Stopped by a piece of plastic

Last day in dc. Unless something goes wrong. It usually does. Can’t eat until later. Must drink coffee and quiet the hunger, type with trembling hands.

Our nation celebrates its independence. It’s flags and bottle rockets, beer and brats. 100 degree heat, smoke billowing from charcoal grills and children playing in pools. Once again I will miss a day of festivities with my family. I miss every holiday because I’m working. But I haven’t worked in a week and have nothing to do but wait and wonder about my choices.

So I’m going to sit in my room away from the swampy, unbreathable air and incinerating sun. I’m going to review my thoughts and actions and feel guilt and regret.

My character needs work; I need to align my behavior with my beliefs. Sometimes I think people can’t change and that we’re fated to be who we are. And then at other times I believe in rebirth and second chances. Or third, fourth and fifth chances. However many chances a person needs until they’re dead. As long as you’re alive there’s still a chance to become better.

Unless we’re determined by our environment, genes, fate, god, or some other unchallengeable, indomitable power to repeat ourselves and play out our programming until the end of time. Then all our dreams and wishes, plans and projects would be in vain. We can’t not be our defective selves.

Last night in dc. My first rooftop party. I made pseudo friends and they hosted a 4th of july party. Civil rights lawyers, DREAMers, people who organize dinners and potlucks for causes. Activists and advocates. Believers in democracy invested in the establishment, fund raisers in grassroots groups and bureaucrats in the department of justice.   Protectors and defenders of the marginal. People with commitments, projects, salaries and clients. Involved in outreach. Unlike me.

I sat in a wicker chair, drank beer, watched fireworks and then observed the people around me. And I began to wonder. When did I become this person who couldn’t fit into this world? At no point in my life did I have the discipline or the ideals for it. But why did I settle for less?  As though I’d chosen my character. As though I’d decided to defeat myself.

I’ve always said that I didn’t want what I couldn’t have. And on the roof of that apartment building, as reds, yellows and greens streamed through the clouded night sky, surrounded by journalists, lawyers and professors, I rehearsed a stale song of good riddance. A failed barista nursing his ambivalence, half wanting and half hating this inaccessible life of rooftop parties thrown by institutional do gooders and conventional strivers.

Then I went home, smoked more weed and fell asleep.

When I said something usually goes wrong, I spoke from experience. From knowing myself and the way I work,  which is without preparation or organization. First I woke up late and missed the rental car appointment. A friend drove me to the airport. After stumbling through an mc escher painting of a parking garage I found the rental place. And then I learned that I needed a credit card to rent a car.

I don’t have a credit card. I’ve never had one. I’m 30 years old, about to turn 31, and I’ve never had a credit card. I’m barely human. This is one of those things that’s obvious to most other people but I’ve never thought about it. You need a credit card to rent a car. I found out after a dozen years of nominal adulthood. You need credit to rent an apartment or buy a house and I don’t know my score. It’s another number I avoid the same way I don’t open letters from collection agencies or check my account balance.

So now my parents will have to come get me. The people who I wanted to take care of are still taking care of me. When will I change, if change is even possible.

What would it take? I need help. Libraries of self help books. Tony Robbins courses and gorilla mindset seminars. I need strict guidance on not taking what’s easy and making it difficult or taking what’s difficult and making it impossible. The distilled wisdom of the ages on achieving adult stability and forbearance.

I’ve read about the habits of highly effective people. Studied the words of Scott Adams and Mike Cernovich. Skimmed and glazed tips, tricks and hacks to increase productivity and focus. I’ve read about the power of positive thinking and how I need to stop worrying and enjoy life. They were all good reads and all useless. You read self help because it makes you feel like you could change, and that fleeting feeling keeps you going even though nothing changes.

You get hooked on the rush of motivation. And then it leaves you as soon as it lifts you up. You fall back to where you started and it’s time for another promise that won’t pan out. A grinding cycle. Strapped to a wheel, spinning around and going nowhere as the nausea rises.

I can’t blame my foolishness on a broken home or a deadbeat dad. My dad was there for me and he’s still here now.

When I think about the kind of man he has become, I realize I have the same potential. If he’s unselfish and industrious then I can be too. It has to be in there somewhere. There’s still hope for me. But first I need to get a credit card.

Author: The Empty Subject

Born curmudgeon

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