2003 & 2020: Epilogue/Prologue #3: Where now?

Here’s the 2003 file “E/P #3: Where now?”:

There’s so much that could have gone in those two epilogue/prologue posts that didn’t.  Perhaps I’ll flesh them out here for myself, perhaps not. [Note from 18 years later:  Apparently “not” was the right answer.]

9/11 was, as I’ve described, if not in so many words, one of the best things that’s ever happened to my life.  It’s a statement that people rarely are prepared for, or have a reaction to.  That’s not important.

I am not “a different person” as it were.  It is more properly stated that “I am more of who I am”.

My compassion for people has grown, but my patience for bullshit has waned.  Both, dramatically.

Am I where I want to be?  No.  Not by any means.  (as is evidenced by my blatherings over at “Emerging Success”. [Note from the future: Emerging Success is a defunct blog I’d started to track,  well, if you can’t figure it out I can’t help you])  I have nearly reached the bottom of my own deconstruction.  A great many things still frighten me.  I have no idea what the next year will bring, and I’m wary of such silliness as “well I know it’s not gonna get any worse.”

The “downfall” was, in larger part than you’re likely to believe, premeditated.  I did not know how I would get here or what I would do once I got here, but I heard the whispers in my own mind when I left
work that this was a bigger thing than not wanting to do that any more.

Now I’ve cleaned house.  My self worth can no longer come from how many digits are in my salary or what neighborhood I live in or where I eat dinner or drink alcohol.  It can only come from me, and that was the goal all along.

Now I’m starting my way back up.  Have no doubt that I’ll get there, in whatever form that takes.  It’s my most sincere hope that I can help others do the same; as many others as possible.

And woe be to the misguided fool stands in my way.  Especially if it’s me.

I sit now, 9/15/2020, in The Smokey Cigar lounge in Hendersonville, Tennessee. It’s probably 17 years since I wrote the above (couple inline edits notwithstanding) and..I’m about done with these historic treatments.  I spent a good deal of yesterday’s massively productive writing session editing the original account. But I want to sit on it for a couple days before reposting the updated version because I really don’t want to look at the thing again.  It’s valuable. It’s important to have gotten it right.  But…it’s almost 20 years ago.  It’s the past.

We get to decide what relevance the events of our lives have on us.  It’s one of the few things we can really control. 

As my friend from those days Sophie said the other day on Facebook, having read the account for the first time a couple days ago “it was a watershed moment for all of us.” And of course that’s true.  God wound up a bat and smacked us on the side of our head…hard.  How we handled that event was up to us. 

As you can see if you’ve, for whatever reason, had the patience to read all of that, I tried really hard to make it work for me.  And I did a pretty good job there for a few years.

BUT… well… if you’re not honest with yourself you can’t be honest with anyone else.  Sometimes, I’ve found, the earnest desire to be honest with others can pull you forward to be honest with yourself at times when you might otherwise let polite fictions rule the day.  It’s an interesting phenomenon and one I’ve only recently been able to articulate.

In that spirit I have to confess that my life in the meantime has fallen somewhat massively encouraging notes of The Three Epilogues.  Yes. At the time I was motivated by an absolute intolerance of myself and what my life had become.  I ripped myself to pieces and “threw myself at the sword of life as though I were already dead” to paraphrase a great line in deliciously pulpy bit of scifi.

But at the end of a few years it was clear that “NO MORE” is great for deconstructing a life, but a really fucking shitty foundation upon which to build one.  You can’t build on a premise of destruction of the past (something being made increasingly obvious by the current news cycle.)

Intoxicated by my successes in actually doing what I set out to do, I missed that and, not having a plan I slipped ever so slowly back in to my old life.  Changed, sure.  Those events and the resulting couple years bent my head around a post and I stick with the assessment that 9/11 was a great event in my life.

I met a girl at one of those weekend “Club Getaway” trips with whom I hit it off quite well.  There was always a bit of distance between us. But we just got along well. She was smart, cute and about eight years older than me.  She got me a job, my first since I “Office Space”d my previous one a couple years earlier. 

I moved back down to Brooklyn and had one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had.  She worked on the trading floor and I worked as a programmer in the adjoining building in midtown.  They were 10-12-14 hour days with a brutal stress level, REALLY shitty management and a workload that I found tough to cope with. 

But shitty shops make for the greatest esprit de corps in the professional world.  To put this in perspective for some of you, I was working in the fixed income arm of the financial industry in the mid 2000s. It was a pretty rough time.  We got along really well as a team. But I would just snap at people when I encountered what I thought was an injustice or a mismanagement.  It was hard not to resent the higher ups from the front lines. 

It wore me down pretty quickly. 

Here’s a thing that happened more than a couple times:

Get in to the office by 7:30.  Work through the day until 6 or later.  Someone would have declared that we needed to go out afterwards. So we’d meet at Mad Monk or The Black Bear Lodge (now sadly gone) and just drink ourselves stupid.  Drinking was easy when you lived in NYC because you could always walk out of the bar, hold your hand up, and a yellow car would just appear as if by magic and take you home.  It just took money, but fuck it.  I was making plenty of that, even with my horrible negotiating skills.

So we’d drink ‘til last call (4am in NYC) and one or two of us would wander around looking for something to eat, sit down in Veselka and sober ourselves up with pirogis or something.  “Well, no reason to even bother going home. Let’s just head back into the office.”  Then, still drunk we’d show up “early” and work a full day.

Well, 36 hours awake and the day ending some smartass would say “who’s up for a drink?” and we’d go out.  No, we wouldn’t repeat the whole procedure. But it was bad. 

My manager and I would butt heads like a couple of rams but it was always within the bounds of the job.  When we could get him to come out with us we had a blast and left the horseshit at the office.

The job was awful but it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on this planet.

I was also still hanging out with some of my friends from Social Circles (which I’d long since quit, being too damned expensive) here and there, which would result in more “hey come out after work, we’ll still be at soandso’s” and all of us going to Penn Station at the end of the night to shepherd one of the girls to their train safely before dispersing.  Lots of 5am nights just sitting on the floor of Penn.

A lot happened and I’ve either written about it here or will over the coming days and weeks.  See, I’m going through a massive life recapitulation now.  Last week’s injection of life into my 9/11 account has caused me, in the editing of these little accounts, to think long and hard about what my life has and hasn’t become in the intervening 18 years. 

But the crux of it, as I mentioned, is this:  Without a plan I drifted pretty badly.  It took a couple more “NO MORE” events to get me to act in my own self interest. The gravity of comfort is just too damned high for me to have escaped with that as a motivation. 

I’m far better off than I was back then, but I find myself still floundering around somewhat aimlessly, looking for purpose.  I have a house on 8 acres of land in middle Tennessee now and am trying to decide what to do next, to decide what’s worth doing.  My hobbies and habits feel like placeholders and time sinks to distract myself from the truth of my life which is that I’ve thusfar absolutely, unequivocally, unarguably failed my potential.

The fact that I even write the same paragraph over and over is indication enough that I don’t know where to go next.  As I asked Ivan, Mr. Swift, Alexander Cortes and the assembled room at The Feast of War in Denver a couple Februarys ago “Where do you FIND sacred purpose if you have none?”  They didn’t really have an answer for me.  But how could they have? 

Jordan Peterson suggests an answer when he says (and I’m going to fuck this up) that you find purpose by attending to yourself and your environment, clearing away the noise and chaos you’ve put in your own way.  Then one will become increasingly apparent. 

Well that’s a nice thought. But my immediate reaction is “I don’t have that kind of time anymore.”

Complacency is the enemy and I’m not sure how making sure I mop the floor every other Monday is going to help. 

But I had a thought as I stopped for a moment to hit the restroom:  I’m going to close up here in a minute and hit Johnathan’s because one of my friends’ last day working there is tomorrow and today and tomorrow are all that’s left. 

I have a lot of friends there, a few far better ones otherwise. There are so many things in this incarnation of my life for which I am humbly grateful.  And, as nauseatingly New Age as it is, I don’t spend enough time reflecting on these things. 

I can do anything from here.  I’m nominally retired (for now) and can pretty much do whatever I decide from here on out. 

At the end of the day, it’s pretty damned good being me.  Maybe I could give myself a break and stop panicking about my next stage.  Hell, I doubt it.  But it’s something to shoot for.

I’ve sure got a lot of writing to do in the meantime though.