I am tired of feeling like shit

I am tired of feeling like shit, just because I drank too much and got all worked up about something the night before to the point where I knew I would have a head full of regret the next day. I wish that I could say that this is the last night I will behave that way, but that’s something I’ve said many times before.

I must learn to train myself to refocus on the things that I need to remain focused upon. Getting distracted is easy. Inventing new ways to distract myself is a limitless endeavor.

The question I ask repeatedly, then: what is necessary?
I must remain mindful of my role as a father and husband. When I do things that besmirch that role, it causes me to wallow in feelings of inadequacy, guilt, self-defeat.
I must remain healthy and in reasonably good shape. By this, I mean a cut above the health of a few vegetables and fruits each day plus a walk with the dog. That’s not even baseline health. This is important because I will not be able to perform any of the other items on this list optimally without my health.
Focus on what matters to me. What do I want inside my brain at the moment of my death? Love of Christ, Love of Family, and as much of an understanding of math as I can muster.

The day before the day before NYE 2017

The day before the day before NYE 2017. I haven’t had a lot of time to be reflective this past week. I chose to take on some contract work to help get down the debt that was accrued to get us moved into the new house. In some ways, it feels like we’ve been moving non-stop since July of this year. And if you throw on Greek intensive class and all of the nonstop studying before it, it seems as if we’ve been moving non-stop since leaving Waco in 2016.

It’s been hard to let go of the idea that I was made for something special on this earth–for something “more than” “just” being a father and husband with a decent, middle class job and house in the suburbs. Somehow, I’d gotten it in my head that I was special beyond the special my parents thought I was. Hence, the many attempts to go back and try to have a career doing things that I thought were extraordinary–like, politics (as in, a campaign manager or some such, not necessarily a politician), being an EMT, a mathematician, a pastor. Of course, those are extraordinary careers where the people who live in them get to perform their professions outside of normal office times and spaces.

Somewhere in the process of going deeper into the training or exploration for each one of these and others, I came to the certain conclusion that I was more or less putting on a suit that didn’t fit me. What’s more, I was abandoning a dedicated search for the Truth in favor of living out a truth. Even this wasn’t necessarily a bad or wrong thing to do–many people do it all the time. But, I couldn’t sustain the amount of “fake it until you make it” required of me. Perhaps it is mathematically impossible to be someone who is completely happy with who they are. Inevitably, they must sacrifice some aspect of Selfhood in order to get one great thing done. Does this mean that I am, at heart, a lazy coward–both too lazy to follow through with my quests for change and most certainly too fearful of how much I might actually end up changing?


Does this aspect of myself need to be eradicated before I die if I hope to become something bigger and greater than a fearful, small man tentatively stepping out of the shadows long enough to enjoy light and heat before deciding he’s gotten burned too much? Probably.

I probably …

I probably need to do this or that, but will I overcome my demons before death itself greets me and takes me where it will?

The prognosis is not good. In some ways, I am no longer nearly as fearful and cowardly as I once was. But, I am so much lazier, and even more to the point, I can palpably sense the inertia of the downhill slope to death grabbing me every time I try to get up and be active mentally, spiritually and physically.

What’s more, when I am able to work myself up to a kind of sustained or prolonged state of activity and focus, I tend to become almost manic, in that I can’t stand even the slightest distraction or imperfection or life problem getting in the way of the thing that I am focused on. Needless to say, it really isn’t sustained for very long–merely sustained relative to my general states of incoherence and inattention.

It is much easier to come home and pop open a beer and surf the news and watch TV than it is to come home and try to write a novel, paint a painting or solve math problems. Naturally, the beer doesn’t help with mental acumen, liveliness, and sustained focus. I’ve been saying most of the year that I’m going to stop drinking as much once I get past X, Y, Z, but then, along comes X1, Y1, Z1…or what have you.

What I’m looking forward to: a time this year where I am out of the recent debt, past the soul-sucking work I’ve taken on to get us over the hump of new expensive house and two moves and new car–a time where free time in the evenings and on the weekends is all mine again. Then, initially, a clearing of the mental space. After this, I take everything I read, study and think about slowly, with an eye to having a solid understanding of mathematical and physical concepts, even if I’m mostly still at an undergrad level when I die. It’s more about having a mind that doesn’t go completely to pot–and the same with my body–than trying to accomplish anything of great note.


The message of Love and Peace as it has come to us via Christ, filtered through millennia of hypocrites and flawed individuals who did their best to be true to Christ’s conception of love. This vs. the peace/love message of the Beatles/John Lennon. The appeal of Lennon to so many people of the past three generations (Boomer, X, Y). Mostly, though, it seems thin, shallow, like a bumper sticker slogan. Christ seems to be connected to a Truth that lies beyond knowledge, feelings, senses. Lennon’s truth is simply one of this particular blip in human history, which is why he is so appealing to atheists, who have forsaken anything but surface truth. Someone so far removed from any real Christianity will find it so easy to slip on over to a shallow, tinny truth that was packaged neatly for them. Real Christianity, of course, has come down to us in spite of, not because of, most practitioners of it. That is what makes it so amazing–not because hypocrites blasted it into the ears of meek parisioners, but because the message lives and breathes underneath the work of men.

Of course, Lennon himself was a hypocrite. He treated his first wife and son like shit. In today’s climate, he would have long since been tossed in the scrap heap of terrible men. So, of course, he was a product of his own time and place, as is his truth. As we move farther away from that time and place, Lennon’s truth seems utterly one-dimensional. Yet, Christ’s truth is continually revived by generations of new believers, some for better, some for worse. It goes without saying that it is too early to say for certain that John Lennon couldn’t be turned into a Christ after so many generations of mythmaking, but it seems unlikely. As he was part and parcel of his music and the time period of fashionable youthful rebellion and an unpopular war, much of the truth of wanting love and peace, Lennon-style, is lost on a generation raised to celebrate and not question anyone who chose to fight and die for country, and a generation much more in harmony with its parents.

How, exactly then, is Lennon’s truth different from Christ’s? Didn’t both call for love and peace? Sort of, but not exactly. Lennon spoke out against war on a global scale, but struggled in his personal relations with others to be a consistent man of peace. Jesus was very much the opposite–he gave clear instruction on how to treat the other in a face-to-face, interpersonal sort of way, and left the business of making war or peace at the global level to the Ceasars and Pilates of the world. Lennon told us that all we need is love, but failed to define that love in any meaningful sort of way–was it brotherly love, neighborly love, erotic love, love of kin? Just Love, that’s all you need, man. Jesus told each of us to love your neighbor as yourself. In other words, “here is how to love your fellow man in an ordinate fashion.” The love proposed by Lennon and others like him from his generation could be inordinate, and spin out into possessiveness, or become meaningless and purely sexual. I think the same thing could be said about his peace, too. Imagine all the people living for today, yoo-hoo. But how? Just imagine it, and it will be so? Or, perhaps, we need to start with our own right relations with ourselves, our families, our neighbors. If we are violent toward them or treat them ill, then how can we turn around and march for global peace?

Is this really a critique of Lennon? It isn’t precisely meant to be. I am more trying to consider how large numbers of people, both Christians and Atheists, get excited or almost spiritually moved by a song like Imagine. To be fair, in the two thousand years since Christ left the earth, the world is not a better place than it was in his day. There are more people who have access to amenities that kings of Jesus day only dreamed about, but there are also more people in the world today, period. I’m also trying to get to the bottom of why Jesus’ teachings mean so much more to me than John Lennon’s music and ideas. This is ultimately about why one moves me deeply and continues to nourish me as such, while the other seems hardly more profound than any other pop singer of the past sixty years.

We also have scant little information, if any, about who or what the historical Jesus was. For all we know, Jesus could have been far worse than Lennon, though I for one don’t believe it. My primary argument is that in spite of how heavily Lennon appears to have influenced Western music and thought throughout his career and since his death, that influence appears to diminish with each generation, even as they discover his music and appreciate it aesthetically–they fail to connect with Lennon the way the Baby Boomer generation did and does. This is probably for the best. Frankly, one Christ figure is more than enough.

I should also state that I have plenty of unanswered questions for/about Jesus, too. For someone who was purportedly God’s son and so powerful and mighty, even in his given mission while on earth he seemed to cut things off too quickly. I can’t help but ask: was three years of ministry really all you could handle? Doesn’t a quick, martyr’s exit at 33 seem a bit more convenient than hoeing the hard row of decades of aging and suffering that many of us are destined to do? And, why was so much of Jesus’ words delivered in this cryptic fashion, clearly full of exasperation at why no one could understand what he meant? It is always preferable for me to learn from someone who can speak in a clear, straightforward fashion, no matter how unbelievable what they are saying might be. To constantly speak in riddle, parable, metaphor and allusions to other things and then sigh and bemoan the lack of understanding of your disciple seems like the perfect behavior of a cult leader who doesn’t want to show his cards.

In spite of the shortcomings I find in the Bible, the concept of a hard kind of neighborly love being the place to start in making your world better is one that has stuck with me and continues to give me more food for thought than simply “all I need is love.” Loving someone who loves you first or who you know will love you back is easy. Every time Obama said “I love you back” during his first campaign when someone called out “I love you” made me think of this. Did Obama ever say “I love you back” to someone who shouted out to him: “you suck” or “I hate your guts?” Probably not. Loving someone back in spite of who/how they are is something no one has ever done perfectly, with maybe Christ being the exception. It may very well be that all I need is love–but, am I able and prepared to give and use that love when I am sorely mistreated? Most likely not.

He rubbed the bald spot on his head

He rubbed the bald spot on his head where he’d been applying the generic Rogaine for the past three years. Little tiny white hairs struggled and gasped to find purchase and obtain the spark they needed to become something other than casualties of the next close buzz cut. One of his so-called friends had told him in college that the early white hairs were due to masturbation, but he didn’t believe it. After all, he’d had two older brothers who’d been assigned to shower cleaning duty on Saturdays and had claimed they knew he was a chronic shower pee-er. It was all bullshit shots in the dark to get a rise out of him, and most of these gambits failed, but the ones that did hit, often turned him into a shrieking, whiny subhuman that confirmed for many he was probably a girl in a boy’s body or even an outright homosexual.

He was born too late to reap the benefits of any latchkey kid parenting and Gen-X cool that brought the world characters like Ferris Bueller and Kurt Cobain. But, he was born too early to gain any of the access to true helicopter parenting, shared by all of his peers, and other Millennial windfalls, like trophies for participation and opportunities for attention simply by uploading a short video made on the phone with the click of a button. In fact, the year he was born sits at the nadir of American birthrates from the past seventy years. From 1945 to the present, where a new nadir now begins, his is the minima on the curves of birthrates–the nadir of boomers and GenXers and the very start of a second high growth curve for Millennials.

Another way of looking at it, of course, is this: he received the best of all worlds. He was born the year after the Vietnam War ended, and so he missed out being old enough to fight in Desert Storm, and could have gone to the Second Gulf War if he wanted to, but he was a mess of highest proportions, both in terms of selfishness and lagging adolescence during the years following 9-11. He had a computer in the house at the age of four, thanks to his father’s desire to better his income at the age of 40, and had the WWW at his fingertips the first year of college. He missed the worst of the downturns of the economy, and was never laid off. Some would say he was one of the luckiest SOBs to walk the planet in the history of SOBs. Depending on his mood, he might agree with some who say that, or he might lapse into convincing himself that he had received the worst of all possible timing in terms of any life following 1945.

Of course, such thoughts of his and words of others were ludicrous. He had his share of personal ups and downs like anyone, and if there was any superlative to be applied to him, he was the most middling, middle class, WASPy Mid-Westerner from the last middle part of the history of the USA. He was exceptional only at being middling. Which is to say, there was nothing exceptionally positive or negative at all to say about him.

Though, of course, such considerations of his existence would likely miss the mark, as there is no such thing as an unexceptional human being–all of us have something about us that makes us exceptional, even if we die before we ever find that thing.

He was certain he would be among those who would join the general lot of humanity in going to his grave not knowing how he was exceptional, except…he kept hearing a voice inside his head telling him to return to the first day of college and consider how he refused to do his pre-calculus homework, thereby setting off an entire adult life of middling office jobs involving stabs at getting a hand in whatever internet fad happened to be the thing to be involved with as a profession–HTML, CSS, Javascript, Flash, PHP, Perl, MySQL, RSS, Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Email marketing, Marketing Automation, SEO, SEM, PPC, etc.

The voice inside his head almost got him mixed up in a Mathematics BS program some eighteen years after that first day of college, but he chickened out–he became convinced that he would fail and he wanted to hold on to a dream rather than learn whether or not that dream was anything more than a dream. So, he decided a few years later to go to Seminary instead. He liked Hebrew and Greek and learning about Assyrians and Sea Peoples and Babylonians and Egyptians, but the teachers didn’t like him very much, and he realized he was never going to be nice enough to other people to be a pastor. So, he returned to the world of internet fads, learning about NoSQL and Mobile Apps and a lot of crap that didn’t matter much except when he was in an office being paid to convince himself and others that it mattered much.

Instead, a voice kept calling–a return to the first day’s worth of PreCalc homework, and how no homework was ever done–this is what was to be done. PreCalc merited a D back in the college days, and he snagged a B in basic College Algebra the next semester just to get the lowest possible Math requirement required to get a basic Liberal Arts Degree of no account whatsoever. This never prohibited him from having a basic interest in Math, as his PoliSci teacher turned him on to Chaos Theory in a way that Jeff Goldblum hadn’t from a passing mention of it in Jurassic Park. Then, came a personal foray into Quantum Physics, Relativity Theory, and Fermat’s Last Theorem, String Theory, Georg Cantor, Euler, Riemann, Gauss, Erdos and any other popular Math and Physics book he could get his hands on.

Yet, time and again, the best he could do was develop a rudimentary understanding of what Calculus was and how it worked, as well as a perfunctory ability to work his way through a Pre-Calc book snagged from Half Price Books.

So, what of any of it? At it’s best, it was the absolute Elixir of Truth. He had glimpses of it–a world where people lived and breathed mathematical equations inside worlds of books, chalkboards, Gothic Architecture, and never had to leave their perfect university bubbles. They had exquisite conversations about Godel and Einstein and Feynman, and perhaps joked about the foolish undergrads they occasionally had to come in contact with, or the exquisite undergrads they occasionally got to come in contact with while cheating on their spouses.

He researched the PreCalc professor from his first year of college, and discovered to his dismay that the man had gone on to get a law degree and practice law in San Francisco, instead of devoting his life to banging undergrads under clouds of chalk and book and pencil dust. What a shame, a real waste of a mind. Somehow, his own mind didn’t seem to have been wasted as much as that PreCalc professor’s. After all, he at least bumped into code, Boolean logic, database queries, and other quasi-mathematical stuff on a regular basis, while the PreCalc professor used his mathematical mind to rigorously argue cases concerning patents, divorces or whatever garbage law specialty the man had chosen.

While he couldn’t resurrect his brothers and mother who had died too soon, and he couldn’t tap into whatever Internet fad like Blockchain, IoT, AI, etc. would make him billions, he somehow still believed that he could still, given the proper mixture of motivational videos and music and altering of his brain chemistry, wake up one morning and open up a college pre-calc book from Half Price books, and begin a slow and plodding course over a decade or more to master it before plodding through another decade of Calculus, and then perhaps dying with the same mathematical knowledge as anyone whose received a BS in Math in the past 100 years. The only thing that stopped him was the slightest of nagging doubts in his own mental acumen, as well as a slight nag concerning the fact that perhaps Math wasn’t the Absolute Truth, and Jesus really was–ie, the real Jesus and not some Seminary professor’s Frankenstein monster cobbled together out of Schleiermacher, MLK, and Levinas who kind of looked and sounded like Jesus should look and sound, but was clearly not quite Jesus.

This year

This year. There was so much that happened this year, I am wondering if it is even worth bothering unpacking it all. I am mostly at a loss for words to describe how I am feeling going into 2018. Uncertainty is everywhere. I don’t have huge confidence in the future, yet here I am, pretending that I will be able to do something of value for at least twenty years to get one and possibly two children raised. I am still waking up each day to the idea that I will never discover my true calling in this lifetime. Life, for me, has become as it was for my parents. The meaning I get out of it happens in the slim hours between sleep and work, and often, this meaning is really unclear.

What’s really strange is that nobody has bothered to ask me if I’m really okay. I don’t mean a daily temperature check of “how are you?” that is really less than anything at all. I’m talking about: “how are you feeling after you abruptly left seminary and started work at some random tech company? Are you okay with your decision? Are you at peace with where things are?” Am I okay? I’ve tried to avoid even asking myself the question, because I really don’t think I am. The truth is, I’m in freefall, now. If I land anywhere except death after being worked to death long past when I should have retired, it will be due to some highly unforeseen grace of God or twist of luck that yields for me the kind of profession I’d once dreamed about.

But, let’s be clear, it’s more than just having a fancy, extra-special profession. It’s about feeling like your life does have meaning, that you have contributed something, that all of the old worries about dying alone and forgotten and then headed to some kind of hell in the afterlife are old worries that no longer need apply. It’s about being able to think and talk about trips to Europe as a matter of course–not as long-abandoned wistful things that once lived inside certain dreams.

Am I doing okay? I guess if you measure me up against most anyone alse about my age who was more or less born into the same class as me, you’ll find that I am at the top of the bell curve–I’m doing no better or worse than most people. Of course, there are some on one side of the curve who are doing better, and some who are doing worse, but most of us are middling schmucks, keeping the average what it is without improving or degrading it.

Most of the ways in which I am blessed seem to be tenuous things that I’m barely holding onto. Maybe all it took was one incredibly tragic event in my life–my little brother’s sudden death–to make me think like this. I may have thought like this before he died, though. Yes, I live in a pretty nice house now, though it’s not as nice as many other houses. Yes, I have a wonderful wife and awesome son, but what might happen next in this life? My dog friend is still with me, and pretty healthy, as she nears the age of 12. I still have my dad. I can still find work that pays decently, though for how much longer, who knows?

I am too afraid to admit that I kind of get at times what must go through the heads of other men and women my age who end their lives early, either through pure intent or the sloppy road of opioid abuse. I can sympathize with the people who are losing and struggling at life much easier than I can with the winners like the ones I met at the recent birthday party of my boss. There are many days where the life I lead feels like it will forever be lived on credit cards and other extended lines of borrowing, and the slightest downturn in the economy could send me and my family out into the streets.

I go weeks without reading headline news, because every time I return to it, it seems to be the same stories, only slightly worse. There’s more of a chance of war with North Korea, Russia, Iran, etc. by some degree, not less. There’s more of a chance that the economic bubble will burst, not less. There’s more awfulness being committed by politicians, but never less.

Where are the wise old men and women who could give me counsel? My dad seems to have gotten himself completely out of the business of giving advice, or seeming to know more about the way the world works than I do. My older brother has estranged himself completely from me. My wife’s parents don’t seem to understand the perils their grandchild will face in the coming dark years as the U.S. loses it’s grip on the narrative of the world, and the economy becomes a joke that only the top 1% find funny.

I know that I am more or less supposed to be the wise, older man now, providing counsel and advice to the younger generation. Except, I don’t have anything of value to give–the world seems to have evolved into something I don’t recognize/can’t get a handle on. When the majority of our country (at least as far as the electoral college is concerned) votes for a pussy-grabbing traitor and all-around lying asshole (even half a million votes for the scumbag would have been shocking), then I have to wonder who are the people I call my fellow countryfolk?

I don’t really get the liberal mentality these days, either. They seem to be pretty much ready to go on a witch hunt for anyone who sins in their politically-correct eyes and take them down, without any sense of trying to accomplish something that is truly sustaining and inclusive of everyone. Most of these types who get offended about something seem more ready to grab social media attention and have their 15 min of fame.

But, I am less focused on the person in the oval office, and more focused on trends that happen away from there. I have no great excitement about the prospect of China becoming the country that gets to call the shots globally, nor do I like the idea of perhaps China, Russia and Iran collaborating and being the global seat of power that the rest of us must contend with. I don’t really disagree with the notion that America is somehow less than it used to be, but I don’t think the solution has ever been to return millions of white rednecks to low-IQ, high-wage factory jobs that keep them in middle-class status throughout their lives. At some point, people have to be told when it’s time to move on from working in a factory or a mine, and get an education in IT or nursing.

My brain has been filled with noise and busy-ness.

My brain has been filled with noise and busy-ness. All of the things I try to keep spinning in the air to make me look productive and seem relevant to others. Beneath this layer of noise, there is a longing for a place to burrow my mind into that will only have the happy memories of the past, and the people I care about in the present, and a future of security and stability.

There has been a sense of needing to remain busy as long as there were outstanding projects, even if said projects couldn’t be tended to or it was the weekend, and I didn’t feel like tending to them. No reading books, watching movies, etc. And certainly, no spacing out and doing and thinking nothing at all.

The urge to check the news, check my work email, check for any sort of communication or information that I can tend to and obsess over, no matter how trivial, is overwhelming. It then gives me some peace of mind knowing that I was too busy to get to the projects I should have been working on.

I would rather be solving problems than letting my mind be still. But, I would rather be solving problems that I can meet and address and check off of a non-existent list, than trying to solve the ones that truly need solving.


Low. The week off is still a week away, and work is still full of BS that never ends. There is still too much to be done to get to a point where I am free to completely relax and do next to nothing. But, I’m mostly low because work has become impossible. I dislike challenges that are too easy, beneath me, and could have been accomplished when I was 16, and I also dislike challenges that are impossible because of too many processes and people blocking them from ever being overcome. It becomes depressing when I know that I will never be able to overcome something. I toyed around with the idea of getting some beer on the way home, but I knew that I would just feel sick and tired tomorrow morning at the dealership while the car is being serviced. Then there’s the brunch with my cousin and returning the apartment key and the walkthrough and the work holiday party tomorrow evening.

I decided to take off the entire last week of the year

I decided to take off the entire last week of the year instead of pretend that I was so dedicated to work that I was willing to come in for a couple of days. I’m feeling pretty burnt out already, and defeated by my general inability to effect significant change, move the needle, take things to the next level, etc. after turning every single knob I can think of.