Saturday, October 3, 2015

Patriots of Yorktown

Note eyebrows

I'm sorry I couldn't make it to the high school reunion--you all seemed to have such a good time catching up. Some of you have been kind enough to email me and ask what I've been up to for the past 45 years. So let's see. As many of you may recall, I wanted to be a writer. I was young, and didn't realize that isn't a thing. Also, you're supposed to write what you know, and I didn't know anything. And the things I was starting to learn were not things I wanted to write about as long as my mother was alive. So it took me a little time to find my calling.

I went off to college intending to be a psychology major, only I'd figured out psychology was pretty much bullshit by the time Mom and Dad dropped me off at the campus. So I threw myself into the liberal arts, until I took my first science class and realized my mistake. In four years I'd ricocheted into a biology degree and then scored an exceptionally low-paying job in my field by wearing a low-cut dress to the interview. I spent two years torturing about a billion white mice in ways you don't want to know about for chump change and then I moved across the country just for the hell of it and eked out rent and beer money doing Art. Which means I was like any other kid coming to Portland, Oregon today, except that back then we could afford rent.

By this time I discovered that a surprising number of my college classmates, who by all appearances were carefree hippies like myself with majors such as Comparative Religious Holograms and Medieval Basketry, had quietly gone off to get law degrees and were pulling down six figures and didn't have furniture made out of cinderblocks and planks. This troubled me for a while until I satisfied myself they were miserable, and by then I was taking my first steps toward my dream job. I became a drunken mailman for fifteen years. After that I was merely a moderately lit-up mailman for another sixteen years. And all of it was in service to the great plan, and culminated in the job I'd been meaning to have my whole life: retired mailman who enjoys a good beer or two.

That pretty much covers the picture. There was probably other stuff in there, but I don't remember it. For instance, I don't know precisely when my eyebrows went away. I'm as curious about that as anyone.

But that's just hair under the bridge. Now I'm old enough to have perspective instead of eyebrows. There's no shortcut to perspective: it takes time. Perspective is what allows you to be happy maintaining a weight that horrified you when you first approached it from the other direction. Thanks! You all look great too.

And with perspective and seasoning, I get to be a writer after all, so it all worked out. Plus I never had to be a whore about it. I'm the pure kind of writer. The unpaid kind.

Yes, that means I'm free.

37 comments:

  1. Perspective is better. Money can make life pleasanter, to be sure, but there's a limit to how much misery it's worth to have a lot of it. For about two years of my life I had a job that paid at least 50% more than I make now -- and I'm still grateful to myself for having gotten out of that situation and the stress it brought with it.

    Even the cinder blocks have their up side. People with expensive furniture tend to throw a fit over every scratch and spill. There's extra stress there, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got a tiny scratch on my last new car (2007) the first week. I looked at it with regret for about a minute and then felt better. At least THAT was over with.

      Delete
  2. Hey! I see the dolls I made for you in the background of picture #2. Forgot about those.

    Whereas I do a job I LOVE for the last almost 40 years, and am just starting to make a living at it, as opposed to hanging on with my finger toops.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You do have some mighty strong finger toops.

      Delete
  3. I meant picture #3. Too much perspective, I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was wondering if you'd notice those! Thanks! Anatomically correct Murr&Dave dolls.

      Delete
  4. I always sit here for the longest time trying to think of some really clever comment, but heck, it's not happening. I just enjoyed this post, as usual and I'm commenting just to tell you how much I appreciate your droll humor :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are a marvelous writer who most certainly should be paid and you just took a different path. I am guessing your classmates are less surprised than envious at this "letter." You give me hope for my future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only wish I had more future to hope about. It's been a great ride.

      Delete
  6. The one constant we can always count on is beer. I only regret that I didn't pick any careers with a pension, so planks and cinder blocks will have to do. But there is always beer..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right. Even with my worst-compensated job, I had--let's see--Narragansett Porter in the fridge.

      Delete
  7. You have nailed our generation to a tee. Pure Murr!

    "And the things I was starting to learn were not things I wanted to write about as long as my mother was alive." (This rang true for me as well. I think it is a function of the previous generations hang-ups and our respect for them. Parents, not their hang-ups.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might have been a little better off if I had had some of their hang-ups, actually.

      Delete
  8. Stubby beer bottles! I forgot about those! I was too young to be drinking out of them (I was in my last year of university before I was old enough to legally drink) but I remember them.

    And at least your eyebrows are all one shade. Mine have gone light at the outside edges but the rest stayed dark, so I look like I am perpetually frowning. Even when I'm smiling. Probably I should be thankful I have any.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These of course would be NEW stubby beer bottles. Sierra Nevada makes a lipsmacker of an IPA , in the spring, and I've loved them all plus their tomato-esque seasonal scarcity, although I can't rightly remember the third one of any given night.

      Delete
  9. And, for heaven's sake, how could I forget to say this: you are most definitely a writer, and a good one. And I don't know how people are supposed to know anything, much less write about it, until they hit 50 at least.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you CAN, but I'm not sorry I waited. I think I was about 53 when I started writing again. But I did it in my head more or less constantly, which is kind of useless.

      Delete
  10. We have followed an eerily similar path in some respects:
    Long brownish/reddish/somethingish hair to short gray hair... and eyebrows to WTF? Why don't I have eyebrows?
    Plus: BEER!!! And whatever else we might have been up to that it was best our mothers not be directly aware of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or EVER aware of. She died early enough--no sense hastening the thing.

      Delete
    2. I missed out on the beer, but I've got the eyebrow thing going. I thought I was the only one, so these admissions have helped my self-image considerably.

      Delete
  11. You are a wonderful writer; that's why we all keep coming back!
    And I am eternally p*ssed that it takes way longer to get perspective than we have time to use it. Life ain't fair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And all this time I thought you came back for the cut-glass bowl of hard candies! "It takes way longer to get perspective than we have time to use it." Speaking of wonderful writing, my dear.

      Delete
  12. I had, or thought I had, perspective when I was but a limber shadow of my current self. I was wrong. I do still have eyebrows though. Rather a lot of eyebrow because I can't see them well enough to pluck them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are, I believe, in a position to tell the rest of us if there is a point past which you gain no more perspective, but get to be royally pissed at things without fear of seeming untoward.

      Delete
  13. I'm 82 & my eyebrows are missing, too--where do you suppose they go?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know, fishducky, but they ain't the only patch that's missing some troops.

      Delete
  14. I've heard that there is a little-studied tribe in a canyon somewhere beyond the mountains that knits bath mats from lost eyebrows...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bath mats, hell. Friggin' wall-to-wall, shag.

      Delete
  15. At least you started life with eyebrows. I never had any but thin pencil lines, so would draw then in with feather hand-drawn lines. I would love to see more pictures of the dolls...wink wink! How anatomically correct can they be?
    Murr, to me you are the slightly lit up version of Erma Bombeck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pretty dang anatomically correct. There are man bits. There are tits. And thanks! "slightly lit up" is about the kindest thing that can be said about me!

      Delete
  16. I like the idea of pulling down six-figure salaries, but not the learning and work involved, probably why my bank balance is never much higher than a mouse's knee caps. On the other hand, if I was robbed, I wouldn't lose much.
    I never bothered with college and figuring out my life, I just drifted to where I am now. And I'm happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the idea too. I'd pull down a six-figure salary for about five years and then quit. Apparently people don't do that. Congratulations on happiness.

      Delete
  17. Your perspective would be so boring without all of the learning time. And the beer. There'd be so little to write about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem is, sometimes I start typing away and then I think: wait. Did I write about this already? [beer] And then I think: well, if I can't remember, maybe my readers can't either.

      Delete
  18. I've long held many questions about your past. You just answered many of them. White mice. Being lit. Art.

    It all makes sense.

    ReplyDelete