Doldrums

Test Positive

When everybody keeps retreating but you can't seem to get enough...

I read about them in books, those aptitude/career tests high schools supposedly give to their students to place them on the right track. Maybe that’s why I remained uncertain all my life. Those guidance counselors, who only had me and several other hundred students with last names A-G in mind, are to blame. Those bastards.

Find A Girl, Settle Down

As I listen to Cat Steven’s “Father and Son,” a part of me yearns for a different childhood. Perhaps if I knew my father better, I might have been a different man. Then again, if my father was still my father – the drunken man staggering in, shouting and angry – I might have been worse off.

Life has been one abandonment after another when it came to male role models. My maternal grandfather – the one I’m named after – died when I was in the third grade, while my paternal grandfather passed three years later. Uncles came and went. Male teachers who were inspiring enough only lasted a year in my life and were not common.

In college, I haunted the hallways outside the offices of professors I looked up to. When they were in, I sat there talking about class assignments and later political topics, etc. Even when I wasn’t enrolled in his class, I’d sit in a cushy or uncomfortable chair just to learn from an authentic man – not like the ones you see on TV who need to strut their testosterone.

But a few men gracing my life was not enough to create a philosophy of manhood. It’s just something that’s supposed to come naturally to you, I suppose.

Everything She Wants, I See She Gets

Instead of men, women were the ones that taught me what being a man meant. Anyone who thinks this isn’t possible needs to shut the fuck up and stop reading my damn blog get better educated. Despite the obvious exceptions, women are just as capable as a guy. And that’s not some neo-feminist-guy babble. 

That Was Gonna Go On A Tangent (formerly, I Need A Job)

The point, let’s stick to it, shall we?

After all these years of being educated, I’m not any smarter than originally thought. I’m good with adapting to situations. My mother’s always thought of me as a survivor – “Whenever Willie gets into a mess, I know he’ll figure how to make it right.”

My mother’s faith in me might have been the foundation of my arrogance. My mother’s a survivor, she’d had to be because she had three sons – what gets more chaotic than that?

But the tides are changing, and I’m drifting caught in the undertow. There’s what I’m good at and what I love doing and the two cannot exist while the other is around. There’s what’ll give me money and what makes me happy; I cannot have both. Not to mention, there’s the plan of returning to school in hopes to get my MFA in Creative Writing.

The cords are pulling me two ways and I feel like I’m drowning. And I’m reaching up for the tiny hand that might pull me out of myself – I’ve lived within myself for far too long – and bring me ashore.

And Sometimes When You’re On, You’re Really Fucking On, And Your Friends They Sing Along And They Love You. But the Lows Are So Extreme, And The Good Seems Fucking Cheap. And It Teases You For Weeks In Its Absence, But You’ll Fight And You’ll Make It Through, You’ll Fake It If You Have To And You’ll Show Up For Work With A Smile. You’ll Be Better And You’ll Be Smarter, And More Grown Up, And A Better Daughter Or Son, And A Real Good Friend. And You’ll Be Awake, You’ll Be Alert. You’ll Be Positive, Though It Hurts. And You’ll Laugh And Embrace All Your Friends. And You’ll Be A Real Good Listener. You’ll Be Honest. You’ll Be Brave. And You’ll Be Handsome And You’ll Be Beautiful You’ll Be Happy.

I know I should feel nervous. Anxious. I feel like I should worry and pace around. Like I should feel like taking walk, getting back with nature. Instead, I feel stoic.

That might actually be some improvement.

Doldrums

“You & I will be young forever”

I was in the ninth grade when my maternal grandmother (the woman in the photo collage above) passed away. It was 4:45am when I jolted awake. My brother and sister-in-law were still asleep (or so I thought) as was my nephew. My mother spent the night at the hospital in Weslaco. It was a Saturday. I turned on the TV to see what was on – watched an episode of The Mask animated series and then whatever Saturday Morning Cartoons had to offer – ABC, if I recalled correctly. I made failed attempts to go back to bed. Nothing worked.

I got the call around nine that morning. My older brother, who’d been living at my grandmother’s house in Donna, Texas, called the house. His voice was already soft, sad. Somehow, I already knew the news that he was about to offer. What made it even more chilling was the time she’d passed away. 4:45am.

I watched the Monkey Boys shortly after that phone call, seeking comfort in familiarity of childhood. I was fourteen and the only person who seemed to understand me was gone. People talk about going through the motions when a loved one passes, or when depression hits hard. The problem with me, I don’t think I can conjure up a single memory of my adolescence that was truly genuine. It wasn’t until that moment when I answered that phone call that I felt human.

My family history – despite my mother’s protests – is plagued with depression and other mental maladies. From dementia to postpartum depression to alcoholism (that’s my Father’s side, anyway) to stuff that I don’t want to think about, my family has it.

I lived my life one book at a time, hoping to figure out what exactly I fail to see. Hoping that whatever is wrong with me finally lifts off my shoulders and I’m able to function without fear that something will happen. For the most part, I’ve managed to keep it under control. With the help of a loving girlfriend and good friends, I’ve managed to feel somewhat human.

What got me thinking about all this was a phone call I’ve been expecting for a couple of days now. It seems that every time I have these deepening depressions, an old friend decides to return into my life. I used to call these people ghosts – as in ghosts from my past – but considering they’ve all pretty much became “recurring” characters, I’ve dropped it. However, Aleida remains forever a ghost no matter how long she stays, eventually she vanishes from my life. Last night, she finally called. We discussed similar problems with our mental stability.

In the end, we spoke of the past. It seems that it always arises when we first meet again. The possibility that is old is no longer possible. Several years ago, there was a time when I might have considered – actually, I had considered – a relationship with her, but the timing was all wrong. My ex-girlfriend and I had salvaged our relationship ignoring the fact it would just end up in a similar rendition. And of course I joked, “And it’s not like it was a grave mistake. I would’ve made you miserable. But in the end, it worked out. I think if we had moved forward, things would have been different right now. I would’ve have ended up with Jyg.”

“And what did I get in the end? Where’s my happy ending?” she asked.

While I do wonder how things would be different had I not returned to my relationship with Jessica and moved forth with Aleida, I’m still glad I didn’t. Because in the end it’s all about balance, not with convenience. There would not have been any growth for me. My relationship with Jessica molded what I wanted out of a relationship, rather than what was expected of me. Had it not been for my rash decision to mend our relationship that summer, I don’t think I’d be where I’m standing now.

No matter the ghost, no matter the emotion, the first person to understand me passed away several years ago. The second person stands by my side and manages with me every day. Despite the weight that we carry in our daily transgressions, we are happy. We work. We balance each other out. And even though she never got to meet her, I’m sure my grandmother would have approved. Isn’t that what matters?