I don’t use this new/old keyboard often. However, I do break it out when I am going to do some writing. Not just any writing, but the kind of writing that is spawned from a concerted effort to get my thoughts out, to put them down on paper, even if it is paper’s virtual equivalent and typed out on a retro Bluetooth keyboard. Real writing that comes from a very distinct, yet ethereal place. It is the kind of writing I once made space for regularly; once a habit, a hobby, a pastime, it is now more often intention without realization. Thoughts that are worth exploring get put aside to sometime later that will never come. They evaporate back into the fog, never taking the same form again.
I write about all sorts of things all the time. I am usually “prompted” by something, some stimulus. Often, probably too often, it is in the form of an interjection on a Facebook post or, also often, some “controversial” post of my own. These things are usually in response to something else, and more often than not that something else has to do with politics, government or societal structures. While important topics to be sure, the platform does not lend itself to any really deep discussion, though I do try. Typically, however, if comments and/or posts are longer than a typical “soundbite,” they are ignored.
This piece will be placed on my blog, The 25 Year Plan, as my 11th post this year. Considering I posted 158 and 132 posts in 2006 and 2007, respectively, this is a very low number. However, compared to the last five years, it is about average and, compared to 2012 (just six entries), it is a banner year. That was an interesting year, and not in a good way, though there were some good moments. This blog, this online journal of “Perspective, Purpose and Opinion” celebrated its 13th birthday two days ago. I knew I started it around this time of year, but I did not realize until just now that my “blogoversary” had passed. In most of those 13 years, I have written some sort of year-end reflection. It has taken different forms over the years, and some years – like 2012 – there was none, but a quick review of my reviews has proven somewhat profound.
When I started this thing, I was just emerging from a pretty dark place in my life. In December, 2005, I had just a little more than one year clean from all mind and mood affecting drugs – alcohol included. I was back in school, doing better than I ever had and life was good. Just a year prior, though I had no desire to write about my life and no blog to post it in anyway, I remember where I was – clean just a few months and freshly out of jail, again. I had pissed away nine months of clean-time (and success) the year before and was, one more time, in the early phases of recovery. Things were not going well, life was not very rosy and I came very close to going back to what I knew would make me not care. I was at “Fuck This!” many times and on New Year’s Eve of 2004, all by myself and alone in the world, I came very close to going back to the devil I knew.
But I did not get any drugs and I did not drink. I went home and went to bed hating my life. From August 2004 to that day, there was not a single day that was “good.” I was surviving and I was doing it without any drugs to numb the pain and make me not care. Sometime in the beginning of 2005, things started to change. I went back to school at the local community college and managed to accomplish some things. By the time my one-year clean anniversary came around, I was a junior at the California State University, Sacramento and on my way to earning a BA in government-journalism. And I was writing – a lot. Eventually, an internship at a local newspaper gave me the opportunity to get reacquainted with a talent I’d abandoned more than 20 years prior. I was writing a lot and taking my camera everywhere I went.
And I was staying clean. All the success that had eluded me for years and years, success I knew I was able to achieve, but just couldn’t, was finally coming. For the longest time I was waiting for the other show to drop. I mean, it had to – the bottom always fell out from under me. It was my curse, or so I thought. However, after a few years that were my “best year ever,” I started to believe that the curse was lifted along with my drug use. Indeed, I started to recognize that they were one and the same. True, there were ups and downs and unexpected challenges, the inevitable inequities of life popped up from time to time, but never was anything enough to derail me. I was on a roll…
But despite my good fortune and the work I had done to make all that happen, I am still capable of making bad decisions. In 2012 I made one of the worst decisions (though, still not the worst) of my life. The fallout from it would be prevalent and palpable for at least two or three years. In some respects, it is still falling out, but on a day-to-day basis, it is nothing but occasional and infrequent background noise. However, my 2013 and 2014 were decidedly not my “best year ever.” The other shoe, it would appear, had dropped. But the blow did not derail me. I had, by that point, built a foundation that could weather that and other storms. Did I take a hit? Damned right I did, but I was not a victim – I was solely responsible for the foreseeable and foreseen predicament I found myself in.
By the end of 2015 I was 11 yeas clean, had earned my Bachelor of Arts and my Master of Arts at CSUS and was a doctoral candidate – a dissertation away - from a PhD at Louisiana State University. For reasons that cannot be easily quantified, I never did that dissertation and left LSU with another MA. Failure, to be sure, but a failure that saw a lot of success along the way. I made the final decision to abandon the PhD before my coursework for another MA “timed-out.” I knew there would be times that I’d regret that decision, and I have, but I am also in a place in my life that is supremely satisfying. Hindsight has shown it was and is still the right decision for me. That mistake in 2012 was an ill-fated and short-lived marriage and it surely played a part, but there was much more than just that. And while I do not believe in “destiny,” or any other preordained reality, I do believe that I gravitated to what serves me best. Part of what I thought that would look like is being single for the rest of my life. I not only accepted that reality, I liked it.
That did not come to pass, however, and my current relationship – now more than two years old – is far and away the healthiest relationship I have ever been in. Christine and I have been living together – along with some of our kids – for six months. Amazing as it sounds (even to me, still), there have been no problems. We have been hit with some of the inevitable inequities of life, but we have adapted and persevered. Most recently, my youngest son was involved in a very serious motorcycle wreck, one he is still rehabilitating from – and that is a situation that will be ongoing for some time to come. We are dealing with it. My girlfriend’s youngest daughter is autistic – and brilliant. She is getting ready to go to college and Christine is a little stressed. And we are dealing with it.
While Christine has her life and I have mine – and our kids have theirs, too – we are also now part of the great big same thing and we do that together. Even with all the inequities… this year has been a very good year. And we are dealing with that, too.