If You Build It, They Will Come.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Why do you do this to me? You've kind of ruined my mood here. My whole life you've acted like this to me. Look, I've got responsibilities here. I've taken up about eight months of other people's spare time. I can't just walk out on them. I know you're helping me out more than you have to. A lot more than others would. I appreciate it, I really do. I know I've let you down more than my brothers. I'm sorry about that everyday. But look, these are my shoes, and I'm the only one walking in them. I know I've hit bottom more than I should. I know I've disappointed you more than I've made you proud of me. I know I'm not done disappointing you. I know from your point of view I'm a child and I've never learned how to be a responsible person. I've never gotten the respect I feel I deserve from you. But I don't blame you. You can't see me. Or you don't see me. Either way, for the six years I've been here, I've been letting you down. Hell, for the ten years before that I've been letting you down. But you and I are very different people. You see figures, you see numbers, you see A+ and F. I don't. I see that I failed my last six weeks of Mr. Bowman's calculus class my senior year of high school. You got upset about that. I didn't. Is it because I didn't get it? Yeah. Is it because he was a terrible teacher? Yes. Is it because I really didn't care? Yes. Because I look back on that fateful marking period six years ago, and realize that had I put in the hours and hours of life it would've taken to ace that class, I'd still be here. I'd still be in Kalamazoo, I'd still be getting ready to leave, I'd still be who I am, and absolutely nothing in my life would've changed. Other than my high school career would've been a lot more miserable.

So even if you aren't, I am proud of myself. I'm living how I want to. I don't want to be poor, and I could remedy that by getting a factory job and working 16 hours a day and 8 on the weekends. But what would that get me? A hell of a lot of money, and a life I hated.

And if seeing my 3rd grade teacher, two classmates, a cousin, and countless relatives leave this world throughout my life has taught me one thing, it's to value what is truly important. When I die, I don't want to look back and think how much money I made by working overtime, because that doesn't really matter. I want to think of the happy life I had.

I just wrecked my truck. Under slightly different circumstances, I could've died two weeks ago. Under slightly different circumstances, I could die today. And if I did, I'd be proud of the life I've lived. I wouldn't be thinking of my lack of money or my grades in Mrs. Johnson's class, because none of that stuff matters. Nobody cares. I'm going to think that for a few years, I got to do something I truly loved. Some people go eighty years and never get to say that.

I understand you're my dad. I understand it's your job to kind of keep me grounded. I appreciate that, and I welcome it. I'm not saying I know everything. Far from it. I'm not saying that I don't live with regrets. I have only two. Few people can say they have only two. I'm not implying I haven't done stupid things. I'm saying that I've always done what I thought was right. I may have been incorrect in thinking it was right, but at the time I thought it was right. Except twice. Two times I've knowingly gone against my conscience. And those are my two regrets.

For every other time I cannot damn myself for doing what I thought was right. It would be like calling myself an idiot for believing in Santa when I was three. Hindsight is 20/20. I've made mistakes. I don't regret them. Except two.

I'm not trying to start an argument. I know I can't win. We fight on different fields. You're very logical. You see D- and think I've done something terrible. I don't see that. I see that I've passed a class about something that doesn't really matter, like classifing fairy tales, and in two years, no one will remember the marks I got, just that I passed. Maybe that seems half assed. Maybe it seems like a cop out. I'm terribly sorry about leaving WMU without a degree. I know you spent a lot of money on me and got no results. I know that's how it must seem a lot for me. You put a lot in and get nothing back.

All that is going to change now. When I move to Florida, I'm going to have to work on sixteen different films in the first two months. I'm going to have a seven hour class every friday. I couldn't be more happy. I'm going to impress them. I'm going to make my mark. I'm going to be sucessful. I'm going to work every waking moment of my life for the entire time I'm there. I'm talented. I'm good at this. I'm very good at this. I care about this. I'm passionate about this. And I've never felt this way about anything. Not elementary school, not junior high, not high school, not psychology, not comp sci, not karate, not soccer, not tee-ball, not golf, not basketball, not hockey, not my band, not Babbages, not Gamestop, not Select Comfort, not stamping car parts at GM or Vogel. I have never craved something like I do this, I've never wanted to learn absolutely everything about everything about this business.

And all I ask is your support, which I know I have, and your respect, which I don't know I have. I'll take care of the rest. You'll see. It may have taken some time, some patience, some frustration on believe it or not, both of our parts, but I've finally found what I'm looking for. I've finnaly found something I'm good at. I've found something that I can be proud of my life for doing. Something I love. And I'm proud of me. If you aren't then I'll have to live with the fact that I can never be what you want me to be.

And I'm sorry to tell you that for this, I can live with that. I hope to god that I don't have to.

You have this way of talking down to me that is really annoying. I wish you'd talk to me as if you respect what I have to say. Today on the phone, "We shouldn't be spending money on the movie right now." That really urked me. You said that like I was five. And in one sentence you patronized me, you trivialized the all the work I've done for the last fourteen months, and you trivialized the work everyone else has done over the last eight months. So now I'm upset. But it made me realize all this and now I've written it down. Maybe you'll read it.

The funny thing is that I knew what I wanted to write when I started. And it was just the first two sentences, and that was it. And now it just keeps coming. I guess I have a lot to say.

Maybe you don't think I have an opinion. Maybe you're wondering why I haven't said any of this before. I can't blame you for either assumption. I don't talk to you in person. I have a hard time talking to you on the phone. I'm sure you heard me. I studder, I get nervous, I get shaky. I say things that make absolutely no sense, and then go back on it a moment later. You scare me. Maybe scare isn't the right word. Intimidate. All of us. We've never yelled back growing up. We've never said anything in anger towards you while you're there. When the conversation hits that level, we all just get quiet. You can be a scary guy.

So I'm sure I seem flaky. I have an idea, you call and say it's bad, and I immediately agree with you. Truth is I've never been able to defend myself against you. It's frightening to me. I mean there was the one time in the garage at the riverhouse while you were cooking steaks. I don't know if you remember it, but I do. The one time I got the courage to try to defend myself. And if you do remember it, I'm sure you remember how good I did.

So I'm writing it here. Because here I can't see that look you get in your eye. I can't hear that silence, or that tone of voice. I'm not mad at you, not at all. I love you very much. I just want you to know that sometimes it's really hard talking to you. Sometimes it feels like I can't win. Sometimes it feels like we're not even living in the same universe. On some plains you and I are very different people. On some we are not. I just want your respect. That's really all. I wish I could tell you this to your face, I wish I wasn't so afraid to do so. I hope this doesn't seem like a way to say something and run and hide. It's not. It's just the only way I could say it.

Okay, I'm all done. Time to get working.



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