Saturday, December 27, 2008

Belated Christmas Gifts

Today went pretty well.
Counting my blessings, I got a phone call for a job interview in the morning. Even if it was from a company that has some shady online reviews and I haven't received my confirmation email yet, it still gives me something to look forward to. Somebody is paying attention to my resumé.
The best part of my day was that i got to see Keri and Matthew today. OF course, I got there late, should have called her to let her know I was going to be late and when I got there, the big bag that was holding all of Matt's Birthday and Christmas presents broke open and they fell in a little bit of a puddle.
Still, all in all, I had a great day.
He pulled my hair hard, I got to hug him and he held his arms up to me to be picked up, I got kiss him and smell him, to watch him open his presents and to be his father for a few hours. I apologized to Keri in her kitchen and gave her a hug, only to feel a half hearted return. I miss the days of her whole heart in her hugs. Her hair smelled wonderful, like it always did. I wanted to kiss her, but I just can't risk that sort of thing until I can be sure of it.
To top it off, I got the best Christmas present ever.
I've whined about how I've missed a whole slew of my son's firsts. His first steps, his first words, his first swim, plane ride, a whole bunch of stuff that I was just too much of a jackass to open my fucking eyes and be less interested in myself about to experience.
Keri gave me Matt's first crayon drawing.
I can make it all better, I can have my family back with a lot of hard work, if she can give me something like that which means so very much to me.

I'm glad he's my son and she's his mother. I love them both.

I got lost on the way home. I'm not sure if I couldn't find the highway, or if I was grinning too much.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day, not just for Canadians Anymore!

Not being Canadian, Australian (no offense Matt), English or a Kiwi (I think that's the slang for a New Zealander). I've got a vague idea of what the hell boxing day is.
If I'm correct, it's a holiday that kin of reverses the roles in a society where the rich people give the poor a gift.
I know that sounds vague, but that's the best summation of Boxing day that I can offer, having just read the origins a few minutes ago.

I'm looking around my apartment, having just come from an interview with a security company in Rhode Island, and surveying the damage.

Riley's out with her Grammie who hasn't seen her in a few weeks, and I'm just numb. Christmas was sort of a bust for me. The kids made out well from all reports, and having asked Riley directly, she'd only missed out on one gift that she'd wanted for Christmas this year. A cat.

Yuck. I dislike cats. Luckily, I'm saved by the fact that my landlord will not allow pets in this apartment of that size. Rye's got a mouse, had a fish, and also had a hermit crab. She's under the impression that the fish is having a sleepover with at one of her cousin's house, and after talking to her last night, she knows that the crab is long gone.

After explaining to her that we just can't have a cat or a dog in this house, she was willing to compromise on a crab. She'd actually wiped her eyes and asked me outright, which I was very proud of. It showed a lot of emotional maturity on her part and its something that I lack when I get heavily invested in something as it unfolds in front of me.

Matt, according to the conversation that I'd had with Keri last night, got tons of cars and trucks appropriate for a boy his age. He'd also gotten a Fisher Price, Learn to play Baseball set, which I think every little boy his age should get. Some books for Keri and clothes, and I think Matt got a few other things for his Christmas, which escape me right now.

As for yours truly, I got a new set of Joe Boxer sleepwear (just some fleece pants and a matching long sleeve tee shirt. Which I LOVE!), the American Christmas staple of a package of brand new tube socks, and Twenty Five dollars. The 25 dollars kind of upset me. It was given to me by a woman who has more or less been the only constant and positive mother figure in my life for the past eighteen or so years. She's been sick lately, and had to go to the Emergency Room for respiratory troubles and it kind of hurts me that she would give me 25 dollars, knowing that she's financially strapped for cash as much as me, and she could use the money even more for antibiotics or something to help her get well. She wouldn't take it back. No matter how adamant I was about the whole thing. It stung. I just kept picturing getting a call because she'd passed on from not having 25 dollars to buy Thera Flu, or something that would have helped her breathe a bit better. Kind of reminiscent of Jim Henson dying because of not taking a common aspirin.

The interview went as well as could be expected and I have another, separate interview next Wednesday with a residential treatment facility for boys with severe emotional issues. I think that an environment like this would only make me a better human being, one that has a lot more to offer society than some out of work guy who applies to every job under the sun and gets rejected all day, so he decides to blog about it.
Anyway, the upside to the residential job is that it's nearby, responsible, and looks like a great long term opportunity.
The security job is more or less a civilian version of my job in the military and I'm sure that I could not only make that work, but also excel at it.

I recently read one of those spam emails that I usually get in my IN box. This one was about my future in the next year. It said that certain planets were coming into alignment, in order to create focus for my long term goals, as my life seems fuzzy and out of focus right now. It describe the planets' alignment as creating an effect something akin to an Autofocus Lens for me and my long term goals for my future.
I didn't get my Christmas wishes, but maybe my patience just needs to hold out a bit longer? They say that everything happens in God's time, so maybe I just need to sync up my watch or something.

Given the events of Christmas and today's interview, I'm beginning to wonder if somehow Boxing Day has some effect on me and my life here in America, a country that only puts it on their calendars to sell overseas?

I hope everyone has had a great holiday and that next year brings everyone one step closer to the things in life that they're looking for.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

One Lump, or Several?

I can't remember the last time that I'd had a good night's sleep.
By good, I'm referring to sleeping a whole night through, not waking in the middle of it and fighting to return to sleep, or waking at three in the morning and never being able to get to sleep until I collapse the following night.
I tend to worry a lot.
Trapped in my own head, I get very anxious and nervous about anything and everything in my life that appears to be a problem to me that can snowball into a bigger problem.

Recently, the car that I'd been driving just died on me. It's been overheating and causing me to pull over and wait for it to cool down, just long enough to get driving again and have it repeat the process. I believe that it may either be a warped head, allowing air to get into to cooling system, or a blown head gasket doing the same.
In either case, the result would cost more than the car is worth.
I've already had to pour money into it that I just couldn't afford, putting off paying bills that need to be paid, and on one occasion, paying my rent late.

A few hundred dollars for new rear brake lines. A must for any automobile owner who prefers stopping to the alternative method of either hitting something soft, or cutting holes in the floor and stopping a la Bedrock. Another hundred and a half for tires to replace the ones that were balding, constantly losing air pressure and either going completely flat, or showing steel tread in a very dangerous fashion. A new thermostat, a pressure relief fitting for the top of the radiator line, oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, and last but not least, a bottle of brake fluid.

I'd hoped that this car would last me long enough to overcome the unemployment and get a new job, helping me to save some money and buy not necessarily a new car, but a car in better shape than this one.

I have to go to a 'buy here, pay here' style dealership. See if I can't put down a hundred dollars of this month's rent money, and drive off of the lot with a car today.
If I can, I'll replace what's taken out with the money that unemployment will automatically deposit into my account after I've registered over the telephone and let them know that I'm still unemployed.

In Leadership and Organizational Theory, this is referred to as a Utilitarian Lifestyle. One that solves the problems of today, just barely getting by, only to see what the next day holds and solve those problems when they arrive.

It makes me feel like a noose is constantly around my neck and getting tighter.
My chest is always tight now. I can feel the fact that I have a cold and that there's phlegm in my respiratory system.
I'd love to go and see a doctor, but I haven't received my card from the State yet that entitles me to free health care. More than a doctor's visit, I'd like to be employed right now. A steady paycheck would afford me a little piece of mind and some wiggle room to plan any sort of rebound from this unemployed excursion.

Whining about it isn't going to do any good.
I have to put on a brave face and keep my fingers crossed when going to the dealership today. I need a car to not only get my daughter to her mother's house, but also to have for potential job interviews, getting to the grocery store and a whole host of things that the public transportation system just won't allow for.

On top of all of this, my son went and got his first Christmas tree yesterday.
I wasn't there.
IT wouldn't have hurt so much, if I knew that I could have returned home and seen the tree and his mother at the end of the day, but that's just not going to work.
She hates me so much that she implies to people in her own blog that she's engaged by telling them that she has a big rock on her finger already, tells people about all of the words that he's saying and leaves out 'Dah Dah' from his reported vocabulary, and seems to constantly be upset with me no matter what it is that I try to do.

Good example; I'm told that I don't love my son, that I'm not a part of his life as much as I should be. She lives to the North East of Boston and I live on the South Coast. I call as much as I can, but a lot of my phone calls go ignored or unanswered.
It's obvious that I'm being punished and tortured, that's not to say that I'm crying poor me. It's just that I realize it, and have to weather it out and take my lumps like a man. I've very plainly done some serious things that have wounded her so much, that she feels the need to make me hurt as much, if not more, than she does.

It's odd. I'm told that she's at a knitting group, that she's going out with her friends, one of which I'm VERY insecure about because they've dated in the past, he cheats on his wife, and is rich. They also share common interests and talk and email. A lot.
I accept it all with a huge grain of salt. It's another lump I have to take, but it hurts and I need to make it known that it does.
Yet, when I mention my friends, one of which is a girl, there's jealousy and more infliction of pain and anger.
The day that my son got his first Christmas tree, I was supposed to visit him and give him his birthday present, which I could have given him on his birthday, but there was a huge miscommunication between me and his mother and it didn't work out.
But the day that I was supposed to come up and visit, I'd let her know that I couldn't because of the car and lack of other transportation and she'd let me know that they were going out for a Christmas tree.
Which is commonly an all day, or most of the day event.
Leads me to think that I was never wanted there in the first place and that there was never really any interest in me going to see him at all.

I'm getting conflicting readings over the whole situation.
I see that she's angry and that I've hurt her. Yet, there are times where she seems to want me in her life, and others where she wants nothing to do with me.
I understand that there's angry blood between us, I just wish that she could decide if it was going to move forward, or not move at all. It's rough because I really do love her. She's a great woman. Smart, beautiful and definitely someone that I could see being a better person for and with. I just hurt a lot over the stupidity that I've caused for myself out of selfishness and anger.

I've made two Christmas wishes this year.
One was for a job that I could sink my teeth into and make a life out of. The other was to have her back in my life forever as my partner and significant other.

Here's to hoping good things happen today.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Serious Shot to The Pride

At the end of August, I got laid off.

Economy be damned, it was as quick and as simple as that sentence right there. Out of a job. I didn't screw around at work. I didn't get caught with my hand in the cash register or steal from the store. I didn't sleep with the boss's wife, or even pat the secretary on the bum. I was just unlucky when the economy started to go into the toilet.

You see, I'm a graphic designer by trade. I make and design things that look pretty and make people want to buy them. I have to impress that I am a big goof and an amateur cartoonist by nature. I just love to draw funny pictures. Not that it has anything to do with the reason I was laid off, or the job that I did there, but I'd just felt in the interest of full disclosure, I had to let you know. Plus, it makes me smile to think that I can do that.

Being a graphic designer, is kind of a double edged sword. Especially one of my age and experience. Being without a job, in these tough times especially, you're really subject to the whims and wants of employers who, for the most part, think that just about every half-witted, wide-eyed college graduate has the same level of knowledge and experience that you do. Which is very dangerous. It exposes you to situation after situation of a person who looks at my resume and sees that I have all the experience in the world and expects to try to either underpay me what I'm worth, or hire a kid fresh out of college for half of what they'd pay me, because of their aforementioned philosophy.

Being out of work hits really hard too. Especially when your resume and life's accomplishments are as much a source of pride as mine are. My life sort of reads like Chris Gardener's autobiography, and I plan on making it to the same heights that he did and soaring higher. I came from a household where I can remember having a refrigerator that was empty except for the pink-caked, brownish bottle with the white cap which contained my medicine because I was sick. I swore to myself that my children would NEVER go through that, no matter what.

Needless to say that I had to swallow hard that huge lump that was in my throat the day that I'd filled out my applications for Food Stamps, Energy Assistance, and Government Health Care Programs. I'd worked very hard to support the system and not become a burden on it. No matter how little or big a burden I'd become.

In applying to every Graphic Design Job that I could find, I've learned a lot about myself. More to the point, about my issues with pride and anger. I get angry quick and do not suffer fools gladly.

One thing I honestly have brought myself to a realization about is that I started from nothing and brought myself to great heights. On my own. No help. I did it once before, and whether I like it or not, I have to do it once more.

I was told recently that I was 'My Father's Son'.

It sounds like a compliment, but believe me, the person that was saying it to me, the context that it was said in, and the history of my patriarchal figure head in reference would definitely contradict that.

My father was also a hard worker. Growing up, he'd weathered a lot of storms to make sure that my sister and I grew up with the right ideals and on the outside of a prison system, rather than in it. Along the way, he lost his drive and sense of self worth and became an amazingly broken shell of his former self. Living on other people's couches, not being able to find a job or employment, losing just about everything he had, except for his sanity (which he'd lost one time in my early childhood, a memory of not only him, but my biological mother that I'd soon forget).

This insult said in anger truly cut me to the quick. Here was a person that I am absolutely in love with, a person that I would truly die for and hope to God that I can spend the rest of my life with, so hurt by things that I was foolish enough to have done and made such an impact on them, angering them to a point that they'd taken my worst fears of becoming like the worst parts of a man that I'd once respected, and not only associating me with them, but saying in no uncertain terms that I was becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy and a mirror image of this very same man.

A wake up call begins with those words.

It reminds me of an old Tom and Jerry Cartoon. Nibbles is sent to live with Jerry because his mother cannot take care of him. So Jerry spends the entire cartoon protecting Nibbles from Tom, because Nibbles is fond of milk and Tom's got a great big bowl of it. There's a point where Jerry's stuck in a bottle and Tom corners Nibbles, who cowers in that same corner and like a true child, tucks head down and bottom up. Tom rears back and uses whatever is in his hand to deliver a brand of justice that I myself reserve for VERY serious occasions.
The next scene is Nibbles holding his bottom and Jerry breaks from the bottle to rush to Nibbles' aid. When we see the tiny mouse's bum is scarlet, Jerry begins to anger and swell in the chest. He lets loose with a roar that shouldn't have come from a mouse of his size and frightens Tom into a very chalky, white complexion.

This was the anger I'd felt.
The inner roar of disappointment at myself and my situation.
The sheer rage at the fact that I'd allowed myself to be so dumb as to even conceive of the fear that I would become like my father, let alone start down that path and then have someone pick up on it and exploit it, all of it swirled and exploded in my heart and my head and I swear I could've torn the house I'm now residing in in half with my bare hands with the amount of anger I'd felt.

But it ebbed and dissolved. The house wasn't to blame. The person on the other end of the line wasn't to blame. My unemployment, the fact that I'd sent out my resume SEVENTY TWO times and am still without job, the deathtrap of a car that I drive, my divorce, my situations with both my daughter and my son, my career, my cartooning, none of it was to blame.

It was me.

It was that same anger that I felt when I replayed the scene with Jerry in my head, it was the sense of pride that told me that I'd deserved better out of myself and therefore needed a dragon to slay in whatever form it came in. It was my selfish sense that everyone should wipe away the snot from my nose and give me a hand up from all of this. That's what was to blame. Me.

So, now I have to rebuild the castle I'd thought that I was building for myself all of these years. What was it that I was told a few days ago?

'Career moves are made daily'

There was also something that was said in a great movie once as well.

'Deserves ain't got nothin' to do with it.'