Thursday, July 17, 2008

"I pretend..."

You know, it has been so many months since I have written on this blog, and even so many more since I used to write on it regularly. Since then, the "Zoe Strickman" character has become my username on web sites which I don't want people to know my real identity for privacy reasons (and for reasons of not wanting to get marketed to.)

You should know that while the last post was that my wife and I were fighting over Purim, that was a set of isolated events where the issue was that my wife felt that I wasn't taking care of her, but one event gone wrong can shake a foundation, even of a marriage. My fear at that point was of losing her, especially since there was a moment where she turned "off" and getting through to her was utterly difficult because she formed a preconceived view of me as a person and she thought she knew me. One strong lesson is that you never know someone. You know the person they show you they are.

I have so many shadows looming around me that I pretend they are not there. I pretend to be a good employee, a conscientious husband, an attentive father, a supportive friend, and a loving but relatively distant son and brother. Yes, Zoe is a MAN's name if you didn't figure it out from the profile image.

But then the question becomes -- who is the real me? I'm not talking real identity here, I'm talking about who is me under the skin when you strip away all the layers of junk, habits, and current events. Truthfully, after all this time, I really don't know.

I wake up every morning, I go to minyan with a Rabbi I utterly respect (but who thinks I'm a slacker,) I come home and have breakfast and coffee with my loving wife and growing child, and then I tear myself out of the house away from my son who is so sad to see me go and my wife and I embark on my one hour daily commute to the office (where in the car on the way to work, I listen to audio tapes to further my personal development and to podcasts to listen to the latest pre-recorded news because real radio is time-wasting junk.) I spend the day doing just enough work not to get my brain fried (but it usually happens anyway) or fired, I trade stocks without people knowing it, I log my time of actual work done (often fewer than the many hours I spent sitting at my monitor zoning out or wasting time), and then I decide whether to go to the gym on the way home. When I get home, I greet my exhausted wife and my playful child, I sit down in a quasi-messy house for a quick meal that was thrown together for my satisfaction and I ignore the mess and the things that were not done in my absence that should have been done while I was at work. I then either put our child to bed or my wife does, my wife and I have scant conversations, and then she goes off to bed. I remain at my computer listening to Gary Kaltbaum on a radio podcast, I read books and educate myself on topics such as investing, the stock market, real estate markets, career and financial advancement, and if I have the motivation, I learn a bissel ("a bit of") Torah. If there is time or energy, I'll watch the latest movie that arrived from NetFlix and then between 12am - 1:30am, I'll sneak into bed hoping that my wife doesn't realize how late I was awake. I wake up 5:30am (really 6am with snoozing) to my wife and my son who I have long woken up, and I repeat the process again.

I often ask myself what is really going on? The truth is that I have a wonderful hard-working wife (whose priorities in running a home differ from mine), a beautiful son, a good community, and a good job. The other reality is that I am one step away from being fired from not having the desire or the focus to make the best of my job, and I am utterly bored with life and everything that it has become. Even watching movies has lost the soul it once had. Speaking of soul, I have lost mine too.

My visions in life have been destroyed from the bad experiences when I reached for the stars and fell on my head. I have become cynical, angry, depressed, and unwilling to take risks and yet I express my risk-taking gambling need in the stock market often gaining and losing money. And all the time while I am down, caged, and forced to be responsible rather than to follow my dreams or to move forward on life-changing goals, I take one cautious step after the next, proceeding to the desired goal.

Although, I must admit that my life goals right now are...

1) to keep myself as religious as I should be;
2) to advance in my knowledge, education, and coursework to lead to the goal of working in a law firm or in a company AS A PATENT ATTORNEY acquiring [through coursework] an electrical engineering or computer science degree, all the while moving forward in my current job into a licensing attorney position (which is fine with me) -- yes, I am advancing in TWO concurrent career paths;
3) to lose what now needs to be upwards of 40 lbs (yes, I've gained some weight since my marriage);
4) to get out of debt and to set up myself and my family for financial independence through passive income and elimination of my over $130K of debts (actually $85K consolidated federal, $49K private law school loans); and
5) to be at my best so that my family can feel loved and taken care of,

...I must admit that I am having a VERY difficult time in each and EVERY ONE of these goals, especially because our basic costs, lifestyle (meaning time allocation) and spending patterns leave me little time, energy, and money to be successful at these goals. But, that never stopped me from stopping.

So there's my life as I see it in a nutshell.


Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

keep on fighting; and if some goals distract you from others, try to focus on fewer of them at a time, or space them out a little

Rowan Mayfaire said...

thanks for your thoughtful wishes.

Ahuva said...

I agree with steg-- concentrate on a small number of goals at any given time. You might also want to be careful that your goals don't undermine each other. For example, expressing your risk-taking/gambling need in the stock market may be undermining your need to get out of debt. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

dude, i hear ya. we are the same person except for the fact that i'm female...and canadian...and have been able to turn a corner. thankfully, i have neither spouse nor child to factor in, so i was able to chuck it and make what many see as a drastic change. i was as dead as a non-corpse can possibly be. now i'm moving ahead on a path that seems nothing short of bashert. i just needed to be willing to leap. my pain was real. i hope you are not yet where i was. that place blows.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Zoe, I really feel for you. It really humbles me when I realize how tough life is for some people. All I can say is that I wish you the following: that very soon you'll be able to look back from a position of much happiness and satisfaction and say, "Those were tough times which thankfully passed."