Monday, March 16, 2009

What does it all mean?




I'm bored.

Not really. I was laid off from my job as a writer for the local newspaper on Feb. 17. I had been there for 10 1/2 years. It was my first job out of college, and my first career. I planned to stay there and retire.

I had an inkling that it may be coming, so I e-mailed myself all of my contact numbers and e-mail addresses about three weeks before the axe fell. I thought maybe I was safe, but there is no such thing, come to find out.

I'm not bitter. I'm mad, frustrated, scared and flat-out broke, but not bitter.

And tonight I feel optimistic. That usually isn't a word that is in a journalist's vocabulary. You can only report on so many murders and assaults and drug busts and lies before you get a little jaded and stop believing in and trusting people.

This layoff has been a blessing in that way. I have had the opportunity to get to know my five-month-old son, Kaleb and what all of his cries and funny sounds mean. I have been able to spend more time with my 5-year-old son, Evan, who recently earned his yellow belt with a stripe in karate. I have had a chance to argue, cry, be afraid, learn, establish a plan, and truly reconnect with my wife, Jenn.

I have fought with job and family services at both the local and state level. I have been frustrated by the incapacity of the people at the Child Support Enforcement Agency to have a heart or to allow me to look out for the son who lives with me. I have accused a credit card "counselor" of being a heartless, uncompassionate liar, and I have told more people than I can count that you can't squeeze blood from a stone.

At the same time, I have seen unbelievable acts of kindness, from unwavering multi-pronged support from my parents, a surprise hug from my brother (unheard of!), support from my in-laws, a surprise phone call from a former co-worker, constant e-mails from one co-worker and two colleagues, numerous visits from a close friend who has seen me deal with a lot of emotional baggage through the years, an unbelievable act of kindness from my Internet Service Provider, and hundreds of dollars in reduced fees from another creditor.

It is these acts of kindness that are helping to eliminate that jaded state of my soul and make me a better husband, father, son, and overall person.

So now, I take care of Kaleb 3 days a week. During the other two days, I run around madly trying to find a new job. Every other weekend and on Wednesday nights we add Evan to the fray. At all times, I am doing housework; searching for the Bigger, Better Job; and reading a variety of hints and tips on how to survive this crisis we currently are in.

Last night, Jenn and I watched the 1983 movie Mr. Mom. Jenn and I both noticed that it pretty much describes us to a T. I just haven't become addicted to the soaps...yet.

So this all leads me to reason this blog is titled "Stronger Now" and has the phrase "rise fall rise again" in the address.

Those are references to two songs that are appropriate to current events and previous events in my life. While the specifics of the songs do not always directly coincide with those events, the sentiments of the songs remain the same. I have included the lyrics here:

Broken Beat and Scarred
By Metallica
(Listen to it here)

You rise, you fall, you're down, then you rise again
What don't kill you make you more strong
You rise, you fall, youre down, then you rise again
What don't kill you make you more strong

Rise, fall, down, rise again
What don't kill you make you more strong
Rise, fall, down, rise again
What don't kill you make you more strong

Through black days
Through black nights
Through pitch black insights

Breaking your teeth on the hard life coming
Show your scars
Cutting your feet on the hard earth running
Show your scars
Breaking your life
Broken, beat and scarred
But we die hard

The dawn, the death, the fight to the final breath
What don't kill you make you more strong
The dawn, the death, the fight to the final breath
What don't kill you make you more strong

Dawn, death, fight, final breath
What don't kill you make you more strong
Dawn, death, fight, final breath
What don't kill you make you more strong

They scratched me
They scraped me
They cut and rape me

Breaking your teeth on the hard life coming
Show your scars
Cutting your feet on the hard earth running
Show your scars
Breaking your life
Broken, beat and scarred
But we die hard

Breaking your teeth on the hard life coming
Show your scars
Cutting your feet on the hard earth running
Show your scars
Braiding your soul in a hard luck story
Show your scars
Spilling your blood in a hot suns foray
Show your scars
Breaking your life
Broken, beat and scarred
We die hard

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stronger Now
By Warrant
(Listen to it here)

I held you for a moment in my hands
The moment with you slipped away like sand
Through my fingers now
In front of me a choice I have to make
To carry on or simply fade away
I lose you either way
I'd like to say that it was easy, it was hard
To say goodbye, I thought that I would die
Chorus
Letting go of you, was so hard to
And I thought that it would kill me but I made
It through somehow, and I'm so much stronger now
I gave to you my love and my respect
But I could never make you love me back
I denied it so
I grew bitter watching you grow cold
My life became your prison, took it's toll
I decided
Like a bird that's trapped
Inside a gilded cage
It's right to set it free,
Hurts to watch it
Fly away
Letting go of you, was so hard to
And I thought that it would kill me but I made
It through somehow, and I¹m so much stronger now

-------------------------------------------------------------------

The themes of those two songs embody what life and this blog are all about: We rise, fall, get down, then we rise again. What doesn't kill us makes us more strong, and I AM stronger now. But I know I will fall again. We all have our days. It's how we come out on the other side that counts.

As Andy Dufresne said in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."