… from an understanding of your mind about the switch.

The sleepier you are, the more you’ve had to drink (and the longer it’s taking you to recover from drinking), the more nervous you are inside an unfamiliar social situation–all of these things bring on the switch. The switch is a self-destructive switch, waiting to best you at every turn.

The most visible example of the switch, and the one that comes quickest to mind, involves learning new names, where almost everyone you meet gets a second, utterly false appellation in your subconscious. The second name rarely has anything to do with anything–the person might remind you of someone else you knew with that name, but just as likely not. You might appear to completely contradict yourself when making an argument, or mix consonants within a word as if you were a dyslexic child trying to read a book.

In social conversations, where it’s most likely to happen because you are more nervous than usual, someone quickly pounces upon your misspoken word or false proper noun, and with a scowling face corrects you in a tone that seems to say “how on earth does a reasonably intelligent person like yourself manage to get something completely wrong?”

The switch has been a constant unwelcome companion, but where you’ve gone wrong so many times before is how you let it get to you–you could be a grownup and quickly correct yourself saying something like that idiotic phrase “my bad” and move on, or you could descend into shamefaced introspection, getting ever quieter and more angry about the entire matter. Through most of adolescence and early adulthood, you’ve chosen the latter and they’ve always sent you back to the kiddie table to eat.

… from dreams deeply colored with depression.

You’d think that when you wake up from the hopeless dreams that your urge would be to blast full force into the waking world, embracing all that is palpable and soon to be full of sunlight. But, it doesn’t work that way. Within that moment of forgetting all of your dreams you are certain that if you could just slip back into them for another hour, all things unresolved would be made clean and new.

There isn’t enough sunlight yet to clear the fugue demons from your head. Coffee grounds will inevitably be spilled as your brain tries to reboot into this world where everything takes place in an ordered fashion.

… and it’s ripping you to shreds from inside to out.

You scan your deeply furrowed, old man face growing gaunt and hard with a weathered, experienced expression that doesn’t match your thirty-four years. It’s a face of a man torn up mostly by inner demons, though he could readily argue that it all comes from family tragedy and too much exposure to the sun. The hair provides clues to a heart overtaxed with stresses only old men have after a lifetime of raising children and fighting in wars.

You never re-learned how to be content and happy once you discovered that great, abiding sadness that will grab every corner of every cell in your body if you let it. Random, unhelpful thoughts still constantly appear in your head with each turn of the day, recommending you say things that hurt and perhaps destroy others–but mostly, they are intended for you–whoever is putting them there wants to see you destroyed completely, from the tiniest tip of your innermost soul to the outermost tip of yet another gray hair that just appeared in a surprise location.

crazy week so far and putting a few things down on paper

crazy week so far and putting a few things down on paper, since they don’t all fit the youwakeup blog format i started. i’m entering the period in my relationship where i’m supposed to tell her i love her, and i’m almost there but not quite yet. there’s something holding me back, giving me pause, and i don’t know if it’s the old me that has gotten in the way of a lot of happiness in the past or God.

i’ve watched my old best college friend k descend into this complete and utter mess of satanic self destruction and chaos. he doesn’t appear to be aspiring toward anything, anymore other than creating a life aesthetic that borders on the psychopathic. his persona as evinced on facebook has become completely unrecognizable, even as i watch him fail to survive in chicago and have to move back to small town missouri. things that for me were once amusing jaunts into the exploration of what is humanly possible (with an eye all the time to becoming a normal human being within the framework of the academic or corporate social world), are the things that he now appears to embrace wholeheartedly, without any eye to ever properly growing up. he has become so self-centered, selfish and incapable of seeing or caring about the misery of others, that i can safely say he would be diagnosed as a sociopath if not an utter psychopath.

this week, i volunteered for the third time with the cc, as well as spent two hours that morning preparing the care partner her meals. apparently, some of the other members of my care team are shocked at the work involved with helping her pack and then unpack her stuff, as she recently has undergone a move to live with her partner. why folks would not think this kind of work is right there in the same category with yard work, carwashing, running errands–it’s beyond me. i suspect that some people sign up to volunteer picturing themselves caught up in hollywood movie moments where the miscreant who regains his humanity simply spends a three-minute sequence of shots feeding some homeless and reading to blind kids while a sara mchlachlin soundtrack plays. and then, he’s done, his karma is clean. he might say goodbye with cool, urban fistbumps before going back to his life of leisure, making promises to stay friends and come back often, but we never have to see him actually do any hardcore, committed volunteering.

that’s hitting really close to where the crux of my next novel attempt is going to lie. so many people who arrive in the non-profit world (or politics, but the novel won’t be about that so much) have this sense of karma that needs to be reset, and blab on and on about making a difference in the world, but they don’t want to have to actually get their hands dirty. or, they don’t mind a couple of weekend projects a year hoeing a garden and picking up trash. but, real community change involves the kind of commitment and work that lasts for years. it involves doing jobs that you might not really want to do, over and over again. and, you don’t start to see any real fruits of your labor until after you’ve persisted at it for a long, long time. you also often have to meet, get to know, and stay connected with people you might otherwise want absolutely nothing to do with.

i would hazard a guess that along with all of the corruption and self-promotion that goes on in the non-profit world, the above paragraph outlines one reason why nothing ever seems to get better. people want to be convinced at the end of the day that they’ve made the world a better place, and it’s the non-profit volunteer manager’s job to make sure that feeling is evoked. however, the difference between feeling like you’ve changed something and seeing the results come forth after years of persistence is so huge that any sentimental bullshit should never be entertained. but then, most of us know that without volunteers who are coming around and provided with that gooey, fuzzy feeling, there would be no money for the non-profit, and without money donated, the non-profit goes under.

for non-profits that are existing because the private and government sectors simply can’t deliver those services, such money is vital and should continue to flow to them. but, way too many non-profits have come to the point where they primarily use the money to perpetuate their own existence.

at the end of the day, it simply becomes another micro-economy of its own–it isn’t necessarily evil or good in any absolute sense of the word, but as it is, it will never become a solution that addresses root causes and affects real change. i’m convinced more and more that only individuals and deeply committed small groups of individuals can make any real change in this world. everything else is just a show and a cash cow.

and, going off on this tangent, i have run out of time to write about my supervisor a’s latest incredible bitchy behavior (fortunately not directed at me), my strange dream involving a descending staircase and the prevalence of such themes in my dreams, my two hour lunch interview yesterday and the ensuing sign that came shortly thereafter that i was probably not meant to get the job, and my overall general thoughts on my developing relationship as well as my upcoming trip to nyc. maybe this evening i’ll have some time to continue my thoughts on such matters below.

finishing what i started on wednesday or thursday in the above, i have to say that the week got stranger, and filled with additional events that probably should be put to paper.

i am sitting here on saturday, noon, with a little free time on my hands. there hasn’t been a lot of that lately, and when there is, i generally don’t know what to do with it. oftentimes over the past three-four years, while luxuriating in mass quantities of free time, i could typically turn such wonderfulness into days filled with beer, junk food, m and watching television and movies. lots of free time isn’t necessarily a good thing for me, but when i’ve been deprived of much of it, a three hour window like this one is quite welcome.

i am debating whether or not to write about the latest involving a and the course of our relationship as it pertains to where i’m at emotionally and where we’re at sexually. if i don’t, i will kick myself in years to come for refusing to write just because so much is happening and there’s always the chance she will read it. there are vast swaths of my past lost to some place below my consciousness from the happy months of relationships, and when i’m attempting to recreate them, they often end up on paper sounding stilted and empty–like someone writing about a life they read in a book.

a and i have crossed that threshold of sex, finally, and i have to say i wasn’t as prepared as i’d hoped to be. i had no idea what to expect–you never do.

next morning, of course i’m fully recharged and at my most potent, so i make a go for it in spite of the light pouring into my condo from everywhere and the men from the exterminator business next door gathered about their trucks below.

well, enough of that, as i am not inclined to write much about such matters unless they are of some great note.

turning to where we are at emotionally, i would say that a and i are both thinking along the lines that we will end up married to each other. i look at other women and see closed doors everywhere i turn. i see walls and energies that are wildly incompatible and flare out in different directions, never melding or syncing with my own energy the way they should. i cannot for the life of me figure out how some people can achieve access to many different partners–but it no doubt lies in an opening of one’s self into a chasm of utter worldliness that i have never been able to completely give myself over to.

a is also 100% solid as life partner material–there is none of that sweating of the small stuff, of letting a misplaced look or word wreck her perfect perception of me and causing a red flag to be raised and turned soon into a dealbreaker. i am also at an age now where the work i am going about with my writing, my inquiries into various subjects at the library, my volunteering, and my general enjoyment of life are such that i no longer have any of the latent desire to “see what it’s like for six months or so” as a properly swinging bachelor–you know, finding a few highly fashionable outfits, hitting a lot of trendy nightspots after the gym each night and generally pretending i am something i’m not for the sake of occasionally scoring sloppy leftovers after dozens of strikeouts.

there is a certain richness now in my list of things i want to get out of life. a fullness that makes them real things and not just silly whims and hobbies to try this year or that year before growing bored, descending into alcoholism and pulling myself into the next untenable fantasy. a is integral to this, and i honestly don’t think i will have a decent life with God at the center without her.

i could always be wrong, and God might have some great surprise along these lines, but right now, i’m not honestly seeing such an alternate future ahead of me.

in other news, my boss a just fired s, the guy i swore she was grooming to take my spot so she could have her own protege who did her every bidding and wasn’t aware of the sloppiness of her assuming command of the marketing department and the other lousiness and mismanagement in uw’s recent past. s wasn’t terrible, he was a little too ass-kissy for my taste, but most of what she is firing him for isn’t really his fault. unlike me, s has gotten little or no background and preparation for building a base of understanding of everything uw does, and so he’s often not contributing or helping move marketing’s agenda forward because he simply hasn’t been told how everything fits together at crazy adhd uw. i also honestly don’t believe that a will find someone any better than s–she is about to embark upon a series of similar probationary employees and their firings unless she is made to step back and prioritize what she really needs in that role.

i was half-attempted to say to her when she asked if i knew anyone who was a good writer and project manager: “why, yes i do, a…her name is lp and you booted her out the door in fifteen minutes about six months ago.” but i refrained because things are looking up for me on my own career front.

c has interviewed me three times–three different people. a lunch interview where i got sloppy with pasta and a couple of phone interviews. they seem pretty impressed with me so far–as far as i can tell, and things, if they go perfectly, could see me ending my uw run at the same time as s, the friday before my trip to nyc. that would be most exquisite–to walk into a’s office early next week and give her my termination notice so that she is scrambling to find not one but two positions to help her do her job.

so much of what that woman is trying to get other people to do–she should be capable of doing herself, or at least better able to delineate what she needs done from whom, and what she can do herself. but, she is sloppy, careless, forgetful and should never have been put in such a role. she will get kicked out the door with the other clowns once uw is done coming down from the celebration over the slight bump in fundraising they’ll get this year from the economy getting better. but, i have 0% desire to wait around for that.

… tasting fall for the first time this year.

There’s a day in August, usually around the first day of school, when you get autumn in your blood on a morning with maybe a month of summer left to go. This is up north that it’s like this. Down here, you just taste it on a day like today, like holding a drug on the tip of your tongue to let the chemicals seep just enough for a little tickle.

And, each year when it happens, you breathe in more deeply than you did for the past four months. You remember that hellish heat can’t last forever. But, you also know that you’ve left something behind that you will never get back again. Something that will be remembered as a precious jewel in years to come when nights pile upon each other with only artificial light to guide your way.

There are too many things in life that are like this: school, family, some jobs, some vacations, presidencies, etc. Maybe even life itself is kind of like this. Some time around your late fifties, when the kids have all graduated, you gain respite from the endless churn of life that is grinding you away. But, retirement is surely autumn prefacing a winter from which there is no return.

… doing more planning for your exit interview than today’s prospective job interview.

As you adjust your tie in the mirror and flex your facial muscles to create the most honest smile you can muster, you prepare your speech and ready yourself for all the questions they will ask you. Except, you can’t seem to focus on the interview today, the one you need to be prepared for, as you are imagining that grand and glorious exit interview.

Bradley will probably be in there, and Cornelio, too. You imagine the president herself is in there, but maybe not your current supervisor, as that would be a bit much. They are attentively listening to every word you have to say, and faithfully taking down notes. In the course of your exit interview you provide them with more useful information about improving the organization than they and twenty other executive consultants were able to offer.

“And, what exactly is the position I’m interviewing for today?” you ask yourself as you wake up and go back over your notes.

…frightened by how Time keeps getting the better of you.

You can sense that the hour is getting late, by the way your dreams have turned dark no matter when you are sleeping. Sometimes they are stricken with an unnatural pale blue light, whose source is most definitely not the sun, God or your consciousness. A picture of you smiling the year you supposedly changed from that youth in a state of perpetual arrested development to a man who was going places–it would seem to be a good temporal marker of the new you.

Except, that was over five years ago, and in that time you have experienced setbacks and meandered along your path in ways you never would have imagined.

In the course of a day it is so obvious: you do not accomplish anything unless you build a list and tick it off in a certain order. If you get stuck on something, you move on and come back to it. In the course of a lifetime, or even a year, it’s much harder to do this. Lists are made and forgotten, hidden or angrily torn up out of guilt for accomplishing so little of them.

Too many times, you refuse to move on to the next thing on your list because you feel as if you must completely accomplish this other thing. For instance, you might say: I can’t pursue further education until I’ve gotten this or that urge out of my system, and truly found myself. I can’t find myself until I travel extensively abroad. I can’t travel extensively abroad until I’ve paid my debts down. I can’t pay my debts down until I have a better paying job. I can’t find a better paying job until I further my education.

And so, you wallow in your misery, read a little, and spend your time getting drunk and walking around in circles on the urban jogging trail year after year. Some years you make vast inroads on your debt and come close to figuring out what area of study you want your Master’s degree to be, and other years you get caught up in living and forget about your list.

At twenty-nine, it’s not so bad, you still have some time. At thirty-four, it’s downright frightening, because you feel completely closer to becoming one of those people in their forties and fifties still trying to tick off their lists–and people in their twenties and thirties who say they can take another year of finding themselves are to be avoided like the plague.