Monday, September 17, 2012

The Story's Outcome

This is going to be an odd blog entry.  Bear with me.  
Originally, I was going to write about what looked like a switch in Karma.  A change of fortune.  The narrative was going to go something like this...
Right now things are going really well at work.  Since the end of March, when I took on the role of Production Manager, my company's fortunes have soared.  My first month was the absolute worst my unit has done under my direction, and we finished about ten thousand dollars over the company's revenue goal.  Last month, August, we set a production record.  One of the owners of the company took the management team out to lunch to celebrate.  He highlighted my accomplishments by pointing out the turn in the company's fortunes that took place after I took over the production department.  
Even when bad things happen, fortune seems to be on my side.  One of my employees stopped coming into work while I was on vacation.  No call.  No show.  We've been scrambling to keep things going, especially when other employees take their days off.  
This week, though, I got an email from someone, a woman looking for a job.  She heard about the sudden opening through someone she knows in my office.  She's been doing the same job as the person who left for about 17 years.  I contacted a former boss of mine who worked with her and was told that she was someone who, "Came in and got a lot of work done every day," and never caused a fuss.  She's going through her background checks right now prior to hiring her.  It feels like I've trade up.  
So, with all this success, you'd think I'd be feeling pretty happy these days.  
No.  Not really.  
I mean, it's great.  Don't get me wrong, doing well at work is important.  My Mom used to tell me all the time growing up, "Even if you're a ditch digger, do your job to be the best ditch digger there is!"  Your job is a signature, it's says something about you.  You have to do your best at it.  
But work is survival.  It's the caveman taking down a mammoth on the tundra, ripping off a bloody haunch, then dragging it back to his cave to fill his hungry belly with as much food as he can choke down because he knows he might not be able to take down a mammoth the next time around, or the time after that, or ever again.  
Survival is good.  But it's only a start.  
To contrast with work, the rest of my life seems decidedly mediocre.  I can seem to finish a story to the point where I think it's ready to send to someone to publish.  The stories I do send out get rejected.  I'm single, again.  And it feels like I'll probably stay single until I die.  I'm struggling to get over a cough and cold that I've had for about two weeks now so I can get back to the gym and stop what feels like a steady slide into bad shape.  

A couple of years ago, I was telling myself in this narrative that I had planned, things were different.  In fact they were completely the opposite.  
A couple of years ago, I pointed out to myself, I was sending off the story, "Shadow Angel."  It would be accepted by Asimov's Science Fiction and would get published in their September, 2011 issue.  I had the first issue of a comic book, "SoftMetal," available for purchase through a small comic book company.  They were communicating to me about making it a graphic novel.  
During that same time period, I had someone in my life that I thought would be with me from that point on.  
And work?  Work was work.  That's how I responded when people asked me, "how things are going?"  "Work is work," I would say, then go on to describe the other things in my life.  My recollection was that all these other things were much going so much better, and that I was, in a word...  Happier.  
That was going to be the narrative.  How two years ago, the personal parts of my life were going in a positive direction, while at work, I was working.  I was hunkered down, glad to have a job with the economy going the way it was, not excepting much more than a pay-check.  
I was going to use the caveman analogy to describe it this way: Back then, a couple of years ago, I would stuff myself with Mammoth meat.  Once full, I'd hide the rest in a snowbank, to keep it fresh for tomorrow, and sit in front of my cave.  I'd look up at the little points of light in the sky and make up stories about what they were.  I spend some time carving this thing I thought would be really cool that I was naming a "Wheel" after my mate, "Wheela."  And I was imaging how I would describe killing the mammoth all by myself to my tribes people over the camp fires the next day.  
Was I happy?  Yeah.  I was pretty happy.  And I thought, with the prospects I was seeing for myself, I would be even happier a couple of years later.  
That WAS going to be the narrative.  Then I got the idea of checking my journal from a couple of years ago and see what I wrote.  I've been writing a daily journal for years, and I save my entries in these three ring binders I keep on my shelf.  They were out of order, but I finally found the one that contained the entry for this date two years ago.  September 16, 2010.  
It was two years ago today that I made the decision to have my cat, Tybalt, euthanized.  
That didn't seem so happy.  In fact, it wasn't a very happy time at all, judging by the entries that followed.  Pages and pages detailing my struggles at the time.  Couldn't sleep (I still deal with that one).  Trying to get a story done that I liked (that one, too).  Etc., etc., etc....
I stopped reading before I got to the happy part.  I knew it was coming.  But you couldn't tell there was going to be a happy ending from the chapters I was reading.  
That's the difference between life and story: You have happy endings in stories.  Points were everything is wrapped up, the problems solved, and the hero has a chance to "Live Happily Ever After."  In life, there's just another chapter which moves randomly about based on roll of the dice encounters clashing with your efforts to bring home the bacon (or the mammoth haunch) and to make sense of what it is all about.  
And doing whatever makes you happy.  That, too.  
In keeping with this observation, I'm not going to write a conclusion to this entry.  I'll simply say, "This is where I'm ending today.  We'll see about tomorrow when it comes."  


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