Category Archives: Personal

Some Sort of Broth with Pasta and Ingredients for the Sense of Self

I haven’t felt entirely well for months, though these past couple of weeks have been particularly trying. What with the constant call-outs at work, and my baseline level of stress, between matters domestic, financial, and existential, it’s a wonder that I haven’t collapsed well before. Last week I suffered from a bout of food poisoning, but it was only a matter of time before I fell before something a little more substantial.

Last month, following the factory fire in Richmond, I came down with a mild case of pneumonia, but I got over that fairly quickly, though I returned to work well before I should have.

This time, having been exposed to various illnesses from my employees, themselves suffering from the worst cold and flu season in recent memory, my body finally bowed to the inevitability of major illness. Even now, I feel that, instead of getting better, as my doctor assured me that I would, I am actually getting worse. But I know that one more day outside of work won’t actually do much more than cost me another eight hours of pay, and now that I’ve actually seen my primary care physician, I can communicate with her via the interwebz, and cut out the whole having to go to the doctor thing (which I hate).

All I have to do is make it through the end of the day on Monday without dying, and I’ll be okay.

I will say that the one advantage to a proper, physical illness is that it removes some of the oppressive strain of my bipolar disorder (diagnosed and verified) and anxiety (assumed, but I mean, come on). And, if you will mark this on your calendars, today marks the first day that my darling Wildflower has eschewed her traditional role of Master of mockery and insult and assumed a more loving and tolerant position.

Oh my god. Maybe she thinks I’m dying. This must mean that I actually look as terrible as I feel.

I was hoping to actually have something to say, but really this was just an exercise to gauge my mental faculties. It has been educational to say the least.

I now await my chicken soup with vegetables and (hopefully) twirly pasta, after the consumption of which, I can dose myself again with NyQuil and pass out into dreamless sleep.

Catching Up

Where to begin? It’s been so long since I actually did anything with this website, that I’ve forgotten entirely where I’ve left you all. For instance, I don’t even know if I’ve mentioned the job at which I’m currently working. Or how things are here at home. I think we can all assume that it’s a given that I am still generally grumpy and remain somewhat (ha!) of a malcontent.

A brief recap of the past year, then:

I have been working at a cool little neighborhood grocery store in Glen Park since mid-August of last year. I was hired on in the Deli Department, and within a few months, was promoted to Supervisor. It’s a pretty sweet gig, though after well over a decade in management, there is a large part of me which wishes that my only responsibility there was making Kick-Ass sandwiches.

The owners are great, and remind me of the couple for whom I worked nearly a decade ago.

In other news, the other day marked the one-year anniversary of my Grandfather’s passing. Which means that this is now the first June I will have spent without either of my grandparents (though that sort of qualification also equally applied to all months since April). I am hanging in, but there are quiet moments when my grief overtakes me, and I miss them both terribly.

Also, in just under three weeks, my little Minkey finally hits the double digits. I don’t know how I feel about this. I can’t believe that I’ve been a dad for a decade, now. At this particular time, we can’t afford to get him a whole lot to celebrate, but I know one thing we’ve gotten him which he will absolutely adore: his own room.

What’s that? you ask, His own room? Did you move into some sort of palatial estate? 

No, indeed we did not. However, that does bring me to my final bit of actually important news: At long last, the Adult Children have moved out.

This move came on suddenly, and there are some technical issues which have yet to have been resolved (such as the removal of the remainder of their personal effects), but I can say that, as of midnight this morning, the only residents of The Home Office here in Not Quite Richmond, California are Wildflower, Minkey, and myself.

Now comes the cleaning, the painting, the rearranging, the unpacking, and the getting used to. I look forward to these challenges.

In the meantime, I look forward to getting back onto this whole writing thing.

Mad as Hell

Normally when one says that they are “Mad as Hell,” and that they aren’t “going to take it”, they are referring to anger. When I say it, I find myself discussing my mental illness, but it a humorous fashion. Oh god, it going to be another one of those posts.

That’s right, Inner Monologue! It’s time for another belly-jiggling installment of What’s Lurking in Tex Batmart’s Brain? or What Makes Batmart Tick (Like a Bomb)? It’s been a bit since I’ve tried to be funny, and since nothing else seems to be working at the moment, I figured I’d give this another try. I’m also going to see what I can do about keeping to shorter paragraphs because apparently I’ve got a problem with that.

So what brought about this topic for today?

Well, it all started when I sat down to write a couple of things, and got to thinking about how inept I am when it comes to other people (especially of the feminine variety). It’s not so bad these days, as I’ve no skin in the game, so to speak, having been married for nearly eight years, and with the woman unfortunate enough to have become my wife for almost eleven. To be fair, I’m still convinced that most people are trying to flirt with me (regardless of gender), but I’ve chalked that up to being mentally unsound. When I was single, it was probably an unrealistic suspicion to imagine that there was interest in me, but as I have been with someone for over a decade, it appears to be slightly more plausible.

Not, of course, that I am looking. Even if my marriage were to dissolve tonight, I don’t know that I would want to get right back on the Relationship Horse (similar to a Unicorn, but anatomically… rearranged). But having had someone who, for some reason, purports to have loved me for so long has made me dubious about one of the most fundamental foundational neuroses I have: that I am inherently unlovable.

So I see interest where none exists, and feel flattered where umbrage might be more appropriate. In the absence of my lack of self-esteem, my ego has been left in charge, and it is known for its inability to make good decisions on my behalf. Inevitably, however, my self-loathing realizes that I am feeling something other than despite for myself, and forcibly regains control of the mess which of which I am comprised, reminding me that I’m no good, and that everyone and everything will leave me in the end. For the most part, this manifests itself as hearing tones of insults where none (most likely) exist.

Obviously, there is the rational part of me which wants to get better (something remotely akin to approaching healthy), wants me to be capable of sharing human moments with people which take place outside of the confines of my head. This is the same part that has, in the past, tried to remind me that not everyone wants a piece of this (metaphorically speaking, of course). The problem with that is it’s sometimes too similar to the soothing voice which begs me to just burn it all. So there’s that.

I wish I wasn’t the type of person to notice when the magic goes. Nothing (aside from brain damage brought on by blunt force trauma) would make me happier than to be content with all of the successes which I’ve been forced to suffer. But, to make matters worse, I seem to be the obnoxious type of artist who was born to be a hopeless romantic.

It wouldn’t surprise me to find that, in another life, instead of settling down in domesticity, I had remained a vagabond, surfing along the couches of this country, who knows what sort of mischief I might have been able to accomplish. A dear friend of mine once voiced their surprise that I’d chosen to settle down, as opposed to throw myself wholeheartedly into the lonely debauchery of the tortured artist. I understand what they were trying to say, but there is something slightly unnerving about imagining an army of little Batmarts around the country (or, perhaps, the world), following in my wake by a distance of nine months.

Hell, one kid is more than enough for me (although I don’t think the point of their assertion was that I would be anything more than a genetic donor). I’ve got so say, though, that the way they put it: Hell, it’s almost enough to make me give it some serious consideration.

But also getting older, and the time for sowing my wild oats has most likely passed. Then again, depending on my life expectancy, it might be almost time to start on my mid-life crisis. I think that this year I finally became middle-aged.

See how easily I get lost in my own head? This whole thing began when I pointed out that people and I have a mutual misunderstanding of one another. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. In all honesty, I’m locked into a mutual misunderstanding with myself. My cognitive dissonance had juxtaposed itself into the moments between moments in which I am alive, so that in the middle of answering the sum of four and four, I find the total to be purple.

There are times when I just want to wander off into the wilderness and hide out from the world, eschewing all of humanity in favor of becoming mildewed. And there are others where I want to remember that first spark of a new romance, to feel the infatuation fill me with unreasonable hope and certain stirrings most frequently felt by the young. To my amazement, there are yet even a few select instances where I look back at what I’ve got, and feel kind of lucky to have ended up where I am today.

I just wish that I knew which of these desires was the one which I was meant to follow. ‘Spose that would be too easy, though. I guess the best that I can say us that I’m Mad as Hell (and should probably start medication).

Frustration

Just when I think that I can breathe a sigh of relief, safe in my choices at work and home, I find myself buried beneath a mountain of frustration. I won’t go into work things, because they are working themselves out (probably). That leaves me, of course, with the ever-abundant source of grim revelations: those found within my home. For days, I have watched my living room transform into something of which I don’t necessarily approve, the result of my granddaughter’s full-on assault on everything which she perceives may be destroyed (most of these items are, of course, mine). I awoke from a nap a week ago to find her in my room, with the remnants of a pack of my cigarettes splayed out before her on the floor. Books are being torn to shreds (this is particularly irksome, as her father has said that it’s okay if she tears up his books, which is all fine and good, were she able to differentiate between his books and mine). Discs are being forcibly relocated (mainly to the floor, or beneath furniture, such as my office chair). But today I found that my sweet little Goldilocks had outdone herself. My trusty Chromebook (which I’d purchased as a secondary machine so as to spare my main computing device the ignominy of its senility) is now a multi-colored paperweight whose cracked screen would cost more to repair than a new machine would.

So now, in the midst of the Holiday Season, I am in need of a new computing machine. I mean, to be honest, the one I’ve got left is still more or less okay (or, at least until the Fates realize that I have tempted them), but it’s a bit unwieldy, and something that I will need in the coming months, if I am going to find a way to balance work and writing, is a machine with portability. Also, I’d like to have something that wouldn’t crap out on WiFi just when I was really getting into my groove. So what do I do?

I’ve already seen that I can’t fit in a pocket of time before work, or once I get home, as I am simply too exhausted to function after a full day and nearly half again as much on my commute. I want to write. I want to do these again. Every day. I need to get back into doing what I love because I can’t keep working in the industry forever. I want to write for a living. And I can’t do that if I can’t make the time to write. I know that since May of last year. I’ve already begun to oxidize. Three decades, now, since I made up my mind what I was going to do. I mean, I know that I am a Master of Procrastination, but it seems to have gotten out of hand.

Upon further reflection, it seems that I can make do with the damage to my Chromebook’s screen, but it still doesn’t address my need for something upon which I can write in an unconnected world. What I really need is a portable word processor. Something that I can use to bang out my words whilst I am on my commute, and then upload once I’m back at home, and connected to my WiFi. Honestly, I suppose that I could just use a notebook (of the original variety) and pencil, but I’d prefer to only write them once, and typing is far more effective.

It’s kind of funny, in a way. I used to have stacks and stacks of notebooks which I’d write in all the time. As a matter of fact, I still have them somewhere. I never used to need a computer to focus my inner wordsmith. Well, almost never. It’s come in handy as a method of safekeeping (definitely a priority since the Great Purge of 2000), and as a way to preserve the forests of the world.

There is a distinct possibility that I am going through a depressive phase right now. It usually begins somewhere in November and finishes up sometime around… October. In all seriousness, though, I think a bigger one has reared its head this time. It’s been a tough year for me. My grandfather died, my dream (non-writing) job didn’t pan out (something I may eventually discuss when I feel able), and I spent another year not doing what I felt that I was meant to do. Hell, about the only decent thing to come about this year was the new Metallica album, which, Holy Shit!, right? Intellectually, I know that I am in a good place (or a better place, anyway), but it doesn’t feel that way.

I just want to hide under the covers and never come out. The fact that finances do not allow for this seems to be exacerbating my anxiety on the matter. Which in turn is driving me deeper into depression.

I’ve got health insurance now, so pretty soon, I should be able to see a Medical Professional. Despite the fact that I know that what I got is a lifetime commitment (ha!), there is still a small part of me which hopes that maybe one day all of this will come to an end, that one day I will wake up and not feel this way anymore, and that, this time, that feeling will stick. I wish that I could believe that sort of thing could happen, but I know better.

I also know that whatever imbalance exists within my brain has also given me ability to do what I most love: substances of a questionable nature. But it also allows me to string words together in an interesting fashion, and the desire to do so. It allows me to see the world differently, so that I might interpret it in such a manner that has not been done before.

Once again, I seem to have gone round and round in circles and wound up somewhere I never truly intended (especially impressive considering that circles generally bring you back to where you where, and not to… I don’t know… taupe.

Wandering In The Desert

The words are hovering about me this morning, whispering promises of eloquence into my ears. I rather tend to disbelieve them, however, as it’s taken me twenty minutes to get this far, and it only looks to go downward from here. This is what I get for only sitting down to write every few months or so, waiting on a free moment, or a special occasion, such as my birthday. I didn’t even manage to write a Second Annual Thanksgiving post, so now, should I have time in future years to remedy that, I am uncertain of the numbering system which I will be forced to devise. I guess I could pound one out after this, and preface it by saying that it took extra consideration to prepare, as this was a completely shit year, and I wanted to include at least some levity. That is, of course, if I ever manage to finish writing this one.

I always get a bit melancholy on my birthday. My wife thinks that it’s because I have convinced myself that everything will be terrible, while I know it’s because there is a fifty-fifty chance that this day will bring some sort of misery or disappointment. I wound up in the hospital on my birthday once, and, on another occasion, was giving the gift of compulsory freedom from my newly ex-girlfriend. It’s not that I believe that things will be horrible, and so endeavor, subconsciously, to make them so, but rather that I have been paying attention, and would prefer not to be blindsided by misfortune. Then again, this could be a really awesome year for celebrating another successful campaign against mortality, and it’s only the early waking hours of the day which are tinged with sadness and physical discomfort. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Since leaving Blondie’s two years ago, I have had four jobs, not including the time I spent writing (and grossing a grand total of $19 (net was -$60, as I had to purchase TurboTax Business for that year)). All, aside from my current gig were somewhat disappointing. Big Lots (insert ridiculous exclamation points wherever) reminded me that the hardest jobs are done for the least amount of respect and pay, and that even after years and years in management, I still believed in unions. Bear’s Lair introduced me to several cool people while reinforcing the notion that large corporations frequently lack a delicate touch. Jupiter was where I saw the sausage being made, and very nearly became a vegetarian (metaphorically speaking, obviously, as I cannot abide by vegetables in real life). It’s like I am forcing myself to remember what I swore that I would stand for, and begging myself to get started on changing the world already.

All of that, of course, led me to Canyon Market. A friend of mine from back in the Blondie’s days had been working there for nearly a year, and had only great things to say about it. I took a chance (and an hour-long BART ride) and applied for a job making sandwiches in the Deli. Now, I’ve worked in several restaurants (most of them in the Quick Service Arena), but I’d never actually gotten a chance to be paid for making sandwiches. As it turns out, I kind of love it. I mean, I’ve been rocking the amateur scene for decades now, but the chance to go pro has fundamentally fulfilled me. Sure, it’s not a desk job involving the pitter-patter of tiny keystrokes, but it’s strangely satisfying, all the same. And, of course, I was just recently made Acting Supervisor of the Deli, which came not so much as a shock to me, but as an inevitable consequence of my work history.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So where do I go from here? Obviously, I need to be writing more, especially since it’s almost time to renew my WordPress hosting, and this year has essentially been a gym membership for me (not to mention last year after May. I need to find a balance between work and home (and a balance at home between family, writing, play, and sleep). It looks like I may need to invest in a slightly less awkward laptop (of the non-Chromebook variety) so that I can use the 3+ hours I spend commuting everyday on something more productive than naptime. I need the person who I am to become to step the hell up and give me a hand. But, as we all know, Future Batmart is kind of an asshole. I don’t blame him too much, though, as Present Batmart (with the aid of Past Batmart) is constantly screwing Future Batmart over.

I’m not going to make a resolution, as those seem only to exist for the express purpose of breaking into tiny, bite-sized shards of shame. Nor shall I make a covert plan of action, for those also seem to good for tracking just how quickly things go off the rails, and by how far they’ve missed their destination. What, then? Perhaps just one step at a time. Every day from now until, oh, I don’t know… success… I will try to find the willingness to do something positive with my time. One day that might mean being a little more romantic with my wife, while another might include a little less paternal judgement toward my son.

I feel like my life is getting chopped up into increasingly tinier pieces, which are harder and harder to fill constructively. The older I get, the faster that time seems to pass. I have postulated that this occurs because each second is an increasingly smaller unit of measure compared to the total amount of time which I have lived. Think back in your own life: when you were a kid, five minutes took forever to finally pass, whereas five minutes now are gone before you realize that you’d been counting. As a child of five, one year was twenty percent of your existence. At 37, it’s (let me pull out my calculator) it’s just under 3% (and diminishing). Much as a quarter was a magical unit of currency when I was small (you could mail a letter, make a phone call from a pay phone, or buy a can of soda from a vending machine (wow, I just realized how truly old I am)), now it seems only good for 15 minutes in a laundromat’s dryer. Hell, I won’t even (can’t even) sell a smoke to someone for a quarter anymore.

So what’s the answer?

No, seriously. What’s the answer? Because I haven’t got the slightest clue.

Loss

I don’t expect this post to be good- in fact, I would be surprised if it winds up even readable. There are many things which I have been through, some of them my own making, and others the end result of razor-tipped butterfly effect, but I have never suffered a loss quite like this before. It devastated me when my great-grandmother died, especially because, in retrospect, I had plenty of time to go and see her before her time came (of course, I never did, but that was because I felt that she would be ashamed of me, and where I was in my life, which is more a testament to my own self-loathing than an accurate depiction of who Gram truly was. I now believe that she would have only been ashamed of me if I had well and truly given up: resigned myself to drug addiction and failure, without ever trying to reach the stars for which I had been yearning since I was a little boy.), but chose to stay away. When the news came to me of my grandfather, I was determined not to make the same mistake. And though there was nothing I could do beside bring a smile to his face upon his realization of my arrival, I felt that, this time, I was finally able to say goodbye.

Here’s the thing, though, and again, it says more about me as a trainwreck of emotional instability than it does of his decency as a human being that the most vivid memory I have of him was from one of the lowest points in my life. It was December of 2000, and my drug-addicted girlfriend and I were on a break (please try to remember what a social powerhouse Friends was during my era). I was still avoiding my mother due to reasons mentioned elsewhere in The Vaults Of Uncle Walt, and so I went back to the one place where I knew that I was always welcome: my grandparents’ home. They had both told me that I was like a fourth child to them, and that their house would always be my home, so, when I’d had no alternative, I came back to them.

My grandmother and I are very similar: stubborn worriers who must always have the last word, and who enjoy the sport of argument more viscerally than any other. The qualities which I inherited from my grandfather are far more… intangible. Intelligence, obviously (though my grandmother is no slouch herself), and an ease of learning which makes people who have to study begin to steam about the ears. Then there is the consistency of rulemaking, which my son can attest that I have inherited as well, which boils down to clear and concise rules regarding what is acceptable and what is not, and the consequences which befall each action. But, of course, there is no one better suited to describe what my grandfather gave to me than my own two grandchildren. For my part, I have merely attempted to emulate my own grandfather, be as patient and loving as my own grandpa was, but for them, to have someone to sneak them sweets, or goof around with them, or to exist as a neverending font of unconditional love, I think that they shall be eternally grateful to a man they never got to know.

I seem to have wandered off-topic for a bit, and for that, I apologize. Let’s see if I can pull myself together and get this missive back on track.

For the record, before I start in on this narrative flashback: We spoke some number of years ago about this incident, and came to peace with one another.

My life was spinning out of control. I was an intravenous drug user with a mission which might have made Don Quixote reconsider, and in no mood whatsoever to suffer the advice of someone who “just didn’t get it.” Everything was going more or less okay, despite the fact that I was living with my grandparents, and separated from my girlfriend for whom I had plunged headfirst into the icy waters of self-destruction (though, to be fair, it didn’t require any arm-twisting whatsoever). And then, though I remember it as coming from out of the blue, it might very well have been rooted in something topical, he began to lecture me about the importance of staying clear of debt collectors. At that point in my life, I hadn’t actually ever had anything in my own name (the benefits of dating a woman in her mid-thirties), and just knew that I knew what the hell I was doing. I mean, I did, and it all worked out in the end, but still… Statistically speaking, his talk was dead-center and on-point. And then… I broke.

I started shouting at him in couplets of salty metaphors, decrying his diatribes toward responsibility, and reminding him that I knew what I was doing (while philosophically true, I must admit that my methods are far more hands-off than I might otherwise care to admit). I then stormed out, in adolescent fashion, slamming the door behind me, but not before I informed him, in no uncertain terms that he could feel free to asexually reproduce (though, grammatically speaking, it was more of an imperative).

Perhaps someday I will allow myself to believe that I am worthy of the example which he set for me, though at this moment, I find it difficult to believe. I just hope that he knew how much he meant to a little boy who grew up without a father, who so desperately required someone to love him for who he was.

I love my grandfather, and I miss everything about him. I weep for the knowledge that I will never see him again, though I do not weep for him. I weep for myself, and for the world, as it must come to terms with the emptiness which remains in the wake of his passing.

I miss my grandfather.

Loneliness and the Inadequacy of Words

One of these days, I’m going to find true happiness, and this time it will stick. It’s not that I haven’t had my share of moments over the years, it’s just that I never found a way to make them stick, or gained the wisdom to accept them for what they are: perfect moments that by their nature must be fleeting, lest they consume one in a passion of perfection, normally reserved for the hearts of stars and star-crossed lovers. I doubt that I’ll uncover an answer within these thousand words, but there is always a chance that it may happen, nonetheless. Or maybe I will finally learn another lesson, one which allows me to somehow to stop dwelling in the past, and look toward tomorrow with something other than fear. It could be all of the changes lining up, despite how positive they may appear. I’m not really good with change, as I may have mentioned once or twice before. Sure, I can roll with the punches, and think upon my feet, but I’m not a fan of having to get myself out of my rut and making forward progress. Okay, I’m not sure that I meant to go so deep, but there it is: I’m scared of doing things to better my own life for fear that I might actually have a real shot at success. Now all I need is a large pile of money, and I can finally die happy.

Someone told me once that they didn’t know what the hell I thought that I was doing, that the life I’ve built around myself is naught more than a prison. In a sense, that person could not have been more on point. This isn’t a new theory floated within the confines of this blog: that there are two discrete versions of myself, locked in constant battle for my destiny. There is the part of my that grew up as an only child, in the home of a single mother, that wanted to wash away the failures of my father by being a husband and a dad. But in my moments of clarity, I knew that this was probably a great mistake. I’m not the type of man who is cut out to be a father, and I’m not the type of guy who should ever be a husband. I am selfish, and quick-tempered, strong-willed and terribly afraid. I am the guy who gives advice, but I’m not so hot at nurture. Was it a mistake to fulfill my obligations? Should I have just passed along my genes and run? This isn’t rhetorical. I’m teetering upon the point of crisis, and can’t stop myself from doing cartwheels into oblivion (side note: Cartwheels Into Oblivion should be the name of my new band).

All of this aside, I suppose that I could simply learn to take a bloody compliment. My ego will fill countless rooms and still yearn to spread into even more, but my self-esteem could quite comfortably reside within the envelope attached to a bouquet of flowers that the love of your life has received from someone else. Intellectually I crave adoration for the things which I’ve created, but I cannot believe a single pleasant thing which anyone might tell me. And if someone should dare to tell me that I’m pretty, or that I possess some qualities which might somehow yet redeem me, their words slide in between my ribs and cause my heart to cease its rhythm. I should probably look into therapy. This cannot be healthy. And yet… And yet, it is this self-hatred and introspection which flings me into the deepest recesses of the universe on my neverending search for truth, not that I’m entirely so sure why it is that I must know it. I want my life to have meant something, in the end. A child is an imperfect genetic copy which will imperfectly continue me down through the ages (at least until the madness becomes unable to propagate itself any further). My words, my rhythms, the act of etching myself, line by line and inked with blood into the social consciousness, that way lies the true path to immortality. But then again, who wants to live forever?

All of this, for just a single passing moment where I dared to let myself feel happy.

I’ve decided that I’m going to be happy. I honestly have not a clue as to how I’m going to make that happen, but I want this coming year to be the year when I finally pull it all together. I want to write my book. I want to know exactly what it is that I truly want. I want to stop hurting people because I am unhappy. It is no one’s fault that I am who I am, at least, for the purposes of this endeavor. What is it that I truly want? And who, exactly is it that I want to be? I’ve kept my most self-destructive impulses in check, which I suppose has been a good thing, but I haven’t accomplished anything which I always dreamed of doing. It goes back to being right or being happy, I suppose. Then again, I’m usually never happier when I’ve proven someone else wrong.

A thousand words of insight, and yet I’ve said not a single bloody thing. Just me spinning round and round in a circle, covering the same ground which I’ve been covering since I began to pay attention. I think it all boils down to the fact that I am lonely. I rarely speak to any of my friends (though I’m not up to it right now), and my family life has just become some sort of endless routine. For all that I am loathe to change, I am practically screaming into the night for something new to happen. I want to know the answer. I want to know the right thing to do. I want it to be okay.

I want…

Three Dozen

In less than twenty hours, I will reach another milestone: three dozen years upon this world. That’s about a dozen more than I intended, but I’ve at least managed to have some times worth living in this enforced surplus I’ve been given. After this, there’s really not another one to celebrate until I hit the big 4-0 (unless you count the Clerks milestone next year, which, sadly, I kind of do). But that’s okay, because this year is special enough to last awhile. You see, I am now She was when I was only seventeen. I traveled into the future (albeit the long way ’round), and found myself… diminished. There may have been a million reasons to hold on to a little bit of anger, but at least I could now tell myself to lay off on some of the little jokes, like mocking her for smoking Ultra Lights, or… Okay, I guess that’s basically it. Nineteen years (well, and six more months away), since I began the Adventures of Tex Batmart. Of all the possible outcomes I could foresee, this was never one of them, at least not exactly. Here I am, a husband, father, stepfather, and grandpa, some dude who works a Regular Joe job, having mostly abandoned his calling in order to pay the bills. I’ve redeemed some part of that last self-recrimination, but it’s still a work in progress, to be sure.

As of 1:44 p.m. tomorrow, I will have been around for 1,136,073,600 seconds (margin of error +/- 59 seconds), and I swear I’ve felt the weight of nearly all of them. Although, and maybe this is just the romantic stirring somewhere deep within me, there were a few that lasted for quite a bit longer than the clock recorded (yet weighing almost nothing in my gravitic reckoning), as I tapped into the wellspring of true happiness and rode the tidal waves of love. Sometimes I feel that I’m just too old to feel that kind of teenage ardor, the hopeless throes of passion that only the young can truly feel (or at least bother themselves to act upon). With every year that passes, I keep hearing that some future demographic is now the “new” (different, younger) demographic. Why are the goalposts continually being moved? Why is it that 36 has to force me back into my twenties? Why can’t the 30’s be the new 40’s? I feel like I’m stumbling up an escalator which is rolling slightly faster downward. By the time that I am dead, I will have only been the “New 21”. Forget that! I want to be all old and crotchety, if I am to live that long. I want to be decrepit and scream for teenaged hooligans to vacate my lawn. I don’t mind the trade-off of truly free and uncensored speech, if the only thing it means is that people disregard me. They’ve been doing so for nearly four decades, so I’d rather just go off on random people, if it’s all the same to you.

So what have I accomplished in these past three dozen years? I suppose that it depends upon what you feel merits the title of an accomplishment. I learned to sit up without being held, and to walk unaided. I mastered the use of indoor plumbing before I ever went to school. I made my career choice before arriving at double digits, and the first time that I ever fell in love, I was the same age as my son is now (my first kiss as well. I am grateful that my son has exponentially less game than I did, which is kind of depressing, from an evolutionary standpoint). I learned how to write by devouring the masters, and very nearly managed to almost learn guitar. I fell in love so many tens of times, that I should probably be nominated for some kind of unrequited award. I owned my own business when I was seventeen, and also… you know, became an adult, in the biblical sense (and I’m not referencing a Bar Mitzvah). I started at the bottom of the lowest rung of the restaurant industry to work my way up toward the top by the time my twenties were half over. I finally got married, and became a dad for real (having practiced on another youngster ten years before that), though not in that strict order. I’ve never gotten fired, having always chosen instead to quit (though once I learned about the ins and outs of unemployment, I began to reconsider the pride that I had taken in it).

But all of those are just things, you know? What have I done to change the world (for either good or evil)? I’ve never saved a whale, nor clubbed a baby seal. I have planted trees, but I also eat a lot of burgers. I have done my part to save the Amazon by selling my soul to the Seattle-based usurper, but it’s a hometown business, so I guess I’m still shopping locally? It used to be enough for me that I would be remembered, and now that I’ve passed along my D.N.A., my legend is almost guaranteed (though I should probably make sure that I can get a grandchild out of the Minkey at some point before patting myself upon the back). But now I seem to be hung up on having managed to accomplish something of worth. It’s like I feel that I must justify my existence, though I never really wanted it to start with. I want to write something of such beauty that it will resist the vagaries of time and pass down through the centuries without ever having been misquoted, I want to do something that will save someone else’s life. I want to reach out into the mists of the unknown with the pain which I have felt, and take someone suffering all alone, and pull them to their feet. I want to find out, once and for all, who it is I really am.

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Bootstraps and Chuckles

I am doing my best to pull myself out of depression. Mostly this involves reminding myself that this ennui won’t last forever, and knowing that it probably isn’t nearly as bad as it seems right now. Right now I’m just strung a little tightly, and even the smallest vibrations in the web of sadness are thrashing me around. Oh, but I was happy. For a single moment I was happy. I do not begrudge its brevity, nor its impermanence, for a perfect moment cannot last forever. And now that I am a bit removed from it, and no longer reeling from the implications, I can appreciate it for what it was: a birthday gift from someone who knows me better than I had imagined possible, who knew that I just needed someone to believe in me. So, instead of wallowing in misery, I will do my best to pull myself up by my bootstraps and put on a happy face, in the hope that by putting on a happy face, maybe some of that will seep beneath the skin, and penetrate my dour demeanor. I’ve yet to hear back from the place I want to work, and so this positivity may yet be fleeting, and I’ve no illusions about what will happen should the bottom fall out of this. I’ve been saying goodbye at my current job since someone let it slip that I was interviewing elsewhere, and I can’t imagine that I’d care to stick around and face my failure to depart. But right now I’ll not be dwelling on the all of the ways I could be worse off tomorrow.

It’s kind of ridiculous, really, falling victim to these vagaries of mood. Perhaps it explains my ingrained hatred of daytime television: no one likes to watch something which hits too close to home. Although, now that I think of it, the descent into a world of tears began in earnest when I shaved my beard. I should probably begin tracking it (which shouldn’t be too difficult as I only shave but twice a year), and see if there’s some correlation between being fresh-faced and suffering from a serious case of mopiness. A little biblical, perhaps, to blame my failings on a lack of hair, but if it’s any consolation, I did it to myself, and didn’t suffer the indignity of being shorn against my will. I mean, there was that one time in the fading light of the 1990’s, when I traded fur for domestic bliss (or a chance at it, truth be told), but after that fell rapidly apart (as haircuts and shaving are not a lasting foundation upon which to launch the salvation of a relationship), I vowed that never again would I allow another person to tell me how I must be groomed. Of course, that lasted only another year or two, until I had to get a job working for The Man, who insisted that shaving was somehow important to the performance of the job.

I am better than all of this. I will not let those who’ve (foolishly) decided to believe in me down any further than I already have. I am going to bounce back from all of this, and somehow land upon my feet (I feel like I’ve just used this metaphor recently). I will find a way to jam the defeat which I accidentally snatched from the jaws of victory back down that mother’s gullet, and pop ’round to the other side to grab hold of its reverse. I would just like to point out how chuffed I am to have put that image into your heads, one of a double-headed beast from whose anus one is obligated to pry out one’s victories. I also like that the “Jaws of Defeat” are now irrevocably linked with a puckered butthole in your mind. And that’s it. The first genuine smirk which I’ve generated from within. I’m actually smiling and chuckling now, which is actually quite disturbing. It’s a good thing I’ve no desire to write a book of fables for the incurably jaded, or I would own that market. Is there a market for those kind of tales? On second thought, it seems like something that I might not only be somewhat decent at, but would also enjoy producing. Hell, in writing them, I might even managed to glean a little wisdom of my own from my bitter ramblings. I could write them at my own pace, and collect them at my leisure. I could do them as bite-sized installments, easily crafted in the empty spaces between my shifts within a common workweek. Stupid muse who managed to get herself stuck within me.

We’ll see how it goes. I make no promises. There’s every chance that I’ll find some way to screw it all up once again, and for the duration of that melancholia, I’ll be blinded to the simple, happy things.

When that time has come again, I’ll ask you to avoid reminding me of all things for which I should give thanks, and just do what you have always all done best: just listen to my ramblings, nod your head in sympathy, and try not to worry too much about Tex Batmart. The day will someday come when it may all be too much to bear, but more so than ever before, and I will finally stop fighting it, and allow myself to fade. What this means, I couldn’t tell you, for that sentence just bubbled up from somewhere deep within my subconscious. Perhaps I’ll finally find peace with who I am, or perhaps I’ll sleep forever. The point is that for right now, for this very moment, I think that I’m okay, and in the nearly three dozen years which I’ve come to know as my existence, I’ve come to understand that I cannot ask for more.

So I offer my gratitude to those who’ve showed me kindness (however brief or fleeting). You have given me something to hold onto when everything grows dark. And yes, that happiness may feel like a blade when I am hovering near tears, but that is my problem, and most definitely not yours. You are the best, and I’m so very thankful that I got the chance to meet you. May your lives be what you want or need them to become, and if there is some way that I can repay your generosity, please don’t hesitate to ask. I may not be able to accommodate you, but I will definitely do my best.