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Didn’t See It Coming

You can have your astrology. No, really, just keep it. I have yet to read a description of an Aries that fits me, and no, I don’t care what light my rising moon might shed on that discrepancy.

But as long as we’re talking categories (and who doesn’t love, deep down, categories?) I will admit a soft spot for the Myers-Briggs. I don’t care if it’s out of fashion, or disproven, or simplistic. It’s the only kind of categorization system in which I’ve ever recognized myself.

That’s because, according to Myers-Briggs, I am a very special person. My type, INFJ, is the “rarest of all the types.” Which makes my personality “intricately and deeply woven, mysterious, and highly complex, sometimes puzzling even themselves.” I am a freak of nature and you will never get to the bottom of me. Fortunately you are just as self-absorbed as I am, which means you will quickly tire of my infuriating defenses and return to mulling over your own problems.

I mention INFJs here because our supposed first line of defense has been on my mind. “Mute withdrawal,” it’s called, and any friend of mine, and anyone who’s been a regular reader here, knows that I tend to drop out of sight every few weeks. I stop posting because, usually, life has once again grabbed me by the gonads, reducing me to the kind of of pre-verbal vegetative state that makes activities like blogging and cocktail parties challenging at best.

A few weeks ago I was involved in a car accident, an accident that sent someone to the hospital and an accident for which I was eventually deemed “100% responsible.”  I hadn’t had an accident in 18 years; it happened as the Manly Fireplug and I were picking up a pizza, and though I was eventually able to eat a couple of slices, I spent the rest of the night throwing them up.

As the Fireplug kept trying to assure me, accidents are called accidents for a reason. But I have a habit of looking for meaning in everything, a habit common to writers and maybe to the INFJs of the world. And so, traumatized, I turned to this habit with full force.

I can’t say for sure why the accident felt like such a rebuke, only that I harbor low-lying feelings of guilt at most times, and the $500 deductible cast a glaring light on my personal finances, and so that’s where I began my atonement. Somehow, through a deeply intuitive process of association,  fueled by dimly-lit anxieties, I came to believe that my eyes had been closed for some time. To life, to reality, what have you. I’d been blind, and now I wanted to, well, you know…

I gave up a few monthly subscriptions to various non-essential (i.e. porn) websites. I cut down on Starbucks and protein shakes and stopped buying clothes. Most importantly, I gave up my office, a little rental in the Mission, since I had yet to break even with my writing and it felt like an ostentatious display of…something.

Naturally I expected, having made the smallest of sacrifices, to reap immediate karmic reward. But life had other plans.

Due to circumstances outside of my control, money got incredibly scary incredibly quickly, such that as of today I do not know how I will be paying rent. Long story short, I must now get a real job.

I know. It’s so unfair. And though you will want to shower me with pity, I ask for my own sake that you refrain.

With a bank balance that makes it rather difficult to be picky, I’ve started casting my net. And though I just began my search, today I heard back from two prospective employers who had posted on Craig’s List. Asking for my name, address, telephone, social security number, and perhaps my bank account routing number, too, you know, just to get the wheels in motion…

So yeah, for a few seconds here I will set aside this self-protective self-deprecation, and admit that as I fast close in on the age of forty, I am as confused as ever by life. I have spent several years putting all of my eggs into one basket, writing a book, an art form that any cursory glance at media will tell you is going the way of dinosaurs. I did what they say, Follow Your Bliss, though they decline to tell you what to do when the bottom drops out.

All month I’ve been hearing the voice of my father, the most practical man on the planet, whom I have put in severe psychic pain by my lifelong ambivalence towards Jobs That Come With 401ks.

Yes, Dad, I hear you now.

I have a new recovery sponsor, who asks me every time I come to him with a problem, “Have you prayed yet?”  Yes, I usually want to punch him first. And though none of my gauzy-lit visions of a higher power include an omniscient dude who sits up there pulling all the strings, I try to take this question seriously. Really what he means is, “Have you asked for help?”

I hereby argue against the American myth of the self-made man. The up-by-his-own-bootstraps guy. No such man exists. We are helped, all of us, some more than others, all along our lives. Parents, maybe, siblings, friends, coaches, the occasionally stellar English teacher. Someone gave us a break. Maybe our first, maybe every single one. Someone opened a door, someone gave us a job.

Which is not to say that we ourselves don’t need to do most of the work. Only that we can’t pretend to be the complete and total masters of our own destiny. And now as the Manly Fireplug and various friends begin to circle around and prop me up, I must once again face a fact I’ve tried often to ignore. Though I retreat into mute withdrawal, though I’m no good at parties, though I think of “networking” as a particularly insidious form of torture, though I find other people to be at times absolutely confounding and infuriating and disappointing, it turns out that I still need them.

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