Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What riches for the moral?

Lately, I have been considering, or rather reconsidering, what eyes I look out at the world with. I have always been committed to playing fair, being good to people as much as I can manage and placing principle first.

I am beginning to think that perhaps such an approach may have contributed to losing Marcie.

During my time with Marcie, I did not do some things I now know would have paid off handsomely. Some of these would have brought serious detriment to other people, something I have tried to avoid ("First do no harm..." etcetera).

Others would have been unethical but not harmful to anyone in any direct way. But some I simply had to forgo because Marcie was not going anywhere. Marcie was in San Diego to stay.

I had offers of jobs in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, Portland and even British Columbia, but Marcie had her foot down. She did not want to leave her parents, specifically her mother, again.

I could have forced her to choose to follow or watch me leave, but I was honestly too smitten. Never mind that some of the jobs and opportunities were simply outstanding, replacing our two salaries at once. Never mind I have always hated the sunshine tax that San Diego levies with aplomb on all not related to the scum who own it.

I loved her and, even if I could win an argument, I could not stand to see her cry. So, I was trapped trying to negotiate a path that kept me happy with her and not so overwhelmed with frustration at the constant struggle to get a decent career going.

One consolation I had was that she always knew that I wanted to move on some of these opportunities. She was always supportive when I did not bury someone at a job after a big backstabbing took the rug out from under me.

"You're a pure soul, and you are better than that," she would say. "I am so proud of you and I am so happy you are not like that."

It is not much consolation right now.

I should have just gone and let her know I wanted her to come along but I would not wait. When I wanted to start a Ph.D., I should have refused to drop it as she wailed about the expense of school and her wish to stay rooted.

I sometimes feel that the jobs at several internet companies I was offered, including those very early on at CNET and a few with more business-oriented startups, would have greatly enriched us. Two of them had spectacular IPOs.

Why is this relevant now? Well, I have been thinking that perhaps not being in a better place with more money and a better life may have killed my baby. That process of thought has been stuck in my brain lately, those regrets and deep guilt teaming up on me as I consider my next moves in life.

I waver between keeping the faith and trying to find such opportunities again and simply going for the jugular on every opportunity I get, hurt to others be damned, ethics be forgotten.

Adding to this is a huge arbitration battle in the future over her death itself. I am a battler, and the only time she would become upset with me was when I would take up a crusade. There is no Mr. Nice Guy when I fight. I do not so much want to win as to thoroughly defeat, destroy and permanently debilitate my opponent.

I have never really lost when I have been in that coarse and mean mode, but I have had regrets. Cajoling and bashing at Kaiser for the best and most treatment worked, but was I even able to know about the best study medications at such a place?

Probably not. I wonder what I could have stomped around and, if not outright bought, strangled out of UCSD or John Hopkins. What could a few million have bought, and how fast would the problem have been detected? Would she be here making me some breakfast for dinner?

But then I come to the realization that my romantic proclivities got me into that regretful nostalgia. Do I really think that if I were involved with someone who loves me, the romantic side of me won't soften me too much to put my foot down?

Have no doubt that I will always have that romantic side to me. I write things about Marcie that will never see the pages of this blog. I have a chapbook full of innocent romantic notions that would make the most peurile and pedestrian poetasters sneer in contempt.

But I wonder if, barring the need for a soft heart (for a book tour and the writing of a book matched in tone with my love for her) and all those ethics and that whole purity business, I should not just seek every crappy dollar and crush anyone who stands in my way.

I have told a friend that the sun will likely set on romance as a guiding force in my life's decisions over the Atlantic as I watch from the Moroccan coast and the last of her ashes slips from my hands. Even my intended end to it sounds romantic.

More honestly, I am afraid that, should I ever fall so deeply in love again, I may not keep my eyes open and my will strong to tend to the opportunities that come my way. I don't want that to happen.

However, I acknowledge that I could find something enriching, or have one of my two provisional patents turn out to be valuable enough to secure whatever future I wish to have. Who knows? Maybe the book will be something with value in the market, not just my heart. I do intend to pursue higher degrees, regardless.

But if none of those pies in the sky are within reach, I want to start building up a pile of cash through more direct means. If I have to work in a field of relatively little appeal, or do it while stepping on people ruthlessly, then perhaps better late than never.

Perhaps I can join the scads of scum who redeem themselves with reviving that romance when they have had their fill, and somehow reconcile the moral body count and ethical boneyard in retrospect with some charitable grunts.

Then again, maybe Marcie would have left me long ago as my foot was down and I said I was going with or without her, or when I started leaving people in the lurch for a buck, or when I started applying my crusading ways to my business behavior.

For now, the only thing that has been strong check on me has been the memory of her stroking my face on her little hospital bed.

"You get so mad, honey, but you always do the right thing," she said. "You are such a pure soul. It just breaks my heart to think you'd change that."

And even if I have my thoughts, her voice is still so strong in my heart that I can't unleash my long-dormant predatory instincts. Honestly, though, I think a few more solid beat-downs, a few more paltry paychecks and a little more pain will "help."