Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Random Stuff...

Well, it's been a month since my last post. I'm still unemployed, with no money coming in. That doesn't bother me too much, though. More on this in a few...

* * *

Yesterday was the 48th anniversary of the assassination of John Kennedy. It's been said that America lost its innocence when he was killed. I wouldn't really know -- I wasn't around when it happened. But I used to be pretty interested in the subject, and for a while it approached becoming an obsession. Beginning shortly after I moved to Richmond, off and on over the next few years, I read somewhere between thirty and forty of the conspiracy books among the thousands within the who-shot-JFK cottage industry.

Eventually, I lost interest. The sheer number of books I'd managed to wade through contained too many minor details, too much speculation, some name-calling, and a whole lot of outright lunacy -- hell, the books in Harrison Livingstone's High Treason series alone are enough to confuse the shit out of you, if not drive you crazy. I now believe that Oswald was in it up to his neck, and may indeed have been the lone gunman that day, but if so, I still can't understand how he managed to plan it and pull it all off without at least one other person's input. You only need two people for a conspiracy.

Bottom line: no one knows exactly what happened, the Warren Commission wasn't too helpful in the matter, and neither were the professional conspiracy buffs. Judging from the mountain of nonsense I read, I figured if America had lost anything aside from Kennedy on that afternoon in Dallas, then it might have been its collective mind...

* * *

Oh yeah, the out-of-work thing...

I wouldn't say my work ethic is shot, but it's definitely not firing on all cylinders. It feels so different now from the last time I was unemployed, which was in early '98. Being unemployed started getting to me after a month or so back then. I can remember feeling useless, unwanted, angry, bitter, what have you, partly over being laid off and partly due to other things. Going to Virginia with a new job lined up was a fresh start. I'm glad I made that move; I learned a lot of things about the way the world works and myself that I might not have learned had I stayed in New England.

But I brought a lot of unnecessary baggage with me, and one of those things eventually turned out to be a drinking problem, if it wasn't a problem to begin with. Somehow, I got away with the heavy drinking for more than a dozen years before I finally ran into the wall in September, and lost my job. Someday, maybe I'll be asked to speak at an AA meeting, and then I'll relate my own story. For now, though I'm not working, I am on day sixty-four of my sobriety, and physically, mentally, and perhaps even spiritually, I'm feeling much better than I was just a couple of months ago. I've been sleeping longer and more soundly than I have in at least ten years, I'm good and rested for whenever I finally do get back to working full-time, and thanks to AA, I'm learning how to get out of my shell and rejoin the real world.

The way things stands, as of January, I won't be living in this apartment anymore, and I don't know where I'll end up. I worry about it, but not the way I would if I were still drinking -- I'd be a nervous wreck over it. One way or another, I'll figure this out. Next year is likely to be a rough year, financially. Wouldn't be the first such year...

* * *

I ended up going back to the print shop one more time, Monday afternoon. Turned out I'd left some things there, and they were all sitting in a box with my name on it. I finally showed up in the CFO's office to get them, stuffed them into my backpack, and we talked for, I don't know, twenty minutes. I was dreading going there, fearing what might be said, given how my employment had been terminated. There was no reason to be worried; there was no rancor on either side.

There were odd moments in the discussion, though. He'd once told me that I needed to ask myself what I wanted to be doing and where I wanted to be in twenty years, I'd thought of that on my way to the print shop, and he said it to me again. I told him that it doesn't really matter. One, I have more immediate concerns, and two, there's no way of knowing what the future holds for me, or anyone else. Going back to college came up as well, and if there's one thing I'm sick and tired of hearing these days, it's the phrase "going back to college."

He rightly pointed out that closing that avenue off wouldn't do me any good in the long run, so while I'm closing it off for now, maybe down the road I'll have a change of heart. I'll keep it in mind. But you know what? Here I am, about fourteen years older than I was the last time I was unemployed, and this time around, I don't feel useless, angry, or bitter. Unwanted at times, yes. But I don't have the same wants I once had. Looking into buying a house, marrying at some point, maybe starting a family of my own, owning a fancy car, maybe going back to school, blah blah blah -- I don't need any of that. I still have my health, and with any luck, I'm done with drinking permanently this time. I'm on the mend, and that comes first. As for work, especially the kind I used to do...

I've often told people that I got two things out of my years of working in factories: an education and a drinking problem. Actually, I got three: the third thing is tinnitus. I'll get to that.

I still say that if you want an overpriced piece of paper, go to college; you want a real education, go work in a factory for a few years. Of course, you need a degree if you want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher, whatever -- I'm not totally ignorant. But with all this talk I'm hearing about how important it is to start or go back to college later in life, what's the point of anyone going to college straight out of high school? Christ, If I'd known twenty-odd years ago what I know now, I probably would have gone straight into factory work out of high school, and stayed there until I was maybe thirty, and then given college a second though.

And BadTux makes an interesting point regarding college kids and the many Occupy protests: they feel they have nothing to lose by rising up in protest against a system that has nothing to offer them. They're the generation that's supposed to have the most hope for the future. If college isn't helping them, what the fuck is it going to do for a Gen Xer like me?

* * *

The trouble with factory work, though, is it seems to drive an awful lot of people to drink. I was 24 when I started working in a paper bag factory, 25 when I started drinking regularly. In my case, it was working the night shift -- I couldn't sleep during the day, and staying awake all night was a bitch. Could have been worse, though -- I've known plenty of people who did other things in addition to drinking, and they're either paying for that now or will be soon enough, one way or another. One of the last things to fall back into place, if it does at all, for a recovering alcoholic is a normal sleeping pattern. I'm not there yet, though I'm doing better.

And then there's the tinnitus. I know that I've had it for years, but having been away from factory work for a while as well as having sobered up, I now know the true extent of it. Mine isn't bad, compared to what it was the first couple of days after ending that last bender I did, but it's there, and I'm stuck with it. It's a good thing I wore earplugs as often as I did on the job, else it would be noticeably worse. And it's one reason why I'm not too keen on going back to factory work, though I'll take it if I can get it. There's no telling how many people at that print shop have it, or how bad it is, especially among the ones who are still drinking.

But if any of them sober up like I did, they'll damn sure find out...

* * *

Finally, a song. I can still hear very well, thank you...


All things considered, I'm doing okay. You can't really ask for more than that.

More later...


  1. Good to hear from you again, Jim. You show a lot of self-awareness, more than most. That may not be all you need to get through this phase of your life but it sure doesn't hurt.

  2. Congratulations on 64 days. :)

  3. WooHoo 60 days!I am eating every day,blood pressure meds down to one pill a day..Just my sleep is messed up.take care mike


This is a First Amendment zone, but I do use word verification now. If you don't like that, well, this is also a Fifth Amendment zone. Take your pick...