This is the antiromance song. It first came to prominence when Gloria Gaynor released it in 1978. That version is good, but a little too disco for my tastes. So, I linked to the 1996 Cake version. It has more of an alternative rock edge to it.
For most people this is probably a bad breakup song. It is for me too, but not a boyfriend or a girlfriend. No for me, this was the god breakup song. And while the almighty and me have since reconciled. I’m not the same.
As the first verse so eloquently puts it, At first I was afraid; I was petrified. Looking back, that was a huge step. I spent so much of my life fearing, literally fearing god. He was a bad boyfriend. If I did one thing wrong, he was not averse to smacking me upside the head, or so I thought.
When we “broke up,” I lost my fear. I realized that there was life without god. Though I do not look back on that period of my life with any joy or reminiscence, I did, in fact, survive.
Coming back to god is another story for another day. But I do not fear.
Last night while I was in bed, futilely trying to fall asleep, I began listening to songs on my Spotify play list. As I scrolled through the list, different periods of my life came into focus. I realized that here is the catalogue of my life. As I hear a tune, my mind rolls back time to what I was doing or what this song meant to me when I heard it. It was then that I was struck with an idea: use your play list as subjects for the blog. So, without further ado, here is the first song. Apeman.
This song is by no means a favorite. But I keep it because it reminds me to be humble. So much of my young adulthood was spent in the delusion of thinking I was exceptional. I had great thoughts. My mind was unique. I had insights that were beyond the grasp of mere mortals.
Thank god I never had the urge to run for public office. I could have been trapped in a feedback loop that fed this illusion. Lucky for me, time wore me down. Things happened…or didn’t happen in many cases. People around me kept moving forward. But I was stuck. I was just hours, days, weeks, months from the next promotion or breakthrough or accolade. But they never came. As it turns out, I was common, fairly common. “Compared to the flowers and the birds in the trees, I am an apeman.”
For a good decade, I was angry. I thought the world was unfair. I was cheated. In reality, I was living a common life of white privilege. But because I could never catch that brass ring, I was miserable. I had a voracious appetite for praise. When it did not come, I began to devour myself mentally.
This song represents a turning point in my thinking. It is an old song from the Kinks. But I stumbled onto it right about the time I read my first book on Buddhism. What really resonated with me was the idea that the root of suffering was desire. Not just for stuff, or sex, or power…but all of it. The more I want, the less fulfilled I felt and the more I suffered.
It was realizing that I was an apeman, that helped me dig out of my hole.
I have not been writing recently. With all the shit that is going down personally and, in the world, my brain is on overload. I started therapy again. His advice? Breathe. Yeah, I know. Breathe, meditate, get exercise, eat right…I know all of this. I don’t do any of it. But I know it.
The world is just moving too quickly for me. I feel like I need to veg for about a week and then take on just one task a day. That feels like my maximum velocity. But the world is requiring much more from me. So instead of doing a good job at anything, I am doing a shitty job on many fronts. I used to use the old adage of “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Now I just feel like I am just taking up valuable space.
Whaa…woe is me. I just need to shut the fuck up and get on with it.
These are my sisters. I am only related to the one on the left, Becky. She is my closest relative and I love her with all my heart. The other two are my sister’s lifelong friends Stacey in the middle and Lavada on the right. At some point, the combination of time, familiarity and friendship goes beyond the boundary of friends and they become family.
Stacey passed this morning. I was stunned to hear the news. I just listened to Becky’s heart break on the phone as she shared the news. I just sat there with my mouth agape. She said something I thought was profound: Her best day was our worst day. I tried to go back to work and in the middle of a conference call, the water words started.
With all of the recently televised police murders of black people, I have been doing a lot of soul searching. I pay a lot of lip service to not being a racist. But I don’t exactly have a pristine track record. When I was a kid, I did a lot of stupid things. Many, I regret.
But that is not the subject of today’s post. Today, I dipped into the family archives and I did not like what I saw. I share the name of an ancestor that lived during the time of the civil war. He was the patriarch of a family that split up because of the war.
Family lore had always said that the family had a plantation in North Carolina. Their names and places of birth had been long established using Ancestry.com. But I still had that nagging question in the back of my mind: Did my family own slaves? It only took a couple of Google clicks to find the answer from the National Archives. In short, yes. My namesake during the civil war owned 9 slaves.
What I found particularly galling about the documentation was that my ancestor did not even bother to list their names. It was strictly by the book: Age, Sex & Color. Their names are lost to time.
I don’t know how to process this information. And I have just scratched the surface. This was an 1860s census. That side of my family tree goes back to 1602 in America. Who knows what else I might find?
It is ugly, it is wrong, and my family has undoubtedly profited from exploiting the lives of others. I have a lot of thinking to do.
It’s never fun having a medical procedure, little lone having 80% of your stomach removed. But I have to say this was not the painful thing I’ve had to endure.
I had to be at the hospital by 5:30am. By 7:30, I was blacked out. My brain did not exactly come back online until late afternoon. I was glad to have a brief hiatus from the protein shakes. I felt zero hunger.
So far, including the pre-diet regimen, I have lost 30 lbs. I am technically no longer morbidly obese. Dropping back into the 2s is my next big milestone.