Reggie once told me about a rap ‘zine he used to write for. There was this fella who, for his second article turned in a repeated spiel of “All Work and No Play makes Jack a Dull Boy”. Which, ya know — sure, it’s the internet, and it wasn’t a paid gig — and that’s surely something someone might be able to get by with in lieu of providing, ya know, actual content… but maybe not for your second article. That’s something that needs to be earned… and, I hope that over the past six and a half years (and near 2,500 articles), I’ve earned myself one’a those.
If you’ve been following my work of late, I apologize. In addition to being its normal flavor of terrible — it’s been bitter, angry… petulant.
A lot of misplaced aggression “in the margins” of my stuff… and, while I don’t know that I owe an explanation for that — I’d still like to try and give one. If for no other reason than to provide myself with a bit of a cathartic release. This is going to be… part monologue/part diary. I totally understand if you can’t hit the back-button fast enough.
I’ve deduced that this hobby might not be the healthiest thing for me. If you listen to X-Lapsed, you may have heard me speak recently about my unconscious attempts at using what I do (here and on-the-air) as, for lack of a better term, a “surrogate” — for something missing in my real life. This isn’t a healthy place to be.
I spoke about this realization… and how I would try and reframe things a bit differently in my head to stop myself from doing this. I said those things with the best of intentions… unfortunately, it didn’t take long to realize that this would prove far easier said than done.
Rather than beat around the bush… I’ll just come out and say it. My wife and I have been trying to have a child for a while now, and it’s just not happening. Frankly, I’m fairly certain that a litany of my past screwups are responsible for this fact… in that, I wasted away our prime “baby-making years” being rather useless. Now that things have turned around (I’m a little less useless now), I fear that it might be too late. My past behavior(s) may have robbed us both of something we wanted so badly.
I’m struggling with how to continue this piece… I can really only speak for myself, but I also wanna make broad sweeping statements. If I were a decent writer, I’d figure out how to make this work. Since I’m not, well — I’ll just give it my best shot. I feel like, as a person approaches middle-age — and begins to realize that some of the formerly open windows have started to (or already have) shut… it might make them a bit, I dunno, “straw graspy”. As in, grasping at straws (duh). In my case, I subconsciously began to think about things like legacy… not that I have all that great of one to carry on, but — the opportunity to, I dunno “do right”. It’s kind of the futility of man in action… you (or I) think about what sort of mark (if any) we would leave behind. It’s egotistical and selfish in a way, yeah — but, it’s one of those byproducts of having a child. A “bonus”, even.
Honestly not something I’d even given a thought to… until the semi-recent realization that it just might not be in the cards for us.
As adult humans, free time is something of a premium. We all have our daily “stuff”… whether that be work, school, family — usually a combination of the three. Setting aside the time to do something like this — well, it’s not always easy. Even now, as I sit here typing this self-indulgent piece — it’s brutally early in the morning. Since I don’t always have the time to do this — I make the time. It’s thankless… and ultimately pointless, but I’ve made it part of my daily “stuff”. I’ve made it a surrogate. A surrogate for something I need to constantly nurture… a surrogate for something I can leave behind.
Yes, I do tend to over-romanticize things… why do you ask?
Anyway, I’ve been at this awhile… and, while I do tend to overthink on “the numbers” or level of engagement… I’ve mostly been able to not let things like that interfere with a) the work, and b) my offline life. Lately, however, it’s been made as clear as a slap across the face that — my creative endeavors have very little meaning or purpose. Which, when looking at the content I provide and the niche that I serve, totally stands to reason. The rational part of me “gets” that. It’s the less-rational part, the part that is using my “work” as a surrogate, that doesn’t… and, ultimately can’t “get” it.
Can’t “get” it… and, of late, can’t get passed it. Or, is it “past it”… I’ll never know. Like I said, I ain’t a good writer.
In the midst of coming to grips with our reproductive uncertainty (I was actually typing away at a script for the X-Lapsed Point One Patreon show on my phone while the wife and I were waiting to see her doctor), our dog passed away. I’ve mentioned this a time or two here — but, haven’t gone too deep on how it affected me. He was “the” constant in my life for fourteen years. He was my writing buddy, my gardening pal, my yoga partner… we were inseparable. He unwittingly became the surrogate child. I know people talk about “fur babies”… and, yeah, that might conjure up a cringy image, but… he was.
He’d been on the decline for a while, and was requiring a lot more of our attention. He had suffered a spinal injury… actually shortly after I started this blog. The emergency vet assured us he’d never walk again… and that, we’d have to flip him over every few hours so he wouldn’t develop sores. In my limited experience, emergency vets tend to want you to put down your pet for just about anything. Naturally, once we were two steps out of the place, he spotted a rabbit and forced himself outta my arms to chase it.
So, while he was okay and mobile then (our real vet just had us cage him up for a month, which did the trick)… he still did suffer the injury… and it would eventually catch up to him. It took six years to do so… if nothing else, pugs are stubborn. They even say “no” to their own dinged-up spinal cords! Up until late last summer (2021), he was okay. A little wobbly every now and again… but, could take care of himself. Maybe he wasn’t jumping up onto the couch anymore, but he was mobile and happy.
Then the cancer came.
The cancer manifested as a small mass between his right eye and snout. Our vet warned us that it could be cancer, but also that it might not be. We held out hope that maybe it was an infection. Pugs have wrinkles, there’s a big fold right over their noses, right? We hoped that, maybe we didn’t do the greatest job cleaning out his wrinkle… and, maybe this little mass was the resultant infection.
Then it grew. And grew. And grew. It all happened so quickly. One day, this mass was suddenly bigger than his eyeball… and, there was, what appeared to be a tremendous sack of fluid built up under his right jowl. We rushed him in. The vet assured us that he wasn’t in pain, but also told us that he had very little doubt that this was cancer. We were given the “keep him comfortable” diagnosis. Exactly one week later, he was gone.
In the final few months of his life, he required a lot more attention and help. I was more than happy to be there for him… as, I can say with zero uncertainty that he’d saved my life on more than one occasion. While he was also a primary focus in my life… it was intensified here. Then, he was gone.
I was (and still very much am) lost. When you’re lost and flailing, you look for anything that might provide you with comfort… or, at the very least familiarity. For me, it was — the blog and the shows. Like I said, this is not healthy… and it also sets too high an expectation on return. The blogging/podding “artiste” doesn’t write for an audience, but for themself. When it stops being that way, it might be time to reevaluate. I’m a ridiculously slow learner.
When I spoke of this over on X-Lapsed, my takeaway was “I’m going to try and do better”. It was like a veil was lifted… and, with this knowledge and understanding of what I was feeling, I was now mentally/emotionally equipped to press on. To try and not worry about anything but “the work”. And, as I said above — I had the best of intentions.
Intentions, unfortunately, don’t always make’a the words come out.
What does any of this mean? I haven’t the foggiest idea. Will there be content here or on the podcast tomorrow? Again, who knows? I thank you and apologize for wasting however much time it took you to read all’a this… since I don’t actually have any clear closing statement or deduction. All’s I know is that, if I’m going to continue with any’a this, I need to have a healthier relationship with a) myself, b) the content, and c) my expectations.