Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


It’s the Time of Year

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:21 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

It’s getting to be that time of year again.

I’ve really been craving a cigarette the past week or two. It always happens this time of year. The air turns cool and crisp, which makes it perfect weather to stand outside and suck long drags of hot, molten tar down deep into my lungs. Of course, I won’t. It seems morally incorrect to increase my chances of cancer again after M.D. Anderson worked so hard to keep me alive, but, oh, I do so want to just sit with strong coffee and smoke cigarette after cigarette, one after another. I don’t know what it is, really, besides the time of year and the change in weather. Perhaps there’s something that’s making me miss a time long since past, before I moved to Houston, before I was married. Another Fall, in another place, when I was another person.

It may surprise my readers to know that I am a bit of a romantic. I suspect that my co-workers would especially be surprised, since I tend to maintain a somewhat cynic mode of conversation in the office. I think, perhaps, most of my friends from church would be surprised, too. There, oddly enough, most people see me as a wise-cracking joker, I think. But, a tired, world-weary, old romantic is what I am most nights, especially in the Fall.
The holidays are approaching quickly. Too quickly, it seems to me sometimes. And, with the holidays come memories. Memories of old dreams that died young. Memories of old betrayal, old pain, that nags at me like a bad knee in damp weather. The holidays are a hard time for me these days. Alone again, after thinking I’d never be alone again. My family is all in another state, two thousand miles away. Even home isn’t home any more, another place that’s changed too much and a time that will never return. This season, which includes my birthday, always reminds me of all the things I regret, all the ways my twisty life has gone in circles no one could predict. Even my old ally, words upon words, fail me, leave me stranded. What words can describe the hollow feeling this season evokes in me? Not sadness, not really true regret, but an emptiness so full that it sucks all feeling out of me like a vacuum.

I’ve been watching an old movie. The Yakuza, starring Robert Mitchum and Ken Takakura. Mitchum plays a former service-man who, along with a number of friends, was part of the Occupation after World War II. One of those old friends, played by Brian Kieth, has gotten into trouble and asks Mitchum’s character to help him out. The trouble, of course, involves the yakuza. I think it may have been my first exposure to any sort of yakuza movie. It’s hard to find, but Netflix had it. Maybe this, too, reminds me of all the ways life has surprised me. And, naturally, it’s filled with smoking, which makes me crave that cigarette even more. But, I have to watch it, twice, back to back. It’s as if I’m looking for an answer to my own past in the way the characters deal with theirs. I always find myself stuck in no-win situations with people I care about. Someone to whom I can’t express my deep affection without causing hard feelings with someone else to whom I owe a debt. There’s a line in the movie, one character talking to another about the part played by Ken Takakura. “Yes, he is insufferable at times. Honorable men often are.” I sympathize with that, identify with it. Once, when describing a complicated social situation I found myself in to a friend in Japan, he told me I was “more Japanese than Japanese”, which is quite a compliment, actually. I’ve always admired yakuza films, the Japanese film noir.

And, that’s the thing, maybe. On the inside, my life feels like film noir, but on the outside it plays like a Doris Day comedy. God, not even a Cary Grant comedy. I could take that. Who doesn’t want to be Cary Grant? Even Cary Grant would’ve liked to have been Cary Grant. But, my problem is I’m always trying to be Robert Mitchum or, yes, even Ken Takakura, “the man who never smiles”, except I can’t keep a straight face. It’s hard to be a tough guy if you can’t keep a straight face.
They say every comedian is crying on the inside, and maybe that’s me. Maybe that’s why I’m always joking, to hide the fact that my life seems a little tragic to me. And, yes, if it seems tragic to me, how must it seem to anyone looking at it from the outside? Almost forty and alone. My friends seem to think I’m undatable, or incapable of picking someone appropriate to date. I’m not so sure they’re wrong. If I drank hard anymore, I’d start drinking myself to sleep every night, but even that’s not really a viable option to me anymore, thanks to my doctors. I told someone not too long ago that I’d done all my crying and that’s why I joked so much now. Because it was a choice I’d made between laughing and crying and I’d cried myself dry. So bad jokes are all that’s left. No smokes, no women, maybe a little booze, if it’s the good stuff, but all that’s left really are bad jokes and brooding self-recrimination.

I suppose if I were smart, I’d take all this ennui, this overgrown teen angst just returned from French boarding school, and channel it into a moody mystery novel or a vampire story or something. But, I’m not, so instead, I just blog. And you read. Thanks.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."
   --Albert Einstein


  1. First off, I don’t know how someone could read this blog and not know that you are an ultra romantic. It seems so obvious to me. I wonder if that is because you are like an exact mirror for many of my emotions so maybe I just pick up on them, although I doubt that’s it. It just seems so obvious to me.

    The paragraph about why holidays are hard? I’m so tempted to steal that and post that on my blog because it is word for word how I feel (except my birthday is in the spring). I have a very small family and I am an only child so Christmas was such a special time. It is now an empty shell of itself. Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday because it doesn’t have all those memories attached.

    And the sentiment about dating? I’d say hand over the tequila except I don’t drink. I guess I’m saying you aren’t alone. And thank you for so eloquently writing what I could never verbalize.

    Comment by laanba — 11/3/2008 @ 5:37 am

  2. Sometimes I get the impression that you really don’t like yourself much at all. I read your blog regularly, and I can’t see what isn’t to like, but you don’t seem to see that. You do have value in this life, you are valuable. Your life is meaningful – but you must make it so. And if there is something about you that YOU feel needs to change, then you CAN make that happen. It takes work, but you are worth it!

    I obviously can’t really have any clue as to what the relationship is with your friend and the woman you are attracted to, but I can’t imagine what you would owe a friend that should include remaining alone and lonely. A real friend would never ask that. Maybe that’s is what hurts the most? The knowledge that a treasured friend might be a little on the shallow and self involved side? (I had a friend like that – I know how empty it feels)

    Holidays can be empty. They never live up to the romantic expectations we have of them. I have people to take care of, people who depend on me to make the holidays festive. I sometimes resent that. If I could, I would fill the car up with gas and start driving – to someplace warm and sandy! I tell you that because I want you to see that it is the nature of holidays – not you – that can be so disappointing.

    I don’t know how much my advice means to you these days, but I would suggest you take a good hard look at what you are doing that isn’t working and change that. It’s easy to get into ruts, use the same behavior over and again because that’s what’s easy. Remember, however, that if it hasn’t worked in the past, it won’t work in the future. It’s also possible that you have seasonal depression, and they do make medications for that. Life is too short to spend any of it unhappy.

    Comment by Cheri — 11/3/2008 @ 10:09 am

  3. Well, Laurie, you may be surprised. A lot of the time, I’m a pretty pragmatic guy, which I generally see as the opposite of romantic. Romance, like stalking, is a young man’s game. It takes too much energy for an oldster like me. (And, yes, I’m joking. You’re never too old for stalking!)

    Cheri, some days, you’d be right.
    Of course, that comes out a lot when I get a little depressed, too. I talked to a handful of people this weekend and, to a one, we were all a little depressed. No good reason for it, but, well, there it is.
    As to either his relationship, or mine, to that dear, sweet woman that I’m attracted to, well, that’s a little complicated. We’re all friends, of course, but because of his wife, I think he’s privy to some information about her that I’m not. He’s a CPA, so he worries about me like a mother hen. Some days, he has a lot to worry about! Once upon a time, I used to be a dangerous guy, but now, since I’ve settled down and relaxed a lot, I’m only a danger to myself. (And, yes, I’m joking with you.)

    Also, I’ve tried self-medication enough that I’m not a huge fan of prescribed meds, either. They work great for other people, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m not me when I take that kind of stuff. They make me stupid. Well, stupider.

    Seriously, it’s a phase. I know it’ll pass, but it’s been a strange couple of years, you know?

    Comment by the Network Geek — 11/3/2008 @ 1:24 pm

  4. Gosh where to start. I think everyone gets down like this, at all times of year, a bit melancholy, and I think its normal.
    It sounds like you need a really big hug! And sadly, it sounds like you need someone in your life, in your home, in your space, who could give you one every day.

    I wish I could have more insight, more experience, and words of wisdom. But I don’t, I can’t pretend, but I care.


    Comment by Dataceptionist — 11/11/2008 @ 11:00 pm

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