It's Dangerous to Go Alone; Take This
Below are the 25 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Marshall Arts" journal:
[<< Previous 25 entries]
I got fired Monday|
Things were going well, I had been helping families with their arrangements and, yeah, I forgot a form or two sometimes and had to go back to it a week later, but no one had told me how to make arrangements anyways and just threw me in to swim... but I was handling things well. I had been to my therapist that morning (yes, I go to a therapist, don't even act surprised) and talked to her about how good some things were going.
Then at the end of the day, I was called into my manager's office, told there was a discrepancy between the time I entered on my time sheet and the time someone else said I left on one of the previous days. That's considered stealing from the company and I was terminated.
I'm not gonna lie, I've moved 30 mins from lunch to the end of the day or even leaving early on Sunday. But if I put down that I worked 7 hours or 8 hours or whatever, I worked said hours. Regardless, he said that this was not the first time such a discrepancy came up, so I was terminated.
I finished the last 15 minutes of work, turned in my key, and left. I was incredibly pissed off but didn't make a spectacle as I was leaving... so I guess that's something. Elizabeth was furious as well. But, after two days of thinking about it, I see this as an opportunity.
I'm a god damned good funeral director. I care about the families I help. I get frustrated with the public just as much as any care giver or retail worker because I have to do both. But now, I can go to any funeral home in any city in any state... any one that'll have me. I don't have to stay here in Birmingham. I could go back to Tuscaloosa or Tennessee or Colorado or whatever. I dread having to go somewhere and take another state's law exam, but this is my career.
I'm gonna take a week or two off, though. We have Christmas to pay for and other bills, but I need to explore all my options. After looking around and making a new resume, I'll start calling funeral homes.
I posted on Facebook the other day about how it's been six years since Mom died. It's also been roughly ten years since I met Brandi... Dragon*Con weekend is ten years since we became an item, in November it will have been ten years since I moved in with her in Tuscaloosa.
Not trying to be braggadocious at all, but I've done my best to apologize to the people I've been shitty to in the past, including her. I dunno what good it's done since no one's ever replied, but it's been a weight off of my chest.
And that's what's good about it. That's why I wish I could thank her.
If I hadn't met Brandi, I would have never moved to Tuscaloosa. I would have never gone to Kung Fu. I would have never strived to become a better person. Believe it or not, I would have never met Elizabeth.
I would have moved in a new apartment with a new set of roommates or a new girlfriend (or an old one) and pretty much just been the same asshole and loser I always was.
But because of the things I learned via my first marriage, my divorce, and Kung Fu, I have regained an empathy I had lost. I have learned to care about others. I have learned to look at more than one side of the situation. I've learned to be a human.
At least once a week, Elizabeth and I will say something to the extent of "I appreciate you and what you do." I don't know when we started it or why, but I'm glad we did. It's REAL positive reinforcement and expresses the good things about being a couple, which is great, because we usually say it when we're talking about something we HATE, like I say I have to work overtime and she says "I appreciate the effort you put into your job."
It's not much but it's good.
I've never had that before.
The emotions existed, from both me and the other women, but I didn't know how to say them and was happier acting like it didn't matter rather than saying something I retardedly thought was faggy like "I appreciate you."
Why did I do that?
Why did I feel I could tell this girl "I love you," but not this one because of what happened last time or because I'm afraid of loss? Why can't I tell them "Thank you" or that I appreciate their companionship?
"What, are you a feminist now?"
It was my longtime friend Oscar the Grouch. He was reading over my shoulder. He popped up between the couch and the end table. Holy shit, there's a lot of garbage down there, no wonder.
No, dude, I believe in total equality, like... I dunno, egalitarian.
"Hmm. So is this another 'why me' rant about chicks? Did you get another divorce?"
No, everything's fine. I was actually just saying how good it was that I broke up with those other girls and got divorced, it helped me experience that pain and learn how to channel my feelings better.
He cocked his head and gave me a funny look. "Are you high? We did a PSA about that after Grover got caught with blow, I'd hope you know better."
No, dude. Just natural conscious appreciation for what I have and how I got here and the friends that helped me and stuck by me and made me someone I'm no longer ashamed to be.
He sat staring for a minute. "Dumbass," he said finally, "You're a good kid. Thank those people. Remember those people. Appreciate them every day. But remember it takes a person wanting to change before they actually change. You made it. I'll see ya around."
His words were wise and with deep meaning.
No, I didn't pass my Law Exam|
For the second time.
There's a new feeling of frustration and even anger that defies normal depression at this point. What I used to vent, now I just let go. For everything I let go, a little chemtrail of it finds it's way back to me. All those little pieces find a hidey-hole somewhere inside and collect and grow together and I'm afraid they'll get too big and burst forth one day, misdirected at some uneventful bullshit.
But today... today was a real event. Today was important.
I made a promise to my Mother and my wife and our daughter; That kind of horrible fucking funeral would NEVER happen to anyone or their grieving families ever again if I could help it, if I were in charge.
But I'm not. Because for the second time, I failed the Alabama State Laws, Rules, and Regulations Exam pertaining to Funeral Service. And I sat there and looked at that screen that said FAIL
and I cried and I punched the desk and I tried to hold it in so I could get out of there quickly and not disturb other test takers but...
I've complained all day since I got out, and with good reason, I think. There were a lot of of questions that were either misleading themselves, had misleading multiple choice answers, or had multiple choice answers that could have been more
than one answer. Now, maybe you're saying that tests are supposed
to be a little misleading so it makes sure you know or don't know the LAW, but the point is that it's THE LAW
. It's supposed to be clear and direct, and in funeral service there's no "maybes."
I called Pearson Vue and complained and they told me to contact the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards. They gave me their number three times and each time it was the same Fax number. Eventually I looked online and called the Conference that way, and they said to call the Alabama Board of Funeral Service. So I called them, and of course no one answered.
Regardless, in the end, it's my fault. I have to own and accept that. Out of 50 questions, I only got 34 right and that's not enough to pass.
I went to Jeff State and asked one of my teachers WTF I should do and she was flabbergasted I didn't pass. She said that I'm only the 2nd student she can remember to fail the State Law Exam more than once. Tthhhaaaaankkkss
I feel like hell. I don't feel very depressed or hollow, I just don't know what to do now, except... just keep swimming. To take arms against these slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and say, NO,
fuck you, Hamlet, I will be and will continue to be until I can be no longer. Elizabeth said tonight that no one is a failure until they quit trying, and goddamn I have quit a lot of things.
But not this. Not yet. I owe it to too many people to give up until I'm ready to give up forever.
You are not special. You are not unique. |
That's kinda mean to say, especially when we all know that we have SOMETHING special to offer and we're special just for being ourselves (Thanks, Mr. Rogers), but the fact remains.
You are NOT a special snowflake.
I don't really agree with this website
or the name calling but the video is there and the facts are there and the biggest fact lying under the surface is that this "snowflake mindset" is a hive-mind version of narcissistic personality disorder
There's this little thing I learned in school called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
At the bottom, we have our base physiological needs; food, sleep, sex, etc. But then look at "Safety and Security." We can't have that without "Belonginess and Love," relationships with other people. I mean, I presume it's possible but someone that wants solo lonely safety and security will certainly not reach any higher levels. Once you feel safe and belongingness with others, you can build your esteem.
That's where this hive-mind comes in.
In searching for security and belonging, we try to latch on to others with similar mindsets. At some point, these "snowflakes" found each other, ones that think they deserve more because somehow they have been oppressed, and holding down said oppressors will give them the esteem they need.
Trust me, I know.
I thought the world fuckin' owed me everything and more because I was born poor or was disabled.
It's not true.
It was so bad, that I often gave off an entitled attitude to people I cared about, whether I realized it or not and would sometimes REALLY piss them off. Don't get me wrong, I still feel like I should have better sometimes, like I did X, why didn't I get any Y in return?
It's a very "why me?" sort of emotion and I'm not saying that my life has magically repaired itself... it's like a Greek Tragedy sometimes... but now I just try to keep in mind that I could have it a lot worse and try to consciously appreciate what I have.
That's my Self Actualization.
These "snowflakes" are constantly stuck on a loop of the middle three, needing a safe space with others they feel like-minded with and belong with and finding their esteem through minor "victories" over supposed oppressors.
And hey, I know people are oppressed. Women, people of color or immigrants, LGBT people... basically anyone who isn't a "cis white male
." But overreacting to supposed transgressions just makes you seem like the aggressor. Something like self-identifying as something or someone you're not is oft times demeaning
to those who really ARE whatever the hell you're trying to identify as.
Are there problems in The System? Is there still blatant racism and sexualism and ageism? Yeah, alla that. But that doesn't mean you can scream and yell and angrily force your ideals onto others while objecting theirs and then running away to a "safe space" when something offends you.
You have to open your mind, open your heart, bare your soul, face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and in doing so lets you take arms against the seas of trouble... armed hopefully with knowledge and compassion instead of buzzwords and hearsay, able to communicate openly and honestly with those who don't know compassion or humbleness. Then you can BE
the change you want to see, and lead through example.
I know, I know.
It all sounds silly coming from me. But I betcha it'll work. We just have to work together.
I try to respect people's opinions, even if I don't agree with them|
I'm not trying to talk about facts, about what's right or what's wrong, just opinions. It helps spur debate, and anything that gets people thinking a little, using their brains, that's a grood thing in today's society.
So, I add a lot of people on Facebook that I don't know. People with no mutual friends, usually, or just people who are suggested because of one strange mutual friend, and a lot of the college kids from Jeff State. One of those people I've been talking to for a while now, I figured, Hey, this acquaintance is moving into actual "friend" territory, we should maybe hang out.
She posted something, though, a meme about how when women are on their periods they have more testosterone, and therefore, if men think they're being bitches, that's what men are like all the time.
I replied that men have had to deal with that hormone change since puberty began and most have learned to tame it, unlike women who only deal with it once a month usually. Maybe
I was being a bit of a smartass. But she replied in kind saying, no, women are told to always control their emotions and how to better control themselves in public.
My response was simple and more serious than before.
"Don't be a sissy."
"Stop being a pussy."
"Real men don't cry."
"Don't be such a little bitch."
"Quit acting like a faggot."
. . . All things boys are told in order to literally control their emotions. I navigated away from the conversation for a minute to try and find this entry
I had made earlier about the movies Miss Representation
and The Mask You Live In
and how we all do that to BOTH
genders whether we mean to or not, but by the time I found it and came back to the Facebook conversation, she had blocked me.
You can't claim to want "Equal Rights," specifically Feminism, if you don't admit that wrongs are committed to both genders in very different and specific ways.
Gran'mama died last Monday night/Tuesday morning.
Late last month, she fell and hit her head and I was more worried and concerned with that than I was when I found out she had actually passed away. One of my major concerns was explaining death of an actual person to Dahlia. Liz actually explained it to her, and I don't even know if she seemed to get it.
Another is... I dunno. I feel like I have this huge missing maternal link now, and I don't entirely know how to deal with it. It's a weird kind of complicated grief that no amount of psychology classes or sociology classes or funeral education classes can deal with.
I thought this would be cathartic and it's not. It took me 2 hours just to write these two paragraphs.
Boys and Girls|
I watched a movie on NetFlix the other night, called The Mask You Live In
. I thought it was really great, it's a film about how boys are told, from basically the time they're born, to "act like a man." It made me think for a minute, Shit. Do I treat Dahlia too much like a boy?
Liz told me of the companion piece, which came out before Mask You Live In, called Miss Representation
. I knew what film she was talking about, I had it on the queue for a while, I just never actually watched it. So I did, and yeesh... both of these films really make one realize shit that we may do, whether we mean to or not, not just to all other people, but especially to my kid.
I can't say that I agree with everything in either film, usually statements from psychologists and statistics. I have to take those numbers at face value even if there are some I don't think are totally accurate, or ones I know are outright wrong (1 in 4 women are not raped
. That'd be over 890 million women, over 40 million women just in the US... and even globally, over a lifetime, however they mean, it just doesn't seem plausible).
I can say, though, that both films treat the problem at hand equally, and that's the problems we as a society put on our kids, whether it's from the media or as adults just passing down shit from when we were kids.
The films really portray American media as the Bad Guy, with ads and music videos and TV and movies and video games being all the problems. I scoffed at the idea (like I always have) that video games make people violent.
They had that bullshit argument back when I
was a kid, I said. I played games all day long sometimes and Mortal Kombat never made me any more aggressive to anyone
"Just because it didn't happen to you," Liz replied, "doesn't mean it can't or won't happen to anyone else."
Aww, shit. That was kind of an eye opener.
Since the boy's movie talked a lot about masculinity and how we perceive it, there was also a lot of talk about gender as a social construct... which, enh, I dunno. All behavior is a part of a larger social construct, right? So when people say that, it just makes me think they're missing out on a larger view. But there was definitely a focus on how we tell boys to "suck it up," and "be a man." Sometimes you'll hear someone say "Well a REAL
man would do..." blahblahblah whatever a "real" man would do. I hate the adjective "real" in conjunction with "man." What the fuck is a "Real Man
"? I exist, therefore I am real. I am male and I act how I act. There's no such thing as a "real man" because all men are real men. I've caught myself saying it before and I just feel dumb.
As a counter, what is a "real" woman?
The girl movie talks about exploitation and how girls see women, on TV, movies, ads, whatever... how they're shown unrealistic body images and then those same women are shown to be submissive to men.
In both films it talks a large deal about bullying, and... please, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating bullying, but it's not going anywhere. Ever
. I was bullied, I bullied others. That's how kid hierarchy works, you get the attention off yourself. I'll add that I was never physically
bullied, except by one kid around 4th and 5th grade. When I asked Dad how to deal with him, he said to punch the guy in the stomach as hard as I could. I was a dumb little shy boy
, I couldn't have punched my way out of a paper bag back then. But I tried, the guy laughed in my face, and then hit me back in the stomach so hard I doubled over on the floor. After that, he never bothered me again, instead insisting that I help him find other kids to beat up.
The films both talk about media and society and yeah, that all has a huge impact on us as kids, but the overlying problem is parenting.
I'm not the best parent. I'm not the best person. I was going to post links to some of my older LJ entries to show examples about how men and women both can be exploitative of each other or choose to live how they want, but looking back, holy fuck. I was kind of misogynistic (which is easy to see in the Divorce Year) and moreso than that just a huge asshole. If I had met that guy ten years ago I wouldn't have hung out with him, I'm surprised anyone does now.
Still, this shit is going to appear on our TVs and in our movies and everywhere else. There are women who choose
to dress sexy and it may be kind of confusing for guys to know what they want, but the easy answer is if she doesn't respond in kind, then don't force it.
There are guys who choose to be hypermasculine and they're not all giant misogynistic d-bags. It's easy to choose who you are and how you want to present yourself without forcing it on other people.
The easiest thing is to teach kindness. Seems like a simple idea, yeah? If it's instilled early, it won't do anything but good. I don't remember my Dad or anyone else ever saying shit like "suck it up," or "be a real man," although I'm sure it happened a time or two, it just wasn't prevalent enough to make any kind of lasting impression.
Even after watching both films, I'm not sure what things I do or don't do or that we as parents do that might affect Dahlia's sense of self. We just try to teach her to be a good person, and yeah, we have had to remove some stuff from her view that we don't want her exposed to yet... shows talking about falling in love or girlfriends and boyfriends or weird stuff like beauty standards.
In the end, all I can say is most of what the movies say; that girls can act like boys if they choose and boys can act like girls if they choose and whatever in between is fine. If a boy wants to do ballet, then fine, he can dance if he wants to. If his friends don't dance then they're no friends of mine. If a girl wants to play football or wrestle
, it's perfectly okay.
Gender may be a social construct, but constructs are subjective and they have barriers. If you tell a child they can break those walls down, they will.
I bought Dahlia her first wrestling action figure tonight|
She got a Bayley figure
[which she's already torn the damn ponytail off of]. Bayley is one of the female stars in NXT and until just last week was the NXT Women's Champion. Dahlia's watched several matches and likes most of the girls... still likes John Cena the most, though.
Her interest in wrestling has waxed and waned as she's gotten older, which is kinda weird to say, since she's four
. She likes to wrestle with me a lot more than she likes to watch it, but she will slow down and watch it some, and oft times she doesn't have a choice because I control the TV when it's time to watch wrestling.
For instance, last week.
It was WrestleMania week, and I was watching the WWE Network as much as possible. Then she was sitting with me and saw a clip of Edge spearing Mick Foley through a fire table
"WHOA! He put him through that FIRE
Uhhh... yeah, I said with a little concern.
"He musta really wanted him to die."
No, dude, don't say that, that's not a nice word.
So I turned the TV off and with a heavy heart, as we got ready for bed, I sat her down and told her, Now... you know... the wrestling on TV, it's just TV, right? It's not real.
They're just playing, it's not a real
fight to hurt each other, it's just TV.
I broke kayfabe to my kid... and it really hurt. Like hurt my feelings hurt. Like, telling her Santa isn't real hurt.
I still don't think she understood all the way, but I don't believe she understood if it was "real" or "TV" or not to begin with. There's all kinds of fun stuff we try to get her to watch and believe
in, like unicorns or fairies or Yoshi and then she drops fat logic on our asses like, "That's not real, there's no such thing as gnomes. They're just on TV."
And despite what she said, she doesn't have a true comprehension of death. She just knows that in video games, characters "die," but then they can come back. She doesn't get it. She doesn't even know what I do for a living.
It's not a big concern, but it's the kind of thing you try to put the kibosh on early as far as how they talk and perceive violence.
This may sound weird, but I really relate to my daughter.
"Well, yeah, you're supposed to, numbnuts."
Let me expand. If you were to compare our two lives up to the same age, then it'd be pretty similar. Pampered, only children, babied by parents and grandparents alike and very few other kids to play with.
As I got older, there were some kids in the neighborhood I played with and of course, I was in public school. I don't trust kids in this neighborhood as far as I can throw them, I barely trust the neighborhood in general, and we'll have to be at a very low point if we have to put her in an Alabama public school.
But she still needs interaction. She gets it at dance class and at the park and when she goes to work with Liz (a daycare), plus we go to play dates with other parents... but most of those kids are older than her. She still needs some more same-age child interaction and that's hard to get sometimes with young kids. It's hard to trust other parents and their kids. I have to remind Dahlia of "THE RULES
" every time we go to a playground just to make sure I don't have to discipline her for bad social interaction:
* Don't touch without permission
* Don't tell other people how to play
* Respect people's personal space
. . . Which sounds kinda dumb, but kids don't always want each other all up in their shit, and parents don't always want that either, so it's probably the best and simplest rules. It took a while, but she's actually learned them and remembered to follow them. I came up with them mostly because she's so sweet and a go-getter, she tries to run and hug and hold hands with everyone and get in their faces to talk.
I love that she loves Wonder Woman and comics and shows like Adventure Time and Futurama and knows which words are bad words that she can't say and wants to be Princess Scientist Superhero... but damn, it's hard to nurture all those things sometimes.
Another Entry About Being A Dad|
So a friend posted an entry on Facebook with this link
about "Why do we teach girls it's cute or okay to be scared?"
The article poses a really good point. Why do we... as in, we as a society, do that? Men are the ones that do the extreme sports crazy shit, young boys are the ones who get in trouble for running jumping climbing trees, and it's boys in general that are encouraged to do... basically life threatening things, that make you sound like a sociopath instead of a parent if you explain it the right way. "You want me to what? Run as fast as I can into that guy? And hit him with my head and shoulders and knock him down? Why? Just 'cause he has a ball? Won't that hurt him, or me?"
Well, yes, but you'll have a helmet on.
I try not to discourage Dahlia's activities, on the playground or otherwise. Admittedly, she's only four. But still, like just the other day when we had the big Daddy/Daughter day out and she was too scared to climb the rock wall on the jungle gym, which is barely taller than I am, I gave her a push and some encouragement, Dude, c'mon! You've only got two more steps to go! You can make it!
And she did.
But then at home, she sits upside down on the couch and I'm like, Hey, don't do that, you might fall, be careful.
I try to teach her Kung Fu and wrestling, but don't want her to run too fast 'cause she's likely to trip.
In the article, it mentions that the daughter is "klutzy." Yeah, Dahlia is a klutz, she has two left feet, something I'm hoping ballet will help with (it kinda has, but still hasn't helped with her attention span... she was watching herself dance in the mirror and ran headlong into another girl). And she's like that 'cause I'm a klutz, I guess. Her grace and beauty comes from Liz.
And more than that, I did STUPID stuff and hurt myself all the time as a kid. It's just what kids do. For instance, one time Dad told me, "Shaun, don't mess with that plug!" He told me that at least three times. What did I do? I stuck a bobby pin in the lightsocket and zapped my ass across the room. Later, I got my head stuck in the slats of a kitchen chair.
So yeah, kids do dumb dangerous stuff that will get them hurt. As a parent the best you can do is say, "Don't do that." I can't think of how many times we've told Dali "DON'T DO THAT THING!" because it was something dangerous and we tried to explain that if she kept it up, you'll end up in the hospital, or worst case scenario, you'll end up with a broken, crooked, ugly nose like Daddy's.
and am ashamed of myself to admit that I would treat a son differently than I do Dahlia.
But it's instinct. It's strangely ingrained in men and women both. But at the same time, I encourage her to be MORE
than just a pretty pretty princess (which she does a fine job of by herself) and get down and dirty and fight and claw and scratch and be proud of herself and be be smarter and better if at all possible and... "be a boy." Be a better boy than I was.
Someone's gonna read that and think "Whoa, he's totally projecting on his kid, she'll be fucked up." Well, that's what parents do, they do everything they think is right and and fill you with the flaws they had and add some extra just for you and then help you deal with those flaws and mix it up and hopefully what pours out is a well adjusted individual.
I don't want a boy, I'm happy with my child as she is. But if I can give her strength and courage and wisdom along the way (no Zelda joke intended) I will. If I have to filter that through the eyes of being a man, then that's what I have to do. Part of the wisdom I intend to imbibe her with will be to take what I teach her and make it applicable to her life no matter how she chooses to live it.
Update Pt. 2 - Dahlia an' Life an' Stuff|
This fuckin' kid, I tell ya...
She had a fever about three weeks ago and it developed into an ear ache and with a little help from the doctor and some meds, she went between bouncing off the walls excitable to heartwrenchingly pathetically sick. It was pretty sad. From there, the sickness spread to Liz, and then to her mother.
They asked me why I never got sick at the same time everyone else does. That's the thing; I'm always sick. All I do is come in contact with people blowing their noses and then shaking my hand, so I always have some sort of problem. I also have a stronger immune system against crap like colds and flus and shit like that it seems. I just take some homebrew of DayQuil or Mucinex and cough drops and go on with the day, whether it's school or work and as long as I'm not shitting my pants, everything's fine.
No, I haven't sharted at work yet. Big surprise to some of you, I'm sure. But I did that first semester of school during my core courses.
Dali knows more about video games and comics and wrestling than some kids twice her age. Of course, maybe it's just the age we live in. She has a Zoomer watch and a Kindle and she knows how to work the Wii U and NetFlix on both the Wii U and the Roku, she's starting to learn to use a mouse better despite the fact it's too big for her hand, and her toys and books and dolls could fill a friggin' room by themselves.
She's kinda spoiled.
We do our best to keep her in line. We talk to her like an adult with the gentle touch a toddler still needs and tell her how people should treat other people, what's rude and what's polite, and how it's not always what you say but how you say it.
Still, she can be kind of a smartass. Liz deals with it better than I do, and I suppose I send her some mixed signals because I'm also the one who rolls around with her and lets her beat me up and vice versa and trying to find the line between play and serious is probably still hard in her mind... not to mention, she listens to me and Liz talk smartassed to each other and has picked up some of our nuances.
Still, she's caring and sweet and wants to look out for everyone besides herself. I took her to ballet a couple of weeks ago and before she went in, I reminded her of the rules: Don't get in other people's personal space; Don't touch anyone without permission.
Another little girl came in late and was crying because she was late and missed the first half and Dali, wanting to comfort her but trying to follow the rules, gave the girl a hover-hand hug.
The rest of life is grood. I've been coasting along this semester so far, Accounting is the hardest class. The worst thing I've had to deal with at school was not having Financial Aid. I tried to bankrupt an old class to get my Financial Aid back, but it didn't help. Later that day the head of the funeral department called me asking why the hell I bankrupted that class because I NEEDED it to graduate. So, I had to beg the school to let me have a bad grade back just so I wouldn't have to take an extra semester of school.
Update Pt. 1 - Funeral Stuff|
Over the past year, I've cried at two funerals. They've both been within the past month. One was for a little girl, and the other was for the father of one of my two closest friends in the world.
When you're in the funeral business, or really any business that deals with death like nursing or hospice or whatever... caregivers for lack of a better term... you numb yourself to the experience. It starts to become hard to hold on to empathy and sympathy. You deal with one family, put out their "fire," and then you're done. Time to move on to the next emergency. It becomes harder to connect or empathize with people on a true emotional level because you automatically disconnect yourself from their situation, you have a job to do. It's a bad thing because the more you disconnect yourself the more it seems like anything less than death isn't a good enough emotion.
But sometimes, you can't disconnect yourself. The emotions run too deep or you care about the people involved too much. And that's when the tears come.
I did my best to help them make arrangements and I had to constantly remind myself that not everyone has done this before, and furthermore, not everyone does this for a living. Stuff that I've learned to take for granted as "duh," most people have no clue, and I sound like a dick if I heave a sigh and sound exasperated for having to explain something again. That would be fine to do that if I were telling my friend of 20 years directions to play Monopoly and finally just going Jesus! Google it!
But that's a way different thing. It's hard (for me at least) to separate my friends from how I've always treated them and how I should treat them based on the situation. I don't mean to be an asshole, I just kind of end up one sometimes.
Regardless, I did the little that I could to help, both with the little girl's funeral and comforting her parents and trying to set them up with aftercare and in the few days leading up to today's funeral for Kim Pilkinton.
Since the funeral was at one of the sister funeral homes I work at I knew the staff and trusted them and I looked around the place for our company wide grief packets, but Adam later said that his father had left stacks of them for him anyways.
No matter what you believe in; Heaven, reincarnation, the Circle of Life and becoming soil, the fact is that no one is ever truly dead. We have pictures and videos and even more than that we have stories and memories. We pass that on to our children and grandchildren, and that's what matters.
This fuckin' kid...|
I'm not sure if toddlers can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but if they can, I have a prime candidate.
At best I can chalk it up to: "She's four years old. Kids are like that. Fuck it!" But then she goes from this caring and gentle soul who sometimes seems learned and intelligent way beyond your average four year old (#humblebragparenting
) to this bratty little shit that if an adult talked to me this way, I'm pretty sure a real fight would have broken out by now, at the very least, I would have unfriended them on Facebook (#parentingFAIL
Talking back. Arguing. Being outright rude. She does it all and every bit of it stems from the thorny briar blossom of stubbornness deep in her personality, a seed handed down by generations upon generations, and only the combination of Liz and myself could cross pollinate such a perfectly stubborn individual.
In a way, I'm proud. I know that attitude can get a lot of shit done, even if it means taking the most difficult path to get anywhere.
In another way, I apologize to all of you for putting up with it for so long and thank you for letting me live so long. I am now getting my comeuppance in spades.
Look, the checkers have to go like this, make yours like mine are.
"No, I wanna do it this way."
No, you have to line'em up like this or we can't play.
"Well I'm playing the Kids Rules and I get to jump you from here like this."
No, there is no 'Kids Rules,' there's just the rules. Do you wanna play or not?
"I KNOW THE RULES I TOLD YOU I KNOW EVERY THING!!!"
So, I'm proud to report that Dahlia is sitting here playing Mario Kart, and she's doing about 199% better than she did last year when we got the game.
She loves all the Mario games and Link and Zelda and is really starting to get into the big Nintendo properties, as well as Sonic and Pac-Man but can't really play them all that well... a big problem is the controllers don't fit her hands. I had thought about getting a Retron system
for Christmas, but I might wait a while for that.
I'm not entirely sure what it is, but there's just something about each of us generationally, like, me and people roughly my age, we grew up with VCRs and DVD players and all the video game systems and computers, so we learned how to use them and it seems the majority of us (*majority*) know how to use them better than our parents. So now, our kids are using touch screens and tablets and yeah, we have those, too, but each new thing is developing and soon they'll have something we don't want or need and they'll be the ones who know how to use it and we won't know jack about it.
For instance, this Christmas, she got her own Kindle, a Zoomer watch, and a Zoomer kitty, all touch screen or bluetooth stuff. She knows how to use is without being told very many instructions at all, and beside the tablet, I don't know what to do with the rest of it. Yet she still needs instructions on how to play checkers and Guess Who?
Merry Fucking Christmas|
I passed this semester. Praise be to whatever gods control Funeral Service Education... which are probably just my teachers.
Problem is, I did not get my GPA back up to a 2.0. See, to get Financial Aid, you must have at least a 2.0 GPA, otherwise it's considered "academic delay." So, I went up to the school to see what I could do about fixing my GPA. Neither of my teachers were there, so eventually I just went up the the academic advisory office.
Once there, I did one Academic Forgiveness (all I was allowed to do for now) and was told I should bankrupt one other old class, Math 116.
That only got my GPA up to a 1.91
Ain't that a bitch?
But I went ahead and did it, even though I'm still going to have to pay out of pocket next semester for another two classes, and that'll be way more money than I'd like to divulge at the moment.
So I went to work. I'm sitting at the front desk, greeting people as they come in and the phone rings.
Hello, John Doe Funeral Home, this is Shaun.
I knew who it was immediately. My teacher... the head of our department... her voice is unmistakable.
"Did you bankrupt your math grade?"
. . . Yyyyes?
"Who told you to do that?"
An academic advisor.
"And you didn't talk to either of us first?"
"Don't you know that you need that class to graduate?"
Well I've alread-
"And you'll have to take it again now?"
But I had to get my GPA up-
"And I can't graduate you until you pass all of these classes."
One, not only did I NOT get my Financial Aid back, I'm going to have to take another class. I'm not sure if I'll be able to take it during Spring semester or if I have to wait until Summer, but I'll have to take it over, and it was hard enough the first time.
I'm not too pleased with this outcome, but it's not like there's anything I can do about it.
So I was listening to Marc Maron's WTF Podcast today|
If you don't listen, I highly suggest it, it's one of only two non-wrestling podcasts I listen to. Anyways, this specific episode was with Peaches. You know her, the girl who sings "Fuck the Pain Away
And in this same episode, he's talkin' about his girlfriend's art exhibit and how he appreciates it, even if he doesn't fully get it... not just her
art but all
art because he believes he can open his mind up and be subjective and say "Okay, I don't get it, but way to go," and move on if he doesn't like it.
He says that he felt similar and wanted to open his mind up about Peaches' shit; her music and performance... which maybe y'all might think this is weird to say but I think she's a lot like Amanda Palmer, a very IN YOUR FACE kind of feminism and sexuality, which is sexy but also a little threatening to my masculinity, 'cause, goddammit, I'm
supposed to be the one humping and thrusting! But now they are and it turns me on but I also like listening to them even if I don't want to think about sex! ARGH ME NOT LIKE WOMENISH IDEAS!!!
So Maron says, "Why be a slave to your culturally and socially ingrained inhibitions, that you probably don't even realize you have, why not push them out a bit? Why not open your heart a bit to things you don't understand if it's a safe environment to do so?"
AND THAT'S THE WAY THE WORLD NEEDS TO BE, MAN! Not just about music or other types of art but about everything. If you don't like
something, you don't have to shit all over it. If you don't believe
in something, you don't have to ruin everyone else's lives and try to make everyone like you. Just open your heart a little to everyone and if you don't like what they give you, say "Okay, I'm cool. You go on with what you're doing, I'll be over here."
Hopefully, enough people would open up their hearts and minds and we could all get along in a "safe environment" and get rid of socially and culturally ingrained inhibitions, but every fuckin' day I just see a few more people separating instead of opening up.
There's not enough people who are shades of gray. Everyone's too black and white.
Wednesday is trash day|
So on Tuesdays when I get home from school or work or whatever I have to do, if Barry hasn't done it already, I usually take out the trash from inside and then take the garbage can around front.
While I was up there, I heard a familiar munching coming from a garbage can across the street. I walked over to see who it was, and of course it was none other than my old confidante, Oscar the Grouch.
"Wow. Has it really been a year
since you needed me?"
Well, technically, I don't need
you now, no offense. But it's always good to have someone I can talk to and relate with.
"Then what's the problem? Why did I warp here?"
I wasn't really sure. But maybe the problem isn't always with me.
Earlier that night, I had read a post on Facebook by a girl I go to school with. It said:
I've met a lot of wonderful people in college. A lot of smart, lively and funny people. And you know what the saddest thing is? Most of them hate their life right now. Most of them are only getting 3 hours of sleep because of the amount of school work they have; and that's on a good night. I've talked to so many people who never had anxiety until they got to college, who have never faced depression until they got to college, and even some people who have contemplated suicide over student debt and failed classes. COLLEGE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE THIS STRESSFUL. And I'm not even at a university. I'm not saying college is this way for everyone I meet, but when the majority of people are so overwhelmed that they want to just give up all together, there is a huge problem. I'm not saying it should be easy. Making people work hard for a degree is not the issue. But sucking them mentally, physically, and financially dry is a big problem. Why do we place so much priority on degrees and not on the people trying to earn them? And company's still want you to have 5+ years experience before they'll hire you. Even though they demand you spend your time working towards this piece of paper that says your qualified. I just never have enough time to live my life anymore. I only have one, I want to spend the minutes where they count. And right now I just don't feel like they are counting towards anything
She's absolutely right. I was that stressed a year ago.
"What about now?"
Enh. It's kinda leveled out.
"So you're better?"
Mmmno. There are good days and bad ones, mentally, physically... financially, too. But it's like, it's kinda like wrestling again.
"You wear tights to a funeral home?"
No, I mean you prepare yourself for the next big bump the best you can. You're acclimated to them because you're kind of callused by now. It's just another thing to do. When I started last Fall and everything drove me crazy, it was like having a match for the first time and getting my ass kicked.
"Then why haven't all these other college kids acclimated their callus yet 'r whatever?"
Well, they're probably on the ups and downs of their own little roller coaster ride of life, good days and bad days. It sure as hell ain't easy, but I think we're gonna make it through alright.
He patted me on the shoulder with a hand covered in rotten banana.
"Dumbass," he said, "I think you're gonna be alright.
Them people you bury every day? The 'Greatest Generation'? They earned everything they got, but they got it because the country needed them out of necessity. Then th' Boomers and the Gen X'ers got everything out of greed and fucked everything up. So you an' your wife an' daughter an' these kids at that fancy schmancy college..."
It's just a Junior College...
"Whatever. Shaddup. Point is, that y'all are born and bred with everything handed to you until you turn eighteen and then have to strive and grow and build character and hopefully fix the world for the kids that come after you. There's no Gen Y, there's no Millennials... you're all the New Greatest Generation because you have to fix the place."
His words were wise and with deep meaning.
jesus... this would be so much easier if writing these terms down weren't so god damned boring. Or if maybe I didn't feel just crushingly alone doing it while the world moves around me.
It's like... you're supposed to go to college as a kid and by the time you're 35 you HAVE a kid and a car and a house.
I got the kid and then the car and I'm still in college and working on the house. I'm doing all this shit out of order.
I slept all day the other day. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure if it was depression, or if I was just tired, or if it was because I haven't been taking my medication right or what.
Before anyone jumps my ass for that last one, my doctor REFUSED to refill my prescriptions for three weeks. I had to call and be like, Dude. I'm a student and an on-call funeral director. I don't have free time to come into your office, sit in the waiting room for half an hour, then go in the office for less than five whole minutes while you ask "Has anything changed?"
"Do you think we should change prescriptions?"
"Alright, see you in eleven months."
JUST REFILL THE FUCKING PRESCRIPTION. People have shit to do.
So, yesterday... maybe Monday... we go out in the ocean. Dahlia LOVES the fuckin' water. She has no fear despite not being able to swim.
But there was a purple flag up, so I'm on the look out for "Dangerous Marine Life."
Eventually, I see a little tiny little jellyfish. It didn't look like it had tentacles, but who knows? I watched it float on by with no problem and didn't say anything. A minute later, I saw another one, scooped Dali up and walked to shore. We waited about ten or fifteen minutes before we got back in. I've never been stung by a jelly and I don't plan on starting now, not to mention, I don't want her first trip to the beach ever marred by a bad experience with brainless sea life.
The next night, we went to the State Pier and walked around and saw AT LEAST 20 Moon jellyfish hanging around in one spot. I know they're not nearly as poisonous as others, but there were a LOT of them.
Tonight, we were walking on the beach so Dali could collect shells, she reaches down and and grabs one. Then she says, "It feels like jelly." We slap it out of her hand and freak out. She didn't get stung, but different people react different, or maybe she just didn't touch it right. I dunno. Maybe she's the next Samus
As I said, I had no doubt I would pass this class this semester.
I might have at first, but once I got into the swing of things, and especially after midterms, I knew that it was in the bag. My doubt was about if I'd get my GPA back up to 2.0 or higher. I went from a 2.75 my first semester to a 1.58 before Summer. It's easy to drop and not nearly as easy to get back up.
Without a 2.0 or higher, a student loses their financial aid. I paid out of pocket for this Summer class with the highest of hopes that my hard work, I could do it. I was wrong. Even with an 83 on my midterm, an 86 on my final, and an 87 overall (with the help of a 100 on one of the quizzes), the best GPA I can hope for at the moment is a 1.7.
Classes are roughly $440 and I have to retake two of them for Fall semester AND
. . . And even if I take them, and even if I get a 3.0 in both classes, My GPA would not rise to a 2.0 before the end of December and I would be in violation of my Academic Contract for the Jeff State Funeral Service Education program.
That last part may not be entirely
Our program coordinator would only take my MOST RECENT grades into account and my previous Fall Semester would not be accounted for (and maybe even erase the fact that I dropped the embalming sciences), so while I might get past that, I'd still have under a 2.0 GPA for cumulative record and would STILL not be able to get financial aid for Spring.
That's almost $1800 fucking dollars over the next nine months, just on school.
The fact that I don't have to pay for books won't help that much, and taking my lunch to work or cutting off NetFlix and Hulu isn't going to bail me out, either. It's a problem that just seems insurmountable. It sure seems to be raining shit on Shaun Burnett, right now
So with that information and depression and even more fucking stress setting in, I had a moment of clarity and decided I should sell everything I own. I have a lot of video game systems... three DreamCasts, two Segas, a Saturn, a Sega CD, a Nintendo or two, PS1, PS2, the Wii, I think Liz has a GameCube. God knows how many games. Toys, in the box, rare, unboxed, not so rare... pogs. A whole set of DC pogs. Collectible statues. Computer stuff and electronics. Even though BluRay is in, I'm sure I have some DVDs people would want to buy.
I don't wanna sell my comics. Even though they're at Brian's house for safe keeping, I want to keep
I'm not really too keen on that idea. Neither is Liz. But honestly, I don't know what else to do besides getting a second job.
Everywhere I look for a new kind of grant or student loan, it links me to something else which links me to something else which links me back to the first thing and then I have nothing.
I suppose robbing a liquor store is an option.
I have no doubt that I passed this semester|
I believe that I could have bombed the final today, made a 60 or 70, and still passed the course with a C because I've done so well on my weekly quizzes and my midterm.
But here's the problem. I totally fucked myself during Spring semester. I was more concerned with work and doing good at my job and then relaxing as much as I could on the days off I had, instead of actually studying. Because of that, my GPA dropped to a 1.58 and I lost my financial aid. So I'm not so much concerned about passing this course, I'm concerned about "Did I do well enough to get my financial aid back?"
I'm really starting to psyche myself out, because as I've said previously, I have two people depending on me directly, and who knows whoever else indirectly just because of the shit I do and don't even know it. You never know how you effect others.
Tomorrow, I get up, put my suit on, and I go back to school one more time for an NFDA meeting, and them I'm done for the semester. That'll be three weeks of... well, I was about to say rest, but hopefully, I'll be working and earning some scratch.
With luck, grades will be posted by Friday and my fears will be put to rest. I'll spend at least two full days going back and forth between the house and the Financial Aid office making sure I get my fucking shit in order for Fall semester.
Sometimes I'm really thrown for a loop by the things Dahlia CAN and CAN NOT do.
For instance: Last year, when she learned to potty it was amazing, a wall was broken down. But she would only pee in it. It was like, four more months or so before she pooped in the potty. I was in Tuscaloosa at a big Kung Fu meeting and Liz sent me a TXT saying "Dahlia pooped in the toilet" and I was so happy I yelled "MY DAUGHTER SHIT!!!"
But, y'know, she's still only three, so she has to wear a diaper to bed. That's not so bad. But the other night, she peed the bed... and then peed the couch... and then today, deliberately peed her pants, I suppose because watching She-Zow is more important that getting up and going to the bathroom.
But then we were outside and... she's gotten two tricycles (one here and one at Dad's) and a little baby bike. She could not figure out the basics of peddling for the life of her. Sitting on the carport, she got on her bike, I figured it's be fine as long as she didn't fall over ('cause she didn't have a helmet on), because obviously she wasn't going anywhere. It's no big deal. I couldn't ride a bike until I was like, 7 or 8, 'cause I had a horrible sense of balance. She may be the same, she still has training wheels.
But then she did it. Kept pushing her legs forward and was moving. MIND BLOWN. Then she said it was easier on her trike. So we got it out, and lo and behold, it was. She could steer better with it.
Then there's times when she says amazing things that I have no idea how she learned them, like, I gave her some water, and she was like, "Oh yeah, I don't want to get dehydrated."
Where the hell did she learn "dehydrated" when she still says "H I K J L M O L P" when reciting her alphabet? Plus, she'll watch all these nature and science shows and tell us amazing facts about honey badgers and earthworms and Jupiter and dinosaurs that, sometimes, neither me nor Liz had any clue about.
Kids are funny
For only the second time, we've had to leave a restaurant because Dahlia was misbehaving and actin' a fool. I yanked her up and took her out of the building with her screaming and crying, everyone looking, both Liz and I embarrassed as fuck.
She was screaming so much because she thought I was taking her to the car to leave her there by herself. I corrected her, but I still chewed her ass out.
I told her she has lost all privileges for the night (and maybe even some tomorrow) and it will take a LOT of making up to fix this problem.
"Like cleaning up my toys?" she asked, choking back tears.
That would be a good start.
When we got home, she continued to whine and said she'd clean up her toys later. Her attitude has not improved and I'm refusing to budge, however I am being a little gentler than I originally planned.
I know she's only three. I know she gets grouchy when she hasn't had a nap. I know she's hardheaded and easily influenced.
Wow... she sounds awful familiar... but nevermind that. The point is that I have an indomitable will (sometimes) and there comes a point with children where you have to fuckin' take over as the alpha.
With a little help from Liz (who appeals to her emotions better than I do) she's starting to cheer up, but still has work to do before she gets everything back
Sick kids and holidays and stress and work and school and depression (same ol' same ol')|
So Elizabeth got sick the week before Christmas and Dalia got like, two days before Christmas. Liz got better, but Dali's fever kept going up and down as did her mood. It was almost a replay of last Christmas. I presumed that the sickness would spread throughout the house until after New Year's until I finally got it (I have a weird immune system), which I did, but her parents and sister didn't seem to get it as bad and really neither have I.
More on that later -- one night we were trying to get Dahlia to take her medicine, and though she was willing, she wasn't exactly able. She gagged and threw up twice. In an effort to calm down, she tried, of her own accord, do the Shen Lung Kung Fu breathing exercises I've taught her. Seeing her do this made me swell with pride almost to the point of tears.
So, the fact that I have a kid, a THREE YEAR OLD, that is willing to do what she has to in order to do what she NEEDS to... it makes me feel really small and shitty when I'm being lazy and selfish and how I just want to be angry and hate everyone and curl into a ball and avoid my problems, whether it's the fact that I'm sick or something went wrong at work or I have school shit to deal with. It's a real Crosby Stills & Nash moment.
So I got sick. I came in to work sick, on my day off, even. I didn't bitch about it to my co-workers, but I made sure that Facebook knew I was pulling a Dante and that I'm not even supposed to BE here today!!! I blew my nose and my right ear filled up with fluid and I almost fell over I was so dizzy. It's still kinda infected. More on that later.
I have no problem working, least ways, not if I enjoy the job. I like this job. Yes, I have to deal with some shitty families from time to time, but when you make someone feel better? That's worth it, not to mention as of yet, I don't mind any of the things that have had to do with dead people.
But part of my problem with depression is that if I run out of stuff to occupy my mind with sometimes, I just sink into that hole, man. So if I run out of stuff to do at work, immediately, I wanna go home or go to sleep or jack off or do anything else to fill the void. I dunno, maybe it's some type of anxiety. I'd rather be at work and be busy than sitting there getting paid to play on Facebook.
What I DON'T like though is when someone... a coworker, perhaps... treats me like I'm a fuckin' kid. I know I'm an apprentice, I know I'm the new guy, but I'm 34 years old. I know I've only been here since October 4th, but I've done and learned an assload since then. I don't want to go into specifics, but when I'm in the middle of doing something, it's obvious when I'm drowning and when I'm not. When I'm not, I don't need fogeys and farts coming in and taking over for me like I'm a little kid who can barely wipe his ass.
Plus he calls me "Shane." I hate that. The only thing I hate more is when people spell Shaun with a "W." Or, maybe "hate" is too strong a word because it's happened for 34 years and I react to it with annoyance yet indifference... like Garfield does to Mondays or something.
Old people coming through the front doors are what keeps the funeral business alive, old people coming through the office doors are what's gonna kill it.
I was PO'ed, so I figured, they obviously can handle this themselves, don't need me, I packed and left. Went home, self medicated, and got some well needed rest.
Got up this morning, went to the doctor, she says I have an upper respiratory infection and an ear infection. I got a shot and a prescription for some antibiotics. While I was there, I set up an appointment for ANOTHER doctor's appointment to go and see someone for my sleep apnea... or whatever it is I have.
Liz and Dahlia can't sleep at night. They can't sleep at night because I can't sleep at night. More to the point, I sleep fine... if I sleep for ten or twelve hours. I feel incredible after that. But on my 6-8 hour sleep schedule now, I don't feel rested and I snore and choke and I know I have restless legs and arms and fuckall knows how I breathe between my mouth and nose.
Liz snores, too. She probably needs a sleep study, too. Not nearly as bad, though. I was supposed to have two studies done in Tuscaloosa and the first one I never fell asleep and they cancelled it, which seemed like bullshit to me. The second one was cancelled because I couldn't breathe through my nose. I backed out of the next one scheduled in Birmingham because of those shitty experiences. But, I suppose if it's what's best, then I had better do it.
And finally, I have that psychiatrist appointment next week. I actually don't know what day or what time... I think it's on the 12th, which is the Monday before school starts, and despite not being as black as I was when I set it up, I'm still gonna go.
I told Liz that I care about them enough that I want to care of myself. My motto had always been "Live Obtuse, Die Eventually, and Leave a Mediocre at Best Corpse."
I suppose I've got to be better than that, now. It's weird that I actually want to, though.
One Year Removed / School Update|
. . . But you can't do that at work.
I got my grades yesterday. I only passed two classes, which was really depressing since I had studied SO damn hard to try and pass my Psych/Soc class. I missed by 11 points on my final exam. I needed a 91 and got an 80.
My teacher told me he was proud of me for bringing up both my quiz and exam grades, but in the end, I had blown my midterm and it cost me. I remember taking the midterm and just fuckin' blanking out on all the vocabulary.
So I was sitting at work and had nothing to do so I was looking at Facebook when a few of my classmates said that grades had been posted. I searched for mine and was promptly shattered by that "D."
Did I mention that? To pass, we have to have a "C" or higher? We do. 'Cause otherwise I'd be fine. Maybe a little disappointed in myself, but still okay with a "D."
So I sat there, figuratively shitting on myself, feeling the depression wash over me again. And when I feel like that, when I'm collapsing into that lonely pit of self, I know (now) that I always fix it by doing something selfish, usually masturbation and a nap, other times buying something I have absolutely no need for, at least not at the moment.
But I couldn't do any of that this time, so I did something I never do in one of my depressed or anxious situations, and I confronted the problem.
Lemme take you back to the day of exams.
I dropped Law in order to refocus my efforts on my other subjects. I dunno if I would have passed the two subjects I did or had done as good on that Psych/Soc exam if I hadn't. But there were many... "inconsistencies" (for lack of a better word) regarding our Anatomy/Physiology material that we were supposed to learn. I had the same concerns as many of my in-class and online classmates that we were going to fail the class because we simply WERE NOT
retaining the material due to the way it was presented.
Since the beginning of the semester, I had complained that the material was a bit complicated, wondering why we needed to know it, wondering why there was no prerequisite Biology class required, something that would've helped shit loads. Apparently I wasn't the only one.
Of my own volition, I took the time I would have spent taking the Law exam and wrote a very polite
letter to my teachers asking them why a part time teacher is teaching our Bio class, why the curriculum is presented the way it is, how we as a class are supposed to learn, even if from trial and error, if we're only given two tests in Bio a year?
I know the squeaky wheel either gets the grease or it gets thrown away. That squeaky wheel was either gonna be me or the Bio teacher and if I had to take the brunt on behalf of the whole class for speaking my mind then so be it. I've never minded being the rebel, not that I was trying to be, but I'm willing to do what I gotta do.
I gave them both a copy of the letter and left after exams.
Back to the now.
Like I said, I did what I usually don't do and confronted the problem. I called my teacher and wanted to know why I didn't pass. He explained what he could over the phone and asked if I could come in, that they'd both like to see me. So I went in to the school today, not really knowing what to expect.
He showed me my grades and asked if I had any questions. No, I was just mad at myself is all.
He got my other teacher down there and we talked about the letter. They commended me for speaking my mind and not talking shit behind their back. They said not a lot of people in the program have ever had the brass to do that, much less people just in their first semester (or in my case finishing my first semester).
They put my mind at ease... at least a little... about next semester and how the curriculum will work then, but we talked candidly about my concerns I addressed in the letter and it was admitted there were some things that could be fixed, most specifically, like the homework we do is never given back so we'll never know if we did it right or wrong and it's seemingly pointless, not to mention course content that should be released the week before
class isn't released until the day of or day after class (and if it was, I never found it available until after class, which was too late).
This time a year ago, I had just taken my placement test
and had no idea what I was truly in for
in the year to come. I made it anyway.
Everyone tells me how proud of me they are and a small piece of me swells with pride before being deflated because I know I should have been here doing this almost fifteen years ago, and beside that I know that even though I'm going to school to do something I actually enjoy
learning about and doing at work, it depresses me again to know I'm pushing art and writing and wrestling and even Kung Fu further and further and further away and if you don't use it you lose it and every day I just get fatter and more complacent and have to lean further over to see my dick.
Was that TMI? Yeah, probably time to wrap this up.
I've got the balls... the gumption
, to do everything but help myself. You wanna fight? I'm up for it. Wanna argue over nothing? I'll play Devil's Advocate. Wanna have a shoot out? I'll be your Huckleberry.
But just as much as I said I'm afraid of failure because everyone wants me to succeed and especially because Dahlia and Elizabeth are relying on me, I'm afraid of doing any better because I just want things to be easy and let me avoid conflict, let me avoid anything complicated, let me be lazy and selfish and wallow in mediocrity.
It's so hard to do both.
I thought I was through with it.
I figured, Hey! I'm done being depressed, I'm done with anger issues, I'm done with anxiety, I'm done with being a functional alcoholic and as soon as I made those decisions, a great woman came into my life and badda boom we're married with a kid and everything is right with the world!
Or is it?
With great responsibility comes great fear, fear leads to panic, panic leads to stress, stress leads to suffering. With multiple failed job attempts and interviews and Voc Rehab under my belt, going back to school was a big decision, much bigger than just getting my GED, which seems like small fries in the rear view mirror now.
That first semester also seems like no big deal in comparison in retrospect, but it made me frazzled as fuck at the time. I didn't really realize just how easy I had it, doing homework one... maybe two nights a week, at most for three subjects but never for all four at once. Didn't have to. I didn't sweat those classes. The toughest one was Sociology because I actually had to DO WORK, but it wasn't hard work. I got the worst grade in English because, as a composition teacher, she was a stickler for some shit I didn't believe needed to be marked down for. I mean, c'mon... how are you gonna talk an entire class about Mark Twain being the first American author to write in the vernacular and then NOT also write your paper in vernacular speech? It just makes sense.
My point is that I thought I could get away with the same shit this semester. Even after all the problems trying to find a funeral home to apprentice at, trying to get my goddamned financial aid straight, trying to make sure I had all my books just so I could do SOME of my work before midterms, you'd figure with all the shit going wrong, at least something would go right for a change and fix itself and little things like classes and grades and homework and tests would just fall into place the way they did in the Spring, yeah? I got all my info online last year, it was easy as pie!
Funeral Service Education is quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever done, and this is only the first semester.
I knew I was doing poorly in a few areas. I don't test well, I dunno if it's poor study habits or memory problems or maybe it's the way these tests are given (verbatim memorization/fill-in-the-blanks), but I was failing Law & Ethics.
"Ethics?" I hear you asking. "You don't know what's ethical or not?"
First off, ethical
or not is in the eye of the beholder. That's why it's paired with Law, because what's legal is not always ethical. If your neighbor has a barkin' assed dog that keeps you up all night and then craps in your yard, it's neither legal nor ethical for you to go kick that dog in the jaw, however, there's nothing illegal about leaving a bowl of antifreeze where anyone could come drink it... but is it ethical?
Besides, we only covered "ethics" for about two weeks before we got into serious law, STUFF I KNOW ABOUT! The ADA, Civil Rights, Fair Labor Laws, Equality Acts, all that shit I used to talk about over in SECS and PEACE
But I also had to know dates and about the FTC and OSHA and shit like that. How the fuck am I supposed to remember dates? DO you know how I remember when Liz's birthday is? It's the day before mine. Our anniversary? It's on my parent's birthday.
And it's not like I have bad teachers or anything, they're both actually really GOOD
teachers (actually, I have three teachers, one for biology and she sucks but we're not focusing on that right now). They're doing their job this way because when you're done with these classes, you have to go and take a really super hard test to pass in order to actually become a funeral director, and if these classes aren't as hard as that test, then you won't be able to pass.
So like I said, I wasn't doing too good. It had been bumming me out, then there was the added pressure of starting the job. Getting up every morning at 6AM, whether for school or work, and sitting somewhere doing nothing for two hours until 8 is a pain in the butt. Literally.
I was taking midterms, and I finished that test, went downstairs, and called Liz.
I couldn't hold it anymore. I knew I had failed, and I broke down crying.
I can't explain the anxiety and fear of this responsibility. It has gripped me so hard for so many months now, growing and festering behind a veil of dick and fart jokes.
I would(will) lie awake at night, wishing that somehow God will "make it all not true" like some genie, and that when I woke up, I would be a miserable drunk again, coming to on my couch in Tuscaloosa after blacking out. I would be lonely and angry and unloved but if I failed at something, no one would be relying on me for their lives and if I fail I just get another check next month and I won't have to kill myself just so my wife and kid can get my social security settlement.
And hey, don't get me wrong, I know I've got it pretty grood. There are people a lot fuckin' worse out there dealing with heavier shit than I am, some in my own class.
I have more fingers than friends here in Birmingham and the times I have seen them in the past year has been maybe... three? So I did something I did not want to do, I took my headphones out, I tried listening and talking to the people in my class, tried making friends, and they're alright folks. Some of'em have much worse shit to worry about. One guy blew his fuckin' hand off, one young lady is planning a wedding, a few go to school and work 40 hours, some do it for no pay, what the fuck?
But my TRIBE
of true loyal friends I have had for the past 18 year is in Tuscaloosa, and that hit me harder than anything Sunday night at Friendsgiving. Besides Liz and Dahlia, who do I have here?
Dad. That's it.
Lissa just moved back but she's in Montgomery, I never see Rok, Lisa, or Alan, Jas is in Huntsville, Sarah and Josh moved back but never see them, they have their own friends, Never see Laura 'cause she has three boys, and Bex is finally moving back to the US but not here.
With all this stress and anxiety, it's backed it's way into my system. It has no where to go like it used to and I'm finding myself in that horrible place like I was after the divorce. As much as I fear failing Liz and Dahlia and literally find myself crawling away from the things I should be doing just to push it away for another day, I HATE
that past and those memories. The crushing loneliness. Sleeping with the door open, waiting for someone to walk in, just so I could have someone to [fight/fuck/talk to]. Waking up, eating, jerking off, showering, getting drunk, passing out, waking up a few hours later just to repeat the process until there was something actually interesting to do.
I don't want to go back there because I hated myself just as much as I hated everyone else and that feeling is coming back.
I've lashed out at Liz and Dahlia. No rhyme or reason, just flew off my tit and yelled or cursed and couldn't control my emotions. I was angry one second and ready to cry the next, and often, I didn't realize it had happened until later.
Dahlia has no clue what's going on. I don't want her to grow up thinking "That's just how Dad is, all dads must be like that" and then later figure out, "Oh it was just my
dad, he was a fucker, what was wrong with him? Oh, he was crazy? Well he should have gotten help."
So I am trying. I've been calling these places, seeing if they take my insurance, they give me this line about how they don't accept new patients or won't see me until February. What a crock. I'm tell the woman on the phone, You know it's not healthy
for a mental health clinic to tell a person asking for help
that you WON'T HELP THEM?!?
What if it were a suicide person and they told'em to come in in three months? Fuckin' A, they'd have no business.
But despite being on a waiting list, I'm going to go talk to one of these counselors. I've talked to a few other people and that's been a little relief. I'm not sure who said it, maybe it was my close confidante Oscar the Grouch, "Dumbass," he said, "You're not crazy. Everyone has these problems."
"Yeah. The difference is that you're taking on all these mighty big problems at once. You ain't never had to do that before."
Yeah, I suppose. I mean, I am putting forth effort, right?
"Not only that, but you're putting forth effort in multiple places. School, work... now you recognized you got some Grouch-like control issues and you told on yerself before someone had to jack yer jaw an' take ya down a notch, or else you'd do somethin' you'd regret. That's light years away from where you were the last time I came through. No matter what, the people who care about you are going to continue to love and support you because they know you're doing all you can to make yourself better for them. It's a real Bert and Ernie thing."
Yeah. Yeah, I guess you're right. It's a two way street, ain't it?
"I only know one street and it goes both ways, kid. Now toss me that banana peel."
His words were wise and with deep meaning.
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