My 2007 can be summed up thus:
"In life you have to do a lot of things you don't want to do. Many times, that's what the fuck life is... One vile fucking task after another."
.Al Swearengen, 'Deadwood'
And that's basically how it all went down. 2007 is fast going onto the books as one of my worst years to date, with only the most remote and infrequent oases to refresh my crawl through this desert of fucking defeat. Nah, I'm not going to sit here and enumerate the sins this poisonous fucking world has wrought upon me over the last 365: anyone who bothered to read the scant few entries I've made over the previous year (it won't take long, just scroll down) will know where I've been, and the rest of it isn't worth mentioning so the two of you still reading this can get some sadistic titter out of whatever arrows met me and rocks I stumbled on. Suffice it to say that Muddy Waters knew what was up: if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all.
The holidays were cold and lonesome, like I figured. I worked a double on Christmas Eve and Day, and another double on the New Year. Gifts came from my mother - a down blanket, as I'd requested, as well as various foodstuffs (she worries about my diet, and rightly so) - and father sent a check. Christmas morn, I got home at 0630, slept for five hours, and went back to work. Knowing that I'm a damned heathen, I don't take missing the holiday itself quite so hard, but I suppose it was unfortunate that there really was nothing to celebrate. Usually I find an excuse to visit a friend or have dinner with some of my mates over, but this year, the holidays came and went, the only genuflection of observation from me the opening of a box that contained my new blanket, and the notice to a tiny plastic tree that Cynthia bought for my apartment. Looking at it Christmas morning produced a lump in my throat. No wonder so many people commit suicide over the holidays.
The overtime is good for the moment, because it means money, and survival, and the chance to eat a few real meals, pay the bills, and buy some gifts until the money runs dry. I feel kind of awful about being thankful for the time, as the gap was created by one of my co-workers having massive health complications that have hospitalized her indefinitely. Still, her loss is my gain, and I'm fortunate it came along when it did. The dilemma is that I don't know whether I'm going to want it, anymore, once Cynthia comes back to Philadelphia from her vacation home. I find sitting at this desk and waiting for nothing to be so tedious already, mitigated now only by the fact that I know I have nothing and nobody to go home to but a computer screen and cigarettes. I feel very much the 21st-century Chuck Bukowski, which I'd delight in if not for the fact that Bukowski was a miserable fuck who died alone with a rotted liver, mourned only for his brilliance. But I am not brilliant. I am one of the small, damn me, the Meager, and no legacy stretches out before me today. I wonder how guys like Bukowski even found time to write and pay their rent. Different time, different place. Fuck the landlord and her hounds.
I'm trying to go back to school. I want to. I've wanted to for a while. I'm stuck here for a while, I figure, so I may as well get to work. I've been asking for some advice from people who know of such things, getting the goods, figuring out what I can apply for. It's all pretty unreasonable. When I went to college in California in 1998, it was twenty bucks a credit hour. Here in Philly, it's three-hundred and forty. Even for residents, it's one-seventy per credit hour. Fucking madness, I tell you. If that's what the price of higher education is, it's no wonder the streets are littered with gutter slime who can barely speak English and think "irony" is how a shirt feels after you press it. The other community colleges in the surrounding counties - Bucks, Montgomery, Reading - are cheaper, albeit not by a lot, which means that I'm probably going to start getting my ducks in a row now and prepare for a move to whichever county I'll be going to school in, for the fall. Happily, my lease will be expiring, so with adequate preparation I should be able to move and start school almost immediately. Away from this city that I hope never to return to. I'll have to see things like the Mutter Museum and Liberty Hall before I move, because I'm leaving this city like fucking Lot, man. No turning back. Once my shoulders are turned toward the river, Philadelphia shall exist in my mind as nothing more than a very slow knot of intersecting freeways.
There's no work in this town. Someone online I spoke to last week who had lived in this area all it's life told me that anybody who'd been here for a week could see it was "a city in decline". He was right. Everything in this city is falling apart, crushed under the onerous weight of its own collective despair. If cities had spirits, if they were anthropomorphized, Philadelphia would be an old man with a shabby beard in what once passed as a suit, now torn to bits, bled upon, shat upon, vomited upon, filthy with grease and scents. He was once young and powerful, and took on the world. And won. Adulthood came and he built an empire, an empire of ideology, a community of peers. He probably fancied himself Charlemagne. And then, one day, the bottom fell out. Decades of neglect, of coasting on his past accomplishments had made him complacent, so much so that he couldn't even feel the rope go taught around his porcine neck the night he was bound and displaced, his home overtaken by vandals. Broken, he has turned to the streets, wandering them, wondering what happened to his little empire and the fine people in it. He has become haggard and hard, a thing of survival and teeth and fingernails. Tonight, he clutches his chest in the cold, his breathing ragged as he futilely tries to keep his blood within him. It's all for naught: the knife caught his lung, and the night is bitter cold. All that remains is to see whether he'll bleed out, freeze, or his lungs will collapse and let loose one final, crooked breath. The city council would have you believe that this city is a historic epicenter, akin to American royalty: while getting shanked and having your wallet stolen by a member of the teeming underclass may bear the unmistakable pangs of historic verisimilitude, I don't think it's quite what their ad campaign had in mind.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that finding work in this area is really tough. I'm still on it, but the holidays are a bad time to be looking for work. Everybody I'm petitioning for work is home with their families, on vacation, elsewhere. They are not poring over resumes on December 31st. I can only hope that changes with the new year.
Naturally, it wouldn't be the New Year without what is not a tradition, albeit one I fear I won't be able to reprise: having confessed to her parents that she's seeing me, Cynthia has - again - been forbidden from seeing me. This happened last on January 9th, so they're ahead by about a week, this year. Last year, the nine or ten months that I couldn't even speak to Cynthia were hell. I will not suffer through that again. It doesn't seem she will, either. She is standing firm that she won't leave me. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for her.
This is a very hard subject for me. On the one hand, I get where they're coming from. I'm a threat to their primacy in her life. It's not hard to imagine that a guy like me getting together with a girl like her carries only the worst of intentions. I'd assume it, too. I'm not here to throw a wedge between she and her parents, though. I wish they'd take the time to get to know me: I think they'd be...perhaps not impressed, but at least their fears would be somewhat allayed. That's the other side of this. I get where her parents are coming from. But I wish they understood that we're on the same side, here. We all just want to see the girl happy and successful. They just think I stand in the way of that. Hopefully, well, things will change with time. All I can do for now is try and show them I'm an upright guy and hope that eventually they tick on to the fact that I'm not Ba'alzebub made flesh come to tempt their daughter away.
I really love her, is the fucking thing.
Apparently, my status as an atheist was some matter of debate. It's not the first time I've had that argument brought to the table against me, to the point that it's gone past tiresome and almost become funny. I wonder who knows the Bible better: protesting parents, or atheist boyfriend? I've often gotten a good chuckle out of the idea that if Christianity was something that could be professed based on scholarly acumen and not some immeasurable quanta of totally self-professed "faith", I'd be a vastly better Christian than most people I've ever met. Vastly. They say there are no atheists in foxholes, and that's a lie. In fact, I'd bet what little cash I have that there are more atheists in foxholes than there are Christians who are so eager to see the Kingdom of Heaven they'd laugh at a gun pointed to their dome. Funny how the Big Guy in the Sky seems to go right out the window when one's life is on the line. Faith in action, folks. Please, don't fucking kill me.
One vile fucking task after another. May 2008 be better than 2007, for all of us.
"Cause there's no use crying over every mistake / You just keep on trying 'til you run out of cake"