Thursday, August 30

For Science

Met the therapist for the first time yesterday. Nice dude, looks a little bit like Bill Nye without a bowtie. 

Not much to report just yet -- most of it was just preliminary questioning to establish that I'm not insane or strung out or just repeating a family history or whatever, but it's always interesting to see when you're answering what amounts to literally a checklist of stuff (are you on any prescriptions, any history of mental issues in your family, etc.) where people will stop and ask for more detail.

I mean I guess when you get right down to it that's what therapy is -- Someone asking you plain questions and waiting for you to give a weird answer and then digging into why you didn't just say "yes" or "no" -- but the thing is that I have a few built-in strange things on my genetic/family resume that almost always require further digging, so what ends up happening is that I get to sort of "analyze the analyst" by watching their face scrunch up when I try to explain the dynamics of it all.

First of all -- I'm adopted, so whenever I'm asked about family health history I always have to shrug my shoulders because biologically I simply don't know anything about them. 

But then when it gets into my upbringing, and they ask me about my parents and what my childhood/homelife comes up, I always forget just how fucked up and bizarre the whole tale sounds for people who don't know me.

Here's the quick version:
  • My mother and her mom (my grandmother) always had a contentious relationship. Just didn't get along, lots of sniping and undercutting -- which apparently goes waaaay back to when she was a little girl and lasted literally up nearly until the day my mother passed, when my grandmother told my mom to her face that she was "faking cancer" and should just get out of bed.
  • One of the ways my mom fought back against this was by dating boys my grandmother hated. When she was in highschool this culminated in a long relationship with a guy named Jesse who was (according to my grandmother) apparently the worst of the worst.
  • Evil boyfriend Jesse went into the Navy and became friends with another sailor named Jack.
  • Jesse (and my mom) and Jack (and this woman I met many years later who was foine as hell) used to double date.
  • Jesse got assigned to a ship that went out on duty, and somewhere during the deployment the friendship between my mother and the sailor named Jack grew into attraction, and they eventually got married.
    • The details of this incident are something I've never been able to dig out of my old man. As much as I love the guy -- the idea of him snaking some other dude's chick (and telling the other girl to hit the bricks) is waaaay out of character with my image of the man who raised me.
  • After living in many different parts of the country my parents settled down in Colorado, with their adopted son (me) in tow, and another (my brother) on the way. 
  • Several years later, my grandfather became very ill and my mother wanted to be closer to him. So my  family decided to move back to Florida.
This is where things get really weird
  • Apparently partially out of desire to be close to my ailing grandfather and partially out of financial hardship -- my parents built their Florida home ACROSS THE STREET from my grandparents' home, putting my mother and grandmother on a direct collision course for the rest of their lives.
  • After many years, my parents marriage began to crumble and eventually ended in divorce.
  • Somewhere around this time, evil boyfriend from the past Jesse resurfaced and eventually began dating my mother as an adult (much to the utter rage of my grandmother).
  • Mom and Jesse eventually got married (much to the eternal rage of everybody else).
  • Years of family strife followed, but long story short everybody who was still in the house moved out and there was lots of bad blood for years associated with my stepfather that negatively affected everyone listed above (except I suppose the girl my dad originally dated before he married mom).
  • My mother eventually realized he was an asshole and divorced Jesse.
  • When the lease on his bachelor apartment changed enough that he needed to relocate, my mother (who was now living in a big empty house) offered my dad/her ex-husband the extra room in the house as sort of a roommate. It was convenient for both of them, and the majority of their active hostilities from the divorce had long faded -- but it was still just weird, even though it seemed to work for them.
My parents grew to be friends again because of this closeness and proximity, and as my mother's health problems began to present themselves it was really a good thing that he was there. They didn't get back together or anything, but they were partners of a sort before my mother passed.

Now if you actually stuck around to read all of that and somehow digested it -- I imagine your face is wearing an expression pretty much exactly like the one Bill Nye the Therapist guy had when I got through explaining all of this to him at the session.

And yeah, there was lots of drama involved in all those bullet points that any therapist worth his salt might try to make hay out of -- and to be honest there are occasionally weird parallels in my own life (I first met my ex-wife when she was dating a friend of mine, etc.), but weirdly I'm at a point in my life where this is more or less just "stuff that happened."  Especially since my grandmother passed, a lot of this has just become ancient history -- as it no longer affects us day to day like it used to. 

I suppose it's possible that the remnants of all this mess potentially play into whatever my issues are, but I sure hope not, because it sounds like the outline for some Telenova that comes on before Sabado Gigante.

[Now Playing:  Alabama Shakes - "Hold On" ]

Friday, August 24

Fruit Loops and Steroids

About 2 weeks back I woke up with this awful pain in my shoulder. It felt like I'd been punched for a few hours by a particularly angry Donny Yen or something. I tend to sleep on my side -- frequently waking up in the mornings with my arm pinned under my pillow, so I just assumed this was the cause and committed to powering through my day.

A day later it was still aching, but I had things to do -- took some aspirin, tried to move on.

Some days it was in my shoulder. Sometimes the bicep, all the way down to my wrist. Worse at night, really rough in the mornings, but mostly the kind of thing you can deal with and forget during a busy week.

Eventually though I realized it wasn't going away -- so I knuckled under and saw a doctor.

I hate doctors. 

I don't like being sick. Like everybody else, I go through seasonal periods of feeling crappy, and occasionally deal with localized pains or whatever -- but it's like pulling teeth for me to even consider going to see anyone about it.

To my own self-serving mindset, there's a difference between feeling junky and having someone in a labcoat tell you that you're officially defective.

If I can power through things or drown them in over-the-counter symptom dampeners, I will. What's the point anyways? All doctors ever do is tell me I'm fat. 

"Lose the weight, get that blood pressure down -- that should take care of that twisted ankle." 

Anyways, this arm thing was getting bad, to the point where I was worried it was something internal. Stretching, aspirin, whiskey, late night servings of Fruit Loops -- these things clearly weren't working. So I went and saw a guy.

He called me fat (natch), but then after hearing my tale and prodding my shoulder for a while he started talking about inflammation and bursitis. Very common, he said. What you need to do is take some steroids. A shot now, a week's worth of pills. See if that clears it up.

Then he went into what seemed like an extensively long discussion on how he could give me the shot in the arm, but studies had shown the shot to be more effective if administered in the booty.

Being a sports fan, I was well aware of the divine relationship between steroids and a needle in the ass -- so I didn't really have a problem with this. If that's how Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong did it, then I guess that's the way it's done, right?

But the look on the face of my 12 year-old son when he heard this news was pure gold. 

I seriously thought he was gonna get out of his chair and fight the guy.

Anyways, took the shot, been mostly taking the pills. The pain isn't like it was, but it's not totally gone yet either. And I guess that's the lesson -- doing something about a problem is better than just wanting it to go away, but magic bullets don't really exist. 

Weather's supposed to be really nice this weekend. Need to take advantage.

[Now Playing:  David Bowie - "Velvet Goldmine" ]

Friday, August 17

Dansu Dansu Dansu

We're getting all this rain lately. Thunderstorms you can hear, even if you're wearing headphones and blaring Black Sabbath while hacking through the jungle of paperwork on the job.

I've been trading emails with the therapist, and it looks like I'll be getting that going soon. 

School starts back up on Monday. The new school seems really large and overbearing, but Curren's new teacher is young, idealistic, and excited. Her classroom is awesome (iPads provided free for every student, flash drives on the school supplies list! -- I didn't think those things went together -- but it's still better than shelling out money for school uniforms and the same old dead textbooks).  Transportation's going to be a hassle -- especially on weeks where I don't have him with me, but that's really nothing new. 

But otherwise there's little to report. I stayed in almost all week. Talked myself out of takeout dinners, drank my own scotch, played guitar, read books, and watched a whole bunch of movies that were so-so, and two that seemed worth a discussion afterwards ("Friends with Kids," which wasn't as good as it was thought-provoking, and "Hot Tub Time Machine" -- which made me laugh a whole lot more than I thought it would).

I don't know -- part of it was money, but mostly I was just more comfortable staying in. Or perhaps better said I've become less than excited with the idea of going out the past few weeks. 

And it's not like I'm outgrowing it (although maybe I should), I like going out and having a few. 

But this past week I couldn't find a point to it. I couldn't find the motivation to be social. Like I said a post or two back, I know this sounds like whining and I apologize for the tone, but it is what it is.

I've gone hermit.

I've also oddly fallen into this weird habit of falling asleep around my normal time but then for whatever reason shocking back awake like three hours later, hopelessly aware and unable to just shake it off and go back to sleep. I've watched some truly horrible cable TV fare when this happens, and the fact that I get mad every time the EBS test signal interrupts whatever plot point was happening in the SciFi channel movie about two-headed shark attacks or the SWAT teams made up of former pro wrestlers only serves to make me feel dumber about the whole enterprise.

But when you're awake in the middle of the night after a period of sleep with nothing but CGI shark attacks and Skinemax softcore to distract you with their separate but equal levels of comedic horribleness, you'll find yourself thinking really lucidly about all sorts of things.

It's like the middle chapters of a Murakami novel, except there aren't any talking cats, manic dream pixie girls, or dancing sheep men. 

Because much like all those Murakami novels, the conversations you have with yourself seem really important at an hour like that.

Whether I'm metaphorically climbing off some freeway into another world or not, all I know is that the guy who wakes up at 3:45 and wants to talk about life in general is oddly more awake than I am at that hour, and it's creeping me out.

For example: I've always wanted to travel, always wanted to explore -- But I rarely do. Even vacations and weekend walkabouts..  something about them seems expensive and unwieldy. I've had some epic trips over the years (Brooklyn, Maine, San Diego), but honestly -- they're so rare that it's frustrating.

Curren's always asking about vacations. And I like the thinking, and want to do those things -- but when it gets down to planning or actually just doing it it's like there's a block there. It wasn't all that different before Curren either, although in most ways that was a different life altogether -- my exwife and I always talked about traveling and moving to exotic places, but we never did. J is a born traveler -- but the situation was always more complicated than it appeared, and she ended up seeing wide parts of the world with someone else.

All of which is circumstance, and not meant to sound like blaming -- especially given the fact that now that I'm on my own and beholden to no one, I'm still not really taking advantage of the opportunities.

Again, partially money -- but I suspect even more of it was rooted in some sort of hesitation. Some sort of needing a kick in the pants to make it happen. It feels like a lot of things in my world are like that now -- which is why I'm gonna start talking to someone.

But it's frustrating to know that there's an easier answer to all this, and that's just to go. Just pack up the car and fucking drive somewhere new. Just shut off the TV and go out into the city. Just take off the headphones and talk to the other human beings that are around you 8 hours a day.

If I could explain it, I would. 

But it's almost worse to be able to recognize it for what it is and yet still not feel like there's anything you can do about it, you know?

[Now Playing:  Periphery - "All New Materials" ]

Saturday, August 11

Planet Clare

We were never really all that similar. It wasn't that kind of friendship.

Names alphabetically adjacent. The shared discomfort of high school. We connected initially pretty much because we were there, but once we realized we made each other laugh it didn't matter. Maybe that's what made it such a tight bond over the years, because we connected as people and not just much shared interests.

I have great friends I met through music or surfing or whatever -- but because there was that shared interest there was always some other level to things. Sometimes it was a mentor/student thing, like when the guys taught me how to surf, and those stumbling towards competence experiences pulled us together at the same time as our personal connections were developing.

And even if our lives are vastly different now, we always had those things to fall back on.

But whenever I look back on this particular history -- it's almost shocking how little we had in common. We weren't into the same things. Sure we delved into each others worlds, but in the end very little of it actually took. It seems so strange to say though, because for a while there all we did was hang out together. I practically lived at his house, was a part of the family fabric.

Perhaps that's why as different colleges split us apart and life kinda got in the way we weren't able to maintain it. We sorta thrived on contact, on the ability to be an open ear and an easy laugh for each other. We were close because our friendship transcended whatever thing we were into at the time.

I still love the guy -- but after a while we just  ..ran out of things to talk about.

Every now and then we get together for lunch. It's good to see him and I enjoy the company. We still make each other laugh, and I'm happy for the good things in his life. But we always end up talking about each other's kids, because that's easy enough to find common ground on. Everything else requires the kind of endless backstory and nuance that you never have time for when it's just a sandwich at a barbecue place during a lunch hour. And anything else was just memories from highschool -- and we're getting too old for all that stuff to matter anymore.

I used to get really mad about it. About the distance between us, especially when he moved back to town. We lived a few minutes apart, but we never saw each other. And even when we did, we were strangers on a train. But like a lot of other things, I kinda refused to see my own hand in things. Didn't understand that I was probably pushing him away just as much as I felt he was edging me out.

Breakups suck no matter how they happen, but you never really believe that you could actually lose your best friend. That just doesn't happen -- that's what makes them best friends, right?


[Now Playing:  Metric - "Breathing Underwater" ]

Friday, August 10

That's How You Get Ants

There are ants all over the apartment. In the sink, by the catfood. You don't see them at first, but then you'll go to wash a dish and find a line of them training from some crack in the wall down into the sink. They're there because I kinda stopped caring about the place, which is unfortunately a thing that I do sometimes.

This weekend obviously I'm going to try to do something to combat it all, but really -- until I start actually giving a flip about the garbage or my ever-worsening eating habits it's never gonna truly fix everything. Killing the problems you can see means nothing in a fight like this.

I'm really considering going back to therapy.

I haven't called anyone yet -- but I have a list of names. It's weird how I think it's scary, even though I've already been through it a few times. But there's really no way around the fact that whatever this is that I'm dealing with is much more than just the blues. I've got to find a way to fix it.

I think a big part of my issue is how I can look at things like going to therapy or cleaning my place or feeding my fish or playing my guitar or even trying to go out or seeking new people to meet and easily see recurring instances where I just gave up. It's something I can look back and find myself doing even as far back in college, which was ridiculous because I was young and there was life happening all around me, but there was a period where I just wouldn't leave that couch.

I hate talking about it, because it makes me feel like such a whiny little bitch. I mean really, who wants to read a blog post that's just petulant crying anymore. I'm a writer.. I can do better than this, right?

Once upon a time I used to chronicle feelings like this on a blog, and a beautiful woman found it and began reading until one day she reached out to me and made everything awesome -- but then.. then that went away too.

Getting Curren into this new school I think will help with his struggles, but it's a risk. He's getting old enough that just plugging him into a new fix isn't enough anymore -- he's got to want to do better. His attitude will dictate whether or not this change will work.

But if all I'm gonna do is mope and let the dishes pile up and just watch while ants crawl all over my place, what motivation does he have for giving a  crap about the things in his life?

I've got to do better.

[Now Playing:  Frank Ocean - "Pyramids" ]

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