Friggin Special


Inspirational Monkey

I’m just going to say it: I’m making this up as I go.

Furthermore: Not only am I making it up as I go, I have absolutely no idea how things are going to turn out.

And also: I’m not too worried about it. Maybe this part lasts long term, and maybe it stops in a minute, but still, I’m not going to sweat it.

And lastly: I’m not saying what follows makes a lot of sense, and isn’t more for me than you.

What I’m getting at is I’ve been in a very positive, upbeat state of mind lately, and that’s not generally my patent pending modus operandi. Typically, historically and generally, I am a crabby sunvabitch. Best case scenario, I’m a bit of an affable bastard. Twenty years ago, when I was just a burgeoning sunuvabitch in high school, with the world before me and what I thought was a sneer on my face, a long-time friend had said, “Me and Dave were talking, and we decided it won’t be a good day until you insult something.”

I’m not saying that one moment set the tone for the next two decades. I am saying it was a culmination of behaviors and events that had established me as a funny, sarcastic guy. If Dennis Leary or Jason Bateman had gone on to become a sex symbol on par with George Clooney or Taye Diggs, then I would be writing this just before, during, or just after I was up to my chin in sex.

(Disclaimer: I’m not saying that Dennis Leary or Jason Bateman aren’t seen as sexy by people, but seriously, have you seen Taye Diggs? Straight up, this is like “trying” to decide between Gale or Peta, amirite?)

It was a shtick that I was deft at, this angry young man routine, and it served me sort of well over the years. But mostly, it was what I knew, what was readily accessible. It also jived pretty well with my late teens and early twenties. Given that I was in New Hampshire, I needed something to separate me from the thousands of other white kids, and I sure as shit wasn’t going to surf in the goddam northeast Atlantic. It’s fucking cold.

At some point, it stopped feeling like a schtick, and more like how I actually was. I understand now that set into motion a whirling clusterfuck of my internals getting all kinds of jacked up. Pitting pseudo-nihilistic cynicism against optimism quickly turns into an immovable object vs. an unstoppable force kind of arrangement.

You may wonder why I didn’t do some self-reflection, take some time and get my head in order. That would have really cut into my drinking time, and those were the days when that took priority over a good many things. As a sarcastic white guy from New England, I felt somewhat obligated to keep up certain traditions.

As is customary amongst my people, I spent a while angry at nothing at all. I was good at it, and it appealed to a certain kind of woman that appealed to me. I’m still surprised and impressed that my wife didn’t divorce me, or at least have a “please stop being such an asshole” conversation. It would have been well deserved.

That continued on for a while. I’ll gloss over it, because there wasn’t much variation. Just one big chunk of angry. As far as highs and lows go, I’d say becoming a father and losing my license a la DUI, not in that chronological order, would cover bases.

Now, you may think that my wife’s diagnosis of cancer three years back would have maybe cooled things off, but no. It’s impressive what giving a target to a long-aimless rage will do, even if you don’t realize what’s happening. The neat part about pretty much everything is it’s going to happen whether you know about it or not.

This past year has had a tonal shift. Long-overdue talk and medication therapy have had a pretty big impact, but not without some depression along the way. Friends have been concerned, my work performance just went straight to shit, and there was some distance between me and my family. What I understand now, or blindly hope, is that a lot of it was setting things up for where I’m at now.

The most recent thing is finally making my way back to center, or at least finding a way to get there. Back into therapy and a formal introduction to the practice of mindfulness. I’m not saying I’m communing with the universe and unlocking my inner power animal (it alternates between Roy Baty and Spider Jerusalem), but I’ll concede that things have been falling into place in an eerily coincidental fashion these days.

Look, I totally get that I’m essentially crowing about being in a great mood. That’s not exactly the stuff of legends. But you can’t be angry at yourself for years without having an over-developed capacity for self-analysis. That’s what fuels that kind of anger, is being able to exaggerate and overanalyze every minor character flaw. There’s been a constant self-assessment running. I haven’t done much in the past that hasn’t resulted in me second guessing what I did, and what I should have done.

But stick with me on this. It’s not just some self-righteous bullshit. I mean, there’s obviously an element of that in the mix, but I’d like you to keep in mind that my teen years were jam packed with positive self-affirmation posters in every public school I set foot in. You can’t escape that without some damage.

What I’m saying is I can’t really remember the last time I felt lucid and upbeat for longer than a few hours. Doing so on a longer timeline feels foreign and strange, and I very much want to keep it going. I’ve spent the past twenty years trying my hand at being the affable bastard, and I can’t say that it did me much good.

I don’t really know how to go about being upbeat, but like I said, I’m not too worried about it.

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