Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fresh out of Geppetto's Woodwork Asylum

Day 2 August 26, 2008

Technology attempted to waylay my decision to write today, the computer restarted three times before it decided to stay on. My morning reading has focused my mind on writing and depression as well as how these two things are inseparable for me. My drive to understand my depression is a drive to understand my self. Thoughts are far too ephemeral and easily forgotten and thus do not suite me in this search. And so I must chronicle my strains so I may look back and say “so that is what I thought back then, does it still apply?” and “I touched on a truth their but now have a new understanding of it and can possibly verbalize it in a more meaningful way.”

Today I am a bit depressed. It is not the common “blue” feeling of life getting a little too overwhelming, nor is it the dank gray miasma of debilitating depression that saps my will to live and makes me lay down and think thoughts of melting into the floor and remaining motionless forever. Today I feel the smoldering embers of passion ready to burst into flame but afraid of what will be consumed. It is not the lack of emotion, which usually accompanies my depression, but the seething of all emotions which threatens to overwhelm me. I’ll see the ruined carcass of a raccoon in the road and start to cry. I’ll see a child spouting gibberish to his mother listening with half an ear and weep for the possibilities and hope. I imagine that I feel everything and want to tell everyone but know that I will be unable to speak. I will point and say “Look. See.” and you will say “yes, that is a dead raccoon” and “that child is annoying” and I will scream inside pleading with my mind to open up and communicate what I see. But the chemicals that interpret what I see do not know the chemicals that allow me to speak so I must observe in frustrated silence. I feel as if I am aware of all the possibilities. Possibilities and possibilities and possibilities. I have forgotten my skin at home and am bombarded by the fact that pain and beauty are intrinsically linked. Knowing that beauty has been refined by pain, tempered by sorrow, I can’t help but look at a gnarled tree, a transient wino, an immolated landscape and feel hatred, pity, and love. It’s a sort of jealousy, I suppose, as I attempt to absorb all the pain, seeking my own apocalypse so that I too may be refined, so that I too may be beautiful.

I believe that I have uncovered for you another of my flaws: a penchant for the dramatic bordering on melodrama. This insight, though, might also simply be a defensive mechanism allowing me to write off that which I feel so that I don’t truly have to engage in my emotions, which is probably just the part of me shaped by society to believe that men should do rather than feel.

Ah, but I started this out by stating that I wished to write about depression and writing. I guess this just goes to show that while these two things are linked within me, I can not always speak of them in the same breath.

I do not believe that it is possible to write an autobiography. I am not saying that it is impossible to write about one’s self, but as the self is always changing, when one recounts his own history, one is actually recounting the history of varying selves. I love telling stories of my experiences. I say “I did this”, “I said this”, or “I thought that” but it is not current Andrew that had any part but as observer and story teller. 17 year old Andrew looked at and felt things as a 17 year old. 25 year old Andrew is retelling the story with 8 years of details coloring the experience. He has forgotten some details, feels others are unimportant, and embellishes the story with details that may not have existed. There is as much fiction as non-fiction in my tales because the fallibility of the mind and the fact of growth emboss history with myth.

We all have albums of pictures of ourselves. We all look at old group photos and immediately seek ourselves out in the picture. This does not stem solely from narcissistic voyeurism: a desire to look at the past and lust after our younger bodies, fresher minds, and simpler dreams, or to take the opportunity to pat ourselves on the back saying “I was so young and stupid back then. Good job me for growing up.” I think that we are also often trying to prove our existence in this or that reality. I was a part of that team, I hiked this path when I was young, I drank that drink and hung out with those people. I digress from writing about writing to writing about pictures because in finishing “Life After God” I read of Coupland’s experience of taking a picture of and for a group of blind people who were out for a walk. His observations were of people who had faith in a sense that they did not take part in. I wonder what they will do with the photograph. They will never see it. They will never show their friends and say “There’s me. I can’t believe I thought that hairstyle was cool.” They will never sit alone and allow the photograph to conjure erstwhile sighs of the idyllic past. I imagine that when they show their friends the picture, inside they will be saying “Aha. See. I exist in your reality of a world with sight. I am in a world with vision even though I may never truly know what that means. The evidence is irrefutable (or so I am told), this picture validates my visible existence. I am an image even when you are not there to see me, even though I can never see myself.”

I also wonder at the action of taking a picture of blind people, for the blind people themselves. It seems a futile act, recording history for people in a medium they will never perceive. I do not want to become an author of illiteracy for the illiterate, speaking of and seeking out truth when all I have and will perceive are lies. I must try to write of my reality even though I am mired in it and can’t begin to actually perceive it because someday hindsight and retrospection might allow me to glimpse what I am seeking through writing. I have to believe that my awkward attempts to touch truth, to communicate will someday make sense to me, to others. In one sense I see myself as the photographer knowing that I must continue to take pictures of the blind, for the blind so that I, as a sighted observer, may remind the blind of a snapshot of their past so they may recount the experience (even if the sheen of details have been worn smooth by time). And as a blind man myself, I require that snapshot so that the sighted can glimpse my history in spite of my perceptions and so I may harbor hope that I may some day join those with vision and know what it meant to exist.

Side note: I write of writing here and I can’t help but wonder at the futility of the task. When will I cease to write of writing and simply write? Am I using my semantic meanderings as a stall tactic? If I talk of speaking but never open my mouth otherwise, have I really said anything?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Let's just pretend that the last week never happened.

I was very sick this past week. It is not a good excuse but I did absolutely nothing last week because I was ill.

We got a kitten this weekend. He is a needy little bugger and makes it a bit difficult to type as he seems jealous of the keyboard's attention, attacking the keyboard and my hands equally in his search for attention. I have named him Rorschach, fulfilling my two requirements for the naming of pets: first, the name should be a real name and second, the name should have some sort of literary significance.

He is black and white spotted like the inkblots of the famed Hermann Rorschach (thus named after a real person), but I thought of the name in reference to the character from the graphic novel The Watchmen. In that novel, Rorschach has a mask that displays an ever changing inkblot (aiding him by possibly displaying the fears of the criminals he antagonizes as well as distorting the reader's perception of him as he is seen as an insane vagrant, vigilante, masked criminal, and possibly the only true hero in the novel (and, by the way The Watchmen is an amazing novel and I recommend it to all of you, especially those who would never deign to pick up a "comic book" because it is not serious or substantial reading. This is truly a very well written novel and should be studied if only for its destruction of the preconceived ideas about the form of the novel and its defiance of that which is appropriate for the "comic" genre). Also, this cat is thoroughly insane.

He reminds me of my nephew in his pre-language infancy. When petted, he flaps his front paws in wordless enjoyment just as Orion waved his hands about while perched in his high chair being fed.

I finally started reading East of Eden. I want to devour it but I am also afraid as if it is devouring me. It scares me because it is so far beyond anything I could ever write, it scares me because I can't absorb his passion and style like I usually do with everything I read. I love the dialogue partly because it is the most obvious fictional aspect of this book. The conversations are too honest, the brothers, Adam and Charles, are too true. They speak their naked observations with too much self actualization behind their words for the conversations to actually exist outside of fiction. This, however, is also one of the reasons why I think this book is so well acclaimed. We read the words of realization and probing dialogue and want to become the speaker. The characters are, at times, sick and neurotic, twisted and driven by wholly selfish impulses but we wish that in spite of our flaws we could speak with such clarity and confidently verbalize in the romantic garb of self actualization. But then again I am only about a sixth of the way into the book so I am sure that my opinions and observations will grow as I read on.

Finally, if I lapse again into silence feel free to harangue me in any way you choose.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The first of the past

Day 1: August 25, 2008
Goodbye Blue Monday

Sometimes in the morning I feel as if I am still drunk. Not after a night of heavy drinking as the haze of inebriation clings and clouds, slowing movements and slurring thoughts. I had two beers last night without the driving force of slight intoxication as a goal, I was simply hot and I wanted to share. In the morning, without a schedule, I find myself forgetting who I am, where I am. Perhaps it is an early onset of senility but it lends itself to an odd introspection. I wonder who and why I am and there is an extended moment of disequilibrium as I worry that I am still asleep.

Today is my first day of unemployment. Self inflicted as I quit my job without another job lined up. I constantly wonder if I am an idiot but I would not have survived much longer at my old job. No English major who loves language and literature should ever attempt a career in data entry. It is interesting for a moment, communicating through numbers, income, expense. The only words written are names and businesses and sometimes a brief explanation to further clarity; communicating meaning using only numbers, organizing the chaos of facts. It was intriguing at first, as if I was learning and creating a new language, but the unbearable weight of an inactive mind begins to hurt after a time.

A mind-numbing office job will teach you that you have a soul.

Every day after work I was exhausted. It was not a physical fatigue as I had been sitting at a desk all day. I have spent most of my life doing physical labor and though I would end every day tired and sore, there was energy in the excitement of freedom and hope in the possibility of an evening full of actions of my own choosing. I may be over-exaggerating the pleasures of physical labor and waxing romantic as most are wont to do of the past, I think I usually just went home and had a couple of drinks while watching TV or playing video games or some such nonsense until I felt like falling asleep, but at least when you labor physically, you sleep well.

Neither was I mentally tired. I usually had one ear tuned to NPR while I woodenly entered datum, simply to maintain my sanity. The ladies at work always thought that I had music coming to me on my headphone and I was not about to disillusion them. They were very conservative republican types who view the type of informative world news I enjoy as liberal drivel and I would probably not have been allowed to listen if they had known what I was tuning in to.

Anyway, utter exhaustion without physical or mental fatigue proved to me that I had a soul, and that my job was killing it. Also, I knew that I had to quit when I realized that the greatest passion at that point in my life was the passionate hatred for my job (not to mention that they are currently getting severely audited by the federal government, and my moral opposition to some of the practices and procedures). I am not one to often be called emotionally healthy but even I could see that my situation must change.

And so today is the first day of my self inflicted exile from the working population. No more of the 9 to 5er’s anthemic woes. Fuck you Dolly Parton, earning fame through the catchy statement of fact as capitalism ossifies hopes and dreams in the stale necessity of monetary success. Sorry, it’s not your fault. I am full of bile.

My hope is to write, reversing the atrophy built up by my laziness and apathetic misuse of my own soul. I do not plan to start a blog, seeking validation in publication (also it must be noted that I am A: Chickenshit and B: Driven by a desire to reject that which is obviously popular, which is probably just an excuse based on a fear that my words will simply add to the sea of impotent vitriol and talentless passion. Also, I do not have internet). This is not to say that I will never post these. I believe that if the most beautiful poem ever created was destroyed unread, it would be devoid of all beauty and if the most insightful truth ever thought of went uncommunicated it would be utterly meaningless. Thus, writing to an audience of zero is as masturbatory as prolifically publishing incessant nonsense. Moreover, I am vain and believe that I am a fairly decent writer and my narcissism desires affirmation.

I do not want to state a goal for myself beyond writing, lest I open myself to the possibility of failure (or, to be honest, the even more terrifying possibility of success). I want to want to write. Perhaps for catharsis, perhaps because I believe that I glimpse a scintilla of Truth you can’t access and in exorcising my own reality I will be allowed to create and communicate that truth to you.

Thus I enter the wilderness, attempting to glut myself on the locusts and wild honey of the stories I have gathered often recited, never written, clothed in the skins of wild thoughts, living off the fat of my past.

The abrupt vista of possibilities threatens to send me into a catatonic rage, so to stave off hopelessness and depression, I will do my chores: Go to the DMV for new tabs and to register to vote, go to the post office to change our mailing address, go to Les Schwab and get my tire fixed, go to the old apartment to clean it so we can get our deposit back, and finally, look for a new job because I am too afraid to simply write.

Addendum of actual happenings Day 1:

Woke up around 7 am watched wife get ready for first day of class.

7:30 am made coffee set ottoman on deck, used empty cooler as desk. Wished I had a camera, beautiful picture: coffee, mug, press pot, book, cigarettes, etc.

7:45-8:30 am read half of “Life after God” excellent read, gave me the perfect balance of melancholic introspection to write (not too depressed, not too excited about life to hinder reflections)

8:30-10:45 am wrote though the last 45 minutes or so very little written: too much caffeine and not quite enough drive.

11:00-12:00 Fixed bike while heating up a burrito. Very difficult to fix bike as hands were shaking with far too much caffeine.

12:00-3:00 rode bike to post office then to DMV. Crashed on the way to DMV. Awkward crash, did a sort of belly flop over the handlebars. Managed to scrape both the palm of my left hand and road rash the back of my left forearm. Not sure how I managed that. Deep tissue bruise/ serious Charlie horse in left thigh. Leg very sore, feel a little gimpy but was mostly just embarrassed at my unskilled dismount. Picked up a new tire from bike shop and headed home.

3:41 Current time, had two messages from old job they can’t find anything, implied that I took some files with me. Called back and left message. Made myself a gorby, we didn’t have any cups so I used an old soda bottle from my car. Pleasant. Now must clean.

Now that I have joined the rest of society, I am sure that I will mearly discover that I exist.

Oh shit. I've started a blog.

I am terrified. I guess I am a bit excited too. It is sort of like the feeling I would imagine accompanies picking a fight I am probably going to lose, but there is the slight chance that I might win, and getting the shit beat out of myself is an accomplishment of sorts. Also I am full of shit and getting some of it beat out of me sounds cathartic.

Three days less than one month ago I quit my job. "You quit your job with no other job lined up in an abysmal job market. That sounds like the very soul of stupidity." I agree. My intention was to read a lot and write every day. The reality is that though I did read voraciously, I barely wrote every other day. I did write something I truly appreciate and believe is fairly good but honestly, ONE WHOLE MONTH AND ONLY ONE THING WRITTEN THAT I CONSIDER GOOD. WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?

I know that I have been awarded a unique opportunity. My wife has a salaried job which earns more than double what we were making when she was student teaching and I was the sole earner. In fact, she was the one who suggested that I quit the job that was killing me (though my soul had been screaming for release for quite some time (I am continually surprised, though as she surprises me daily I should probably begin to expect it, at the amazing reality of healthy relationship. How was she able to verbalize and make possible that which I was completely unable to consciously grasp?).). I have an amazing amazing wife.

I have waited until now to start a blog because I did not want to have a reason behind my writing except to write. I did not want to become a slave to affirmation. I did not want an audience. I did not want to succeed (uh, i probably mean fail, but my pessimism can only accept success as delayed failure so it is really all the same to me). I have, however, become a mite delusional. I believe that it is a side affect of the lack of normal daily interaction known as "a job". Or maybe it is because my writing is so inherently masochistically narcissistic that I have found myself to have created an internal hell to replace the nine to five one I have so recently escaped (see, that right there is a product of this particular insanity. I have no idea what I meant by this paragraph.).

Anyway (oh and by the way I find that I often begin paragraphs with "anyway" I think that I am either attempting to convey my absent mindedness or am lazy and can think of no better transition than anyway), I decided, at the onset, to eventually post that which I have written. It turns out that "eventually" happens to fall on "right now" this year. Hopefully I will continue to write. I will intersperse the old with the new and since I have come to fear my written word I hope that I will succeed in the new category. Otherwise, this blog will be short lived (by the way keep your eyes out for day three; that is the thing I wrote which I actually love. If you don't like it, I will survive he said with an obvious need for affirmation. . .).

I would like to take a moment to briefly describe the situation I find myself in as I write this (not existentially or anything simply what I was doing before I started up the computer because it is odd enough to be notable). I am sitting in my garage drinking crappy beer alone (oh for the times of drinking great beer with friends) and working on some new sculptures. I am wrapping a baby cabbage patch doll with cellophane and subsequently with clear tape in order to create hundreds of ephemeral baby shells which I will then secrete (or maybe secret or maybe both) about the town in a blatant act of guerrilla art.