Writing start: 8:46 A.M.
Finish: 2:46 P.M.
Total new words (est.): 600
Edited (est.): 7800Tasks
1. Failure: First secondary edit of chapters seven and eight
2. Book Three Melody: Off
3. Angel: Book Three: 400 new words
Notes: This is where the story really starts.
4. Random Chance Book Two: Off till 8/10
5. Port Story: 200 new words
Notes: This novel will be written very slowly throughout, I suspect.
6. Hidden Bookmarks: Off till 8/13
7. LOTR: Fifth primary edit of chapter eight
8. T-Bag: Off
Special Projects: Worked on "Looking Out Her Bedroom Window" (Melody BIII).
Extra notes: I'm grateful that I eschewed a life chasing cash and power. That was what I kept thinking over and over while watching the finish to season one of Yellowstone last night.
It's an excellent series, but, to my view, there is nary a decent character anywhere to be found in it, save for a child, Tate, and his mother, Monica, who feels it necessary to separate from her husband, Kayce, who can't seem to avoid violent situations and, in last night's episodes, seems to have given in to his violent tendencies.
But back to my initial thought.
I was raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, which isn't too far south of Yellowstone, Wyoming. I was raised to believe that a "real man" chases cash and power. I was raised to believe that fitting in was all-important; and that fitting in meant believing cash and power, as a man, was all-important. There wasn't a second choice.
How many girls and women did I date that believed that, too?
Looking back, I can see that all of them did.
The pursuit of cash and power, if successful, would, if I "played my cards right," bring me a wife and kids and a house out in the 'burbs. That was the end-goal of it all. Get the cash by means of a cushy job working for Hewlett-Packard or Anheuser-Busch or some other big company; find some fertile and shapely Betty who knows how to count (being taught well by her mother), put a satisfactorily large rock on her finger, watch her walk up the aisle, go to the Caribbean for the honeymoon, then come home and settle into our "new" life together.
Make sure she's pregnant by the time she's thirty, and pregnant again no later than thirty-five. By that point we will have, at least once, "upgraded" to a bigger house in a better neighborhood, because my pursuit of cash and power will have continued to be successful. I will now be something, at the very least, like a vice president of something-or-rather, if not the entire company. I'll wear suits and ties and present a respectable, well-groomed front at all times. My wife, soaking in high-calorie suburban contentment, will be able to quit working so she can take care of the little ones and climb the social ladder herself.
That's the life "real men" are supposed to aspire to.
Get in line, Shawn.
Quick story of those times.
I was thirty-three in 1995, and single. Some acquaintance, long since forgotten, set me up on a blind date with one of her associates, a woman, if I remember correctly, who was maybe twenty-nine or so, a few years younger than me. I don't remember her name.
I had seen My Cousin Vinny a few years earlier. Remember that movie, where Marisa Tomei, arguing with Joe Pesci's character, stomps her foot and says something like, "My biological clock is tick-tick-ticking!"?
Ostensibly, Tomei's character was in her high twenties or early thirties, and had voiced a fear I had heard in real life more than once by that point by various women, if not far less pointedly and with a great deal more subterfuge. It was a fear underwritten by a threat to any man who heard it: Give me kids and a life out in the 'burbs, or we're done.
Reluctantly, I agreed to the blind date.
We met at one of the nicer restaurants in the city at that time--a local Italian eatery. I recall that she was a pretty woman, well-kept and with a pleasant if not stiff smile and well-coiffed dirty-dishwater blonde hair. It was clear she was nervous, as I was. We shook hands in greeting; thankfully, we didn't have to wait for our table. The waiter walked us there, and we sat.
We started out, as was inevitable, with small talk. We had spoken only one other time, and that was very briefly over the phone, when we agreed to the date. I don't recall the initial forays into conversation; neither it nor the phone call were nowhere near important enough to merit remembering. What I do remember was how suddenly real and serious she became no more than five minutes after sitting down, and after the waiter poured us some wine.
"So," she said, glancing at my hand, which was busy tilting the wine glass, "I can see that you've never been engaged."
I was, justifiably, taken aback, not to mention bewildered. I set the wine glass down, suddenly very conscious of my left hand. "How do you know that?"
"A band would make a mark," she remarked. "You don't have a mark. You've never been married?"
Blinking, I shook my head. "Uh ... no. You?" I remember asking, suddenly feeling like someone might in an airplane that got struck by a surface-to-air missile. I struggled to regain my composure, and waited for her answer.
But she wasn't in the mood to share. "Why haven't you ever been married?" she demanded.
The plane was going down, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. Forcing myself to smile, I said as pleasantly as was possible, "I guess I just haven't met the right girl yet."
Judging by the scowl that darkened her face, that wasn't the right answer.
"What, are you gay or something?" she demanded.
I recall that it took a moment for me to recover. I did to the best of my ability; then, more in an effort to get a hold of my temper, which was slipping precipitously out of my grip, I grabbed my wine glass with my left hand and downed the rest of the wine in two big gulps, then reached into my suit pocket and pulled out my checkbook and the pen clipped to it.
As she watched, I opened it and clicked the pen and wrote the restaurant's name on it, dated it, signed it, and then ripped it from the seam and handed it to her. A blank check.
"I hope you have a good evening."
With that, I left her sitting there.
She ate a full meal and probably had two or three more drinks, judging by the amount she racked up--something in the $75 range.
I have no doubts that she found a "real man" and got a home and the requisite upgrades, had kids and taught the boys, who are probably themselves in their mid-twenties by now, that "real men" chase after cash and power in order to fit in to a lifestyle that demands they don't leave their biologically tick-tick-ticking wives waiting.
I walked away from that shit long ago. And despite the hell I've gone through since, most of it because I walked away from it and so was ostracized and left to rot (literally: at one point I was homeless), I see the blessings that have come to me: my partner, my books, and this blog primary among them.
If that disqualifies me from "real man" status, so be it.