Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How the Pedal Steel Ruined my Life

I asked my friends how love and happiness
Can get so far apart?

Why do lonely men and women
Want to break each other’s hearts?

-The Star Room Boys

I’m not sure if any truer words have ever been written than the lyrics above by Dave Marr, but I am sure that the pedal steel ruined my life and lyrics like those above fit perfectly with that instrument. Things were going along swimmingly until I heard that sound. You know, the sound of hearts breaking and lives being torn apart. There is something about the mournful wail of the pedal steel that symbolizes hopes dashed and dreams destroyed. One might ask how the soft simple strains of an instrument can cause such destruction, and I would ask in return, have you ever listened to one? The pedal steel just seems to be the instrument of lost innocence and squandered opportunity; two themes that seem to run throughout my life. Yet, being the masochist that I am, I cannot help but listen to that sound over and over. Maybe that is because it helps me understand that there are others out there suffering in a similar manner and have an outlet to express that grief tonally. It would seem to me that being a pedal steel player would be the loneliest most depressing occupation on earth, perhaps I should learn to play.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


At least I’ve made it this far. At least I’ve gotten to the point where I can recognize it, because it is coming and it feels like it is going to be a bad one. All of the pieces seem to be in alignment. The shorter, colder, sunless days, the miserable holiday season, the desire, no, need to self medicate, the utter hopelessness, the helplessness, the complete misery that is a depressive episode. Everything is gray. I have no desire to try to remove the filter that is affecting all that I say and do. I am done. I am just going to ride this one out. Someone please help, because I’m not sure I can help myself.

Art: Tailspin by Ramon de Graff

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Meaning of Life

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time just trying to figure out what I truly want from life. And more often than not, the concept of happiness comes to the forefront of my mind. How can I achieve it? What are the elements that comprise it? Is it attainable? Does it even exist? Basically, what is it going to take for me to find happiness at some point in my lifetime, to be able to wake up each and every day happy? So my goal is to develop some sort of mathematical/scientific formula to define the concept of happiness despite my ineptitude with math and science.

For me, one of the biggest areas of the happiness equation is going to involve the delicate balance between solitude and companionship. I need my alone time. I need time to walk in the woods, to drive through the country, to sit at the end of the bar, to read, to listen, to watch. But I also need someone to share my life with, someone to laugh and cry with, to bitch with, to age with, to love with, to live life with. I used to think I didn’t need anyone else. I was wrong, dreadfully wrong. Unfortunately, the search for that person is the greatest cause of happiness’ polar opposite, despair.

Another part of finding happiness for me is an occupation that I can be passionate about or at the very least have more than a passing interest as to whether I succeed or fail. Money has never been a great motivator for me and maybe that is part of my problem, but I need more out of a job than a paycheck. I used to trade occupational satisfaction for quality of life. That works when you are younger, but now that formula is completely ineffectual.

Nature plays an important role in my definition of happiness. I need access to beautiful places. That place does not have to be the mountains or the beach, but something as simple as a couple of acres of woods, undeveloped prairie, or a glass smooth lake in the early morning. Nature provides the spiritual aspect of my existence, and without it, I tend to become more directionless than usual. There is just something incredibly soothing and reassuring about nature.

Family tends to be one of the more difficult elements of the happiness equation for me. The loss of my own family will stand as the single most devastating event of my life. I miss them dearly while at the same time; seem to understand that maybe the situation was irresolvable and that they are better off without me. On the surface that seems like a very selfish statement as it is irresponsible to bring three human beings into existence and then abandon them, but that surface view does not reflect the reality of the situation which is the simple fact that I was not a good human being around them at that time. It is clich├ęd to state that your family is the only group of people that will stand by you when times are difficult, but I have found that to be true. My parents and extended family have always been there for me to provide support, shelter, advice, etc. Without them, I am not sure I would have made it through some of the darker periods of my life like the drugs, divorce, and depression.

Probably the last major aspect of my personal search for happiness is art. I need music, books, films, paintings, and sculpture; basically anything aesthetically pleasing to my mind or ears or eyes. This is actually the only area of my personal search for happiness that I seem to have under control or at least a good grasp of achieving. Because of my family situation, I have a lot of free time to explore various art forms and do find inspiration from them.

So where does this leave me? As I mentioned earlier, everyone’s happiness equation is going to be different, but I think I have figured out mine. If:
(A+J)/(F-N)*C=Life Sucks

Sunday, November 18, 2007

And so it continues...

She told me that she couldn’t. She just couldn’t. I knew it was coming. I tried to keep talking, to keep bringing up things I thought might change a mind already made up. Wasn’t Saturday fun? Oh, let me tell you about this idea I had. I was thinking about this the other day... Of course it was all in vain. One of the seemingly endless string of failures to brace my recent life was about to come to fruition.

Perhaps, I didn’t believe in my heart that she was the one, but I did believe that for the first time in a long time she made me feel things I thought were long since gone. Neglected feelings that I swore I would never allow myself to feel again. Frankly, I wish I had kept that promise because I truly dislike feeling the way I do now and I truly dislike the way it makes me think and act. I told her that I would have no regrets and that the sun would still rise tomorrow. Tritely, I do and it did.

I am remorseful, not angry, not bitter, certainly confused, and more than anything completely crestfallen. Maybe she will be the one to finally teach me the lesson that so many of them have tried to do before her; quit caring, quit being nice, quit putting yourself out there, just quit trying because the negatives fully outweigh the positives. She understands this, she said so herself. So why can’t I? I tried to assure her that there is no such thing as ‘love like the movies’, but somewhere within me I continue to seek it. Say one thing; think another is certainly not a healthy way to go about living.

Formerly, I would have pleaded with her, and then perhaps have been mean and vindictive. Not now. Now I am going to try to work through this. I fully respect her reasons and decision. Unfortunately I do not agree with them. It’s just that it had been so long since I had met anyone like her. I wish I could say, lesson learned, but I know myself too well.

More frustrating, is that I believe there truly was something, some kind of spiritual connection. I cherished our limited time together and hung on her every word. Our conversations would cause me to reassess parts of myself that I had long since forgotten or neglected or not dared visit for fear of what I might find there. She made me feel like I mattered and she made me feel special. No easy feat considering the ashes that I have been trying to rise out of. She made me smile, and she truly brightened my dimly lit soul. It’s much harder to smile now.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Not so fast, Mister!!!!!

I am a mess. I just spent the last three hours driving in the country on a somewhat pointless real estate and nursery junket. I did not sleep last night and my head is reeling. I look like shit, I feel like shit and in my mind, I am shit. I thought the drive would do me good, but I think it just made matters worse. It was beautiful. A beautiful fall day, with reds, browns, yellows, and blues. Especially blues, lots of blues. Being alone in the middle of nowhere used to really do me justice as my head would clear and the thoughts firing through my mind would slow down. Typically, I could make sense of things. Those days seem to be gone. My son is a mess, and I do not know what to do about it. I know for certain that moving back is not the healthy response, but it seems to be the right response. What if I were to keep him longer in the summer? What if I were to seek additional custody? I am sure that she would do her best to crush me and my wishes in an extremely litigious ruthless fashion, so that is probably off the board. What about the progress I have been making? Do I just throw it away? It has taken me a long time to get to this point; can I legitimately just throw it away? I feel so incredibly selfish, so small, and so hypocritical. How am I ever going to justify this? I freely offer advice and pearls of my limited wisdom to friends and acquaintances while at the same time just absolutely floundering in my own ineptitude and inadequacies. If life is this wonderful ride of ups and downs why am I constantly the one with the spins?


When she could bring herself to look at me, I could see it in her eyes. Or more aptly, I couldn’t see it in her eyes. There was nothing there; no glimmer, no light, no hope, no cares, nothing. What was once between us seems to be dead, or at least hibernating. Even I, 135 lbs of hate, love, and raw emotion, could not conjure up any intensity toward her. Positive or negative, I just didn’t have the heart. It was not worth it. Surely, my eyes welled as I left them and it hurt as bad or worse as it always does, but nothing towards her. Is this what all the bullshit seers and barstool philosophers mean by “time heals all wounds”? In my mind, time has healed nothing. She put me out. The wounds are just as raw and exposed and painful as they have ever been. It is just that I have lost the will to battle, to care, to put MYSELF out there any more to be abused, disappointed, shot down, diminished, debased, and otherwise ruined emotionally. Am I right in acting this way? Should I give up the fight to reunite the family this easily? Shit, it’s only been around 4 years. I could probably rally for another decade of bitterness, vindictiveness, and self-pity, but who wins with that formula other than the local bar owners and their staff. There are times that I still want to scream her name and I still want her to understand that I am different now, but not to her face. I am comfortable letting those situations play themselves out in what is left of my mind. They hurt just as much there and as an added benefit, I can fantasize that they actually make sense and that she sees my point and that the family is back together, and that the good guys win in the end and that the sun rises tomorrow more brightly than it ever has.