Friday, August 19, 2022

I Coulda Been A Contender

I've written so many posts examining and lamenting what I can't help but think is people's predominant thought of me, which is "what a waste". 

It feels cocky and arrogant to even publicly postulate. I really don't like drawing attention to my meagre skills and talents, particularly when it's obvious to all and sundry I haven't done fuck-all with any of them. It's even more mystifying, to you and to me, why I don't just, oh, I dunno, DO SOMETHING.  

Every time I sit down to write something fictional, my mind slams shut and locks. Nope, nope, not today. What's that? A glimmer of an IDEA? Let's start building it. How? Fuck if I know, that's your job.  And the idea doesn't so much shatter as vaporize. 

Nonfiction? Sure, if I could find a topic I'm interested enough about. You get much longer than a good meaty blog and that's all I have to say about that. Then I have to fantasize that other people will be sufficiently interested in whatever I have to say to invest money and time. I'm grateful enough people read these blogs. My average view count lately is in the thirties. While I'm undoubtedly and supremely grateful to those who choose to view my spewings, that view count suggests there aren't many of you.

I can insist until I'm bluefaced that I've no interest in the rat race, because even if you win that thing, you're still a rat. I even believe myself, most of the time. And then I think to myself I want to see Scotland. I want to see Vesuvius. I want to see Hawaii. Those things cost money, in quantities it will take years to save for to achieve even one of those goals. 

I'm fifty years old. The time to make goals like these was thirty years ago.


This is not new, of course. Something like this takes root in earliest childhood and spreads. You're forgiven not knowing an answer to what do you want to be when you grow up?...but only for a while. My earliest answer to that question was a child's hero-worship: I wanted to be a cop like Dad. My parents loved me very much but hated each other at least as much, and so even though I was never abused in any way, home never felt safe to me. In a child's way, I wanted to be a safe place anyone could go to when things looked bad. That's a cop. (Tellingly, I had yet to meet anyone of colour who could give me another perspective on that: Black mothers tell their kids to run from police, not to.)

I knew how fucked up my eyes were early on. How could I not? I had to sit at the front of every classroom just to have a hope of reading the board. Vision was the sense I least trusted and often completely discarded. 

Cops need vision. Kinda goes without saying. 

But I didn't want glasses, oh, how I didn't want glasses. In the 1980s only Nerds and Geeks and Quads wore glasses. (That last stands for 'quadriplegic': it was a commonly applied epithet.) I was acutely aware that my differences from human boys would provoke bullies, but I'd be damned if I was going to call attention to them visibly. If that meant I couldn't see for shit, so what. Seeing's shit, I said.

So then I got glasses, because even though I thought seeing was shit,  nobody else seemed to share that opinion. And home instantly  became the only safe place for me outside the classroom. Even inside the classroom I wasn't fully spared from anything that could be shielded from a teacher's eyes. I got spit on and randomly rabbit-punched. I got nasty notes passed to me, many of them inviting me to suk my cock you FAGGOT. They didn't like it much when I noted the irony in me being called a FAGGOT while being ordered to perform a sex act on another man. But in a neat maneuver that nicely foreshadows today's political climate, that jab never seemed to land. I know you are, but what am I?

The glasses mostly fixed my eyes, but they didn't do much for my brain.

It took experiments for Eva to believe this, but it's true. I don't see things where they are. I see things a few inches from where they are, and so fast moving things like baseballs thrown at my head usually went exactly where they were thrown, to the mass hilarity of all and sundry. I've adapted insofar as I can, but nothing will ever convince me I'm not holding something level even as it splashes or slithers. This rises to the level of a handicap only when it comes to driving a car. I can't tell where I end and the road starts and believe you me, you don't want me to try. Not with you in the same postal code. 

So yeah. Complicating factors. Probably not insurmountable, but if you have always felt small and insignificant, molehills look like mountains and mountains look like fuck this.

I took that English degree in pursuit of who knows what. An easy path, probably: English was a subject I could ace without coherent thought, unlike, say, math. I will never, ever forget somebody posing the adult version of "what do you want to be when you grow up?" in first year university. "What are you doing with that degree? I guess you'll be a teacher, then."


I actually think I'd be a fair kids who want to learn. Most don't, and my job would be to get them to anyway, and mountain mountain fuck this. It sounds horrible, but I'd rather admit my shittiness than spray air freshener and hope you don't smell it. But if you don't want to be in my classroom, hey, cool, don't bother. Seriously. You don't want me, I don't want you. Deal? Deal.

So I wouldn't last long there.

I investigated becoming a Unitarian minister. This career path checks a lot of boxes. I'd be writing juicy, meaty spiritual blogs every week and performing them. I'd be helping people, and thus making a real mark in the world. I'd be around music and love and light and where I wasn't, I could give my own. 

...and it costs. A lot. And would involve significant time in the U.S., which quite simply is not happening. 

Through university, I told myself I'd be a newspaper columnist. All these years on, I know it's a job I could do, excel at, and find some measure of satisfaction in.  I got 97% on a Media Studies paper -- about Jurassic Park and whether or not it was suitable for children (I argued it was),  and the prof wrote in shiny red letters: "Have you ever considered writing for the media?"

I had.

So I went to that prof's office and had a long discussion. It's fair to say that conversation had as much to do with my abandonment of university and the utter derailment I made of my life thereafter as the internet that I was hopelessly caught in. You see, I was told that the only reliable way to my preferred career destination was to be a reporter for a few years.

I'd rather teach a class of juvenile delinquents calculus. And math and I do not mix. 

I have foundational, ethical qualms about reporters. Always have. Most of what the world considers "news" I consider meaningless chaff. And whenever real news hits, it's always the reporter interviewing the wailing widow. "Mrs. Sonsnuffedit, how do you feel about your son's tragic death in that fire?" 

"Well, Mr. Action Seven, hikes steel-toed boot into balls THIS would be how it feels, only worse. Fuck off and do it now."

So I put career ambitions away. I at first was defiant, but over time I grew mostly serene about it. The thing is, yes I would like to be making that $100K USD annual salary that provides all you really need to live and some modest luxuries to boot.  But no, I don't want to be in a position where I have power over people to do it. I don't believe in power over. It's probably my most idealistic belief, but I am a creature of ideas and ideals and this is who I am. 

I believe in power with.

I believe in love.

Which is all well and good but it tends not to keep the lights on.

Now I'm looking back, and the legal thrillers I'm reading have convinced me what I really should have done was put my big boy pants on, burn the computer labs at school down (without being caught), finish that English degree, and use it as a stepping stone to a law degree. English is actually one of the degrees law schools look for,

It'd have to be criminal law: civil law is so civil it's boring and family law would burn me out in short order. Next choice: prosecution or defence? Easy. I would have been a prosecutor. I do understand that even monsters need defence and that defence has to be top notch because otherwise the State has a way of not doing its homework, and if you don't hold the State, which has all the power, to rigid standards, soon you'll have none. But--but I couldn't live with myself getting a child murderer off, you know? Or even reducing the sentence. 

But oh how I would love building cases against criminals and seeing them through. And I just KNOW I'd be a crackerjack courtroom presence. I can sway juries with words and emotions and more words. I know it.

Next life.

An old colleague and friend of mine has suggested I monetize my social media, and of course I reacted with horror: who'd pay for this stuff? The blogs that get the best response tend to be personal ones like this one...but those are my friends. My average view count is in the thirties, lately. Lost everybody after I stopped trying to jam polyamory down everybody's throats: I'm convinced they were sticking around for drama that doesn't exist out of proportion to any relationship drama you've experienced. What I have lost in readers, I have gained in mental health and familial calm. 

You see a pattern here, right? Suggestion, instant recital of all the ways that suggestion can't possibly work? Except these ways feel valid to me. I really can't stand reporters. Or apathetic and unruly students. Or asking anybody to pay for something that's been free for 18 years, and worth every penny you didn't pay for it. 

Next blog I'm going to mention an actual opportunity I have been investigating. There's only one block I can think of on it. It involves writing. And apparently can pay up to and beyond that comfortable standard of living I mentioned above. The block: a hell of a lot of hard work and ugh networking to get anywhere. Which would have to be done on top of the full time job I have already.

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