The Fog of Future


I haven’t voted yet, although this process is less theatrical in Washington state. We’ve been mailing in ballots for a long time now; I can’t remember the last time I walked down the street to the fire station to cast a ballot. I sort of miss it, although now we all kind of savor finding some time, the three of us, to review all of the initiatives and candidates and make our decisions, then drive to drop them off (which we could do up until midnight Tuesday, but it’ll get done today).

Paper ballots. Easy to trace. Easy to verify online that it’s been counted. That’s the way to run an election, and I’m talking to you, Georgia.

I do enjoy the almost-constant reminders I see racing around online. I roll my eyes a little but I appreciate the tone, and the persistence. Maybe this will be the one.

I was pretty excited to turn 18 about 100 days before a presidential election. I’m not sure I understand the low voting numbers among young people, other than maybe it just seems like one of those adult things you eventually get around to doing, like starting a retirement account, but at the moment it feels premature…I really have no idea, just that it’s dangerous to let the older people decide the future. We don’t have the stake.

I remember back in 1984, when I was working a second job, 4-5 hours several nights a week. I had to call my boss from work, who was at home by then, and her husband answered the phone by saying, “Yes, I INTEND TO VOTE!” It was funny. Those days, the calls.

I read a blogger who entertains us with the stories of home contractors who call him several times a week, and the scams they try to use, and his cleverness in dealing with them. They deserve whatever sarcasm he tosses their way, as they’re lying for a living (and not a good living), but I just shake my head at this technologically-savvy guy with his landline, and his apparent need to answer the phone when he doesn’t know who’s calling. Something else is going on here. He works alone; maybe he enjoys the socialization.

I have no idea why people still have landlines. My mother does, and she has a cell phone only for traveling, and I suppose that might be cheaper and she’s home a lot. Still. It feels like a set of encyclopedias sitting on the shelf. More effort to dust the damn things than utility in their existence.

We were joking, a few months ago, some of us having our dessert times around the fire pit last summer, about having drone deliveries once a week of fresh dessert-type things. A friend said she’d love to be sitting in her hot tub on a Friday night, watching a little drone come in for a landing with a dozen cookies and maybe some other treats. I considered this.

Not the drone part; too far away. But I did sort of scope out the idea of baking and deliveries. That would give me a lot of pleasure, I think, driving around for a few hours one night a week, dropping off goodies. Can’t see how I could make it profitable, or even worth the time. But it was a fun job to imagine.

I got a few more rejections yesterday. I’m not sure I’ve ever told the story completely—a few years ago, I went to two separate 12-step meetings, as I tended to do, and in both of them someone recognized me, that guy from the paper. I tend to write about things that happen in my life. This made me nervous; not that my anonymity had been uncovered (didn’t care), but that others might feel their anonymity was threatened. I never went back to those meetings. I rarely went to another meeting. Made me feel uncomfortable, and by then I was moving on. Some people never stop going to meetings. Some people move on.

But the thought has crossed my mind. I have quite a history, nearly 20 years, of very public pronouncements about trivial, anecdotal, everyday things and people. I’m responsible and don’t embarrass people, etc., but still I wonder. Would you want this guy editing your little magazine, or writing copy for you, or working in your office?

I have no idea. Maybe it’s just my age. Maybe it’s just that I never developed the skills, the career, obtained the degrees, mastered the material, to end up being marketable. Maybe I’m not marketable. It’s not like I’m living on the street.

It’s my fault. Other than a few financial things, just the bad luck of the draw, I see no blame other than in the mirror. Can’t blame society, can’t blame our economic system, can’t blame immigrants or elites or anyone, really.

I don’t have the answers, but I think about it a lot. Years ago, when I was seeing a therapist, I mentioned that I’d always assumed there was just something wrong with me, something a little bad in the old character. I eventually thought it might just be the drinking, but now that’s way in the past. It’s not disconnected from whatever is going on, but there’s no drinking and I’m grateful and I’m still here, wondering.

I’ve got some ideas, though. I got some input from a friend in a certain industry. I’ve always made my own jobs; I might just have to make my last one.

What’s funny is that I need advice. I’m surrounded by good people with lots of varied experience. They might have some advice. I don’t seem to be that person, who is lost and needs help. People treat me as the one who gets things done, who updates the Facebook and Instagram accounts and teaches classes on the long-term effects of history on today’s world, and maybe I just don’t seem to be that guy. The one who could use help.

Again, feeling OK today. A little optimistic. Unsure, but still hopeful. I’m just curious why I can’t find—me, someone who’s social and agreeable and, really, a very polite and nice person—someone who will just listen to me. Absorb the information, maybe have a perspective I can’t see. A person, as I’ve always said is my dream, who looks at me across the table and says, talk to me, I’m not going anywhere.

I admire so many people. I admire so many of my readers, actually. Melodee finding herself a new career, working all those hours, not at home but out in the world. John sanguinely assessing his new cancer diagnosis, pondering mortality and the scariness of that word, but still hanging in there, seeking some joy. Liz, emptying her nest and I know (I know) losing something important that will be hard to compensate for. Sid, one of the most accomplished people I know, a freaking surgeon, who writes like the wind and tells the truth whether or not his readers can handle it. There are others, too. I watch. Travis with his proud family military connections and his proud papahood. Chris in Virginia, a woman I’ve never met who still remains what I consider a close friend, a woman I must meet one day and hug and tell her how much she’s meant to me.

I don’t care if I’m admired, actually, because I’m liked and loved. I don’t have cancer, I think, although I have a little chronic bronchitis, because I still like to vape that mist when I’m sitting, thinking, staring at a page. I don’t think it’s harming me (watch me hike and measure our respiratory rates at the top of the hill) but I’ll be dead before that info comes to light. Bad habit, manageable. I could probably just chew gum but I dislike gum chewers, for some reason. I’ll still with my inhaler, take the extra drainage, and accept that my flaws are less and far less dangerous.

Yes, I need health insurance (that front, so far, using the ACA, is discouraging). Yes, I need to stop dropping weight (now 20 pounds since January), not dangerous but seriously? This is not a good thing, and the fact that I can make the effort to binge on certain favorite foods, just for the calories, and can’t come close to the old days is discouraging. Used to be I could eat the better part of a pizza by myself over the course of a movie, with a bunch of ice cream for a chaser. The other day I bought a pizza and ate it over three days. Same with the ice cream. Can’t eat as much. Make sense. Still unnerving.

AGAIN—Doing OK today. Fixed the coffee grinder. May have arranged that tarp over the corner of my roof that’s peeling back and starting to leak. Back yard is getting there. It may be time to seriously find some help on selling this property, but that’s like a landline—can’t seem to persuade my wife that’s it’s time, because it’s her home, c’mon. For 30 years.

Mostly I just need a friend. Got a lot. Have to find the right one. Someone with some fortitude, some experience, some wisdom, some compassion. Maybe decent hearing (harder to come by with my cohort these days).

Or maybe I’ll just be my own. That actually doesn’t sound so bad. A little hopeful.

And doing just fine today. Baking day and all.


Chuck Sigars1 Comment