The Want of Journalism

For the past nine months I have been consumed by producing my school’s newspaper the Renegade Rip. As my teacher likes to share, is that it’s a tradition of almost 100 years and we were the next to carry the torch.  With them I followed ledes, wrote stories, photographed events, and for one semester was the Photo Editor.

Now, my time is coming to an end with the paper and I feel so unbelievably lost. It’s weird the little habits that become all too familiar until they’re no longer there. I would bitch about the chaos and consuming nature I had allowed it to play on my life (because I like to complain as it gives my misery purpose) but in reality I loved it. Without it… Well, I will go on, because I survived without it in my life before. It is just that after having experienced it has made me crave something I never knew that I wanted or needed.

During these months the two things I held as my own was a column I wrote each issue called “The Gay Agenda” and the calendar. The second was not as glamorous, but the first won me an award. I won 3rd place for my first column that recounted my two times coming out to my mother. The columns that beat me out for first and second place were both about goddamn Colin Kapaernik which gives me a reason to join the conservative masses that dislike him. Except he has personally affected my life as opposed to just “offending” me.

One of my fellows editors says that we are a unique fraternity and that no others will understand what it was like to be an editor. I truly agree with him. My biggest worry in regards to my frat brothers is that we will drift apart. I’m sure we will, that’s kind of the nature of college life when you don’t have the same classes and are at varying degrees in the life of higher education. I will try to keep in touch but… Life gets in the way.

This Wednesday will officially be the last day of class. It will be bitter-sweet. I imagine the two people in my life who will be more than enthused are my boss and my husband who both dislike the all-consuming nature the class has played on my personal and business life. Whatever. It is definitely an experience I will not soon forget.

 

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Literary Stretches

Even though I have been writing a column for my school newspaper every other week I have noticed my writing seems to be rusty. Especially this last week. I could not think of a topic to write about. And when I attempted one I ended up not liking it because it didn’t flow or sound as good as I wanted it to. In the end, for this one assignment I wrote 4 columns. One might say “at least you’re prepared for the next issue,” but they were all crap. The thing is, I KNOW I can do better. Like I said before I’m just rusty. 

It seems that most of my blogs are about how I’m not writing enough or that I’m not good enough. The first one is very true. The second… I have come to believe and understand that like any athlete or musician it takes practice to keep myself in tip-top writing shape. I further confirm this with my need to start and restart any piece I write. I used the example as of trying to start a lawnmower to my husband. The first couple pulls didn’t get the motor running, but i finally got the engine to turn and start humming away. 

One of the biggest traps I fall into is that I get halfway through something and either lose interest or tell myself, “who cares?” I’m curious where that idea began. When I was younger I didn’t care and just wrote. Maybe it was my own inflated sense of self as a teenager that kept me going. It would seem strange to reverse myself as an adult and become even more insecure. 

I did this workshop called the landmark forum. I’m convinced it’s a weird cult. However, it helped a lot. It definitely gave me more confidence than I had held before. And I’ve definitely learned to accept my faults. I think even this blog post is a result of that class. Before I would have said I’m a shit writer, I’m not very good, why do I try… Now I just know that it’s practice I am severely lacking. 

Wealth

Wealth disgusts and enrages me. Some might say it is just because I don’t have it and I am green with envy, which is truthfully not the case. It sounds silly but when I do see it, and see it at its douchiest, I get sick. None of it makes any sense to me.  I suppose my parents somehow instilled in me the idea that it’s not the possessions you have that make a great person, but who you are and whom you surround yourself with. Or I may have learned that from the countless movies I watched as a kid.  Who knows?  Either way, when I see a 7,000 sq.ft. home within a gated community, equipped with a fucking safe (larger than my living room) for guns it wrenches my gut and makes me incensed.

I have two reports I am working on, both proposed new construction, and located within gated communities. They are the most sickeningly opulent and over the top abodes I have yet seen in my profession. (I’m an appraiser, by the way.)  Three car garages, built-in bars, giant rec rooms, safes, pools, gates… All of it meaningless in the big scheme of things.

Today I went to do a visual inspection of the site of one of the homes my boss and I are appraising and couldn’t even do that because this particular home is proposed to be constructed in a gated community within a gated community.  It’s not enough to sit behind one set of gates, they have to be behind another, ultra-exclusivity.  I mean, why bother being behind one set? Those homes aren’t cool enough.  They’re trash, really.

What I fail to understand is why do they need such monstrous houses? Do they have a family of 12 inside there? Probably not because they wouldn’t be able to afford such a huge house. Kids are fucking expensive and they would get in the way of having such trappings that give the illusion of wealth and success. That is the real thing I can’t quite understand.  None of that shit matters. Build your ivory tower higher and higher, but once you lose the wealth, and they will, everyone will see that all this while you were just a piece of worthless matter that has no real semblance of humanity.

I swore to myself that if I ever got a modicum of wealth I would not flaunt it in such a manner. I want to live in the same house with the same shit. I would have it go toward bettering the lives of others. I don’t want thanks I just want to make a better life for everyone. I suppose I’m very socialist that way.

The only problem with my pledge is that my husband will not agree in the slightest. Already he’s bitching about our house being too small. He wants bigger and better. He wants the trappings and baubles that make one look like a winner. (A winner at life? Everyone loses in the end.) He wants the huge house behind a pair of gates, he wants a huge, expensive automobile, he wants to have the expensive, tailor-made clothing.  WHY?! IT MEANS NOTHING! NO ONE GIVES A SHIT! In reality, it makes one think less of that person.  (Example: me. Right now.)

I don’t know if I gained this worldview before or after the Landmark Forum. I am fairly certain that it was a perspective that existed prior to the event, all the seminar did was solidify it in my mind. For whatever reason money has no meaning to me. Just as long as I have enough to keep living comfortably I am fine. There is no drive to have more. At a certain point it is just a number sitting in an account, more than likely, gaining interest to accumulate more wealth that will do nothing for no one.  It’s just a superficial “score” that no one cares about but the holder of the title himself.

Visions of puppy dogs dance through my head

I’m much too excited to sleep. All I can think about are puppies and the process of Whelping. What will it be like? How much involvement will I need to have? Will we sell all of the pups? 

If it isn’t obvious, our dog Lucy may very well be pregnant. We dropped her off to be bred on Monday and a professional breeders ranch in the mountain community of Caliente, or what I have jokingly referred to as “sexy summer camp.” The breeder informed us yesterday that she is certain that the deed is done. At this point we just have to wait to see if she is in fact pregnant. 

Despite not having any real confirmation or knowing it won’t be until October 3rd at the earliest, hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm. This is another one of those things I have had on my list of things to do in my lifetime, alongside publish a book and have kids. It’ll be a whole new experience for us and for Luce and I can’t wait to get started. 
As it stands I have watched a slew of videos on YouTube. Some professionally done, by vets and professional breeders, and others by regular joes. Each of them spouting similar facts and figures when it comes to breeding and birthing puppies. All I want to do is fast forward time until that moment when I can roll up my sleeves and get them into the world. They are the cutest goddamn things. 

The best part about it is by the time they will be grown enough for new homes it will be Christmas time, and nothing says merry Christmas like a new yellow lab puppy with a big red bow under a heist mad tree. 

And while this is something exciting and new I know there will be a dark side as well, and I’m not talking about late nights and overwhelming sadness when they’re gone. What I refer to is the negative backlash we will inevitably get from our friends and family, who are very much “pound saving” dog people. I commend them for that. However, my husband and I are not those types. We are pure bred dog owners. We’re snobs. So what? 

Another thought we had was what if these pups are purchased and the people end up not wanting them/it? We decided that we will let each family know that if for any reason they can’t take care of them or have had a change of heart we will take them back without question, and not to expect any kind of refund.

Joshua Revised

For the past few days I felt as though I had been regressing from my transformation after my completion of the Landmark Forum, causing me to panic that a return of the whiny bitch that used to run my life. To combat the potential relapse I started trying on different reasons for my cantankerous attitude. The one that held the most truth was that I hadn’t written something in awhile and it was wearing on me. I am a writer after all and if a writer doesn’t do his craft he begins to grow weary and out of shape.

So let me backtrack a bit. I’m sure I threw out some words or phrases that are absolutely foreign to most, making one ask “what is landmark forum?” I’m glad that question piqued your interest as it has become a large part of my existence.

Honestly when I first heard of it I was absolutely hesitant. It sounded like some weird cult bent on getting money. And At the time I thought that was my voice telling me that, but little did I know it was the voice of the pissed off 5 year old that was running the show. I can proudly say that now he has been put to bed in the past and won’t wake again. (That’s right, I killed him.)

The forum is pricey. Don’t get me wrong. I lucked out because the man that saved me from the most miserable job offered to change my life again and put out the $652 to get me enrolled. Even then I did it because I felt pressured to do it, but that was just another story I was telling myself. No one can make one do something he doesn’t want to do. What I know now is that the real me was begging, pleading for change. My life had fallen into a rut and all I was doing to get myself out was spin my tires and drag me further down. (Like they said often in the forum: “the more things change the more they stay the…”)

When the day of my forum arrived I told myself that I didn’t want to waste Steve’s money and I opened up my heart, ears, and mind to whatever change the forum had to offer. I didn’t want to say that I didn’t bother to at least try. Plus, my boss said it changed his life and I wanted the same.

Real change didn’t come until day two when one of the others in the forum read a letter he had written to his deceased mother. His honesty and pain struck a chord with me I could not comprehend and during the first break I called my mother and mended my fences.

Following later in the day we did an exercise where we dredged our past of fear and extracted it from our lives. In the course of an hour (which truthfully did not feel that long) I realized how much stock I put into wanting people to love and accept me. It went all the way back to first grade. Memories I had long forgotten were pulled up with this muck and actual snot. As a result of this exercise I discovered that I carried a physical manifestation of my pain in the form of sinus problems. Every instance when my nasal passage got stuffed up rushed through my minds eye and I found the connection. And when I was finished the amount of snot draining from my nose was embarrassing. I mean… Legit strings hanging from my nose down to the pool on the carpet.

Left raw and exposed the leader, Jerry, polished us up and I came out transformed. The baggage of the past was stripped away and all I had left was the possibility of my future.

One of the craziest and most fulfilling side effects of the forum is that my addiction is gone. I mean… Gone. I say it and feel it without the faintest hint of doubt. I couldn’t be happier. For so long that bull shit plagued my life and now it is gone.

Now left with me, the real me, I have so many things I want to accomplish. Things I will accomplish. First of all will be the promise I made to the entire forum on the final night: “I will create a future for myself and my life by BEING integrity.”

Starting back at 1

How does one just throw away 27 years of sobriety? I keep asking myself that question as I think of my father who did exactly that. 

For whatever reason my father, that takes anti-psychotics to treat paranoid schizophrenia, decided it was a good idea to buy a fucking 30 pack of Coors Light and drink 19 of them in quick succession. 

The result is just as one may expect, he blacked the fuck out on his driveway, landing face first in his attempt to get the mail. 

One of the neighbors saw him and called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital. 

Then at 8:30 I get four calls from both my mother and father, one after the other. My heart starts to race thinking my aunt from my previous post has passed. 

I listen to my father’s voicemail and he non-chalantly informs me that he’s in the ER and needs me to pick him up because he fell after having a beer. 

I just don’t understand. Why ruin something you built so hard to build? He put so much distance between him and his past that for whatever reason he risked it all, including his life. 

What I hate the most is that I get it. Being an addict myself (not with alcohol) I know what it’s like to use something to ice the pain. He’s icing the pain and he was willing to destroy everything for a momentary solution. 

I asked him if he was on antidepressants and his big box of pills seems to contain everything but those. He laughed at me when I asked him. Clearly he doesn’t see the problem. 

My husband was furious with my father when he got to the ER. I’ve never seen him that angry before. Honestly it was weird. At one point I asked him to bring it down a couple notches because while it was deserved and justified it wasn’t helping the situation. No matter how angry one is with someone fucking up with their vice getting angry and making him feeling like shit is 100% counterproductive. 

After dropping my dad off and discovering his 6 beers was really 19, I went home to recoup. I had had enough and listening to him lie and tell me what he thinks I want to hear was frustrating me. There was nothing else I could have done. He was an adult man acting like a child. At least with a child you could have it committed to rehab or a psyche ward but someone that is coherent and present (most of the time) there is absolutely nothing one can do. My husband and I racked our brains trying to come up with some kind of solution. What it boiled down to was leaving him to make his own fucked up choices. 

The next morning (today) I went over to see how he was doing and if he had gotten more booze after we left. I didn’t find any in my quick search, but with my dad that doesn’t mean shit. He tends to hide his poisons. 

I found him wrapped in a blanket on the couch, staring blankly at the TV. I know how he feels, if he does feel any shade of remorse. I really understand. So, with a fresh perspective I tried to tell him what it is I would want to hear after I fucked up. I basically told him to keep calm and carry on. I let him know that we are all so angry because we love him so much and don’t want to see him do this shit to himself. 

He just stared at me. 

In the end I took his car key, cash, and credit cards. There is money hidden somewhere in the house but I don’t know the location and he is only aware of one of them, I guess. (So my mother thinks.) 

I really looked up to my dad. I never realized that I did until he disappointed me. I took his positive change for granted and without it I feel lost. It’s almost as if my whole childhood is a lie. He is lie. He is a fallible human being. 

He was my hope that I could get over my own demons. 

Today I remind myself that I don’t want to be him. I don’t want to let my past transgressions dictate how I handle situations which baffle me. 

Cancer Kills Humor

My aunt is dying. There is no other way to put it and for herself or her children to keep trying is… I cannot think of the appropriate word.  I don’t mean to appear callous or cruel, because I don’t want her to die just as much as they, but I have accepted that in her case the possibility of recovery is next to none.

She has thyroid cancer.  Apparently it is the kind that is the fastest growing and most deadly, and unfortunately occurs primarily in men. It would appear that time is telling her that it is time to go. The two doctors she has seen have flat-out denied her treatment, because of where its at and how large it is they don’t want to take on the risk of operating on her and have her die. (Granted she’s going to die anyway…) The lie she told my mother was that she just needed to have radiation to shrink it and they would operate.  Whether she intended to deceive my mother has yet to be seen.

Before I knew all of this, and was aware that the doctor had suspected it to be cancer, my mother asked me to send my aunt, my mother’s best friend, a get well card because she could use something to perk her up. What I did instead was piss her and her daughter off.

I thought my card was humorous, it joked that “a bible verse would be good right about now, too bad you have a heathen for a nephew” and I thought my personal message was spontaneous and off-the-cuff funny. However, it was not received in the manner I intended it to be taken. For me saying “I may not pray, but…” I might as well have said “Fuck you, I hope you die” because that was the response I got.

Since then her daughter has unfriended me on Facebook, which means any hope for an apology from me has absolutely dissipated.

I know when I’m at fault.  Hell, I blame myself for everything eventually. That is why I have an addictive personality.  I always feel that I am a mistake, not that I just make them.  So I will eventually come to the conclusion I need to apologize. BUT if you unfriend me on Facebook that is guaranteeing I will say nothing of the sort. My pride on the matter is petty and ridiculous, I know that. It is the conscious effort that goes into the action where I find umbrage.

So, I sent another card to my aunt to apologize.  This time however it was a religious card that said NOTHING about prayer (amazing, I know), because in fact I do not pray and felt any mention of it would add insult to injury. I apologized and told her that there have been only 3 women in my life that helped shape me to be the person I am today: my mother, grandmother, and her. Fingers crossed she won’t see it as me mocking her faith or telling her she deserves to have cancer. Who knows in this wacky world.

The reality of the situation is everyone handles crisis and grief differently and we need to be patient with the ones when something in the vein of my situation occurs. The thing I find humorous is that it was the cousin that unfriended me who said exactly that many years ago.