seized

i was seized with something at a young age and it has yet to let me go.
i can’t become cool again unless i let it win.
hours of being alone make me less than a man, less than me.
my first impulse is to do to myself what i would do to others.
my second impulse is to pretend that it isn’t there.
my third impulse is to drink it away.
my fourth impulse is to pretend that it isn’t there.
my fifth impulse is to fight it.
my sixth impulse is to invite it to do with me as it will, and i do.
i can’t become whole again unless i let it win.
hours of dancing and flirting with it makes me more of an entity.
my first hour of recovering from giving in to it finds me cool, back out interacting with others.
my second hour of recovering from giving in to it finds me not caring.
my third hour of recovering from it finds me trying to say something about it.
my fourth hour of recovery finds me worried for my soul.
my fifth hour of recovery finds me getting religion.
my sixth hour of recovery finds me drinking again.

urban jogging trail and dad

Two themes to address this morning: number of people seen since I began walking regularly around the urban jogging trail, and bonding (or not) with Dad.

First, the urban jogging trail and the faces I’ve passed. I began walking down there regularly in 2001, when Olivia had made me feel like a stranger in the home I owned and was busy getting busy in other men’s homes. January 2001, I made it a point to begin going down there at least once a week with the dog. This started out consisting of walks that maybe went a mile or two at the most, often not encompassing an entire loop. There were periods in these past seven years of walking and jogging where I missed a weekend, because I was working or drinking too much, but I would have to say that as a solid average, I’ve been down to the urban jogging trail twice a week for seven years, or roughly seven hundred times. Each time I go down there to walk or jog, I might see half a dozen faces at the very least, or upwards of a thousand faces when a festival is going on. But, for most evenings or mornings, I would say the average number of faces I really see–I mean, take a moment to recognize the face and consider its humanity–is probably about thirty per walk/jog. This means that since I started going down to the urban jogging trail, I’ve seen about two thousand faces. Of those, maybe fifty of them have interacted with me in the form of a hello or a smile. Think about the implications of that. What does that mean, in this reality, when out of two thousand people you might have liked to get to know a little better, maybe exchange email addresses and occasionally hit up with questions in their areas of expertise or go for a jog with them–out of all those faces, you’ve made it past a stare to a smile or hello about 2.5% of the time? And, as for actually exchanging any contact info, or having a longer conversation with them? Maybe a half dozen times at the most.

Welcome to my little hell. Where, I would love to make new friends but scare everyone away. Where, people are tiny islands (even islands are part of a larger earth ecosystem, but they are still islands) unto themselves. Hell must be like this, only not even a dog or an occasional best friend accompany you through the most terrible places and times. Some of this is my fault–to be for sure, I’m too shy, too set in my ways, etc. But, you don’t see everyone else down there making friends with fellow strangers. That, in fact, seems to be a rare gift that few possess. The few that come up to me and strike up conversations generally seem so crazy as to not even be a part of this reality.

The second theme that needs addressing is the bonding and relationship dynamic that has taken place with my father over the years. It seems to have hit its climax with the death of my mom, and now I am getting to know a man who in some ways seems like a complete stranger to me. You have the father of early childhood, who worked the night shift, and would often babysit me while my mom went to work. It seemed we were relatively close for awhile, at least until we moved to Missouri. Then, you have the father through the rest of my childhood who was simply the supreme court of the family. He arbitrated in those tough decisions that my mother couldn’t or wouldn’t make. Go ask your father, if you want it different. We’re taking this fight, this problem, this struggle to your father, and he can deal with it. And, my dad would be down in his little cave, reading a book, probably throwing back a beer or two–always keeping such hidden. Then, after we went to bed, we could hear him watching television for several hours into the night, and would sometimes discover empty beer bottles behind his chair in the living room. That father didn’t go on our summer trips with us, he rarely took us on weekend outings, sometimes participated in yard work with us, and occasionally would play the backyard football game. He watched football every Sunday with us–that was the real moment to bond with Dad, over some new kind snack food he got at the store, and a couple of games of football.

Then, you see this new Dad start to emerge about the time I craved independence and entered adolescence. The dad that wanted to be my buddy, even as I pulled away from the entire family. We went on a couple of canoe trips together, and right before puberty struck me, we bonded over computers–he would stick Pascal on the computer, and try to teach it to us. After Gus left, it seemed like he wanted to bond more–but, you know, I briefly thought it would be cool to have a dad who took me fishing and hunting and to ballgames–but, he wasn’t that dad. My mom hated guns and never allowed them in the house until we were all grown up and almost gone, and my dad hated fishing and baseball (and, while he liked football, he hated crowds). I should also mention that back in the above, there were also the Saturday trips to the public library–but, while a lot of this stuff was done with dad and family, the real bonding where you actually talk to someone and become more of a friend to them, that seemed to be mostly absent.

Through high school and college, Dad and I fought and avoided each other. I hated him, he was a controlling asshole who wanted me to go off and become everything he couldn’t or wouldn’t, and I wanted to go off and become my own person, but part of me also wanted to please Daddy still. And, I resented that latter part of me, and I resented that he was paying for college, but I was too soft to just say no and go do my own damn thing. So, I hated myself for that, and hated him for being part of what made me hate myself, and to be truthful, these kinds of endless childish resentments stayed with me even after Roy died and Dad started to become more like a friend again, because Roy’s death just caused a huge repressing of that stuff, not a purging of it. So, I had to work with all of these latent immature feelings again a few years ago as they started to resurface, and the need to be supernice to my parents in the face of their overwhelming grief just kind of subsided with the passing of time. As I began to uncover and get rid of these feelings of resentment toward Daddy, thinking maybe I’d have that moment where I would just have it out with him, Mom got the cancer again two years ago, and then it seemed like it would be patently foolish to go throw a big tantrum to Daddy about things he’d said years ago that were never quite reconciled.

I hate to say it, but I grew closest to my father–the closest that I think I’ll ever be–during the last year of my mom’s life. Each weekend, I think we went at least once out to the garden with the dogs to throw the toy around for them, and as my mom got weaker, or was at church or work, we would discuss all kinds of stuff–I think he liked having someone to talk to about worldly things, as my mom had just shut herself off almost completely from everything that wasn’t her little world of cats, Bible, church and old people. I think right now Dad is looking for someone who can provide all of the companionship and physical stuff Mom did, plus all of the intellectual stimulation that I did–and, so, he’s kind of distancing himself from me again.

You could see this in the first dozen conversations we had right after she died. After the tremendous stress of talking through how all of the cancer and death had affected us, it was like we reached a point where we really had nothing more to say about it, other than practical matters, like disposing of Mom’s stuff that held no sentimental or monetary value, and purchasing the headstone. And, what with him trying to date all of these different women, he really hasn’t seemed too interested in discussing robots and politics and computers with me. He certainly didn’t have an interest in reading up on cancer research breakthroughs past the time of Mom’s death. Now, it just seems like he wants to go back forty years, and pick up where he left off–being a bachelor with a motorcycle seeing women and farting around.

Last weekend I brought my new laptop with Linux preloaded on it over, and he barely looked at it. After being a computer programmer for twenty years, and buying over a dozen computers, and talking with me about computer stuff regularly, and talking with Roy about computer stuff even obsessively–you’d think he’d want to look under the hood a bit, kick the tires, and take my new machine for a spin. But, no. He just kind of glanced at it, said it was nice–I showed him a few things on it, and he said cool. He was so proud of his motorcycle, though, and wanted to talk at length about that.

Strange, how if you cut back to that era of adolescence, high school and college, you see me using computers only when I absolutely had to–up until the latter part of college when I started to get into making websites. I was adamant about my work not having a computer as its central focal point–working in an environment where you didn’t stare at a computer screen all day. I embraced rock n’ roll, and wanted to do stuff with guitars and keyboards and drums. I wanted physicality in whatever I did. I mostly wanted to get away from computers because they’d been in our house since I was four, and I hardly wanted to be a damn bit like my dad. I guess it’s irony that my time spent at work is almost exclusively on a computer–outside of the occasional meeting or event, everything I do is on a computer.

Now, it’s as if our roles have reversed, though I hardly feel that much more enamored of the computer–it’s just a tool and job, I’d rather be out walking the dog and interacting with friends than spending all day on a computer–I still am so much more immersed in computers now, and require them to be a part of my life just to do everything I have to do. My father could care less about them–you wouldn’t know him to be any different than the next senior who only knows how to check email, browse the internet, and upload a few photos. He had all these little time capsules stuck in him, I guess, from the time he got married, adopted and had kids. Now, he’s digging them up, and breaking them open, and meanwhile, his son has more or less become the product of his actions and teachings (for better or for worse) while those time capsules were buried. I was raised to fear guns and motorcycles, to be this scholar and a gentleman, to clean up after myself, to be religious, fear God, hate crowds and mostly hate sports, but love computers and intellectual concepts. Sure, a lot of that was my mom, but my dad always seemed ready to pretty much go along with whatever she wanted when it came to raising us.

So, we just kind of go through the same routine of the visits from the past seven years–the ones where Mom was still very much a participant in the discussions, and the ones of the last year of her life where it was mostly just Dad and son struggling with the monster cancer creeping through a loved one, so creeping through our thoughts and words as well. But, the closeness, the act of two people being all they have in this world against an onslaught of terribleness (be it cancer, or every family member and friend that seemed to know what was best for us), that seems to be gone. In its place, you have a sixty-eight year-old man going on twenty-nine, and a thirty-two year-old man going on seventy-two. We really don’t know what to say to each other much anymore.

notes

when i got up this morning, i knew i didn’t want to run. there were too many good excuses, and not enough good reasons. it’s almost may, and the morning temp was fifty. i had no time last night to do much of anything but eat and crash. my esl class has now moved passed that honeymoon phase where all of my idealistic notions about saving the world stay with me as i leave the class and feel that warm glow and want to convert all of my selfish non-volunteering friends to the art and act of service. i feel frustrated at many points in the class, because i’ll try one thing with the class, and it is too easy for them–they look insulted that i would even be bothering to teach them such beginning stuff. so, i go hunt around online for something that is supposedly slightly more advanced for esl students, and try that–and they all complain loudly about how hard the questions are. the problem is really one of them not practicing english anywhere except at the class two nights a week, and quite a few of them skip one of the classes. two-four hours a week to learn a language is not enough. i should know, because i spent way too much time trying to learn spanish and got nowhere.

the second issue is a matter of cultural immersion. very few of them seem ready to read papers, magazines, books written in us english, or watch television and listen to music in us english. you can only learn so much of a language if you stay safely ensconced in your own culture. they look at me like i’m bringing in communication from another galaxy when i show up with letters to the editor and local news items. in our esl training, they gave us these examples of teachers who’d failed because the teachers had forced too much of their own preferred reading material down the students’ throats. while i think it is important to respect a student’s culture and get him or her to open up about it (in english), the student must learn to start taking an interest in the culture that speaks the language he or she is trying to learn if the student expects to get anywhere with the language.

as for whether or not esl teaching is something i really want to make into a career–it’s probably still to early to make any pronouncements, but i can see that it is not going to be as rewarding some nights as others–i am going to have nights where i simply don’t teach anything–in other words, nothing i say or do is going to stick, to be remembered.

***

listening to myself give interview questions at last friday’s event i realized that the moments when i hit my stride, found a comfortable pace to speak with the subject, and hit a nice, easygoing pitch, were moments where i slowed down, went back inside myself, and allowed my thoughts and voice to work at my pace instead of trying to keep up with the imagined urgency of those around me. sometimes the urgency and irritability isn’t so imaginary, but whether it is or not, trying to make your thoughts and words move faster than they can go ends up making you sound a tad even more irritiable and you end up scaring everyone off anyway. i have this memory, this achetypal vision of my fifth grade teacher getting incredibly irritated with me because i wasn’t spitting it out, saying it fast enough. other memories of teachers and bosses and strangers growing impatient…the thing is, it’s not so much a matter of going fast or slow but not letting that attitude get to you.

and, why is it that it is so much easier to remember angry moments, bad moments, fighting moments–raising grudges held years ago–without even trying? is it a learned pattern of behavior, or something natural to the human organism, perhaps a survival mechanism that once helped us not get eaten by bears? remembering what some giant animal did to you years ago that might have gotten you killed if you were a little less lucky–that is a memory that you probably want to carry with you the rest of your life. but, your mind, conditioned for such, also uses that survival trait to obsess over when a teacher shouted at you and made fun of you twenty years ago, and keeps you from remembering the hundreds of positive and supportive and encouraging things so many other teachers said during that same period of your life.

morning notes

ran for the first time in weeks. had run some a week or so ago, but just little sprints with the dog. it felt great. it felt great to be cleared of the bs again–all the stupid crushes i had on women at work and thinking i actually had a chance with some of them. plus, cleared of all the crap with lucy, and worrying about my dad. i began attempting to practice the love meditations while running, and realized just how much work i have to do. my first instinct is to seize up and go inside myself when i see people or at least put up a wall. but, shyness is really selfishness–you are witholding a piece of yourself that you should be sharing because you are afraid they will steal it from you–when, it’s not really yours to begin with. i passed a group of soldiers at the drink station, and totally forgot about the love meditation–they of all people need to have folks praying for them and sending thoughts of sharing God’s love. other folks were out, and i kept forgetting, but i would remember immediately to try to open up my heart and send out love instead of hiding inside myself. they hardly know the difference, of course, but i think eventually, if i keep practicing this, it will show in people’s faces–they will smile at me more and scowl at me less. i started thinking of it metaphorically like a water spigot–if you turn on the water, you don’t have to worry about the crap that’s in the sink going back up into the water faucet and down into the pipes and polluting the water you drink. just like the intense water pressure that pushes out water that is relatively safe to drink, same with God’s love pumping out of your heart if you choose to let it be–only it’s 100% pure, of course. unlike the water faucet, you can suck back in negative energy, fear, anger, hate, or simply selfishness, if you choose to turn your heart faucet in the opposite direction.

i feel great. i am so glad i am back to running in the mornings. nothing makes me happier, i think than simply moving forward, as opposed to sitting around and just stagnating.

i love you, reader of these words.

surviving death

Next month will begin a series of ten year anniversaries for me, hence the theme of the countdown that is supposed to pervade this blog. I got to thinking about a couple of these moments in time and started trying to determine why I approached them differently. May of 1998, I drove home from spring semester with ten more credit hours left to graduate college that summer. My parents had flown up to Omaha to begin an intense and experimental cancer treatment for my mom. My dad had asked me to stay through till summer semester started to kind of be around the house with Roy. Roy was fifteen, and probably didn’t really need a babysitter, but then he wasn’t as on top of making sure stuff like locks were checked, cat was fed, and dishes, trash, mail, newspapers were taken care of, etc. So, I drove home, and my aunt was there, and she insisted that we go to the local Baptist church with her on Mother’s Day.

Well over half the people who received the treatment my mom was getting didn’t survive past a year or two, and the ones that did ended up not much better than vegetables. I flew up to Omaha to drive down the extra family car that I guess they’d taken separately up there for whatever reason–maybe my dad’s work schedule, I don’t know. Anyway, I was to fly in, and drive the Taurus back down to Murphy’s Falls. It was one of the few times I’d ever seen my dad tear up at that point in my life, maybe the only time. He almost burst into complete crying as he really thanked me for driving the car back, and I drove off into a thunderstorm that day.

What I was trying to determine this afternoon down at the urban jogging trail was why I wasn’t more worried about my mom back then, and why I became worried about everything after Roy died less than a year following that Omaha trip. Was I simply too self-absorbed in my own little world of pop culture, mysticism, drugs, alcohol and arrested development-type ambition? Or was I more confident of God and the Universe? I can remember very clearly the spring break of that year walking through the empty campus after my great love experiment–where I wrote “love the…” and tried to include everyone and everything I could think of–and how I felt alive maybe for the first time in my life. I can remember the experiments with lucid dreaming and astral travel, and how I thought I pretty much had it all figured out–so maybe I wasn’t nearly as concerned about matters of life after death as I was after Roy died.

But, one thing I had so much of at the time of the Omaha trip was this kind of naive faith that everything was ultimately going to work out for the best, that my future was bright and full of fame in New York City as a writer or a painter or a random consumer of culture. I had faith that I would write a best-selling novel, faith that I would go places, faith that in spite of a rather dismal last two years of college, things were about to get really good. I had faith that the afterlife was nothing but good, and all of the evil and bad stuff was simply products of our own fears. I didn’t believe in Christ hardly at all at that point, but I had more faith than I ever did at any other time in my life. And, with Roy’s passing, I tossed all of that out the window as being so much bs–plus I had Olivia at that point, why bother seeking support from the spirit world? (though I did continue to try to re-access those spiritual highs to no avail after I moved down here with her, spending way too much money and time at Book People during lunch breaks.)

Even as I became less and less confident of an agnostic, humanist approach and less and less impressed with the like-minded people I met down here, and more and more certain that I must return to the Christian faith, no, that I’d never completely abandoned it–even then, I never regained a complete since of letting go and putting complete trust in Someone or Something else that was bigger than me.

I miss being so naive, so hopeful, so certain that everything is going to turn out okay. I miss the feeling of letting stuff brush off of me instead of letting it get to me. I miss fearlessly falling asleep, and walking around like a hippy in sandals and a Hawaiian shirt. I miss the entire attitude I had that I was onto something bigger than getting laid and getting a career and a family. Strange how I got all of those things–they were ready to go once I gave the thumbs up–at a time when my faith that I would ever attain them was completely gone, and throughout the bulk of these ten Austin years, trying to get them back, just knowing that they must be right around the corner–and rarely having anyone or anything in my life that remotely approaches that kind of life.

I miss being able to uncritically, undoubtingly, unapologetically say to myself that I love the world, that I love everyone, that everything’s going to be all right, that God is looking out for my best interests. I miss living without anger in my heart. I miss being able to accept who I am, who God made me, unconditionally, and with joy and gratitude. Make no mistake, I miss Roy and Mom and Gus and Grandmas and dogs and everyone else who has already gone on, and I get sad or angry sometimes thinking about it–but, in the span of a workday, I oftentimes miss that old me the most–the brighteyed hopeful young man writing songs he thought would make him famous, reading books he thought would give him all the answers, making plans he knew would make him a legend.

I would hardly stoop to deluding myself into thinking that at thirty-two I am somehow going to wake up and find myself fresh and free again, full of the opportunity to make my mark as a prodigy–but, I think I can fill myself up with love again, and maybe even some hope, too. It came upon me as I walked the trail that having a mind that holds grudges, seeks revenge, and carries little or no capacity to love and forgive is a mind that is highly unlikely to survive any crisis or tragedy to come. There will come a day where I will have to bury my father, a day where I will have to truly confront my own mortality, days of confronting bullying strangers and uneasy choices. I may very well find myself in a world that nobody dared dream in all its terribleness. All around me, people will be busy taking the easy way out, devolving into rabid animals with no humanity left inside them.

Becoming like they are just to win a few battles will spell eternal doom for me. Only by becoming more like Christ, or Gandhi or MLK, will allow me to ultimately win the war.

that was before you got here

do you ever find yourself in new groups and places listening to the crowd reminisce about the good old days–the people and events that happened there right before you got there? no? i find myself walking through life encountering this sort of thing no matter where i go or what i do. i guess you could say that it started at birth, when my brothers and father would reminisce about what it was like before my mom got religious, right after i was born. trips to san francisco and texas and the mountains that were taken before i was born. shows and movies they would watch. my dad’s motorcycle. friends of the family before my parents completely stopped being sociable. you don’t remember that, son, because you were either an embryo or an infant when that happened.

then, cut to arriving in missouri in first grade, and all of the friendships and bonds made a year before i got there, among these classmates. people showing up at the house we rented that first year wanting to talk about how it was when the wealthy landowner who’d retired to a small home in kansas city used to live there and let them fish there and have twice as much acreage as there was now. joining boy scouts a year later than my friends. dropping out of band for a year, the year all of my friends went to springfield and had the really amazing experiences and stories to tell–i joined the next year to go with the jazz band and see for myself, and found myself in my usual loner place, shunned by the fellow bandmates and trying to decide whether to just go to bed or stay up and watch them have the coed fun with each other i wasn’t going to be sharing.

taking spanish class a year later, going out for track a year later, finishing scouts a year later, and hearing all the stories of hell raised and fun had the previous year. oh, you weren’t there at the time–we had some crazy fun that year.

and, of course, austin. how wonderful austin used to be and all the cool clubs that started to close right around the time i moved down here. how you could get beer here for a nickel and see that band for a quarter and still find an apt in that neighborhood for three hundred bucks. all the crazy stuff that went on with mr. greentree’s suicide and the mass exodous from ahmis right before i started. not to mention any girlfriend and all the fun she had with other boys before i got there (and doesn’t care to have that kind of fun now that she’s grownup and responsible).

the new workplace, and stories of great fun had by everyone last year, right before i started.

it sounds whiny, and maybe i’m cherrypicking moments in my life, but if i see a theme, i need to document it.

am i by nature a late person? never. in fact, for meetings and events and parties, i am excessively punctual, often arriving five minutes early and wondering if the meeting was cancelled. i make every effort to be in the right place at the right time, but somehow manage to end up running about a year late or picking the wrong year to get started with this or that. i imagine that whatever i decide to do next year when the debt is paid way down and i’m ready to go do it–i imagine that thing, too, will have its share of characters telling stories about how great things were the year before, and all of them getting together to talk about stuff i wasn’t a part of.

all of my dad’s best stories about the fun he had were things he did before i was born, including some stuff with my older brothers. olivia would sit and reminisce with her friends about the fun they had in college right before i met her. same with vera and her roommate–all the crazy stuff they did before vera met me. lucy was just an endless source of information regarding her past, though she rarely made it sound like it was that much fun.

it should also be noted that i was so much happier in any situation where i was making the history, living the stories we could reminisce about later, like my first year of college, the summer of the campaign, the first year down here with olivia–any time i was active with others and not sitting around drinking and talking about the good old days.

the takeaway here isn’t so much to go around crying about how you’re always running late to the party, but to see that when you find yourself in situations where folks are just going to be talking about the good old days instead of making new stories to tell–to get out as quickly as possible and go somewhere where the history is still being made, the streets have no name, etc. it’s one of the top five most uncomfortable social situations–to be stuck in a group of reminiscers who shared experiences together without you. it’s not only uncomfortable, it’s dead boring, and you’re left being the interrogator, trying to politely sound interested by asking questions about this or that person or event cast in the past that you could really care less about–so you don’t end up being chided for being so quiet. oh, you’re so quiet, why you haven’t said a thing all night–and why would i–you’re busy actively sharing information that is of no interest or use to me and really is of no use to anyone outside of your little circle.

when i find myself on the other side of the fence, and i know someone in the group is mostly an outsider, a newcomer, i feel their pain–i work to steer the conversation away from such bullshit. i mean, if it’s my old dad just going on with the same story he’s told me for the twenty-eighth time then i don’t mind so much, but any group of coworkers or friends–why allow such nonsense and prattle to continue beyond a mere setting of context? i think someday it would be nice to stop having memories altogether, unless i just happen to get married and have children and the world doesn’t end in 2012–why would i want to keep dredging up the past and riffing on it?

the more i change

i really don’t want to come out and say it, but most days, i just can’t stand the guy anymore. his jokes are tired, at best. he is almost always in a cheerful, annoyingly perky mood when i am not. he’s here when i want to be alone. he’s lazy when i could use a hand around the place. he’s noisy when i want peace, high and scatterbrained when i am low and focused. thankfully, he’s out drinking somewhere most of the time, but there are these periods where he probably is broke till payday, and he’s here playing the same stupid video games over and over again like a monkey. that’s what it sounds like, anyway–like he’s been slaying the same damn monster over and over and collecting the points or coins or whatever–repeatedly, since he moved in.

i am growing closer to God, bit by bit, and he is as irreverent as ever, if not more so, with each passing month. he has no sense of respect for others, makes fun of everyone, i find myself dragged back into that, and it’s all a big joke for him–nothing and noone are ever honored by him. he’s forty-one going on seventeen, and i’m thirty-two going on fifty. at some point in the past eight years of knowing the guy, our paths crossed, and our day of being mutually compatible friends has slowly died its long death. i never was one of his closer friends, anyway, but at one time it was cool and fun to go and drink with a big overaged kid. to think that he was roughly my age when we first met each other is kind of scary–what the hell have i done, anyway, down here in austin?

i really don’t want to come out and say it, but most days, i can’t really stand austin anymore. yeah, i know, it’s one of the best cities in the world to live in and i should be so grateful to live here, close to downtown, with a decent occupation and opportunities, having not yet been touched by the downturn of the economy. but, austin is also annoying for the fact that you can waste away ten years here and not feel the least bit like you did. you can go to the same bars and clubs and coffee shops and hear the same sad old-timers complaining about things not being the way they used to be–though much of it all stays the same–and you can do this for your entire adult life, working low-wage paying office jobs and occasionally traveling to burning man and going to all the festivals down here. you can have a nowhere life, courtesy of austin, and wake up one morning wondering where the hell you’re headed.

i am growing more and more into a way of being that doesn’t cling to things and places and people, but looks for God, and hopes for heaven–seeing the impermanence of it all, the emptiness of it all. you can only indulge yourself in so many teat-sucking, maggot-fattening, arrested development kinds of activities before you begin to see how unfulfilling those things always will be. i’ve never fully integrated with austin–i’ve participated in most everything down here to some degree, yet i’ve never really met anybody or become anybody. i was never one to get involved, anyway, but by the time i was free of girlfriend and a reasonable amount of debt, i just could care less about what band or what movie is playing this weekend. where are the volunteering opportunities, where are the people who still interact utilizing their own interfaces instead of some mobile device?

i really don’t want to come out and say it, but most days, i don’t really want to have a damn thing to do with the computer anymore. it’s a tool, and i see the need for the tool, but i want my job and life to be outside this little box. i want to teach people or save lives or put out fires not stare at a screen all day. i should be greatful for the opportunities i’ve been given in life, and i am, but i am no longer feeling the passion for the internet, for the latest gadgets and new technologies that all the kids are trying. my passion comes out in seeing me disappear and simply doing. who i am means nothing, anyway, and if what or how i do is of all-consuming importance, than surely i must become more action-oriented in words and thought and deed and less introspective and focused on feelings and thoughts that are surely fleeting and of little consequence.

i am someone almost completely changed from the person who arrived down here nine years ago. i am past being skeptical, bitter, jaded, full of acceptance, full of regret. i have almost completely cycled into being someone else, just like i felt like someone new when i came down here–someone different from the misfit who ten years prior had just started puberty and so on. i don’t feel like a wiser, older man, like i suppose i should. i really don’t feel like much of anything, but i don’t even think i am especially wiser. there are things i am more fearful of than even back then–and back then was ’99 and talk of Y2K and millenial doom. i have almost no optimism but i have no real pessimism replacing it either. you could say that where there once was such a churning of bs that spawned a thousand sorrowful misdeeds, there is now a grim focus on what is here and now and real.

any friend or love from ’99 who might pass me on the street would not know me, or probably even care to know me. which is why i can’t stand this person or that person who is from another era, because the more i change, the more my world stays the same.