It’s been a while now that I haven’t been able to write a damned thing. How many times have I started a post, then stopped? Twenty? Forty?
You can tell just by looking at this space. It’s empty. It’s bereft. It’s arid.
But that’s where I’ve been, too. Empty. Bereft. Arid. Yeah, you could say there are some problems. Okay, you could say there are a shitload of problems, mostly related to middle age and life as a single parent. And a bunch of other stuff. But for now, those will do.
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So let’s see, what’s been going on?
House. The house isn’t mine. And it’s falling apart. And I’m pouring money into it. And it isn’t mine. And I should feel grateful for it. And it’s falling apart. And I’m pouring money into it. And all of this in very not comfortable ways, since it was built in the 1970s. Draw your own conclusions about what that means.
History and human muzzles. Speaking of, I can’t say a damned thing. That’s the reason for the disappearance of 75 percent of all posts. I can’t ever say a damned thing about a damned thing because I’m divorced and that makes everything in life (a) shit and (b) difficult and (c) painful and (d) guilt-inducing.
Society. The other 25 percent of all posts are muzzled because I also can’t say a damned thing on account of the fact that I’m not a tenured academic somewhere like I once planned, but am rather working on the open market where everything I do and say becomes a part of my value proposition, and it’s got to be a good one if I’m going to stay employed and continue to progress. I won’t say more about that, for obvious reasons.
Market. Speaking of, I have to stay employed and continue to progress because the debt load from years of graduate school followed by divorce is crushing. My ex is buying a house. People look at me like I’m irresponsible on account of having saved no money. But here’s the thing. I’ve paid for three whole cars, completely in the past four years. How many other people have paid for three entire cars in four years? That’s where my money went. My attorney’s fees are all paid off. That’s where my money went. Other debts that I took on as a part of the divorce are gradually being paid off. That’s also where the money went. But where’s it not going? Student loan debt. And buying a house. That’s what my ex gets to do.
Meaning. This is really all about the divorce again, but the thing is that it’s hard to be yourself or to explore the things you’d like to explore as an individual when you’re divorced because every last thing you do is scrutinized and anything that you do that deviates from recent history has the potential to cause trouble and causing trouble is the last thing that you want to do when you’re as empty, bereft, and arid as I have been. So there are things I’d like to do that cost nothing that I haven’t done, and that seriously gets my goat.
Age. Do other people feel—like, literally feel—the life force draining out of them with each passing day? I feel that in me. Yes, I know they say that everyone is slowly dying, but I can feel it, day by day and it sucks. No, it’s not going to happen in the next year or probably even in the next ten years, but I can feel it coming. It’s not indeterminate. And the amount of guilt that I feel about that—about a potential departure—is crippling as a parent.
Some of this is all in my head. Hell, all of it is all in my head. All of everything is all in everyone’s head, because in fact phenomenology wins if we’re all human, which we are, and that’s that.
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Mostly I just hate all the things that, for a while, I loved.
I hate you, Foucault.
I hate you, academics.
I hate you, atheists.
I hate you, enlightened people.
I hate you, time.
Okay, I don’t know if I really hate these things. Because I don’t actually know what hate is. I don’t frankly know what anything is. I am coming of age as a lost soul, which I believe is what they call a “midlife crisis.”
Mine has been going on for five years, what’s your name?
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I am also at that age where I think back over a life of doing things, and I think back to a lot of the things I’ve done, and I don’t like it. Guilt. Regret. Embarrassment. Sadness. Wistfulness in a few blissful, yet still painful cases.
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Also—and this is hard as well—I used to be so happy to have known so many people.
I’ve inverted on that point. I regret having known most of the people I knew in my twenties and thirties at this stage. I regret having let them into my life.
Does everyone reach middle age and feel as though they’ve lived their entire life wrong and wasted it on people who were at best pointless and at worst evil?
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Somewhere along the line (guessing just where is left as an exercise to the reader), I came to believe in evil, for the first time in my life.
Nothing has been the same since.
All of this is still the Great Unwinding that follows from that. The little stageplay in which I unravel like an old sweater and then disappear in a puff of regret.
I once owned the domain regretengine.org.
Ironic that I let it lapse just before I came to need it most.
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“We play at believing ourselves immortal. We delude ourselves in the appraisal of our own works and in our perpetual misappraisal of the works of others. See you at the Nobel, writers say, as one might say: see you in hell.”
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He found out he was going to die and wrote a masterpiece to honor his children. Would that I could do the same. But I suspect that when the time comes, I won’t. And that alone makes me want to wring my neck.
Is posting a blog post like this a sin? Probably.
But it is what it is.