I have given up on love twice in my life. The second time involved a woman (one of the occasions just had to, I suppose). I had grown up surrounded by the wreckage of couplings gone sour and as an adult had watched my peers’ marriages dissolve in the face of sometimes the most trivial of issues. As a result, I, standing on the threshold of what was to be both my professional glory and downfall, saw only tragedy in our future. Military spouse-hood is replete with difficulty and I was unwilling to relegate both myself and someone I loved to such a seemingly inevitable fate, so I ended it thinking that I was doing us both a favor. I can assure those of you gasping and burning me in effigy that I know what a damned fool I was and have since made myself pay for my faulty foresight many times over. Life goes on.
The first, however, was more subtle. For as long as I can remember, people have responded favorably to my writing. I’ve never understood why. There are countless factors involved in my inability to accept praise, but where my writing is concerned I’m at a complete loss as to why I’ve always been unwilling take a compliment. Teachers at every level from elementary school to college took me aside to tell me that I had talent and I consistently poo-poo’d their remarks for reasons that rest squarely upon a toy-box full of neuroses that only Jung himself, in all his bearded glory, could appreciate. Nevertheless, I’ve admittedly always found joy in the writing process. I accepted praise in private and tried never to let my ego get the best of me.
Following a stint as editorial editor of my beloved college alma mater’s newspaper, I stopped writing. I don’t know why. I had joined the military immediately out of high school and had later survived a military college en route to a commission and it seemed that the military was my life, all of it, all I would need, period. For those who are lucky, hindsight becomes insight. Although great success would follow, I’d eventually find how fleeting loyalty on the part of the government is and that forfeiting both what and who I loved on its behalf was doing myself a profound disservice.
Still, my writing has benefited a lot of people over the years in the form of promotions and decorations and various flavors of shared experience, but I’ve never felt like it was ever for me, for simply my own enjoyment. I’m tired of not writing for the sake of writing; a person isn’t supposed to procrastinate from doing what they enjoy. It’s so stupid that it gives me a headache. I’ve endured enough to realize how pointless it is to wait on anything resembling a ‘right time’ to do something. I’ve read blogs for ~10 years by ordinary people who are extraordinary writers and if there is any reason why I’ve finally decided to take this plunge, it lies with their amazing talent and ability to make something seem effortless. It has perpetually reminded me that there was something inside that needed a voice, for good or bad. If bad, well, let the record show that Matthew Baldwin at Defective Yeti is the owner of one of the first blogs that I began following diligently. Whatever ill comes of this, blame him. Also, Dooce and Mimi Smartypants. They’re the best role models ever. And finally let it be known throughout the land that Heather Anne Hogan’s prodding played possibly the greatest of roles, my unwillingness to disappoint a stranger outweighing even my unparalleled ability to procrastinate.
There is a scene in ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ that constitutes my ideal invitation. Kevin Spacey is the patron of a large house in Savannah, Georgia, and after a party, there remain only he and John Cusack. The house is empty (except for a dead body upstairs, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves). Mr. Spacey sits and, offering his ear, the night, and a seemingly endless amount of bourbon, asks the question of Mr. Cusack’s character, ‘Tell me your life’s story’.
This scene sticks with me because I know too well the damage I might do to someone’s ear/bar. It would be to both our benefit, I think. My inclination is that I have a story worth telling and they have a bar worth denting. Such is my feeling with this blog. So, my long-lost friends. Pull up a drink and sit for awhile.
Sir @ June 25, 2008