“Hey…doesn’t matter what’s going on right now. The sun is still gonna come up in the morning, you’ll start over fresh and life will go on.”
~ My Father, smartest man I know
“I don’t throw darts at a board. I bet on sure things. Read Sun-Tzu, The Art of War. Every battle is won before it is ever fought.”
“The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good”
~ Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street & Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
I went to his house. I hadn’t been there in four years. He
wasn’t expecting me. My sister came with me, but Ted refused to come in. He
stayed outside, in the cold, biting air with chards of glass floating down the
stream that flowed behind his home. Ted waded in the shivering coldness.
“It will feel even more cold inside of his home.”, Ted said.
She wouldn’t leave the kitchen. He never came when I rang the
doorbell. Peering through the fogged front, Alison had to open the heavy cherry
stained door. He still didn’t come.
I waited……and waited for which seemed like days, but only
seconds. He never wore shoes when he was at home. In a soft, cottony button
down shirt and khaki pants with dark blue socks…just as I had always
remembered, he strolled into the living room.
He wasn’t excited to see me. He looked nervous, yet angry.
“What do you want now, Alex?”, he simply stated.
“Why….. do I have to always want something to
visit?”, defensively I remarked.
“You always have before…”…..And his words
seemed to trail off, but they weren’t his words. He would never say that to me.
He would have been so excited and melancholy if we had met in a parking lot,
but not at his home with her there. I could hear the dishes being thrown into
the dishwasher, but never enough to be broken. Everything was fine china, you
see. I could picture the dishes being broken in slow motion, like in the movie Titanic when the ship was sinking.
Only the best.
And I screamed over and over., “Why don’t you care if we
talk?”….”Why don’t you call your grandchildren? I have been lying
about you for years, saying you have been out of town, working, busy…anything
I could think of when Jakob asked. I have been trying to paint you and her in a
good light, but Jakob is not a little boy anymore. He’s smart and he knows.
What am I supposed to tell him?”
My screams turned to tears of anger and grief as I made my
way into the kitchen. He didn’t answer me and didn’t stop me from going.
“You callous, greedy bitch!”, I growled at her.
“You have no heart! Why am I protecting you? Why have I been lying for
you….YOU of all people? You were his grandmother for seven years and then….nothing! I told Jakob
the truth. I told him you were mad at me and I was sorry that he was caught in
My tears stopped dead.
“I told him you were a cold, hard bitch who only thinks
of herself.” He knows what you are now. I have stopped trying to protect
him from the inevitable truth.”, I spewed toward her. She continued to
load the dishwasher ever so slowly….”He knows now…he knows….”, I softly trailed off as if in a Xanax induced daze.
My sister was dragging me away….”Stop Alex. They will
never change. It’s not worth it….it’s just not worth it….it just won’t matter”
“WOULD YOU STILL LOVE HIM IF HE WERE BROKE?!?”, I
screamed at her, so loud my voice scratched the inside of my throat.
“WOULD YOU STAY IF HE SUDDENLY LOST
EVERYTHING?”……”WOULD YOU STILL LOVE HIM IF HE WERE BROKE?”…..”ANSWER
ME!”…”ANSWER ME, YOU MANIPULATIVE CUNT!”, I spat at her….the
words falling on deaf ears….she never looked at me and never became angry.
She did as she always had.
She started to cry….the crocidile tears she had always shown for my father…. for my father to see yet again that I was the crazy one.
“You need to leave now, Alex.”, he said to me in a
monotone voice. “This is not the time.”
“When will be a good time for you,
dad?”….”Is there ever going to be a good time?”….I said to
him as I was leaving the cherry stained door for what I knew would be the last
My sister lead me out by my hand, yet holding me up. I said
everything I wanted to say. I didn’t want to, but I had to. If he would have
just been happy to see me. If he would have just, for once in his pathetic
marriage, stood up to her….but that day will never come.
We found Ted behind the house, lying in the cold water with
crystal clear ice surrounding him, sleeping. I was yelling, “What are you
doing?!?”….”You are going to freeze to death.”
He stood up, dripping with icicles and asked, “How did everything go?” He was joyfully
“As expected.” I robotically said….”As
How does one measure a person’s success?
I have known many wealthy individuals who have worked themselves almost to death and for what? A bigger house. A nicer car, designer clothes, more vacations and hair by Fredric Fekkai….why are all these things so important? Do they really measure a person’s worth? Do they calculate their success or value as a human being?
I knew a woman once that would give you the shirt off of her back…knowing it was her last shirt and never bring it up in a conversation again. She had ruined her credit, had no vehicle or home and was virtually broke. I also know a man who has earned a lot of money, helped his family members when he could, but was quick to use it against them in the future. Yes, this man worked long, hard hours. He was rarely home and saw little of his children. He had everything he ever wanted, but there was always something lacking…. something more…something better to buy…something more expensive or trendier to obtain. So he kept working way beyond what should have been his retirement age.
Now, this woman died penniless, but with all of her friends and family surrounding her.
This man is still alive. He has a strained relationship with one of his children. He lives under constant stress and is still striving to obtain “the American Dream.” Most people would agree that he has already achieved it, but not in his mind. He has to have more…has to keep up with the lifestyle he has made for he and his wife. I don’t discount for one second all the hard work he has done to have this level of success…but is it really success?
I have shitty credit. It’s my own fault. I made huge mistakes and now I am paying for them. I don’t own a home right now. I rent a really great two bedroom, two bathroom apartment. This is where I am right now in my life and I am taking steps to change my life. Not only monetarily, but spiritually as well. I am truly happy with my life right now. It has improved greatly from over a year ago and my husband and I are doing more to insure that our family will always be comfortable.
Now….am I successful? In one respect, no, as my credit is shot and some months are harder than others with the bills. On the other hand, yes. I am in a much better place than last year. I am healthier, my kids are happy and my husband is much more relaxed. We have improved our lives 100% in the last year, but we are by no means wealthy. Does this mean I am not successful? Do I have to be Donald Trump to be a success? Is the measure of ones success based solely on their economic status?
Is it so horrible to die broke? I really don’t plan on that happening, but if I do, does it mean I died with nothing to show for it? My children are always well cared for. They have everything they want and need and more. We do things as a family all the time. No…we don’t go on elaborate vacations to exotic destinations, but we go to Disney-world or Universal Studios for the day every few months. We go to the park and the beach. I spend almost every day at the pool with my kids and their friends. My oldest has sleep-overs constantly and my house has become the Kool-Aid House. I write every day, which is what I love doing. I have friends that I talk to every day. But most importantly, my husband loves me and I love him. We have had some of the hardest times one can imagine, but we got through them. We have both made mistakes, but we worked them out. We will be married 11 years on August 31st. He is the only man in my entire life that has never disappointed me.
Some would define our life as average….some below average.
Why is it so important to be wealthy and powerful to be considered successful? Does it not count to have a loving family and friends living a less than middle class life? The middle class has been totally screwed lately, but they continue to pick themselves up, brush off and start over.
I was middle class once. I screwed it all up. I am below middle class right now. I don’t plan to live paycheck to paycheck for the rest of my life….who does? But life happens and people screw up. What else are we supposed to do? I could drop into a deep depression, make my kids miserable, ruin my marriage and really make my life a royal fuck up. But I am choosing to pick myself up, brush off and start all over again….with the help of my husband. We did it before…we will do it again.
I would say that sounds pretty successful.