Happy Being Unhappy

I’m a professional mistake maker.

Behind the scenes, I work quietly to find the appropriate context for resolution. I prefer my stand-offs one-on-one. I prefer my tussles face-to-face.

I don’t like to make a show out of meandering chatter, since you don’t get to the heart of the matter with tidy chit-chat.

Behind the scenes, I use email to coordinate strategy, arrange meetings, pour over bills. I never squabble. I never get emotional. Email is for who, what, where, why, when. With very little emphasis on why.

Why contains emotion. In email, I stay away from emotion.

Behind the scenes, I write. Pretty much every day, I write. I use writing to see what I think. Or debunk what’s floating around in my head.

Sometimes what’s in my head is the beginning of something truly beautiful. Sometimes what’s in my head is a poisonous idea, a seed of control, planted by someone who’s trying to hold me back. It’s my job to bring it out into the light of day, so I can remind myself who I am, or who I hope to be.

Weed Whacking.

The blog is for drama. The blog is for trouble. The blog is for horsing around. One of the things I think we lose in adult life is the opportunity to horse around.

Recess.

I think it’s the main reason there are so many adults who are happy being unhappy. They take the wrong things too seriously. Most of all, themselves.

Lately, there have been a string of squabbles in my life.

None of them are real.

But they’ve lead to the silent treatment, or even worse, insane text messages.

I prefer the silent treatment, since I’ve noticed if you give a problem a little time to breathe, it usually reveals itself for what it really is: nothing at all, a puff of smoke, boredom seeking drama.

But you can’t take back an insane text message. Or can you?

People who fight dirty, when they’re up against the ropes, in a genuine adult disagreement, have never stepped back to ask what they’re gaining by kicking you in the emotional nuts.

If your main goal is to make someone else feel worthless, or inadequate, or unloved, in the end, it only reflects badly on you.

Unless you’re on stage. Unless you’re writing a blog. Unless you’re posting a stinging comment on a blog. Unless you’re cast opposite Larry David.

Then it’s “Game On.”

If you’re pushing for drama, if you’re pushing for comedy, the formula is simple: don’t solve the problem, make it worse.

This means you have to understand context, which seems to be missing from the world we’re currently navigating, a world filled with government shutdowns, debt ceiling stand-offs, no fly zones, sanctions, morbidly obese homophobic governors who gorge on 2nd Terms and Satisfries.

We’ve lost our understanding of context.

Love the people you’re lucky enough to love. Work hard if you’re lucky enough to work. Forgive the people who’ve earned your trust when they inevitably let you down in a small, meaningless way.

No one is perfect. Least of all me. Let me tell you about something I’m struggling with: I think I’m done playing basketball. And it kills me.

I love playing basketball, not just because it clears my head by forcing me to catch my breath. I love playing basketball, not just because I get-off on taking something serious which is completely ridiculous. I love playing basketball, not just because it gives me something to do with my brother which is a throwback to horsing around.

I love playing basketball for all of those reasons. And more.

But this week, I was hurt terribly. I’m still hurt terribly, both physically and emotionally. Going for the ball, I dove-in for a rebound. My brother lowered his shoulder into my ribs. As I type this, I’m having trouble taking deep breaths without searing pain.

I can’t discuss this with my brother. I won’t discuss this with my brother. I haven’t. And I won’t.

Joey is never wrong. When he’s wrong, and he knows he’s wrong, after he’s sufficiently hurt your feelings, instead of apologizing, Joey likes to act all cute and playful, like he’s the sweetest man on the planet.

He is. He really is the sweetest man on the planet.

Except when he’s not.

His apology behavior doesn’t work the way Joey thinks it works. In fact, it’s an eye-roll. You can’t tell Joey anything he doesn’t want to hear unless you’re absolutely prepared for him to reach into the past, and kick you in the emotional nuts with something you’ve done wrong, something you’ve tried to learn from, something you’ve tried to leave behind.

This means you can’t have a genuine adult disagreement with Joey. So why am I bringing it up? Why am I bringing it up here? Because I have to do it here, on the blog, where it’s “Game On.”

If Joey wants to post a stinging comment, I have it coming. If Joey wants to send me an insane text message, I have it coming. If Joey wants to reach into the past, and remind me how I lied about winning a stereo in a poetry contest, or used my college tuition money to buy a motorcycle, or cheated on my SAT’s even though I had a tutor who drove-up to our house on Ryders Lane in a Winnebago…

I have it coming. He’s right about it. All of it.

But it’s no longer relevant, since I’ve owned the mistakes, beaten myself up, shaken it off, vowed to do my best not to repeat these mistakes, creating room for new mistakes. I’ve tried to be a better man.

Mostly, I’ve failed. But I’ve owned it, beaten myself up and shaken it off.

Unfortunately, I can’t shake off broken ribs.

Once before, I broke my ribs. I was visiting my parents on Ryders Lane. I slipped in the shower and shook the house. Howling in pain, I remember water from the showerhead filling my mouth.

It was beyond painful. It was beyond humiliating. After I toweled-off, and slowly got dressed, Dad took me for a walk, up Ryders Lane, letting me know there was little I could do to mend broken ribs, besides keep moving.

Keep.

Moving.

At the time, Joey refused to say I broke my ribs. He made it a point of pride. Instead, Joey liked to say, “They’re bruised.”

“I broke my ribs.”

“They’re bruised.”

“They’re broken.”

“Bruised.”

You can’t win. There’s no way to win. One of Joey’s favorite buttons to press is being dismissive when someone else is going through something big. Of all his buttons, it’s up there, among the top tier buttons.

At the time, Joey liked to throw a fake punch at me, knowing I’d flinch, instinctively, and the pain would sear through my body until I’d see white dots. Then, as I’d double-over from the pain, Joey would laugh hysterically, holding his penis, so he didn’t piss himself. This would cause me to laugh. At which point, the laughter would send pain mixed with humiliation searing through my body, which is the essence of brotherhood.

But this time it’s different. This time I’m 45. In December, I’ll be 46.

I don’t think it’s funny to drop a shoulder, not anymore. I understand the competitive desire to take the game seriously, to go for the ball, to want the win, to want the win so badly, you’ll drop a shoulder. But I can’t be treated this way, not anymore.

It’s exhausting.

I haven’t slept in 3-nights. I keep waking-up when I roll over, howling in pain. I think I’m howling about 2-things at once: the actual pain, and the awareness something in my life has ended.

Speaking of things ending, I’ll never again think of my Dad as a buddy.

When we were traveling through Italy, going from one sleepy town to another sleepy town, at a gas station just outside of Peschici, I asked Dad if we could pass through a bigger town with a little more action, since I’m single, and seeing a pretty Italian Woman was on my list of things to do.

Dad flicked his wrist and said, “This trip is my trip. You’re just along for the ride.” Who says that to someone else? Certainly not a traveling buddy.

I was shocked. I was caught off guard. I’d never been told to fuck-off with such an effortless flick of the wrist.

Left with no choice, in a foreign country, without a map, I shut the fuck up. I got quietly in the backseat of the car. I rode out the trip, his trip, not mine.

Speaking of guilt tripping, I forgot to call Mom on her birthday. I’m not proud of this. I’m not telling you this to cast myself in a good light. It’s impossible. I look like a jerk because I acted like a jerk.

Truth is, I didn’t forget to call. I slept through her birthday. I literally slept through Mom’s birthday. I was exhausted from a week of hard work, abusive basketball and ill-advised skirt chasing.

I spent the weekend like Rip Van Winkle with a JewFro. When I got to work on Monday, post daylight savings time, realizing my mistake, I picked-up the phone and called to apologize.

Mom didn’t pick-up.

I texted my apology. Mom didn’t reply.

I called her hard-line (who calls a hard-line anymore). Mom didn’t pick-up.

Unforgiven.

So I sent flowers. Mom sent a text. But she didn’t call.

So I sent flowers. Again. With a balloon. Mom called.

We talked for a long time.

Yes, she loved the flowers. Yes, she loved the balloon. Yes, I was forgiven. Mom even said the most motherly words a Mom can say. This is what Mom said, “Even when I’m mad at you, I still love you.” Those words have always made me feel better about me and my stupid face.

I’m stupid. I know I’m stupid.

Speaking of dumbass ideas, I never should have written a blog about Stacey. My cousin Stacey is mad at me for my last blog. She says I crossed the line. As if there’s a line too far to cross on a stupid blog.

I used to call this blog “Greg’s Stupid Blog.”

But the name didn’t work. So I changed the name. Now it’s “Greg’s Billion Dollar Blog.” I put stupidity in the subtext.

I’m fancy!

In case you’re wondering, I happen to admire the life my cousin Stacey has built for herself: 3-beautiful boys, 11-years of marriage, 2-gorgeous homes, prettiest hair in the family.

Stacey is charmed. She could stumble her way to fame & fortune, it’s her nature.

The reason Stacey ended-up in my crosshairs was an email she sent. The intention behind the email was to upset the recipient. It’s the wrong context. Emails are for strategic planning. But she developed a bad-habit with her ex-husband.

Stacey and her ex-husband use emails to kick each other in the balls. Incidentally, Stacey has bigger balls than her ex-husband.

With everyone sufficiently upset from Stacey’s email, backlash spilled into my life. I was irritated. So I stayed away from Stacey, until my irritation flittered away like a butterfly on Edgewater Beach.

That’s a pretty way of putting it, don’t you think?

I’m fancy!

Staying away was strategic. I waited for Stacey to seek me out in the office, where we could close the door, and hash things out in private. On more than one occasion, my brother came into the office. On more than one occasion, I asked my brother to leave.

I prefer my stand-offs one-on-one. I prefer my tussles face-to-face.

I’m fascinated by struggle, and how everyone, absolutely everyone, perceives themselves to be struggling. I’m fascinated by perception, and how everyone, absolutely everyone, mostly those who live charmed lives, treat struggling less as a call to action and more as an opportunity to make a heartfelt speech.

Stacey sounded like Kim Kardashian.

We should break this down for a second. My intention here is to be insulting. But haven’t you noticed, in your adult life, just because someone launches an insulting comment in your direction doesn’t mean you have to take it as an insult.

What if Stacey likes Kim Kardashian? What if Stacey admires the life Kim Kardashian has built for herself? What if Stacey enjoys keeping up?

Stacey can choose to take my insulting comment as a compliment.

I seem to remember Kim Kardashian recently became a baby mama. I seem to remember Kim Kardashian recently got engaged. I seem to remember Kim Kardashian recently got the biggest engagement ring in the history of bling-a-ding-ding.

I seem to remember this all happened to Kim Kardashian in the exact order I just described, because spoiled, rich, obnoxious, over-indulged straight people can treat marriage however they choose, in all 50-states, while gay people can only get married in 15-states, including Illinois, since two days before yesterday, Tuesday, November 5th, 2013.

The last thing I said was directed at the world. Truth be told, most of what I do here is take a handful of the world around me and try to give it shape so I can figure out who I am, or who I hope to be.

It has nothing to do with my cousin. It has nothing to do with my brother. It has nothing to do with my Mom. It has nothing to do with my Dad. They just happen to be the people I’m lucky enough to love.

Having said all that, I will say this, if you read this far, it was a mistake, which is where babies come from, as well as everything truly beautiful. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to hit the basketball court. I need to work on my right hand. Joey pointed out my shot is weak when I go right.

It was hard to hear. This is how I know it’s true.

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13 Responses to Happy Being Unhappy

  1. Claudia says:

    I hate that you called me a brown woman, I felt insulted by that comment. But, I guess it was okay since it was in a blog.On a blog everything goes. The problem is that when I read everything you write particular this one post. I forget I felt offened.
    I know that how I feel, is irrelevant to you since we are not friends or related but you should care a little about how you come accros with others. But then again what do I know. Absolutely nothing.

  2. Gregor says:

    I’m not exactly sure, since I try and put blogs and comments behind me. Or I’d never write anything ever again.

    But I seem to remember Andy called you a PWL, which is Phony White Liberal. I thought it was particularly funny, knowing you’re brown. I’m brown, too.

    I like being brown. Some of my favorite people are brown: MIA, Cheech & Chong, Barack Obama.

    Actually, Barack Obama is black. But it’s just a surface thing. I don’t see him as black. I see him as an incredibly accomplished man.

    I don’t see Dan Savage as a gay. I see him as an incredibly funny sex advice columnist. I know he’s gay. Just like I know Barack Obama is black. Just like I know you’re brown. But those are surface things.

    “Liberal” has somehow been turned into the ultimate insult. Everyone runs away from it. Besides the people of NYC who just elected Bill de Blasio. That vote made me homesick, by the way.

    Listen, Claudia, you’re right, we’re not related, we’re not friends, and I don’t really know you. But I like the way you think. And if you’re offended, you have an obligation to yourself to let me know: use your words.

    I don’t have ESP. What’s with women getting mad at men when we don’t magically understand the nuance of your feelings. Spell it out, woman.

    USE YOUR WORDS.

    Maybe I’ll see where you’re coming from and apologize. Maybe I’ll take your comment and go in the opposite direction, like Stephen Colbert, for a stab at satire. Maybe I’ll say something completely boneheaded.

    I’m here for all of it. This is recess. This is time for horsing around, blowing off steam, not taking it all so seriously, even though, I try and tackle the most serious thing I can wrap my small, small brain around.

    I’m sorry if you got offended. But I seem to remember you took on a right wing tone of voice, splitting hairs between Food Stamps and SNAP.

    You pressed a button. You got a reaction. Welcome to the club. Hope you’ll stick around the clubhouse, since like I said before, I like the way you think.

    Also, if I wanted to get really, really technical, you’re not brown. You’re black words on a white background, like everyone else who hits the button marked “Post Comment.”

    • Claudia says:

      To be perfectly honest, I found it Hilarious when I first read it. But then, I thought about it some more and felt like brown does not define me.

      You are right, how would you know how I feel if I don’t use my words. Typically, I’m not that type of woman.
      I guess I expected more from you. Why? Maybe I was hoping that through out the time I have been posting on your blog, we had established a mutual respect and you saw me as more then just a Brown woman.
      I could never be right wing!!! I know my tone was different but I guess it was the way I phrased it.

      I like the club, I like the recess, I like the horsing around… I can hang with the big boys..

      And I love the way you think…

      • Gregor says:

        Go with your 1st instinct, Claudia: I found it hilarious. That’s my main goal, which means I mainly fail.

        Feel free to play with your right wing voice. At some point it’ll click-in. Either for good laughs or surprising satire.

        Just because I know your voice doesn’t mean I can’t be caught off guard. In all honesty, I thought you were opening up, showing a different side of yourself. I know plenty of men & women from Central America who are incredibly conservative.

        Yes, of course, you’re way more than a “brown woman.” But in this case, your surface was the perfect offset to Andy’s PWL.

  3. Andy says:

    For clarification I did NOT call Claudia a PWL. I go to great lengths to create labels and I own the copyright on PWL. It is impossible for a minority to be a PWL unless I make a rare exception and the bar has to be extremely high for a Hispanic woman. Claudia I’m not currently accepting applications there’s too many PWLs already trolling around.

  4. Babs says:

    Recently had a conversation with 2 other couples. One was liberal and the other a sorta moderate repub. The conclusion after about an hour of interesting discussion, was something we all agreed on. Liberals are for sure more compassionate! And Repubs are more the color green, meaning everything comes down to money. And they felt liberal and compassionate sometimes is equivelent to wimpy!! I am ok with wimpy. I am ok with people making money. I just go by the notion that if it’s good for me it should be good for you! Therein lies the difference, I think, the lack of compassion for anyone not like them! Glad your liberal, Claudia!

  5. Marie says:

    Happy belated birthday , Babs !
    Marie…Chicagoland

  6. Babs says:

    Marie- your still around!! Thanks and good to hear from you. Come out to the suburbs sometimes and stop by the deli.

  7. Babs says:

    Proud plug, Gregor!

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