I Wuz Robbed (2015May02)


Saturday, May 02, 2015                                                     3:18 PM

Last week was a doozy. An old friend passed away suddenly. My wife succeeded in her five year quest for a MS degree in Occupational Therapy. The weather demonstrated that winter is well and truly over. I played Gershwin well enough to share it with the public on YouTube. I did a pretty good job of ignoring the news, but I heard about the five Baltimore cops charged with the death of a suspect in custody (and the demonstrations and riots). Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for President in 2016—apparently more to provide fodder for Jon Stewart than from any real desire to be in charge of this troubled country. But if he thinks he’s too busy being senator, I’d advise he drop out of his run for the presidency. A guy with that short a fuse would probably implode the first year. Not that I wouldn’t relish seeing that old curmudgeon in charge. They thought they had trouble with Obama? OMG.

My thoughts are confused and scattered. My plans are bleak. My health could be better—but it could be worse. I’d truly love to have something useful to do. Those advocates of service have the right idea—but how to serve without becoming a servant? I’d like to be useful without having to diminish myself—is that possible? It was so much simpler back when I felt that being useful at any job was acceptable—now I’m so old that I can’t help thinking about the ethical probity of anything I do—it really gets in the way. Plus I’ve lost all patience with self-important assholes—it’s too bad that they are the gatekeepers of just about every activity on the planet.

Anyone worth their salt tells themselves ‘the hell with someone else’s project’ and starts up a little project of their own. And I want to—Oh, how I want to. But it takes drive—and I only have drive on every third day. It takes me a couple of days to recover from those days, so I can’t expect to have them one after the other, like a normal entrepreneur.

This writing business—I started to just ‘stream-of-consciousness’ write this blog a few years ago—I figured I’d get warmed up and then write something with some substance to it. But years later all I have is a blog about the search for substance in life.

The same happened with my YouTube channel—I figured there might be something to my piano improvs—they’re not consciously derivative of anything other than Western Music in general—and they are different from anything else out there—even the New Age piano improvs (though some might say that difference is only in a lack of something in my own efforts). Unfortunately, instead of building an audience, I’ve started to become disenchanted with my own work, wondering if there was ever anything there and if it’s good enough for other people to get excited about.

It becomes increasingly clear that my history will not be that of an obscure musician, but that of a musically-ungifted man with a compulsion to make music, however poorly. In a way that is less painful than my experience with the graphic arts. My early gift for draughtsmanship misled me into thinking I was an artist—but an artist needs to have something to say, something inside that needs expressing. Once I had learned to draw, I was faced with the awful question of ‘what to draw?’ and I had no answer.

Writing, too, is misleading. I spent more of my lifetime reading books than I spent talking to people and, with these years of blogging practice, I’ve learn to speak back in the familiar language of books. I write better than I can talk—but, again, the trouble is in finding a subject—a story that needs to come out of my soul. All this verbal meandering on my blog is simply evidence that I can write just fine—but I have nothing important to say.

I should have been a craftsman. I should have taken my love of music and become a harpsichord-maker. I should have taken my love of graphic arts and become a designer or a sign-painter. I should have taken my love of words and become a journalist. But these things take time—they should not be left for late-middle-age.

My main problem was having the guts of my life torn out by HepC. I began suffering physical and mental degeneration in my early thirties—just when I would have started coming into my own after youthful success in systems and programming. I even left my job briefly, seeking something new—but my brain could no longer absorb the new ideas I needed to learn for the new job. I flunked a course at IBM on using the new 360 mini-computers—which may have made no difference since the world was turning to PCs just then, but I was out of the fight, intellect-wise, regardless. I returned to my old job and hung on there until my fatigue and my brain-rot got me fired.

In the process, I took on stress to the point where I’m still trying to shed it. So my emotional health isn’t too sturdy. And the HepC cure was available only last year, when I was fifty-eight. That’s a full quarter-century of my life wiped out by my near-death experience with HepC, liver cancer, and a liver transplant. And after missing out on the meat of life, now I’m supposed to do something with the dregs.

Can you see me at a job interview? I can—it’s a frightening vision—the interviewer is half my age, thinks my education ended in high school (Can I blame them? I have no degree.) and I’m sitting there trying not to swear and hoping I don’t get diarrhea before the interview is over. I don’t respect the product. I don’t respect the management. And I certainly don’t respect this young pain-in-the-ass who expects me to be ingratiating and submissive. I’d just as soon kill the son of a bitch. Good thing I’m on disability.

So that’s my brilliant career. So far.

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