Sunday, September 26, 2004

When Heroes Go Down

A boxer can be talented, but can only be truly great if he can pick himself up and recover from a loss. I'll try not to have you non-boxing fans glaze over, I'm getting to something more substantive so bear with me.

Roy Jones Junior was one of the most talented and skilled and fast punching fighters in the last fifteen years. He was dazzling in his ability and rarely even got hit. Several months ago he lost to a hungry challenger who knocked him out in the second round. He never recovered mentally from the knockout he got from challenger Antonio Tarver and yet he returned for what should have been a tune up fight with a journeyman fighter. Roy Jones was at most half there. His mind was elsewhere. It was sad to see this 35 year-old ghost of a man in the boxing ring. No fancy footwork, no stinging combination punches, no hunger and he got knocked helluva-unconscious and lay on the canvas for four minutes. I feel like Roy today. Possibly because I have a chest cold. It seems that whenever I get sick I also slide into a dark and negative frame of mind. I can't imagine having your best days behind you at the age of 35. It's a sad thing to contemplate, but then there are so many musicians who didn't get past 28. Is it better to burn bright and leave quickly? To never grow old? I wonder if I'll ever have the drive to accomplish my goals. It's easy to talk about them but nobody really stays after their goals. I see talented friends and people out there who had such potential at 26, 27, 28 years old who have given up on the very dreams that lit their fire. I wish I had something I could believe in, something that was real. I haven't produced any material, hard material in a long time. Where does that drive go? And what makes it fade from our soul? Lots of questions that nobody can answer.
Tangent: I hate my graduate program supervisors, I love working with kids, and I'll be a good teacher once I finally chew my leg off and free myself and graduate from the Academic Christian Bear Trap and the Egomaniacal administration that has ensnared me. But, even when I get to the top of that hill and even if my leg miraculously grows back. I know I'm supposed to be doing more with my life than just teaching elementary school and I know that it involves writing, but I don't know what exactly it is? I hate that I'm not making a living off of my writing ability. I'm not a real writer. I'm not counting puppet shows. I'd be happy to just put out a fucking pamphlet at this point. So I hope I can recover from the frustration of banging my head on the door of the television world and find what I'm really supposed to be doing. I want to write a play, a screenplay, an animated TV show, have somebody produce one of the children's books I've written. I want to be able to speed dial some connected venture capitalist with the ideas that burst into my head. I know that I'm an inventor and a more than decent writer and I have all the ideas and ability that it takes, but it seems that it's never going to happen because the ox pulling my plow just doesn't see a reward coming to him. So when I saw a legendary boxer's career come to an end, it made me think (and Christ on rice I'm not a legendary anything, that's for sure) why haven't I been able to dust myself off. Am I waiting for somebody to inspire me, somebody to feed off my energy. The right collaborator? Or should I just start snorting cocaine so I can fool myself into thinking that I'm the center of the universe. With a handful of exceptions, the achievers in this world are either egomaniacal self-serving cut-throat imps or oblivious lucky bastards. Yes, there are a few people who have used talent and worked to elevate themselves. But to what end? What's the goal? A bigger house, a nicer car, washboard abs, a walk-in refrigerator? I have so much to prove to myself that I don't know where to begin. Am I procrastinating or have I flatlined? I need to have some kind of reward dangled in front of me. Here write this and I'll give you this. Even here, write me a screenplay by this date and I'll give you 500 dollars. It's hard for me to do the work hoping that maybe there will be a reward, because ultimately I don't know what reward I want. I want to have happy kids, I want to be recognized for work that I produce. I want something tangible. I want to feel good about myself. Is there such a thing as a happy artist? I don't think so. We're perpetually raising the bar on ourselves. How will that get you to a place of satisfaction?

I'm realizing that some of my friends are going to read this and make judgments about me, but if they're actually my friends they won't take my friendship file and stick it in the has-bin bin. I cut those fair weather flunkies out of my life a long time ago. So I'm going to post this anyway. I think it's okay to let your guard down. At least it should be. It's too tiring to try and convince everybody that you're a razor sharp, hot shit one man party 24 hours a day.

Bottom line. I need some momentum. So if you have any momentum you're not using or some sagely advice or a wizened mentor I can borrow or even an applicable life lesson-- even a mildly relevant anecdote-- I'm actually listening. I'll read what you have to say. I suspect there will be something worthwhile among the many "Dude, don't get down, you rock!"comments. Thanks for reading this entire me-me vomitous stream of self-consciousness. To me that suggests that either you can relate to some of what I'm saying, or that you're the kind of person who delights in watching bugs wildly flail their legs about as they try to get back on their feet.


Loki & Ollie said...

Squirrels are fun. They are outside. We sit on couch and stare and whine. Then Uncle Giggles takes us outside and we sit by tree and cry "Squirrels! Squirrels! Come down from trees and play! We are fun and love you, squirrels!" Then old lady from next door comes outside and laughs and tells Uncle Giggles he should have camera to take pictures of us. We do not listen to Uncle Giggles when he says come inside so he can make coffee, and then he gets cranky, but we do not care, because of the squirrels. Uncle Giggles is awesome! He takes us to doggie park, he takes us to see Fiona. He says its amazing we can type this, seeing as how we only have paws and the mental capacity of semi-evolved rocks.

Uncle Giggles says teaching elementary school is a fine and noble calling, as you can make a huge difference in the lives of many children, and we certainly don't care what you do for a living, as long as you feed us and play with us and let us outside to chase the squirrels. Uncle Giggles says he was once unhappy in his career pursuit and playing with us was one of his few joys, even though we got hair all over him. Then he quit his job and went back to school and started writing, and now he's flat broke and doesn't have a cell phone, but he's happy. Or at least as happy as he ever gets. Or at least as happy as anyone can be after only hitting one number in the Arizona Powerball lottery. He says now he can't get those solid-gold squirrels he promised us, but we don't care because as long as he rubs our bellies and feeds us, we are happy.

Anyway, Uncle Giggles says you should do what you always told him to do when he complained about forgoing a writing career to work as a corporate whore: just start writing. He says as much trouble as he often has sitting down to work, as much as he wants to look for squirrel porn on the Internet or play solitaire, it's really just that simple. He says if that's really what you want to do, then you need to force yourself to do it. Of course, it's easy for Uncle Giggles to say that, his whole family is three thousand miles away and he does not have a wife or lots of wedding invites or dogs who love squirrels. But still! If a lazy-ass whiner like Uncle Giggles can do it, we think you can too!

We must go now, we want to sit on couch with Uncle Giggles and watch football. Do squirrels play football? Maybe when NFL comes back to Los Angeles, team can be called L.A. Squirrels. Come home soon, Kranki-Dad! We miss you and Mommy.

Anonymous said...

In considering noncancer squirel endpoints, residual risk analyses will generally focus on the evaluation of target organ-specific hazard index (HI) values as indicators of exposure and risk. In this document, in an attempt to account for exposures from sources other than those being analyzed, we are proposing to use a policy limit of 0.2 on the HI values from an individual facility. That is, if the maximum value of each target organ specific HI evaluated for a particular facility is less than 0.2, we would consider that facility to be “low risk” for noncancer squirel health effects, and there would be no need for further evaluation. The appropriate value for this policy limit is still under discussion; we use 0.2 here as an example, and will adjust accordingly when the final decision is made.

kranki said...

Using an Organ Specific Hazard Index for determining facility residual risk factors has several problems.

1) Taken out of context it makes as much sense as voting for Ralph Nader.

2) I think you maybe just added the squirrel part to pander to the interests of my readers/dogs.

3) You're a big silly head.

Anonymous said...

Hey matt met you at Leslie's writing novel class. I'm teaching also and identified with everything you said - almost. Can't be bothered with sign in protocol. Too tired. 6th graders, today. keep in touch.

Anonymous said...

how do you tell a guy who's the best writer you've ever worked with that he's making a mistake by giving so much of his life to teaching our youngsters the names of all the mountain ranges in this crappy state? i guess straight up.

don't ever stop writing. screw these california kids. they can get someone else who ISN'T funnier than dave chapelle and steve martin combined to school their asses. you still got the fire and i know it. and roy jones was never that good. he was a technically skilled fighter who was boring as hell to watch and even more boring to listen to. he will never hold a candle to iron mike or the hit-man in terms of "who is history going to remember?" roy jones will always be "the fighter who isn't sugar shane mosley. no, the other one." please don't compare yourself to him because it's below you. you're the hit-man and you've got a roll of quarters in your right glove. just swing those bitches. i want pages by next week.

and anyone who comes up with "hauntarded" is a genius. i've got more than a dozen people who've come into my office and burst out in hysterics after looking at my wall to prove it. knuckle up, bitch.

kranki said...

I will keep on plugging. I dig the kids, but yeah, rich writer is still in the crosshairs. Always nice to hear your words of support. Just like Baxter the dog you always cut to the core, dawg.