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Inside the gas station woman sat playing video poker at a frantic pace, oblivious to anything but the animations on the screen. She wonít win; even if she did sheíd pump every cent back into the machine. She doesnít want to win. She plays because it gives her hope. The longer she sits there, trying to ďhit it bigĒ the more chances she has at a new future. Hope is all that keeps most people going and video poker letís her hold onto the notion that the future can get better in an instant- even if the illusion last for only a few hours.
I woke up this morning feeling angry. No reason why, I just was. Maybe Bukowski was right, itís the little things that send a man to the madhouse. The hospital moved me to the geriatric unit for the day, not what I wanted but just what I needed. I spent the morning feeding an elderly Marine who was plagued with Alzheimerís and Parkinsonís. The sounds he made were once English, but he had lost the ability to speak; but after babbling for awhile he broke out in laughter and I couldnít help but join in- gratitude.
Sometimes I think back to my old life, Taraís house, not sure how I knew her. The house was huge and far too modern. People came and went all night, some entering through windows instead of the door. There were massive amounts of drugs everywhere, cocaine covered every surface like a snowstorm, liquor everywhere. Tara played Chopin on the piano with expert precision until she passed out about 4 am. She left a voicemail for me days later; she was headed to Colorado and wanted me to join in on two weeks of skiing and parties. What a lifeÖ.
When did things start to go my way? Seven months ago I had lost a solid job due to the ownerís corruption, I worked for pennies at a new transitional living facility, I had a growing stack of rejection letters, and a psychotic chic kicking up shit in my life. Perseverance is my one admirable quality; sometimes there is simply no choice but to move on and keep moving forward. Today I have money in the bank, a job I love, new job offers coming in (itís nice to have options), and two cats asleep on the couch.
The stack of unopened mail reminds me that thereís a world outside my apartment and the psychiatric hospital I work in. My first year clean I learned one thing- how to NOT use. How to go to work, socialize, fall asleep- without dope. I still live one day at a time but now itís all about trying to find some balance. Iím glad Iím busy and not in my head too much. Jason stopped by for lunch today before I headed off for work. There are good people in my life, I need to remember that.
So much to do in life just to keep your head above water. Wake up early to hit feed the cats, hit the gym, pay some bills, buy groceries, and call a few friends. Staying busy is a good thing in my life, itís the only way I stay motivated. The busier I get, the busier I feel I need to be- keep moving to stay alive. I need to apply this to other areas of my life though; every so often someone from my past comes along, trying to force their way back into my life. Keep moving.
Another friend is getting married. I havenít seen her in a decade; the reason I know this is Facebook. Before social networking sites so many of the ďold crewĒ would have drifted apart, now weíre plugged into the lives of people we really have little ďsocialĒ contact with. Now we donít need a high school reunion, itís just a click away from contacting people that Iíve really made no effort to keep up with. We're connected to people that 20 years ago we wouldn't be able to find. I wonder if anyoneís stalking me.
Many people are completely predictable; they take the same action over and over. Theyíve become interchangeable. I still end up with one high-maintenance ďfriendĒ after another, one asshole followed by the next, another drama queen will be along shortly. Their names and faces change but they act the same way. Knowing these people for a while, itís easy to predict their next action. People that drain the life out of every situation to fill their need for attention are not my friends. I suppose that because I continue this cycle Iím just as predictable as anyone.
Good fucking lord Iím tired; not so much physically, although thatís there too, but just mentally drained from a long day of hard work. Itís not a bad feeling by any means, in fact it brings with it a sense of accomplishment. Years ago I felt I had nothing to give to this world. I no longer believe that and days like this are why. I donít expect for me to be remembered decades after I die but just for today Iím doing my best to make a difference the only way I know how.
Donít question my integrity asshole; itís all Iíve got. At the end of the day I know what Iíve done and I know that my part is ok. Iíve never sold out what I believe for a little of that money so many of you chase for a lifetime. Itís not always easy but I believe in what I do and what I stand for and Iíll never back down to any of you. Maybe itís that the teen angst never left me but Iíll take angst over apathy any day.
As work the other day some jackass was talking about how ďone thing every man should know how to do is cook a good burger.Ē Yeah, Iíll get right on that. I can cook very well, but itís not like Iím swapping recipes or insisting my griddle be at exactly 350. I will never define my character by what I can cook on a grill. Itís far to domesticated and pointless. I canít stand pissing matches about pointless things and if that makes me a trader to my own gender I can live with that.
It is amazing how little things can change my whole mindset. Resentments still creep up, more often than I'd like. Some come from the past: a boss from years ago, an old using buddy, conversations that should have left my memory long ago. Others come from the present: a bitchy co-worker, those loud idiots that live in the apartment above me. I have to be careful where I let my mind go. Negative energy creates negative situations and those are what I try to avoid; if I'm successful at that I can count every day as a good day.
Early on I was a nerd; then in my early teens I discovered metal, weed, girls. Things transpired quickly and the only place I belonged was the gutter. The kid who used to collect bugs, now dressed in obscene t-shirts; spending more time high than not. I was still a book worm. I spent the day studying Chaucer and the nights in Bankhead buying blow; weekends in upscale bars with a pocket full of meth. The thrill of the life turned into a chore. It took 10 years of hell to make me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The blond at the grocery store was gorgeous. She wore gold jewelry and designer heels and clung to the side of the equally presentable Mr. Salt-and-Pepper Hair. Their cart was filled with yuppie stuff: soy milk, yogurt, pre-made Starbucks drinks. It was my off day and I was dressed in some shorts and an old black t-shirt. As they passed me she looked me up and down; her face first showed fear and bewilderment; that quickly changed to amusement. I get that she looks down on me. What do you want? A dress shirt at Publix?
Ever feel like you're working hard but not really sure that you're accomplishing anything? It's a feeling that I know all too well. I spent a year-and-a-half doing grunt work; it wasn't always easy but now I can look back and know that it got me to where I am today. Patience and looking forward to delayed gratification are still not my strong suits. It's a hard reality that most of my clients will return to their old life; but working toward a better life is what keeps me going- it's the only good fight there is.
Got up early today because the cats wanted me to. It's been a lazy day today, a nice change of pace to be honest. Work looms on the horizon, just a couple of hours away, but that doesn't bother me in the least. It's nice a to appreciate what you have- a good job, good friends, food in kitchen, gas in the car. Sometimes I feel good for no reason and it's those days that make all the work worth it. I'm moving up in the world, slowly but surely, against all odds really. Today I'm glad to be alive.
She walks by and for a second our eyes lock. I should talk to her; she should talk to me, but neither of us takes the action. As fast as she walked in, she walks out. Like so many people in life, I'll probably never see her again. That's the way it is, right? I think about my blood brothers from years ago and now I couldn't get in touch with them if I wanted to. People come into your life, for moments or decades, affect you in a way you usually don't understand at the time, then they're gone.
I saw a group of college kids heading out of the gas station, their arms loaded with cheap beer and sugary "malt beverages". Their flip-flops told made it obvious that they were preparing for a sun-soaked afternoon at the pool and engaging in the mating ritual that involves drinking and acting like a jackass for the sake of attention. Maybe if I still drank I could have joined them. I remember the days of chasing drunken tail, partying at bars, smoking pot all night. It's funny, I don't really miss it. I've moved on- for better I hope.
Some nights everything just feels right with the world... my world anyway. I'm not talking about those days when it seems like you're on a winning streak; but the times when you feel like you're in the right place with the world. Tonight it was the smell of the air, the good times with my brother, the message from an old friend. But really it's a feeling that comes from within. I'm not really into hippie shit like "inner peace" and all that. Sometimes it just feels like god is smiling at you; when nothing happens and you feel great.
Anxiety is never a problem I've had, not until lately. It's not really anxiety but an anxious feeling, like something moving within my soul, telling me to move forward, try harder, change something- ANYTHING. When I have trouble relaxing I know something is out of place and I have to look within to find the problem. No, fuck that. There's no need to look for the problem with something like this. The only thing to do is to take action. You can't feel like you're on top forever, and thank god, it's the moments at the bottom that motivate me.
I just received an invitation to my 10-year high school reunion. Not sure if I'll go; I don't have any old scores to settle with anyone and I don't keep up with anyone from then either. It's not like I was whiny and miserable back then, I just don't see the point in connecting with part of my life that's been dead for years. Remembering the past is one thing, try to relive it is completely different. While I'm all for keeping up with old friends, people who only talk about old times depress me- make some new memories.
How long do you hold on to a situation before you move on? How long do you hold on to a person before you drift apart? It's a question that's easier for me to answer when it pertains to somebody else. There's something to be said for loyalty and perseverance, those qualities are too rare. But at the same time hanging on too long is not only unproductive, it's pathetic and callow. For me, moving on is not the hard part, the hard part is to know when to fold my hand before I've lost too much on one bet.
Ok, I'll admit it; not everybody loves me. I get that, I don't care. Today some little shit sent me an email to tell me that my entire career choice sucks, that he'll make more money than me someday, and that if he ever sees me again he'll spit in my face. Christ, I didn't think I was worthy of such hatred. I remember being that angry, feeling the need to fight everyone and settle every score, no matter how old or pointless. The thought seems to exhaust me now; anger is fine but only if it has a point.
One of my clients, a 15-year-old female, could not fathom how old I am. I'm 28. Admittedly, I am almost 30 which, while not old by any means, does mean I'm pretty different than 15. A friend is celebrating an anniversary today; she's been married since she was 22. I'm still single and didn't even finish college until I was 26. While everyone else in my age group seems to be "growing up" I've never really felt like an adult. Sure I conduct myself like one (most of the time); but I'm still not ready to sell out.
A question I'm asked far too often is why I shake and twitch so much. I don't even notice that I do anymore but I guess it's pretty bad since the topic comes up once a week. Some even go as far as to guess I drink too much coffee or have Parkinson's. Nope, I have "essential tremor". While I get tired of answering the same question over and over the fact that people I barely know ask upfront is odd. I can't control it, ask about something I can control. I don't ask fat people why they're so overweight.
I think sarcasm is the most natural way that I express my friendship. I grew up in a family of smart asses; if you don't have thick skin you won't survive in my family. Because of this I developed the way I did. I don't mean I'm an asshole all the time, but I love banter and humor. Sometimes it's all that gets me through a shift. I don't waste my time joking with people who suck nor do I befriend such people. Not everyone gets this, but if you can't laugh at yourself, how do you get through life?
I am not always a believer in life lessons; more of a believer in life experiences. I may not know how to live but I have plenty of experience in how NOT to live, both personal and from dealing with others. Sometimes it seems like bad moments motivate me more than the good ones when it comes to shaping who I am. It's as important to know who I don't want to be as it is to know who I want to be. Because, more than likely, if I am moving away from something negative I'm moving towards something positive.
Someday you will know true happiness. Someday you will know peace and contentment. You will be ok with who you are. You will know what it means to give and receive unconditional love. You will wake up smiling. But until that day, keep struggling. Keep fighting and trudging on towards anything better than what today has to offer. Endure the misery, the rejection, the isolation, the unfairness. Learn the way of life the hard way. Let the world's coldness carve you a new soul of hard marble. Only then will the world smile at you. Until that day, keep trudging.
Paid the rent today; that means the month is coming to a close. Looking back I don't feel like I've really accomplished anything, not that I know what I would have liked to have gained this month. I remember back in 2006 when things started to change for the worse. My core group of friends- Bobbie, Josh, Heather, Danny- all seemed to drift apart. I dismantled every good thing in my life and did so quite quickly to be honest. Life has taught me that deconstruction is a fast process but moving up in the world takes so much time.
A friend once asked me why I also seemed to get involved with girls who are at least a little crazy. Today, another friend asked if I got lonely working so much and having the isolative tendencies that I do. When will you all realize that I have no idea how to manage my own personal life? Sometimes you want something so bad you'll believe in anything you think can get you it. I live day by day to keep my sanity and the craziness of my personal life is only balanced out by my passionate drive to help people.
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