrified and ashamed.  Edmund Burke said “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  I think right now to do nothing is disqualifying from being ‘good,’ and I have done nothing, and make no mistake I do not kid myself for one second that this post or Facebook memes are doing something.  Something real must be done, by everyone possible.

My intention in writing this, is that maybe I will be told about something I can do that I will be brace enough to do, or at the very least to shame myself enough to act.

More Confidence and More Fear

When I was a little kid, I not a particularly brave child.  I was afraid of bullies, afraid teachers, and afraid of my parents.  I worried about consequences, I worried about getting beaten up.

I didn’t know who I was either.  I mean I knew something’s that I liked but I never felt like I had a clear identity.  No group really wanted me, and I desperately wanted to be in any group that would have me.

Then in high school I had a group, and I found some form of identity.  I was still completely spineless, but at least I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, and between writing and trying to film with friends I had some sense of self.

So where I guess my point that I’m trying to get to REALLY starts in college.  When I went off to college, within a month I met my first love.  It took off quickly and she loved me back.  For those first few months I felt untouchable.

By spring break, we were still doing great, we had met each other’s friends and families.  I was already pretty convinced she was the one.

During spring break it became apparent to my family that our relationship had progressed faster than anyone was ok with.  To put it plainly, I was sexually active and both religiously, and logistically they thought it was a bad idea.  I had parents, grandparents, uncles, and a sibling telling me what I should be doing.

Like any teenager, I was pissed.  The difference this time, was that for the first time in my life I HAD to stand up for myself, but mostly because I had to stand up for her.  I didn’t tell anyone to ‘fuck off,’ or anything like that, but I did what I wanted, despite the consequences.  I made it clear, if the money for college was conditional that I’d rather live the way I wanted than take the money.

I moved in with my girlfriend during the summer despite their objections.  (I should mention that most of my family was trying their hardest to do what they felt was best for me.  I never doubted that, in fact at one point I helped my father with construction work when I was unemployed because he knew I needed a job/money.  But knowing that wanted what was best did not help at the time.). Eventually I moved to Colorado, which really strained my relationship with them all.

During this relationship, I was ballsy.  I would tell bosses when they were wrong, customers when they were being assholes.  For a three and a half year period I took very little shit.

Anyway, in the end my relationship with my girlfriend failed.  For a long time I blamed my families interference, but now I think it wasn’t meant to be.  But that relationship in many ways is exactly what I needed for that period in my life.  It made me fight.

Then I moved home, and my family was great. They helped me get back on track financially, they helped me when I had a few significant psychological episodes, and we slowly built our relationships back to better than they had ever been before, I’m not sure that could have happened without nearly break either.

Between the time when I moved back, and the time when I met my wife—which was coincidentally about three and a half years as well— I maintained some sense of the ballsy attitude at work.

Then I met my wife, and I quickly knew I was going to marry her, and this time knew that feeling was real.  Then I got laid off.  I hated my job, but I was so devastated by the idea that after five years they were getting rid of me.  My dad calmed me down and told me it was all going to be fine.

I decided to go back to school full time.  I had been wanting to, and saving to and I decided it was time.

My wife, Sarah, and school gave me a sense of identity and confidence.  She encouraged me to work towards my goals even as they changed, and I found quickly that I was excelling at school for the first time ever.

After my first year back at school, I decided to do an advertising internship.  I had heard about an advertising company that had given a friend good experience.  I started and found out that despite the name it was a marketing agency but I was ok with that not entirely knowing the difference, and I learned a lot.  I had a boss who I really couldn’t stand but needed to finish in order to get credit for the internship.  So despite the boss being a complete jerk, I kept my mouth shut.  I couldn’t mouth off the way I had before.

I was finally starting to feel a sense of who I was, but I was losing the ability to stand up for myself.  It was the beginning of reverting back to the scared little boy who couldn’t stand up for himself.  I had had my ass kicked before and I couldn’t bare the thought of going through it again.

The internship ended, and I graduated, and got a couple of crappy jobs and again was crippled with fear.  I was getting married and had responsibilities and had to keep up.

In the song Renegade, Eminem and Jay-Z take turns saying “never been afraid to say what’s on mind, at any given time and day, because I’m a mother fucking renegade!”  I used to hear that and think it described me.  I really felt like a renegade, but now I’m not sure I ever was one.

I am confident in beliefs, I voice my opinion and my thoughts on political and social issues, you might even say I’m a big mouth, but there is a difference between saying what I think in the abstract, and standing up for myself and my wife and son.  For a long time now, I’ve felt like a coward.  I was not sure I had it in me anymore.

So here I am, a husband and a father who is afraid of failure, afraid of disappointing everyone, who got laid off—again.  I have been given the gift of no choice.  I have had to actually follow my dreams because everyone else’s have failed me.  I may get another job and if I do I will work hard, and try to provide for my wife and son, but I’m not sure I can do the biting my tongue ‘thing’ anymore.

To quote a different Eminem song, “to think I was afraid to make a single sound,” “I didn’t want go another round.” (Guts Over Fear)

18 Years

14

“Fuck you,” I shout at the sky,
both middle fingers extended fully,
boiling tears stream down my nose and cheeks,
corroding and burning as they roll.
I return to my room,
my eight by ten cell.
“Please end me,” I beg the silence in the sky.
Every ugly face is of an enemy,
fangs lurk under fake smiles,
hatred coursing through my veins.

18

I stare in a mirror,
the ugliest face of all stares back.
The man before me can barely fake a smile,
his fangs cut his lips.
He is hollow,
I know if I cut him open there will be nothing inside.
I cut his wrists,
the sight of blood convinces me I am wrong.

20

My voice SQUEAKS upon first use,
but it is loud.
My Family cringes in disgust,
in pain,
as my high pitched SQUACK cuts their ears.
They quickly acclimate,
and SQUACK back,
several shrieking voices drown out my fresh new one.
I SQUACK louder,
they SQUACK louder.
The flower that I SQUACK for has been stepped on,
it has been crushed.
I try to prune,
to salvage any petals.
The flower wilts and falls dead.
I return to my nest,
flowerless.

23

Home now,
there are family members,
but the walls are unfamiliar.
This is not the place I left.
Yet the eight by ten cell feels the same.
Concrete columns under overpasses,
sing out to my like Syrens.
Every fiber of my soul wants to go.
They say I’m sick.
I go into a building,
there is a bed ridden woman,
who wails like a banshee.
I’m not that sick.

24

I found a new flower!
And pollinated it.
The flower wilted and died anyway.
I went in to work,
I followed orders,
I did as I was told,
I was a good drone.
The buzzing heightened in my ears.
Despite my act,
I was never part of the hive.
When the buzz began to feel as if my ears would explode,
I took honey to relieve it.
I took more and more honey.
I’d rather die filled with honey,
than live with constant buzz.
They returned me to the building.
A man tells the nurse that he needs his headphones for when his lawyers come in,
to sue everyone.
I am not that sick.

29

A new flower has bloomed.
I dare not pluck it,
but water it frequently.
This flower is planted firmly,
in a place I cannot grow.
I’m happy to stagnate in this flower’s garden.
The flower continues to bloom,
it’s majesty is blinding.
I worry about the flower’s soil, is the soil poisonous.
Will other plants grow too intensely,
and choke out my flower.

32

My flower still remains.
In fact it has a sapling.
I still fear the soil,
but now I fear the rain,
I worry that the flower will drown,
that the sapling will wash away,
the rain blurs my eyes,
and I cannot clearly see my flower,
or my sapling.
I fear the sun,
I fear the petals getting scorched.
I squint in its blinding light,
but cannot see my flower,
or my sapling.
I fear the air.
My flower and my sapling are making more oxygen,
than I can breathe.
I begin to breath shallow and quick.
My head is light
and black starts to surround my vision.
I lay on my back,
and I blink awake.
The flower and the sapling stare at me.
I cannot tell if they are real.
I do not want to see the woman wailing,
or the man asking for his headphones,
but I think I am that sick.