May 1, 2010

Post 99.5 (I strongly urge you to turn back now and avoid reading this post.)

Okay, so just to rectify my last post.  I am just, you know, in a transitional moment of my life that happens to involve financial perils, reactive behavior (usually involving a lot of procrastination), and plenty of self-loathing.

Today was a fun day at the gas station job.  For the first two hours of my shift I was spreading this powder stuff, with 'crete' somewhere in the name, that removes stains by sucking them out of the pavement.  When the powder blows away, so does the stain and viola, cancer.  Okay, so maybe it isn't a carcinogen, but it was blowing everywhere and I had it in my eye, hair, and socks.  I was also in the sun the whole time and am now suffering from my first sunburn of the year!  Yay!  

Okay, so as I am doing this activity for two hours, I kept thinking about my last post and how my situation right now is totally reactive to my teen years.  I was lazy as a teen.  I was skinny, smartish, and more privileged than I realized at the time.  I was bored, but I didn't do anything about it.  I got B's and low A's because that kept me out of trouble.  I didn't apply for any scholarships...because I didn't apply for any colleges, except one, an art college, and that's another story.  So, as I was lollygagging around, I felt I was destined to just figure it all out one day and I'd be fine.  Maybe meet some guy with enough money to support my dream of becoming and interior designer, then a sculptor, then an urban planner, then a...there were so many things I wanted to be when I grew up...  Well, clearly that didn't happen.  

So, I figured out I'd have to make my own way, pay my own dues.  Yeah, well, my parents aren't like the shittiest parents ever, but they totally F'd up on too many occasions and I have spent my whole life trying to evade them and make myself a better person.  Instead, I've remained the same moocher I was during high school, except it was okayish then.  Now, I am just a twenty-four year old guy with no college degree, no living, no sustainable income, and no future.  I am still seventeen, except with way more debt and far fewer options.  

And it totally hit me as a guy I went to high school with pulled up into the lane next to me and stepped out of his Audi, which had a well-known Michigan university sticker on the back and he nodded in recognition.  

I mean, I am standing their with dust flying around me, post-apocalyptic-style and sweat pouring down my face, janitor-style and he nods.  Great, I thought.  At least he had a great story to tell as he carelessly bet $20 on a less than great hand at poker night tonight.  As he was leaving, I felt totally jealous, but not of his degree, career, better-than-me-ness, I felt jealous of his right to those things.  He worked hard and got to have those things.  He got to be the one to nod at me.  Not me to him.  He didn't only nod at me in recognition, there was pity on that face.  And so help me if that one second blip of pity hasn't become my wake up call, my motivation to do something drastic.  I feel the need to cut ties with all the lies that I've been living in because the only truth is the sad fact that it's really all my fault.  I'm here because it's what I choose.  I curse my teenage self( except the great choices in music, thanks 3EB!).

*warning: religiousness*
I surprised myself today by looking into churches.  I am agnostic, which to me means I don't know what I believe in.  It started with my dysfunctional Catholic upbringing and my inability to understand what I was supposed to believe in, so I chose nothing.  I decided to not believe in anything.  Then, it progressed from hypocrisy to the acceptance that it doesn't really matter what I believe, it'll reveal itself in time and I wasn't going to looking for it.  

Well, I finally thought about it today, as I moved onto the next activity at work - cleaning the pumps for another two hours - and I have decided (your comments truly aided in this decision) that the drastic change I need isn't to pull up roots again and move across the country, nor is it to go looking for love (don't get me started on that dept.), but instead, I have decided to start looking.  I have no idea what I am looking for.  It doesn't really matter.  I just need something to do and I want to meet people that have a genuine interest in my life and I want to meet people that know people that know things, some of which may be the answers that I seek and may lead the the aforementioned unmentionable subject.  Who knows?  I sure as hell don't, but I do know that my general apathy toward myself is over and dammit I am on my way.



  1. Yes, you are on your way, Jon!
    Thank you for sharing this with us. You have lots of people who truly care about you and who believe in you! (I'm one of many!!!!)

  2. Jon, I had a lot of respect for you before, but after reading this, my respect for you has pretty much sky rocketed. I think so many of us feel this way, but so few of us ever take action on our uncertainty, and even less take responsibility for where they are in their lives. While I don't think there's anything wrong with pumping gas if it's making an honest living, there's something horribly wrong with it if you are unhappy doing it and know you should be doing something else. I'm very impressed with your decision to move forward, to take steps to change a life you're unhappy with--it's not an easy thing to do, I don't think.

  3. Carolina pretty much said it all. :) So, I'll just add that I'm always around to talk to if you ever need me, and good luck!

  4. Okay...I'm so not one to preach, but I'll let you in on something pretty cool...most bigger Methodist churches will have contemporary services (more music, less traditional) and I have found are the most open minded and hearted people I've ever met. I attended one shortly after my first kid was born and they were the most awesome people in the world. :0) Plus, I didn't have to live at church to get to know them...I was always invited to go out fishing, have dinner, camp, etc.. I made a lot of great friends. Glad you had your 'aha' moment....those are really tough and it's awesome that you were able to be honest with yourself, no matter how much it sucked. :0) I've been there

  5. Aha! So that's what you were referring to over at Robert's blog! Carolina is absolutely right but I'd like to give you a piece of practical advice...I was kind of in a similar psychological condition in my early 20's. I had lost both parents before I was 15, so was a bit like a leaf being blown around in the wind....

    What did I do to get out of the rut?
    Always start SMALL when you want to make a life change. I got myself a cute bunny rabbit and a few other pets and started to NURTURE THE HELL out of them. Sound crazy? Can't see the connection?...There's a HUGE connection! I didn't have self respect and I was all alone but when I started to give love to those creatures...and they were dependant on me...well it was the best feeling in the world. My rabbit used to follow me everywhere just like a dog. My cat came for long walks with me, too. My goldfish used to come to the surface
    when they saw all sounds a bit crazy to me now, too...the point is when you give unconditionally of yourself - my experience has taught me it's the only real time you feel worthwhile. If you don't like animals - get a plant or two...hate plants...see about doing volunteer work with kids, senior citizens, environmental groups....whatever you feel an affinity with. START SMALL though, WITH TOTALLY REALISTIC GOALS!! If you decide to do volunteer work - go once a week. YOU LIKE? Build up to 2 times etc. When you give of yourself - you begin to LEARN about yourself and slowly find direction...

    I have done ALL of the above, btw, and once "THEY" let me out of the mental institution....I was FINE!
    Ooops - have to go and wipe the dribble from my mouth....

  6. Hi Jon,

    This was an amazing post. I'm totally excited for you, because I do believe that this is the moment your life turns around and becomes what you want it to be- and what's better, you can pinpoint the moment that happened. What better place than a gas station, where everyone comes to refuel and start again?
    I had a pretty shady church background myself (I was raised Southern baptist). After I left highschool, I'd seen a lot of hypocrisy not only in the church, but in my own family. I rejected it and went to college. Thanks to my brother, who's two years older than me, I was able to discover 'faith' and not religion, and I met a lot of other 'faithful' people as a result. I know looking into churches can be scary, as you've had a bad experience in the past, but honestly my life turned around because of finding a community of people who CARED. Look around for a church that'll fit you. It's an amazing support system when you can find the right one.
    On another note, you're ONLY 24! Omg Jon that's so young, lol! People in the military don't start going to college until they're like 30. You can do whatever the hell you want to do and you've got a buttload of time to do it. Not everyone goes to school at 18 and graduates at 22. Infact, most people don't. You are in the MAJORITY.
    And that dude with the Audi? It might have been his parents' car, for all you know. ;-)

  7. btw....

    WOW you can write.

  8. Dena is so right. You CAN write. See, I told you :) I'm so glad to hear that you are on your way. You know I'm always here if you need to talk about anything right?

    And I know religion is a touchy subject, so I'll just say this. I didn't find my faith until I was 18, before then I lived a life of self-loathing and destruction. When I found it, everything changed. No audi, no ridiculously large pay check, (but I did find a handsome prince) but direction, motivation and I think most importantly peace. I hope you find that with whatever you choose religion wise. I felt hopeful about my future for the first time. . . ever.

  9. Kelly - Thank you for sharing that with me.

    Carolina - Your words are supportive, comforting, and I truly appreciate them.

    Amanda - Thank you for the good luck, it'll be needed, I am sure!

  10. Kristi - I appreciate you suggestion. Patriarch and Matriarch go to the Methodist church in town. They attend the traditional service from 11-12. There is a contemporary service from 9-10, I may consider checking that out. We also have a large Unitary Universalist church here that I think has my name all over it.

  11. Ann - Yes, that was the beginning stages that you saw at Robert's. Thank you so much for telling me what you did to get out of your rut. I like the idea of unconditionally loving yourself. I have my little puppy, well not so little anymore, but anyway she is a great distraction for me, so I can see what you're saying here on a much smaller scale. I'll have to think about any more animals for quite a while.

  12. Dena - Thank you for all you said. Between the serious and the silly you touched my heart. Also, you put things into a better perception. That I have time to figure these things out. Time is definitely on my side and you are you :)

  13. Crystal - You have told me I can write and I believe you! Mostly.

    Thank you for your encouraging message because I believe peace is the ultimately what I am looking for.

  14. I'm so proud of you, kiddo. I'm proud that you can be honest with yourself. That you're able to look back and evaluate your life and the choices you've made. And that you are taking responsibility for those choices. And, here's the thing, we all make mistakes. We all make choices and do things we later regret. That's life. It's part of growing up and becoming the person that you are. And don't be so hard on yourself. You have your whole wonderful life in front of you. You can be anything you want to be. Figure out what it is you want and then work toward that. One step at a time. I always tell my kids that you can't finish a race if you've never started it. Yes it will be hard. Maybe one of the hardest things you've ever done. But your passion will pull you through. You just have to believe in yourself. In the meantime, working at a gas station is nothing to be ashamed of. Be proud of the person you are. Own it. And know this, too, that we all come to a crossroads in our lives when we have to decide which direction to go. It's never easy. And sometimes we head one way and decide to backtrack and go another. And that's OK. Be good to yourself. Be kind. And when you've chosen the path you're going to follow, give it everything you've got. I hope that all of your dreams come true and that even when life hands you lemons (smiles) that you're able to turn them into a sweetness that sticks with you.
    I'm going to link to two columns I wrote and I hope you take the time to read them. They are much too long to post here.

  15. Omg, you almost went to art school? Me too! but I chickened out and went to community college, instead.

    Also, my comment would better be expressed in an email. So. I'm emailing you.

  16. Jon, you certainly have a style in your writing that would really lend itself to YA.

    I am serious.

    I am impressed both with your voice in writing and your content. You have just written about the classic quest for meaning in life. And I can tell you that the answer is not an Audi. It lies in finding out what YOUR path is.

    Not that you need me to tell you this, but it's okay not to have it all figured out at 24. Heck, I still don't have it figured out.

    All you need is to figure out your direction and put one foot in front of the other.

    Good luck.


  17. Dude. Go to college. If you start this fall, you'll be done by the time you're 30. 30 is nothing. Trust me. I had three jobs while going to college and I lived with my parents. Just freakin do it.

    Regarding religion, I think you should try a Catholic church. Go three times, sit in the front and listen. I'm Cathoic and I know the religion has had its issues (hard not to during 2,000 years), but I've had Catholic priests who have literally saved my life. In any event, find religion. None of this other stuff matters.

    And the guy in the Audi? He's got his problems too.

  18. WOW! What a great group of friends! I forgot to add that I ABSOLUTELY believe you should go to college. No doubt in my mind at all!! Anita said it,


  19. Some quotes to ponder:

    "People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them."
    --George Bernard Shaw

    "A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage."
    --Sidney Smith

    "If you could get up the courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed."
    --David Viscott

    "We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down."
    --Kurt Vonnegut

  20. Jon, hope is a powerful thing and I believe you will find happiness now that you are looking for it. One important step toward obtaining your goals is surronding yourself with people who share and support your goals. You've found a great on-line community that wants you to succeed, but it might not hurt to find likeminded people living in your area too.

    Joining a church can be a great way to meet people, and if you find the right fit it can be a good way to force yourself to think. But I would recommend school too. Despite what you hear, an MFA is not required to be a writer and having a college degree isn't required either. If what you want to do when you grow up is write, you can probably get there without a BA. But taking some writing classes at a community college or even just attending workshops and seminars put on by local bookstores/libraries/writing groups/ect can be extreamly valuable. Not because you are goiing to learn tons of things you couldn't figure out on your own, but because you will make friends and find peers who believe in you and want to help you succeed.

    You will get there Jon. I see a future for you that involves more than dust at the gas station.

  21. Buffy - I did read your posts and between them and the quotes you listed, I have a lot to pull me up when I feel myself going under again. Thank you! "One step at a time"...for sure.

    Marisa - I'll reply via email too.

  22. Shelley - "One foot in front of the other"...I'll pretend I am not horribly clumsy!

    Anita - You have scared me into submission. Okay, not, but your kind words are appreciated and I understand your points. They are resonating as we speak.

  23. Ann - I hear ya!

    Kate - Your advice is sound, I know it is. I will for sure take it - I am already planning to enroll in classes this summer at my CC, the joining a writing group freaks me out, but I think I will just do it. Yay.

  24. Hello. I second everything that everyone has said. Seriously. Smart people.

    Regarding religion--my church growing up (Presbyterian) was the first place that treated me like what I said actually mattered. It was the first place that treated me as an adult, before I actually was an adult. That stuck with me. I don't really do organized religion (says the churchgoer who teaches Sunday School). I was a Sociology Major--good grief. Opiate of the Masses, anyone? My mom's family is Jewish, and I am acutely turned off when anyone says that there is only one true way. I love my church because it meets you where you are. And doesn't expect you to buy into anything that you don't. And it doesn't want you to pretend. And it goes after diversity. There is none of that--we all have to be the same and believe the same. But it does have a core foundation in some shared beliefs. Which I think is important too.

    But for me, religion is being open to life and what we are supposed to do. And I believe that religion is that funny feeling that makes us know that what we are choosing is right, or wrong. And it's the miracles that we see every day--those little coincidences--the universe looking out for us. Whether you call it God or something else.

    And, I think that the only way that anyone has ever finished a race, is by putting one foot in front of the other, and repeating. You don't need to know what is exactly the finish line, and it might move by the time that you get there, but you do need to point in the direction that you want to go. Even if you can't take a step, just facing toward your finish line is enough. Take one step toward the YOU that you want to be. Finishing is over-rated. Just start. That's all anyone can ever do. And everyone has to start somewhere. And I would doubt that I would be friends with the Audi dude. I think that counts for something. Look at these friends here!

    We'll be behind you no matter what you choose for your life.

    Don't be so hard on yourself.

  25. Sorry I totally missed this. But you know what I was doing. And you know what I think. But maybe you don't know this: As I read this I thought this is a total arc. This is the moment we read to in a novel and are like okay, that was satisfying. My reaction is totally watered down by trying to read all the comments of the wonderful folks that has commented since. There is so much goddamn heart here. And you inspired it! IT IS BEAUTIFUL WRITING. YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL WRITER.