Print Story Last night was beautiful
By lm (Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 06:48:13 AM EST) (all tags)
Nothing like a cool, dry summer night to bring pangs of beauty into the soul.

It always amazes me about how beauty triggers in me the impulse for so much that is bad for me. A delicious evening such as last night brings up in me the urge to go buy a pack of cigarettes and lie outside in the grass watching the stars while chain smoking a pack of cancer-sticks. It also gives the urge to wander around and get into strange and unusual mischief, to commit petty vandalism and random acts of chaos. I will not mention a few other things in this space. Let those who have ears, hear. It's a night for breaking hearts, for enjoying the universe, for wondering in awe at the stars and planets and galaxies above, for watching the clouds drift across the heavens.

This weekend will the third anniversary of my father passing away. It seems like that was ages ago and yet so much remains the same. Three years ago I was stuck in a job I hated and busting my butt to find a way to quit and go back to school. I was also making a ludicrous amount of money. Flash forward three years and I'm stuck in a job I dislike and busting my butt to find a way to quit and go back to school. But there are differences.  I'm just making enough money to get by. My boss is helping me with my goal by giving me time off during the day to take one or two classes each quarter. Where three years ago I was absolutely miserable with regards to work, the misery is now endurable. And even financially speaking, I'm in a better place. It is true that I'm barely making enough money to pay the bills, but I'm in a spot where I can afford to do that. Due in large part to the relatively small amount of money my family needs, we're just a stone's throw away from being in the luxury class. The key to financial freedom is low material expectations. Cooking for a family of four (or five) takes far less cash than buying four (or five) value meals at McDonalds.

In a way, it's funny how I've changed. Back in 1995 when I took my first `real' job making a whole six and half dollars  per hour, I set a five year goal of making fifty grand a year. I missed that goal by two or three years and then exceeded it. Then I gave it up because making that money was part of a mode of living that was killing me. Now I have a new plan. It's going to take much longer than five years. It isn't aimed at money, but at changing the way I live. What I want is not material wealth, but a mode of living through which I can be the person I seem to be becoming rather than simply living in such a way to only supply myself and my family with our base material needs.

My daughters are growing and maturing. The oldest turned 13 yesterday. She's full of sass, independence, laziness, attitude and love. Like most girl's her age, it's all about her. Hopefully she grow out of this stage sooner rather than later. Although, as long as she grows out of it at all she'll be ahead on the bell curve. My youngest daughter turned 9 back in June. She is getting to the age where she's consciously making moral decisions for better or for worse. That makes life complicated for her. I've been truly blessed by both of my girls. They are wonders.

These three years have been a very bumpy ride for my wife. She's had to deal with me dealing with my own baggage on top of the very heavy burdens she already bears. But her story is hers to tell. And tell it she does. I can only imagine what she goes through. If you Google™ for ``spinal muscular atrophy'' and ``life expectancy'' you find a considerable number of pages that mention the very significant numbers twenties to thirties. Of course, when she was two her parents were told that she would be lucky to see five. The feeling of living on borrowed time certainly isn't new to her. I'm not certain that this makes that feeling any easier to deal with.

Then there is my sister and her family. The only reason I'm including them in this retrospective is that my fate has become tied to theirs throughly the magic of my name sharing a spot with my sister's name on the deed to a piece of real estate. It is really hard to exaggerate just how much of a fuckup both my sister and her husband are. A large part of this neither she nor he can help. Genetics are genetics and we all are stuck playing the hand dealt out to us by Mother Nature. But whatever cards given us to Mother Nature, it is our choices that decide whether we bluff, go all in, raise, call, or fold and walk away from the table.

By the first anniversary of my father's death, I was still hoping that my sister and her husband will help clean up the mess. By the second anniversary, I had realized that I was going to do the lion's share of the work with little or no recompense aside from 50% the increase in value of Ye Olde House of Doom that came from my own hard labor. Now we grow close to the third year and I've reason to hope that she and her husband might be getting their act together. Her husband found regular work this year after being unemployed since before my father died. Ye Olde House of Doom is almost as clean on the inside as it was before my sister's family moved in. It boggles my mind that for the past three years she's been making far more money than I have, has lived rent free for almost the past two years. (To be accurate, they've lived rent free  in Ye Olde House of Doom for the past twelve months, but I don't think that she or her husband paid their old mortgage for the twelve months prior to that which is why their house was foreclosed on last summer and they moved into Ye Olde House of Doom.) One can always hope. Although hope often leads to the pain of unfulfilled expectations.

Soon another year will go by. No one knows what it will bring. I have my suspicions. I have hopes. I have dreams. I find myself hoping for the worst and steeling myself for the best. I find the rational part of myself struggling to rise above those hopes and work on my dreams. And, Lord willing, there will be another beautiful summer night down the road and I'll look back find out whether I've risen or I've fallen.

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Last night was beautiful | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
You are lucky mate by cam (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 07:07:59 AM EST
Your family is bursting with life and energy. At the moment I have a second mortgage, my wife likes to call him "Trapper".

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

I've got two mortgages as well by lm (4.00 / 1) #7 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 11:45:47 AM EST
It's just that they're on two separate houses. One's on a house that in theory is now a rental unit. Presently it's being occupied by the ex-wife of the younger brother of a grade-school chum of mine. Her ex promised that he would start paying rent Real Soon Now™ up until November. At this point, I'd just be happy to be able to sell it for what we owe the bank after 10 years of paying on the mortgage.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Don't say "genetics" by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 07:40:32 AM EST
Far too simplistic. What we are is the imprint that our environment (of which culture is, of course, only a subset) has made on our genes. The event is chaotic, which is why relatives can sometimes seem so different despite sharing so much.

Sounds like you've crested the hill and started down the other side.

As such things go, always hope, but never depend.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

aye, I ought to have been broader by lm (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 07:51:20 AM EST
Even if one has the best genetics and has been nurtured to a near state of human perfection, Mother Nature can still drop a hurricane and create all sorts of havoc.

That said, in my estimation, my sister's largest struggle is with the family curse of a genetic predisposition towards certain types of depression and despondancy.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I get the same thing by riceowlguy (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 08:53:48 AM EST
Not to get all emo/metaphysical/myspacey on you or anything, but it's so hard to just be.  Going on a camping/fishing trip in the mountains, by itself, doesn't have much appeal.  Going on a camping/fishing trip in the mountains with a bag of Galoises and a case of Jack Daniels...sounds pretty good right now.

Yeah by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 08:57:28 AM EST
re: weather: I was thinking pretty much the same thing last night. This is the type of weather when it was fun to stay out all night with my pals, running around drinking like fools and taking crazy chances, then crawling home into bed as the sun starts to rise.

Damn, too bad we can't stay 17 forever.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

While I had some fun at 17 ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 10:35:43 AM EST
... I'm certainly glad that I didn't stay a slave to my hormones forever. I'd gladly take my current set of circumstances over being 17 again.

But I do miss many of the things that I could enjoy at 17 that I need abstain from as a resonsible adult.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
i'm 33 and it's all about me by fleece (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Aug 18, 2006 at 04:12:50 AM EST
why should 13 year olds have all the fun?

Five year plans by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Aug 18, 2006 at 05:54:19 AM EST
When I got out of college and got my first real fulltime job I didn't have a plan.  Then in 1999 I got my first real corporate job and set a plan of doubling my income in five years.  I did that with no time to spare.  For the last few years I haven't had a plan.  Recently I decided that the next five year plan was to become financially stable and leave the corporate world.  The ten year plan has me somewhere in politics or a ministry.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
Last night was beautiful | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback