Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Happy Ending (For Once)

It's 5:40 AM on a Wednesday. I have work soon, but I've been awake for 22 hours now with no sign of stopping. I'm wired. I'm talking, y'know, the kind of wired where you're so tired you just wanna keep going until you crash harder than J.R. Hildebrand on the last lap at Indy. (What? Too cheap?)

I must apologize for not updating this blog much this year. As much as I wanted 2018 to be defined by my pursuit of a career in racing media, twists and turns took me to places I never imagined, and thus, this website took a backseat.

Anyway, I'm also happy, coupled with being wired. Sure, I failed history class and I got shot down in asking for a date earlier in the night, but I'm still happy. After all, I'm curled up in my finest sweatpants, listening to my favorite podcast (83 Weeks). I've made it through another year, almost. 2018 is drawing to a close and I can't help but be reflective.

The year started with me alone, babysitting my friend's cats with nothing but a futon, a Hawaiian pizza, and a space heater in the room with me. I didn't even know midnight had passed until 6 minutes into the new year. I fell asleep 20 minutes later and began my 2018 at about 4 in the afternoon.
I was staying at a friend's house, having just quit my job after a lonely, dreadful holiday season. I had no idea what would be next. All I really cared about was fixing things with my Dad and getting away from drinking as much as I could.

The plan was to hit St. Pete in March, try to work the IndyCar date as independent media like I sometimes do. However, I ended up being unemployed for almost 3 months. Here's where the hellride began.

I found myself working 2 jobs in March. You see, moving back home to Chattanooga crushed me. I had moved to Dayton, OH the previous summer to run from the embarassment of my handling of Mom's death and a failed relationship. I thought I was free, but home came calling. My goal was to move to Indianapolis to not only be closer to the racing business, but to be around friends in the midwest who inspire me. It's good to have positive influences, after all.

So I worked away, worked my ass off to be honest. The local zoo by day, janky hotel by night. (And boy do I mean janky) The hotel job ended after almost being assaulted by an unwanted guest in the lobby. Wanting to get the hell out after that and the denied request off for The 500, I lied, told them I was already moving to Indy when I was just making my annual Memorial Day visit. I'll do anything just to go to The 500. Sorry, Christina.

After attending The 500, this time with the entire Caylor family, I stayed with my Dad who was on assignment in Kentucky for 3 weeks. I had a few job interviews in Indy, and it looked like I'd be a Hoosier in no time. But the opportunities fell through. My last gasp was an interview at a Toyota dealer in Avon. I felt I had the job in the bag, at least until they asked if I had any speeding tickets.
It wasn't all bad, though. I got to hit a few bars with my friend Chris and feel the freedom of blasting down I75 in Ohio with rain pouring while "I Miss You" by Blink-182 blares over my '93 Miata factory speakers.

By the time summer came, I was miserable. While my management at the zoo are some of the kindest people you could work for, the low pay and painfully long, hot days meant I was confined to a fryer 6 days a week while the world passed me by. I never heard or even knew what the #1 song this year was. if I had to guess I'd say it's that "Keke, do ya love me..." song. But I haven't actually heard it.

Late July came and I was gutted. I missed the race at Mid-Ohio after a summer of financial setbacks .(Funding race trips is tough yo)
It was a beneficial experience last year and I was looking forward to it, but it wasn't meant to be. My friend Pat told me, "There will be other races," and I sure hope so.

What did work out was my return to college. I had dropped out in 2017, in equal parts due to my aforementioned Mother's death  and failed relationship, which were the 2 contributing factors to my obscene alcohol problem. Simply put, I got too drunk and too weepy, and with no Mother to cry to, I called the wrong person and poured my heart out. Drinkin's bad, kids.
The ensuing fight (we're close friends now so it's okay) left me so humiliated and hurt that a quasi-intervention from my English professor made me realize I should try getting help before ruining my GPA. (That incident, by the way, is the sole reason I'm doing things like this blog or anything in racing. Blessing in disguise.)

So I came back, a little heavier and sans afro, but a whole lot more confident. I had my final drink on August 17 and haven't looked back.
I'll be honest, I've been pretty well distracted from racing this semester. I know who all the Champions are and whatnot, but finding out how they got there will keep me busy this offseason.

The semester went well, I suppose. I got a few pieces published in the college newspaper, and I was veey happy to redeem myself for the poor work I had done there at the height of my drinking problem. The highlight of the semester would have to be when my math professor showed me my grades and said, "You'll probably finish with a C."
So I studied harder than I have in my life to bring my grade up. I made up every spare point that I could, did my homework twice over to make sure I "got it." I left the final knowing I'd done everything I could. I just hoped it was good enough.
On the final, he botched a problem and gave us no correct option for the answer. For our trouble, he gave us all that one for free. The one point from that free problem, that I KNOW I'd have missed, was enough to bump me to a B.
Ugh, What A Rush.

But now, it's almost over. Christmas is looming and for the first time in years, I'm okay. I'm better now. You'll see what I mean. I'm happy with life as it unfolded this year, and with what's on the horizon for next year.
In 2 month's time, I'll be in Indianapolis. One of the best friends I could have is bringing me to town and I can't wait to share those stories with you.
So yeah, it's a happy ending, for once.

As far as this website goes, I'm turning into a mix. Some personal/photography stuff. But still mostly racing, when I can.

But what have I learned this year?
The biggest thing I've learned is that "Better" isn't akin to "Happily Ever After." It isn't a destination. I foolishly believed I'd have some big Don Draper moment of clarity, when in reality, I'm just slowly becoming comfortable in my new skin.
"Better" is a series of improvements and challenges that never ends. But it can strengthen you, as long as you take the challenge of improvement head on.
You can always do Better. So Be Better.

Or to steal from Jeff Krosnoff, Stay Hungry.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year, everyone. Thanks for your support.

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