Me time

Greetings from West Palm Gardens, FL. As I write this I am poolside enjoying an 80 degree day. This is relevant because I should be on a plane right now. When Mom asked me to drive her to her new Condo in West Palm (she doesn’t fly the dog) my original plan was to drive two days and fly back the next. After all, there is work to be done. But then I thought about it and checked my calendar at work. I’ve been there for a year now so I must be due some time off. Oops, I was looking at the wrong column, I was looking at the “feels like” column. I’ve been there 3 months it just feels like a year. I don’t have paid time coming to me but I’m taking a few days off.

Work has been a lot. Life as a Recovery Case Manager is rewarding, challenging and exhausting. If you do it right, and by that I mean give a shit, then Empathy deprivation is possible and burnout is expected. My supervisors have continuously warned me against doing too much and I did what Bill does and ignored their warnings. At my own peril. I’m exhausted.

Today I am going to take a nap after I publish this. Then I plan to eat something bad for me, go to bed early and fall asleep while binging Netflix in the AC. Tomorrow I am going to connect with a lovely friend from High School and her Cougar friend. I plan to have dinner and drinks and a late evening. Then I plan to sleep late even if I have to do it alone. I have earned it. My Clients are well taken care of. All of their outside needs and distractions are handled and I attend to everything that I can to make sure they attend to the business at hand…recovering from their addiction and the often horrible consequences. I am a good Case Manager because I give everything I have to my Clients. Now I am doing something for me.

That’s why it’s called “me time.”

Newly emerged personality traits

For the almost 6 years that I spent sick and out of work, I missed a lot of things. One thing I missed most was working. For better or worse, my work was closely tied to my identity as well as my self-worth. I was always known as a hard worker, most of the time I was the best at what I did among my peers, and it wasn’t always about money. I actually got off on the feeling of accomplishment. My last great job before I got sick was a great opportunity for me. I got to be a part of the higher-level decisions, I made a good living and I was able to turn my role into one that actually helped people. I wish that the company never closed. I was busy as a one-armed paper hanger but I was comfortable and relaxed about my position and confident of my worth.
What I didn’t know was that in the series of unsuccessful jobs that followed, I would learn something about myself that I hadn’t realized before. I was a neurotic and paranoid knucklehead once taken out of my comfort zone.

I don’t know when it happened. I was always confident, cocky even. Then, suddenly I worried about what other people are doing, about perceived inequities, that I wasn’t getting treated fairly. I was never mean-spirited or petty, I just cared about things that previously had not occupied my mind. I suppose when my entire life was collapsing as I dealt with divorce, foreclosure, and kidney failure it naturally follows that I would be a little insecure, even paranoid. After all, when I go to a football game, I don’t think, I KNOW that they’re talking about me in the huddle.

Now that I’m healthy, relatively unconcerned about money, and too low on the totem pole at work to worry about being knocked off, I worry about the neurotic side that has emerged.
I am a Recovery Case Manager. I work with people trying to recover from addiction. There are no performance metrics other than documentation. The rest consists of managing your own caseload with empathy and efficiency. There is no competition, we all run our own affairs with adherence to general protocol and a lot of individual styles. Management is supportive and largely hands-off. And I am fucking good at it. My clients are well-served and have everything they need handled. So why do I care how many cases the woman who started after I did has? Why do I immediately assume the worst when my manager sends me a simple email telling me that they want to go over something with me? Why do I have to remind myself that by all accounts I am doing really well?
I can handle a lot, and my job gives me a lot of satisfaction. I sure don’t do it for the money. So why do I always wonder if I’m in trouble?

I hate this side of my personality. I love my job and I am really really good at it. I wish I knew where it came from so I can stick a stamp on it and send it the fuck back where it came from.

A lot

There’s a woman I’m interested in. She checks a lot of boxes. She’s kind, down to earth, pleasant, and also possesses a lot of the qualities desired by the superficial male. I’m fairly certain that should I ask her out I will get the right answer. She’s a pharmacist, so I already have the line I’ll use. I’ll pick up one of the million scripts that I’m on, call her over under the guise of having a question about the medication, and then say, “Will this medication interfere with the dinner I want to take you out for?” At which time she would of course be incredibly charmed, quit her job, her panties would immediately fall off and BOOM I’m in. That’s some Barney Stinson shit right there.

It’s too bad I’ll never actually say it.

I think I’m done with dating. I’m damaged goods. I have never had a successful relationship. Every relationship I’ve ever been involved in has ended in the friend zone or just plain ended. Never mind the age-old kiss-off “It’s not you, it’s me.” I really think it’s me.

As my ex pointed out to me as she was in the process of simultaneously fucking with my head, cutting off my balls, and tearing out my heart; apparently I’m “a lot“. At the time, I took it as a negative, as I’m sure it was meant. But months later I have a new attitude.

“If I’m a lot then go look for less.”

Fuckin’ right I’m a lot. I’m a lot as a friend, as a son, as a Father, as a worker and co-worker, and as as a Samaritan. I will do great and terrible things for the ones that I love. It’s a privilege to be part of my life because I’m as loyal as a puppy dog and as fierce as a pissed off Pitbull. I will not betray or speak behind your back, I will talk shit to your face and defend you when you aren’t around. I have one speed and that is straight out. I do this because I care, A LOT. I am weary of having to defend my actions as I continuously give a fuck about things.

Nowhere does this come into play more than in a relationship. In that situation, I AM a lot. I just haven’t met a woman who appreciates it.
I’m unapologetically chivalrous without a whiff of chauvinism.
I want to hear about her day.
She always (cough cough) comes first, in that room and others her needs come before my own. And like in other areas of my life, I don’t look around at what I don’t have, I look in front of me to enjoy what I do.
I’m grateful for everything, I appreciate the small things and I always find something to smile about.
I give all that I have, I’m a people pleaser. That’s probably a detriment. Here are a few more.
I don’t have my own place. I don’t have hair. I don’t make a lot of money. My health is good for now but who knows the future? All or some of these have resulted in rejection in the world of Online Dating.

I am not optimistic that I am going to find the person who is a fit for all that so I’m going to do myself a favor and do the tried and true thing; shut myself down before I can be rejected again.

If I’m too much, then go find less. There is plenty of “less” out there.

Wisdom

“If youth is wasted on the young, then wisdom is wasted on the old.”
–George Bernard Shaw

I agree that youth is wasted on the young. They don’t know what they don’t know. But I have to question the second part of this otherwise brilliant quote.
How is wisdom wasted on the old? Most older people can’t wait to share their experiences and for the most part, are ok enough with their past to effectively share what happened, why and the end result. My theory is that it can only be wasted on the old if
a)they care not to share it, or
b) nobody wants to hear it.
I know when my dad tried to share it, I mostly brushed it off. I didn’t want to hear it. Of course, now I find myself talking to his stone, telling him how right he was about everything. His wisdom was not wasted on me, it just had a tape delay.

I like to think I have some wisdom to share with anyone who wants to listen. My wisdom stems from a wide variety of fuck-ups in my life. My scars, of which I have plenty, all have a tale to tell. Even the ones that you can’t see. I am a walking cautionary tale. But it’s a tale I will gladly tell. But someone needs to solicit it because I am not one to offer up anything unless requested. Maybe that is how it is wasted, young people who tend to “know everything” are unlikely to ask therefore the available resource of wisdom is untapped and therefore wasted.

We have a world of information contained in a single cell phone, yet we live in the most uninformed and uneducated era in recorded history. Similarly, the older amongst us contain a veritable treasure chest of knowledge about how things happen, why, and how to prevent them. But unless asked for, it will die off.

If my experiences can help just one person avoid a life-altering mistake, then all of my scars will have been worthwhile. Not wasted.

Good enough

I have struggled with the notion of “good enough” for most of my life. I cannot tell you how many of my nearly 60 trips around the sun have been spent in a state of self-imposed feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Now, I acknowledge the hyperbole in the previous statement, it’s not as if it consumed me. But it was always there. I’ve never felt good enough.

Then, one day I asked myself a question that changed my entire outlook.
“Who told me that I wasn’t good enough?”

Nobody. That’s who. Except for me of course. And I have absolutely no damn idea why. Maybe by my peers? I will admit that, despite boldly and loudly stating the contrary, I care what people think of me.
Not my co-workers. I have always been very focused in my work, regardless of the vocation. I always worked hard and, while I have been not so good at some things and received mixed reviews I have also received accolades for things that I am really good at. The accolades were fine. I liked them as much as anyone I suppose. I was raised to not only be a good worker but to also be the top guy, the irreplaceable one. So anytime my boat would sail anywhere close to that point, I enjoyed the moment. But it was fleeting for me at best. In my heart, I am really about accomplishment. So to me, an accolade is worth a tablespoon of dog shit if said deed or situation doesn’t end up with a meaningful outcome. I am an old-fashioned guy, I like to see results. Therefore, at work, I was always, at the very goddamn least, good enough.
My father certainly didn’t tell me that I wasn’t good enough. Dad, with whom I had a complicated relationship, would never, in a million years have said something as toxic to me. The worst thing he ever said to me was,
“I’m disappointed in you.”
That stung like a bitch in and of itself. But that made me want to do better. Because I have always, even after his death, sought his approval.

Looking at that last sentence, reading it again and again, I realize that I may have just answered my own question. I do seek approval, maybe validation is a better word, and I hate it. I really didn’t make the (perhaps apparent to everyone else) connection between that and the omnipresent feelings of inadequacy I have been plagued with for so long until now. It may be as small as wanting to be liked, or as deep as a fear of dying in obscurity.
I don’t want to be famous. I don’t care about money. I want to leave every place I go and everything I touch a little better than I found it. That’s it.

Am I comparing myself to the person I want to be?

I hope that’s it. Definitely something to explore further.

Entitlement

Nothing screams hypocrisy more than a tiktok video generated by a white woman in a car with leather seats, wearing a designer sweatshirt, with expensive sunglasses adorning her head screaming into a $1000.00 iPhone about “entitled Americans.”

I shouldn’t have to say this, and I probably shouldn’t, but here goes…all Americans are entitled. You can see it everywhere if you look for it. It starts with the sayings we hear all the time.
“I’m going to get what’s mine!”
Excuse me, but what exactly is yours? Is there a locker at the local bus station containing a box labeled yours? Are the contents a bag of cash and guaranteed happiness? No, nothing is yours. You have to earn it. Through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. Even then there are no guarantees, just opportunities.
“I deserve it.”
The three words I will never, ever say. I deserved to get my ass kicked in High School when I shot my stupid mouth off to the wrong guy. I don’t deserve anything else. Nor does anyone else. If you’re fortunate, life will repay you for what you put into it. If you work, you get a check. If you help someone they may help you back. Any other expectations might as well come from rubbing a bottle. Nobody deserves a damn thing.
“The Constitution guarantees my happiness.” No, it guarantees the pursuit of it, not the actual happiness.

That’s the point here after all, when did we start believing that we are supposed to be happy and something is wrong and worse, that it is somehow due to a failure on someone else’s part?

We’ve been sold the American Dream, which is a bill of goods that basically says that we are exceptional and are not vulnerable to the same perils as every other country. So we feel comfortable in the future so we don’t save money; we don’t think about consequences because we believe everything will work out. We’re entitled to it, or a bailout when it doesn’t happen. And when it doesn’t, we expect it to even itself out. And there is no guarantee. Life is not fair, nor is it always fun, and in a lot of cases it just plain sucks. People have problems, bad ones, and it is often due to no fault of their own. Life can be brutal yet we, as entitled Americans, expect happiness. I am of the opinion that happiness is a subjective notion. It is based on expectations and those expectations must be modified for the times we live in. With all of the stressors of the world today, even those with a relatively problem-free life consider happiness what you can experience in your free time. After work, weekends if you’re lucky enough to have them off is the time that we do what makes us happy. Spending time with our families or friends or indulging in activities or hobbies, you get the point. If we get enough of that to balance out the effect of what sucks in our lives, we can say that to a point, we are happy. But thrilled is questionable, ecstatic unlikely, and euphoric is just not happening.
Because life is hard.


I don’t mean it as an insult. It’s just a fact. Americans are entitled. Even the lowest among us has a life that any of the millions of people trying to get into this country would call happy.

Childhood and money

Have you ever been asked the question, “Would your childhood have been different (is that to say that you would be different?) if you had more money as a kid?”
Now, those of you that were raised in a wealthy family you can sit this one out. Myself, and everyone in my neighborhood, definitely were not. But here’s my answer.
I don’t know.
Well that was anticlimactic…
All I can say is that I never felt like I was in need of anything. As I stated in a earlier blog, I wouldn’t change my parents or my childhood at all, for anything.

I naturally led myself down this road of thought when I wrote about the varied and positive influences of my childhood, courtesy of 4 great role models; my mother and father and my grandparents on my mother’s side. I feel terrible saying this, but my fathers parents didn’t play a large role in my upbringing. But the rest of his family sure did, while they weren’t influencers they sure had an impact on my childhood and it was mostly a negative one.

Let’s look at the players and tie it in to the subject at hand.

My Grandparents on my mother’s side were born during WWI, graduated High School during the Great Depression, met during the booming ’30s only to go through WWII; money was never a major factor in their lives, nor were they fazed by the constant lack of it. They were conditioned to make do with very little. I knew them, from the earliest memory, to live a simple lifestyle and had few indulgences. My grandmother wanted little more than a decent home to live in. My grandfather liked a new car (never too fancy) every few years and he liked watches, also never too fancy. Oddly, despite their small home and frugal lifestyle they saved very little money. I was surprised to learn this, considering my grandfather was always working. Perhaps it is because my grandmother never worked after he came home from WW2.
Consequently my mother was very much like her mother when it came to money. She made her own clothes, even as an adult and liked to live simply.
She taught me well not to waste even though I thought it was a bit overboard to sew holes in socks and put patches on jeans. Fortunately for me patches became a fashion trend in the 70’s.



Generations

I am Generation X. I was born one year after the Baby Boomers. Gen X was followed of course by the much-maligned Gen Y, or Millennials. Without painting broad strokes about future generations, the reason for the generational mention is to paint the picture of the people I spent my formative years around. In addition to being fortunate enough to absorb the values of their generations, respectively (which I will delve into shortly), but my parents and grandparents were strong even for their generations.

I was raised during an era of political and societal upheaval. The late 60’s and early 70’s were marked by war, political scandal, youth finding their own voice, and a clash of generations. My family was very tight and traditional, and my Grandparents were around quite a bit and their old-school ways greatly impacted my earliest memories.
My Grandfather was a WW2 Veteran, a Navy SeaBee. He saw a lot of action. As many of his eras did, he dutifully volunteered to serve.. He was a lover of God and Country. His values defined him. Beneath his jovial appearance was a fiercely protective and serious man.
My Grandmother was as rigid as a soldier as she held down the household in his absence. They were both young adults during the Great Depression and “waste not want not” was the rule of the day. While my Grandfather had had a fairly normal upbringing, not rich but not poor, my Grandmother lost her parents very young as was raised by her Grandparents. They were strict and frugal and very tough on her and her siblings. The harsh childhood emanated from every pore.
My Father was also Military. He served during the Vietnam conflict but as he was to be sent to Southeast Asia I was born and kept him Stateside. He was a very hard-working and decent man whose upbringing, as was my Grandmother’s, emanated from every pore.
My mother, God bless her, was half a hippie. She never went to San Francisco or did mind-expanding drugs, but she was all about the empowerment of women, youth, and rejecting the Patriarchy.

What’s the point you may ask…well look at the influences I was exposed to. Patriotism, frugality, family, gratitude, simplicity, living within your means, and resiliency. Add to the mix 4 backstories that would make anyone take pause and you have a cocktail for a great childhood. To this day I thank God for the values I was taught and for the wisdom I was blessed to be on the receiving end of. The fact that I didn’t appreciate it then is an oft-regretted thought.

As they say, wisdom is wasted on the young, and I didn’t apply what I was taught as I tried to find my own way. Now, on the Back Nine, I recognize the greatness of their stories and work relentlessly to incorporate them into my life.

influences…

I wouldn’t change my Mom and Dad for anything in the world. They were great parents. My dad was a hard-working guy that did everything for his family. He had a terrible childhood and his reaction to it was to do better. Through hard work he rewrote the family legacy and became the only successful child in his family, and his siblings resented him for it. By success, I mean that he got a good job, bought a house, and planned for his future. He was a blue-collar guy that believed in work ethic and integrity. He didn’t care about how green the grass was on the other side of the fence. He cared about his yard.

My mother had a very different upbringing. While my dad was left largely to fend for himself in the hardscrabble section of town, my mother was under the umbrella of a very protective mother that tried to shelter her from the aspects of life what my dad would call an average Tuesday. Her parents were wonderful people and were a major influence in my life. My dad’s parents were less of an influence. His mother died when I was five and his dad was ill from emphysema for as long as I could remember and died when I was in High School.

Despite their very different backgrounds, there were a lot of similarities. While my dad was poor, my mother’s family had a better home in a better neighborhood. But the heads of both households were blue collar guys. Mom was an only child; Dad had several siblings. Obviously, many kids equal less household disposable income. The fact that my grandfather didn’t spend all of his money on booze and cigarettes made a difference as well. Mom’s father immediately accepted and respected my dad. He recognized the hard worker with integrity and what that brought to the table. They would share a wonderful bond as in-laws and friends. Mom’s mother treated my dad as she did all of her suitors and friends, as if he wasn’t good enough for her daughter. But she would grow to love and, perhaps more important, to respect him as well.

The commonality of the four is that they were all strong as hell. That strength permeated the dynamic that I would grow up with and it was unique and special. I didn’t know it at the time, it was just my life. But later in life, with life experience and access to the stories of others I recognized that I was fortunate enough to not only have 2 generations of good, decent and honest people to spend time with, but also the perspective of their experiences. Never has that evidenced itself than now.

more to come…

Food for thought

There is no limit to the stupidity of content on Social Media. From posts asking you if you remember your phone # or address from your childhood (an obvious attempt at identity theft) to the idiotic “everyone’s first job was at McDonalds, prove me wrong”. I don’t understand why anyone would comment on them but hey, that’s just me. One that has caught my attention recently is the “would you want your father (mother, sister, etc.) to be your father if you could do it over again?” On these, I immediately hit the comments. It is incredible how many people say no.

As it turns out, a silly FB post stimulated me a bit. I can’t begin to imagine a scenario in which the foremost influences in my life would be held in such poor regard? This interests me because I am a person that believes that good or bad, your experiences made you who you are and, in addition, it’s a waste of time to think about the past because you can’t change it.

I suppose if I had horrible parents, and was mistreated in some way that resulted in a traumatic childhood that left me a damaged and dysfunctional adult then maybe my thinking would be different. On that, I honestly can’t relate and will reserve judgment. But I still found a takeaway in the comments section, it made me think about my childhood.

After all, it all comes down to the childhood, doesn’t it?

Even if I could, I wouldn’t change a damn thing about mine. No revisionist thinking taking place here. I think I’ll dedicate a few posts to it.