you & me

Once Touched, Twice Challenged: What Happened to My Expectations?


This isn’t what I started.

I was a dreamer, a schemer. I needed a job, so I took the test. A slacker, now gainfully employed. Pushing papers, files, working for the man. But I wasn’t really there, not really. I was far off into my head, pushing paper but really pushing the tin cart of dreams and spoken words of henceforth. Henceforth I am this, henceforth I am that, but never a paper-pusher. That’s just my day job. I’m a writer, a game-maker.

I’m a mad scientist, and this is my lab.

I liked to think of myself as a starving artist with a job, a hook, roll and a lob to the basket. I was strictly enforcing the rules of creating on my way to the casket. I was not a pattern. I was creating. I was living the dream, quite literally.

That was 13 years ago. That was three promotions ago. I haven’t published any books. I haven’t published any games. I make decent money. I take a lot of crap for it. I deal with the bureaucracy on a daily basis. I am teased with the taste of progress, and slapped with the reality of stalled horses chasing each other around the track, unsure of where the finish line is.

I deal with interns and clerks on a daily basis, just trying to survive, just like I was, not really caring about the bigger picture.

I work the middle. I work those who have lost sight of how to care, and those who haven’t found it yet. I work. I care. I’m here; I’m there, where I’m needed to be. Fighting the battle.

This isn’t what I started.

Three promotions ago, I couldn’t have cared less about my projected image in the office, about the general success rate of my projects, about endless mountains of material and the most minute details of the psychological makeup of my unit. I’ve got an unorthodox style. It works. People work for me, which is not always just assumed.

Now here I am. No books. No games. No publications. Just job stress. Where did I go wrong? How did I turn that corner? How did I become a permanence of the system? A creative, systematically counter-cultured manager, but a manager nonetheless.

Expectation. What happened to my own expectations? What happened to the sheer force of my dreams? I try to work on my book, but I’m tired. I try to work on my book, but my brain is fried. I try to work on my book, but I just want to sit and watch basketball and move around my fantasy-basketball roster. It takes effort, now. Here, in this spot, in this job.

This isn’t what I started.

Have I sold my soul? Do I lack the capability to tear out of my brain the truth anymore? Have I given in? Three promotions ago, I never saw this as the outcome. I never saw myself itching behind my button-down shirt, my tattoos screaming at me to be let loose. I never saw… this.

The bipolar, among other things, still tears at my sleep, every night. I’m exhausted as the norm, yet I still function at a rate high enough to succeed. To succeed. To succeed. Somewhere, I lost the divisive and the rebellious. Writing the book now seems like this gigantic chore that lingers on my bucket list, a ghost of past and present that is clamoring to be a part of my future.

Am I ill? Yes. Am I sick? Yes. Am I diseased? Yes. Except, except not because of the bipolar. Not because of the social anxiety or the paranoia. No, I have conquered these things to be on an equal playing field with the norm. Again, I have conquered these things to be on an equal playing field with the norm. Three promotions ago, I knew nothing of the sort.

So, am I ill? Yes. Am I sick? Yes. Am I diseased? Yes. Except, not because of my mental variations. No, I am plagued by the norm, by placation, by the persistence and expansion of complacency within my mind. These are not inherited traits, no, they are borne of my duplication of the status quo and the equation of promotion with success.

I conquered illness. I never thought I’d have to conquer myself, again.

Let’s do it. One for the bucket list.


SteveImperatoSteve Imperato is a thinker and a writer, a wetware mechanic intent on unraveling the mysteries of his rapid cycling bipolar and consciousness in general. His main themes include the use of logical and spiritual techniques to enhance the fisticuffs that typically encapsulate the fighting inherent in the literal and figurative aspects of mental variation, which is typically labeled as mental illness. Check out his blog and his website on such matters. Currently a successful (relative to his situation) 9-to-5-er, he dreams of being a successful non-9-to-5-er. Recently married, he is creating a nice little conventional storyline while allowing his mind to flow wherever it endeavors to go.


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