About Giving Up

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Giving up is some­thing I’ve been try­ing to learn the last cou­ple of years. It doesn’t come nat­u­rally to me (or any American, prob­a­bly), but it does take away some chronic stres­sors. From a busi­ness stand­point, the things I’ve given up on are all things that have had no re­turn on the in­vest­ment I’ve made try­ing to achieve them. I’m not say­ing that the good things in life must be de­fined in terms of cap­i­tal, but I have lim­ited means to in­vest, and so I’ve opted out of mar­kets where I’ve been wast­ing my time.

Relationships

I’ve given up on dat­ing. My last re­la­tion­ship ended in February, and in that time I’ve gone on 3 dates, and have been can­celed on or stood up prob­a­bly 9 times. I haven’t even tried since June. I’m a 34 year-old sin­gle dad, which severely lim­its both the avail­able time, and the num­ber of women who might be in­ter­ested in me that I am also in­ter­ested in. For awhile I was go­ing out by my­self, but I be­came en­vi­ous of all the cou­ples I saw. For all the time, money, and ef­fort I was ex­pend­ing, I was in the same spot. I keep re­view­ing past re­la­tion­ships in hind­sight and sec­ond-guess­ing my de­ci­sion-mak­ing. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, there’s never a clear an­swer when it comes to love.

Friends

I threw a party a few weeks ago and in­vited about a dozen peo­ple that I con­sider friends or see on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Most said they’d come, but only three showed up. A year ago I would have in­vited dozens of peo­ple, but in that time I’ve re­duced my “friend list” from a cou­ple hun­dred to about four dozen. I re­moved every­one who I hadn’t seen or heard from in nine months or more. I’ve also pretty much stopped us­ing Facebook. I un­fol­lowed every­one left on my friends list, and only use it for mes­sen­ger or events. Drastic, yeah, but if peo­ple want my com­pany, they know how to get in touch. The peo­ple I’m still in touch with, I was in touch with on the reg­u­lar be­fore. I have three folks I’d con­sider good friends. We talk weekly, and did so even be­fore I started ra­dio si­lence.

Life Goals

By now I was hop­ing to be mar­ried, with a fleet of kids, and liv­ing in a nice home that I own. To be set­tled down. Maybe have air con­di­tion­ing. I’ve given up on those goals. I made a cou­ple of poor de­ci­sions in 2007 that ir­rev­o­ca­bly changed my life. I’ve re­signed my­self to be­ing a sin­gle dad; to not hav­ing any more kids; to rent­ing for the rest of my life. The kids piece is the hard­est one for me to rec­on­cile my­self with. As an only child, I al­ways swore that I would have more than one child my­self. Being a dad is the great­est thing that has ever hap­pened to me, but it’s only go­ing to hap­pen once.

So, what?

Having given up on the above, I am bet­ter able to fo­cus and in­vest my en­ergies on be­ing a dad to Abraham, and work­ing hard at my job. After those items are squared away, I’m fairly monas­tic. Bike rides, walk­ing my dog, main­tain­ing the house I rent. Trying to sim­plify. If not happy, at least con­tent; mind­ful. It is very hard.

My Dad Died

Saturday, 19 February 2011

My dad died awhile back, on Wednesday, 19 January 2011. He was di­ag­nosed with lung can­cer in the lat­ter half of 2010, had a lung re­moved, and then de­vel­oped an un­treat­able in­fec­tion.

Don’t smoke, peo­ple.

The Past

Here’s the thing: shame though it may be, for me, my dad died one sum­mer af­ter­noon about 17 years ago. As a 13 year-old, I jumped out of the 1970 Pontiac GTO (that I helped him re­store) on Western Avenue & 18th Street in Connersville, Indiana. He was yelling about how he was go­ing to beat the hell out of me when we got to his home. My fa­ther died dur­ing the ter­ror of those min­utes in the car, while I fever­ishly weighed the op­tions on how best to pro­tect my­self. I never drive past the ram­shackle house halfway down that block with­out re­mem­ber­ing.

At first it wasn’t like he’d died, but grew into death as the years rolled by. Throughout high school and ta­per­ing off in col­lege there were awk­ward in­stances at cross-coun­try meets, cards wish­ing me Happy Birthday & the like. I was un­able to rec­on­cile the man he ap­peared to be in pub­lic (which seemed an act to me) with the man who once spent an en­tire day of vis­i­ta­tion dri­ving me around in his van and yelling at me & my mom for mak­ing his other chil­dren bas­tards in the eyes of the Catholic Church. I was un­able to rec­on­cile the man who said he wanted to be a part of my life with the man who fought tooth & nail to avoid con­tribut­ing to my up­bring­ing & ed­u­ca­tion.

He was eas­ier to for­get as those at­tempts at in­ter­ac­tion came fewer and far­ther be­tween. Once I started my blog, I knew he read it, he left strange, stilted com­ments from time to time, but by then it was easy to just see these as com­ing from one more stranger among the bunch. The awk­ward at­tempts to com­mu­ni­cate with me via the oc­ca­sional card, email for­wards, blog com­ments & prox­ies were the my fa­ther could do. I think he had a per­ma­nent vic­tim men­tal­ity. This al­lowed him to twist the wrongs he did to oth­ers into wrongs done unto him. There is no need to ad­mit mis­takes or ask for for­give­ness (two things I never heard or saw him do) when one is the chronic vic­tim. Repeat the spin enough and oth­ers will be­lieve it, re­peat it long enough and you’ll start to be­lieve it your­self.

In high school, one of my teach­ers (and a one­time friend of my fa­ther) had a talk with me about his aborted re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther . He con­fided in me that his one re­gret in life was that he didn’t make peace with his fa­ther when he had the chance. I wasn’t any­where near a place where I could have done that when I was given that ad­vice, but it has al­ways stuck with me. I fre­quently thought about con­tact­ing my fa­ther, but con­tin­u­ally put it off, some­times through my own re­luc­tance, but some­times that de­ci­sion was re­in­forced through the ac­tions of peo­ple close to him. I’ve re­ceived hate-filled emails through the years, most long-since deleted, but here’s a re­cent sam­ple, from a com­plete stranger:

Hey, can I be any clearer now? Do I have your at­ten­tion? I know Don has kept in touch with you and let you know what is go­ing on, but I dont know if you seem to un­der­stand the sever­ity of this sit­u­a­tion. Are you re­ally that shal­low that you are go­ing to al­low your own fa­ther, who gave you life, to go through this surgery, that he may or may NOT live through, and never let him meet his grand­son? You are a sick, pa­thetic ex­cuse for a per­son and you have no feel­ings. My kids are so hurt by this. He is their grandpa and they love him and he treats them won­der­ful and they dont judge him by mis­takes he has made in the past. I am cry­ing on a nightly ba­sis and pray­ing to God that he makes it through and you cant even reach out to him in his time of need. He is not even my fa­ther, but he has treated me like a daugther since the day we met.…..You should be ASHAMED of your­self. Every year that man has bought Christmas presents for you and they have just piled up in a closet in his and my moms house be­cause you never had the guts to show up. BEMAN ADAM and let your boy meet his grand­fa­ther. Stop run­ning. You are go­ing to re­gret this de­ci­sion for the rest of your life if he dosnt make it through the surgery. Please make peace. Your dad wants to be a fa­ther to you and ALWAYS has. Sorry your mom ru­ined that for you but your old enough to make your own de­ci­sions now. Be the adult and face him and let him know you give a damn. He loves you with all of his heart and it makes me sick the way he aches to meet his grand­son and wants to see you. You make me SICK. You so de­serve an ass beatin!!!! I wish we could have been friends or fam­ily but you re­fused to let that hap­pen and I tried to give you the benifit of the doubt over the years and keep my opin­ion of you to my­self but se­ri­ously, how do you look at your­self in the mir­ror every­day? ????

Do the right thing for your son Adam. Stop be­ing self­ish and think­ing about your­self. The world dosnt re­volved around you. Are you old enough to un­der­stand that yet???

MAN UP BOY.…MAN UP!!!!!!!

Whenever I thought that rec­on­cil­i­a­tion was a pos­si­bil­ity I would re­ceive a re­minder of the un­healthy en­vi­ron­ment I’d been de­lib­er­ately avoid­ing. I’ve never felt the need to ac­cept that neg­a­tiv­ity into my life.

Things could have been much dif­fer­ent these past 17 years if at any point in that time I had got­ten the sense from him that he had changed in any way, but that never hap­pened. In some ways, I’m still that scared 13 year-old boy when think­ing of my fa­ther, and I think my fa­ther was never able to see me as more than the scared 13 year-old boy he didn’t un­der­stand. Not only did I never get an in­di­ca­tion from him that he had changed, but bits and drib­bles of ru­mor made their way to me through a va­ri­ety of sources that con­firmed my sus­pi­cions. Once my son was born, I started hear­ing from peo­ple that he would show folks a pic­ture of Abraham and tell them “That’s as close as I’m ever go­ing to get to meet­ing him.” I think the only way he knew to get at­ten­tion from oth­ers was to ma­nip­u­late them into giv­ing him what he wanted.

For 17 years there have been things that I’ve needed to dis­cuss with my fa­ther; now I will no longer have a chance to do so. It might be cow­ardice on my part for never hav­ing at­tempted to make those tough con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen, and I think I bear a small amount of re­spon­si­bil­ity (the same re­spon­si­bil­ity any per­son has for re­solv­ing un­fin­ished busi­ness with an­other) for not hav­ing con­tacted him once I was ma­ture enough to know my own mind, but a greater re­spon­si­bil­ity lay upon him to seek amends with me. Not once in the 17 years of our es­trange­ment did he ap­proach me forth­rightly, con­tritely or non-ma­nip­u­la­tively. The ap­proaches were al­ways oblique, con­de­scend­ing, re­tarded, as if he could not no­tice the gi­ant red flag of his abuse. I don’t know, maybe he couldn’t see it. Nothing could be eas­ier than to spread blame around; the fact re­mains that the sit­u­a­tion will al­ways re­main a sad one. It’s a shame; es­pe­cially since I for­gave my fa­ther years ago. However, for­give­ness is only pro­duc­tive when it is shared with some­one who seeks it; and for­giv­ing some­one for an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship does not re­quire main­te­nance of that re­la­tion­ship. I made my peace with him, but he never gave him­self the chance to find out.

For 17 years I didn’t want the grow­ing pile of Christmas presents in his closet, I wanted my fa­ther to re­spect him­self, our re­la­tion­ship, and me enough to say that he was sorry.

A lot of buried bit­ter­ness per­co­lated to the top in this sec­tion. I’ve known about it and rec­og­nized it for years, and since I’ve done that, along with know­ing and rec­og­niz­ing other dan­ger­ous emo­tions and prob­a­bil­i­ties that are my in­her­i­tance from my dad, I’ve been able to chan­nel them into pro­duc­tive en­ergy, to­wards my­self, my son, my kith & kin. And bit­ter­ness is a pas­sive emo­tion; I bore and bear my fa­ther no ill will; I was sad­dened to hear of his can­cer and de­cline in the same way I would be sad­dened by hear­ing that news about any per­son that I know.

The Future

Because I’ve lived over half my life with­out a fa­ther, I’ve had to learn most of what it means to be a man on my own. That’s both a hin­drance and a help; a hin­drance be­cause I’ve had no con­sis­tent pres­ence to set an ex­am­ple or of­fer guid­ance, a help be­cause that very lack of pres­ence has forced me to work hard at defin­ing man­hood for my­self, and I feel that I’ve reached an un­der­stand­ing that I would have been in­ca­pable of if I hadn’t had to do the work my­self. The learn­ing process be­gan with sim­ple things, like teach­ing my­self to shave, but has ex­panded and mor­phed through­out the years into some­thing as com­plex as a phi­los­o­phy for my ac­tions & de­ci­sions as a fa­ther. There will al­ways be holes in the foun­da­tion, but that just means I need to change the metaphor for man­hood from a struc­tural one into a pro­gres­sive one; it’s a jour­ney, not a house. A jour­ney changes, a house set­tles.

Because of my father’s dis­ap­point­ment that I wasn’t the boy he wanted me to be, I’ve learned the op­po­site of his ex­am­ple: to ac­cept that what I want has noth­ing to do with what is. I’ve learned that the im­po­si­tion of will is less pow­er­ful than run­ning wa­ter. Instead of beat­ing on a wall and get­ting nowhere, flow around it and move be­yond. The dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing stub­born & be­ing im­placa­ble.

I’ve been blessed to have sur­ro­gate fa­ther fig­ures through­out the years, not the least of which have been my un­cles. They have al­ways been there with the right ad­vice — right when I need it. I haven’t gone through this alone, and though I’ve done my best in this post to stick to the core and key (my fa­ther, for­give­ness, my­self) of this many-ten­ta­cled in­ter­per­sonal con­flict, there is much more that could be said. For my part, I think I’ve shared what has been most im­por­tant to me. It is nice to fi­nally lay the bur­den down.

The whole par­a­digm I’ve been talk­ing about and work­ing through is a sad and com­plex sit­u­a­tion. This story could have been about re­pen­tence, for­give­ness and heal­ing; so what I mourn most is what the last 17 years could have been if things had been dif­fer­ent. One thing I do know, my fu­ture will be dif­fer­ent; I’ve got my rea­sons and I’ve got the mo­ti­va­tion.

Null Set

Thursday, 19 June 2003

i’ve done my part, but noth­ing has come of it. i have re­ceived no sign from her that she might be in­ter­ested in what i have to of­fer. i was a good friend, i helped her move out, i wrote to her in Spain, i wrote her a poem, i vis­ited her when she was sick, i lis­tened to her frus­tra­tions, i sent her flow­ers, i tried to woo.

i didn’t get much feed­back. we just talked. she never got close, never flirted back. i don’t see how she could not re­al­ize that i liked her. per­haps that was still the case, per­haps she did re­al­ize but was un­in­ter­ested and de­cided that pre­tend­ing to be ig­no­rant of my at­ten­tions was a good way to avoid it, per­haps she does re­al­ize, re­turns the feel­ing, but is scared like i was, per­haps she is not yet re­cov­ered from her last boyfriend. none of that mat­ters. i’ve been told to just tell these girls how i feel, but that is ter­ri­ble ad­vice. its creepy to hear that, it scares girls off. i know.

i’ve made my ef­fort, and have not even re­ceived a neg­a­tive re­sponse, no re­sponse def­i­nitely hurts less, but is even less con­struc­tive.

so i’m done. i wash my hands of the pur­suit of her. it hurts a bit be­cause she is quite at­trac­tive in so many ways, but with­out even the slight­est rec­i­p­ro­ca­tion on her part, i have no im­pe­tus to con­tinue.

no last­ing re­la­tion­ship is a one way street. how long any­thing lasts with her, is now up to her. i’ve done more than my share.

I’ve faced the fath­oms in your deep
with­stood the suit­ors quiet siege
pulled down the heav­ens just to please you
ap­pease you
the wind blows and I know

I can’t go on, dig­ging roses from you grave
to linger on, be­yond the be­yond
where the wil­lows weep
and whirlpools sleep, you’ll find me
the coarse tide re­flects sky

The Smashing Pumpkins, Behold! The Night Mare

Confused Little Ant

Thursday, 22 May 2003

I had lunch with her to­day. She had been gone to Spain all last se­mes­ter, and had just got­ten back the pre­vi­ous week. She came up to South Bend to get her job at the Center for the Homeless set­tled, and to run a few other er­rands. She cut her hair.

I re­ally like the new look, al­though her long hair was nice as well. Now she has this quite at­trac­tive flip to her hair, which height­ens her al­ready quite att­trac­tive­ness. It was a bit strange to be ac­tu­ally talk­ing to her af­ter so long an ab­sence. I left things un­said as usual [while talk­ing my lips off].

She spoke of Spain in glow­ing terms, she wants to go back. It sounds quite the nice place to be. She also spoke of her friend Javi [I hope not boyfriend]. She does not know if she wants to live in America, be­cause af­ter be­ing abroad she un­der­stands just how work-cen­tric the American cul­ture is. I’ve felt the same way my­self, but just on hearsay, that Europe sounds like my sort of p[l]ace.

Her fa­ther called while we ate at Macri’s Deli, and when he heard I was there with her, told her to tell me a joke: he loves bad jokes.

Q: Why were the lit­tle ants con­fused?

A: Because some­one told them that their un­cles were aunts.

That one was pretty bad, but for me the hu­mor de­rives from know­ing a per­son who rel­ishes such bad jokes.

She and I are both quite pro­tec­tive of our in­ner thoughts, we speak them rarely, so it is most dif­fi­cult for one such as me to work up the con­fi­dence to broach cer­tain sub­jects with her. I hope I can do it the next chance I get.

6 Ways to Skin a Cat

Wednesday, 26 March 2003

The Direct Approach

  1. Kill Cat.
  2. Make in­ci­sion from throat to rump.
  3. Peel.

Corollary: That shirt looks very be­com­ing on you, and if I were on you I’d be com­ing too.*

The Indirect Approach

  1. Obtain kit­ten.
  2. Raise kit­ten into cat.
  3. Provide food, toys, vet­eri­nary as­sis­tance, at­ten­tion, love.
  4. Wait un­til cat dies.
  5. Make in­ci­sion from throat to rump.
  6. Peel.

Corollary: Let her make the first move. Implode.*

The Athletic Approach

  1. Kill cat with golf club.
  2. Make in­ci­sion from throat to rump.
  3. Peel.
  4. Gut cat.
  5. Take catgut and make ten­nis racket.
  6. Remove head of cat.
  7. Use as ten­nis ball.

Corollary: (flex­ing) Have you seen the weight­room? Nevermind, I’ll find it.*

The Gourmet Approach

  1. Purchase healthy pure­bred Persian.
  2. Smother with 10M (mo­lar) Trichloromethane (chlo­ro­form).
  3. Boil 10 gal­lons wa­ter.
  4. Boil Persian in wa­ter for 8 hours.
  5. Make in­ci­sion from throat to rump.
  6. Peel.
  7. Have skin made into ta­ble runner/​trivet.
  8. Boil cat into stew with lentils and long-grain rice.
  9. Serve with but­ter-glazed sweet­rolls on ta­ble trimmed with cat skin.

An op­tional New Year’s Day meal. Cat is the new pork.

Corollary: You are my sun, moon, and stars. You are my breath, sight, and life. Each taste, each touch, is noth­ing com­pared to the gift that is you. I would gladly sac­ri­fice my goals, as­pi­ra­tions and soul just to get into your pants… shit!*

The Humane Approach

  1. Find feral cat with fe­line HIV or fe­line leukemia.
  2. Have cat put down.
  3. Send cat to taxi­der­mist.
  4. Taxidermist will make in­ci­sion from throat to rump.
  5. Peel.

Corollary: Set promis­cu­ous girl up with horny friend. She’ll get stuffed.*

The Anarchist Approach

  1. Bury cat up to neck in back­yard.
  2. Fire up rid­ing lawn­mower.
  3. Mow back­yard.
  4. Get post­hole dig­ger.
  5. Remove cat.
  6. Make in­ci­sion from throat to rump.
  7. Gut cat.
  8. Fill cav­ity with black pow­der.
  9. Light cat’s tail.
  10. Throw at near­est gov­ern­men­tal build­ing.

Corollary: Club her on the head and drag her by her hair into your apartment/​cave.*

*does not work well.

Dating Race

Friday, 21 February 2003

i of­ten think that i am too far be­hind in the dat­ing game to ever make a good play of it. res­ig­na­tion fills the air like stale gym socks fill the locker room with that stale gym sock smell. (hor­rid sim­ile in­ten­tional). i’ve still no idea what i’m do­ing. pretty much ever. every­thing gets re­cy­cled, mas­ti­cated over and over un­til this gruel that is be­wil­der­ment serves up an­other help­ing of ‘what­ev­er­ness.’ i’m at least com­pe­tent with every other as­pect of my life, and since my life is al­ready one-third fin­ished and set­tling down for the long haul, why rock the dream-boat by at­tempt­ing to force my nerdi­li­cious pre-ado­les­cent knowl­edge of re­la­tion­ships into a sem­blance of ma­tu­rity? i’m al­ready too far be­hind the pack to catch up to the strag­glers. how many peo­ple do i know who are get­ting mar­ried? a lot. how much con­fi­dence do i have? { }. The Null Set. what would con­fi­dence get me? per­haps a date in which i would have the chance to pa­rade my ig­no­rance in front of some­one rel­a­tively close to my age with a quite healthy sex life and a work­ing knowl­edge of ‘how this thing is done.’ its like that dream when you are naked at school and its re­ally cold out so ‘your boys’ are all shriv­eled and every­one laughs at you be­cause you are naked at school and have a minis­cule penis. ex­cept its not re­ally like that. be­cause that is a dream. and this is real.

Full Immersion

Saturday, 4 January 2003

i used to think that when i fi­nally met the girl of my dreams she would be one to know every­thing about me. every last de­tail. i re­al­ize now that is bull. i don’t re­ally think any­one truly wants to know every­thing about some­one else. af­ter all, most peo­ple have trou­ble try­ing to know every­thing about them­selves. and as soon as you know every­thing about some­one, what is left? wouldn’t the re­la­tion­ship go stag­nant and sour? with noth­ing left to know things would get rather bor­ing. with me it runs in cy­cles, at first im­pres­sion peo­ple find me un­ap­peal­ing, but af­ter putting up with me long enough they think i’m cool, any­time i let peo­ple go deeper, they usu­ally get scared off. i don’t know if there is an­other level of ap­pre­ci­a­tion past third or­der fear. i guess i’ll be a life­guard and keep peo­ple from go­ing into the deep end of me.