That's it. I'm checking out now


#1

The way I see it, if I was handed a Life Score Card right now, I’d be going to summer school soon after. Or, they’d just hold me back a year. The only problem is that the more years you’re held back in life, the higher the liklihood you’ll be the kid with the bald spot sitting where teacher can keep an eye on you.

Here are the Life Classes I’m failing:

Work
Relationship
Social

Work
After a while of bumping around, I finally worked my way up from pizza flipper, to house painter, to student (for many, many years), to editor/features writer, to staff writer for a pretty good non-profit. For some reason known only to the Holy Spirit, I was halfway goal-oriented in these last few years, and I actually ended up where I thought I wanted to be. Sort of. The one goal keeping me going in life is to be a fiction novelist. (I took a little side route and wrote a screenplay for a contest, but didn’t make the quarter final round). So far, books written: 0. Or “schnide,” as my buddies used to say. I have no idea why schnide means “zero.”

Anyway, here I am in a D.C. think tank impressing some people who care about such things, blah, blah, blah. I write grants and proposals. And while my entire life I’ve had people gush about things I’ve written–and not just family!–I’m falling flat on my face. I can’t focus, I can’t kiss enough behind, I can’t get anything done in a timely manner. My boss rides me hard, and though she’s leaving soon, she managed to chew me out not once, but twice, before noon today, in front of her replacement. Her replacement is a woman who took something I said the wrong way at the beginning of my employment here. I don’t even remeber what–something about me having a bad hair day.

Peachy.

At my performance evaluation the other day, my boss told me that I was “right where I needed to be,” and that she was recommending me for a raise. Curiously, that raise was denied by her boss just before the New Era of [Montanaman] Pounding began. (That’s NEMP, for the government-types). Even better, when NEMP was inaugurated, that’s about the same time there was a huge surge in promotions and raises throughout the whole building.

Fantastic!

I’m beginning to give serious thought to pizza flipping.

Relationship
With complete humility I can say I’ve been Superboyfriend for about a year and a half to a beautiful, all-around perfect girl. She tells me this all the time–I’m not speculating. I actually DO things for her. I CARE. I change my bad habits when necessary, and trust me, it’s been necessary. I have left a swath of emotional carnage behind me because of my selfishness, self-centeredness, whatever. I wanted to know what a healthy relationship was like, and so I did the best I could to empty myself of myself, and just SERVE this perfect girl who is so worthy of my best.

So, it’s time for marriage, right? I wish.

We both know something’s gotta budge, because this middle ground is killing us both. But I’ve tried. Several times now I’ve tried to go out and get a ring. Each time I’ve felt this overwhelming sense of dread. Every major holiday, she does her best to be calm, fully expecting a proposal. When it doesn’t come, she tries to keep her sweet face brave and her cute little chin up, and I know exactly how she feels because it rips my guts out, too.


#2

(Cont’d)

Why don’t I just suck it up and propose? I don’t know. I don’t know. But, here are some reasons coming through:

[list]I feel lonely in this relationship.
She doesn’t ever want to live anywhere but the D.C. area, and I’d rather live in an airless cave in a dark crater on the far side of the moon than raise kids here.
I don’t believe I can possibly support a family–I’m literally a walking cliche right now. I’m a struggling writer. Last night, she brought over the floorplan of an $800,000 penthouse condo near the Pentagon, complete with penciled-in furniture. “Oh, I’m just dreaming,” she said. (I think she thought I was genuinely amused, but my laughter was actually from a manic place that had just snapped.)
Our families would never be able to get together without a homicide. And since she has nine people in her family to our five, the Montanaman clan would surely lose through attrition.[/list]

That’s just off the top of my head.

Social

Since this is beginning to turn into a memoir, all I’ll say is that somewhere along the line an amusingly cynical outlook on life has morphed into venom. It’s so bad that I now no longer know how to talk to people. At least Beltway people, that is. I will try to say something like “Hey, nice tie,” and it comes out, “The next time your momma dresses you, try to get her to include some personality.” Or something. I really don’t know.

As I go through this daily drudgery, the only thing that keeps me going is…actually, I have no idea. Faith? Prayer? Perhaps. I get my short morning and nightly prayers in, but as always, God is a distant landlord, an absentee father. I don’t blame him–after all, I’m just one guy and if I’m even close to normal, then he’s got a lot of psychoses to deal with. My sincerest hope, however, is that it’s not sinful to anxiously await the sweet release of death and the peace of the grave. I know I need to be concerned about my final destination, but seriously, blissful union with God would be nice, but I don’t think Hell could be much worse. At least in Hell you don’t have the torturous anxiety that failing to live up to your ambitions brings.

Thank you all for allowing me to rant. This has been therapeutic.

Oh, and don’t worry, the title of the thead is probably just a little melodramatic. I’m not threatening to do anything stupid. While I have doubts about the proximity of God in our lives, I’m quite sure that he sticks to the rules on suicide. That, and I would never check out while I still carry a balance on a Banana Republic credit card.


#3

Wow.

It’s a very small token, but I can at least help you with schnide.

The word is actually the German “schneide” which means edge. It has become common vernacular to say “you are off the schneide” in sports, to mean you have just scored your first goal, gotten your first point, in other words gotten off zero. You are now “in the game”, “scoring”, off the edge of the playing field and in the game. Hence edge.

Using it literally for zero has taken the colloquialism to another level.

Good luck with the other stuff, I’ll pray for you :slight_smile:


#4

[quote=awalt]Wow.

It’s a very small token, but I can at least help you with schnide.

The word is actually the German “schneide” which means edge. It has become common vernacular to say “you are off the schneide” in sports, to mean you have just scored your first goal, gotten your first point, in other words gotten off zero. You are now “in the game”, “scoring”, off the edge of the playing field and in the game. Hence edge.

Using it literally for zero has taken the colloquialism to another level.

Good luck with the other stuff, I’ll pray for you :slight_smile:
[/quote]

LOL. Thank you. That’s one thing I can take off my plate.


#5

First, try frequent Eucharistic adoration and Confession.

And about your sweet girlfriend, can you imagine life without her? Remember, no human relationship will fill every void, that is impossible. And from the type of person that you seem to be, and what I mean is intense and deep thinking, you probably are far more in tune with your inner life than most of us are, therefore, the lonliness is more acute. Can you imagine anyone filling those empty spaces? “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” And this leads me to my third point:

Might you have a vocation to the priesthood?


#6

[quote=Cupofkindness]First, try frequent Eucharistic adoration and Confession.

And about your sweet girlfriend, can you imagine life without her? Remember, no human relationship will fill every void, that is impossible. And from the type of person that you seem to be, and what I mean is intense and deep thinking, you probably are far more in tune with your inner life than most of us are, therefore, the lonliness is more acute. Can you imagine anyone filling those empty spaces? “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” And this leads me to my third point:

Might you have a vocation to the priesthood?
[/quote]

More in tune with my inner life? Heh. I hope not. I loathe my inner life. I’d really rather just get in tune with my inner shallow guy, and quit thinking about thngs so much.

I’m pretty sure I have no vocation to the priesthood, though I’m attracted to the idea of it. I’m probably too wrecked for the priesthood, anyway. Right now, a vocation to singlehood sounds best.

I CAN imagine a life without “Grace.” For now. But past experience has shown me that I’m a flighty guy. That’s what I want release from. I’m sick of being unrooted and directionless. I’ve made peace with it, more or less, though. It seems to me the best thing I can do is stay out of everyone’s way, try not to embarass my Dad too much, and hopefully live a virtuous life until I die.


#7

First, try frequent Eucharistic adoration and Confession.

Oh yeah, and I’ve got the Confession down. Eucharistic adoration is infrequent, and anyway, I hate kneeling before the Lord and having to keep corralling my brain. At this point, I’m just going to let God do what he will with me/it. Trying to raise to some level of devotion is impossible for me. I can manage it for a little while, but then I loathe how fake I feel, and I just get mad.


#8

You’ve got so much to sort through. Life doesn’t always get handed to you in the way you’d like, or the way your parents would like, or your girlfriend for that matter. Accepting that is difficult, but essential. Being virtuous will never fail you. Even if it feels empty, it isn’t. It is good and noble and worth living. THAT might sound shallow, but I mean it. Don’t underestimate the value of what is being accomplished in your soul. You’re in my prayers, MM. And by the way, no man is too “wrecked” for the priesthood. God can make anything happen.


#9

Montanaman,
I actually enjoyed the literary content, flow, and humor of your post. You are a pleasant read. :slight_smile:

My other thought was - being from the pacific NW myself, I know I would be going completely mad if I had to live anywhere east of Montana working for a naggy old crab typing up lifeless documents. It sounds sort of like you have sold half your soul to the business world. Yuck.

Also, it sounds to me like you have been trying to achieve a relationship like it were an MA degree. I think you would sell the other half of your soul if you ended up in a relationship like that.
To your credit, it sounds like you have tried hard to improve on your past and become marraige material- and you found a great gal that helped you to change, but to me it sounds like she may not be the one for you. Just because you’ve learned how to treat someone, doesn’t mean you should make it legal with them, right? There is a lifestyle issue that I am worried about. I fear you would regret marraige in this context, and she would regret it too if she knew your reluctance.

It sounds also like you fear you may be going back to your old ways if you terminate this relationship. Like you think if you dump this relationship - that you have never changed and you will never be better, failure. That is not nesasarily so. You may well be much improved - and now are coming to the realization of what you really need.

I have a question. Do you feel like you are happy there in DC? Your name is Montanaman? Why do you stay in DC? Why don’t you go home? Get the h*ll out of there.
If you were to say today to your girl… “Honey, I am homesick. I want to go home to Montana and start a new life”. If she wouldn’t go with you, or consider it. I would move on baby.

Montana? DC? to me, there is no comparison.


#10

Thanks, Cup. I appreciate it. My “issues” aren’t that bad, I suppose, but right now, I’m just trying to release some of this stress. I’m overloaded. It’s so bad right now that even the thought of choosing where to go on vacation puts me in the red. My girlfriend now has FOUR free tickets to just about anywhere, and because of all the complications that kind of thing brings (overnighting in exotic locations, etc.) even the remedy is more of the disease.

Like I said, I’m just venting. But if you read about some guy in D.C. holed-up in a Krispy Kreme, you’ll know it’s me. Other meltdown-related activities I’m considering include:

Throwing all my camping gear into my truck and just taking off west, seeing how far I can get on a tank of gas. I imagine that would be somewhere around the West Virginia border, at which point I will start some kind of organic community where the use of a Blackberry will be punishable by death.

Selling everything I have and paying off remaining debt. I will then win a ticket for a large cruise liner with my Texas Hold 'Em skills. I will dazzle the stuffy rich folk with my stories about “living life in the moment.”

Getting one of those paddle and ball toys, and perfecting my skills with it until I either starve to death or win a competition of some kind.


#11

[quote=montanaman]LOL. Thank you. That’s one thing I can take off my plate.
[/quote]

Glad to hear you’re LOL. I know you won’t do anything “stupid”, but you just meant you wouldn’t kill yourself. You didn’t mean you wouldn’t keep p***ing your life away while chasing your own tail.

You sound way too familiar, you know that?

Maybe you’re a little depressed. Maybe, as the enneagram crowd would say, you’re just a Nine. Maybe a Nine with a big One wing. (That is just short-hand for some personality traits that seem to go together. If you don’t know about the enneagram, check out Richard Rohr’s “Discovering the Enneagram”. The basic idea is that different experiences and personal qualities set you up for different life strategies for coping with it all, which in turn leave you heir to different temptations.)

I will go out on a limb. This is not the first time in your life you’ve had a big beautiful opportunity in front of you that you’ve hemmed and hawed about, is it? It isn’t the first time that you’ve punished yourself over just that same situation, is it? That is, you’d rather write zero books than write a book that’s a zero, yes? (But you still punish yourself about not writing it.) You’d rather dish pizzas than be berated as a less-than-stellar writer? You’d almost rather not have children than have to raise them somewhere you’d rather not and take the kind of job that will allow you to feed them? If a devotion is going to be a huge daily struggle in which you have to face up to how small your heart really is, better to stick to the ones that let you hide? If you look closely, melodramatic doesn’t touch where your brain is running you.

In other words, as you have implied, probably it is you, and not where you are. Probably that is only going to change so much over the course of your life, and probably that is just the blessing and cross of being you. And maybe–no, not maybe, but absolutely!-- I’m projected me on to you, because I pick up the me in what you’ve written. I wish I could tell you’ve I’ve overcome the same thing. I haven’t. But maybe you are like me, so I’ll admit to this and maybe we’ll both get off our hind ends. If you’re not, I can only hope that you are the kind of guy who is forgiving of well-meaning neurotics whose opinions you wish you’d never solicited.

I’ve been told again and again that the answer is in getting into the arena and doing it. It is possible to sin while you’re sleeping. It is worth writing that less-than-wonderful book, because that’s how you learn what you need to learn to write the one the world really needs to read. (And the lesson may only be that publishing a book before you perfected it didn’t kill you, after all.) If your editor ever thinks you write something worth reading, it is worth sticking it out and leaving the pizzas to somebody who has a pizza vocation.

There is gold in you. Maybe, if you are like me, your job is to convince yourself enough of that to let it out and slog through to the finish line. Serving God by using the gold He put in us is our vocation. Using it is how we’ll remove the dross, not by wishing it away.

So here’s my thought of the day: Excellence isn’t the absence of mistakes. Excellence is the refusal to bow to mediocrity. That starts with the refusal to despair ever getting close to defeating it. It also requires lots and lots of mistakes. More to the point, even trying for excellence is an effort worth making, day after discouraging day. After all, the banishment of sadness requires the suffering of letting God make us into saints. (The article at ronrolheiser.com/arc010806.html and ronrolheiser.com/arc012906.html are just two at Fr. Rohlheiser’s site that I have found well worth reflecting on. Perhaps you might find them helpful, too.) If we are ever going to be perfect, it will only be on God’s terms and by God’s methods. We’ll never get there by doing it our way.

I tell you what. When one of us actually tries that, we’ll get together and find out how it worked out. Me, I need to get off the forums at least until Lent is over, so I can do what I need to do. Good luck to you, and God bless you.

PS Don’t worry about the relative ratio at the wedding. If whole families–or even just the feuding exes–actually wiped each other out at weddings, we’d hear about it more often. And don’t sell those Montanans short. They’re a tough breed. Your best man can mention your worries at the toast, but a police presence won’t be necessary.


#12

[quote=ridesawhitehors]I have a question. Do you feel like you are happy there in DC? Your name is Montanaman? Why do you stay in DC? Why don’t you go home? Get the h*ll out of there.
If you were to say today to your girl… “Honey, I am homesick. I want to go home to Montana and start a new life”. If she wouldn’t go with you, or consider it. I would move on baby.

Montana? DC? to me, there is no comparison.
[/quote]

Well, yeah. That, too. No wonder he feels like he’s going nuts.


#13

Hey. Spring is coming. It does every year.

These guys are pretty cool:
rivertrail.com/Kayak.html

Go ahead and brood as long as you can take it, then go have some fun.


#14

[quote=dulcissima]Hey. Spring is coming. It does every year.

These guys are pretty cool:
rivertrail.com/Kayak.html

Go ahead and brood as long as you can take it, then go have some fun.
[/quote]

Bam. I’m there. I love Harper’s Ferry.


#15

Wow, it sounds like you need to get rid of the job and the girl. My husband was in a similar situation with his job. He hated it because it seemed like every time he had a good idea somebody would shoot it down. Like you, he was right where he needed to be on his performance reviews. On the outside, everything looked great but on the inside he was torn up because he had NO room for creativity or independent thought at his job. I told him to move on but he refused because he thought it was just him. He thought he was the one that needed to suck it up, grow up, or basically change who he was. He ended up resigning under unfavorable circumstances and then went on to find a job that he never thought he could or would do. Changing the direction of his career is the best thing that he ever did. You ought to look around and see what other jobs are available that you might like to do. I would be more than happy to help you out.

As far as the marriage proposal goes, I don’t think it is going to work for you. My husband and I were both in previous relationships and we both experienced that sense of dread that you mention. We couldn’t really figure out why we didn’t want to marry our previous partners. There just wasn’t a connection. It is funny, when we got together, there was never any question or doubt as to whether or not we should get married. Our biggest problem with past relationships was the lack of intelectual stimulation and the inability to see eye to eye on things. I always asked how to do you know if it is right. Well, with my husband that question was answered immediately. You just know. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to try out a religious community. My husband was actually a Benedictine monk for two years. He left before taking solemn vows because he decided that his vocation truly was marriage. It definitely would not hurt to look into it as an option.

I completely understand where you are coming from socially. There are some groups that I have been involved in that I was completely inept. Everything came out wrong and I found myself not wanting to talk or socialize at all. I got away from those people and sought out people that had interests similar to mine or at least had similar values. It sounds like you are a fish out of water in D.C. If you have your heart set on staying in that general vicinity, maybe you could just change jobs and see how that impacts everything else. My husband always tells me that his job is just a way to earn money so you had better at least enjoy it.


#16

I want to have a beer with your husband. Or six. Do good Catholic former monk husbands drink beer?


#17

[quote=montanaman]I want to have a beer with your husband. Or six. Do good Catholic former monk husbands drink beer?
[/quote]

Absolutely!!! He even brews his own from time to time. If you want someone to talk to, PM me and I can hook you up with my husband. :smiley: He would love to share his experiences with you.


#18

[quote=ConcernCatholic]Absolutely!!! He even brews his own from time to time. If you want someone to talk to, PM me and I can hook you up with my husband. :smiley: He would love to share his experiences with you.
[/quote]

It’s a thought. Seriously. But we’ll see. Despite everything, I know what it takes–one step in front of the other, prayer, shoulder into the hard stuff, keep moving, keep moving, keep moving… After a certain age you just simply don’t have the option to wallow in self-pity anymore. Thank God for that, but it’s still no fun.


#19

[quote=montanaman]It’s a thought. Seriously. But we’ll see. Despite everything, I know what it takes–one step in front of the other, prayer, shoulder into the hard stuff, keep moving, keep moving, keep moving… After a certain age you just simply don’t have the option to wallow in self-pity anymore. Thank God for that, but it’s still no fun.
[/quote]

Exactly…that is why you have to do something. If you are unhappy with a sitution, do something to change it. Sometimes, that is a simple change of attitude.


#20

[quote=montanaman]Oh yeah, and I’ve got the Confession down. Eucharistic adoration is infrequent, and anyway, I hate kneeling before the Lord and having to keep corralling my brain. At this point, I’m just going to let God do what he will with me/it. Trying to raise to some level of devotion is impossible for me. I can manage it for a little while, but then I loathe how fake I feel, and I just get mad.
[/quote]

When I go to adoration, it’s just about being there with God. I don’t force any prayer other than the time spent in gratitude. I bring books but make sure they are “church” related. I read my bible for a while. It’s beneficial just being there, soaking up His greatness. Maybe in time you’ll be inspired to do more, but for me, it’s like a spiritual prescription.
Maybe you shoudl try again but with less expectation. It’s not about us anyway. Just my two cents, good luck.


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