We who believe we try our best (Friday, August 14th, 2020)

Our dog Yago is spending the day

at the… shall I call it the veterinarian’s office? The veterinary facility? The veterinary hospital? (I shall not call it “the Vet” because it makes me think of our veterans and I’d like them to have their own words.) First day without Mr. Yago (I like to call him Mr. Yago sometimes. Also, since we adopted him already named *[1]some experts suggest changing an adopted dog’s name as to cultivate new and improved associations with it and thus a smoother transition to a bond between dog and dog caretakers. I didn’t know … Continue reading I wanted to ever so slightly experience “naming” him) since social distancing began back in mid March.   

You must understand, like many of you perhaps, social distancing has kept me socially distant and working remotely/virtually for the last five months now so in those five months, my wife being a nurse and thus not working remotely, I spend my days home with Yago. I have seen more of Yago than any human in the last five months. It’s strange to be home alone and not need to take him on his routine walks. It is strange how every time I turn to look to my left, he’s not there, as he almost always lounges to my left either by the French door/ French window/ sliding glass door or on the couch. (More so on his little doggy bed/couch in front of the French door. He seems to love sun light and gazing out the French door’s windows.)

For a reason or reasons unknown to me, and even beyond informed speculation, yesterday this diary blog o’mine broke its record of 106 views (that was on Thursday, July 30th, 2020) and climbed to 247. The significance is multifaceted.

I have been blogging since 2012 and not until this summer have I ever reached 100.

If you add to the mix that I’ve been seeking an audience of readers since roughly 2004 (though I’ve been posting writings online since maybe 2002-2003? Never to much avail) this month of writer-business milestones is, I must confess, an emotional experience: unusual streams of mirco-successes…SO UNUSUAL that it scares me. The irony of my dream to be a successful writer (both in terms of intellectualism/aesthetics and money) is that when success flirts with me as it has started doing, it might be somewhat anxiety inducing to actually transition from “starving artist/grad student” to diarist blogger whose blogging pays his bills and even grants him luxuries and funds to donate to politicians and causes I can believe in.

Would a massive abundance of money corrupt me?

What do I mean by corrupt? It’s somewhat of a loaded word.

Would I feel that the job now is done? I got my money and now I can say “fuck it all!” and live on my gold on some Caribbean island and just forget about everything? Would I turn greedy? Would I begin writing what I think people “want” me to write, say what I think people want me to say, so I can keep not just my growing bank account but sense of status? Would I come to trust others less, singing and relating to Alanis Morrisette (second day in a row I’ve cited her, isn’t it? Seems she’s as quotable as I delve into my thirties as Bob Dylan has been for me over the last fifteen years or so) when she says

“Wait a minute, man
You mispronounced my name
You didn't wait for all the information
Before you turned me away

Wait a minute, sir
You kind of hurt my feelings
You see me as a sweet back-loaded puppet
And you've got meal ticket taste

I see right through you
I know right through you
I feel right through you
I walk right through you

You took me for a joke
You took me for a child...

… Oh, hello, Mr. Man
You didn't think I'd come back
You didn't think I'd show up with my army
And this ammunition on my back

Now that I'm Miss Thing
Now that I'm a zillionaire
You scan the credits for your name
And wonder why it's not there

I see right through
I know right through you
I feel right through
I walk right through you, you”

Well, I’ll tell you this…a very ironic thing…for those who have dismissed me over the many years

thinking either that I’m chasing a dream with no means for materializing or dismissed me as not good enough or not “concrete” enough, it’s given me ample time to learn at least thing or two  , (we have for example the professor who told me they would write me a letter of recommendation to the grad schools I applied to who not only changed their mind but said they didn’t know what I had to offer and that they didn’t detect my passion, and that, being a white male anyway, what could I have to edge my way into a room of non-whites, but also said that while they were offered a place in the finest schools

“Ahh you've gone to the finest schools, alright Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it”

As Bob Dylan sings in “Like A Rolling Stone.”

They added that I could never get into such a school. Cornell University wouldn’t give me the slightest consideration and plus I’ve not yet published a book (though actually I did, I just don’t share it or sell it anymore because it’s very immature work) but let them remind me as they do that they could go to a place like Cornell, Columbia…

I’m not bitter, I just don’t think someone with such a mentality necessarily suits college students who are struggling with self esteem… that is to say, if I were in charge of an English department and news of this came to my attention…. Fired.

(The grace we show people who, were we not so nice and/or insecure/broke would find themselves in situations ranging from job loss to lawsuits, et cetera – agree or disagree, dear readers?)

It’s not only unethical but cruel. And I’m not articulating myself in an unprocessed fit of anger. I just look back, as my education and experience grows, and I see how frankly, there are plenty of professors out there who misinform students, either out of accidental ignorance or political malpractice.

I say this as a “hard core” “far left” academic liberal: beware what professors ask you, the textbooks they give you, the claims they assert, the breadth of power that secures their room for abuse, especially in the humanities and social sciences as they make marks on your papers as if their principles are gospel and serve to intimidate you from shaking up their territory.

The most brilliant professors I’ve encountered do not try to persuade a student of anything other than maybe the value of their education and ask “what do you think and why do you think it?” They are critical thinkers.

 So I’m not…mad. Would it be “okay” if I was? I admit that the act of acknowledging and experiencing emotions confuses me. On the one hand poise is a value. With poise we can think with less anxiety and blurring bias-clouds of emotions. It is a constructive quality.

But if one is to permit emotion a place within, how does one both FEEL and yet keep it so cool? I find that I succumb to one extreme or the other. I can seem perhaps so detached emotionally as to wonder if I’m cold and inconsiderate but I can have a hideous temper.

How common is it to yell and sling insults when we experience anger? Do you have an “anger problem” if you’ve sometimes done that? These are things I will hopefully remember to ask my therapist.  

So then, I’m I holding a grudge? Am I angry?

Or do I just “project my voice” when discussing certain dimensions of inequity?

It just strikes me as so unfitting that so many people like this individual “get ahead” in life by frankly being unkind and manipulative, all the while, slow-poke tortoises like me try to just take it all in and think about it as carefully as possible, feeling scared as hell of fucking up and “go bust up something beautiful” as Jason Isbell sings in his song “Something More Than Free”—that something beautiful being all I believe I have done to pay the utmost attention to my worst mistakes from mid-adolescence to now…mistakes that have hurt those I love, mistakes that even hurt me! Mistakes that have brought me poverty. Mistakes that have made me hung over. Mistakes that have made me lonely.

Yes, yes, I know, we all make mistakes.

I know. I neither permit my mistakes to mar my soul nor to escape my memory. (I mean to the best of my ability, at least).

My point is this—and I am going to ask for your forgiveness ahead of time, because it may come across as or even be a touch zealous in its self-praise or what have you—my point is that while I have struggle in the past to do a lot of day to day things, especially basic self-advocating and… “business” matters (paper work, money, et cetera) I do give it my damn all.

“You can’t say we never tried” as Mick Jagger sings in the song “Angie.” Try, try, try I do.

“Early in the morning til late at night
I got a poison headache but I feel alright
I’m pledging my time to you
Hoping you come through too”

Sings Bob Dylan in his song “Pledging My Time.”

To be clear, I believe A LOT OF US TRY but do not reach the harvest’s rich yield of our desires to do right, be good, and dream big, et cetera. Just look at the economy, “stupid.”

I mean, how fucked up does business sometimes seem? To go into work every day and experience the reiteration of the fact that you’re on the lower rungs of the work-place hierarchy is perhaps for some people rather demoralizing.  

But I do realize it’s not at all that simple.

To grasp the complexities of poverty we must note the psychology of the person, the philosophy of the person, the neurology of the person, the socio-economic context in which the person lives.

Furthermore, each job and role in a work place setting comes with a set of unique perks and hardships that unfortunately “come with the territory.” Take the people in the health care fields for example. What they must go through, watching people die every day, wondering what they could have done to prolong this person’s life, working such long shifts that a reasonable person would perhaps worry to have such an overworked person handling one’s life and death. Nurses who are worked all day until like 11 pm and are called back in at 6 am.

But there are some perks. Not all, but many nurses do make a decent income—“respectable middle class earnings.” Nurses are often privy to medical crises and can thus steer through with a kind of calloused guitar fingers poise where the less experienced become like a hypochondriac! In theory nurses should get decent “benefits.” At least so far as “health care” is concerned. What nurse of intelligence and self respect would go out of their way for a health insurance plan that they know to be a lemon?

The artist finds her or himself, I think, in a strange situation

. You might have a better chance winning a race for political office than gain both world-wide fame and riches for your masterpiece. You might be slightly more sensitive than others by mere virtue that for many an artist a major facet of the trade is “looking within.” You might thus feel more loneliness too. You’re job is to break the box and create outside of it. Many others in the economic system must remain inside the box for certain operations to move smoothly.

But the artist has also, in my view, one of the most beautiful and appealing perks: as the artist’s job is to recreate some aspect of reality in an at least somewhat holistic way, an artist has the opportunity to “hold the world in his arms” like a puppy and adore it with the utmost care. To offer you a more concrete example, take Henri Matisse’s “Dance” and “Dance I.” Now that I think about it, I couldn’t have put it better than he did.

“He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

Working on perfecting my WordPress theme for the blog—the color schemes as well as the logo/header. I’m using Logojoy for my logo and the WordPress 2020 theme and I plan on experimenting with Elementor’s fascinating range of possible customizations. So if you see the site’s appearance shifting around a bit, that’s just be trying to tweak…

References

1 some experts suggest changing an adopted dog’s name as to cultivate new and improved associations with it and thus a smoother transition to a bond between dog and dog caretakers. I didn’t know this at the time. I do hate to think of my wife and I as “dog owners”—that is why I refer to us as dog caretakers as opposed to owners– as we only “own” him in a legal sense. His soul is his!

Author: Poetry by Sean O'Connor

Hi, I'm Sean. I’m a poet. My favorite poet, my literary role model, is Bob Dylan. Other poets I love include John Lennon, Lord Byron, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Claude McKay, and A.E. Stallings. Sometimes I like to write with a touch of the prosaic in my verses and to that end, the prose writers who most inspire me include Thomas Mann, Phillip Lopate (my favorite essayist), David Foster Wallace, Milan Kundera, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Robert Musil, Susan Sontag, Leslie Jamison, Michel de Montaigne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, My themes tend towards the philosophical and psychological, exploring the idea of what it might mean and be like to live an ever improving life. I’m currently pursuing my MFA in Creative & Professional Writing at William Paterson University, where I also received my BA in Liberal Studies (with concentrations in Political Science & History). I also work as a writing tutor for Raritan Valley Community College. Aside from my writing, I’m vehemently political, fascinated with human sexuality, open about my polyamory and…I love dogs. My wife and I adopted a Siberian mix from St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in October of 2019.

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