The Learning Curve


Some things you learn quickly. Some things take a little more time to sink in.

It took less than ninety seconds for me to discover my credit still sucks and will for a long, long time. Which means the inability to do things like get a new car, buy a house, get decent furniture, and even that new bed I was dreaming about. See ya, over, finito. Get those things outta your head, dude.

Okay, gone.

Other things, which should long ago have been toppled from my head, took a lot longer to sink in. For one thing, the idea that someday I’d be rich and obnoxious, flaunting my wealth before the thronging unwashed masses, has to go. The idea that I’d live like a hedonist and never really age or gain weight and die with dark brown hair and a clear complexion…yeah, that’s gotta go too, but it took a lot longer. While I still don’t embrace lovingly the idea that I’ll die fat, gray-haired and with a face looking like something scavenged from the Dumpster behind Pizza Hut, it’s starting to occur to me that I’ll never get that 4% body fat ripped fitness model body I always dreamed I’d have.

It also took me a while to realize I’m not going to get any taller. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I always thought I’d reach six feet. I wanted to be at least six feet. At first, when I was a scamp, simply being taller than my parents was sufficient. Now, however, being the shortest person in the room on most occasions isn’t as much fun as it seems. While you, the tall, might find us sort of cute in that midgets-running-around-hitting-each-other way, or in that aww-look-it’s-the-Smurfs-or-gnomes-or-some-crap kind of way, it’s not the joy for those of us who are stumpy you might think. We’re not amused. We get tired of staring into your nostrils, for one thing. You don’t blow your nose as thoroughly or often as you think, trust me. And I never wanted to know that much about the underside of your chin, frankly. Not to mention when you people are standing around having a conversation I feel like I’m standing in a frickin’ well. Yeah, it’s finally dawning on me that, hey, guess what? You’re done growing. This is it. Get used to it…forty-five years later.

I figured I was entitled to certain things, being I’ve lived almost half a century and paid my dues, but now it’s getting through my incredibly thick and dense skull that, no, you don’t deserve anything. Nice things are for people who’ve planned for them, drove for them, made their goals come to life, not for people who sat around in their boxer shorts and whined for them.

Speaking of boxer shorts, I’ve come to learn in the last few years that I prefer them to the briefs. All my life I was a tight-whitey kind of guy, but over the last few years I’ve discovered the joy of boxers. How liberating.

And I’ve discovered I’m not as fond of boobies as I thought I was. MINE in particular. Matter of fact, I hate them. ‘Nuff said on that, don’t you think?

I’ve started figuring out that a bad back is a way of life for me. That’s jus’ how it is, yo, and deal widdit. I can’t do anything about it, no amount of wishing will make it better, and despite the advice of everyone I know, exercise doesn’t help. Not a bit. Not one iota. So it’s just there, and that’s life, and tough shit. I thought it was the consequence of having a ginormous GUT hanging over my belt, but now I think it could be a consequence of having a ginormous amount of candles on my birthday cake, or perhaps the consequence of having parents who should never have been permitted to breed.

imageBut the biggest thing I’ve learned in the last couple of years, which is only now starting to sink in and penetrate the leaden dome I use for a brain bucket, is that my life has been rudderless, and now all the penalties of letting the river take you wherever it wills are mine for the reaping. I’m not in a position to change the course of the flow of events in my life not because we as people aren’t capable of doing that, but because I, as an individual, made a decision long ago which altered the course of my life forever, and I have never been able to reverse the effect.

I stare at the future sometimes, and I’m a little afraid. The good news is, because of those parents who are genetic disasters and being their miscreant offspring, I don’t have long to endure. I figure, after smoking for as long as I did and the other inherited issues I have in life, I’ve got about twenty years left to stagger through life like a drunken stew bum waiting to be hit by a bus. (Hoping?)

I’ve had a lot of joy come my way in the time I’ve been here, though, and I like to think about those things and smile. The things I missed probably won’t matter in a hundred years, and in that time no one will even remember I was here in the first place, so what does it matter? If I can reach a place of being at peace with what I am, who I am, and where I am here, in the now, there’s a chance I can enjoy the latter days of my life. I think this is some of the onus of the Eastern religious views, and is a key focus for Christianity. Don’t concentrate so hard on what you accumulate in a fleeting, temporal flicker of life.

Then again, I really wanted that Lexus. Damn.

I don’t think I’ll be returning to fiction writing. I may continue to do some non-fiction if I can get it, because it’s easy and I like the money. But fiction writing is so much harder. I can’t seem to stay good at it for very long. Then I read my first draft of my completed manuscript and it flat sucked. I know a couple of lovely people liked it, and to them I’m grateful for the support, but honestly, I think I stink at this and I don’t know if I want to invest the remaining years I have on Earth into trying to beat my head against a brick wall. I thought maybe it was a God-given talent, but this morning I’m not sure anymore and I don’t find my own work very appealing. Besides, I’ve lost friends because of my opinions about writing and maybe that means I’m doing the wrong thing and investing in the wrong area. My wife is content to believe she’s got no talent and goes on. Why can’t I do that? I think I should, because I’m just not in the effing mood to find out the hard way yet again what I thought and what is reality don’t match up. I’m full, thanks. Pass.

I also learned the young couple upstairs moved out on Friday. Good for them! With their careful planning and work, they’ve established a good path and life and they’re on their way with their new baby! We’ll miss them, they were nice neighbors. The next ones probably will be assholes, because that’s what we tend to be surrounded by in our actually reality. The life with things other than pixels in it. But that’s okay, it’s just part of the lot we have in life. It’s kind of like getting gas after eating beans; it’s just what follows.

So those are the things I found out this weekend. My head feels really full, but then, when you have a tiny walnut lizard-brain like mine, it’s not hard to fill up. How was your weekend?

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