Well, here it goes: my requisite Happy New Years!!!11lololol journal entry. 2004 is dead and gone. Good fucking riddance.
2004 was unkind to me; was unkind to a lot of people. And it’s because of the events of this year that I am in a worse social and emotional state than on ’03. The year started out with its expected modicum of hope for the future. Things looked hopeful. I had just met a large group of people and was making progress towards growing a large family of friends. Also, my breathing difficulties, though they were getting worse with the winter season, later motivated me to finally, completely, once and for all quit smoking in February. Positive changes.
Well, to help myself on my goal of quitting, I had to go it alone. I had to stop hanging out in person, had to get away from the temptation to smoke; had to quit spending time with my smoking friends, sitting in a smoky crowd, knowing that the only thing keeping me from giving in is an angry cough, an unsteady resolve, and a thin nicotine patch. To help myself, I had to leave people behind.
Over a few weeks’ time, my resolve gained strength; the desire to smoke was waning. I felt it was suitable to let myself out of the house for some interaction again, to get out into the world. Well, nothing was the same with my groups of friends. For the most part, they smoked and I didn’t. I sat in the non-smoking area, away from my old group and near my new. The links between the friends I’ve had for years and I stretched thin; the chains were becoming unusable. And the links between my new friends were just as tenuous; there was no history. Just a laptop comeradery there at Mojo’s.
Well, during the late spring, Mojo’s was sold to a new owner who promised gentle, subtle changes. What was delivered once the ink was dry on the deal was a massive remodelling, a menu change, pricing increases, policy changes, and, eventually, the elimination of the entire old crew. All the thin threads that kept me going to Mojo’s had been snapped. As a final act of protest, I gave the figurative finger to Mojo’s and vowed to refuse my patronage. I closed off that part of my life forever. The Great Walking Away began.
Over the summer, complications and drama arose within my new group of friends. Infighting, backstabbing, name calling; some people tried to put out fires, other people sought only to start them. What had been continuing and accumulating for months, the attitudes, the smugness, everything, came to a boiling point and I made a choice: my life is too short to waste on the bastards of the group. The world is bigger than they are. There was no longer any sense in subjecting myself to the stress any further. To save the tree I cut the branch; I still had a few friends in the group, but I gave up on the group as a whole. I closed off another part of my life.
In November, I lost faith in half of my fellow countrymen after the general elections. All I could do was sit there, with my jaw on the floor, and feel defeat, feel the despair of a decade of national social progress, open thinking, free commentary coming to a continuing and crushing halt under the weight of the Bush war machine. Of the people who voted for the incumbent president, 60 percent of them voted for him based on religious faith issues. Faith issues. Blind faith. And now I have lost my faith. I want to live in an open-minded America; the others can go to hell. But, living in the only Democratic holdout in the entire Red state of Texas, I am the one in hell.
I just can’t make any sense of it. Another time where I made the choice to turn away.
And The Walking Away continued into my workplace. My employer had installed security cameras around the exterior of the printshop to protect and monitor the place. It was a move that made sense. But when I noticed that the video switchbox had many more camera connections available, I knew it was a matter of time before my employer would install cameras in the working areas inside. In early December, my prediction became true; he had one camera installed in the pressroom to watch the presses and another installed in the bindery area, where I work, pointed directly at the areas we are most likely to work. I asked my boss what reason he had for installing them in the work areas, and he replied with only two words: “insurance purposes.”
Since it is a work environment, this kind of thing can’t be called an invasion of privacy. But what it can be called is a loud declaration of complete mistrust in us, his employees. The potential for abuse is astounding, and I can’t work and finish out a day without feeling like my boss is standing right behind me, looking over my shoulder all day. In the span of that one day, my motivation at the company went from interest and the desire to do a good job to little more than looking busy for the camera while hoping 5:30pm happens quickly. In one fell swoop, I was no longer a coworker; I was only an employee. And that’s where I stand to this day. I’m just there to make a paycheck and get my benefits.
Another part of my world seered away.
For the latter part of the year I’ve been mostly by myself. In the reduction of bullshit, chaos, and things going to hell, I cut off everything I had socially, pruned it all away, closed my eyes to what I don’t like, turned my back to what I had going. Outside of two, perhaps three friends, I am utterly alone. And it sucks. It completely sucks. If the year has taught me anything, it’s that I can’t trust anyone with anything; that I can’t expose my soft parts, elsewise some bastard will make a stab for it eventually. It’s a shitty way to think; it’s an even shittier way to live. And I don’t like it.
So now here I am, writing my journal entry, reflecting on the good times from the previous year. And here I am, trying what I can to express some kind of dim hope for the coming year, but failing to drum up anything. All my inspiration is gone, my Muses have turned their backs to me, and all I want to do is sleep. It should never feel so natural to just leave, to Walk Away. It should never feel like it’s always the right thing to do, to leave instead of working things out. But it does. It always has.