Archive for My Life

Moh-Jiy-Toes

Lately I’ve been trying Mojitos. I say trying, because I’m learning that they are the Klimpaloon of the mixed drinks. Perfection is impossible, and anyone that’s told you they’ve seen a perfect one is a cartoon character. It’s not a perfect metaphor. I’m getting better at them. The trick is less rum than you’d think, more sugar than you’d think, and muddle everything.

Spring is almost done cooking, and the roasted heat of summer is starting to show. As of press time, I have two fans blowing on me to keep me cool. Albeit, I am a bit of a slavering meat beast with many sweat creases, but it is getting warmer out. I’m considering turning on the air conditioner, but am worried that in runs on pure green money. Sadly, I only have currency in the form of cardboard boxes and vague whispers of future favors.

It’s easy for me to give in to sloth this time of year. Looking for jobs has becomes more and more demoralizing the more I keep looking. I can see opening just outside of my driving radius. Well, not just outside, I’m not commuting to the Miles City every day. I’m considering Roundup. Add to that the time vacuum that is the Comedy Bang Bang podcast backlog, and watch my brain goo coagulate.

In fact, I have it on right now. I’m slowing down, and I can feel my brain

Cheers

Some days you get it right. Turns out that today, “right” meant having friends over, getting Chipotle, playing video games, and drinking Jagermeister out on the deck. Also, Captain Morgan Tattoo was in there somewhere.

I’m still new to this whole drinking thing. I stayed away from it during college, because no one seemed to do it in a way that wasn’t stupid, and I didn’t want to get sucked into that wormhole. I stayed away from it in grad school because it was a habit by then, and well, who had the time. Now that I own a home, though, and all the problem drinkers are now far, far away in bad decision land, I can comfortably give it a go.

It’s actually pretty empowering. I spent a lot of emotional energy over the years either afraid of the stuff or trying to compensate for the void tee-totaling leaves in adult social interaction. Drinking, and doing it responsibly, is a middle finger to every bro/drunk I’ve ever met, and has the added benefit of making it easier to blend in a crowd.

You should have heard Dan squeal when I told him I’d started drinking. Like, actually squeal, like a piglet in a room full of theremins.

Here are my rules for responsible drinking for adults. First, don’t drink and drive, dummy. To me, that means no driving after any drinking. Second, don’t drink to get drunk. Alcohol is not a coping skill, and using it that way is a highway to bad decision town. Third, no beer. I already don’t move enough. Add beer to that, and I’ll be shocking internet photo fat in no time.

Fourth, rum. That is all.

Gettin’ Back on Track

Alright, seriously guys. You need to get back on the wagon, because now your laziness is affecting me. I’m skipping posts because I am infected with your lazy. Fix it.

See, I’m doing it. We can muddle through, even when we have nothing to write. Except I kind of do.

I’m looking for a job, at a snail’s pace. I should be going faster, given how much I need any kind of income right now. But I’m stuck. Resigning from that last job shook me more than I thought. Once the dreams about my grandma died down, the dreams about the ranch came back. Horrible dreams where I’m blamed for constant streams of failures I am powerless to prevent. Gee, I wonder where that comes from.

Shows how selfish I am, though. The second I get any kind of closure from the death of a loved one, I go right back to feeling sorry for myself. Not that I’m dealing with that one like a champion, either.

You ever feel like you need to vent, but you don’t know what or how? That’s where I am right now. Trying to piece together the last three months, while moving forward like a healthy human being.

 

An Old Letter

While I was cleaning out my grandma’s house, I found an old letter from my grandpa, addressed to me. I only have two memories of the man. The first memory was him taking me out to Applebee’s for ice cream. The second was of the day he died, though he wasn’t really there for that one. After reading this letter, I wish I had known him better. It reads:

January 10, 1990

Letters to my unborn grandson

Dear __________ ,

          I don’t know your name because your mother, my daughter, and your father can’t agree on a name for you. I suggested several, but kids never follow a parent’s suggestion. Maybe you ought to make a note of that profundity for future reference, which brings me to the point of these and other letters which are to follow. Anyone who has reached my advanced age wants to insure that his progeny (look it up) doesn’t make the same mistakes that he made, as he at least makes an attempt to allow the possibility that his grandson will have a chance for a better life than he has had. It is not that I had a bad life by any means, but we always want something better for our kids and their kids. Beside that, I think it is a good idea to tell you something of the way your predecessors lived. That way you may better appreciate whatever advantages may come your way. Also, I might not be around when you reach the age of understanding.

          In my short life I have seen an enormous growth of technology. Some of these are talking movies, technicolor, T.V., radar, dirigibles, which I used to see fairly often as a small child in Dallas, jet planes, rockets, nuclear power, and a myriad of wonders in the areas of chemistry, astronomy, physics, biology, medicine, and so on too numerous to mention and most of which I don’t understand anyway.

         I have lived through three major wars and never served in any of them. I was too young for World War II (look it up, it was in all the papers); Korea came along when I was old enough, but three of the armed forces didn’t want guys with flat feet. Incidentally, if you have flat feet, you get them from me. All of the males from my mother’s side have, or had, flat feet. I used to fret about not having been in the service, but I have since come to the conclusion that it was a blessing in disguise. I don’t think that you will ever be called upon to serve, much less actually see combat. Events in the last six months have pretty much excluded the threat of any major conflicts in the United States.

The letter ends there. He probably intended to write more. Whether there are more letters hiding in that old house or not, I don’t know. I hope there are.

-Austin

Some Kind of Medicine

It’s been two weeks since I left my job, and it still stings. Fiercely, if I’m being honest. Most of my time and mental energy is spent staving off the unhealthy. This is on top of my grandma’s failing health, car trouble, money trouble, and who knows what else. Understandably, I’m a bit overwhelmed right now.

But let it never be said I can’t take my own medicine. I’ve worked with people who were in situations as crappy as the one I’m in now. Crappier, even. I have a new appreciation for what they went through.

There’s something I used to tell my clients who were down, out, and unemployed. Coming back from something big isn’t something that happens. It’s something you do. It’s a habit you create. Right now, the dark thoughts and the listlessness, those are the things I have to fight. Not letting them get a foothold is a habit I’ve used before, and will use again. It’s a bigger job than I thought it would be.

That said, I’m taking a couple weeks, before I start looking for work again. I think I’ve earned that much simplicity. It might be hypocritical, it might be spot-on. I’m not sure.

I’m trying to stay busy, at least in spurts. Dan and I have big things coming out this week. In fact, there are going to be a few announcements this week explaining that better. And it’s going to be something We’re very proud of.

So there’s a silver lining at least. Stay tuned.

-Austin

The Addendum

So, I resigned from my job.

We talked it over, my boss, HR, and me. We agreed that this job wasn’t the best fit for me, and no amount of wanting would change that.

Whatever opportunities there were for me there dried up. They wouldn’t move me into something different until I mastered the job I had. Which makes sense, but it wasn’t an option for me anymore.

My first time working with kids, my first time in a milieu, and my first time in care-taking. No small wonder I wasn’t cutting it.

I’m trying to tell myself it’s not a failure, that it’s a learning experience. I’m also trying to tell myself that knowing my limits is just as important as knowing my strengths. And that in this line of work, a job that only lasts a couple months isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

All that said, I tried as hard as I could, and it wasn’t enough. That’s gonna sting for a while.

Now comes the hard part. Moving on. Making peace with the way things are. Making a fresh start, maybe trying to grow a beard. Finding opportunities in this town. Again.

The Meeting

God, December was a terrible month. So terrible, in fact, it rolled over into January. Here’s the crisis du jour.

Saturday, my boss calls me in to her office. She tells me that I’m not as far along as I should be in my job growth. I’m a headache for some of the other staff. She then tells me she, HR, and I have a meeting on Monday, which is now today. Which is, at press time, a couple hours from now. She wouldn’t tell me what the meeting is about, but she was fairly insistent it wasn’t about being fired.

So, boom. Another bomb dropped on whatever zen I’m trying to cultivate.

At first, I was pretty shook. When anyone is trying their hardest and gets told it’s not good enough, it hurts. And with as much as I struggled with confidence and competence in the past, this opened up some old wounds.

And then I started thinking. I worked my ass off for grad school. I spent time, money, and effort pushing limits past what I thought I could do. Because of that, I can say I am good at what I do. It’s just that what I do isn’t what my job is right now. My job right now is care-taking. I took it because they promised me that after a couple months, I could move into a job where I know I can do good.

I kept at it this long because for all their faults and my headaches, I do care about the kids at the ranch. I want to help them, and I want to learn how to help other kids in their position. The management has made it clear that I can’t do that where I’m at now, and I agree.

Now comes the hard part. I have a ticking clock on getting my license to be a therapist. On top of being told I can’t stand still where I’m at now, despite promises they made when they hired me. So, at this meeting today, I’m going to have a lot to talk about.

Stay tuned, I’ll do an addendum post to tell you how it went.

This Was a Triumph

One year ago, Dan doubled down on dreaming big, Austin considered coping mechanisms, and I promised myself a year of hardship.

Today? Dan is declaring the death of his childhood, Austin is watching a loved one fade away, and my year has been overwhelmingly difficult.

Mission accomplished?

I think so.

All cynicism aside, this year has been a massive turning point for the writers of Gold in Them Hills. Dan made huge steps towards publishing his work, Austin helped dozens of kids find a sense of stability, and I completely abandoned my comfort zone on a quest for perspective.

Amid the paralyzing anxiety, forced deadlines, longing for companionship, inability to find my dream job, roller coaster of emotions, and utter confusion, I’ve managed to come out of 2014 with more passion and drive than ever before. Bigger things are coming, and this time I’m going to ride the wave instead of being pummeled by it.

There’s a fire in my heart, and it’s not going anywhere. I have a few announcements in the pipeline for 2015, and I’m sharpening my skills and hitting my knees for the next season of life.

So here’s to 2015. May you all learn from your mistakes, remember the good times, and be brave enough to keep trying when the times are tough.

– Clark

Obladi, Oblada

Life has a nasty tendency of going on. Louis C.K. wrote that life isn’t something that just happens to you. It’s something that’s always going on around you, something you participate in and witness. That thought helped a lot over the last year, as a lot about my view of the world changed.

I came back to it recently, as my grandma’s condition gets steadily worse.

It’s funny. I don’t believe in an afterlife anymore. I think we’re born, we live, then we die. Poof. That’s it. Once I realized that, my sense of theism just fell away and was gone.

That’s not the funny part.

The funny part is that I can never admit it to people. Especially people who are on their way out, or to people who are just struggling with big life questions. There have been times I’ve just lied about my beliefs because it’s been easier.

The courage to live in line with my beliefs eludes me more often than not. I guess I’m not that different from the faithful in that respect.

I keep playing out a scene in my head. Nana asks me something about dying, and I lie to her about my beliefs because she’s dying, and I’d tell her anything to take some of the fear of that away. Dishonest, but comforting. There are worse things to live with. Might be a talent that makes me a better helper. Instilling hope, you could call it. If there’s no life after death, it’s not like it’ll matter soon, anyway.

I wish I had a better moral for that. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, maybe? More likely that soft lies can be kinder than hard truths.

Who says you can’t go home?

As you all know, Austin’s Grandma is very sick. What you may not know, is that I grew up down the street from her. In fact, I met Austin (almost 18 years ago) because he used to go to her house every day after school.

I have many memories at Nanna’s house. Swimming in her pool in the summer time was one of the best. I felt like the member of a special club, and my best friend and I were the presidents of the board. No one got in without Nanna’s say so. And for a few short summers, we played like mad geniuses let lose on the world.

I would walk my dog, Buster, by Nanna’s house. Even if Austin wasn’t there, she would always wave at me. And even though Nanna had choice words about my parents homeschooling me, she always welcomed me into her home.

Nanna isn’t doing well. And on Christmas Day, my dog Buster, died.

My childhood had been over in my mind, but it truly ended in my heart this Christmas. Family and friends have moved away or passed on. My home town has changed dramatically. And that which remains doesn’t mean the same.

I dug a grave with my dad. Austin had to say goodbye to Nanna. Clark is missing Christmas for the first time in his life.

Childhood is over, and I may go on morning it for a good long while.

I pray for bright New Year, as the old one goes out with much pain.

-DC