On Saturday morning the family ventured to Dallas Farmers Market to hang out and eat at Pecan Lodge. All I wanted was the beef rib. I had it once and it was the best ever and I wanted WifeGeeding to try it as she loves her some ribs. The place didn’t open until 11:00 AM but I was in line at 10:40 AM and still had to wait an hour until I could order. That beef rib must be something else because they were sold out before I made it to the counter. And for now, I think I may have to say they have the best BBQ in DFW.
When cleaning out the garage I came across a box full of old cards. One card was from my high school graduation 20 years ago, and it had a ten dollar bill tucked inside. Per the Inflation Calculator, that ten bucks now has the buying power of $6.27. I should have spent the money back in 1994.
Speaking of the Inflation Calculator, here’s a Minor ‘Mad Men’ spoiler – Peggy got a raise of an extra $100 a week, in today’s dollars, that’s an extra $33,480.21 a year.
In that box was also a letter from my then U.S. Congressman Charles Stenholm congratulating me on my high school graduation. I wonder if congressional representative still do that, even though it was a form letter, I thought it was a nice touch. After his congressional career he ended up lobbying for the horse meat industry.
It would be great if Cinco de Mayo fell on Taco Tuesday.
I used a Veggetti to make some spaghetti noodles with a zucchini. The product was easy to use, but easy to hurt yourself with if you aren’t careful with your fingers, but overall I’d give it an A.
Being a ‘House of Cards’ fan, I got a real kick out of Kevin Spacey lending the use of his voice and character for the trailer of a video game. He was interviewed on ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ yesterday and this quote stuck with me, “The level of my arrogance did not match the level of my talent.”
There was a challenge on ‘The Amazing Race’ in which a contestant had to shave a balloon with a straight-edge razor in less than a minute. They all did much better than I thought, so I guess it ain’t that hard.
There’s a movie coming out named Boyhood with Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette that fascinates me because how it was filmed. It’s not a documentary, but a fictional story, which was filmed in short spans over a twelve-year period using the young actor, Ellar Coltrane, from the age of six to eighteen.
There was some genuine concern about what I said about my thoughts of suicide on Friday by both email and comments. Heck, people even emailed me their phone numbers in case I ever needed to talk. I thought that struggle was something I wrote about periodically and up front way back when, but perhaps I wasn’t as forthcoming as I thought and I picked up some new readers along the way. So for those that genuinely care or are just curious about my struggle or my past, just keep on reading as I pull back the curtain. I apologize for any concern or worry and I don’t think there should be any. For those of you that don’t care, just stop reading because it might sound whiny and self-centered. And for the record, I totally understand what I consider struggle isn’t anything compared to the real struggles in this world.
My mother and father loved and cared for me more than I deserve, so it has nothing to do from coming from a broken or unloving home.
In elementary school I was picked on a lot for being half-Asian. That struggle doesn’t compare to what other races went through in this country, but I never felt comfortable bringing that up to my parents for whatever reason. All of the slanted eye and broken English jokes directed at me and no one else made it very personal and made me feel that something was specifically wrong with me. In junior high I remember a girl refusing to dance with me because I was ‘different’. I guess that’s one part of living in a small rural town and one part of what America was like at the time. But I compartmentalized everything and carried the insecurities all through adulthood.
Somehow my brother, who was seven years older than me, was able to deal with this much better than I. He was also very athletic and had a short temper, and won every fight he was in, so he wasn’t made fun of because people paid the consequence. I wasn’t very athletic or tough and was scared of standing up for myself, and I was chubby. I was jealous of my brother’s charisma, athletic accolades, intelligence, and how he seemed to be the most popular person in his class. I always felt like my dad loved him more than me, but it wasn’t until years after his death that I learned he was actually my half-brother. Mom got knocked-up by some soldier and years later my father married her and adopted him. Perhaps dad was just trying to be the father he never had and I took it wrong.
I hit a really rough patch in my early twenties:
The family declared bankruptcy after Dad was laid-off. I try to soften the thought of that by saying my dad’s heart was bigger than his wallet.
Dad was 25-years older than my mother (another thing people made fun of and something I couldn’t talk to my parents about) and his health was failing. He actually had a heart attack three days before my high school graduation.
Dad died in my fourth year in college (I was one of those that finished in five). I was about to graduate with $38,000 in student loan debt and was scared. Mom didn’t have a formal education and we had to teach her basics like balancing a checkbook, and she was now a single-parent to her 11-year-old niece who was adopted from Vietnam four years prior.
I didn’t lock my college apartment door in the daytime and my friends use to visit and walk on in. One time he walked in and I was so sunken in a cheap couch he didn’t see me and I just didn’t say anything. When he couldn’t find me he went to the bathroom and pulled back the shower curtain thinking that I hung myself. That was the first I realized that others realized I wasn’t handling things well. I would do more daring things not caring if I died, like driving back from Dallas to Abilene with no sleep starting at 2:00 AM.
Before Dad died, I told him I was going to become an Air Force officer because of my experience as an intern at Dyess Air Force Base. That internship helped me bond with Dad in those final years because he spent 28-years in the military, first the Navy and then the Army. For once I thought I had direction in life and was excited to see the world and serve my country. However, I could’t get a competitive enough score on my officer exam (similar to the SAT or GRE) to get into officer school. I could take the exam again in six months, and during that time I bought a study guide and studied daily. When I took it a second time, once again my score wasn’t competitive enough to get in.
On to Plan B . . . I could go through Air Force ROTC and work on my masters degree. My student loans would be in deferment and the Air Force would pay for my graduate degree. I applied to a handful of colleges for grad school but was denied because my GRE and GMAT scores weren’t competitive enough, despite studying intensely for them.
On to Plan C . . . my degree was in finance and I had some connections at Fidelity Investments in Dallas. I landed the job and my brother said I could stay with him rent and grocery free. That was great, and I didn’t really mind sleeping on the couch every night, but being around him was like walking on egg-shells. He was also dating a women who was more than twenty years older than him and she would sleep over. It was all just very awkward. I was also able to recruit two of my college friends to Fidelity, both of whom were not finance majors. We all took a complex test to get a license to trade stocks. All beginners in finance basically take this test to start their career. I failed it twice despite studying like the dickens. The humbling part was that both my friends passed it on the first try. They now have successful careers in finance, but I was told I needed to find another job because the current one required that license. I had a falling out with my brother and the only place I had to go was to move in with those two friends, whom I’m lucky to have, but that was a big piece of humble pie to eat.
The pattern of finding direction in life and then being held back because of an exam weighed on me. I could say that I simply don’t test well, but always felt that was a cop-out or excuse.
I had questions about my faith and salvation despite being actively involved in the Baptist church. When I sought counsel I was told I may not actually be saved because I had such questions. I was told by numerous folks that I couldn’t be a Democrat and and Christian. Salvation and the sinner’s prayer weighed on me no matter how much I said it or tried to believe in it earnestly, and the fear of family not being saved and how to witness to them haunted me.
One thought, though irrational, was . . . If I’m a Christian and Heaven is paradise and a place of no worries and concern, why should I just delay the trip by sticking around here.
I use to think how financially secure my mother and sister would be due to the life insurance policy I had, all I had to do was make my death not look like a suicide, like a car crash or something. I was worth more dead than alive, but didn’t want to cause my mother any heartache. And weirdly and nerdy enough, I wanted to see the new Star Wars trilogy.
I have several close friends, but the last couple years of college and right out of it, Micah was the one I felt I could most open up to and trust. In a way, he basically replaced a lot of roles of my father. He was to be the best man at my wedding but downed one week prior.
For unknown reasons, my brother decided to cut off the relationship he had with Mom and our adopted sister. He later cut off his relationship entirely with me. Someone had to take care of Mom and WifeGeeding and I invited her to live with us. Lupus got the best of her kidneys and strength and was hospitalized for most of her time with us. One day I got the phone call from my sister that I feared, she fell down the stairs. She died of a head injury three days later. I feel that I’m partly responsible for not setting up enough safeguards for that accident.
In my loniest and darkest of times, the lyrics and music of U2 carried me through more than anyone can imagine, which is why I’m such a fan and genuinely appreciate their art. In such an amazing way, I was just able to identify and connect with their lyrical search for love, grace, acceptance, justice, and other things more than anything else. It all came through to me in a very sincere, transparent, and genuinely raw way that nothing else did.
I’ve been to counseling and on and off and back on meds. Those things, as well as perspective, a supporting wife, the responsibility of children, and feeling like I’ve finally caught a break and have had a few successes on my own have helped. I’m in a much better place now, so no one should worry. I have ups and downs, but I’m now more even keeled.
Looking back, I understand that I’m more sensitive than others and care too much what others think. I compared myself to others too much and I just needed some achievements in my young adult life for encouragement. Going forward, I pretty much have to succumb to the Serenity Prayer and stop putting unrealistic expectations on others and myself, among other things.
Suicide should be taken seriously, but there was a part of me that wanted to use some dark humor and say if something happened to me there are plenty of other blogs out there to start off your mornings, better ones, in fact.