A couple things before I begin

Procrastination

Today will be a workday for assignments. I picked up five last night. It is very tough to get started on them sometimes, mostly because of how dry they are and how slow the clients are to buy them once they are done. I still have $700 worth of stuff sitting in queue from Memorial Day weekend and earlier. Summertime is especially rough, and with inflation and fuel prices being so crazy right now, clients are pretty tight-fisted. But, I have the work to do and I can expect it to pay off…eventually.

Procrastination is very real with me, and as much as I dislike writing posts for law firms about slip and fall injuries or traumatic brain injuries, it beats the alternative, which is sitting on my ass, working for someone else who gets to treat me like garbage while they get to live their best life at my expense. If the work is there, I pick it up. If I choose to ignore it, that is on me. But at least I don’t have some morbidly obese albino yelling at me every six months for my performance review.

Work

The other day, I was visiting my dad and he desperately wanted to give me a copy of the local paper. “Did you see they have a job with the town posted? You need to apply for that!” When I asked him what it was, he said it was doing things around town like fixing stop signs, filling potholes, and painting curbs. I thanked him and said no thanks. I already have a job. It’s just different from what people are used to. I work for myself. Some weeks are better than others, sure, but writing is what I was trained to do and it is what I want to do. The other job was safe in my dad’s mind, because punching a clock makes sense. Right now, I’m struggling, but I feel fulfilled. My work has meaning. Yes, even when I write about motorcycle accidents. Hey, as much as I’ve paid lawyers over the last ten years, I kinda like the idea of billing them for once!

What I do worry about is what is coming. A Recession. Let’s be honest. Probably a full-on Depression. I’m not sure where writers stand in that whole mess, but I can guarantee as cheap as off-shore services are to write copy, and as tempting as AI programs are for people needing content, there is NO substitute for something an actual writer has created. I don’t care what your SEO app says.

SEO and Robots

Here’s a brief rant about that. I got a rejection from a law firm because someone else’s SEO content scored higher than mine. Does anyone else remember that scene in Dead Poets Society when Robin Williams tells them to rip out the pages? The reason for that was even back in the mid 20th Century, some jackass decided to apply mathematics to the quality of literature and poetry. That’s what algorithms are. So these companies go ape-shit for what scores higher. Of course their keywords and content are always things like BEST ORTHODONTIST ZEPHYRHILLS or some other nonsensical crap that Google will home in on. These are the same customers who go by strict Search Engine Optimization recommendations from their algorithm and you get 20 keywords or phrases just as stupid as that just to pump up their numbers. The truth of it is that Google might search that shit out when you plug in your keywords and bring it up, but it is nearly impossible for the content to be organic, much less interesting, for return readership. But, people just aren’t reading like they used to. They have zero attention spans(myself included).

I have actually turned down work before because the client wanted the SEO numbers first and foremost, while the copy I wrote got turned into garbage just to appease the algorithm. That was the hardest $200 I’ve ever gotten out of two 1000 word posts.

There is a catalog out there called The Sportsman’s Guide and for decades it has been called the Fun to Read Catalog. It used to be army surplus but has now gone the way of outdoorsman gear. It is still fun to read. Every product description has the same narrative voice. Each item has a story and convinces you that this item is going to be awesome because it has character. I love writing stuff like that. Because I love READING stuff like that.

Cursive

I worry about what our dependency on technology is doing to the human race. I entered a conversation today on a forum for the agency that I find assignments through about cursive. One person talked about how they would like their babies to be able to read the Declaration of Independence itself because they know how to read cursive. Cursive has been cut out of the curriculum of most schools now. It’s almost as dead as Latin at this point.

It concerns me less that the next generation won’t be able to read the primary sources such as the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution than it does they are effectively severed from nearly all previous generations by language.

If you have stacks of old letters saved by your grandma, your children won’t be able to read them. They are cut off from their heritage, their identity, and their history if they don’t have access to these family documents. I think our society wants it that way. If I sound a little woo-woo and Conspiratorial, consider what our government has done to every group of people they have wanted to control since the beginning. They cut the people off from their culture. Whether it is Residential Schools, forbidding people to speak their native tongue, eliminating foreign translations of religious texts, and removing art and expression from the public that doesn’t fit the narrative. When you can alienate entire generations of ancestors from children, you get to fill the vacuum with whatever the hell you want them to believe.

My kids don’t know cursive. I would have loved to have taught them, but I was busy working my ass off at a job that used me up for twenty years, paying just enough to scrape by every month (while the mucky-muckys flew to Thailand every month). See now why I’m not so eager to go right back into something like that unless I absolutely have to?

Anyway, it’s time to work on my assignments.

Simplicity and Meaning

I’ve thought a lot about what I would want in a relationship. When we start out in life, we have no idea what to look for, and then as we get older, we begin to get a good idea. We set up expectations. Sometimes we get crazy expectations which would make it nearly impossible for anyone to fit the bill.

Young men often say they want someone who is a size four or under, they have to have a certain hair color, eye color, blah blah blah. Like any good plan, everyone has one until they get punched in the mouth. To quote Iron Mike Tyson.

I’ve boiled my list down to a few mandatory things, which I’ll share here.

  • Must be a good kisser
  • Must enjoy kitchen dancing (music optional)
  • Must be kind to animals
  • Not rude to servers and waitstaff
  • Must love to laugh (especially at themselves)
  • Must have their shit together

That last one is the kicker isn’t it?

Lately I’ve been trying to get my shit together even more. Some days I’m good at it, and others not so much. I recently started reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I got halfway through it in one sitting. If you are unfamiliar with the book, it tells the story of Viktor Frankl, who was a psychotherapist in Austria during the 1930s until he was rounded up with millions of other Jews and sent to death camps during WWII.

During his time in Auschwitz and Dachau (and other camps), Frankl made observations that sometimes the healthier people who were brought into the camps–bigger, stronger, better fed, etc.–were dying, whereas he, a doctor doing hard labor, was still alive. He attributes much of it to simply having a reason to live. The attrocities he saw on a daily basis became commonplace and after awhile all empathy was robbed of them. They fell to nearly animalistic impulses. But he held onto the belief that as long as he found meaning in his life, he could continue. Sometimes he held conversations in his head with his wife, whom he had no knowledge of being alive or dead. Some found meaning in art, which some still did as they continued the slog towards starvation and disease. A big one Frankl attributed to his survival was love. Whether it was love for the outdoors and a beautiful sunset, or the thoughts of his wife, or the love of his work. The man actually wrote notes for his books on scraps of paper while he was in the camps.

When people are exposed to stress and trauma over a long period of time, they become desensitized to awful things. They become cold. I have thought about that in my own struggles recently with my children, with court. I haven’t spoken about it much here, but the papers have all been signed. The loss of common sense in the whole thing. The disregard for logic or fairness…it’s enough to drive you crazy. It’s certainly enough to make you lose hope. My children are all gone now. Lost to parental alienation, and the courts facilitated this. It isn’t right. Remember what Mike Tyson said? I’ve lived that. I can see nothing but a hard life for all of my kids.

It was Father’s Day and not a single phone call or text. That was also done to hurt me (did it? Not really. I tend to agree with the Stoics on this one). They cannot go outside of their mother’s authoritarian control. Her only purpose is to cause pain in others, because they have to pay for her own demons, which she never dealt with. Showing love or compassion for me is forbidden. Believe me when I say I’ve been there and lived through it. Sometimes it’s just easier to do what she says unless you want to get hurt.

I started reading Frankl because of that situation. Because of the guilt associated with losing all meaning in your life. As a father–really any parent–our identity is tied to being able to provide for and protect our children. When our lawmakers take that fundamental right away from us, it is dehumanizing. We run the risk of losing hope. June is Men’s Mental Health month. A huge number of divorced dads commit suicide every year because of this system. A lot of dads turn to the bottle or drugs to cope. Really to numb that feeling inside that says they are unworthy of being on this planet. I’ve seen it. Hell, I’ve dabbled in it.

I keep hearing that “One day your kids will come around.” No. They won’t. There is no rule out there saying they ever will. No crystal ball predicting this. Sometimes, people are just lost to you. That is a harsh reality. Ask any parent of a drug addict or any parent whose child walked to school and never came home. Or any parent who sat in front of a doctor and heard the words “It’s too soon to tell, but we are going to run some more tests…” Telling someone otherwise gives them false hope, and over time, according to Frankl, that “reprieve” will cut you just as deep as the trauma. So, please, don’t tell me they will come around. You don’t know that. Nobody knows that.

You come to a point where you have to admit to yourself you did everything you could.

So, I’ve decided to look for meaning in other ways. I have my Work. I have my writing. I have my memories of good people who walked with me for a while. Many of them are gone, but I still carry that piece of them with me. That piece that I loved. Like Frankl, I have conversations with these old ghosts sometimes. At least the part of them who held my hand and told me I was worthy of love. I have dreams and goals. I have the rest of my life to live and I refuse to let myself die on my feet doing meaningless, unfulfilling toil, just because I am not allowed to live for anything other than children who have been indoctrinated to hate me. But, whether their mother likes it or not, I will always be their dad.

I have the work of getting my shit together too, because the door swings both ways. I have a lot of trauma to work through. I don’t expect a partner to fix me, anymore than I would want to fix her. Getting your shit together means addressing the damage of the past and finding meaning in your life. Allowing yourself to love yourself and others. And seeking purpose. Meaning.

Today, I spent time with my dad on Father’s Day. We had good conversations. He made lunch and dinner. We aren’t very much alike, but time shared with him had meaning because these opportunities won’t last forever.

Having your shit together is a thin line on the horizon. It implies having done the work to no longer hurt yourself or others. It speaks to self-worth and boundaries. It probably means you are forgiving of yourself when you mess up and own your mistakes. And sometimes it means you can even harden your heart and walk away if you have to. It means you choose Peace over Drama. And you stop bleeding on others who didn’t cut you. It means honesty. It means allowing yourself to feel safe and asking good questions. It means tearing down walls and having better boundaries instead.

It’s also a pretty big red or green flag for those who work hard to get their shit together.

I hope I can find someone who fits this bill one day. Like many things in life, there are no guarantees. But I really do miss some great kissing and kitchen dancing. Until then, I will continue to find meaning. Fulfillment. Joy. Life goes on.