God bless those crazy door-kickers, men for whom failure is not an option. They’re fighting a war. They can’t afford to fail. Not me. Failure is not only an option, but quite often, a much easier one. It’s certainly easier than trying not to fail.
So yeah, you probably don’t want me on your night HALO drop team. I’m the guy who’s so pissed-off about the snack machine taking my change that I forget to pack my chute.
Thank God there’s a difference between hostage rescue and putting out a weekly blog. Smart of me to seek the latter gig. Found myself a niche with a lot of slack. Failure is not going to ruin my week. Maybe the week-end. And Monday. But that’s it.
It was three-thirty Saturday morning and I had finished my little piece. I read it over and decided I hated it. “I hate it,” I said out loud. Like it was a big awaited announcement to wake up my cats with. They didn’t seem to give a flying fur ball.
Anyway, I didn’t push publish, and went up to bed. Yes, I had failed, but somehow corn will still genetically mutate in the fields and cyclops children will continue to be born in the Ukraine.
The show will go on.
However, to be very honest, I was a little pissed. Pissed at myself mostly, but with a sprinkling of pissed-at-the-world-in-general. No specific gripe, just a blanket resentment. Just the sort of blanket you want to snuggle up to as you slide into your dream state. For a good night of sleep. After you read a little bit about Mexican prison gangs.
As I drifted off that night, I repeated a little affirmation, “I failed, because that’s what failures do best, and I am the best.”
I had a dream I was playing chess with my old film professor, Fred Karetski. We were on stage in front of an auditorium audience. When I looked down at the game I noticed my pieces were checkers while old Fred had a combination of chess pieces and what looked like over-sized Monopoly markers. What the fuck? I didn’t understand exactly how, but it appeared he had an advantage. His big pewter shoe probably had more killing power than a red checker.
How exactly do you play this game? I had no clue. I didn’t even know if it was my turn. And was too embarrassed to ask.
The place is pin-drop quiet.
I’m freaking out, but Karetski is just hanging loose, absentmindedly applying and re-applying Chapstick like he always did. This little display of oral fixation would bug the shit out of me back then and did now. Partly to take the opportunity to vent my spleen, and partly to distract the audience from my obvious ineptitude, I decided to call him out on it. I’ll save this situation with an inspired diversionary rant.
“You and that bullshit Chapstick, Karetski. Maybe you should give it a rest. Personally I don’t believe in Chapstick. I don’t even believe in chapped lips. I mean I believe they exist, but not that they’re a problem big enough to go to the store and buy a cherry-flavored wax tube to rub around on them. If chapped lips are such a big problem for you, then you don’t have enough problems. You need your cities bombed while you feed on vermin. You want a good way to deal with chapped lips? Ignore them, and after a while they will un-chap. They fucking always do, Freddy Boy. So maybe it’s time for you to scrape the protective and soothing emollient from your fat greasy lips…and man up.”
He reaches into his pocket. Pulls out the stick, pops off the cap, and starts smearing. He puts the cap back on and smacks his lips.
“Your move,” he says, grinning.
I woke up the next morning more tired than when I went to bed. Lori was still sleeping. I tried to walk downstairs while the two cats figure-eighted between my legs in a pre-feeding frenzy of affection. We looked like a Balinese circus act.
“That’s very cute, you little fuckers. You’re going to make me break my neck.”
I made it to the kitchen and started the coffee. Then I opened a can of cat food. For the cats.
I watched them eat while I waited for the coffee. I tried to look for the positive. Let’s see. I said “I hate it,” instead of “This sucks.” That means I wasn’t saying the article was bad, just that I thought it was. That shows a little discernment.
Just speeding your way up the rungs of your spiritual ladder, aren’t you? I poured myself a large cup.
What else? Anything else positive I can take away from this experience?
Nope. All tapped out. I went outside to water the garden. I’ve been lax about watering this winter and some of the plants died. Sorry everybody. Sorry I neglected you to the point of killing you. And shit.
All form is transitive. Without this fact there could be no sorrow. Well, at least not without fixating on that fact.
I pointed the hose at the two rose bushes for a while. Then I stood over the gardenias and let it soak. Watering my Garden of Sorrow.
It’s only a blog, for crissake’s. Why do you make a big deal about missing a self-imposed deadline? It’s not like some big sweaty city editor is shouting his scotch breath into your eyeballs for missing it. So why are you?
Because I’m insane. We’ve gone over this.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I can’t write, I can’t be. And I don’t want to fail at being. It’s airtight.
I gave the poinsettias a little splash. They grew too crazy last year. The leaves were freakishly large. Land of the Lost large. They gave Lori the creeps. Me too, kind of. Paper plate-sized leaves you picture a Stegosaurus snacking on. Yeah, that’s enough water for you guys. I walked the hose over to the other planter.
Everything but the bush with purple leaves was dead. You couldn’t kill that thing. Cut it down to the stump twice and it always grew back bushier than before. I watered it. A little reward for perseverance.
“Good boy. Fuck those pansy annuals. Drink up.”
I put the hose away and went inside. Lori had come downstairs.
“Hey, how are you? Did you publish?”
“Nah. I didn’t like it.”
“Oh. How are you feeling?”
“I’m alright. It’ll take more than that to kill me.”
I poured myself another cup of coffee and sat down at the computer. I re-read the piece. It was okay. It needed some smoothing out, but was salvageable. I might have been a little too hard on it. It wasn’t a complete failure.
I guess nothing ever is.