Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Mad Science: House of Pain Revisited

Yesterday was not a real good day.  It should have been, but bottom line, I feel like I blew it when I had every opportunity to succeed.  And now it's driving me crazy.

If you know me, you know that I'm a prideful guy--probably to a fault.  I feel like I do a lot of things well, but at the same time, I'm not necessarily the best when it comes to internalizing group dynamics or buying into what I think of as the bullshit part of... well, anything.  And truth is, living like that is not doing me any favors.

As an example, I hate that Lee Greenwood song that they always play at West Point to fire up the cadets.  I HATE it.  I mean, I liked it fine before I got to the Academy, but once I was there, and I realized that they were trying to use it to brainwash me and the rest of my classmates, well, at that point it was all over for me and Mr. Greenwood.  Some primitive part of my brain locked out, inherently resisting the efforts of others to artificially impose their way of thinking onto me.  I'm telling you, it was a visceral reaction.  This was not conscious thought; this was something inherent in my DNA that was telling me, "You cannot conform.  You must resist."

This was not an attitude that was conducive to life at the Academy.  I could pass all the tests, win all my races, and keep myself on the Dean's List, but I could never quite figure out how to be the cadet that they wanted me to be deep down inside, and it held me back in real, concrete ways.  It's not that I didn't want to.  It's just that I couldn't, that even now as I look back on it, I'm still not sure what I would change about myself in order to have been more successful, I only know that whatever it was, it wasn't a lack of ability that was holding me back, it was something else.  But it was real.

In the Army, life was a little better.  I think there was more room for individual thought, I got to publish a couple of times, and in any event, my perception of it was that the Army cared a lot more about what you got done than they did about what you necessarily thought or believed.  At the same time, though, I also think I would have had a better career in the Army if I could have been a little more "Rah rah, yay Army."  As it was, I was a decent officer who could get things done, but y'know, I didn't particularly want to be there, and I don't blame my Battalion Commander for picking another guy, a guy who did want to be there, to lead the Scout Platoon.  Ultimately, that isn't why I left the Army, but I'm just saying, I could have been a better officer.  I think I had all of the tools that I needed.

Well, if you've ever wondered why I do this, today offers a perfect explanation.  Having written about my tendency towards self-sabotage, I now feel a little better about it.  Not like I've learned a lesson or anything; I don't think that I'm now gonna be able to turn my life around or whatever.  But I do feel a little more at peace with who I am, and ultimately, I don't know what other choice there is besides finding some peace and making the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Anyway, my point is that while I'd like to think that there's something here, that I'm writing reasonably well, and that my writing is keeping folks entertained, the truth is that writing is a lonely enterprise.  Reality is that if you're gonna write, you can't do it for anyone but yourself.

I've been covering the election, so I suppose I ought to talk a little bit about the debate.  So first, full disclosure: I didn't watch the debates at all.  What I know is what I read in the news and what I heard on NPR, and all of that said that Mitt Romney won, and the President lost.  Which is cool.  I mean, the nihilist in me is dying for an Electoral College tie.  I realize that outcome would almost certainly put Romney in the White House, but honestly, it would be worth it.  Just seeing all that wailing and gnashing of teeth would justify an awful lot--at least for me.

Beyond that simple desire for chaos, however, I've got to admit that my favorite exchange of the night went to Romney.  In talking about the budget and Romney's lack of specifics, Romney rejoined by saying (paraphrased), "Of course I haven't given specifics.  I learned when I was governor that if you lay out specifics too soon, it's hard to get things done because you don't leave yourself any room for compromise and shifting positions."

Fair point.  Especially on the budget.

Romney's basic problem is still, I think, that he's been so far all over the map in terms of his positions over the course of his career that it's fair at this point to assume that he'll say or do anything in order to win this election.  The problem is that that may well be true of Obama also, which leads me to my simple desire for electoral chaos.


It's free!  You can't beat free!
I'm really only mentioning this because I feel like I need a picture somewhere in this article, but I still downloaded one of the issues for my daughters.  My eldest, Hannah, really likes mysteries while my youngest, Emma, likes comics.  So here's hoping Ms. Drew is a winner in the Head Household.

That's all I've got.  Have a good weekend.


  1. Love it. I loved Nancy Drew as a child. Would live to read this. Maybe Mr. Romney would like it too since he is a mystery.

  2. Thank you, Sally. I appreciate you taking some time with this. And BTW, you look beautiful tonight.