Monday, September 03, 2012


I am tired.

Tired of being seen as too complex. Tired of being disparaged as having too many issues. Tired of being dismissed as too damaged to be worth knowing.

(I mean, how could anyone think that of a guy who drew such an impish picture as a kid? Forget the backward writing and disembodied evil eye in the sky — look at the smiling face in that drawing! The 4-year-old kid who penciled that can't be all bad, could he?)

It will be four months this week since the stroke. It feels like a lifetime since it happened, and that's not so far off the mark. The guy who collapsed on a south Springfield sidewalk that May 5 morning — well, his body still insists on drawing air, but he's nothing but a memory now.

There are moments when I miss him, but they are fleeting and far between. That guy was careening off the road and over the bridge; he'd already done his best to junk his way into oblivion. He bought into the hype that he was damaged goods.

What an idiot.

The post-May 5 Ron doesn't believe that shit — I've come too far to throw it all away now. Each new month since the CVA brings new signs that my life is turning around.

After one month I was still simmering with anger, but ready to walk it (and the naysayers) into the ground.

After two months I was ready to start celebrating a return to something close to a new normalcy.

Three months in, I was digging graves to bury the corpses of the old Rons, including the moon-faced fool who let his heart rule his world.

But it's not all better now, even after burying the bodies and cleaning up the crime scene. There are too many days where I'm still an emotional wreck, and that's not cool given my history of depression. Someone said the other day that it's not uncommon for people to ride an emotional roller coaster after brushing up against mortality in the hallways of life; they mentioned Bill Clinton and his internal tumult after open-heart surgery. I've seen it in friends who've had heart attacks and other health scares. I just don't want it to be true for me because ... well, because I'm afraid I'll act before thinking and do something rash, and that would be a shitty way to be remembered. I don't want the first line of my obit (or the second or the third) to include any reference to self-destruction — in fact, I'd like the first line to say something about me dying at the age of 100, after winning a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Maybe two.

Yeah, I've still got goals, and things left to prove. Books to write. Screenplays to produce. A trip to Brazil to take and savor.

Yeah, I've got issues. I've got scars. I'm complicated — just like everyone else walking around. At least I'll admit it. Most people won't; they're too busy being snarky and smug, cruel and clueless.

Sometimes that wears on my heart. I shouldn't care what those people think, and most of the time I don't, but every now and then I catch a whiff of the shit they're peddling and it makes me wonder if they're right, if maybe I should quit trying.

But thinking that way is more offensive that putting up with their shit, because it disturbs the peace I've found and embraced. Things are working out for me, and I didn't have to belittle or step on anyone to make that happen. I didn't have to be cruel. For this, I am grateful.

Four months this week. Time to get sick and tired of being tired. This is me. I may have issues, and maybe I'm not as exciting and breathtaking and intriguing as some would like me to be. But I'm worth knowing.


Anne Stepp said...

Exciting, breathtaking, intriguing and kind. I've gotten to know you, and you are DEFINITELY worth knowing. I think the cab driver would agree, Professor.......... And there is nothing wrong with the moon-faced, heart-ruled guy either.

Melinda Arnold said...

You are worth knowing, and I'm proud to be your friend. Those who like you and love you know why. We're all scarred. We all have issues. And, on some level, we're all complicated.