Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Welcome to my blog/nightmare...

Okay, I am the last guy on the planet to have a blog. I think that one and possibly both of my kids have blogs. My wife has one. A co-worker has one.

One of my closest friends, who was murdered this summer in a botched robbery attempt, probably had a blog. He was the one who first got me into the internet. I had told him that it sounded like cb radio (those of you under 40 probably have no idea what I'm talking about). He disagreed: he told me it was the ultimate marketplace for ideas-- that it would bring isolated distant people who had out of mainstream ideas together. You can find anything there, he told me.

If it's so good, I said, see if it can answer the great mystery of our mid-eighties college years: what are the lyrics to REM's "Don't Go Back to Rockville." No one could understand Micheal Stipe's mumbling. Within 30 seconds we had found the lyrics.

Then he showed me a scatalogical picture I'll refrain from sharing here that he'd found just to overkill the point. Yes, you can find anything you want on the internet.

I'd love to have read his blog. He was one of the most intelligent people I've ever known. He was Falstaff and Hamlet rolled into one-- fun-loving and rollicking, and intelligent and brooding. He was always there for everyone. His stupid and pointless death has made me determined to do everything I've been putting off-- like start a blog. A couple of months before his death, I read an article about a couple in South Dakota. Their daughter had been in an office at the top of the WTC. She was probably one of the first ones to die that day. Among her personal effects was a laptop. Her parents weren't too tech-savvy, and of course were reeling with pain. Then, finally, a few months ago, plugged the laptop in and turned it on. On it was a list of goals their daughter had maintained. Some were mundane-- like "gossip less" or "exercise more." Others were more interesting-- like "climb the Andes" or "white-water rafting." I was inspired to start my own list. "Start a blog" was #6 on my list. #27 was "spend more time with friends." I had a list that followed. Oddly, my friend who died a few weeks later was not on it. That bothered me for a long time. Finally, I realized that as he and I got into our forties, there were some serious lifestyle differences emerging. After my second divorce, I refrained for dating for two years, trying to figure out just why there had been a second (or even first) divorce. When I decided to date again, I signed up for the Reader's online thing. I was determined to meet someone who was more compatible this time-- primarily someone who could deal with the fact that I share custody of my son. In otherwords, someone who was also a parent. I suceeded in that-- my marriage is a very happy one. My friend, however, still wanted to hang out in bars and meet girls. Whenever we got together, he wanted to go to places I didn't care for. We were now about to be the creepy old guys we made fun of when we were in our twenties. I didn't care for that. We got together less and less.

I wish now that I'd been firmer with him-- that if we were going to go out, I wanted to go at least sometimes somewhere we could hang out and talk. Talking with him was one of my favorite things in the world, and it's something I will miss the rest of my life.

By the way, I finished #8, teaching my step-daughter how to ride a bike. That's one I'm very proud of. And #25, playing more baseball with my son. No matter how tired I am, I always find time to do it. I'll have plenty of time to rest when I'm dead.

Okay, about me... I'm 45, currently working as a school teacher and a waiter. I have two kids. I am fairly newly remarried. My friends would tell you that I'm political (left), gregarious and sometimes a little nuts. If I have some spare time, I love spending time with my kids and/or wife, reading (mostly history), watching movies and bicycling. I'm considering making a major career change soon.

My friends will also tell you that I'm intensely loyal to friends. When my friend, who'd been the nexus of a group of college friends, died, 40 of us showed up to his funeral. My two best friends are both guys from that group. I think that friendship is a lost art; people don't realize that like any relationship, you have to put time and energy into it-- you get out what you put in. I will spend some time on this page ranting about things. One of them will be about friendship. I think some of the craziness in our society is due to people feeling isolated and angry.

One of the burning questions in my mind is "How in the hell did I get to be 45?" One minute I was 25, hanging out in cool bars, going to Ramones shows, having great discussions history and politics, working too much, drinking too much, dating women of various backgrounds (some of them shady-- one was married to a biker, as I found out) and having an uproarious good time. Here I am-- 45. I rarely go out to bars. Most of the Ramones are dead. I still have great discussions about history and politics, though not often enough. I still work too much. I drink moderately (at least compared to how I used to-- don't listen to my wife!). I don't date-- I'm happily married. And while I don't have the "uproariously good times" I used to, I realize now that I was not a real happy guy back then. I'm much happier these days.

Okay, so that is probably one of the goals of this blog-- to give me the oppurtunity to have political and historical discourse without having to be on a barstool.