Last Friday, dead on my feet, I spent the day downtown. I even wrote a post on my laptop — it’s marooned there for now which is probably best. I can only imagine the kind of writing that was coming from my addled brain.
I am headed home tonight to be with my family and thus giving myself a week off from structured blog posts. Life is going to change tomorrow and it may change in a number of ways, both good and bad. Time will help us through all of these changes — giving us a new normal — and I’m feeling strong enough to face those changes now.
With Chardonnay, of course.
When you write a lot about how wonderful life is and how easy it is to be happy if you just try, you might be leaving yourself open to karmic/cosmic comeuppance.
Today I learned that my grandfather — who I was raised by — was diagnosed with lung cancer. Large and widespread lung cancer. I can hardly put one foot in front of the other. Moving through the day seems to violate some new barrier. And yet not moving seems to be a travesty in itself — he isn’t dead and I shouldn’t act like he is or that he will be. And yet at some point he will be. We all will. I’m angry at the sun for shining. I’m angry at my emotions for erupting haphazardly. I’m angry that I am here and not there. At least the latter is fixable and on Monday I will feel less impotent and can at least fret in formation.
I am not ready for this.
The whole mess started when I began to look for something. It was an important thing. It should have been in the important place. And because it was so important, I most likely put it in an even more important place that I now can no longer remember.
And so I unearthed a pile of boxes. My own past, time capsules of memory. Interspersed through 30 years of correspondence, were theater tickets and scraps, stickers and programs. Letters from people I no longer know. Letters from people I wish I still knew. Letters from people who are essential to my daily life. Sometimes, one can sit with these things and feel elation. I simply hope that these people who touched my life felt as appreciated by me back then as is the reality now.
When I think about the quality of people in my life, I am heartened. I’ve really had the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. And those not so amazing people… I’ve probably forgotten them, blocking out the unpleasant as I have with a great majority of my history. I don’t remember liking high school particularly, but I don’t remember it being painful either. I just don’t remember it at all.
But these letters. They bring it all smashing back like a face full of cold water. Some of the great mysteries of life, now so obvious. Yes, he loved you. No, she wasn’t your friend. These are the people who cared for you forever. Amazing realizations, really. It feels much like turning on faucets after a long absence. I am feeling more and more, watching the rust fall down the drain.
And now I’m to the last bag. I still haven’t found what I was originally looking for, but I think maybe that’s alright now. Maybe I found what I needed instead.
Yesterday I postulated on Facebook whether there is room for happiness in literature. Some people answered that indeed there was enough tragedy in the world and that they wanted to skip that in their literature. Others answered that indeed there is no happiness without sadness. And while I agree in an absolute sense, I am still puzzling over the implications.
As I struggle with my own project, balance must be the key. I am not writing a tragic book — that just isn’t the story. There’s intrigue and mischief and the kind of pain that normal teens and adults feel in their lives (sorrow, loss, death) but there is no abuse or rape or murder. And I wonder if my original postulation should have included a delineation of pain.
I am left with this, though. It is sobering to think about how happy I am and how generally dissatisfied people seem to be on the whole. To believe that happiness is somehow must be only a temporary state of existence… After personally working so hard to be in a constant state of happiness where problems no longer have the ability to derail me, it’s downright terrifying. It’s not that I don’t think that life has the capacity to completely suck or take terrible turns, I just think that going forward, I’ll choose to face it instead of to hide. But only time will tell.
I have to laugh though, as I write this, because once a very long time ago I was written a letter in response to telling someone how unhappy I was. He wrote that if I was indeed that unhappy then no one (including him) was safe. At first, I couldn’t get my head around the statement. How could he have been so satisfied? Wasn’t everyone miserable? And though it took years for me to right myself mentally and that friend is a great distance away from me and my life now, I credit that as being the point that I learned that one didn’t have to accept unhappiness as the status quo.
Maybe it’s for that reason that I want to write about people who aren’t sunk in the miasma. Because I don’t think it has to be that way.
Today was the first really hard day. The first day that I cried. The first day I realized that I chose the hard way, not the easy way.
It feels like whining. I know millions of people would kill to do this, to chase their dreams, to really live. But it’s far harder than it looks. And looking back into the relative safety of the old days where I hadn’t risked anything, where I was fat and happy and complacent (metaphorically, of course), that enclave looks like the smarter option.
In a ‘normal’ or ‘corporate’ setting, there’s no need to constantly prop yourself up. There’s very little that will wreck the world as you know it. There are people around if you’re having a bad day. Believing in yourself every second isn’t a requisite. Resources are always at your fingertips. There’s someone to ask if you have a question.
This isn’t impossible, it’s just hard. And it will be worth it. It already has been. I just have to get past days like this. I just put on my big black russian hat. That should help.
Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels was recommended to me during a recent writing workshop. Using the Grimm’s framework of “Snow White and Rose Red” (not that Snow White), Ms. Lanagan studies the aftermath of the anguish and terror of the life of a young girl, her escape to a safe heaven, and the repercussions of that escape
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Today I ventured forth into the world to accomplish two things.
Firstly, I claimed my new Starbucks base. It is located in a dumpier strip mall just south of my house. The strip mall also usefully houses a liquor store, a sushi joint (its a ringer — excellent), and a liquor store among many other establishments that I do not frequent. Said strip mall is not within walking distance, but close enough to be a partner to Friday lunch outings and the like. I’ve been to this Starbucks before and the employees are always unique characters — far more welcoming than the average barista and, in many cases, quite vivacious. This will help to complete what I am actually here for which isn’t coffee; its people watching.
And just in case any of you would like to take this opportunity to debate the relative merits of Starbucks, let me stop you right here. It’s a good company run by people whose values I mostly share (I like nationally consistent coffee and I also like gays. I could also care less about the NBA). I’ve been a consumer of their products since the age of 14, so while I am well aware of the fact that they’re an evil bad corporation, I still love Starbucks. Ahem.
Secondly, I’ve started what will tentatively become my Friday blog post theme. I will go out into the world, observe, and then write about what I see. Maybe a character, maybe several. Maybe a situation. Regardless, this should be fun. For me, at least. Today’s exercise is an observational stream of consciousness. It may not be very interesting. If you don’t want to read what I saw, then simply don’t click below. No hard feelings.
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I open my window shades when it rains and shutter them from the sun. I feel badly for people with SAD, but I can’t identify in any way. Every time it starts to rain with any intensity, I stare out the window with my tea and I feel as if I’m ten years old. Everything is new again. I love living here.
Growing up the scion of a carpenter, I have a metaphorical attachment to tools. (Out of the gutter, mind, out.) Some of them are abstract and some tangible. Here are the ones most important to me as I work to transfer from a analytical to an artistic day to day.
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An interesting and fair blurb on AMZNs continuing push into all things publishing. Is Amazon Destroying or Democratizing Literature? – Forbes.