Friday, March 22, 2013

In Honesty, Again

Four years ago, I took to this blog to confess my fears about the future as I approached my senior year of college. That soul-baring exercise helped allay my worries then, and I hope it will this time as well. 

The following is my journal entry for March 18. 

March 18, 2013

After a nearly snowless winter we've had some unexpected late accumulation, about an inch or so this morning with more anticipated late in the week. It didn't affect the roads at all but, predictably, was enough to get Thomas and Pie out of school.

They depart on Friday, along with my parents, for a week in Florida, and I'm looking forward to the distraction of hosting a few friends next Wednesday night.

Of late I've been plagued with doubt concerning my future and the career path I've chosen thus far. As an adolescent I had the kind of lurid fantasies all teenage boys do, of private jets and mounds of gold and rock stardom, fantasies I discarded when I realized the importance of joyful work as opposed to some nouveau riche vision of excess.

Money has come to occupy my mind again, though, because money matters. Increasingly, it seeme to be the only thing that matters in this country, and only through the possession of it can one have the things that should be--and once were--basic human rights: an education, healthcare, security in one's home, fair treatment under the law. Everyone else is simply left behind, and for them no legacy is permitted; surviving to the next paycheck is all they know of longevity.   

Next month I will turn twenty-five. I had thought for sure that by now I'd be on my own, not only supporting myself but contributing in some way to Thomas's college education, which will commence in the fall. Instead I'm still here. The gap between the potential everyone saw and the total failure that actually transpired is enormous and painful.

Of course, I recognize now that I was hampered to a huge degree by my health problems, which many on placed many of the dreams I had out of reach, even though I didn't know it. More aspirations may yet be foreclosed; can a person like me hold public office? Should he? My hardships have given me empathy and, I hope, wisdom, while my intellect allows me a firm grasp on the issues of the day. In those qualities I have something to contribute, yet I wonder if some hindrance lurks in my brain. Will there be something I don't understand? In a moment of panic will my judgement be comrpromised?

And in asking these questions am I being responsible or merely giving myself an excuse to withdraw?

I guess I'll find out some day, becase I will not abdicate my lifelong dream of making a meaningful contribution to my society. That dream has morphed, though. At eighteen I imagined becoming a celebrated politician and I indulged an inner monologue that fueled my need for self-aggrandizement. Now, having struggled to complete college, having seen friends go without medical treatment for chronic conditions because they can't afford hospital visits, having watched the traditional avenues for social advancement close even as the shackles on the working poor are wound tighter, I care about public service for an entirely different reason.

Yet I question, not for health but for financial considerations, whether I'll ever be able to act upon my impulse to serve. And therein lie the seeds of my doubt. Lately I've seriously wondered if I shouldn't send La Reine my regrets, resign my position, and intern with a publishing house or seek work at a Goldlands public relations company where I can tap into the kind of earning power that would allow me to build a life.

Agenting could do that, too, with the right project, but even with the huge potential payoff I can't wait forever. I'm going to have to impose some kind of ultimatum. In the time leading up to my twenty-fifth birthday I'll figure out what that is.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Challenge

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a bit longer will remember Nelly, the deranged kleptomaniac who for the last five years or so has remodeled our bedrooms without permission, turned our attempts to find our DVDs into the world's longest-running Easter egg hunt, and tried on at least two occasions to oust us in a coup, all while allegedly serving as our housekeeper.

I'm not sure why we keep Nelly around, but of late I've been pretty happy for it.

"Damn it, Marie," my father groused as he shuffled through papers on the dining room table. "You always do this. I need something important, and I can't find it because you decided to 'put it away.'"

"David, I didn't touch any of your stuff," my stepmother replied. "Nelly came today and she probably moved it somewhere."

"Right," my father snorted. "Well, all the other stuff is still here. So unless Nelly put my notebook in the dishwasher, someone else did something with it."

I bit back a laugh at my father's joke. Wouldn't that be just like Nelly? The old loon.

The thing about hyperbolic jokes, though, is that they're only funny because they're too ridiculous to be true. If our cleaning lady had, in fact, secreted my father's vital work documents away in some obscure location, that wouldn't be comical so much as disturbing. Right?

I went into the kitchen to grab a snack and, in the course of my rummaging, found something that didn't belong.


No, wait for it. Here:

That's right. Nelly, who at one point managed to fit our entire movie collection into the envelope drawer of my mother's office on a different level of the house, had somehow upped the ante.

"It has to be a game," Thomas declared when he saw the notebook. "It has to be a game."

I stroked my imaginary beard thoughtfully.

"Touché, Nelly," I whispered into the dim light of the suddenly sinister kitchen. "Touché."