« Stuck In Neutral »

The following is an email I wrote to my pastor after about a year of attending church and dating Kelli. I was pretty torn up. Jerry had been a confidant for me since 1987 and before.


I have finally decided I am more beset with paradox than I want to be. The topic to me is so massive I don't even know where to begin. I don't even think of myself as unique in my concerns. No doubt it's every living person's dilemma. It's just that my number is up.

In short, I guess I may as well put it on the table: for every good/decent/honest/well intentioned, etc. thing I do, I seem to be able to match that with something that undoes things as much or more. And for some years that led me to some self righteous indignation. I was never wrong, or could never fess to being wrong. Or I slipped by on a technicality. A loop hole. I'd be great in government or something. But al this has been making it hard for me. On one hand, I know I sit in church and hear what you have to say, and it registers deeper than ever. Ditto hearing stories of people and events on NPR radio (the only media I volunteer to listen to anymore). There is so much in the world that is hitting me like a ton of bricks, and all the while sometimes I fear that I am not adding anything to the whole ordeal. And I am simultaneously becoming aware that to not be part of the cure is to be a part of the problem. And it's paralyzing. And to me, it's working inside and out. I have mastered some damaging things so well I don't even realize it, yet I leave a wake of people who turn against me, some who are more explicit in explaining the where/how/why. But little by little it's not something that even needs to be explained. And sometimes I do that to myself. Or maybe often is more apt a word.

I sometimes still have thoughts that the world would not miss me much. I do think about that. And more than I did almost exactly ten years ago to the day when you and Judy bailed me out of such thoughts for that first spell. But now I have been around the block a few more times, and instead of being so inwardly turned and having such thoughts only because I myself feels bad, I have my finger on the pulse of the world more than ever. Inner and outer life. Myself and others. And I STILL am not happy. It's less me than ever, but it's still as murky for me as it was then. I have wildly conflicting views on life due to the radically opposed backgrounds presented to me by the different sides of my family. It was a year ago this coming evening that the last shot was fired between my mom and I in that flurry of emails that spelled doom for us. Again. At the time, I felt not happy, but more like it was back to normal. I have not heard from her since. Nor anyone else. It's an all or nothing thing. And I know it's as wrong as can be. But in the three times that we have had any mutual relations, it's been doomed. And I just can't buy that it's my fault. Have I made mistakes with her? Sure. Have I done them twice? Sure. I guess I don't need to say that all that is just such a messed up blueprint for me—torn edges, drink stains, cigarette burns and sun fading. I simply was not given some things that I think make a person whole. I know everyone must feel that too, but I have finally been coming to such conclusions.

But if I were to brush aside all my direct personal woes, that doesn't change that I finally sense the fear of war—it's not a plastic model or a book, or a piece of hardware at an air show. It's not just on the other side of the world. It's not just my grandfather's era, or my dad's. It not far away. If I was two years younger, it might have been me drawn into it. On one hand, I feel cheap for not serving the country and being one of those guys that gets lauded for actually doing something of merit, even at the age of 18. And now I am 29, and really am in some odd place. Like everyone who had been there promised me, I now wonder where some of my best years went. Yet, I try to tell myself that there are no such things as "best" years. But assuming that youth and some degree of vitality go hand in hand, lets just say that I blew it in some regards. And now it's hitting me. Dodging some things that would have done me better in the character department, outwardly and inwardly. But I literally feel paralyzed some days. Like I just dropped a box of puzzle pieces and have not the will or skill to put things together right. Not for me, not for anyone.

Which, I guess brings me to the Kelli question. This year, she has been the greatest ray of light, the stabilizing force for me. I really could see marrying her. But I absolutely can't tell what she sees in me sometimes. Really can't. It's hard for me to think on one hand how high she sets her standards for things she will and won't take, and then is with some guy like me who really doesn't have his shit together. Sometimes I think or fear that she will wake up from some dream and will not be so happy. Granted, we are rooted in each other's histories a lot more than we were with anyone else, and that it's connected to the church is all the more significant. But sometimes the cold hard facts settle in with me. One of the things that I have been vocal about is that I really can't stomach the thought of having kids. That's the other side of the fact that I want to put family back together if I can. Paradox. If I can't look back and get my mom's family on my side, the logical thing is to start one of my own and make it a point to do better that that to the greatest extent. But my dilemma is that I, as a sensitive human being in training, can't even find it a humane thing to do in this world. Oh, I know the lines about 'you never know if your kid will be the next Einstein, Gandhi or MLK jr.' True, I don't know that. But what I do know as a hardened realist, is that the world probably doesn't need to added population and all that that taxes the environment and society. Some third world country will probably be able to do that for me. But I have to say, I have a really dim view of the world, lightened only by the things I hear you preach of. And remember, I didn't hear any of that for about ten years, and they were not the years I would look upon as happy or content, fulfilling or fair. I never recharged my batteries. I never did much to challenge my own dim view of things, and I know well enough that there is more to do in that department. But part of my gift to humanity, in my somewhat warped view, is to NOT have kids. They may be a few fewer kids who get abused, or a few fewer kids that go hungry, or that suffer from hunger or discrimination, or divorce, or get killed in a drunken accident, or an overdose, or in a war that has no clear intent, or ultimately, winners. I don't know. It could be warped, or it could be the greatest idea to come down the pike since Kennedy. But it's one of those things that causes some difficulty in a relationship, and Kelli has been nothing but an angel this year, and we aren't deep into plans. Still, it's a tall order to suggest to a young woman who likely has a family in her plans. Who knows, maybe I am the best qualified father-in-waiting because I have seen this from a good number of angles. But I'm not going to give myself that much credit. I'm a guy who is at odds with a lot of the world as it appears at the present. Born too late or something. I just don't wake up in the morning and kid myself. So I am perpetually depressed.

I don't know if I told you, but for several months from late summer 2000 till about early summer 2001, I was taking some antidepressants. They worked. I liked it. It leveled me out and let me think straight. I was in some talk therapy at ECS on Bonnie's ref. Then I began school. Less than a month later, my grandmother died. Then it was time for my dad and I to have a match that was unlike any before (not loaded with grandmother/property issues alone—no, we had to tackle the whole mom/sister/1973 thing too. It was epic). But we shook off enough old issues that things have been on the level for the time since then, and even being pieced back together again, but more on my terms. But all the while, with the antidepressants and talk and general effort to combat the demons, I was not doing much with music. Not enough. Not nearly what I do when I am filled with angst and really allow myself the liberty to let my opinions and vitriol shine. But either I have not been angst ridden, or Kelli has occupied my time, or I have not had the time or will to do music. And in recent weeks, I feel that I have been denying that important part of me. But that tree only gives fruit when I hate the world and succumb to all sorts of stuff I would never purposely seek out as a healthy person. On one hand, Kelli and I are doing peaceful domestic things—watching movies, talking, listening to music, field trips, acting like kids with a clean slate on life. On a lot of levels that is deeply satisfying. But I also have a very outfitted studio that is going to waste, and a head full of musical ideas that I have not been granting the time to escape to recordings. It used to be the only thing that mattered. After over two years of not doing anything but trying failed band projects, I am getting that frustration and angst that usually feeds a creative but emotionally charged frenzy. And that may butt heads with all the more steady things that have been harder earned, like the Kelli time. And we have had a few encounters over this issue. And I don't have answers for her how to deal with both. In my mad recording days, I never had a girlfriend enough to "get in the way", and in the days when I have a girlfriend who is one of the few people who can mellow some of my wilder thoughts, I haven't made music much. But I feel that the muse is knocking and I had better answer soon. So that almost puts me into a Jeckll/Hyde situation. Angst is about the only thing that *motivates* me to do music in the way I like to do it. It's the stuff that gets me to block out other stuff.

Okay, I've been at this for almost two hours, and it's past 3:30. If nothing else, I've jostled some things loose. I know there are reams more lurking, and I do want to shake it out. It's like poison to me as it is now. As always, I appreciate your presence, and don't think I didn't miss it in that ten year black out.



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